Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

The World's Greatest Books, Vol X by Various

Part 4 out of 6

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

for Foreign Affairs. He received the cardinal's hat in 1622,
and for a period of eighteen years, from 1624 to 1642, he was,
in everything but name, the Majesty of France. His mind was
bold, unscrupulous, remorseless, and inscrutable. Yet it was
always noble--the minister who sent so many to the scaffold
could truly say that in his vast labours he had but one
pleasure, to know that so many honest folk slept in security
while he watched night after night. He was a friend to
literature, was founder of the Academy, and was himself a
considerable author in history and theology. His greatest
work, "Testament Politique du Cardinal de Richelieu," which
was published in 1764, and in which is embodied his counsel in
statecraft, is a literary achievement of no small importance,
exhibiting as it does not only a political acumen of a very
high order but an acute faculty for literary expression.
Richelieu died on December 4, 1642.


At the time when your majesty admitted me to your counsels and confided
to me the direction of public affairs I may say with truth that the
Huguenots divided the state with your majesty, the great families
behaved as though they had no sovereign, and the governor of provinces
as if they had been sovereigns themselves. Every man took his own
audacity to be the measure of his merit, so that the most presumptious
were considered the wisest, and proved often the most fortunate. Abroad
the friendship of France was despised. At home private interests were
preferred to the general advantage. The dignity of the throne had so far
declined, through the fault of my predecessors in office, that it was
almost unrecognisable. To have continued to entrust to their hands the
helm of the state would have led to irremediable disaster; yet, on the
other hand, too swift and too great a change would have been fraught
with dangers of its own. In that emergency the wisest considered that it
was hardly possible to pass without shipwreck through the reefs and
shoals, and there were many who had foretold my fall even before your
majesty had raised me to power.

Yet, knowing what kings may do when they make good use of their power, I
was able to promise your majesty that your prudence and firmness, with
the blessing of God, would give new health to this kingdom. I promised
to devote all my labours, and all the authority with which I might be
clothed, to procuring the ruin of the Huguenot party, to humbling the
pride of the great, to reducing all your subjects to their duty, and to
elevating your majesty's name among foreign nations to its rightful

I asked, to that end, your majesty's entire confidence, and assured you
that my policy would be the direct contrary of that of my predecessors,
inasmuch as, instead of removing the queen, your mother, from your
majesty's counsels, I would leave nothing undone to promote the closest
union between you, to the great advantage and honour of the kingdom.

The success which has followed the good intentions which it has pleased
God to give me for the administration of this state will justify, to the
ages to come, the constancy with which I have pursued this design--that
the union which exists between your majesties in nature, may be
completed also between you in grace. And if, after many years, this
purpose by the malice of your enemies, has been defeated, it is my
consolation to remember how often your majesty has been heard to say
that when I was working most for the honour of the queen, your mother,
she was conspiring for my ruin.

_Of Education_

Letters are one of the greatest ornaments of states, and their
cultivation is necessary to the commonwealth. Yet it is certain that
they should not be taught indiscriminately to every one. A nation whose
every subject should be educated would be as monstrous as a body having
eyes in every part; pride and presumption would be general, and
obedience almost disappear.

Unrestrained trade in knowledge must banish that trade in merchandise to
which states owe their wealth; ruin husbandry, the true mother and nurse
of peoples; and destroy our source of soldiery, which springs up in
rustic ignorance rather than from the forcing-ground of culture and the
sciences. It would fill France with half-taught fellows, minds formed
only to _chicane_, men who might ruin families and trouble public peace,
but could not be of any service to the state. There would be more people
capable of doubts than capable of resolving them; more intelligences
fitted to oppose than to defend the truth.

Indeed, when I consider the great number who make a profession of
teaching, and the crowds of children who are taught, I seem to see an
infinite multitude of weaklings and diseased, who, having no other
desire than to drink pure water for their healing, are urged by an
inordinate thirst to drink all that is offered them, though it is mostly
impure and often poisoned, whereby their thirst and their malady are
equally aggravated.

Two principal evils arise from the great number of colleges established
in every district: there are not sufficient worthy teachers to supply
them; and many children of little aptitude are compelled by their
parents to study. In the result, almost all the pupils leave with but a
smattering of learning, some because they have been badly taught, others
because they have been incapable of more. The remedy that I propose is
this. Let the colleges in all towns which are not of metropolitan rank
be reduced to two or three classes, sufficient to raise the young out of
gross ignorance, such as is harmful even to those who are destined for
military service or for trade. Then, before the children are determined
to any special line of life, two are three years will reveal their
dispositions and their capacities; and the more promising children, who
will then be sent on to the metropolitan colleges, will succeed far
better; for they will have minds suited for education and will be placed
in the hands of the best teachers.

Finally, let care be taken that the colleges shall not all come under
the same hands. The universities, on the one hand, the Jesuits on the
other, tend towards a monopoly of education. Let their emulation
increase their virtues and efficiency; but let neither party be deprived
of the instruction of youth; let neither secure a monopoly.

_Of the Nobility_

The nobility, which is one of the principal nerves of the state, may
contribute much to its consolidation and power, but it has been for some
time past greatly depreciated by the large number of officials whom the
misfortunes of our age have raised up to its prejudice. It must be
supported against the enterprises of people of that kind, whose wealth
and pride overwhelmed the nobles, who are rich only in courage.

But as the nobility must be defended from their oppressors, so also must
they be strictly prevented from oppressing those who are below them,
whom God has armed to labour but not to self-defence. Uncompromisingly
justice must ensure security, under shelter of your laws, to the least
and feeblest of your subjects.

Those nobles who do not serve the state are a charge upon it; and, like
a paralysed limb, are a burden where they should be a defence and a
comfort. As men of gentle birth should be well treated so long as they
deserve it, so they should be checked severely when they are found
wanting to the obligations of their birth; and I have no hesitation in
advising that those who have so degenerated from the virtues of their
fathers as to avoid the service of the crown with their swords and with
their lives, deserve to be degraded from their hereditary honours and
advantages, and should be reduced to take part in bearing the burdens of
the people.

_Of the Disorders of Justice_

It is much easier to recognise the defects of justice than to prescribe
the remedy. Certain it is that they have arrived at such a point that
they could hardly be graver; yet I know that it is your majesty's desire
that the administration of justice should be as pure as the
imperfections and corruptions of mankind will permit.

In the opinion of the great majority of the people, the sovereign remedy
consists in suppressing venality, in doing away with the hereditary
principle in judicial offices, and in giving their positions
gratuitously to men of such well-known probity and capacity that not
even envy itself can contest their merit. But as it would be difficult
to follow this counsel at any time, and is quite impossible to follow it
here and now, it is useless to propose means calculated to secure that

Although it is always dangerous to hold a view which others do not
share, I must boldly say that in my opinion, in the present state of
affairs and in any that one can foresee, it is better to suffer venality
and hereditary offices to continue than to change, from top to bottom,
your majesty's judicial establishment. The present abuses are great; but
I believe that a system under which the offices of justice should be
appointed by nomination by the king would lead to even greater abuses.
The distribution of these important charges would, in effect, depend on
the favour and intrigue of the courtiers who might at the time have most
power with the king, or on whose reports he must base his nominations.

Certainly venality and heredity in this matter are evils, but they are
evils of long standing. We have only to look back to the reigns of St.
Louis, when offices were already paid for, and of the great Francis, who
erected the principle into a regular traffic, to see that so inveterate
a custom is not easily to be eradicated. Our aim should be to turn the
minds of men gently and continuously to better ways, and not to pass
suddenly from one extreme to the other. The architect whose skill is
able to correct the weakness of an ancient building, and to bring it
into some degree of symmetry without first pulling it down, deserves far
greater praise than the man who must throw it into ruins in order to
construct something entirely new. It is difficult to change the
established order without changing the hearts of those who possess it,
and it is often prudent to weaken one's remedies in order that they may
have the greater effect.

_To the Officers of Finance_

These form a class of men who are prejudicial to the state, yet are
necessary to and we can only hope to reduce their power within tolerable
limits. At present, their excesses and irregularities are intolerable;
and it is impossible that they should further increase their wealth and
their power without ruining the state, and themselves with it.

I do not advise the general confiscation of their gains, although the
excessive wealth which they amass in a short time, easily proved by the
difference between their possessions on entering office and what they
own at present, must often be the result of thefts and extortions.
Confiscation may be made, in its turn, the greatest of injustice and
violence. Yet I do not think that anyone could complain if the more
flagrant offenders were chastised. Otherwise, they will, as I have said,
ruin the kingdom, which bears on its face the marks of their frauds.

The gold with which they have gorged themselves has opened to them
alliances with the most ancient families, whose blood and character are
thereby so far debased that their representatives resemble their
ancestors no more in the generosity of their motives than they do in the
purity of their features.

I can advise nothing but a great reduction in the number of these
officials, a reform which might be easily accomplished; and the
appointment, in times to come, only of substantial men, of character and
position suitable to this responsibility. As for the plan of squeezing
these financiers like a sponge, or of making treaties and compositions
with them, it is a remedy worse than the disorder; it is as much as to
teach them that peculation is their business and their right.

_Of the People_

All statesmen agree that if the people were in too easy a condition it
would be impossible to restrain them within the limits of their duty.
Having less knowledge and cultivation than those in other ranks of the
state, they would not easily follow the rules prescribed by reason and
by law, unless bound thereto by a certain degree of necessity.

Reason does not permit us to exempt them from all taxation, lest, having
lost the symbol of their subjection, they should forget their legitimate
condition, and, being free from tribute, should think themselves free
from obedience also.

Mules accustomed to a load suffer more from a long rest than they do
from work; but, on the other hand, their work must be moderate and the
load proportionate to their strength. So it is with the taxation of the
people, which becomes unjust if it is not moderated at the point at
which it is useful to the public.

There is a sense in which the tribute which kings draw from the people
returns to the people again, in the enjoyment of peace and in the
security of their life and possessions; for these cannot be safeguarded
unless contribution be made to the state. I know of several princes who
have lost their kingdoms and their subjects by letting their strength
decay through fear of taxing them; and subjects have before now fallen
into servitude to their enemies, through wishing too much liberty under
their natural sovereign. The proportion between the burden and the
strength of those who have to support it ought to be even religiously
observed; a prince cannot be considered good if he draws more than he
ought from his subjects; yet the best princes are not always those who
never levy more than is necessary.

_Reason and Government_

Man, having been made a rational creature, ought to do nothing except by
reason; for, otherwise he acts against nature, and so against the Author
of nature. Again, the greater a man is, and the higher his position, the
more strictly is he bound to follow reason. It follows that if he is
sovereignly rational, he is bound to make reason reign; that is to say,
it is his duty to make all those who are under his authority revere and
obey reason religiously. Love is the most potent motive for obedience;
and it is impossible that subjects should not love their prince if they
know that reason is the guide of all his actions.

Since reason should be the guide of princes, passion, which is of all
things the most incompatible with reason, should be allowed no influence
on their actions. Passion can only blind them; make them take the shadow
for the substance; and win for them odium in the place of affection.

