Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot

Part 2 out of 9

Adobe PDF icon
Download A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times pdf
File size: 1.1 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.

to the Bank; gold and silver were concealed everywhere. The crisis was
becoming imminent; Law boldly announced that the value of the notes was
reduced by a half. The public outcry was so violent that the Regent was
obliged to withdraw the edict, as to which the council had not been
consulted. "Since Law became comptroller-general, his head has been
turned," said the prince. That same evening Law was arrested by the
major of the Swiss; it was believed to be all over with him, but the
admirable order in which were his books, kept by double entry after the
Italian manner, as yet unknown in France, and the ingenious expedients
he indicated for restoring credit, gave his partisans a moment's fresh
confidence. He ceased to be comptroller-general, but he remained
director of the Bank. The death-blow, however, had been dealt his
system, for a panic terror had succeeded to the insensate enthusiasm of
the early days. The Prince of Conti had set the example of getting back
the value of his notes; four wagons had been driven up to his house laden
with money. It was suffocation at the doors of the Bank, changing small
notes, the only ones now payable in specie. Three men were crushed to
death on one day in the crowd. It was found necessary to close the
entrances to Quincampoix Street, in order to put a stop to the feverish
tumult arising from desperate speculation. The multitude moved to the
Place Vendome; shops and booths were thrown up; there was a share-fair;
this ditty was everywhere sung in the streets:--

[Illustration: La Rue Quincampoix---68]

"On On Monday I bought share on share;
On Tuesday I was a millionaire;
On Wednesday took a grand abode;
On Thursday in my carriage rode;
On Friday drove to the Opera-ball;
On Saturday came to the paupers' hall."

To restore confidence, Law conceived the idea of giving the seals back to
D'Aguesseau; and the Regent authorized him to set out for Fresnes. In
allusion to this step, so honorable for the magistrate who was the object
of it, Law afterwards wrote from Venice to the Regent, "In my labors I
desired to be useful to a great people, as the chancellor can bear me
witness. . . . At his return I offered him my shares, which were then
worth more than a hundred millions, to be distributed by him amongst
those who had need of them." The chancellor came back, though his
influence could neither stop the evil, nor even assuage the growing
disagreement between the Duke of Orleans and the Parliament. None could
restore the public sense of security, none could prevent the edifice from
crumbling to pieces. With ruin came crimes. Count Horn, belonging to
the family of the celebrated Count Horn, who was beheaded under Philip
II., in company with Count Lamoral d'Egmont, murdered at an inn a poor
jobber whom he had inveigled thither on purpose to steal his pocket-book.
In spite of all his powerful family's entreaties, Count Horn died on the
wheel, together with one of his accomplices. It was represented to the
Regent that the count's house had the honor of being connected with his.
"Very, well, gentlemen," said he, "then I will share the shame with you,"
and he remained inflexible.

The public wrath and indignation fastened henceforth upon Law, the author
and director of a system which had given rise to so many hopes, and had
been the cause of so many woes. His carriage was knocked to pieces in
the streets. President de Mesmes entered the Grand Chamber, singing with
quite a solemn air,--

"Sirs, sirs, great news! What is it?
It's--They've smashed Law's carriage all to bits."

The whole body jumped up, more regardful of their hatred than of their
dignity; and "Is Law torn in pieces?" was the cry. Law had taken refuge
at the Palais Royal. One day he appeared at the theatre in the Regent's
box; low murmurs recalled to the Regent's mind the necessity for
prudence; in the end he got Law away secretly in a carriage lent him by
the Duke of Bourbon.

Law had brought with him to France a considerable fortune; he had
scarcely enough to live upon when he retired to Venice, where he died
some years later (1729), convinced to the last of the utility of his
system, at the same time that he acknowledged the errors he had committed
in its application. "I do not pretend that I did not make mistakes," he
wrote from his retreat; "I know I did, and that if I had to begin again I
should do differently. I should go more slowly but more surely, and I
should not expose the state and my own person to the dangers which may
attend the derangement of a general system." "There was neither avarice
nor rascality in what he did," says St. Simon; "he was a gentle, kind,
respectful man, whom excess of credit and of fortune had not spoilt, and
whose bearing, equipage, table, and furniture could not offend anybody.
He bore with singular patience and evenness the obstructions that were
raised against his operations, until at the last, finding himself short
of means, and nevertheless seeking for them and wishing to present a
front, he became crusty, gave way to temper, and his replies were
frequently ill-considered. He was a man of system, calculation,
comparison, well informed and profound in that sort of thing, who was the
dupe of his Mississippi, and in good faith believed in forming great and
wealthy establishments in America. He reasoned Englishwise, and did not
know how opposed to those kinds of establishments are the levity of our
nation and the inconveniences of a despotic government, which has a
finger in everything, and under which what one minister does is always
destroyed or changed by his successor." The disasters caused by Law's
system have recoiled upon his memory. Forgotten are his honesty, his
charity, his interest in useful works; remembered is nothing but the
imprudence of his chimerical hopes and the fatal result of his
enterprises, as deplorable in their effects upon the moral condition of
France, as upon her wealth and her credit.

The Regent's rash infatuation for a system, as novel as it was seductive,
had borne its fruits. The judgment which his mother had pronounced upon
Philip of Orleans was justified to the last. "The fairies," said Madame,
"were all invited to the birth of my son; and each endowed him with some
happy quality. But one wicked fairy, who had been forgotten, came
likewise, leaning upon her stick, and not being able to annul her
sisters' gifts, declared that the prince should never know how to make
use of them."

Throughout the successive periods of intoxication and despair caused by
the necessary and logical development of Law's system, the Duke of
Orleans had dealt other blows and directed other affairs of importance.
Easy-going, indolent, often absorbed by his pleasures, the Regent found
no great difficulty in putting up with the exaltation of the
legitimatized princes; it had been for him sufficient to wrest authority
from the Duke of Maine, he let him enjoy the privileges of a prince of
the blood. "I kept silence during the king's lifetime," he would say;
"I will not be mean enough to break it now he is dead." But the Duke of
Bourbon, heir of the House of Conde, fierce in temper, violent in his
hate, greedy of honors as well as of money, had just arrived at man's
estate, and was wroth at sight of the bastards' greatness. He drew after
him the Count of Charolais his brother, and the Prince of Conti his
cousin; on the 22d of April, 1716, all three presented to the king a
request for the revocation of Louis XIV.'s edict declaring his
legitimatized sons princes of the blood, and capable of succeeding to the
throne. The Duchess of Maine, generally speaking very indifferent about
her husband, whom she treated haughtily, like a true daughter of the
House of Conde, flew into a violent passion, this time, at her cousins'
unexpected attack; she was for putting her own hand to the work of
drawing up the memorial of her husband and of her brother-in-law, the
Count of Toulouse. "The greater part of the nights was employed at it,"
says Madame de Stael, at that time Mdlle. do Launay, a person of much
wit, half lady's maid, half reader to the duchess. "The huge volumes,
heaped up on her bed like mountains overwhelming her, caused her," she
used to say, "to look, making due allowances, like Enceladus, buried
under Mount AEtna. I was present at the work, and I also used to turn
over the leaves of old chronicles and of ancient and modern
jurisconsults, until excess of fatigue disposed the princess to take
some repose."

[Illustration: The Duke of Maine----71]

All this toil ended in the following declaration on the part of the
legitimatized princes: "The affair, being one of state, cannot be decided
but by a king, who is a major, or indeed by the States-general." At the
same time, and still at the instigation of the Duchess of Maine, thirty-
nine noblemen signed a petition, modestly addressad to "Our Lords of the
Parliament," demanding, in their turn, that the affair should be referred
to the states-general, who alone were competent, when it was a question
of the succession to the throne.

The Regent saw the necessity of firmness. "It is a maxim," he declared,
"that the king is always a major as regards justice; that which was done
without the states-general has no need of their intervention to be
undone." The decree of the council of regency, based on the same
principles, suppressed the right of succession to the crown, and cut
short all pretensions on the part of the legitimatized princes' issue to
the rank of princes of the blood; the rights thereto were maintained in
the case of the Duke of Maine and the Count of Toulouse, for their lives,
by the bounty of the Regent, "which did not prevent the Duchess of Maine
from uttering loud shrieks, like a maniac," says St. Simon, "or the
Duchess of Orleans from weeping night and day, and refusing for two
months to see anybody." Of the thirty-nine members of the nobility who
had signed the petition to Parliament, six were detained in prison for a
month, after which the Duke of Orleans pardoned them. "You know me, well
enough to be aware that I am only nasty when I consider myself positively
obliged to be," he said to them. The patrons, whose cause these noblemen
had lightly embraced, were not yet at the end of their humiliations.

[Illustrations: The Duchess of Maine----72]

The Duke of Bourbon was not satisfied with their exclusion from the
succession to the throne; he claimed the king's education, which belonged
of right, he said, to the first prince of the blood, being a major. In
his hatred, then, towards the legitimatized, he accepted with alacrity
the Duke of St. Simon's proposal to simply reduce them to their rank by
seniority in the peerage, with the proviso of afterwards restoring the
privileges of a prince of the blood in favor of the Count of Toulouse
alone, as a reward for his services in the navy. The blow thus dealt
gratified all the passions of the House of Conde and the wrath of Law,
as well as that of the keeper of the seals, D'Argenson, against the
Parliament, which for three months past had refused to enregister all
edicts. On the 24th of August, 1718, at six in the morning, the
Parliament received orders to repair to the Tuileries, where the king was
to hold a bed of justice., The Duke of Maine, who was returning from a
party, was notified, as colonel of the Swiss, to have his regiment under
arms; at eight o'clock the council of regency was already assembled; the
Duke of Maine and the Count of Toulouse arrived in peer's robes. The
Regent had flattered himself that they would not come to the bed of
justice, and had not summoned them. He at once advanced towards the
Count of Toulouse, and said out loud that he was surprised to see him in
his robes, and that he had not thought proper to notify him of the bed of
justice, because he knew that, since the last edict, he did not like
going to the Parliament. The Count of Toulouse replied that that was
quite true, but that, when it was a question of the welfare of the State,
he put every other consideration aside. The Regent was disconcerted; he
hesitated a moment, then, speaking low and very earnestly to the Count of
Toulouse, he returned to St. Simon. "I have just told him all," said he,
"I couldn't help it; he is the best fellow in the world, and the one who
touches my heart the most. He was coming to me on behalf of his brother,
who had a shrewd notion that there was something in the wind, and that he
did not stand quite well with me; he had begged him to ask me whether I
wished him to remain, or whether he would not do well to go away. I
confess to you that I thought I did well to tell him that his brother
would do just as well to go away, since he asked me the question; that,
as for himself, he might safely remain, because he was to continue just
as he is, without alteration; but that something might take place rather
disagreeable to M. du Maine. Whereupon, he asked me how he could remain,
when there was to be an attack upon his brother, seeing that they were
but one, both in point of honor and as brothers. I do believe, there
they are just going out," added the Regent, casting a glance towards the
door, as the members of the council were beginning to take their places:
"they will be prudent; the Count of Toulouse promised me so." "But, if
they were to do anything foolish, or were to leave Paris?" "They shall
be arrested, I give you my word," replied the Duke of Orleans, in a
firmer tone than usual. They had just read the decree reducing the
legitimatized to their degree in the peerage, and M. le Duc had claimed
the superintendence of the king's education, when it was announced that
the Parliament, in their scarlet robes, were arriving in the court of the
palace. Marshal de Villeroi alone dared to protest. "Here, then," said
he with a sigh, "are all the late king's dispositions upset; I cannot see
it without sorrow. M. du Maine is very unfortunate." "Sir," rejoined
the Regent, with animation, "M. du Maine is my brother-in-law, but I
prefer an open to a hidden enemy."

With the same air the Duke of Orleans passed to the bed of justice, "with
a gentle but resolute majesty, which was quite new to him; eyes
observant, but bearing grave and easy; M. le Duc staid, circumspect,
surrounded by a sort of radiance that adorned his whole person, and under
perceptible restraint; the keeper of the seals, in his chair, motionless,
gazing askance with that witful fire which flashed from his eyes and
which seemed to pierce all bosoms, in presence of that Parliament which
had so often given him orders standing at its bar as chief of police, in
presence of that premier president, so superior to him, so haughty, so
proud of his Duke of Maine, so mightily in hopes of the seals." After
his speech, and the reading of the king's decree, the premier president
was for attempting a remonstrance; D'Argenson mounted the step,
approached the young king, and then, without taking any opinion, said, in
a very loud voice, "The king desires to be obeyed, and obeyed at once."
There was nothing further for it but to enregister the edict; all the
decrees of the Parliament were quashed.

Some old servants of Louis XIV., friends and confidants of the Duke of
Maine, alone appeared moved. The young king was laughing, and the crowd
of spectators were amusing themselves with the scene, without any
sensible interest in the court intrigues. The Duchess of Maine made her
husband pay for his humble behavior at the council; "she was," says St.
Simon, "at one time motionless with grief, at another boiling with rage,
and her poor husband wept daily like a calf at the biting reproaches and
strange insults which he had incessantly to pocket in her fits of anger
against him."

In the excess of her indignation and wrath, the Duchess of Maine
determined not to confine herself to reproaches. She had passed her life
in elegant entertainments, in sprightly and frivolous intellectual
amusements; ever bent on diverting herself, she made up her mind to taste
the pleasure of vengeance, and set on foot a conspiracy, as frivolous as
her diversions. The object, however, was nothing less than to overthrow
the Duke of Orleans, and to confer the regency on the King of Spain,
Philip V., with a council and a lieutenant, who was to be the Duke of
Maine. "When one has once acquired, no matter how, the rank of prince of
the blood and the capability of succeeding to the throne," said the
duchess, "one must turn the state upside down, and set fire to the four
corners of the kingdom, rather than let them be wrested from one." The
schemes for attaining this great result were various and confused.
Philip V. had never admitted that his renunciation of the crown of France
was seriously binding upon him; he had seen, by the precedent of the war
of devolution, how a powerful sovereign may make sport of such acts; his
Italian minister, Alberoni, an able and crafty man, who had set the crown
of Spain upon the head of Elizabeth Farnese, and had continued to rule
her, cautiously egged on his master into hostilities against France.
They counted upon the Parliaments, taking example from that of Paris, on
the whole of Brittany, in revolt at the prolongation of the tithe-tax, on
all the old court, accustomed to the yoke of the bastards and of Madame
de Maintenon, on Languedoc, of which the Duke of Maine was the governor;
they talked of carrying off the Duke of Orleans, and taking him to the
castle of Toledo; Alberoni promised the assistance of a Spanish army.
The Duchess of Maine had fired the train, without the knowledge, she
said, and probably against the will, too, of her husband, more indolent
than she in his perfidy. Some scatter-brains of great houses were mixed
up in the affair; MM. de Richelieu, de Laval, and de Pompadour; there was
secret coming and going between the castle of Sceaux and the house of the
Spanish ambassador, the Prince of Cellamare; M. de Malezieux, the
secretary and friend of the duchess, drew up a form of appeal from the
French nobility to Philip V., but nobody had signed it, or thought of
doing so. They got pamphlets written by Abbe Brigault, whom the duchess
had sent to Spain; the mystery was profound, and all the conspirators
were convinced of the importance of their manoeuvres; every day, however,
the Regent was informed of them by his most influential negotiator with
foreign countries, Abbe Dubois, his late tutor, and the most depraved of
all those who were about him. Able and vigilant as he was, he was not
ignorant of any single detail of the plot, and was only giving the
conspirators time to compromise themselves. At last, just as a young
abbe, Porto Carrero, was starting for Spain, carrying important papers,
he was arrested at Poitiers, and his papers were seized. Next day,
December 7, 1718, the Prince of Cellamare's house was visited, and the
streets were lined with troops. Word was brought in all haste to the
Duchess of Maine. She had company, and dared not stir. M. de Chatillon
came in; joking commenced. "He was a cold creature, who never thought of
talking," says Madame de Stael in her memoirs. "All at once he said,
'Really there is some very amusing news: they have arrested and put in
the Bastille, for this affair of the Spanish ambassador, a certain Abbe
Bri . . . . Bri' he could not remember the name, and those who knew
it had no inclination to help him. At last he finished, and added, 'The
most amusing part is, that he has told all, and so, you see, there are
some folks in a great fix.' Thereupon he burst out laughing for the
first time in his life. The Duchess of Maine, who had not the least
inclination thereto, said, 'Yes, that is very amusing.' 'O! it is enough
to make you die of laughing,' he resumed; 'fancy those folks who thought
their affair was quite a secret; here's one who tells more than he is
asked, and names everybody by name!'" The agony was prolonged for some
days; jokes were beginning to be made about it at the Duchess of Maine's;
she kept friends with her to pass the night in her room, waiting for her
arrest to come. Madame de Stael was reading Machiavelli's conspiracies.
"Make haste and take away that piece of evidence against us," said Madame
du Maine, laughingly, "it would be one of the strongest."

The arrest came, however; it was six A.M., and everybody was asleep, when
the king's men entered the Duke of Maine's house. The Regent had for a
long time delayed to act, as if he wanted to leave everybody time to get
away; but the conspirators were too scatter-brained to take the trouble.
The duchess was removed to Dijon, within the government, and into the
very house of the Duke of Bourbon, her nephew, which was a very bitter
pill for her. The Duke of Maine, who protested his innocence and his
ignorance, was detained in the Castle of Dourlans in Picardy. Cellamare
received his passports and quitted France. The less illustrious
conspirators were all put in the Bastille; the majority did not remain
there long, and purchased their liberty by confessions, which the Duchess
of Maine ended by confirming. "Do not leave Paris until you are driven
thereto by force," Alberoni had written to the Prince of Cellamare, "and
do not start before you have fired all the mines." Cellamare started,
and the mines did not burst after his withdrawal; conspiracy and
conspirators were covered with ridicule; the natural clemency of the
Regent had been useful; the part of the Duke and Duchess of Maine was
played out.

The only serious result of Cellamare's conspiracy was to render imminent
a rupture with Spain. From the first days of the regency the old enmity
of Philip V. towards the Duke of Orleans and the secret pretensions of
both of them to the crown of France, in case of little Louis XV.'s death,
rendered the relations between the two courts thorny and strained at
bottom, though still perfectly smooth in appearance. It was from England
that Abbe Dubois urged the Regent to seek support. Dubois, born in the
very lowest position, and endowed with a soul worthy of his origin, was
"a little, lean man, wire-drawn, with a light colored wig, the look of a
weasel, a clever expression," says St. Simon, who detested him; "all
vices struggled within him for the mastery; they kept up a constant
hubbub and strife together. Avarice, debauchery, ambition, were his
gods; perfidy, flattery, slavishness, his instruments; and complete
unbelief his comfort. He excelled in low intrigues; the boldest lie was
second nature to him, with an air of simplicity, straightforwardness,
sincerity, and often bashfulness." In spite of all these vices, and the
depraving influence he had exercised over the Duke of Orleans from his
earliest youth, Dubois was able, often far-sighted, and sometimes bold;
he had a correct and tolerably practical mind. Madame, who was afraid of
him, had said to her son on the day of his elevation to power, "I desire
only the welfare of the state and your own glory; I have but one request
to make for your honor's sake, and I demand your word for it, that is,
never to employ that scoundrel of an Abbe Dubois, the greatest rascal in
the world, and one who would sacrifice the state and you to the slightest
interest." The Regent promised; yet a few months later and Dubois was
Church-councillor of State, and his growing influence with the prince
placed him, at first secretly, and before long openly, at the head of
foreign affairs.

[Illustration: Cardinal Dubois----78]

James Stuart, King James II.'s son, whom his friends called James III.
and his enemies Chevalier St. George, had just unsuccessfully attempted a
descent upon Scotland. The Jacobites had risen; they were crying aloud
for their prince, who remained concealed in Lorraine, when at last he
resolved to set out and traverse France secretly. Agents, posted by the
English ambassador, Lord Stair, were within an ace of arresting him,
perhaps of murdering him. Saved by the intelligence and devotion of the
post-mistress of Nonancourt, he embarked on the 26th of December at
Dunkerque, too late to bring even moral support to the men who were
fighting and dying for him. Six weeks after landing at Peterhead, in
Scotland, he started back again without having struck a blow, without
having set eyes upon the enemy, leaving to King George I. the easy task
of avenging himself by sending to death upon the scaffold the noblest
victims. The Duke of Orleans had given him a little money, had known of
and had encouraged his passage through France, but had accorded him no
effectual aid; the wrath of both parties, nevertheless, fell on him.

Inspired by Dubois, weary of the weakness and dastardly incapacity of the
Pretender, the Regent consented to make overtures to the King of England.
The Spanish nation was favorable to France, but the king was hostile to
the Regent; the English loved neither France nor the Regent, but their
king had an interest in severing France from the Pretender forever.
Dubois availed himself ably of his former relations with Lord Stanhope,
heretofore commander of the English troops in Spain, for commencing a
secret negotiation which soon extended to Holland, still closely knit to
England. "The character of our Regent," wrote Dubois on the 10th of
March, 1716, "leaves no ground for fearing lest he should pique himself
upon perpetuating the prejudices and the procedure of our late court,
and, as you yourself remark, he has too much wit not to see his true
interest." Dubois was the bearer to the Hague of the Regent's proposals;
King George was to cross over thither; the clever negotiator veiled his
trip under the pretext of purchasing rare books; he was going, he said,
to recover from the hands of the Jews Le Poussin's famous pictures of the
Seven Sacraments, not long ago carried off from Paris. The order of
succession to the crowns of France and England, conformably to the peace
of Utrecht, was guaranteed in the scheme of treaty; that was the only
important advantage to the Regent, who considered himself to be thus
nailing the renunciation of Philip V.; in other respects all the
concessions came from the side of France; her territory was forbidden
ground to the Jacobites, and the Pretender, who had taken refuge at
Avignon on papal soil, was to be called upon to cross the Alps. The
English required the abandonment of the works upon the canal of Mardyck,
intended to replace the harbor of Dunkerque the Hollanders claimed
commercial advantages. Dubois yielded on all the points, defending to
the last with fruitless tenacity the title of King of France, which the
English still disputed. The negotiations came to an end at length on the
6th of January, 1717, and Dubois wrote in triumph to the Regent, "I
signed at midnight; so there are you quit of servitude (your own master),
and here am I quit of fear." The treaty of the triple alliance brought
the negotiator before long a more solid advantage; he was appointed
secretary of state for foreign affairs; it was on this occasion that he
wrote to Mr. Craggs, King George's minister, a letter worthy of his
character, and which contributed a great deal towards gaining credit for
the notion that he had sold himself to England. "If I were to follow
only the impulse of my gratitude and were not restrained by respect, I
should take the liberty of writing to H. B. Majesty to thank him for the
place with which my lord the Regent has gratified me, inasmuch as I owe
it to nothing but to the desire he felt not to employ in affairs common
to France and England anybody who might not be agreeable to the King of
Great Britain."

At the moment when the signature was being put to the treaty of the
triple alliance, the sovereign of most distinction in Europe, owing to
the eccentric renown belonging to his personal merit, the czar Peter the
Great, had just made flattering advances to France. He had some time
before wished to take a trip to Paris, but Louis XIV. was old,
melancholy, and vanquished, and had declined the czar's visit. The
Regent could not do the same thing, when, being at the Hague in 1717,
Peter I. repeated the expression of his desire. Marshal Cosse was sent
to meet him, and the honors due to the king himself were everywhere paid
to him on the road. A singular mixture of military and barbaric
roughness with the natural grandeur of a conqueror and creator of an
empire, the czar mightily excited the curiosity of the Parisians.
"Sometimes, feeling bored by the confluence of spectators," says Duclos,
"but never disconcerted, he would dismiss them with a word, a gesture, or
would go away without ceremony, to stroll whither his fancy impelled him.
He was a mighty tall man, very well made, rather lean, face rather round
in shape, a high forehead, fine eyebrows, complexion reddish and brown,
fine black eyes, large, lively, piercing; well-opened; a glance majestic
and gracious when he cared for it, otherwise stern and fierce, with a tic
that did not recur often, but that affected his eyes and his whole
countenance, and struck terror. It lasted an instant, with a glance wild
and terrible, and immediately passed away. His whole air indicated his
intellect, his reflection, his grandeur, and did not lack a certain
grace. In all his visits he combined a majesty the loftiest, the
proudest, the most delicate, the most sustained, at the same time the
least embarrassing when he had once established it, with a politeness
which savored of it, always and in all cases; masterlike everywhere, but
with degrees according to persons. He had a sort of familiarity which
came of frankness, but he was not exempt from a strong impress of that
barbarism of his country which rendered all his ways prompt and sudden,
and his wishes uncertain, without bearing to be contradicted in any."
Eating and drinking freely, getting drunk sometimes, rushing about the
streets in hired coach, or cab, or the carriage of people who came to see
him, of which he took possession unceremoniously, he testified towards
the Regent a familiar good grace mingled with a certain superiority;
at the play, to which they went together, the czar asked for beer; the
Regent rose, took the goblet which was brought and handed it to Peter,
who drank, and, without moving, put the glass back on the tray which the
Regent held all the while, with a slight inclination of the head, which,
however, surprised the public. At his first interview with the little
king, he took up the child in his arms, and kissed him over and over
again, "with an air of tenderness and politeness which was full of
nature, and nevertheless intermixed with a something of grandeur,
equality of rank, and, slightly, superiority of age; for all that was
distinctly perceptible." We know how he went to see Madame de Maintenon.
One of his first visits was to the church of the Sorbonne; when he caught
sight of Richelieu's monument, he ran up to it, embraced the statue, and,
"Ah! great man," said he, "if thou wert still alive, I would give thee
one half of my kingdom to teach me to govern the other."

[Illustration: Peter the Great and Little Louis XV----82]

The czar was for seeing everything, studying everything; everything
interested him, save the court and its frivolities; he did not go to
visit the princesses of the blood, and confined himself to saluting them
coldly, whilst passing along a terrace; but he was present at a sitting
of the Parliament and of the academies, he examined the organization of
all the public establishments, he visited the shops of the celebrated
workmen, he handled the coining-die whilst there was being struck in his
honor a medal bearing a Fame with these words: _Vires acquiret eundo_
('Twill gather strength as it goes.) He received a visit from the doctors
of the Sorbonne, who brought him a memorial touching the reunion of the
Greek and Latin Churches. "I am a mere soldier," said he, "but I will
gladly have an examination made of the memorial you present to me."
Amidst all his chatting, studying, and information-hunting, Peter the
Great did not forget the political object of his trip. He wanted to
detach France from Sweden, her heretofore faithful ally, still receiving
a subsidy which the czar would fain have appropriated to himself.
Together with his own alliance, he promised that of Poland and of
Prussia. "France has nothing to fear from the emperor," he said; as for
King George, whom he detested, "if any rupture should take place between
him and the Regent, Russia would suffice to fill towards France the place
of England as well as of Sweden."