Government requires a masculine virtue and an immovable firmness; for
softness exposes those in whom it is found to the machinations of their
enemies. Though there have been notable exceptions, their softness and
their passions have generally made women unfit for rule.

_Public Interests First_

The public advantage should be the single object of the king and his
counsellors, or should at least be preferred to every private interest.
It is impossible to estimate the good which a prince and his ministers
may do if they religiously follow this principle, or to estimate the
disasters which must fall upon the state whose public interests are
ruled by private considerations. True philosophy, the Christian law, and
the art of statesmanship, unite to teach this truth.

The prosperity which Spain has enjoyed for several centuries has been
due to no other cause than that her council has consistently preferred
the interests of the state to all others, and most of the calamities
which have visited France have been due to the preference of private

It is easy for princes to consent to the general regulations of their
state, because in making them they have only reason and justice before
their eyes, and men willingly embrace reason and justice when there are
no obstacles to turn them from the right path. But when occasions arise
for putting these regulations into practice, we do not find that princes
always show the same firmness, for then the interests of factions and of
minorities are pressed upon them; pity, sympathy, favour, and
importunities solicit them and oppose their just designs; and they have
not always strength enough to conquer themselves and to despise these
partial considerations, which ought to have no weight at all in the
affairs of the commonwealth.

It is on these occasions that they must gather up all their strength
against their weakness, and remember that God has placed them there to
safeguard the public interest.

_The Power of Kingship_

Power is one of the most necessary conditions of the greatness of kings
and of the happiness of their government, and those who have to do with
the conduct of a state should omit nothing which may enhance the
authority of their master and the respect in which he is held by all the

As goodness is the object of love, power is the cause of fear; and fear,
founded in esteem and reverence, makes dutiful conduct the interest of
every subject, and warns all foreigners not to offend a prince who can
harm them if he will.

I have said that the power of which I speak must be founded on esteem,
and I will add that if it be otherwise founded it is dangerous in the
extreme. Princes are never in a more perilous position than when they
are the objects of hatred or aversion rather than of a reasonable fear.

That kingly power which causes princes to be feared with esteem and
love, includes within it different elements of power; it is a tree with
several branches, which draw their nourishment from common Stock. Thus,
the prince must be powerful by his reputation. Secondly, by a reasonable
number of soldiers, continually maintained. Thirdly, by a notable
reserve, in gold, in his coffers, ready for the unforeseen occasions
which arise when least expected. And, lastly, by the possession of the
hearts of his people. If the finances be considerately adjusted on the
principles which I have advised the people will find entire relief, and
the king will base his power on the possession of the hearts of his
subjects. They will know that they are his care, and their own interests
will lead them to love him.

The kings of old thought so highly of this foundation of kingship that
some of them held it worthier to be King of the French than King of
France. Indeed, this nation was in old time illustrious for passionate
attachment to its princes; and under the earlier kings, until Philip the
Fair, the treasure of hearts was the sole public treasure that was
maintained in this kingdom.

I know that we cannot judge of the present altogether by the past, and
that what was good in one century is not always possible in another.
Yet, though the treasure of hearts may not suffice to-day, it is quite
certain that without it the treasure of gold is almost worthless;
without that treasure of hearts we shall be bankrupt in the midst of

_The Whole Duty of Princes_

In conclusion, as kings are obliged to do many more things as sovereigns
than they do in their private capacity, they are liable to be guilty of
far more faults by omission than those of which a private person could
be guilty by commission. Considered as men, they are subject to the same
faults as all other men; but considered as charged with the welfare of
the public, they are subject also to many duties which they cannot omit
without sin.

If princes neglect to do all that they can to rule the various orders of
their state; if they are careless in the choice of good advisers, or
despise their salutary counsels; if they fail to make their own example
a speaking voice; if they are idle in the establishment of the reign of
God, and of reason, and of justice; if they fail to protect the
innocent, to reward public services, and to chastise the guilty and
disobedient; if they are not solicitous to foresee and to provide for
the troubles which may arise, or to turn aside, by careful diplomacy,
the storms which darken the horizon; if favour rather than merit
dictates their choice of ministers for the high offices of the kingdom;
if they do not immovably establish the state in its rightful power; if
they do not on all occasions prefer public interests to private
interests; then, however upright their life may otherwise be, they will
be found far more guilty than those who actively transgress the
commandments and the laws of God. And if kings or magistrates make use
of their power to commit any injustice or violence which they cannot
commit as private persons, they commit a king's or a magistrate's sin,
which has its source in their authority, and one for which the King of
Kings will doubtless demand a searching account on the day of judgement.

* * * * *



Rousseau's "Confessions" were written in England at Wootton,
in Staffordshire, where he had taken refuge after his
revolutionary ideas incurred the displeasure of the
authorities in France. They were first published in 1782. From
this refuge he was pursued from place to place by his
delusions through miserable years, until he died, near Paris,
on July 2, 1778. In no circumstances or relation of his life
was Rousseau a pleasant spectacle. The "Confessions,"
unexpurgated, are often revolting to any sane mind, and have
been proved to be untrustworthy even as a record of fact. But
almost incredible baseness was coupled with extraordinary
gifts, and it is impossible to overestimate Rousseau's
influence upon the modern world, and upon its literature and
its whole point of view and way of thinking. (Rousseau,
biography: see FICTION.)

I am undertaking a task for which there is no example, and one which
will find no imitator. It is to exhibit a man in the whole truth of
nature; and the man whom I shall reveal is myself. Myself alone; for I
verily believe I am like no other living man. In this book I have hidden
nothing evil and added nothing good; and I challenge any man to say,
having unveiled his heart with equal sincerity, "I am better than he."

I was born at Geneva in 1712, son of Isaac Rousseau, watchmaker, and of
Susanne, his wife. My birth, the first of my misfortunes, cost my mother
her life, and I came into the world so weakly that I was not expected to
live. My father's sister lavished on me the tenderest care, and he,
disconsolate, loved me with extreme affection.

Like all children, but even more than others, I felt before I thought;
and my consciousness was first awakened by reading stories with my
father. Sometimes we read together until the birds were singing in the
morning light. These tales gave me a most precocious insight into human
passions, and the confused emotions which swept through me brought with
them the queerest and most romantic views of life. But when I was seven
we came to the end of my mother's old stock of romances, and we fell
back on Bossuet, Moliere, Plutarch, Ovid, and the like. Plutarch went
far to cure me of novels; indeed, his "Lives" were the means of forming
that free and republican spirit, intolerant of servitude, which has been
my torment. To my aunt, who knew endless songs, and used to chant them
with a sweet, tiny thread of a voice, I owe my passion for music.

These, then, were my first affections. These formed that heart of mine,
so proud yet so tender; they fashioned that effeminate yet untamable
character, which has ever drifted between weakness and virtue. For I
have been in contradiction with myself, in such a way that abstinence
and fruition, pleasure and wisdom, have escaped me equally.

My father having left Geneva, I remained under the care of my uncle
Bernard, and was placed, with his son of my own age, in the house of M.
Lambercier, protestant minister at Bossey, to learn all the trivialities
that are called education. Here I gained my keen love of country
pleasures, and tasted, with my cousin, the delights of simple
friendship. But a cruel punishment for a fault which I had not
committed, put an end to my childish simplicity, and soon I left Bossey
without regret. There followed two or three years of indolence at

After a brief and luckless trial of a notary's office I was apprenticed
to an engraver, a petty tyrant, whose injustice taught me to lie and to
steal. Restless, dissatisfied, and in perpetual terror of my master's
savagery, I here reached my sixteenth year. But one day, finding the
city gates closed on my return from a country excursion, I determined,
rather than face the inevitable thrashing, to seek my fortune in the
unknown world.

_Madame de Warens_

How fair were the illusions of freedom and of the future! I asked
little--only a manor where I should be the favourite of the lord of the
land, his daughter's lover, her brother's friend, and protector of the
neighbourhood. I roamed the countryside, sleeping at nights in
hospitable cottages, and on arriving at Confignon I called, out of
curiosity, on M. de Ponteverre, the parish priest. He gave me a dinner
which convinced me, even more than his arguments, of the advantages of
the catholic faith; and I was willing enough to set off, with his
introduction, to Annecy. Here I was to seek Mme. de Warens, a recent
convert, who was in receipt of a pension from the King of Sardinia. I
was assured that her benevolence would support me for the present. Three
days later I was at Annecy.

This introduction fixed my character and destiny. I was now in my
sixteenth year, doubtless of engaging though not striking appearance; I
had the timidity of a loving nature, always afraid of giving offence;
and I was quite without knowledge of the world or of manners. I arrived
on Palm Sunday, 1728. Mme. de Warens had left the house for church; I
ran after her, saw her, spoke to her--how well do I remember the place,
so often in later days wet with my tears and covered with kisses!

I saw an enchanting form, a countenance full of graciousness, a dazzling
colour, blue eyes beaming kindness; you may imagine that my conversion
was from that moment decided. Smiling, she read the good priest's
letter, and sent me back to the house for breakfast.

Louise Eleonore de Warens, daughter of a noble family of Vevai, in the
Vaud country, had early married M. de Warens, of Lausanne. The marriage
was childless and otherwise unfortunate; and the young wife, exasperated
by some domestic difficulty, had abandoned her husband and her country,
and crossing the lake, had thrown herself at the feet of the king. He
took her under his protection, gave her a moderate pension, and for fear
of scandal sent her to Annecy, where she renounced her errors at the
Convent of the Visitation.

She had been six years at Annecy when I met her, and was now
twenty-eight years of age. Her beauty was still in its first radiance,
and her smile was angelic. She was short of stature, but it was
impossible to imagine more beautiful features or hands. Her education
had been very desultory; she had learned more from lovers than from
teachers. She had a strong taste for empirical medicine and for alchemy,
and was always compounding elixirs, tinctures and balms, some of which
she regarded as valuable secrets. So it was that charlatans, trading on
her weakness, made her consume, amid drugs and furnaces, a talent and a
spirit which might have distinguished her in the highest societies. Yet
her loving and sweet character, her compassion for the unhappy, her
inexhaustible goodness and her open and gay humour never changed; and
even when old age was coming on, in the midst of poverty and varied
misfortunes, her inward serenity preserved to the end the charming
gaiety of her youth. All her mistakes arose from a restless activity
which demanded incessant occupation. She thirsted, not for intrigues,
but for enterprises.

Well, the first sight of Mme. de Warens inspired me not only with the
liveliest attachment, but with an entire trust which was never
disappointed. Her presence filled my whole being with peace and

_Three Years in Turin_

My situation was discussed with the Bishop, and it was decided that I
should go to Turin and remain for a time at an institution devoted to
the instruction of catechumens. Thither I went, regarding myself as the
pupil, the friend, and almost the lover, of Mme. de Warens. The great
doors closed upon me, and here I was instructed for several weeks in
very indifferent company. At length, having been received into the
church, I found myself in the street with twenty francs in my pocket,
and the counsel that I should be a good Christian.