Thanks to the ability of Dubois, the Regent felt himself infeoffed to
England; he gave a cool reception to the overtures of the czar, who
proposed a treaty of alliance and commerce. Prussia had already
concluded secretly with France; Poland was distracted by intestine
struggles; matters were confined to the establishment of amicable
relations; France thenceforth maintained an ambassador in Russia, and the
czar accepted the Regent's mediation between Sweden and himself. "France
will be ruined by luxury and daintiness," said Peter the Great, at his
departure, more impressed with the danger run by the nation from a court
which was elegant even to effeminacy than by the irregularity of the
morals, to which elsewhere he was personally accustomed.

Dubois, however, went on negotiating, although he had displayed no sort
of alacrity towards the czar; he was struggling everywhere throughout
Europe against the influence of a broader, bolder, more powerful mind
than his own, less adroit perhaps in intrigue, but equally destitute of
scruples as to the employment of means. Alberoni had restored the
finances, and reformed the administration of Spain; he was preparing an
army and a fleet, meditating, he said, to bring peace to the world, and
beginning that great enterprise by manoeuvres which tended to nothing
less than setting fire to the four corners of Europe, in the name of an
enfeebled and heavy-going king, and of a queen ambitious, adroit, and
unpopular, "both of whom he had put under lock and key, keeping the key
in his pocket," says St. Simon. He dreamed of reviving the ascendency of
Spain in Italy, of overthrowing the Protestant king of England, whilst
restoring the Stuarts to the throne, and of raising himself to the
highest dignities in Church and State. He had already obtained from Pope
Clement XI. the cardinal's hat, disguising under pretext of war against
the Turks the preparations he was making against Italy; he had formed an
alliance between Charles XII. and the czar, intending to sustain, by
their united forces, the attempts of the Jacobites in England. His first
enterprise, at sea, made him master of Sardinia within a few days; the
Spanish troops landed in Sicily. The emperor and Victor Amadeo were in
commotion; the pope, overwhelmed with reproaches by those princes, wept,
after his fashion, saying that he had damned himself by raising Alberoni
to the Roman purple; Dubois profited by the disquietude excited in Europe
by the bellicose attitude of the Spanish minister to finally draw the
emperor into the alliance between France and England. He was to renounce
his pretensions to Spain and the Indies, and give up Sardinia to Savoy,
which was to surrender Sicily to him. The succession to the duchies of
Parma and Tuscany was to be secured to the children of the Queen of
Spain. "Every difficulty would be removed if there were an appearance of
more equality," wrote the Regent to Dubois on the 24th of January, 1718.
"I am quite aware that my personal interest does not suffer from this
inequality, and that it is a species of touchstone for discovering my
friends as well at home as abroad. But I am Regent of France, and I
ought to so behave myself that none may be able to reproach me with
having thought of nothing but myself. I also owe some consideration to
the Spaniards, whom I should completely disgust by making with the
emperor an unequal arrangement, about which their glory and the honor of
their monarchy would render them very sensitive. I should thereby drive
them to union with Alberoni, whereas, if a war were necessary to carry
our point, we ought to be able to say what Count Grammont said to the
king: "At the time when we served your Majesty against Cardinal Mazarin.
Then the Spaniards themselves would help us." In the result, France and
England left Holland and Savoy free to accede to the treaty; but, if
Spain refused to do so voluntarily within a specified time, the allies
engaged to force her thereto by arms.

The Hollanders hesitated; the Spanish ambassador at the Hague had a medal
struck representing the quadruple alliance as a coach on the point of
falling, because it rested on only three wheels. Certain advantages
secured to their commerce at last decided the States-general. Victor
Amadeo regretfully acceded to the treaty which robbed him of Sicily; he
was promised one of the Regent's daughters for his son.

Alberoni refused persistently to accede to the great coalition brought
about by Dubois. Lord Stanhope proposed to go over to Spain in order to
bring him round. "If my lord comes as a lawgiver," said the cardinal,
"he may spare himself the journey. If he comes as a mediator I will
receive him; but in any case I warn him that, at the first attack upon
our vessels by an English squadron, Spain has not an inch of ground on
which I would answer for his person." Lord Stanhope, nevertheless, set
out for Spain, and had the good fortune to leave it in time, though
without any diplomatic success. Admiral Byng, at the head of the English
fleet, had destroyed the Spanish squadron before Messina; the troops
which occupied Palermo found themselves blockaded without hope of relief,
and the nascent navy of Spain was strangled at the birth. Alberoni, in
his fury, had the persons and goods seized of English residents settled
in Spain, drove out the consuls, and orders were given at Madrid that no
tongue should wag about the affairs of Sicily. The hope of a sudden
surprise in England, on behalf of the Jacobites, had been destroyed by
the death of the King of Sweden, Charles XII., killed on the 12th of
December, 1718, at Freiderishalt, in Norway; the flotilla equipped by
Alberoni for Chevalier St. George, had been dispersed and beaten by the
elements; the Pretender henceforth was considered to cost Spain too dear;
he had just been sent away from her territory at the moment when the
conspiracy of Cellamare failed in France; in spite of the feverish
activity of his mind, and the frequently chimerical extent of his
machinations, Alberoni remained isolated in Europe, without ally and
without support.

The treaty of the quadruple alliance had at last come to be definitively
signed; Marshal d'Huxelles, head of the council of foreign affairs, an
enemy to Dubois, and displeased at not having been invited to take part
in the negotiations, at first refused his signature. [_Memoires de St.
Simon,_ t. xix. p. 365.] "At the first word the Regent spoke to him, he
received nothing but bows, and the marshal went home to sulk; caresses,
excuses, reasons, it was all of no use; Huxelles declared to the Marquis
of Effiat, who had been despatched to him, that he would have his hand
cut off rather than sign. The Duke of Orleans grew impatient, and took a
resolution very foreign to his usual weakness; he sent D'Antin to Marshal
d'Huxelles, bidding him to make choice of this: either to sign or lose
his place, of which the Regent would immediately dispose in favor of
somebody who would not be so intractable (_farouclae_) as he. O, mighty
power of orvietan (_a counterpoison_)! This man so independent, this
great citizen, this courageous minister, had no sooner heard the threat,
and felt that it would be carried into effect, than he bowed his head
beneath his huge hat, which he always had on, and signed right off,
without a word. He even read the treaty to the council of regency in a
low and trembling voice, and when the Regent asked his opinion, 'the
opinion of the treaty,' he answered, between his teeth, with a bow."
Some days later appeared, almost at the same time--the 17th of December,
1718, and the 9th of January, 1719--the manifestoes of England and
France, proclaiming the resolution of making war upon Spain, whilst
Philip V., by a declaration of December 25th, 1718, pronounced all
renunciations illusory, and proclaimed his right to the throne of France
in case of the death of Louis XV. At the same time he made an appeal to
an assembly of the States-general against the tyranny of the Regent, "who
was making alliances," he said, "with the enemies of the two crowns."

For once, in a way, Alberoni indulged the feelings of the king his
master, and, in spite of the good will felt by a part of the grandees
towards France, Spain was, on the whole, with him; he no longer felt
himself to be threatened, as he had been a few months before, when the
king's illness had made him tremble for his greatness, and perhaps for
his life. He kept the monarch shut up in his room, refusing entrance to
even the superior officers of the palace. [_Memoires de St. Simon,_
t. xv.] "The Marquis of Villena, major-domo major, having presented
himself there one afternoon, one of the valets inside half opened the
door, and told him, with much embarrassment, that he was forbidden to let
him in. 'You are insolent, sir,' replied the marquis; 'that cannot be.'
He pushed; the door against the valet and went in. The marquis, though
covered with glory, being very weak on his legs, thus advances with short
steps, leaning on his little stick. The queen and the cardinal see him,
and look at one another. The king was too ill to take notice of
anything, and his curtains were drawn. The cardinal, seeing the marquis
approach, went up to him, and represented to him that the king wished to
be alone, and begged him to go away. 'That is not true,' said the
marquis. 'I kept my eye upon you, and the king never said a word to
you.' The cardinal, insisting, took him by the arm to make him go out;
what with the heat of the moment, and what with the push, the marquis,
being feeble, fell into an arm-chair which happened to be by. Wroth at
his fall, he raises his stick and brings it down with all his might,
hammer and tongs, about the cardinal's ears, calling him a little rascal,
a little hound, who deserved nothing short of the stirrup-leathers. When
he did at last go out, the queen had looked on from her seat at this
adventure all through, without moving or saying a word, and so had the
few who were in the room, without daring to stir. The curious thing is,
that the cardinal, mad as he was, but taken completely by surprise at the
blows, did not defend himself, and thought of nothing but getting clear.
The same evening the marquis was exiled to his estates, without ever
wanting to return from them, until the fall of Alberoni." Alberoni has
sometimes been compared to the great cardinals who had governed France.
To say nothing of the terror with which Richelieu inspired the grandees,
who detested him, the Prince of Coude would not have dared to touch
Cardinal Mazarin with the tip of his cane, even when the latter "kissed
his boots" in the courtyard of the castle at Havre.

Alberoni had persuaded his master that the French were merely awaiting
the signal to rise in his favor; the most odious calumnies were
everywhere circulating against the Regent; he did not generally show that
he was at all disturbed or offended by them; however, when the poem of
the Philippics by La Grange appeared, he desired to see it; the Duke of
St. Simon took it to him. "'Read it to me,' said the Regent. 'That I
will never do, Monseigneur,' said I. He then took it and read it quite
low, standing up in the window of his little winter-closet, where we
were. All at once I saw him change countenance, and turn towards me,
tears in his eyes, and very near fainting. 'All,' said he to me, 'this
is too bad, this horrid thing is too much for me.' He had lit upon the
passage where the scoundrel had represented the Duke of Orleans purposing
to poison the king, and all ready to commit his crime. I have never seen
man so transfixed, so deeply moved, so overwhelmed by a calumny so
enormous and so continuous. I had all the pains in the world to bring
him round a little." King Louis XV., who had no love and scarcely any
remembrance, preserved all his life some affection for the Regent, and
sincere gratitude for the care which the latter had lavished upon him.
The Duke of Orleans had never desired the crown for himself, and the
attentions full of tender respect which he had shown the little king had
made upon the child an impression which was never effaced.

The preparations for war with Spain meanwhile continued; the Prince of
Conti was nominally at the head of the army, Marshal Berwick was
intrusted with the command. He accepted it, in spite of his old
connections with Spain, the benefits which Philip V. had heaped upon
him, and the presence of his eldest son, the Duke of Liria, in the
Spanish ranks. There were others who attached more importance to
gratitude. Berwick thought very highly of lieutenant-general Count
D'Asfeldt, and desired to have him in his army; the Duke of Orleans spoke
to him about it. "Monseigneur," answered D'Asfeldt, "I am a Frenchman, I
owe you everything, I have nothing to expect save from you, but," taking
the Fleece in his hand and showing it, "what would you have me do with
this, which I hold, with the king's permission, from the King of Spain,
if I were to serve against Spain, this being the greatest honor that I
could have received?" He phrased his repugnance so well, and softened it
down by so many expressions of attachment to the Duke of Orleans, that he
was excused from serving against Spain, and he contented himself with
superintending at Bordeaux the service of the commissariat. The French
army, however, crossed the frontier in the month of March, 1719. "The
Regent may send a French army whenever he pleases," wrote Alberoni, on
the 21st November, 1718; "proclaim publicly that there will not be a shot
fired, and that the king our master will have provisions ready to receive
them." He had brought the king, the queen, and the prince of the
Asturias into the camp; Philip V. fully expected the desertion of the
French army in a mass. Not a soul budged; some refugees made an attempt
to tamper with certain officers of their acquaintance; their messenger
was hanged in the middle of Marshal Berwick's camp. Fontarabia, St.
Sebastian, and the Castle of Urgel fell before long into the power of the
French; another division burned, at the port of Los Pasages, six vessels
which chanced to be on the stocks; an English squadron destroyed those at
Centera and in the port of Vigo. Everywhere the depots were committed to
the flames: this cruel and destructive war against an enemy whose best
troops were fighting far away, and who was unable to offer more than a
feeble resistance, gratified the passions and the interests of England
rather than of France. "It was, of course, necessary," said Berwick,
"that the English government should be able to convince the next
Parliament that nothing had been spared to diminish the navy of Spain."
During this time the English fleet and the emperor's troops were keeping
up an attack in Sicily upon the Spanish troops, who made a heroic
defence, but were without resources or re-enforcements, and were
diminishing, consequently, every day. The Marquis of Leyden no longer
held anything but Palermo and the region round AEtna.