I took a lodging in Turin, and was presently introduced, by the kindness
of my hostess, to the service of a countess. But this lady died shortly
afterwards, and I left her house bearing with me lasting remorse for an
atrocious action: I had accused a fellow-servant of a theft which I had
myself committed, and thus may very well have caused the poor child's

Returning to my old lodging, I spent my days in wandering about town,
often offending the public by my depravities. But I had kept certain
acquaintances made during my situation with the countess, and one of
these, a M. Gaime, whom I sometimes visited, gave me most valuable
instructions in the principles of morals. He was a priest, and one of
the most honest men I have known. I had cherished false ideas of life;
he gave me a true picture of it, and showed me that happiness depends
only on wisdom, and that wisdom is to be found in every rank. He used to
say that if everyone could read the hearts of others, most would wish to
descend in the social scale. This M. Gaime is the original, in large
part, of my vicar of Savoy.

Then followed a new situation in the house of the Count de Gouvon,
where, nominally a footman, I was soon treated more as a pupil or even
as a favourite. His son, a priest, did his best to teach me Latin, and I
have since realised that it was the purpose of this noble family, who
had considerable political ambition, to train a talented dependent who
might serve them in offices of great responsibility. But my fatal
inconstancy frustrated this good fortune, my flagrant disobediences led
to my dismissal, and presently I was on the road to Geneva with a gay
lad from thence who had found me out in Turin.

I happened to own a mechanical toy, a little fountain, and our mad
project was nothing less than to pay our way throughout the world by
showing its performances in every village. We started in the highest
spirits, but the fountain was never remunerative, and soon its works
went wrong. This threw no gloom over our merry, fantastic journey, and
it was only when Annecy was near that I became a little thoughtful, for
my benefactress supposed that my last place had established me for life.

We entered the little town and parted, and I came trembling to her door.
The adorable woman showed little surprise, and no sorrow. I told her my
story, and was forgiven. Henceforth her home was mine.

_Seeking a Career_

The house was an old one, but spacious and comfortable, and the window
of my room looked out, over garden and stream, to the open country. The
menage was by no means magnificent, but was abundant in a patriarchal
way; Madame de Warens had no idea of economy, and with her hospitalities
and speculations was ever running more deeply into debt. The household,
besides herself and me, consisted of housemaid, cook, and a footman
named Claude Anet.

From the first day, the sweetest familiarity reigned our intercourse.
She called me "Little one," I called her my little mother, and these
names express the relation of our hearts. She sought always my good,
never her own pleasure; she was deeply attached to me, and lavished on
me her maternal caresses. I was now about nineteen years old, but was
only occupied about the house in writing for her, or in helping her in
her pharmaceutical experiments.

But madame was thinking of my future, and sent me on some pretext to see
M. d'Aubonne, a relative of hers, to find out what might be made of me.
His report of me was, that I was a poor-spirited creature, narrow,
ignorant, and clownish, and that the career of village priest was the
best that could be hoped for. Once more, therefore, I was set to Latin
at the seminary; but after some months I was returned by the bishop and
the rector as incapable of learning, though a passably well-conducted
youth. In the meantime I had been taken with a strong taste for music,
and it was arranged that I should spend the winter at the house of M. le
Maitre, director of music at the cathedral; he was a young man of great
talent and of high spirits, and lived only twenty paces from my little
mother. There I spent one of the most pleasant times of my life. But it
was cut short by a quarrel between Le Maitre and the cathedral chapter,
who had, as he thought, put a slight upon him. His revenge was to desert
his post on the eve of the elaborate Easter services, and madame desired
me to assist him in his flight. I was to attend him to Lyons, and remain
with him as long as he should need me. Her purpose was, as I have since
learned, to detach me from a plausible adventurer, M. Venture, a man of
great musical talent who had turned up at Annecy, and had engaged my
fancy. Our flight was successful. But on the second day after our
arrival at Lyons Le Maitre fell ill with a sudden seizure in the street,
and I, after telling the bystanders the name of his inn, and begging
them to carry him thither, slipped round the nearest corner and
disappeared. Le Maitre was deserted at his worst need by the only friend
on whom he had to count. I returned at once to Annecy, only to find that
madame had left for Paris.

M. Venture, however, was still there, and had turned the heads of all
the ladies in the place, and for a time I shared his lodging. Then,
after travelling with Merceret, the housemaid, as far as her home at
Fribourg-for she had to return thither and could find no other
attendant--I turned aside to Lausanne, with the idea of seeing the lake.
I arrived here without a penny, and it occurred to me to play Venture's
game on my own account. I took a false name, called myself a Parisian,
and having secured a lodging, set up as a teacher of music, though I
knew next to nothing of the art. There was a professor of law in the
town who was an amateur of music, and held concert parties in his house;
to this man I had the effrontry to propose a symphony of my own. I
worked a fortnight at this production, wrote out the instrumental parts,
and on the appointed evening stood up before the orchestra and audience,
tapped my desk, raised by baton, and--never since music began has there
been such an orgy of discords. The musicians could hardly sit in their
chairs for laughing, yet played even louder and louder as the fun took
hold of them; the audience sought to stop their ears; and I, sweat
pouring down my face, conducted this atrocity to the end. But the end
was a little minuet which Venture had taught me; I had appended it to my
symphony, calling it my own work. Its magic put the whole room in good
humour, and I was feliciated on my taste in melody. Next day one of my
orchestra came to see me, and in my despair and broken spirit I told him
my whole story. By nightfall it was known to all Lausanne. But at
Neufchatel, through the next winter, I gradually learned music by
teaching it.

My next occupation was that of interpreter to a Greek prelate and
archimandrite of Jerusalem, whom I met when dining in a little
restaurant. He was collecting money throughout Europe for the
restoration of the Holy Sepulchre; and accompanying him from city to
city, I was of much service to him, even addressing the Senate at Berne
on behalf of his project. Unfortunately for my employer, he addressed
himself to the Marquis de Bonac, who had been ambassador to the Porte,
and knew all about the Holy Sepulchre. I don't know what passed at their
interview, but the archimandrite disappeared and I was detained. In my
desolation I told the marquis the history of my life, and by him was
sent to Paris, with plenty of money in my pocket, to enter the service
of a young friend of his in the army. My first sight of the city was a
disappointment which I have never got over, and the proposed engagement
fell through. Coming to the end of my resources, I set out by way of
Lyons, where I suffered the extremity of poverty, to find Mme. de
Warens, who was now, as I learned, at Chamberi. I came to her house and
found the intendant-general with her. Without addressing me, she said,
"Here, sir, he is; protect him as long as he deserves it, and his future
is assured." And to me, "My child, you belong to the king." And thus I
became a secretary in the ordnance survey. After five years of follies
and sufferings since I had left Geneva, I began to earn an honest

_Our Little Circle_

It was in 1732, and I was nearly twenty-one years old, when I began the
life of the office. I lived with the little mother in a dismal house,
which she rented because it belonged to the financial secretary who
controlled her pension. The faithful Claude Anet was still with her, and
shortly after my return I learned accidentally that their relation was
closer than I had ever dreamed of. In a fit of temper his mistress had
taunted him outrageously. The poor fellow, in despair, had taken
laudanum; and madame, in her terror and distress, told me the whole
story. We brought him round, and things went on as before, but it was
hard to me to know that anyone was more intimate with her than myself.

My passion for music increased this year until I could hardly take
interest in anything else, and at last the work at the office grew so
intolerable to me that I determined to resign my place. I extorted an
unwilling permission from madame, said good-bye to my chief, and threw
myself into the teaching of music.

I soon had as many pupils as I needed, and the constant intercourse with
these ladies was very pleasant to me. But from the stories which I
carried home of our interviews the little mother apprehended dangers of
which I was not at that time conscious. The course which she took was a
singular one. She had rented a little garden outside the town, and here
she invited me to spend the day with her. Thither we went, and from the
drift of her conversation, which was full of good sense and kindliest
warnings, I gradually perceived the degree of her goodness towards me.
The compact involved conditions, and my answer was to be given on that
day week.

Thus was established among the three of us a society to which there is
perhaps no parallel. All our wishes, our cares, our interests were in
common. If one of us was missing from the dinner-table, or a fourth was
present, all seemed out of order. But our little circle was broken all
too soon. Claude Anet, on a botanical excursion, fell a victim to
pleurisy, and died, notwithstanding all her care. He had been a most
watchful economist of her pension and a restraint on her enterprises,
and his loss was felt not only in our diminished party, but also in the
wasting of her resources. For the next three years these went from bad
to worse. Unfortunately, the life to which I had taken, of drifting from
one interest to another--now literature, now chess, now a journey, now
music--brought in nothing and cost a good deal; and to complete our
anxieties, I fell ill nearly to death. Her care and utter devotion saved
me, and from that time our very existence was in common.

_Les Charmettes_

I was ordered to the country. We found near Chamberi a little house, Les
Charmettes, set in a garden among trees, as retired and solitary a home
as if it had been a hundred miles from the town. There we took up a new
life towards the autumn of 1736; there began the brief happiness of my
existence. We were all in all to one another; together we roamed the
country, worked in the garden, gathered fruit and flowers, lay under the
trees and listened to the birds. Golden hours, your memory is my only

Even a sudden illness, which affected my heart so that its pulse has
from that time incessantly throbbed like a drum in my ears, and has made
me a constant sufferer from insomnia, turned out to be a heavenly
blessing. Thinking myself a dead man, I only then began to live, and
applied myself very eagerly to learning. With my little mother as my
teacher, I turned to the study of religion. I sought books, and
philosophy, the sciences, and Latin followed in their turn. Nature,
learning, leisure, and our ineffably sweet companionship--I thought,
poor fool, that these joys would be with me to the end. It was otherwise

My bodily condition has become pitiable, and it was determined that I
should go to Montpellier to consult a physician. I fell in, on the way
thither, with the Marquis de Torignan and his party, who were travelling
in the same direction. We struck up acquaintance, and I joined them,
taking an assumed name, and giving myself out for an Englishman.
Becoming intimate with a Madame de Larnage, who was among them, I
continued to travel with her day by day, after the others had reached
their destination. She was a woman of infinite charm. Mme. de Warens was
forgotten utterly, and I willingly agreed to settle down in her
vicinity, after fulfilling the purpose of my journey to Montpellier.
However, after two pleasurable months in that city, when I found myself
at the stage where the road divided--one road going to Mme. de Larnage,
the other to Les Charmettes--I balanced love against pleasure, and
finding an equipoise, I decided by reason.

The little mother knew by my letter at what hour I should arrive. I came
to the garden; no one came out to meet me. I entered; the servants
seemed surprised to see me. I ran upstairs and found her; her welcome
was restrained and cold. The truth burst upon me. My place was taken!

Darkness flooded my soul, and from that moment onward my sensibilities
have been but half-alive. I took a situation as tutor in a private
family, but all my thoughts were of Charmettes and of our innocent life
together, now gone for ever. O dreadful illusion of human destiny!

_The Gathering Gloom_

I take up my pen again, after an interval of two years, to add a sequel
to my confessions. How different is the picture now! For thirty years
fate had favoured my inclinations, but for the second thirty, which I
must try to sketch, she has ground me in the mortar of the most
appalling afflictions.

This second part must inevitably be inferior, in every respect, to the
first. For I wrote, before, with pleasure and at ease; but now my
decaying memory and enfeebled brain have made me almost incapable of
work, and I have nothing to tell of but treacheries, perfidies, and
torturing memories. The walls around me have ears; I am encompassed by
spies and vigilant enemies. Racked with anxiety and fear, I scribble
page after page without revising them. An immense conspiracy surrounds

[These delusions of suspicion are perhaps the most characteristic
symptoms of insanity. They colour so deeply the entire texture of
Rousseau's prolix second part as to make it not only unreliable, but
almost unreadable. Only its human interest gives value to the first
part; from the second part human interest is totally absent. The unhappy
creature, besotted with intellectual pride, was already insane, inhuman;
and this morbid condition had been aggravated by years of brooding
rancour before he wrote this miserable indictment of men who had done
their best to befriend him.--ED.]

* * * * *



Francois, Duc de la Rochefoucauld, was born in Paris on
September 15, 1613. Sprung from one of the noblest families of
France, handsome, winning, and brave to recklessness, he
intrigued and fought against Richelieu and Mazarin, and was
one of the leaders in the civil war of La Fronde. But though
marked by birth and talent for a high position in the state,
he failed in nearly everything he undertook, owing to his
extraordinary indolence of mind, and in the prime of his life
he became a rather embittered spectator of a world in which he
was not able to make his way. The "Memoirs," with their
studied tone of historical coldness, present a striking
contrast to the brilliant vivacity of the "Maxims." This, in
all probability, is due to the fact that while the latter were
frequently added to and edited during their author's lifetime,
no such fate befell the "Memoirs," of which the first edition,
published without La Rochefoucauld's authority, appeared in
1662. Barely a third of them could be attributed to their
reputed author, the work being compiled mainly from various
commonplace books. In spite of La Rochefoucauld's protests,
the pirated "Memoirs" continued to be printed, and it was not
until very many years after his death, in 1817, that an
authentic edition made its appearance. The "Memoirs" are of
great literary value, yielding in interest to no memoirs of
the time. La Rochefoucauld died in Paris on March 17, 1680.

_Court Intrigues_

King Louis XIII. was of feeble constitution, further impaired by
over-exertion in hunting. His temperament was severe and solitary; he
wished to be governed, but was sometimes impatient of government. His
mind took note only of details, and his knowledge of war was fit rather
for a subordinate officer than for a king. Cardinal Richelieu, who owed
all his elevation to the queen-mother, Marie de Medicis, was ruler of
the state. His vast and penetrating mind formed projects as bold as he
was personally timid. His policy was to establish the king's authority
and his own, by the ruin of the Huguenots and of the great houses of the
kingdom, and then to attack the house of Austria, a power most
redoubtable to France. He stuck at nothing, either to advance his
satellites or to destroy his enemies. The passion which he had long
cherished for the queen had changed to dislike, and she had an aversion
for Richelieu. The king was embittered against her by jealousy and by
the sterility of their marriage. The queen was an amiable woman, without
falsity of any kind, and with many virtues; her intimate friend was
Madame de Chevreuse, who was of her own age and of kindred sentiments.

But Madame de Chevreuse almost always brought misfortune to those whom
she interested in her projects. She had much spirit, ambition, and
beauty, and made full use of her charms to forward these enterprises of
hers. Already Cardinal Richelieu had accused the queen and her of
complicity in Chalais's plot against the king's life--for Chalais had
been her warm admirer--and the king believed in their guilt to the end
of his days. Again, when the young and handsome Lord Holland came to
France to arrange the marriage of the King of England to the sister of
the King of France, and quickly won the affection of Madame de
Chevreuse, the two lovers thought fit to celebrate their attachment by
inspiring a similar intrigue between the French queen and the Duke of
Buckingham, who had not so much as met one another. This astonishing
undertaking was successful. Buckingham came over to wed madame in the
name of his master, and his ardent love for the queen, which she fully
returned, deeply wounded both the king and Richelieu. The cardinal
sought his revenge through Lady Carlisle. That haughty and jealous
woman, to whom Buckingham had long been attached, noticed one night at a
ball in England that he was wearing diamonds which she had not seen
before, and contrived, unobserved, to detach them, in order that she
might send them to Richelieu. These diamonds had been the gift of the
King of France to his queen, and it was intended that the cardinal, by
showing them to the king, should prove the queen's weakness. But the
Duke of Buckingham discovered his loss the same night, and at once
suspected Lady Carlisle's design. He issued an immediate order that the
English ports should be closed, and that no one should be permitted,
under whatever pretext, to leave the country; and then, having had
exactly similar jewels prepared, he sent them to the Queen of France,
with an account of the whole matter.

It was at this time that the cardinal formed the project of the
destruction of the Huguenot party, and of laying siege to La Rochelle.
The Duke of Buckingham came with a powerful fleet to aid La Rochelle,
but in vain; the fortress was taken, and the duke was assassinated in
England. This murder gave the cardinal an inhuman joy; he jested at the
queen's sorrows, and began to hope again.

After the ruin of the Huguenots I returned from the army to court, being
now seventeen years old, and began to notice the state of affairs. The
queen-mother and the cardinal were at enmity, and though everyone saw
that something would come of it, no one could foretell what would
happen. The cardinal's situation was precarious, the king had learned of
his love for the queen, and was quite ready to disgrace him, and even
asked the queen-mother to nominate someone to replace him. She
hesitated, and that hesitation was her ruin and saved the cardinal.

The reversal of the situation took place on the famous "day of dupes,"
on which the queen-mother, presuming too much on her power, challenged
the cardinal, in the king's presence, with his ingratitude and
treacheries. No one doubted but that Richelieu's day was over, and the
whole court crowded to the queen-mother to share her imaginary triumph.
But the king went the same day to Versailles, and the cardinal followed
him; the queen, fearing that she would find Versailles dull and
uncomfortable, remained behind; and the wily statesman made such good
use of his opportunity that the king's consent was won to the downfall
of his mother. She was soon arrested, and her sorrows lasted as long as
her life.

Many were implicated in her ruin, and were exiled or thrown into the
Bastille, or brought to the scaffold; and so much bloodshed and so many
fortunes reversed brought odium on the name of Richelieu. The mild
regency of Marie de Medicis was remembered, and all the great families
lamented that liberty was a thing of the past.

For my part, I thought that the queen's cause was the only one, which an
honourable man could follow. She was unhappy; the cardinal was rather
her tyrant than her lover; she had been good to me, and had trusted me;
Mademoiselle d'Hautefort, with whom I had great friendship, was her
friend, too--sufficient reasons, these, to dazzle a youth who had seen
almost nothing of the world, and to turn his steps in a direction quite
contrary to his interests. King and cardinal alike soon came to detest
me, and my life thenceforth was troubled by the visitations of their
displeasure. In recording the scenes in which I have had a part, I have
no intention of writing history, but only of touching on a few personal

_Richelieu's Death_

War was declared in 1635 against the King of Spain, and I accompanied
the French army of twenty thousand men which marched to the support of
the Prince of Orange in Flanders. During neither this nor the following
winter was I allowed at court. Madame de Chevreuse, who had been sent to
Tours on the occasion of Richelieu's triumph had heard a good account of
me from the queen, and invited me to see her; we soon struck up a very
great friendship, and I came to be a confidential intermediary between
the queen and her, and was often entrusted by one or other of them with
most perilous commissions.

When I was at last readmitted to court in 1637, I found the queen in
great trouble. She had been accused of a crime against the state, a
treasonable understanding with the Spanish minister; some of her
servants were arrested; the chancellor examined her like a criminal; it
was even proposed to seclude her at Havre, annul her marriage, and
repudiate her altogether. In this extremity, abandoned by all the world,
she proposed that I should kidnap her and Mademoiselle d'Hautefort and
carry them off to Brussels. Difficult and dangerous as this project was,
it gave me greater joy than any I had known, for I was at an age when a
man likes to engage in dashing and heroic feats. Happily, however, the
chancellor's investigations proved her majesty not guilty.

But an unfortunate series of accidents led to my imprisonment for a week
in the Bastille. A signal had been agreed upon between the queen and
Madame de Chevreuse during the recent trouble. If all went well, Madame
de Chevreuse was to receive a prayer-book bound in green, but a red
binding was to indicate disaster. I never knew which of the two ladies
made the mistake, but when the queen was acquitted Madame de Chevreuse
received what she took to be the signal of misfortune; concluded that
both she and the queen were undone, and disguising herself as a man, she
fled to Spain. This escapade, so surprising at the very moment when the
Queen's troubles had come to an end, inspired the king and the cardinal
with the gravest suspicions that they had not, after all, fathomed her
majesty's treachery. The cardinal summoned me to Paris, and hinted at
unpleasant consequences if I did not reveal all I knew. I knew nothing;
and as my manner seemed more reserved and dry than he was accustomed to,
I was sent to the Bastille.

The little time that I spent there showed me more vividly than anything
I had yet seen the picture of vengeance. I saw there men of great names
and of great merits, an infinite number of men and women of all ranks in
life, all unhappy in the affliction of long and cruel incarceration. The
sight of so many pitiable creatures did much to increase my natural
hatred for Cardinal Richelieu's administration. I was released in eight
days, and thought myself very fortunate to escape at a period when none
others were set at liberty.

But my disgrace was well repaid. The queen showed herself gratefully
aware of all that I had suffered in her service; Mademoiselle
d'Hautefort gave full expression to her esteem and friendship; and
Madame de Chevreuse was not less gracious. I enjoyed not only the favour
of those to whom I was attached, but also a certain approval which the
world is not slow to give to the unfortunate whose conduct has not
really been disgraceful. Under these conditions an exile of two or three
years from court was not intolerable. I was young; the king and the
cardinal were failing in health; I had everything to hope for from a
change. I was happy in my family, and enjoyed all the pleasures of
country life, and the neighbouring provinces were full of other exiles.

Cardinal Richelieu died on December 4, 1642. Although his enemies could
only rejoice at finding themselves free at last from so many
persecutions, the event has shown that the state could ill spare him. He
had made so many changes in public affairs that he alone was able to
direct them safely. No one before Richelieu had known all the power of
the kingdom, or had been able to gather it all up into the hands of the
sovereign. The severity of his adminstration had cost many lives; the
nobility had been humbled, and the common people had been loaded with
taxes; but the grandeur of his political designs, such as the taking of
La Rochelle, the destruction of the Huguenot party, and the weakening of
the house of Austria, no less than his intrepidity in carrying them out,
have secured for his memory a justly-merited fame.

_Under Mazarin's Rule_

I returned to Paris immediately after the death of Richelieu, thinking
that I might have occasion to serve the queen. In accordance with the
late cardinal's will, Cardinal Mazarin succeeded to his powers. The
king's state of health went from bad to worse, and the court was filled
with intrigues with regard to the regency which must so soon be
appointed. His death took place on May 14, 1643. The queen at once
brought her little son, Louis XIV., to Paris; two days later she was
declared regent in parliament; and the same evening, to the amazement of
his enemies, she appointed Cardinal Mazarin chief of the council.