Alberoni had attempted to create a diversion by hurling into the midst
of France the brand of civil war. Brittany, for a long time past
discontented with its governor, the Marquis of Montesquiou, and lately
worked upon by the agents of the Duchess of Maine, was ripe for revolt;
a few noblemen took up arms, and called upon the peasants to enter the
forest with them, that is, to take the field. Philip V. had promised the
assistance of a fleet, and had supplied some money. But the peasants did
not rise, the Spanish ships were slow to arrive, the enterprise attempted
against the Marquis of Montesquiou failed, the conspirators were
surrounded in the forest of Noe, near Rennes; a great number were made
prisoners and taken away to Nantes, where a special chamber inquired into
the case against them. Three noblemen and one priest perished on the

Insurrection, as well as desertion and political opposition, had been a
failure; Philip V. was beaten at home as well as in Sicily. The Regent
succeeded in introducing to the presence of the King of Spain an unknown
agent, who managed to persuade the monarch that the cardinal was shirking
his responsibility before Europe, asserting that the king and queen had
desired the war, and that he had confined himself to gratifying their
passions. The Duke of Orleans said, at the same time, quite openly, that
he made war not against Philip V. or against Spain, but against Alberoni
only. Lord Stanhope declared, in the name of England, that no peace was
possible, unless its preliminary were the dismissal of the pernicious
minister. The fall of Alberoni was almost as speedy as that which he had
but lately contrived for his enemy the Princess des Ursins. On the 4th
of December, 1719, he received orders to quit Madrid within eight days
and Spain under three weeks. He did not see the king or queen again, and
retired first to Genoa, going by France, and then finally to Rome. He
took with him an immense fortune. It was discovered, after his
departure, that he had placed amongst the number of his treasures, the
authentic will of Charles II., securing the throne of Spain to Philip V.
He was pursued, his luggage ransacked, and the precious document
recovered. Alberoni had restored order in the internal administration
of Spain; he had cleared away many abuses; Italian as he was, he had
resuscitated Spanish ambition. "I requickened a corpse," he used to say.
His views were extensive and daring, but often chimerical; he had reduced
to a nullity the sovereign whom he governed for so long, keeping him shut
up far away from the world, in a solitude which he was himself almost the
only one to interrupt. "The queen has the devil in her," he used to say;
"if she finds a man of the sword who has some mental resources and is a
pretty good general, she will make a racket in France and in Europe."
The queen did not find a general; and on the 17th of February, 1720,
peace was signed at the Hague between Spain and the powers in coalition
against her, to the common satisfaction of France and Spain, whom so many
ties already united. The haughty Elizabeth Farnese looked no longer to
anybody but the Duke of Orleans for the elevation of her children.

So great success in negotiation, however servile had been his bearing,
had little by little increased the influence of Dubois over his master.
The Regent knew and despised him, but he submitted to his sway and
yielded to his desires, sometimes to his fancies. Dubois had for a long
while comprehended that the higher dignities of the church could alone
bring him to the grandeur of which he was ambitious; yet everything about
him seemed to keep them out of his reach, his scandalous life, his
perpetual intrigues, the baseness, not of his origin, but of his
character and conduct; nevertheless, the see of Cambrai having become
vacant by the death of Cardinal de la Tremoille, Dubois conceived the
hope of obtaining it. "Impudent as he was," says St. Simon, "great as
was the sway he had acquired over his master, he found himself very much
embarrassed, and masked his effrontery by ruse; he told the Duke of
Orleans that he had dreamed a funny dream, that he was Archbishop of
Cambrai. The Regent, who saw what he was driving at, answered him in a
tone of contempt, 'Thou, Archbishop of Cambrai! thou hast no thought of
such a thing?' And the other persisting, he bade him think of all the
scandal of his life. Dubois had gone too far to stop on so fine a road,
and quoted to him precedents, of which there were, unfortunately, only
too many. The Duke of Orleans, less moved by such bad reasons than put
to it how to resist the suit of a man whom he was no longer wont to dare
gainsay in anything, sought to get out of the affair. 'Why! who would
consecrate thee?' 'Ah! if that's all,' replied Dubois, cheerfully, 'the
thing is done. I know well who will consecrate me; but is that all, once
more?' 'Well! who?' asked the Regent. 'Your premier almoner; there he
is, outside; he will ask nothing better.' And he embraces the legs of
the Duke of Orleans,--who remains stuck and caught without having the
power to refuse,--goes out, draws aside the Bishop of Nantes, tells him
that he himself has got Cambrai, begs him to consecrate him,--who
promises immediately,--comes in again, capers, returns thanks, sings
praises, expresses wonder, seals the matter more and more surely by
reckoning it done, and persuading the Regent that it is so, who never
dared say no. That is how Dubois made himself Archbishop of Cambrai."

He was helped, it is said, by a strange patron. Destouches, charge
d'affaires in London, who was kept well informed by Dubois, went to see
George I., requesting him to write to the Regent, recommending to him the
negotiator of the treaties. The king burst out laughing. "How can you
ask a Protestant prince," said he, "to mix himself up with the making of
an archbishop in France? The Regent will laugh at the idea, as I do, and
will do nothing of the sort." "Pardon me, sir," rejoined Destouches, "he
will laugh, but he will do it, first out of regard for your Majesty, and
then because he will think it a good joke. I beseech your Majesty to be
pleased to sign the letter I have here already written." King George
signed, and the adroit Dubois became Archbishop of Cambrai. He even
succeeded in being consecrated, not only by the Bishop of Nantes, but
also by Cardinal Rohan and by Massillon, one of the glories of the French
episcopate, a timid man and a poor one, in despite of his pious
eloquence. The Regent, as well as the whole court, was present at the
ceremony, to the great scandal of the people attached to religion.
Dubois received all the orders on the same day; and, when he was joked
about it, he brazen-facedly called to mind the precedent of St. Ambrose.
Dubois henceforth cast his eyes upon the cardinal's hat, and his
negotiations at Rome were as brisk as those of Alberoni had but lately
been with the same purpose.

Amidst so much defiance of decency and public morality, in the presence
of such profound abuse of sacred things, God did not, nevertheless,
remain without testimony, and his omnipotent justice had spoken. On the
21st of July, 1719, the Duchess of Berry, eldest daughter of the Regent,
had died at the Palais-Royal, at barely twenty-four years of age; her
health, her beauty, and her wit were not proof against the irregular life
she had led. Ere long a more terrible cry arose from one of the chief
cities of the kingdom. "The plague," they said, "is at Marseilles,
brought, none knows how, on board a ship from the East." The terrible
malady had by this time been brooding for a month in the most populous
quarters without anybody's daring to give it its real name. "The public
welfare demands," said Chancellor d'Aguesseau, "that the people should be
persuaded that the plague is not contagious, and that the ministry should
behave as if it were persuaded of the contrary." Meanwhile emigration
was commencing at Marseilles; the rich folks had all taken flight; the
majority of the public functionaries, unfaithful to their duty, had
imitated them, when, on the 31st of July, 1720, the Parliament of Aix,
scared at the contagion, drew round Marseilles a sanitary line,
proclaiming the penalty of death against all who should dare to pass it;
the mayor (_viguier_) and the four sheriffs were left alone, and without
resources to confront a populace bewildered by fear, suffering, and, ere
long, famine. Then shone forth that grandeur of the human soul, which
displays itself in the hour of terror, as if to testify of the divine
image still existing amidst the wreck of us. Whilst the Parliament was
flying from threatened Aix, and hurrying affrighted from town to town,
accompanied or pursued in its route by the commandant of the province,
all that while the Bishop of Marseilles, Monseigneur de Belzunce, the
sheriffs Estelle and Moustier, and a simple officer of health, Chevalier
Roze, sufficed in the depopulated town for all duties and all acts of

The plague showed a preference for attacking robust men, young people,
and women in the flower of their age; it disdained the old and the sick;
there was none to care for the dying, none to bury the dead. The doctors
of Marseilles had fled, or dared not approach the dying without
precautions, which redoubled the terror. "The doctors ought to be
abolished," wrote Dubois to the Archbishop of Aix, "or ordered to show
more ability and less cowardice, for it is a great calamity."

Some young doctors, arriving from Montpellier, raised the courage of
their desponding brethren, and the sick no longer perished without help.
Rallying round the bishop, the priests, assisted by the members of all
the religious orders, flew from bedside to bedside, and from grave to
grave, without being able to suffice for the duties of their ministry.
"Look at Belzunce," writes M. Lemontey; "all he possessed, he has given;
all who served him are dead; alone, in poverty, afoot, in the morning he
penetrates into the most horrible dens of misery, and in the evening, he
is found again in the midst of places bespattered with the dying; he
quenches their thirst, he comforts them as a friend, he exhorts them as
an apostle, and on this field of death he gleans abandoned souls. The
example of this prelate, who seems to be invulnerable, animates with
courageous emulation--not the clergy of lazy and emasculated dignitaries,
for they fled at the first approach of danger, but--the parish-priests,
the vicars and the religious orders; not one deserts his colors, not one
puts any bound to his fatigues save with his life. Thus perished twenty-
six Recollects and eighteen Jesuits out of twenty-six. The Capucins
summoned their brethren from the other provinces, and the latter rushed
to martyrdom with the alacrity of the ancient Christians; out of fifty-
five the epidemic slew forty-three. The conduct of the priests of the
Oratory was, if possible, more magnanimous. The functions of the sacred
ministry were forbidden them by the bishop, a fanatical partisan of the
bull Unigenitus; they refused to profit by their disqualification, and
they devoted themselves to the service of the sick with heroic humility;
nearly all succumbed, and there were still tears in the city for the
Superior, a man of eminent piety."

[Illustration: Belzunce amid the Plague-stricken----96]

During more than five months the heroic defenders of Marseilles struggled
against the scourge. The bishop drew the populace on to follow in his
steps, in processions or in the churches, invoking the mercy of God in
aid of a city which terror and peril seemed to have the effect of
plunging into the most awful corruption. Estelle, Moustier, and
Chevalier Roze, heading the efforts attempted in all directions to
protect the living and render the last offices to the dead, themselves
put their hands to the work, aided by galley-men who had been summoned
from the hulks. Courage was enough to establish equality between all
ranks and all degrees of virtue. Monseigneur de Belzunce sat upon the
seat of the tumbrel laden with corpses, driven by a convict stained with
every crime.

Marseilles had lost a third of its inhabitants. Aix, Toulon, Arles, the
Cevennes, the Gevaudan were attacked by the contagion; fearful was the
want in the decimated towns long deprived of every resource. The Regent
had forwarded corn and money; the pope sent out three ships laden with
provisions; one of the vessels was wrecked, the two others were seized by
Barbary pirates, who released them as soon as they knew their
destination. The cargo was deposited on a desert island in sight of
Toulon. Thither it was that boats, putting off from Marseilles, went to
fetch the alms of the pope, more charitable than many priests,
accompanying his gifts with all the spiritual consolations and
indulgences of his holy office. The time had not come for Marseilles and
the towns of Provence to understand the terrible teaching of God.
Scarcely had they escaped from the dreadful scourge which had laid them
waste, when they plunged into excesses of pleasure and debauchery, as if
to fly from the memories that haunted them. Scarcely was a thought given
to those martyrs to devotion who had fallen during the epidemic; those
who survived received no recompense; the Regent, alone, offered
Monseigneur de Belzunce the bishopric of Laon, the premier ecclesiastical
peerage in the kingdom; the saintly bishop preferred to remain in the
midst of the flock for which he had battled against despair and death.
It was only in 1802 that the city of Marseilles at last raised a monument
to its bishop and its heroic magistrates.

Dubois, meanwhile, was nearing the goal of all his efforts. In order to
obtain the cardinal's hat, he had embraced the cause of the Court of
Rome, and was pushing forward the registration by Parliament of the Bull
Unigenitus. The long opposition of the Duke of Noailles at last yielded
to the desire of restoring peace in the church. In his wake the majority
of the bishops and communities who had made appeal to the contemplated
council, renounced, in their turn, the protests so often renewed within
the last few years. The Parliament was divided, but exiled to Pontoise,
as a punishment for its opposition to the system of Law; it found itself
threatened with removal to Blois. Chancellor d'Aguesseau had vainly
sought to interpose his authority; a magistrate of the Grand Chamber,
Perelle by name, was protesting eloquently against any derogation from
the principles of liberty of the Gallican Church and of the Parliaments.
"Where did you find such maxims laid down?" asked the chancellor,
angrily. "In the pleadings of the late Chancellor d'Aguesseau," answered
the councillor, icily. D'Aguesseau gave in his resignation to the
Regent; the Parliament did not leave for Blois; after sitting some weeks
at Pontoise, it enregistered the formal declaration of the Bull, and at
last returned to Paris on the, 20th of December, 1720.

Dubois had reconciled France with the court of Rome; the latter owed him
recompense for so much labor. Clement XI. had promised, but he could not
make up his mind to bring down so low the dignity of the Sacred College;
he died without having conferred the hat upon Dubois. During the
conclave intrigues recommenced, conducted this time by Cardinal Rohan.
The Jesuit Lafitteau, who had become Bishop of Sisteron, and had for a
long while been the secret agent of Dubois at Rome, kept him acquainted
with all the steps taken to wrest a promise from Cardinal Conti, who was
destined, it was believed, to unite the majority of the suffrages. "Do
not be surprised," he adds, "to hear me say that I go by night to the
conclave, for I have found out the secret of getting the key of it, and I
constantly pass through five or six guard-posts, without their being able
to guess who I am."