Mazarin's mind was great, industrious, insinuating, and artful, and his
character was so supple that he could become as many different men as he
had occasion to personate. But he was shortsighted even in his grandest
projects; and, unlike his predecessor, whose mind was bold but his
temperature timid, Mazarin was bolder in temper than in conception. A
pretended moderation veiled his ambition and his avarice; he said he
wanted nothing for himself.

The court was now divided between the Duke of Beaufort and the cardinal,
and it was expected that the return of Madame de Chevreuse would incline
the queen to the former party. But the queen was in no hurry for that
lady's return, knowing well what turmoils she was apt to bring in her
train. Perhaps I urged her recall more boldly than was wise; at any
rate, I won my point, and her majesty sent me to form Madame de
Chevreuse for her appearance at court under the new conditions.

I represented to her how indispensable Cardinal Mazarin was to the
state; that he was accused of no crime, and was guiltless of Richelieu's
oppressions; and that the most fatal course she could take would be to
attempt to govern the queen. Madame de Chevreuse promised to follow my
advice, and came up to court, but her old instincts of domination were
too much for her, and she soon declared herself openly against the
minister who enjoyed all the queen's confidence. She even attempted his
overthrow, and for that purpose united herself to the party known as the
"_Importans_," which was led by the Duke of Beaufort.

After various manoeuvres on the part of the cardinal and of Madame de
Chevreuse to get the upper hand, Mazarin discovered a plot against his
life, in which the Duke of Beaufort was implicated, and had the duke
arrested and imprisoned. At the same time Madame de Chevreuse was sent
away to Tours, and as I was unwilling to promise that I would have no
more to do with her, I lost the favour of the queen, provoked the
cardinal's displeasure, and soon found that Madame de Chevreuse herself
was forgetful of all I had done for her.

Kept in idleness, tantalised by promises of office which were never
fulfilled, and forbidden even to follow the wars, my wretched position
led me at last to seek some way of showing my resentment at the
treatment I had received from the queen and cardinal. The means were at
hand. Like many others, I had come under the spell of the beauty and
charm of Madame de Longueville, and thus come gradually into association
with the party of the Fronde. I followed the Duke of Enghien, her
brother, to the attack on Courtray, then to Mardick, where I was
wounded; and this time of military service united me more closely to his
later interests.

By the year 1647 everyone was weary of Mazarin's rule. His bad faith,
his weakness, and his trickiness were becoming known, provinces and
towns alike were groaning under taxation, and the citizens of Paris were
reduced to mere despair. Parliament tried respectful remonstrances in
vain; the cardinal thought himself safe in the servility of the nation.
But the great majority in France desired a change, and then smouldering
discontent soon burst into a flame.

The Duke of Enghien, who had become, by the death of his father, Prince
of Conde, had gained in 1648 a great victory in Flanders, and a solemn
thanksgiving was held in Notre Dame to celebrate it. Mazarin chose this
moment for the arrest of Broussel and other members of parliament who
had voiced most urgently the public distress. The action roused Paris to
a fury which astonished him; the people sought him to tear him to
pieces; barricades were erected in the streets, and the king and queen
were besieged in the royal palace. Resistance to the parliament's
demands were at the moment impossible; the prisoners had to be released.

I was at this time absent from Paris, having been sent down by the queen
to my government at Poitou, which I had purchased; the province was
almost in insurrection and I had to pacify it. I happened to be deeply
wounded by a new slight which Cardinal Mazarin had put upon me, when
Madame de Longueville sent for me to come to Paris, informing me that
the whole plan for a civil war had been drawn up, and asking for my
counsel in the matter. The news delighted me, and I arrived at the
capital eager for my revenge on the queen and the cardinal.

Mazarin, on the other hand, had formed his plan. Realising that Paris
was unsafe, he determined to leave it, to place the king at
Saint-Germain, and to lay siege to the city, which would soon be reduced
to famine and dissensions. Their escape was made at midnight on the eve
of Epiphany, 1649, all the court following in great disorder.

The city was for a time in much perplexity, but the arrival of the Duke
of Beaufort, who had broken prison at Vincennes, put heart into the
people, who took him for their liberator. Other great personages threw
in their lot with the popular cause; a large war-chest was quickly
raised and troops were levied, and the parliament of Paris put itself
into communication with the other parliaments of the kingdom. All
preparations were made for a civil war, the real basis of which was a
general hatred of Cardinal Mazarin, which was common to both parties. In
an early engagement outside the city I was so gravely wounded as to see
no more of this war, the events of which are hardly worth narrating. On
April 1, 1649, the Parliament received an amnesty from the king. Neither
party had vanquished the other; the cardinal and the parliament were
each as strong as before, but everyone was glad to be rid, for the time,
of the horrors of civil war.

_Wars of the Fronde_

The Prince of Conde, who had great influence in the council, showed
himself so contemptuous to Mazarin, and became so inconvenient to the
queen by his arrogance that she decided to arrest him, and to involve
Madame de Longueville, the duke, her husband, and the Prince of Conti in
the same disgrace. Accordingly, on January 18, 1650, the Prince of
Conde, the Duke of Longueville, and the Prince of Conti were seized and
imprisoned at Vincennes, and the order was given at the same time to
arrest Madame de Longueville and myself. But we succeeded in escaping
together to Dieppe, where we were forced to separate; Madame de
Longueville found refuge at Stenay, where she met with Turenne, and I
returned to my government of Poitou and formed an alliance there with
the Duke of Bouillon, Turenne's brother. Together the duke and I matured
designs which led to the civil war in the south.

My father having died at Verteuil in March, 1650, I succeeded to the
title of Duke of La Rochefoucauld. I invited a large number of nobles
and gentlemen of that region to the funeral ceremonies; our plans were
put before them; though some of them held back, most were favourable;
and I soon found myself at the head of a force of two thousand horse and
eight hundred foot. The Duke of Bouillon and I were joined by the young
Princess of Conde, with her son the Duke of Enghien; we gathered more
troops at Turenne, and marched upon Bordeaux. After overcoming some
opposition, the princess entered that city in triumph on May 31, 1650,
and we joined her a few days later.

The grievance of the princess and the presence of her son excited the
liveliest enthusiasm, and the party opposed to Mazarin had entire
mastery of the town. The revolt of Bordeaux carried with it almost all
Guienne, and Mazarin determined to crush it before it should extend to
the neighbouring provinces. A royal army of veterans was sent down,
Bordeaux was closely invested, an obstinate defence was made, but the
town had to capitulate on September 28, on the condition of an amnesty
to the princess and her adherents.

Meanwhile Turenne, with a Spanish force, had made a vain attempt to
rescue the captive princes, and Mazarin had removed them to Havre, where
the government was devoted to him. There was now such general dread and
hatred of the cardinal, that people were willing to unite with those
whom they had considered their mortal enemies in order to secure his
ruin. In the early days of 1651 I was summoned to Paris by the Princess
Palatine, who united a taste for gallantry with a remarkable talent for
intrigue, and remained for some time hidden in her house, where I was
witness to many consultations for the removal of Mazarin from power. I
even made a last attempt to persuade the cardinal himself to release the
princes; in four nocturnal interviews I tried to show him how all
parties were uniting to compass his ruin, but was unable to convince him
without betraying secrets which were not my own. Mazarin gave me no hope
of their liberation.

Then arose a general storm against the minister, and he made his escape
on the night of February 7. The queen would have followed him with her
son, but the Frondeurs and the partisans of the princes kept her
prisoner in her palace. Without any hope of assistance, and daunted day
and night by an infuriated populate, she sent for me and gave me an
order to the governor of Havre to release the princes immediately. I
warned the leaders of the Fronde that her sincerity was not above
suspicion, and that all depended upon her close imprisonment, and so set
out along the northern road upon my mission. But the cardinal had been
beforehand with me, the princes were at liberty, and on February 16 they
entered Paris in triumph.

Mazarin, who had fled to Cologne, whence he continued to direct the
queen's cabinet, returned to France at the head of a small army in
January, 1652, and arrived at Poitiers without meeting any resistance.
The party opposed to him was rent by faction and strife, but the Prince
of Conde united it, and fought an indecisive engagement with the royal
troops on April 8. On the 11th the prince and I were well received in
Paris, but it was evident that the citizens were weary of all these
troubles, desired nothing so much as the king's return, and detested the
ambition of the leaders of faction. Indeed, the magistrates were
negotiating with Mazarin, and declared the city neutral. On July 2 the
Prince of Conde was marching his force from Saint-Cloud to Charenton
when he was attacked by Turenne; and in the sanguinary combat which
followed, and in which I was fighting beside the prince, I received a
wound in the head which prevented my taking any further part in these

Shortly afterwards, the Prince of Conde, his popularity wholly gone,
took service under the King of Spain; King Louis XIV., amid general
acclamations, returned to Paris on October 21; and Cardinal Mazarin,
having overcome all his enemies, entered the capital in a veritable
triumph, in February, 1653.

* * * * *



Marie de Rabutin-Chantal, who became Madame de Sevigne, was
born at Paris on February 6, 1626. Her father and mother died
during her childhood and Marie was left to the care of her
uncle, priest of Coulanges; she received an admirable
education and became a great lover of history and of classical
literature. At eighteen years of age she married the Marquis
Henri de Sevigne, who was killed in a duel in 1651, and
thenceforth Madame de Sevigne gave herself up altogether to
the care of her two children. Her wit, her kindliness, and
happiness, her charity and fidelity, and especially a certain
rare genius for friendship, won for her the warm devotion of
many great people of that brilliant age. Her daughter was
married in 1669 to the Comte de Grignan, a great official,
lieutenant-general of Languedoc and then of Provence, a man of
honour, but accustomed to the most lavish expenditure, which
burdened his life with enormous debts. The famous "Letters" of
Madame de Sevigne numbering over 1,000 were written over a
period of twenty-five years, chiefly to this daughter, Madame
de Grignan. They are valued for their vivacious and graceful
style, the light which they throw upon the thoughts and
movements of her time, but especially for their revelation of
a wonderfully sweet and gracious personality. Madame de
Sevigne died on April 18, 169696.

_Love for her Daughter_

My dear child: I have been here but three hours, and already take my pen
to talk to you. I left Paris with the Abbe, Helene, Hebert and Marphise,
so that I might get away from the noise and bustle of the town until
Thursday evening. I want to have perfect quietness, in which to reflect.
I intend to fast for many good reasons, and to walk much to make up for
the long time I have spent in my room; and above all, I want to
discipline myself for the love of God.