Cardinal Conti was old and feeble; all means were brought to bear upon
him. Dubois had for a long time past engaged the services of Chevalier
St. George; when the new pope was proclaimed, under the name of Innocent
XIII., he had signed a conditional promise in favor of Dubois. The
Regent, who had but lately pressed his favorite's desires upon Clement
XI., was not afraid to write to the new pontiff--


"Your Holiness is informed of the favor which the late pope had granted
me on behalf of the Archbishop of Cambrai, of which his death alone
prevented the fulfilment. I hope that Your Holiness will let it be seen,
on your accession to the throne of St. Peter, that services rendered to
the Church lose nothing by the death of the sovereign pontiffs, and that
you will not think it unworthy of your earliest care to give me this
public mark of the attention paid by the Holy See to the zeal which I
profess for its interests. This kindness on the part of Your Holiness
will crown the wishes I formed for your exaltation, will fill up the
measure of the joy which it has caused me, will maintain our kindly
relations to the advantage of the peace of the Church and the authority
of the Holy See, and will fortify the zeal of the Archbishop of Cambrai
in the execution of my orders to the glory of the Pontificate and of Your

On the 16th of July, 1721, Dubois was at last elected Cardinal; it was
stated that his elevation had cost eight millions of livres. The
frivolous curiosity of the court was concerned with the countenance the
new Eminence would make in his visits of ceremony, especially in that to
Madame, his declared foe at all times. "He had nearly two months to
prepare for it," says St. Simon, and it must be admitted that he had made
good use of them. He got himself up for his part, and appeared before
Madame with deep respect and embarassment. He prostrated himself, as she
advanced to greet him, sat down in the middle of the circle, covered his
head for a moment with his red hat, which he removed immediately, and
made his compliments; he began with his own surprise at finding himself
in such a position in presence of Madame, spoke of the baseness of his
birth and his first employments; employed them with much cleverness and
in very choice terms to extol so much the more the kindness, courage, and
power of the Duke of Orleans, who from so low had raised him to where he
found himself; gave Madame some delicate incense; in fine, dissolved in
the most profound respect and gratitude, doing it so well that Madame
herself could not help, when he was gone, praising his discourse and his
countenance, at the same time adding that she was mad to see him where he

The bearing of the newly-elected was less modest at the council of
regency; he got himself accompanied thither by Cardinal Rohan; their rank
gave the two ecclesiastics precedence. The Duke of Noailles,
d'Aguesseau, and some other great lords refused to sit with Dubois.
"This day, sir, will be famous in history," said the Duke of Noailles to
the new cardinal; "it will not fail to be remarked therein that your
entrance into the council caused it to be deserted by the grandees of the
kingdom." Noailles was exiled, as well as d'Aguesseau.

The great lords had made a decided failure in government. Since 1718,
the different councils had been abolished; defended by Abbe St. Pierre,
under the grotesque title of Polysynodie, they had earned for the candid
preacher of universal peace his exclusion from the French Academy, which
was insisted upon by the remnants of the old court, whom he had mortally
offended by styling Louis XIV.'s governmental system a viziership. The
Regent had heaped favors upon the presidents and members of the councils,
but he had placed Dubois at the head of foreign affairs and Le Blanc over
the war department. "I do not inquire into the theory of councils," said
the able Dubois to the Regent by the mouth of his confidant Chavigny; "it
was, as you know, the object of worship to the shallow pates of the old
court. Humiliated by their nonentity at the end of the last reign, they
begot this system upon the reveries of M. de Cambrai. But I think of
you, I think of your interests. The king will reach, his majority, the
grandees of the kingdom approach the monarque by virtue of their birth;
if to this privilege they unite that of being then at the head of
affairs, there is reason to fear that they may surpass you in
complaisance, in flattery, may represent you as a useless phantom, and
establish themselves upon the ruin of you. Suppress, then, these
councils, if you mean to continue indispensable, and haste to supersede
the great lords, who would become your rivals, by means of simple
secretaries of state, who, without standing or family, will perforce
remain your creatures."

The Duke of Antin, son of Madame de Montespan, one of the most adroit
courtiers of the old as well as of the new court, "honorless and
passionless" (_sans honneur et sans humeur_), according to the Regent's
own saying, took a severer view than Dubois of the arrangement to which
he had contributed. "The councils are dissolved," he wrote in his
memoirs; "the nobility will never recover from it--to my great regret,
I must confess. The kings who hereafter reign will see that Louis XIV.,
one of the greatest kings in the world, never would employ people of rank
in any of his business; that the Regent, a most enlightened prince, had
begun by putting them at the head of all affairs, and was obliged to
remove them at the end of three years. What can they and must they
conclude therefrom? That people of this condition are not fitted for
business, and that they are good for nothing but to get killed in war.
I hope I am wrong, but there is every appearance that the masters will
think like that, and there will not be wanting folks who will confirm
them in that opinion." A harsh criticism on the French nobility, too
long absorbed by war or the court, living apart from the nation and from
affairs, and thereby become incapable of governing, put down once for all
by the iron hand of Richelieu, without ever having been able to resume at
the head of the country the rank and position which befitted them.

The special councils were dissolved, the council of regency diminished;
Dubois became premier minister in name--he had long been so in fact.

He had just concluded an important matter, one which the Regent had much
at heart--the marriage of the king with the Infanta of Spain, and that of
Mdlle. de Montpensier, daughter of the Duke of Orleans, with the Prince
of the Asturias. The Duke of St. Simon was intrusted with the official
demand. Philip V. was rejoiced to see his daughter's elevation to that
throne which he still regarded as the first in the world; he purchased it
by the concession made to the Regent.

The age of the Infanta was a serious obstacle; she was but three years
old, the king was twelve. When the Duke of Orleans went in state to
announce to Louis XV. the negotiation which tarried for nothing further
but his consent, the young prince, taken by surprise, was tongue-tied,
seemed to have his heart quite full, and his eyes grew moist. His
preceptor, Fleury, Bishop of Frejus, who had just refused the
Archbishopric of Rheims, seeing that he must make up his mind to please
the Regent or estrange him, supported what had just been said. "Marshal
Villeroy, decided by the bishop's example, said to the king, 'Come, my
dear master; the thing must be done with a good grace.' The Regent, very
much embarrassed, the duke, mighty taciturn, and Dubois, with an air of
composure, waited for the king to break a silence which lasted a quarter
of an hour, whilst the bishop never ceased whispering to the king. As
the silence continued, and the assembly of all the council, at which the
king was about to appear, could not but augment his timidity, the bishop
turned to the Regent, and said to him, 'His Majesty will go to the
council, but he wants a little time to prepare himself for it.'
Thereupon the Regent replied, that he was created to await the
convenience of the king, saluted him with an air of respect and
affection, went out and made signs to the rest to follow him. A quarter
of an hour later the king entered the council, with his eyes still red,
and replied, with a very short and rather low yes, to the Regent's
question, whether he thought proper that the news of his marriage should
be imparted to the council." "It was the assurance of peace with Spain,
and the confirmation of the recent treaties; the Regent's enemies saw in
it the climax of the policy, by the choice of an infant, which retarded
the king's marriage." [Memoires secrets de Dubois, t. ii. p. 163.]

Accusations of greater gravity had been recently renewed against the Duke
of Orleans. The king had been ill; for just a moment the danger had
appeared serious; the emotion in France was general, the cabal opposed to
the Regent went beyond mere anxiety. "The consternation everywhere was
great," says St. Simon; "I had the privileges of entry, and so I went
into the king's chamber. I found it very empty; the Duke of Orleans
seated at the chimney-corner, very forlorn and very sad. I went up to
him for a moment, then I approached the king's bed. At that moment,
Boulduc, one of his apothecaries, was giving him something to take. The
Duchess of la Ferte was at Boulduc's elbow, and, having turned round to
see who was coming, she saw me, and all at once said to me, betwixt loud
and soft, 'He is poisoned, he is poisoned.' 'Hold your tongue, do,' said
I; 'that is awful!' She went on again, so much and so loud, that I was
afraid the king would hear her. Boulduc and I looked at one another, and
I immediately withdrew from the bed and from that madwoman, with whom I
was on no sort of terms. The illness was not a long one, and the
convalescence was speedy, which restored tranquillity and joy, and caused
an outburst of Te Deums and rejoicings. On St. Louis' day, at the
concert held every year on that evening at the Tuileries, the crowd was
so dense that a pin would not have fallen to the ground in the garden.
The windows of the Tuileries were decorated and crammed full, and all the
roofs of the Carrousel filled with all that could hold on there, as well
as the square. Marshal Villeroy revelled in this concourse, which bored
the king, who kept hiding himself every moment in the corners; the
marshal pulled him out by the arm and led him up to the windows.
Everybody shouted 'Hurrah! for the king!' and the marshal, detaining the
king, who would still have gone and hidden himself, said, 'Pray look, my
dear master, at all this company, all this people; it is all yours, it
all belongs to you; you are their master; pray give them a look or two
just to satisfy them!' A fine lesson for a governor, and one which he
did not tire of impressing upon him, so fearful was he lest he should
forget it; accordingly he retained it very perfectly."

[Illustration: The Boy King and his People----104]

The Duke of Beauvilliers and Fenelon taught the Duke of Burgundy
differently; the Duke of Montausier and Bossuet himself, in spite of the
majestic errors of his political conceptions, had not forgotten in the
education of the granddauphin the lesson of kings' duties towards their

Already, over the very infancy of Louis XV. was passing the breath of
decay; little by little that people, as yet so attached to their young
sovereign, was about to lose all respect and submission towards its
masters; a trait long characteristic of the French nation.

The king's majority was approaching, the Regent's power seemed on the
point of slipping from him; Marshal Villeroy, aged, witless, and
tactless, irritated at the elevation of Dubois, always suspicious of the
Regent's intentions towards the young king, burst out violently against
the minister, and displayed towards the Regent an offensive distrust.
"One morning," says Duclos, "when the latter came to give an account to
the king of the nomination to certain benefices, he begged his Majesty to
be pleased to walk into his closet, where he had a word to say to him in
private. The governor objected, saying that he knew the duties of his
place, that the king could have no secrets from his governor, protested
that he would not lose sight of him for an instant, and that he was bound
to answer for his person. The Regent, then taking a tone of superiority,
said to the marshal, 'You forget yourself, sir; you do not see the force
of your expressions; it is only the king's presence that restrains me
from treating you as you deserve.' Having so said, he made a profound
bow to the king and went out. The disconcerted marshal followed the
Regent to the door, and would have entered upon a justification; all his
talk all day long was a mixture of the Roman's haughtiness and the
courtier's meanness." [_Memoires de St. Simon_.]

"Next day, at noon, Marshal Villeroy repaired to the Duke of Orleans' to
excuse himself, fancying he might attempt an explanation as equal with
equal. He crosses with his grand airs, in the midst of the whole court,
the rooms which preceded the prince's closet; the crowd opens and makes
way for him respectfully. He asks, in a loud tone, where the Duke of
Orleans is; the answer is that he is busy. 'I must see him,
nevertheless,' says he; 'announce me!' The moment he advances towards
the door, the Marquis of La Fare, captain of the Regent's guards, shows
himself between the door and the marshal, arrests him, and demands his
sword. Le Blanc hands him the order from the king, and at the same
instant Count d'Artagnan, commandant of the musketeers, blocks him on the
opposite side to La Fare. The marshal shouts, remonstrates; he is
pitched into a chair, shut up in it, and passed out by one of the windows
which opens door-wise on to the garden; at the bottom of the steps of the
orangery behold a carriage with six horses, surrounded by twenty
musketeers. The marshal, furious, storms, threatens; he is carried into
the vehicle, the carriage starts, and in less than three hours the
marshal is at Villeroi, eight or nine leagues from Versailles." The king
wept a moment or two without saying a word; he was consoled by the return
of the Bishop of Frejus, with whom it was supposed to be all over, but
who was simply at Baville, at President Lamoignon's; his pupil was as
much attached to him as he was capable of being; Fleury remained alone
with him, and Marshal Villeroy was escorted to Lyons, of which he was
governor. He received warning not to leave it, and was not even present
at the king's coronation, which took place at Rheims, on the 25th of
October, 1722. Amidst the royal pomp and festivities, a significant
formality was for the first time neglected; that was, admitting into the
nave of the church the people, burgesses and artisans, who were wont to
join their voices to those of the clergy and nobility when, before the
anointment of the king, demand was made in a loud voice for the consent
of the assembly, representing the nation. Even in external ceremonies,
the kingship was becoming every day more and more severed from national
sentiment and national movement.

The king's majority, declared on the 19th of February, 1723, had made no
change in the course of the government; the young prince had left Paris,
and resumed possession of that Palace of Versailles, still full of
mementoes of the great king. The Regent, more and more absorbed by his
pleasures, passed a great deal of time at Paris; Dubois had the
government to himself.

His reign was not long at this unparalleled pinnacle of his greatness; he
had been summoned to preside at the assembly of the clergy, and had just
been elected to the French Academy, where he was received by Fontenelle,
when a sore, from which he had long suffered, reached all at once a
serious crisis; an operation was indispensable, but he set himself
obstinately against it; the Duke of Orleans obliged him to submit to it,
and it was his death-blow; the wretched cardinal expired, without having
had time to receive the sacraments.

The elevation and power of Dubois had the fatal effect of lowering France
in her own eyes; she had felt that she was governed by a man whom she
despised, and had a right to despise; this was a deep-seated and lasting
evil; authority never recovered from the blow thus struck at its moral
influence. Dubois, however, was more able and more farsighted in his
foreign policy than the majority of his predecessors and his
contemporaries were; without definitively losing the alliance of Spain,
re-attached to the interests of France by the double treaty of marriage,
he had managed to form a firm connection with England, and to rally round
France the European coalition but lately in arms against her. He
maintained and made peace ingloriously; he obtained it sometimes by
meannesses in bearing and modes of acting; he enriched himself by his
intrigues, abroad as well as at home; his policy none the less was
steadfastly French, even in his relations with the court of Rome, and
in spite of his eager desire for the cardinal's hat. He died sadly,
shamefully, without a friend and without regret, even on the part of the
Regent, whom he had governed and kept in hand by active and adroit
assiduity, by a hardihood and an effrontery to the influence of which
that prince submitted, all the while despising it. Dubois had raised up
again, to place himself upon it, that throne of premier minister on which
none had found a seat since Richelieu and Mazarin; the Duke of Orleans
succeeded him without fuss, without parade, without even appearing to
have any idea of the humiliation inflicted upon him by that valet, lying
in his coffin, whom he had raised to power, and whose place he was about
to fill for a few days.