But, my dear daughter, what I shall do more than all this, will be to
think of you. I have not ceased to do so since I arrived here; and being
quite unable to restrain my feelings, I have betaken myself to the
little shady walk you so loved, to write to you, and am sitting on the
mossy bank where you so often used to lie. But, my dear, where in this
place have I not seen you? Do not thoughts of you haunt my heart
everywhere I turn?--in the house, in the church, in the field, in the
garden--every spot speaks to me of you. You are in my thoughts all the
time, and my heart cries out for you again and again. I search in vain
for the dear, dear child I love so passionately; but she is 600 miles
away, and I cannot call her to my side. My tears fall, and I cannot stop
them. I know it is weak, but this tenderness for you is right and
natural and I cannot be strong.

I wonder what your mood will be when you receive this letter; perhaps at
that moment you will not be touched with the emotions I now feel so
poignantly, and then you may not read it in the spirit in which it was
written. But against that I cannot guard, and the act of writing
relieves my feelings at the moment--that is at least what I ask of it.
You would not believe the condition into which this place has thrown me.

Do not refer to my weakness, I beg of you; but you must love me, and
have respect for my tears, since they flow from a heart which is full of

_The Brinvilliers Affair_

The Brinvilliers affair is still the only thing talked of in Paris. The
Marquise confessed to having poisoned her father, her brothers, and one
of her children. The Chevalier Duget had been one of those who had
partaken of a poisoned dish of pigeon-pie; and when the Brinvilliers was
told three years later that he was still alive, her only remark was
"that man surely has an excellent constitution." It seems she fell
deeply in love with Sainte Croix, an officer in the regiment of her
husband, the Marquis, who lived in their house. Believing that Sainte
Croix would marry her if she were free, she attempted to poison her
husband. Sainte Croix, not reciprocating her desire, administered an
antidote, and thus saved the poor Marquis's life.

And now, all is over. The Brinvilliers is no more. Judgment was given
yesterday and this morning her sentence was read to her--she was to make
a public confession in front of Notre Dame, after which she was to be
executed, her body burnt and her ashes scattered to the winds. She was
threatened with torture, but said it was unnecessary and that she would
tell all. Accordingly she recounted the history of her whole life, which
was even more horrible than anyone had imagined, and I could not hear of
it without shuddering.

At six in the morning she was led out, barefoot, and clad only in one
loose garment, with a halter round her neck. From Notre Dame she was
carried back in the same Tumbril, in which I saw her lying on straw,
with the Doctor on one side of her and the executioner on the other; the
sight of her struck me with horror. I am told that she mounted the
scaffold with a firm step, and died as she had lived, resolutely, and
without fear or emotion.

She asked her confessor to place the executioner so that she need not
gaze on Degrais, who, you _will remember_, tracked her to England, and
ultimately arrested her at Liege. After she had mounted the ladder to
the scaffold she was exposed to the public for a quarter of an hour,
while the executioner arranged her for execution. This raised a murmur
of disapproval among the people, and it was a great cruelty. It seems
that some say she was a saint; and after her body had been burned, the
people crowded near to search for bones as relics, but little was to be
found, as her ashes were thrown into the fire. And, it may be supposed,
that we now inhale what remains of her. It is to be hoped that we shall
not inhale her murderous instincts also.

She had two confessors, of whom one counselled her to tell everything,
the other nothing. She laughed, and said, "I may in conscience do what
pleases me best."

I was pleased to hear what you think of this horrible woman; it is not
possible that she should be in Paradise; her vile soul must be separated
from others.


You ask me if I am devout. Alas! No, which is a sorrow to me; but I am
in a way detached from what is called the world. Old age, and a little
sickness give one time to reflect. But, my dear child, what I do not
give to the world, I give to you; so that I hardly advance in the region
of detachment; and you know the true way towards a devout life lies in
some degree of effacement, first of all, of that which our heart holds

One of my great desires is to become devout. Every day I am tormented by
this idea. I do not belong to God, neither do I belong to the Devil;
this indecision is a perpetual torment to me, although between
ourselves, I believe this state to be a most natural one. One does not
belong to the Devil, because one fears God: also, one does not belong to
God, because His law is hard, and one does not like to renounce oneself.
These are the luke-warm, and their great number does not surprise me at
all; I can enter into their reasonings; but God hates them; therefore we
must cease to serve in this state--and there is the difficulty.

I am overwhelmed by the death of M. du Mans; I had never thought of
death in connection with him. Yet he has died of a trifling fever,
without having had time to think either of heaven or of earth.
Providence sometimes shows its authority by sudden visitations, from
which we should profit.

What you say as to the anxieties which we so often and so naturally feel
about the future, and as to how our inclinations are insensibly changed
by necessity, is a subject worthy of a book like Pascal's; nothing is so
satisfying, nothing so useful as meditations of this kind. But how many
people of your age think this? I know of none; and I honour your sound
reasoning and courage. With me it is not so, especially when my heart
afflicts me; my words are indifferently good; I write as those who speak
well; but the depth of my feeling kills me. This I feel when I write to
you of the pain of separation. I have not myself found the proverb true,
"To cloak oneself according to the cold." I have no cloak against cold
like this. Yet I manage to find occupation, and the time passes somehow.
But in general it is true that our thoughts and inclinations turn into
other channels, and our sorrows cease to be such.

_Love of Life_

You ask me, dear child, if I am still in love with life. I must confess
that I find its sorrows grievous, but my distaste for death is even
stronger. It is sad to think I must finish my life with death, and if it
were possible I would retrace my steps. I find myself embarked on life
without my consent, and am in a perplexing situation. I shall have to
take leave of life, and the fact overwhelms me: for how, or by what
gate, shall I pass away? When will death come, and in what disposition
will it find me? Shall I suffer a thousand pains which will make me die
in despair? Shall I die in a transport of joy? Shall I die of an
accident? How shall I stand before God? What shall I have to offer Him?
Shall I return to Him in fear and necessity, and be conscious of no
other feeling but terror? What can I hope for? Am I worthy of Paradise?
Or worthy only of Hell? What an alternative! What perplexity! Nothing is
so mad as to leave one's safety thus in uncertainty; but nothing is more
natural; and the foolish life I lead is perfectly easy to understand. I
plunge myself into these thoughts; and I find death so terrible, that I
hate life more because it leads to death, than because it leads me
through troublesome places. You will say I wish to live for ever. Not at
all; but if I had been asked, I would willingly have died in my nurse's
arms, for I should thus have avoided many sorrows and would have secured
heaven with certainty and ease.

_The Order of God_

Providence wills order; but if order is nothing other than the will of
God, almost all that occurs is done against His will: all the
persecutions, for instance, against St. Athanasius; all the prosperity
of ill-doers and tyrants--all this is against order and therefore
against the will of God. We must surely hold to what St. Augustine says,
that God permits all these things so that he may manifest His glory by
means that are unknown to us. St. Augustine knows no rule nor order but
the will of God. If we did not follow this doctrine, we should be forced
to conclude that almost everything is contrary to the will of Him who
made it, and this seems to me a dreadful conclusion.

I should like to complain to Father Malebranche about the mice which eat
everything here; is that in order? Sugar, fruit, preserves, everything
is devoured by them. And was it order last year, that miserable
caterpillars destroyed the leaves of our forest-trees and gardens, and
all the fruit in the country-side? Father Payen, most peaceable of men,
has his head broken; is that order? Yes, Father, all that is doubtless
good. God knows how to dispose of it to His glory, though we know not
how. We must take it as true, for if we do not regard the will of God as
equivalent to all law and order, we fall into great difficulties.

You are such a philosopher, my very dear child, that there is no way of
being happy with you. Your mind runs on beyond our hopes to picture to
itself the loss of all we hope for; and you see, in our meetings, the
inevitable separation that is to follow. Surely that is not the way to
deal with the good things Providence prepares for us; we should rather
husband and enjoy them. But after having made this little reproach, I
must confess in all honesty that I deserve it just as much as you. No
one can be more daunted than I am by the flight of time, nor feel more
keenly beforehand the griefs which ordinarily follow pleasures. Indeed,
my daughter, life mingles its good and ill: when one has what one
desires, one is all the nearer to losing it; when it is further from us,
we dream of finding it. So we must just take things as God sends them.
For my part, I would cherish the hope of seeing you without mixing in
with other feelings; and look forward to holding you in my arms next
month. I wish to believe God will allow us this perfect joy, although it
would be the easiest thing in the world to mix it with bitterness, if we
so desired. All that remains, my very dear one, is to breathe and to

_The Prince of Orange and England_

The Prince of Orange has declared himself protector of the religion of
England, and has asked to have charge of the education of the young
Prince. It is a bold step, and several of the English nobility have
joined him. We are all hoping that the Prince of Orange has made a
mistake, and that King James II. will give him a good beating. He has
received the Milords, confirmed the attachment of those most devoted to
him, and has declared entire liberty of conscience. But we understand
that the King of England has united all his people round him, by
affording a greater degree of religious liberty.

* * * * *

What shall we say of this English nation? Its customs and manners go
from bad to worse. The King of England has escaped from London,
apparently by kind permission of the Prince of Orange; the Queen will
arrive at St. Germain in a day or two. It is quite certain that war will
be declared against us soon, if indeed we are not the first to declare
it. We are sending the Abbe Testu to St. Germain to help in establishing
there the King and Queen of England and the Prince of Wales. Our King of
France has behaved quite divinely to these Majesties of England; for to
comfort and sustain, as he has done, a betrayed and abandoned king, is
to act in the image of the Almighty.

* * * * *

It is good news that the King of England has left this morning for
Ireland, where they are anxiously awaiting him. He will be better there
than here. He is travelling through Brittany like lightning, and at
Brest he will find Marshall d'Estree with transport and frigates ready.
He carries large treasure, and the King has given him arms for ten
thousand men; as his Majesty of England was saying good-bye, he said,
laughing, that he had forgotten arms for himself, and our King gave him
his own. Our heroes of romance have done nothing more gallant. What will
not this brave and unfortunate King accomplish with these ever
victorious weapons? He goes forth with the helmet and cuirass of Renaud,
Amadis, and our most illustrious paladins, supported by unexampled
generosity and magnanimity.

_Old Age_

So you have been struck by Madame de la Fayette's words, inspired by so
much friendliness. I never let myself forget the fact that I am growing
old; but I must confess that I was simply astonished at what she said,
because I do not yet feel any infirmity to keep me in mind of my
advancing years. I think of them, however, and find that life offers us
hard conditions: here have I been led, in spite of myself, to the fatal
period at which one must die--old age. I see it; old age has stolen upon
me; and my only desire is to go no further. I do not want to travel
along that road of infirmities, pains, the loss of memory, the
disfigurements to which I look forward as an outrage; yet I hear a voice
saying in my ear--"You must pass down that road, whether you like it or
not, or else you must die"; and this second alternative is as repugnant
to nature as the first. This is the inevitable lot of whoever advances
too far along the course of life. Yet, a return to God's will, and
submission to that universal law which has condemned us all to death, is
enough to seat reason again on her throne, and to give us patience. Do
you too have patience, my darling; don't let your love, too tender,
cause you tears which your reason must condemn.

Your brother has come under the Empire of Ninon de Lenclos; I fear it
will bring evil; she ruined his father. We must recommend him to God.
Christian women, or at least who wish to be so, cannot see disorder like
his without sorrow.