[Illustration: Death of the Regent---107]

On the 2d of December, 1723, three months and a half after the death of
Dubois, the Duke of Orleans succumbed in his turn. Struck down by a
sudden attack of apoplexy, whilst he was chatting with his favorite for
the time, the Duchess of Falarie, he expired without having recovered
consciousness. Lethargized by the excesses of the table and debauchery
of all kinds, more and more incapable of application and work, the prince
did not preserve sufficient energy to give up the sort of life which had
ruined him. For a long while the physicians had been threatening him
with sudden death. "It is all I can desire," said he. Naturally brave,
intelligent, amiable, endowed with a charm of manner which recalled Henry
IV., kind and merciful like him, of a mind that was inquiring, fertile,
capable of applying itself to details of affairs, Philip of Orleans was
dragged down by depravity of morals to the same in soul and mind; his
judgment, naturally straightforward and correct, could still discern
between good and evil, but he was incapable of energetically willing the
one and firmly resisting the other; he had governed equitably, without
violence and without harshness, he had attempted new and daring courses,
and he had managed to abandon them without any excesses or severities;
like Dubois, he had inspired France with a contempt which unfortunately
did not protect her from contagion. When Madame died, an inscription had
been put on the tomb of that honest, rude, and haughty German: "Here lies
Lazybones" (_Ci-git l'oisivete_). All the vices thus imputed to the
Regent did not perish with him, when he succumbed at forty-nine years of
age under their fatal effects. "The evil that men do lives after them,
the good is oft interred with their bones;" the Regency was the signal
for an irregularity of morals which went on increasing, like a filthy
river, up to the end of the reign of Louis XV.; the fatal seed had been
germinating for a long time past under the forced and frequently
hypocritical decency of the old court; it burst out under the easy-going
regency of an indolent and indulgent prince, himself wholly given to the
licentiousness which he excused and authorized by his own example. From
the court the evil soon spread to the nation; religious faith still
struggled within the soul, but it had for a long while been tossed about
between contrary and violent opinions; it found itself disturbed,
attacked, by the new and daring ideas which were beginning to dawn in
politics as well as in philosophy. The break-up was already becoming
manifest, though nobody could account for it, though no fixed plan was
conceived in men's minds. People devoured the memoirs of Cardinal Retz
and Madame de Motteville, which had just appeared; people formed from
them their judgments upon the great persons and great events which they
had seen and depicted. The University of Paris, under the direction of
Rollin, was developing the intelligence and lively powers of burgessdom;
and Montesquieu, as yet full young, was shooting his missiles in the
_Lettres persanes_ at the men and the things of his country with an
almost cynical freedom, which was, as it were, the alarum and prelude of
all the liberties which he scarcely dared to claim, but of which he
already let a glimpse be seen. Evil and good were growing up in
confusion, like the tares and the wheat. For more than eighty years past
France has been gathering the harvest of ages; she has not yet separated
the good grain from the rubbish which too often conceals it.


[Illustration: Louis XV.----110]

The riotous and frivolous splendor of the Regency had suffered eclipse;
before their time, in all their vigor, through disgrace or by death, Law,
Dubois, and the Regent, had suddenly disappeared from the stage of the
world. To these men, a striking group for different reasons,
notwithstanding their faults and their vices, was about to succeed a
discreet but dull and limp government, the reign of an old man, and,
moreover, a priest. The Bishop of Frejus, who had but lately been the
modest preceptor of the king, and was quietly ambitious and greedy of
power, but without regard to his personal interests, was about to become
Cardinal Fleury, and to govern France for twenty years; in 1723 he was
seventy years old.

Whether from adroitness or prudence, Fleury did not all at once aspire to
all-powerfulness. Assured in his heart of his sway over the as yet
dormant will of his pupil, he suffered the establishment of the Duke of
Bourbon's ministry, who was in a greater hurry to grasp the power he had
so long coveted. When the king received his cousin, head of the house of
Conde, who had but lately taken the place of the Duke of Maine near his
person, he sought in his preceptor's eyes the guidance he needed, and
contented himself with sanctioning by an inclination of the head the
elevation of the duke, presented by Fleury. The new Duke of Orleans, as
yet quite a youth, hovering between debauchery and devotion, obtained no
portion of his father's heritage; he had taken away from him even the
right of doing business with the king, a right secured to him by his
office of colonel-general.

[Illustration: Cardinal Fleury--110]

The Bishop of Frejus had nursed his power more skilfully; he kept the
list of benefices, and he alone, it was said, knew how to unloosen the
king's tongue; but he had not calculated upon the pernicious and
all-powerful influence of the Marchioness of Prie, favorite "by
appointment" (_attitree_) to the duke. Clever, adroit, depraved, she
aspired to govern, and chose for her minister Paris-Duverney, one of the
four Dauphinese brothers who had been engaged under the regency in the
business of the visa, and the enemies as well as rivals of the Scotsman
Law. Whilst the king hunted, and Fleury exercised quietly the measure of
power which as yet contented his desires, the duke, blinded by his
passion for Madame de Prie, slavishly submissive to her slightest wishes,
lavished, according to his favorite's orders, honors and graces in which
she managed to traffic, enriching herself brazen-facedly. Under Louis
XIV. Madame de Maintenon alone, exalted to the rank of wife, had taken
part in state affairs; amidst the irregularity of his life the Regent had
never accorded women any political influence, and the confusion of the
orgie had never surprised from his lips a single important secret; Madame
de Prie was the first to become possessed of a power destined to
frequently fall, after her, into hands as depraved as they were feeble.

The strictness of the views and of the character of Paris-Duverney
strove, nevertheless, in the home department, against the insensate
lavishness of the duke, and the venal irregularities of his favorite;
imbued with the maxims of order and regularity formerly impressed by
Colbert upon the clerks of the treasury, and not yet completely effaced
by a long interregnum, he labored zealously to cut down expenses and
useless posts, to resuscitate and regulate commerce; his ardor,
systematic and wise as it was, hurried him sometimes into strange
violence and improvidence; in order to restore to their proper figure
values and goods which still felt the prodigious rise brought about by
the System, Paris-Duverney depreciated the coinage and put, a tariff on
merchandise as well as wages. The commotion amongst the people was
great; the workmen rioted, the tradesmen refused to accept the legal
figure for their goods; several men were killed in the streets, and some
shops put the shutters up. The misery, which the administration had
meant to relieve, went on increasing; begging was prohibited; refuges and
workshops were annexed to the poorhouses; attempts were made to collect
there all the old, infirm, and vagabond. The rigor of procedure,
as well as the insufficiency of resources, caused the failure of the
philanthropic project. Lightly conceived, imprudently carried out, the
new law filled the refuges with an immense crowd, taken up in all
quarters, in the villages, and on the high roads; the area of the
relieving-houses became insufficient. "Bedded on straw, and fed on bread
and water as they ought to be," wrote the comptroller-general Dodun,
"they will take up less room and be less expense." Everywhere the poor
wretches sought to fly; they were branded on the arm, like criminals.
All this rigor was ineffectual; the useful object of Paris-Duverney's
decrees was not attained.

Other outrages, not to be justified by any public advantage, were being
at the same time committed against other poor creatures, for a long while
accustomed to severities of all kinds. Without freedom, without right of
worship, without assemblies, the Protestants had, nevertheless, enjoyed a
sort of truce from their woes during the easy-going regency of the Duke
of Orleans. Amongst the number of his vices Dubois did not include
hypocrisy; he had not persecuted the remnants of French Protestantism,
enfeebled, dumb, but still living and breathing. The religious
enthusiasm of the Camisards had become little by little extinguished;
their prophets and inspired ones, who were but lately the only ministers
of the religion in the midst of a people forcibly deprived of its
pastors, had given place to new servants of God, regularly consecrated to
His work and ready to brave for His sake all punishments. The Church
under the Cross, as the Protestants of France then called themselves, was
reviving slowly, secretly, in the desert, but it was reviving. The
scattered members of the flocks, habituated for so many years past to
carefully conceal their faith in order to preserve it intact in their
hearts, were beginning to draw near to one another once more; discipline
and rule were once more entering within that church, which had been
battered by so many storms, and the total destruction of which had been
loudly proclaimed. In its origin, this immense work, as yet silently and
modestly progressing, had been owing to one single man, Antony Court,
born, in 1696, of a poor family, at Villeneuve-de-Berg in the Vivarais.
He was still almost a child when he had perceived the awakening in his
soul of an ardent desire to rebuild the walls of holy Sion; without
classical education, nurtured only upon his reading of the Bible, guided
by strong common sense and intrepid courage, combined with a piety as
sincere as it was enlightened, he had summoned to him the preachers of
the Uvennes, heirs of the enthusiastic Camisards. From the depths of
caverns, rocks, and woods had come forth these rude ministers, fanatics
or visionaries as they may have been, eagerly devoted to their work and
imbued with their pious illusions; Court had persuaded, touched,
convinced them; some of the faithful had gathered around him, and, since
the 11th of August, 1715, at the first of those synods in the desert,
unknown to the great king whose life was ebbing away at Versailles, the
Protestant church of France had been reconstituting itself upon bases as
sound as they were strong; the functions of the ancients were everywhere
re-established; women were forbidden to hold forth at assemblies; the
Holy Scriptures were proclaimed as the only law of faith; pastoral
ordination was required of preachers and ministers of the religion;
Corteis, a friend of Court's, went to Switzerland to receive from the
pastors of Zurich the imposition of hands, which he transmitted
afterwards to his brethren. Everywhere the new Evangelical ministry was
being recruited. "I seek them in all places," said Court, "at the
plough, or behind the counter, everywhere where I find the call for
martyrdom." Of the six devoted men who signed the statutes of the first
synod, four were destined to a martyr's death. The restorer of French
Protestantism had made no mistake about the call then required for the
holy ministry. The synods of the desert became every year more numerous;
deputies from the North, from the West, from the Centre, began to join
those of the South. Persecution continued, but it was local, more often
prompted by the fanatical zeal of the superintendents than by the
sovereign impulse of government; the pastors died without having to
sorrow for the church, up-risen from its ruins, when a vague echo of this
revival came striking upon the ears of the Duke and Madame de Prie,
amidst the galas of Chantilly. Their silence and their exhaustion had
for some time protected the Protestants; fanaticism and indifference made
common cause once more to crush them at their reawakening.

The storm had now been brewing for some years; the Bishop of Nantes,
Lavergne de Tressan, grand almoner to the Regent, had attempted some time
before to wrest from him a rigorous decree against the Protestants; the
Duke of Orleans, as well as Dubois, had rejected his overtures. Scarcely
had the duke (of Bourbon) come into power, when the prelate presented his
project anew; indifferent and debauched, a holder of seventy-six
benefices, M. de Tressan dreamed of the cardinal's hat, and aspired to
obtain it from the Court of Rome at the cost of a persecution. The
government was at that time drifting about, without compass or steersman,
from the hands of Madame de Prie to those of Paris-Duverney. Little
cared they for the fate of the Reformers. "This castaway of the
regency," says M. Lemontey, "was adopted without memorial, without
examination, as an act of homage to the late king, and a simple executive
formula. The ministers of Louis XVI. afterwards found the minute of the
declaration of 1724, without any preliminary report, and simply bearing
on the margin the date of the old edicts." For aiming the thunderbolts
against the Protestants, Tressan addressed himself to their most terrible
executioner. Lamoignon de Baville was still alive; old and almost at
death's door as he was, he devoted the last days of his life to drawing
up for the superintendents some private instructions; an able and a cruel
monument of his past experience and his persistent animosity. He died
with the pen still in his hand.

The new edict turned into an act of homage to Louis XIV. the rigors
of Louis XV. "Of all the grand designs of our most honored lord and
great-grandfather, there is none that we have more at heart to execute
than that which he conceived, of entirely extinguishing heresy in his
kingdom. Arrived at majority, our first care has been to have before us
the edicts whereof execution has been delayed, especially in the
provinces afflicted with the contagion. We have observed that the chief
abuses which demand a speedy remedy relate to illicit assemblies, the
education of children, the obligation of public functionaries to profess
the Catholic religion, the penalties against the relapsed, and the
celebration of marriage, regarding which here are our intentions: Shall
be condemned: preachers to the penalty of death, their accomplices to the
galleys for life, and women to be shaved and imprisoned for life.
Confiscation of property: parents who shall not have baptism administered
to their children within twenty-four hours, and see that they attend
regularly the catechism and the schools, to fines and such sums as they
may amount to together; even to greater penalties. Midwives, physicians,
surgeons, apothecaries, domestics, relatives, who shall not notify the
parish priests of births or illnesses, to fines. Persons who shall
exhort the sick, to the galleys or imprisonment for life, according to
sex; confiscation of property. The sick who shall refuse the sacraments,
if they recover, to banishment for life; if they die, to be dragged on a
hurdle. Desert-marriages are illegal; the children born of them are
incompetent to inherit. Minors whose parents are expatriated may marry
without their authority; but parents whose children are on foreign soil
shall not consent to their marriage, on pain of the galleys for the men
and banishment for the women. Finally, of all fines and confiscations,
half shall be employed in providing subsistence for the new converts."

Just as the last edicts of Louis XIV., the edict of 1724 rested upon an
absolute contradiction: the legislators no longer admitted the existence
of any reformers in the kingdom; and yet all the battery of the most
formidable punishments was directed against that Protestant church which
was said to be defunct. The same contradiction was seen in the conduct
of the ecclesiastics: Protestants could not be admitted to any position,
or even accomplish the ordinary duties of civil life, without externally
conforming to Catholicism; and, to so conform, there was required of them
not only an explicit abjuration, but even an anathema against their
deceased parents. "It is necessary," said Chancellor d'Aguesseau,
"either that the church should relax her vigor by some modification,
or, if she does not think she ought to do so, that she should cease
requesting the king to employ his authority in reducing his subjects to
the impossible, by commanding them to fulfil a religious duty which the
church does not permit them to perform."