But what a dangerous person this Ninon is! She finds that your brother
has the simplicity of a dove, and is like his mother; it is Madame de
Grignan who has all the salt of the family, and is not so simple as to
be ruled. Someone, meaning to take your part, tried to correct her
notion of you, but Ninon contradicted him and said she knew you better.
What a corrupt creature! Because you are beautiful and spirited she must
needs add to you another quality without which, on her principles, you
cannot be perfect. I have been deeply troubled by the harm she is doing
to my son. But do not speak of the matter to him; Madame de la Fayette
and I are doing our best to extricate him from his perilous attachment.

We have been reading for our amusement those little Provincial Letters.
Heavens, what charm they have! How eagerly my son reads them! I always
think of my daughter, and how worthy of her is the incomparable justice
of their reasoning; but your brother says that you complain that the
writer is always saying the same thing. Well, well; all the better! Is
it possible that there should be a more perfect style, or a finer, more
delicate or more natural raillery? Could anything be more worthy of
comparison with Plato's "Dialogues"? But after the first ten letters,
what earnestness, solidity, force and eloquence! What love for God and
for truth, what exquisite skill in maintaining it and making it
understood, characterise these eight last letters with their so
different tone! I understand that you have read them only hurriedly,
enjoying the more amusing passages; but that is not how one reads them
at leisure.

* * * * *


The Life of Nelson

Robert Southey, man of letters and poet-laureate, was born at
Bristol on August 12, 1774, and received at various schools a
desultory education, which he completed by an idle year at
Oxford. Here he became acquainted with Coleridge; and Southey,
who had practised verse from early boyhood, and acquired a
strong taste for the drama, being also an ardent republican
and romanticist, was easily enlisted by the elder poet in his
scheme for a model republic, or "Pantisocracy," in the wilds
of America. They married two sisters, the Misses Fricker, and
a third sister married Robert Lovel, also a poet. The
experiment of pantisocracy was fortunately never carried out,
and Southey's career for the next eight years was exceedingly
fragmentary; but in 1803 there was a reunion of the three
sisters at Keswick, though one of the husbands, Lovel, was
dead. Here Southey entered steadily and industriously on the
life of an author for livelihood; it was by no means
unremunerative. Southey's output of work, both prose and
verse, was very voluminous, and its quality could not but
suffer. He was appointed poet-laureate in 1813; and received a
government pension of L160 a year from 1807, which was
increased by L300 a year in 1835. He died on March 21, 1843.
In a prefatory note to that peerless model of short
biographies, the "Life of Nelson," which appeared in 1813, and
is considered his most important work, Southey describes it as
"clear and concise enough to become a manual for the young
sailor, which he may carry about with him till he has
treasured up the example in his memory and in his heart."

_I.--A Captain at Twenty_

Horatio, son of Edmund and Catherine Nelson, was born on September 29,
1758, in the parsonage of Burnham Thorpe, a Norfolk village, where his
father was rector. His mother's maiden name was Suckling; her
grandmother was an elder sister of Sir Robert Walpole, and this child
was named after his godfather, the first Lord Walpole. Mrs. Nelson died
in 1767, leaving eight children, and her brother, Captain Maurice
Suckling, R.N., visited the widower, and promised to take care of one of
the boys.

Three years later, when Horatio was twelve years old, he read in the
newspaper that his uncle was appointed to the Raisonnable, and urged his
father to let him go to sea with his Uncle Maurice.

The boy was never strong, but he had already given proofs of a resolute
heart and a noble mind. Captain Suckling took an interest in him, and
sent him on a first voyage in a merchant ship to the West Indies, and
then, as coxswain, with the Arctic expedition of 1773, when Horatio
showed his courage by attacking a Polar bear.

A voyage to the East Indies followed, and gave him the rank of
midshipman. But the tropical climate reduced him almost to a skeleton;
he lost for a time the use of his limbs, and was sent home as his only
chance of life. He returned under great depression of spirits. In later
years he related how the despair was cleared away by a glow of
patriotism, in which his king and country came vividly before his mind.
"Well, then," he exclaimed, "I will be a hero, and, confiding in
Providence, I will brave every danger!"

On April 8, 1777, he passed his examination for a lieutenancy, and was
appointed to the Lowestoft frigate, Captain Locker, then fitting out for
Jamaica. Privateers under American colours were harassing British trade
in the West Indies, and Nelson saw much active service. He was removed
to the Bristol flagship, then to the command of the Badger, then to the
Hinchinbrook, and before the age of twenty-one he had gained a rank
which brought all the honours of the service within his reach.

An expedition was at this time projected to seize the region of Lake
Nicaragua, and thus to cut the communication of the Spaniards between
their northern and southern possessions; and in pursuit of this policy
Nelson was sent with a small force, early in 1780, to Honduras. Here,
after deeds of great gallantry, his command was almost annihilated by
the deadly climate, and he himself was so reduced by dysentery that he
was compelled to return to England.

His next ship was the Albemarle, twenty-eight guns, in which he was
kept, to his great annoyance, in the North Sea for the whole winter of
1781-2, and was sent in the spring to Quebec. The Albemarle then served
on the West Indian station until tidings came that the preliminaries of
peace had been signed, and she returned to England, and was paid off in

"I have closed the war," said Nelson, in one of his letters, "without a
fortune; but there is not a speck on my character. True honour, I hope,
predominated in my mind far above riches." He did not apply for a ship,
because he was not wealthy enough to live on board in the manner which
was then customary.

But, after living for a time in lodgings in St. Omer's in France, he was
appointed to the Boreas, going to the Leeward Islands, and on his
arrival in the West Indies in 1784, found himself senior captain, and
therefore second in command on that station.

The Americans were at this time trading with our islands, taking
advantage of the register of their ships, which had been issued while
they were British subjects. Nelson knew that, by the Navigation Act, no
foreigners, directly or indirectly, were permitted to carry on any trade
with these possessions; and also that the Americans had made themselves
foreigners with regard to England.

Contrary to the orders both of the admiral and of the governor, he
insisted that our ships of war were not sent abroad to make a show of,
and seized four American vessels at Nevis; and when the matter was
brought into court at that place he pleaded his own cause, and the ships
were condemned.

While the lawsuit was proceeding, Nelson formed an attachment to a young
widow, Mrs. Nisbet, niece of the President of Nevis, and was married to
her on March 11, 1787. She was then in her eighteenth year, and had one
child, a son, Josiah, who was three years old. They returned together to
England and took up their abode at the old parsonage, where Nelson
amused himself with farming and country sports, and continued a
relentless campaign against the speculators and fraudulent contractors
attached to the naval service in the West Indies. After many vain
attempts to secure a ship, he was at last appointed, on January 30,
1793, to the Agamemnon, sixty-four guns.

_II.--In the Mediterranean_

The Agamemnon was ordered to the Mediterranean under Lord Hood, and
Nelson was sent with despatches to Sir William Hamilton, our envoy to
the court of Naples. Sir William, after his first interview with him,
told Lady Hamilton that he was about to introduce a little man to her
who could not boast of being very handsome, but who would one day
astonish the world. Thus that acquaintance began which ended in the
destruction of Nelson's domestic happiness, though it threatened no such
consequences then. Here also began that acquaintance with the Neapolitan
court which led to the only blot on Nelson's public character.

Having accomplished this mission, Nelson was sent to join Commodore
Linzee at Tunis, and shortly afterwards to co-operate with General Paoli
and the Anti-Gallican party in Corsica. At this time, 1794, Nelson was
able to say, "My seamen are now what British seamen ought to be, almost
invincible. They really mind shot no more than peas." And again, after
capturing Bastia, "I am all astonishment when I reflect on what we have
achieved! I was always of opinion, have ever acted up to it, and never
had any reason to repent it, that one Englishman was equal to three
Frenchmen." The Agamemnon was then dispatched to co-operate in the siege
of Calvi with General Sir Charles Stuart, at which Nelson lost the sight
of one eye; and later played a glorious part in the attack by Admiral
Hotham's squadron on the French fleet. This action saved Corsica for the

Nelson was made colonel of marines in 1795, a mark of approbation which
he had long wished for; and the Agamemnon was ordered to Genoa, to
co-operate with the Austrian and Sardinian forces. The incapacity and
misconduct of the Austrian General de Vins, however, gave the enemy
possession of the Genoese coast. The Agamemnon, therefore, could no
longer be useful on this station, and Nelson sailed for Leghorn to
refit, and then joined the Mediterranean fleet under Sir John Jervis.

England at that time depended too much on the rotten governments of the
Continent, and too little upon itself. Corsica was therefore abandoned
by Britain, and Nelson, after superintending the evacuation of Corsica,
was ordered to hoist his broad pennant on board the Minerva frigate. He
then sailed for Gibraltar, and proceeded westward in search of the

_III.--St. Vincent and the Nile_

Off the mouth of the Straits of Gilbraltar he fell in with the Spanish
fleet; and on February 13, 1797, reaching the station off Cape St.
Vincent, he communicated this intelligence to Sir John Jervis, and was
directed to shift his broad pennant on board the Captain. On the
following morning was fought the battle of Cape St. Vincent. The British
had only fifteen ships of the line against twenty-seven Spanish ships,
but Britain, largely through Nelson's intrepidity, secured an
overwhelming victory. The commander-in-chief was rewarded with the title
of Earl St. Vincent, and Nelson was advanced to the rank of rear-admiral
and received the Order of the Bath.

Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson was now removed to the Theseus, and was
employed in the blockade of Cadiz, where he went through the most
perilous action in which he was ever engaged. Making a night attack upon
the Spanish gunboats, his barge, carrying twelve men, was attacked by an
armed launch carrying twenty-six men; the admiral was only saved by the
heroic devotion of his coxswain; but eighteen of the enemy were killed,
the rest wounded, and their launch taken.

Twelve days later Nelson sailed at the head of an expedition against
Teneriffe, and on the night of July 24, 1797, made a boat attack on the
port of Santa Cruz. On this occasion he was wounded in the right elbow,
and the arm had to be amputated. The small force, which had made its way
into the town, capitulated on honourable terms, and the Spanish governor
distinguished himself by the most humane and generous conduct to his
enemies. There is no doubt that Nelson's life was saved by the careful
attentions of his stepson, Nisbet, who was with him in the boat.

Nisbet was immediately promoted, and honours awaited Nelson in England.
The freedom of the cities of Bristol and London were conferred on him,
and he received a pension of L1,000 a year. He had performed an
extraordinary series of services during the war; including four actions
with the fleets of the enemy, three actions with boats employed in
cutting out of harbour, and in taking three towns; he had commanded the
batteries at the sieges of Bastia and Calvi, he had assisted at the
capture of twenty-eight ships of war, and had taken and destroyed nearly
fifty merchant vessels; and had been engaged against the enemy upwards
of a hundred and twenty times, in which service he had lost his right
eye and right arm.