At this point is revealed a progress in ideas of humanity and justice:
the edict of 1724 equalled in rigor the most severe proclamations of
Louis XIV.; it placed the peace, and often the life, of Reformers at the
mercy not only of an enemy's denunciation, but of a priest's simple
deposition; it destroyed all the bonds of family, and substituted for the
natural duties a barbarous and depraving law; but general sentiment and
public opinion were no longer in accord with the royal proclamations.
The clergy had not solicited the edict, the work of an ambitious man
backed up by certain fanatics; they were at first embarrassed by it.
When the old hatreds revived, and the dangerous intoxications of power
had affected the souls of bishops and priests, the magistracy, who had
formerly been more severe towards the Reformers than even the
superintendents of the provinces had been, pronounced on many points in
favor of the persecuted; the judges were timid; the legislation, becoming
more and more oppressive, tied their hands; but the bias of their minds
was modified; it tended to extenuate, and not to aggravate, the effects
of the edict. The law was barbarous everywhere, the persecution became
so only at certain spots, owing to the zeal of the superintendents or
bishops; as usual, the south of France was the first to undergo all the
rigors of it. Emigration had ceased there for a long time past; whilst
the Norman or Dauphinese Reformers, on the revival of persecution, still
sought refuge on foreign soil, whilst Sweden, wasted by the wars of
Charles XII., invited the French Protestants into her midst, the peasants
of the Uvennes or of the Vivarais, passionately attached to the soil they
cultivated, bowed their heads, with a groan, to the storm, took refuge in
their rocks and their caverns, leaving the cottages deserted and the
harvests to be lost, returning to their houses and their fields as soon
as the soldiery were gone, ever faithful to the proscribed assemblies in
the desert, and praying God for the king, to whose enemies they refused
to give ear. Alberoni, and after him England, had sought to detach the
persecuted Protestants from their allegiance; the court was troubled at
this; they had not forgotten the Huguenot regiments at the battle of the
Boyne. From the depths of their hiding-places the pastors answered for
the fidelity of their flocks; the voice of the illustrious and learned
Basnage, for a long while a refugee in Holland, encouraged his brethren
in their heroic submission. As fast as the ministers died on the
gallows, new servants of God came forward to replace them, brought up in
the seminary which Antony Court had founded at Lausanne, and managed to
keep up by means of alms from Protestant Europe. It was there that the
most illustrious of the pastors of the desert, Paul Rabaut, already
married and father of one child, went to seek the instruction necessary
for the apostolic vocation which he was to exercise for so many years in
the midst of so many and such formidable perils. "On determining to
exercise the ministry in this kingdom," he wrote, in 1746, to the
superintendent of Languedoc, Lenain d'Asfeldt, "I was not ignorant of
what I exposed myself to; so I regarded myself as a victim doomed to
death. I thought I was doing the greatest good of which I was capable in
devoting myself to the condition of a pastor. Protestants, being deprived
of the free exercise of their own religion, not seeing their way to
taking part in the exercises of the Roman religion, not being able to get
the books they would require for their instruction, consider, my lord,
what--might be their condition if they were absolutely deprived of
pastors. They would be ignorant of their most essential duties, and
would fall either into fanaticism, the fruitful source of extravagances
and irregularities, or into indifference and contempt for all religion."
The firm moderation, the courageous and simple devotion, breathed by this
letter, were the distinctive traits of the career of Paul Rabaut, as well
as of Antony Court; throughout a persecution which lasted nearly forty
years, with alternations of severity and clemency, the chiefs of French
Protestantism managed to control the often recurring desperation of their
flocks. On the occasion of a temporary rising on the borders of the
Gardon, Paul Rabaut wrote to the governor of Languedoc, "When I desired
to know whence this evil proceeded, it was reported to me that divers
persons, finding themselves liable to lose their goods and their liberty,
or to have to do acts contrary to their conscience, in respect of their
marriages or the baptism of their children, and knowing no way of getting
out of the kingdom and setting their conscience free, abandoned
themselves to despair, and attacked certain priests, because they
regarded them as the primal and principal cause of the vexations done to
them. Once more, I blame those people; but I thought it my duty to
explain to you the cause of their despair. If it be thought that my
ministry is necessary to calm the ruffled spirits, I shall comply with
pleasure. Above all, if I might assure the Protestants of that district
that they shall not be vexed in their conscience, I would pledge myself
to bind over the greater number to stop those who would make a
disturbance, supposing that there should be any." At a word from Paul
Rabaut calmness returned to the most ruffled spirits; sometimes his
audience was composed of ten or twelve thousand of the faithful; his
voice was so resonant and so distinct, that in the open air it would
reach the most remote. He prayed with a fervor and an unction which
penetrated all hearts, and disposed them to hear, with fruits following,
the word of God. Simple, grave, penetrating rather than eloquent, his
preaching, like his life, bears the impress of his character. As
moderate as fervent, as judicious as heroic in spirit, Paul Rabaut
preached in the desert, at the peril of his life, sermons which he had
composed in a cavern. "During more than thirty years," says one of his
biographers, "he had no dwelling-place but grottoes, hovels, and cabins,
whither men went to draw him like a ferocious beast. He lived a long
while in a hiding-place, which one of his faithful guides had contrived
for him under a heap of stones and blackberry bushes. It was discovered
by a shepherd; and such was the wretchedness of his condition, that, when
forced to abandon it, he regretted that asylum, more fitted for wild
beasts than for men."

The hulks were still full of the audience of Paul Rabaut, and Protestant
women were still languishing in the unwholesome dungeon of the Tower of
Constance, when the execution of the unhappy Calas, accused of having
killed his son, and the generous indignation of Voltaire cast a momentary
gleam of light within the sombre region of prisons and gibbets. For the
first time, public opinion, at white heat, was brought to bear upon the
decision of the persecutors. Calas was dead, but the decree of the
Parliament of Toulouse which had sentenced him, was quashed by act of the
council: his memory was cleared, and the day of toleration for French
Protestants began to glimmer, pending the full dawn of justice and

We have gone over in succession, and without break, the last cruel
sufferings of the French Protestants; we now turn away our eyes with a
feeling of relief mingled with respect and pride; we leave the free air
of the desert to return to the rakes and effeminates of Louis XV.'s
court. Great was the contrast between the government which persecuted
without knowing why, and the victims who suffered for a faith incessantly
revived in their souls by suffering. For two centuries the French
Reformation had not experienced for a single day the formidable dangers
of indifference and lukewarmness.

The young king was growing up, still a stranger to affairs, solely
occupied with the pleasures of the chase, handsome, elegant, with noble
and regular features, a cold and listless expression. In the month of
February, 1725, he fell ill; for two days there was great danger. The
duke thought himself to be threatened with the elevation of the house of
Orleans to the throne. "I'll not be caught so again," he muttered
between his teeth, when he came one night to inquire how the king was,
"if he recovers, I'll have him married." The king did recover, but the
Infanta was only seven years old. Philip V., who had for a short time
abdicated, retiring with the queen to a remote castle in the heart of the
forests, had just remounted the throne after the death of his eldest son,
Louis I. Small-pox had carried off the young monarch, who had reigned
but eight months. Elizabeth Farnese, aided by the pope's nuncio and some
monks who were devoted to her, had triumphed over her husband's religious
scruples and the superstitious counsels of his confessor; she was once
more reigning over Spain, when she heard that the little Infanta-queen,
whose betrothal to the King of France had but lately caused so much joy,
was about to be sent away from the court of her royal spouse. "The
Infanta must be started off, and by coach too, to get it over sooner,"
exclaimed Count Morville, who had been ordered by Madame de Prie to draw
up a list of the marriageable princesses in Europe. Their number
amounted to ninety-nine; twenty-five Catholics, three Anglicans, thirteen
Calvinists, fifty-five Lutherans, and three Greeks. The Infanta had
already started for Madrid; the Regent's two daughters, the young widow
of Louis I. and Mdlle. de Beaujolais, promised to Don Carlos, were on
their way back to France; the advisers of Louis XV. were still looking
out for a wife for him. Spain had been mortally offended, without the
duke's having yet seen his way to forming a new alliance in place of that
which he had just broken off. Some attempts at arrangement with George
I. had failed; an English princess could not abjure Protestantism. Such
scruples did not stop Catherine I., widow of Peter the Great, who had
taken the power into her own hands to the detriment of the czar's
grandson; she offered the duke her second daughter, the grand-duchess
Elizabeth, for King Louis XV., with a promise of abjuration on the part
of the princess, and of a treaty which should secure the support of all
the Muscovite forces in the interest of France. At the same time the
same negotiators proposed to the Duke of Bourbon himself the hand of Mary
Leckzinska, daughter of Stanislaus, the dispossessed King of Poland,
guaranteeing to him, on the death of King Augustus, the crown of that

[Illustration: Mary Leczinska----121]

The proposals of Russia were rejected. "The Princess of Muscovy," M. de
Morville had lately said, "is the daughter of a low-born mother, and has
been brought up amidst a still barbarous people." Every great alliance
appeared impossible; the duke and Madame de Prie were looking out for a
queen who would belong to them, and would secure them the king's heart.
Their choice fell upon Mary Leckzinska, a good, gentle, simple creature,
without wit or beauty, twenty-two years old, and living upon the alms of
France with her parents, exiles and refugees at an old commandery of the
Templars at Weissenburg. Before this King Stanislaus had conceived the
idea of marrying his daughter to Count d'Estrees; the marriage had failed
through the Regent's refusal to make the young lord a duke and peer. The
distress of Stanislaus, his constant begging letters to the court of
France, were warrant for the modest submissiveness of the princess.
"Madame de Prie has engaged a queen, as I might engage a valet
to-morrow," writes Marquis d'Argenson;--it is a pity."

When the first overtures from the duke arrived at Weissenburg, King
Stanislaus entered the room where his wife and daughter were at work,
and, "Fall we on our knees, and thank God!" he said. "My dear father,"
exclaimed the princess, "can you be recalled to the throne of Poland?"
"God has done us a more astounding grace," replied Stanislaus: "you are
Queen of France!"

"Never shall I forget the horror of the calamities we were enduring in
France, when Queen Mary Leckzinska arrived," says M. d'Argenson. "A
continuance of rain had caused famine, and it was much aggravated by the
bad government under the duke. That government, whatever may be said of
it, was even more hurtful through bad judgment than from interested
views, which had not so much to do with it as was said. There were very
costly measures taken to import foreign corn; but that only augmented the
alarm, and, consequently, the dearness.

"Fancy the unparalleled misery of the country-places! It was just the
time when everybody was thinking of harvests and ingatherings of all
sorts of things, which it had not been possible to get in for the
continual rains; the poor farmer was watching for a dry moment to get
them in; meanwhile all the district was beaten with many a scourge. The
peasants had been sent off to prepare the roads by which the queen was to
pass, and they were only the worse for it, insomuch that Her Majesty was
often within a thought of drowning; they pulled her from her carriage by
the strong arm, as best they might. In several stopping-places she and
her suite were swimming in water which spread everywhere, and that in
spite of the unparalleled pains that had been taken by a tyrannical

It was under such sad auspices that Mary Leckzinska arrived at
Versailles. Fleury had made no objection to the marriage. Louis XV.
accepted it, just as he had allowed the breaking-off of his union with
the Infanta and that of France with Spain. For a while the duke had
hopes of reaping all the fruit of the unequal marriage he had just
concluded for the King of France. The queen was devoted to him; he
enlisted her in an intrigue against Fleury. The king was engaged with
his old preceptor; the queen sent for him; he did not return. Fleury
waited a long while. The duke and Paris-Duverney had been found with the
queen; they had papers before them; the king had set to work with them.
When he went back, at length, to his closet, Louis XV. found the bishop
no longer there; search was made for him; he was no longer in the palace.

The king was sorry and put out; the Duke of Mortemart, who was his
gentleman of the bed-chamber, handed him a letter from Fleury. The
latter had retired to Issy, to the countryhouse of the Sulpicians; he
bade the king farewell, assuring him that he had for a long while been
resolved, according to the usage of his youth, to put some space between
the world and death. Louis began to shed tears; Mortemart proposed to go
and fetch Fleury, and got the order given him to do so. The duke had to
write the letter of recall. Next morning the bishop was at Versailles,
gentle and modest as ever, and exhibiting neither resentment nor
surprise. Six months later, however, the king set out from Versailles to
go and visit the Count and Countess of Toulouse at Rambouillet. The duke
was in attendance at his departure. "Do not make us wait supper,
cousin," said the young monarch, graciously. Scarcely had his equipages
disappeared, when a letter was brought: the duke was ordered to quit the
court and retire provisionally to Chantilly. Madame de Prie was exiled
to her estates in Normandy, where she soon died of spite and anger. The
head of the House of Conde came forth no more from the political
obscurity which befitted his talents. At length Fleury remained sole

He took possession of it without fuss or any external manifestation;
caring only for real authority, he advised Louis XV. not to create any
premier minister, and to govern by himself, like his great-grandfather.
The king took this advice, as every other, and left Fleury to govern.
This was just what the bishop intended; a sleepy calm succeeded the
commotions which had been caused by the inconsistent and spasmodic
government of the duke; galas and silly expenses gave place to a wise
economy, the real and important blessing of Fleury's administration.
Commerce and industry recovered confidence; business was developed; the
increase of the revenues justified a diminution of taxation; war, which
was imminent at the moment of the duke's fall, seemed to be escaped; the
Bishop of Frejus became Cardinal Fleury; the court of Rome paid on the
nail for the service rendered it by the new minister in freeing the
clergy from the tax of the fiftieth (_impot du cinquantieme_).
"Consecrated to God, and kept aloof from the commerce of men," had been
Fleury's expression, "the dues of the church are irrevocable, and cannot
be subject to any tax, whether of ratification or any other." The clergy
responded to this pleasant exposition of principles by a gratuitous gift
of five millions. Strife ceased in every quarter; France found herself
at rest, without lustre as well as without prospect.

It was not, henceforth, at Versailles that the destinies of Europe were
discussed and decided. The dismissal of the Infanta had struck a deadly
blow at the frail edifice of the quadruple alliance, fruit of the
intrigues and diplomatic ability of Cardinal Dubois. Philip V. and
Elizabeth Farnese, deeply wounded by the affront put upon them, had
hasted to give the Infanta to the Prince of Brazil, heir to the throne of
Portugal, at the same time that the Prince of the Asturias espoused a
daughter of John V. Under cover of this alliance, agreeable as it was to
England, the faithful patron of Portugal, the King of Spain was
negotiating elsewhere, with the Emperor Charles VI., the most ancient and
hitherto the most implacable of his enemies. This prince had no son, and
wished to secure the succession to his eldest daughter, the Arch-duchess
Maria Theresa. The Pragmatic-Sanction which declared this wish awaited
the assent of Europe; that of Spain was of great value; she offered,
besides, to open her ports to the Ostend Company, lately established by
the emperor to compete against the Dutch trade.

The house of Austria divided the house of Bourbon, by opposing to one
another the two branches of France and Spain; the treaty of Vienna was
concluded on the 1st of May, 1725. The two sovereigns renounced all
pretensions to each other's dominions respectively, and proclaimed, on
both sides, full amnesty for the respective partisans. The emperor
recognized the hereditary rights of Don Carlos to the duchies of Tuscany,
Parma, and Piacenza; he, at the same time, promised his good offices with
England to obtain restitution of Gibraltar and Mahon. In spite of the
negotiations already commenced with the Duke of Lorraine, hopes were even
held out to the two sons of Elizabeth Farnese, Don Carlos and Don Philip,
of obtaining the hands of the arch-duchesses, daughters of the emperor.

When the official treaty was published and the secret articles began to
transpire, Europe was in commotion at the new situation in which it was
placed. George I. repaired to his German dominions, in order to have a
closer view of the emperor's movements. There the Count of Broglie soon
joined him, in the name of France. The King of Prussia, Frederick
William I., the King of England's son-in-law, was summoned to Hanover.
Passionate and fantastic, tyrannical, addicted to the coarsest excesses,
the King of Prussia had, nevertheless, managed to form an excellent army
of sixty thousand men, at the same time amassing a military treasure
amounting to twenty-eight millions; he joined, not without hesitation,
the treaty of Hanover, concluded on the 3d of September, 1725, between
France and England. The Hollanders, in spite of their desire to ruin the
Ostend Company, had not yet signed the convention; Frederick William was
disturbed at their coming in. "Say, I declare against the emperor," said
he in a letter which he communicated on the 5th of December to the
ambassadors of France and England: "he will not fail to get the
Muscovites and Poles to act against me. I ask whether their majesties
will then keep my rear open? England, completely surrounded by sea, and
France, happening to be covered by strong places, consider themselves
pretty safe, whilst the greater part of my dominions are exposed to
anything it shall seem good to attempt. By this last treaty, then, I
engage in war for the benefit of Mr. Hollander and Co., that they may be
able to sell their tea, coffee, cheese, and crockery dearer; those
gentlemen will not do the least thing for me, and I am to do everything
for them. Gentlemen, tell me, is it fair? If you deprive the emperor of
his ships and ruin his Ostend trade, will he be a less emperor than he is
at this moment? The pink of all (_le pot aux roses_) is to deprive the
emperor of provinces, but which? And to whose share will they fall?
Where are the troops? Where is the needful, wherewith to make war?
Since it seems good to commence the dance, it must of course be
commenced. After war comes peace. Shall I be forgotten? Shall I be the
last of all? Shall I have to sign perforce?" The coarse common sense of
the Vandal soon prevailed over family alliances; Frederick William broke
with France and England in order to rally to the emperor's side. Russia,
but lately so attentive to France, was making advances to Spain. "The
czar's envoy is the most taciturn Muscovite that ever came from Siberia,"
wrote Marshal Tesse. "Goodman Don Miguel Guerra is the minister with
whom he treats, and the effect of eight or ten apoplexies is, that he has
to hold his head with his hands, else his mouth would infallibly twist
round over his shoulder. During their audience they seat themselves
opposite one another in arm-chairs, and, after a quarter of an hour's
silence, the Muscovite opens his mouth and says, 'Sir, I have orders from
the emperor, my master, to assure the Catholic King that he loves him
very much.' 'And I,' replies Guerra, 'do assure you that the king my
master loves your master the emperor very much.' After this laconic
conversation they stare at one another for a quarter of an hour without
saying anything, and the audience is over."

The tradition handed down by Peter the Great forbade any alliance with
England; M. de Campredon, French ambassador at Petersburg, was seeking to
destroy this prejudice. One of the empress's ministers, Jokosinski,
rushed abruptly from the conference; he was half drunk, and he ran to the
church where the remains of the czar were lying. "O my dear master!" he
cried before all the people, "rise from the tomb, and see how thy memory
is trampled under foot!" Antipathy towards England, nevertheless, kept
Catherine I. aloof from the Hanoverian league; she made alliance with the
emperor. France was not long before she made overtures to Spain. Philip
V. always found it painful to endure family dissensions; he became
reconciled with his nephew, and accepted the intervention of Cardinal
Fleury in his disagreements with England. The alliance, signed at
Seville on the 29th of November, 1729, secured to Spain, in return for
certain commercial advantages, the co-operation of England in Italy. The
Duke of Parma had just died; the Infante Don Carlos, supported by an
English fleet, took possession of his dominions. Elizabeth Farnese had
at last set foot in Italy. She no longer encountered there the able and
ambitious monarch whose diplomacy had for so long governed the affairs of
the peninsula; Victor Amadeo had just abdicated. Scarcely a year had
passed from the date of that resolution, when, suddenly, from fear, it
was said, of seeing his father resume power, the young king, Charles
Emmanuel, had him arrested in his castle of Pontarlier. "It will be a
fine subject for a tragedy, this that is just now happening to Victor,
King of Sardinia," writes M. d'Argenson. "What a catastrophe without a
death! A great king, who plagued Europe with his virtues and his vices,
with his courage, his artifices, and his perfidies, who had formed round
him a court of slaves, who had rendered his dominion formidable by his
industry and his labors; indefatigable in his designs, unresting in every
branch of government, cherishing none but great projects, credited in
every matter with greater designs than he had yet been known to execute,
--this king abdicates unexpectedly, and, almost immediately, here he
finds himself arrested by his son, whose benefactor he had been so
recently and so extraordinarily! This son is a young prince without
merit, without courage, and without capacity, gentle and under control.
His ministers persuaded him to be ungrateful: he accomplishes the height
of crime, without having crime in his nature; and here is his father shut
up like a bear in a prison, guarded at sight like a maniac, and separated
from the wife whom he had chosen for consolation in his retirement!"
Public indignation, however, soon forced the hand of Charles Emmanuel's
minister. Victor Amadeo was released; his wife, detained in shameful
captivity, was restored to him; he died soon afterwards in that same
castle of Pontarlier, whence he had been carried off without a voice
being raised in his favor by the princes who were bound to him by the
closest ties of blood.

The efforts made in common by Fleury and Robert Walpole, prime minister
of the King of England, had for a long while been successful in
maintaining the general peace; the unforeseen death of Augustus of
Saxony, King of Poland, suddenly came to trouble it. It was,
thenceforth, the unhappy fate of Poland to be a constant source of
commotion and discord in Europe. The Elector of Saxony, son of Augustus
H., was supported by Austria and Russia; the national party in Poland
invited Stanislaus Leckzinski; he was elected at the Diet by sixty
thousand men of family, and set out to take possession of the throne,
reckoning upon the promises of his son-in-law, and on the military spirit
which was reviving in France. The young men burned to win their spurs;
the old generals of Louis XIV. were tired of idleness.

The ardor of Cardinal Fleury did not respond to that of the friends of
King Stanislaus. Russia and Austria made an imposing display of force in
favor of the Elector of Saxony; France sent, tardily, a body of fifteen
hundred men; this ridiculous re-enforcement had not yet arrived when
Stanislaus, obliged to withdraw from Warsaw, had already shut himself up
in Dantzic. The Austrian general had invested the place.

News of the bombardment of Dantzic greeted the little French corps as
they approached the fort of Wechselmunde. Their commander saw his
impotence; instead of landing his troops, he made sail for Copenhagen.
The French ambassador at that court, Count Plelo, was indignant to see
his countrymen's retreat, and, hastily collecting a hundred volunteers,
he summoned to him the chiefs of the expeditionary corps.

"How could you resolve upon not fighting, at any price?" he asked. "It
is easy to say," rejoined one of the officers roughly, "when you're safe
in your closet." "I shall not be there long!" exclaims the count, and
presses them to return with him to Dantzic. The officer in command of
the detachment, M. de la Peyrouse Lamotte, yields to his entreaties.
They set out both of them, persuaded at the same time of the uselessness
of their enterprise and of the necessity they were under, for the honor
of France, to attempt it. Before embarking, Count Plelo wrote to M. de
Chauvelin, the then keeper of the seals, "I am sure not to return; I
commend to you my wife and children." Scarcely had the gallant little
band touched land beneath the fort of Wechselmunde, when they marched up
to the Russian lines, opening a way through the pikes and muskets in
hopes of joining the besieged, who at the same time effected a sally.
Already the enemy began to recoil at sight of such audacity, when M. de
Plelo fell mortally wounded; the enemy's battalions had hemmed in the

[Illustration: Death of Plelo----130]

La Peyrouse succeeded, however, in effecting his retreat, and brought
away his little band into the camp they had established under shelter of
the fort. For a month the French kept up a rivalry in courage with the
defenders of Dantzic; when at last they capitulated, on the 23d of June,
General Munich had conceived such esteem for their courage that be
granted them leave to embark with arms and baggage. A few days later
King Stanislaus escaped alone from Dantzic, which was at length obliged
to surrender on the 7th of July, and sought refuge in the dominions of
the King of Prussia. Some Polish lords went and joined him at
Konigsberg. Partisan war continued still, but the arms and influence of
Austria and Russia had carried the day; the national party was beaten in
Poland. The pope released the Polish gentry from the oath they had made
never to intrust the crown to a foreigner. Augustus III., recognized by
the mass of the nation, became the docile tool of Russia, whilst in
Germany and in Italy the Austrians found themselves attacked
simultaneously by France, Spain, and Sardinia.

Marshal Berwick had taken the fort of Kehl in the month of December,
1733; he had forced the lines of the Austrians at Erlingen at the
commencement of the compaign of 1734, and he had just opened trenches
against Philipsburg, when he pushed forward imprudently in a
reconnoissance between the fires of the besiegers and besieged; a ball
wounded him mortally, and he expired immediately, like Marshal Turenne;
he was sixty-three. The Duke of Noailles, who at once received the
marshal's baton, succeeded him in the command of the army by agreement
with Marshal d'Asfeldt. Philipsburg was taken after forty-eight days'
open trenches, without Prince Eugene, all the while within hail, making
any attempt to relieve the town. He had not approved of the war. "Of
three emperors that I have served," he would say, "the first, Leopold,
was my father; the Emperor Joseph was my brother; this one is my master."
Eugene was old and worn out; he preserved his ability, but his ardor was
gone. Marshal Noailles and D'Asfeldt did not agree; France did not reap
her advantages. The campaign of 1735 hung fire in Germany.

It was not more splendid in Italy, where the outset of the war had been
brilliant. Presumptuous as ever, in spite of his eighty-two years,
Villars had started for Italy, saying to Cardinal Fleury, "The king may
dispose of Italy, I am going to conquer it for him." And, indeed, within
three months, nearly the whole of Milaness was reduced. Cremona and
Pizzighitone had surrendered; but already King Charles Emmanuel was
relaxing his efforts with the prudent selfishness customary with his
house. The Sardinian contingents did not arrive; the Austrians had
seized a passage over the Po; Villars, however, was preparing to force
it, when a large body of the enemy came down upon him. The King of
Sardinia was urged to retire. "That is not the way to get out of this,"
cried the marshal, and, sword in hand, he charged at the head of the
body-guard; Charles Emmanuel followed his example; the Austrians were
driven in. "Sir," said Villars to the king, who was complimenting him,
"these are the last sparks of my life; thus, at departing, I take my
leave of it."

Death, in fact, had already seized his prey; the aged marshal had not
time to return to France to yield up his last breath there; he was
expiring at Turin, when he heard of Marshal Berwick's death before
Philipsburg. "That fellow always was lucky," said he. On the 17th of
June, 1734, Villars died, in his turn, by a strange coincidence in the
very room in which he had been born when his father was French ambassador
at the court of the Duke of Savoy.

Some days later Marshals Broglie and Coigny defeated the Austrians before
Parma; the general-in-chief, M. de Mercy, had been killed on the 19th of
September; the Prince of Wurtemberg, in his turn, succumbed at the battle
of Guastalla, and yet these successes on the part of the French produced

Facebook Google Reddit Twitter Pinterest