Early in 1789, Sir Horatio Nelson hoisted his flag in the Vanguard, and
left England to rejoin Earl St. Vincent. He was dispatched to the
Mediterranean, to ascertain the object of Bonaparte's great expedition,
then fitting out at Toulon; and sailed from Gibraltar on May 9 with
three ships of the line, four frigates, and a sloop. The Vanguard was
dismantled in a storm, but was refitted in the Sardinian harbour of St.
Pietro, and was joined by a reinforcement of eleven ships from Earl St.

The first news of the enemy's armament was that it had surprised Malta,
but Nelson soon heard that they had left that island on June 16, and
judged that Egypt was their destination. He arrived off Alexandria on
the 28th, but did not find them; returned by a circuitous course to
Sicily, then sailed to the Morea, where he gained news of the French,
and on August I came in sight of Alexandria and the French fleet.
"Before this time to-morrow," he said to his officers, "I shall have
gained a peerage or Westminster Abbey."

Bonaparte's ships of war, under Admiral Brueys, were moored in Aboukir
Bay in a strong line of battle; and the advantage of numbers, both in
ships, guns, and men, was in favour of the French. Yet only four French
ships out of seventeen escaped, and the victory was the most complete
and glorious in the annals of naval history.

Nelson was now at the summit of his glory; and congratulations, rewards,
and honours were showered upon him by all the states, princes, and
powers to whom his victory had given respite. He was created Baron
Nelson of the Nile and of Burnham Thorpe, with a pension of L2,000 a
year for his own life, and those of his successors; a grant of L10,000
was voted to him by the East India Company; and the King of Naples made
him Duke of Bronte.

_IV.--Lady Hamilton_

As soon as his shattered frame had sufficiently recovered, Nelson was
called to services of greater importance than any one in which he had
been hitherto employed.

The kindest attentions and warmest affection were awaiting him at
Naples; the king, the queen, and Lady Hamilton, who was the queen's
constant favourite, welcomed their hero and deliverer with the most
splendid festivities. General Mack, with whom Nelson was to co-operate,
was at the head of the Neapolitan troops; and while he marched with
32,000 men into the Roman state, 5,000 Neapolitans were embarked on the
British and Portuguese squadron to take possession of Leghorn.

Nelson's fears of the result were soon verified. "The Neapolitan
officers," he said, "did not lose much honour, for God knows they had
not much to lose--but they lost all they had." The French in the Roman
State routed the cowardly Neapolitans. There was a strong revolutionary
party in Naples itself; and it was agreed that the royal family must
seek safety in flight. Their secret escape, with much treasure, on board
the Vanguard, was conducted with the greatest address by Lady Hamilton,
and Nelson conveyed them through a wild storm to Palermo.

He had by this time formed an infatuated attachment for Lady Hamilton,
which totally weaned his affections from his wife. He was dissatisfied
with himself and weary of the world. But, in accordance with his
principle of duty "to assist in driving the French to the devil and in
restoring peace and happiness to mankind," he at length expelled the
French from Naples and restored Ferdinand to his throne. Weak in health,
dispirited, and smarting under a censure from the Admiralty for a
disobedience to orders, Nelson resigned his command, and reached England
in November 1800, having travelled with Sir William and Lady Hamilton.

The great admiral was welcomed to England with every mark of popular
honour; but he had forfeited domestic happiness for ever. Before he had
been three months at home, he separated from Lady Nelson, vowing that
there was nothing in her or in her conduct that he could have wished

In January 1801 he was sent to the Baltic as second in command under Sir
Hyde Parker. Russia, Denmark, and Sweden had founded a confederacy for
making England resign her naval rights, and the British Cabinet decided
instantly to crush it. The fleet sailed on March 12; Nelson represented
to Sir Hyde Parker the necessity of attacking Copenhagen; and on April 2
the British vessels opened fire on the Danish fleet and land batteries.
The Danes, in return, fought their guns manfully, and at one o'clock,
after three hours' endurance, Sir Hyde Parker gave the signal for
discontinuing action. Nelson ordered that signal to be acknowledged, but
continued to fly the signal for close action. "You know, Foley," he
said, turning to the captain of the ship, "I have only one eye; I have a
right to be blind sometimes!" Then, putting the glass to his blind eye,
in the mood that sports with bitterness, he exclaimed, "I really do not
see the signal. Keep mine for closer battle flying! That's the way I
answer such signals. Nail mine to that mast!" Admiral Graves disobeyed
in like manner, and the other ships of the line also continued the
action. The victory was soon complete, and Sir Hyde Parker heartily
expressed his satisfaction and gratitude.

For the battle of Copenhagen, Nelson was raised to the rank of viscount.
Had he lived long enough, he would have fought his way up to a dukedom.

After holding a command in the English Channel, to watch the
preparations which were being made at Boulogne for an invasion of
England, Nelson retired on the conclusion of the Peace of Amiens to his
estate at Merton, in Surrey, meaning to pass his days there in the
society of Sir William and Lady Hamilton. Sir William died early in
1803, and, as the government would do nothing for her, Nelson settled on
Lady Hamilton a sum equal to the pension of L1,200 a year which her
husband had enjoyed. A few weeks after this event the war was renewed,
and the day after his majesty's message to parliament, Nelson departed
to take command of the Mediterranean fleet.

He took his station immediately off Toulon, and there, with incessant
vigilance, waited for the coming out of the enemy. From May 1803 to
August 1805 he left the Victory only three times, each time upon the
king's service, and on no occasion for more than an hour.

War having been declared between England and Spain, the Toulon fleet,
having the Spaniards to co-operate with them, put to sea on January 18,
1804. Nelson, who was off Sardinia when he heard the news the next day,
sought them in vain through the Mediterranean, until he heard that they
had been dispersed by a gale, and had returned to Toulon. On March 31
they emerged again, and passed out of the Straits of Gibraltar, but the
British fleet was kept by adverse winds from reaching the Atlantic till
April 5.

The enemy had thirty-five days start on their run to the West Indies,
and Nelson, misled by false information, sought them among the islands,
until he learned at Antigua on June 9 that they had sailed again for
Europe. He made all speed across the Atlantic, and again sought the
enemy vainly, until he joined Admiral Cornwallis off Ushant on August
15. The same evening he was ordered to proceed with the Victory and
Superb to Portsmouth.


Here, at last, he heard news of the combined fleets; Sir Robert Calder
had fallen in with them near Finisterre and had fought an indecisive

On September 14, 1805, he passed through the crowds at Portsmouth, many
of whom were in tears, many kneeling and blessing him as he passed. He
arrived off Cadiz on September 29 with twenty-three ships, and on
October 9 he sent Collingwood his plan of attack--what he called "the
Nelson-touch." These tactics consisted in cutting through the line of
the enemy in three places.

On the morning of the 19th the enemy came out of the port of Cadiz, and
all that day and night, and the next day, the British pursued them. At
daybreak of the 21st, the combined fleets were distinctly seen from the
Victory, about twelve miles to leeward. Signal was made to bear down on
the enemy in two lines, and all sail was set, the Victory leading.

Nelson now retired to his cabin and wrote in his diary a prayer
committing himself and the British cause to Heaven, and then wrote a
memorial setting forth Lady Hamilton's services to Britain, and leaving
her and her daughter Horatia as a legacy to his country.

Villeneuve, commanding the enemy, was a skilful seaman, and his plan of
defence was as original as the plan of attack. He formed the fleet in a
double line, every alternate ship being a cable's length to windward of
her second ahead and astern. Nelson, certain of triumph, issued his last
signal: "England expects every man to do his duty," which was received
throughout the fleet with acclamations.

The English lines, led by Nelson and by Collingwood, swept down upon the
hostile fleet, the Victory steering for the bow of the Santissima
Trinidad. At four minutes after twelve she opened fire, and almost
immediately ran against the Redoubtable. Four ships, two British and two
French, formed as compact a tier as if they had been moored together,
their heads all lying the same way.

At a quarter past one, a ball fired from the mizzen-top of the
Redoubtable struck Nelson on the left shoulder, and he fell on his face.
"They have done for me at last, Hardy," he said; "my backbone is shot
through." He was carried below, laid on a pallet in the midshipmen's
berth, and insisted that the surgeon should leave him--"for you can do
nothing for me." He was in great pain, and expressed much anxiety for
the event of the action, until Captain Hardy was able to tell him that
fifteen of the enemy had been taken. Repeating that he left Lady
Hamilton and Horatia as a legacy to his country, and exclaiming, "Thank
God, I have done my duty!" Nelson expired.

He cannot be said to have fallen prematurely whose work was done.

* * * * *



Marguerite Jeanne de Launay, Baronne de Staal, was born in
Paris on May 30, 1684. Her father was a painter of the name of
Cordier who was in England when his daughter was born; and the
name by which she was known, de Launay, was that of her
mother's family. Her story is told by herself, with admirable
sincerity, in these Memoirs, which follow her life until the
year 1735, when, at the age of fifty-one, she married Baron de
Staal, a widower and an officer in the Guard. Her death took
place in Paris on June 16, 1750. Her Memoirs, first published
in 1755, are among the most interesting records of that
period, and though their historical accuracy has been doubted,
her portraits of persons are vivid and convincing. Her style
has been highly commended by Sainte-Beuve and other French
literary critics.

_A Convent Child_

If I write the record of my life, it is not because it deserves
attention, but in order to amuse myself by my recollections. My story is
just the opposite of the ordinary romance, wherein a girl brought up as
a peasant becomes an illustrious princess; for I was treated in
childhood as a person of distinction, and had to find out later that I
was a nobody and owned nothing in the world. And so, not having been
trained from the first to ill fortune, my spirit has always rebelled
against the servitude in which I have had to live.

My father, for some reason that I never knew, had to leave France and
live in England; and my mother, alone in Paris and without resources,
took me with her as an infant to find a refuge in the abbey of
Saint-Sauveur d'Evreux in Normandy, where Madame de La Rochefoucauld,
the abbess, received us free of charge.

There was at that time a lengthy disagreement between King Louis XIV.
and the Pope with regard to the nomination of abbesses, in consequence
of which two ladies Mesdames de Grieu, having been disappointed of an
expected establishment, retired to Saint-Sauveur, where they formed a
great friendship with my mother, and became devoted to her two-year-old
child. I was naturally very popular in the convent, and having a bright
disposition I was educated with the utmost care.

Chiefly with a view to giving me greater advantage, the elder Madame de
Grieu sought and at length obtained the Priory of Saint-Louis at Rouen,
and took me thither with the consent of my mother. Saint-Louis was like
a little kingdom, where I reigned as a sovereign; the abbess and her
sister had no thought but to satisfy my every fancy, and the whole
convent was forced to pay court to me. All that was done for me cost me
so little that it seemed a matter of course that I should be flattered
and served, and at an early age I had contracted all the defects which I
have since had to allow for in the great.

This extreme indulgence would have turned my defects into vices, if
devotion had not ruled my passions from the first. Religion was the one
great object before my eyes; I had been well instructed in it; I read
continually the devotional books in the convent library, and passed much
of my time in prayer and meditation. Yet my early desire to become a nun
passed gradually away, until I thought of it no more.

Book of the day: