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Title: A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 6
Author: Guizot, François
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Popular History of France from the Earliest Times, Volume 6" ***


By M. Guizot




L.     LOUIS XIV.  AND DEATH.  (1711-1715.)




CHOISEUL.  (1748-1774.)



INDEPENDENCE.  (17751783.)





YPRES  151


NAMUR  161





The Grand Monarch in his State Robes  9

Madame de la Valliere  10

Madame de Montespan  12

The Iron Mask  14

Bed-chamber Etiquette  15

Madame de Maintenon and the Duchess of Burgundy.  27

Death of Madame de Maintenon.  34

The King leaving the Death-bed of Monseigneur   36

Louis XIV.  in Old Age  47

The Death-bed of Louis XIV  50

Versailles at Night  52

The Regent Orleans  54

The Bed of Justice  57

John Law  62

La Rue Quincampoix  68

The Duke of Maine  71

The Duchess of Maine  72

Cardinal Dubois  78

Peter the Great and Little Louis XV  82

Belzunce amid the Plague-stricken  96

The Boy King and his People   104

Death of the Regent  107

Louis XV  110

Cardinal Fleury  110

Mary Leczinska  121

Death of Plelo  130

“Moriamur pro rege nostro.”    142

Louis XV. and his Councillors  148

Louis XV. and the Ambassador of Holland  151

Marshal Saxe 154

Battle of Fontenoy 157

Arrest of Charles Edward  166

Dupleix  168

La Bourdonnais  170

Dupleix meeting the Soudhabar of the Deccan  174

Death of the Nabob of the Carnatic  174

Lally at Pondicherry  184

Champlain  190

Death of General Braddock  203

Death of Wolfe  209

Madame de Pompadour  215

Attack on Fort St. Philip.  218

Assassination of Louis XV. by Damiens  221

Death of Chevalier D’Assas  233

“France, thy Parliament will cut off thy Head too!”  249

Defeat of the Corsicans at Golo  256

Montesquieu  269

Fontenelle  274

Voltaire  277

The Rescue of “La Henriade.”    283

Arrest of Voltaire    298

Diderot   314

Alembert   317

Diderot and Catherine II  321

Buffon  323

Rousseau and Madame D’Epinay  338

Turgot’s Dismissal  367

Destruction of the Tea  378

Suffren  413

The Reading of “Paul and Virginia.”    427

Necker Hospital  432

“There are my Sledges, Sirs.”    458

Lavoisier  465

Cardinal Rohan’s Discomfiture  470

Arrest of the Members  502



Louia XIV. reigned everywhere, over his people, over his age, often over
Europe; but nowhere did he reign so completely as over his court.  Never
were the wishes, the defects, and the vices of a man so completely a law
to other men as at the court of Louis XIV. during the whole period of his
long life.  When near to him, in the palace of Versailles, men lived, and
hoped, and trembled; everywhere else in France, even at Paris, men
vegetated.  The existence of the great lords was concentrated in the
court, about the person of the king.  Scarcely could the most important
duties bring them to absent themselves for any time.  They returned
quickly, with alacrity, with ardor; only poverty or a certain rustic
pride kept gentlemen in their provinces.  “The court does not make one
happy,” says La Bruyere, “it prevents one from being so anywhere else.”

At the outset of his reign, and when, on the death of Cardinal Mazarin,
he took the reins of power in hand, Louis XIV. had resolved to establish
about him, in his dominions and at his court, “that humble obedience on
the part of subjects to those who are set over them,” which he regarded
as “one of the most fundamental maxims of Christianity.”  “As the
principal hope for the reforms I contemplated establishing in my kingdom
lay in my own will,” says he in his Memoires, “the first step towards
their foundation was to render my will quite absolute by a line of
conduct which should induce submission and respect, rendering justice
scrupulously to any to whom I owed it, but, as for favors, granting them
freely and without constraint to any I pleased and when I pleased,
provided that the sequel of my acts showed that, for all my giving no
reason to anybody, I was none the less guided by reason.”


The principle of absolute power, firmly fixed in the young king’s mind,
began to pervade his court from the time that he disgraced Fouquet and
ceased to dissemble his affection for Mdlle. de La Valliere.  She was
young, charming, and modest.  Of all the king’s favorites she alone loved
him sincerely.  “What a pity he is a king!” she would say.  Louis XIV.
made her a duchess; but all she cared about was to see him and please
him.  When Madame de Montespan began to supplant her in the king’s favor,
the grief of Madame de La Valliere was so great that she thought she
should die of it.  Then she turned to God, in penitence and despair.
Twice she sought refuge in a convent at Chaillot.  “I should have left
the court sooner,” she sent word to the king on leaving, “after having
lost the honor of your good graces, if I could have prevailed upon myself
never to see you again; that weakness was so strong in me that hardly now
am I capable of making a sacrifice of it to God; after having given you
all my youth, the rest of my life is not too much for the care of my
salvation.”  The king still clung to her.  “He sent M. Colbert to beg her
earnestly to come to Versailles, and that he might speak with her.
M. Colbert escorted her thither; the king conversed for an hour with her,
and wept bitterly.  Madame de Montespan was there to meet her with open
arms and tears in her eyes.”  “It is all incomprehensible,” adds Madame
de Sevigne; “some say that she will remain at Versailles, and at court,
others that she will return to Chaillot; we shall see.”  Madame de La
Valliere remained three years at court, “half penitent,” she said humbly,
detained there by the king’s express wish, in consequence of the tempers
and jealousies of Madame de Montespan, who felt herself judged and
condemned by her rival’s repentance.  Attempts were made to turn Madame
de La Valliere from her inclination for the Carmelites: “Madame,” said
Madame Scarron to her one day, “here are you one blaze of gold: have you
really considered that at the Carmelites’ before long, you will have to
wear serge?”  She, however, persisted.  She was already practising in
secret the austerities of the convent.  “God has laid in this heart the
foundation of great things,” said Bossuet, who supported her in her
conflict: “the world puts great hinderances in her way and God great
mercies; I have hopes that God will prevail; the uprightness of her heart
will carry everything.”

[Illustration: Madame de la Valliere----10]

“When I am in trouble at the Carmelites’,” said Madame de La Valliere, as
at last she quitted the court, “I will think of what those people have
made me suffer.”  “The world itself makes us sick of the world,” said
Bossuet in the sermon he preached on the day of her taking the dress;
“its attractions have enough of illusion, its favors enough of
inconstancy, its rebuffs enough of bitterness, there is enough of
injustice and perfidy in the dealings of men, enough of unevenness and
capriciousness in their intractable and contradictory humors--there is
enough of it all, without doubt, to disgust us.”  “She was dead to me the
day she entered the Carmelites,” said the king, thirty-five years later,
when the modest and fervent nun expired at last, in 1710, at her convent,
without having ever relaxed the severities of her penance.  He had
married the daughter she had given him to the Prince of Conti.
“Everybody has been to pay compliments to this saintly Carmelite,” says
Madame de Sevigne, without appearing to perceive the singularity of the
alliance between words and ideas; “I was there too with Mademoiselle.
The Prince of Conti detained her in the parlor.  What an angel appeared
to me at last!  She had to my eyes all the charms we had seen heretofore.
I did not find her either puffy or sallow; she is less thin, though, and
more happy-looking.  She has those same eyes of hers, and the same
expression; austerity; bad living, and little sleep have not made them
hollow or dull; that singular dress takes away nothing of the easy grace
and easy bearing.  As for modesty, she is no grander than when she
presented to the world a princess of Conti, but that is enough for a
Carmelite.  In real truth, this dress and this retirement are a great
dignity for her.”  The king never saw her again, but it was at her side
that Madame de Montespan, in her turn forced to quit the court, went to
seek advice and pious consolation.  “This soul will be a miracle of
grace,” Bossuet had said.

[Illustration: Madame de Montespan  12]

It was no longer the time of “this tiny violet that hides itself in the
grass,” as Madame de Sevigne used to remark.  Madame de Montespan was
haughty, passionate, “with hair dressed in a thousand ringlets, a
majestic beauty to show off to the ambassadors: “she openly paraded the
favor she was in, accepting and angling for the graces the king was
pleased to do her and hers, having the superintendence of the household
of the queen whom she insulted without disguise, to the extent of
wounding the king himself.  “Pray consider that she is your mistress,” he
said one day to his favorite.  The scandal was great; Bossuet attempted
the task of stopping it.  It was the time of the Jubilee: neither the
king nor Madame de Montespan had lost all religious feeling; the wrath of
God and the refusal of the sacraments had terrors for them still.  Madame
de Montespan left the court after some stormy scenes; the king set out
for Flanders.  “Pluck this sin from your heart, Sir,” Bossuet wrote to
him; “and not only this sin, but the cause of it; go even to the root.
In your triumphant march amongst the people whom you constrain to
recognize your might, would you consider yourself secure of a rebel
fortress if your enemy still had influence there?  We hear of nothing but
the magnificence of your troops, of what they are capable under your
leadership!  And as for me, Sir, I think in my secret heart of a war far
more important, of a far more difficult victory which God holds out
before you.  What would it avail you to be dreaded and victorious
without, when you are vanquished and captive within?”  “Pray God for me,”
 wrote the bishop at the same time to Marshal Bellefonds, “pray Him to
deliver me from the greatest burden man can have to bear, or to quench
all that is man in me, that I may act for Him only.  Thank God, I have
never yet thought, during the whole course of this business, of my
belonging to the world; but that is not all; what is wanted is to be a
St.  Ambrose, a true man of God, a man of that other life, a man in whom
everything should speak, with whom all his words should be oracles of the
Holy Spirit, all his conduct celestial; pray, pray, I do beseech you.”

At the bottom of his soul, and in the innermost sanctuary of his
conscience, Bossuet felt his weakness; he saw the apostolic severance
from the world, the apostolic zeal and fervor required for the holy
crusade he had undertaken.  “Your Majesty has given your promise to God
and the world,” he wrote to Louis XIV. in, ignorance of the secret
correspondence still kept up between the king and Madame de Montespan.
“I have been to see her,” added the prelate.  “I find her pretty calm;
she occupies herself a great deal in good works.  I spoke to her as well
as to you the words in which God commands us to give Him our whole heart;
they caused her to shed many tears; may it please God to fix these truths
in the bottom of both your hearts, and accomplish His work, in order that
so many tears, so much violence, so many strains that you have put upon
yourselves, may not be fruitless.”

The king was on the road back to Versailles; Madame de Montespan was to
return thither also, her duties required her to do so, it was said;
Bossuet heard of it; he did not for a single instant delude himself as to
the emptiness of the king’s promises and of his own hopes.  He
determined, however, to visit the king at Luzarches.  Louis XIV. gave him
no time to speak.

“Do not say a word to me, sir,” said he, not without blushing, do not say
a word; I have given my orders, they will have to be executed.”  Bossuet
held his tongue.  “He had tried every thrust; had acted like a pontiff of
the earliest times, with a freedom worthy of the earliest ages and the
earliest bishops of the Church,” says St. Simon.  He saw the inutility of
his efforts; henceforth, prudence and courtly behavior put a seal upon
his lips.  It was the time of the great king’s omnipotence and highest
splendor, the time when nobody withstood his wishes.  The great
Mademoiselle had just attempted to show her independence: tired of not
being married, with a curse on the greatness which kept her astrand, she
had made up her mind to a love-match.  “Guess it in four, guess it in
ten, guess it in a hundred,” wrote Madame de Sevigne to Madame de
Coulanges: “you are not near it; well, then, you must be told.  M. de
Lauzun is to marry on Sunday at the Louvre, with the king’s permission,
mademoiselle .  .  .  mademoiselle de .  ..  mademoiselle, guess the name
.  .  .  he is to marry Mademoiselle, my word! upon my word! my sacred
word!  Mademoiselle, the great Mademoiselle, Mademoiselle daughter of the
late Monsieur, Mademoiselle grand-daughter of Henry IV., Mademoiselle
d’Eu, Mademoiselle de Dombes, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, Mademoiselle
d’ Orleans, Mademoiselle, cousin-german to the king, Mademoiselle
destined to the throne, Mademoiselle, the only match in France who would
have been worthy of Monsieur!”  The astonishment was somewhat premature;
Mademoiselle did not espouse Lauzun just then, the king broke off the
marriage.  “I will make you so great,” he said to Lauzun, “that you shall
have no cause to regret what I am taking from you; meanwhile, I make you
duke, and peer, and marshal of France.”  “Sir,” broke in Lauzun,
insolently, “you have made so many dukes that it is no longer an honor to
be one, and as for the baton of marshal of France, your Majesty can give
it me when I have earned it by my services.”  He was before long sent to
Pignerol, where he passed ten years.  There he met Fouquet, and that
mysterious personage called the Iron Mask, whose name has not yet been
discovered to a certainty by means of all the most ingenious conjectures.
It was only by settling all her property on the Duke of Maine after
herself that Mademoiselle purchased Lauzun’s release.  The king had given
his posts to the Prince of Marcillac, son of La Rochefoucauld.  He at the
same time overwhelmed Marshal Bellefonds with kindnesses.

[Illustration: The Iron Mask----14]

“He sent for him into his study,” says Madame de Sevigne,--and said to
him, ‘Marshal, I want to know why you are anxious to leave me.  Is it a
devout feeling?  Is it a desire for retirement?  Is it the pressure of
your debts?  If the last, I shall be glad to set it right, and enter into
the details of your affairs.’  The marshal was sensibly touched by this
kindness: ‘Sir,’ said he, ‘it is my debts; I am over head and ears.
I cannot see the consequences borne by some of my friends who have
assisted me, and whom I cannot pay.’  ‘Well,’ said the king, ‘they must
have security for what is owing to them.  I will give you a hundred
thousand francs on your house at Versailles, and a patent of retainder
(_brevet de retenue_--whereby the emoluments of a post were not lost to
the holder’s estate by his death) for four hundred thousand francs, which
will serve as a policy of assurance if you should die; that being so, you
will stay in my service.’  In truth, one must have a very hard heart not
to obey a master who enters with so much kindness into the interests of
one of his domestics; accordingly, the marshal made no objection, and
here he is in his place again, and loaded with benefits.”

The king entered benevolently into the affairs of a marshal of France; he
paid his debts, and the marshal was his domestic; all the court had come
to that; the duties which brought servants in proximity to the king’s
person were eagerly sought after by the greatest lords.  Bontemps, his
chief valet, and Fagon, his physician, as well as his surgeon Marachal,
very excellent men, too, were all-powerful amongst the courtiers.  Louis
XIV. had possessed the art of making his slightest favors prized; to hold
the candlestick at bedtime (_au petit coucher_), to make one in the trips
to Marly, to play in the king’s own game, such was the ambition of the
most distinguished; the possessors of grand historic castles, of fine
houses at Paris, crowded together in attics at Versailles, too happy to
obtain a lodging in the palace.  The whole mind of the greatest
personages, his favorites at the head, was set upon devising means of
pleasing the king; Madame de Montespan had pictures painted in miniature
of all the towns he had taken in Holland; they were made into a book
which was worth four thousand pistoles, and of which Racine and Boileau
wrote the text; people of tact, like M. de Langlee, paid court to the
master through those whom he loved.  “M. de Langlee has given Madame de
Montespan a dress of the most divine material ever imagined; the fairies
did this work in secret, no living soul had any notion of it; and it
seemed good to present it as mysteriously as it had been fashioned.
Madame de Montespan’s dressmaker brought her the dress she had ordered of
him; he had made the body a ridiculous fit; there was shrieking and
scolding as you may suppose.  The dressmaker said, all in a tremble, ‘As
time presses, madame, see if this other dress that I have here might not
suit you for lack of anything else.’  ‘Ah! what material!  Does it come
from heaven?  There is none such on earth.’  The body is tried on; it is
a picture.  The king comes in.  The dressmaker says, ‘Madame, it is made
for you.’  Everybody sees that it is a piece of gallantry; but on whose
part?  ‘It is Langl4e,’ says the king; ‘it is Langlee.’  ‘Of course,’
says Madame de Montespan, ‘none but he could have devised such a device;
it is Langlee, it is Langlee.’  Everybody repeats, ‘it is Langlee;’ the
echoes are agreed and say, ‘it is Langlee;’ and as for me, my child, I
tell you, to be in the fashion, ‘it is Langlle.’ ”

[Illustration: Bed-chamber Etiquette----15]

All the style of living at court was in accordance with the magnificence
of the king and his courtiers; Colbert was beside himself at the sums the
queen lavished on play.  Madame de Montespan lost and won back four
millions, in one night at bassette; Mdlle. de Fontanges gave away twenty
thousand crowns’ worth of New Year’s gifts; the king had just
accomplished the dauphin’s marriage.  “He made immense presents on this
occasion; there is certainly no need to despair,” said Madame de Sevigne,
“though one does not happen to be his valet; it may happen that, whilst
paying one’s court, one will find one’s self underneath what he showers
around.  One thing is certain, and that is, that away from him all
services go for nothing; it used to be the contrary.”  All the court were
of the same opinion as Madame de Sevigne.

A new power was beginning to appear on the horizon, with such modesty and
backwardness that none could as yet discern it, least of all could the
king.  Madame de Montespan had looked out for some one to take care of
and educate her children.  She had thought of Madame Scarron; she
considered her clever; she was so herself, “in that unique style which
was peculiar to the Mortemarts,” said the Duke of St. Simon; she was fond
of conversation; Madame Scarron had a reputation of being rather a
blue-stocking; this the king did not like; Madame de Montespan had her
way; Madame Scarron took charge of the children secretly and in an
isolated house.  She was attentive, careful, sensible.  The king was
struck with her devotion to the children intrusted to her.  “She can
love,” he said; “it would be a pleasure to be loved by her.”  The
confidence of Madame de Montespan went on increasing.  “The person of
quality (Madame de Montespan) has no partnership with the person who has
a cold (Madame Scarron), for she regards her as the confidential person;
the lady who is at the head of all (the queen) does the same; she is,
therefore, the soul of this court,” writes Madame de Sevigne in 1680.
There were, however, frequent storms; Madame de Montespan was jealous and
haughty, and she grew uneasy at the nascent liking she observed in the
king for the correct and shrewd judgment, the equable and firm temper, of
his children’s governess.  The favor of which she was the object did not
come from Madame de Montespan.  The king had made the Parliament
legitimatize the Duke of Maine, Mdlle. de Nantes, and the Count of Vexin;
they were now formally installed at Versailles.  Louis XIV. often chatted
with Madame Scarron.  She had bought the estate of Maintenon out of the
king’s bounty.  He made her take the title.  The recollection of Scarron
was displeasing to him.  “It is supposed that I am indebted for this
present to Madame de Montespan,” she wrote to Madame de St. Geran; “I owe
it to my little prince.  The king was amusing himself with him one day,
and, being pleased with the manner with which he answered his questions,
told him that he was a very sensible little fellow.  ‘I can’t help
being,’ said the child, ‘I have by me a lady who is sense itself.’
‘Go and tell her,’ replied the king, ‘that you will give her this evening
a hundred thousand francs for your sugar-plums.’  The mother gets me into
trouble with the king, the son makes my peace with him; I am never for
two days together in the same situation, and I do not get accustomed to
this sort of life, I who thought I could make myself used to anything.”
 She often spoke of leaving the court.  “As I tell you everything
honestly,” she wrote in 1675 to her confessor, Abbe Gobelin, “I will not
tell you that it is to serve God that I should like to leave the place
where I am; I believe that I might work out my salvation here and
elsewhere, but I see nothing to forbid us from thinking of our repose,
and withdrawing from a position that vexes us every moment.  I explained
myself badly if you understood me to mean that I am thinking of being a
nun; I am too old for a change of condition, and, according to the
property I shall have, I shall look out for securing one full of
tranquillity.  In the world, all reaction is towards God; in a convent,
all reaction is towards the world; there is one great reason; that of age
comes next.”  She did not, however, leave the court except to take to the
waters the little Duke of Maine, who had become a cripple after a series
of violent convulsions.  “Never was anything more agreeable than the
surprise which Madame de Maintenon gave the king,” writes Madame de
Sdvigne to her daughter.  “He had not expected the Duke of Maine till the
next day, when he saw him come walking into his room, and only holding by
the hand of his governess; he was transported with joy.  M. do Louvois on
her arrival went to call upon Madame de Maintenon; she supped at Madame
de Richelieu’s, some kissing her hand, others her gown, and she making
fun of them all, if she is not much changed; but they say that she is.”
 The king’s pleasure in conversing with the governess became more marked
every day; Madame de Montespan frequently burst out into bitter
complaints.  “She reproaches me with her kindnesses, with her presents,
with those of the king, and has told me that she fed me, and that I am
strangling her; you know what the fact is; it is a strange thing that we
cannot live together and that we cannot separate.  I love her, and I
cannot persuade myself that she hates me.”  They found themselves alone
together in one of the court carriages.  “Let us not be duped by such a
thing as this,” said Madame de Montespan, rudely; “let us talk as if we
had no entanglements between us to arrange; it being understood, of
course,” added she, “that we resume our entanglements when we get back.”
 “Madame de Maintenon accepted the proposal,” says Madame de Caylus, who
tells the story, “and they kept their word to the letter.”  Madame de
Maintenon had taken a turn for preaching virtue.  “The king passed two
hours in my closet,” she wrote to Madame de St. Geran; “he is the most
amiable man in his kingdom.  I spoke to him of Father Bourdaloue.  He
listened to me attentively.  Perhaps he is not so far from thinking of
his salvation as the court suppose.  He has good sentiments and frequent
reactions towards God.”  “The star of Quanto (Madame de Montespan) is
paling,” writes Madame de Sevigne to her daughter; “there are tears,
natural pets, affected gayeties, poutings--in fact, my dear, all is
coming to an end.  People look, observe, imagine, believe that there are
to be seen as it were rays of light upon faces which, a month ago, were
thought to be unworthy of comparison with others.  If Quanto had hidden
her face with her cap at Easter in the year she returned to Paris, she
would not be in the agitated state in which she now is.  The spirit,
indeed, was willing, but great is human weakness; one likes to make the
most of a remnant of beauty.  This is an economy which ruins rather than
enriches.”  “Madame de Montespan asks advice of me,” said Madame de
Maintenon; “I speak to her of God, and she thinks I have some
understanding with the king; I was present yesterday at a very animated
conversation between them.  I wondered at the king’s patience, and at the
rage of that vain creature.  It all ended with these terrible words: ‘I
have told you already, madame; I will not be interfered with.’”

Henceforth Madame de Montespan “interfered with” the king.  He gave the
new dauphiness Madame de Maintenon as her mistress of the robes.  “I am
told,” writes Madame de Sevigne, “that the king’s conversations do
nothing but increase and improve, that they last from six to ten o’clock,
that the daughter-in-law goes occasionally to pay them a shortish visit,
that they are found each in a big chair, and that, when the visit is
over, the talk is resumed.  The lady is no longer accosted without awe
and respect, and the ministers pay her the court which the rest do.  No
friend was ever so careful and attentive as the king is to her; she makes
him acquainted with a perfectly new line of country--I mean the
intercourse of friendship and conversation, without chicanery and without
constraint; he appears to be charmed with it.”

Discreet and adroit as she was, and artificial without being false,
Madame de Maintenon gloried in bringing back the king and the court to
the ways of goodness.  “There is nothing so able as irreproachable
conduct,” she used to say.  The king often went to see the queen; the
latter heaped attentions upon Madame de Maintenon.  “The king never
treated me more affectionately than he has since she had his ear,” the
poor princess would say.  The dauphiness had just had a son.  The joy at
court was excessive.  “The king let anybody who pleased embrace him,”
 says the Abbe de Croisy; “he gave everybody his hand to kiss.  Spinola,
in the warmth of his zeal, bit his finger; the king began to exclaim.
‘Sir,’ interrupted the other, ‘I ask your Majesty’s pardon; but, if I
hadn’t bitten you, you would not have noticed me.’  The lower orders
seemed beside themselves, they made bonfires of everything.  The porters
and the Swiss burned the poles of the chairs, and even the floorings and
wainscots intended for the great gallery.  Bontemps, in wrath, ran and
told the king, who burst out laughing and said, ‘Let them be; we will
have other floorings.’”

The least clear-sighted were beginning to discern the modest beams of a
rising sun.  Madame de Montespan, who had a taste for intellectual
things, had not long since recommended Racine and Boileau to the king to
write a history of his reign.  They had been appointed historiographers.
“When they had done some interesting piece,” says Louis Racine in his
Memoires, “they used to go and read it to the king at Madame de
Montespan’s.  Madame de Maintenon was generally present at the reading.
She, according to Boileau’s account, liked my father better than him, and
Madame de Montespan, on the contrary, liked Boileau better than my
father, but they always paid their court jointly, without any jealousy
between them.  When Madame de Montespan would let fall some rather tart
expressions, my father and Boileau, though by no means sharp-sighted,
observed that the king, without answering her, looked with a smile at
Madame de Maintenon, who was seated opposite to him on a stool, and who
finally disappeared all at once from these meetings.  They met her in the
gallery, and asked her why she did not come any more to hear their
readings.  She answered very coldly, ‘I am no longer admitted to those
mysteries.’  As they found a great deal of cleverness in her, they were
mortified and astonished at this.  Their astonishment was very much
greater, then, when the king, being obliged to keep his bed, sent for
them with orders to bring what they had newly written of history, and
they saw as they went in Madame de Maintenon sitting in an arm-chair near
the king’s pillow, chatting familiarly with his Majesty.  They were just
going to begin their reading, when Madame do Montespan, who had not been
expected, came in, and after a few compliments to the king, paid such
long ones to Madame de Maintenon, that the king, to stop them, told her
to sit down.  ‘As it would not be fair,’ he added, ‘to read without you a
work which you yourself ordered.’  From this day, the two historians paid
their court to Madame de Maintenon as far as they knew how to do so.”

The queen had died on the 30th of July, 1683, piously and gently, as she
had lived.  “This is the first sorrow she ever caused me,” said the king,
thus rendering homage in his superb and unconscious egotism, to the
patient virtue of the wife he had put to such cruel trials.  Madame de
Maintenon was agitated but resolute.  “Madame de Montespan has plunged
into the deepest devoutness,” she wrote, two months after the queen’s
death; “it is quite time she edified us; as for me, I no longer think of
retiring.”  Her strong common sense and her far-sighted ambition, far
more than her virtue, had secured her against rocks ahead; henceforth she
saw the goal, she was close upon it, she moved towards it with an even
step.  The king still looked in upon Madame de Montespan of an evening
on his way to the gaming-table; he only staid an instant, to pass on to
Madame de Maintenon’s; the latter had modestly refused to become lady in
attendance upon the dauphiness.  She, however, accompanied the king on
all his expeditions, “sending him away always afflicted, but, never
disheartened.”  Madame de Montespan, piqued to see that the king no
longer thought of anybody but Madame de Maintenon, “said to him one day
at Marly,” writes Dangeau, “that she has a favor to ask of him, which was
to let her have the duty of entertaining the second-carriage people and
of amusing the antechamber.”  It required more than seven years of wrath
and humiliation to make her resolve upon quitting the court, in 1691.

The date has never been ascertained exactly of the king’s private
marriage with Madame de Maintenon.  It took place, probably, eighteen
months or two years after the queen’s death; the king was forty-seven,
Madame de Maintenon fifty.

“She had great remains of beauty, bright and sprightly eyes, an
imcomparable grace,” says St. Simon, who detested her; “an air of ease,
and yet of restraint and respect; a great deal of cleverness, with a
speech that was sweet, correct, in good terms, and naturally eloquent and

Madame do La Valliere had held sway over the young and passionate heart
of the prince, Madame de Montespan over the court, Madame de Maintenon
alone established her empire over the man and the king.  “Whilst giving
up our heart, we must remain absolute master of our mind,” Louis XIV.
had written, “separate our affections from our resolves as a sovereign,
that she who enchants us may never have liberty to speak to us of our
business or of the people who serve us, and that they be two things
absolutely distinct.”  The king had scrupulously applied this maxim;
Mdlle. de La Valliere had never given a thought to business; Madame de
Montespan had sought only to shine, disputing the influence of Colbert
when he would have put a limit upon her ruinous fancies, leaning for
support at the last upon Louvois, in order to counterbalance the growing
power of Madame de Maintenon; the latter alone had any part in affairs,
a smaller part than has frequently been made out, but important,
nevertheless, and sometimes decisive.  Ministers went occasionally to do
their work in her presence with the king, who would turn to her when the
questions were embarassing, and ask, “What does your Solidity think?”
 The opinions she gave were generally moderate and discreet.  “I did not
manage to please in my conversation about the buildings,” she wrote to
Cardinal Noailles, “and what grieves me is to have caused vexation to no
purpose.  Another block of chambers is being built here at a cost of a
hundred thousand francs; Marly will soon be a second Versailles.  The
people, what will become of them?”  And later on: “Would you think
proper, monsignor, to make out a list of good bishops?  You could send it
me, so that, on the occasions which are constantly occurring, I might
support their interests, and they might have the business referred to
them in which they ought to have a hand, and for which they are the
proper persons.  I am always spoken to when the question is of them; and
if I were better informed, I should be bolder.”  “It is said that you
meddle too little with business,” Fenelon wrote to her in 1694; “your
mind is better calculated for it than you suppose.  You ought to direct
your whole endeavors to giving the king views tending to peace, and
especially to the relief of the people, to moderation, to equity, to
mistrust of harsh and violent measures, to horror for acts of arbitrary
authority, and finally to love of the Church, and to assiduity in seeking
good pastors for it.”  Neither Fenelon nor Madame de Maintenon had seen
in the revocation of the edict of Nantes “an act of arbitrary authority,
or a harsh and violent measure.”  She was not inclined towards
persecution, but she feared lest her moderation should be imputed to a
remnant of prejudice in favor of her former religion, “and this it is,”
 she would say, “which makes me approve of things quite opposed to my
sentiments.”  An egotistical and cowardly prudence, which caused people
to attribute to Madame de Maintenon, in the severities against the
Huguenots, a share which she had not voluntarily or entirely assumed.

Whatever the apparent reserve and modesty with which it was cloaked, the
real power of Madame de Maintenon over the king’s mind peeped out more
and more into broad daylight.  She promoted it dexterously by her extreme
anxiety to please him, as well as by her natural and sincere attachment
to the children whom she had brought up, and who had a place near the
heart of Louis XIV.  Already the young Duke of Maine had been sent to the
army at the dauphin’s side; the king was about to have him married
[August 29, 1692] to Mdlle. de Charolais; carefully seeking for his
natural children alliances amongst the princes of his blood, he had
recently given Mdlle. de Nantes, daughter of Madame de Montespan, to the
duke, grandson of the great Conde.  “For a long time past,” says St.
Simon, “Madame de Maintenon, even more than the king, had been thinking
of marrying Mdlle. de Blois, Madame de Montespan’s second daughter, to
the Duke of Chartres; he was the king’s own and only nephew, and the
first moves towards this marriage were the more difficult in that
Monsieur was immensely attached to all that appertained to his greatness,
and Madame was of a nation which abhorred misalliances, and of a
character which gave no promise of ever making this marriage agreeable to
her.”  The king considered himself sure of his brother; he had set his
favorites to work, and employed underhand intrigues.  “He sent for the
young Duke of Chartres, paid him attention, told him he wanted to have
him settled in life, that the war which was kindled on all sides put out
of his reach the princesses who might have suited him, that there were no
princesses of the blood of his own age, that he could not better testify
his affection towards him than by offering him his daughter whose two
sisters had married princes of the blood; but that, however eager he
might be for this marriage, he did not want to put any constraint upon
him, and would leave him full liberty in the matter.  This language,
addressed with the awful majesty so natural to the king to a prince who
was timid, and had not a word to say for himself, put him at his wits’
end.”  He fell back upon the wishes of his father and mother.  “That is
very proper in you,” replied the king; “but, as you consent, your father
and mother will make no objection;” and, turning to Monsieur, who was
present, “Is it not so, brother?” he asked.  Monsieur had promised; a
messenger was sent for Madame, who cast two furious glances at her
husband and her son, saying that, as they were quite willing, she had
nothing to say, made a curt obeisance, and went her way home.  Thither
the court thronged next day; the marriage was announced.  “Madame was
walking in the gallery with her favorite, Mdlle. de Chateau-Thiers,
taking long steps, handkerchief in hand, weeping unrestrainedly, speaking
somewhat loud,, gesticulating and making a good picture of Ceres after
the rape of her daughter Proserpine, seeking her in a frenzy, and
demanding her back from Jupiter.  Everybody saluted, and stood aside out
of respect.  Monsieur had taken refuge in lansquenet; never was anything
so shamefaced as his look or so disconcerted as his whole appearance, and
this first condition lasted more than a month with him.  The Duke of
Chartres came into the gallery, going up to his mother, as he did every
day, to kiss her hand.  At that moment, Madame gave him a box of the ear
so loud that it was heard some paces off, and given as it was before the
whole court, covered the poor prince with confusion, and overwhelmed the
countless spectators with prodigious astonishment.”  That did not prevent
or hamper the marriage, which took place with great pomp at Versailles on
the 18th of February, 1692.  The king was, and continued to the last, the
absolute and dread master of all his family, to its remotest branches.

He lost through this obedience a great deal that is charming and sweet
in daily intercourse.  For him and for Madame de Maintenon the great and
inexhaustible attraction of the Duchess of Burgundy was her gayety and
unconstrained ease, tempered by the most delicate respect, which this
young princess, on coming as quite a child to France from the court of
Savoy, had tact enough to introduce, and always maintain, amidst the most
intimate familiarity.  “In public, demure, respectful with the king, and
on terms of timid propriety with Madame de Maintenon, whom she never
called anything but aunt, thus prettily blending rank and affection.
In private, chattering, frisking, fluttering around them, at one time
perched on the arm of one or the other’s chair, at another playfully
sitting on their knee, she would throw herself upon their necks, embrace
them, kiss them, fondle them, pull them to pieces, chuck them under the
chin, tease them, rummage their tables, their papers, their letters,
reading them sometimes against their will, according as she saw that they
were in the humor to laugh at it, and occasionally speaking thereon.
Admitted to everything, even at the reception of couriers bringing the
most important news, going into the king at any hour, even at the time
the council was sitting, useful and also fatal to ministers themselves,
but always inclined to help, to excuse, to benefit, unless she were
violently set against anybody.  The king could not do without her; when,
rarely, she was absent from his supper in public, it was plainly shown by
a cloud of more than usual gravity and taciturnity over the king’s whole
person; and so, when it happened that some ball in winter or some party
in summer made her break into the night, she arranged matters so well
that she was there to kiss the king the moment he was awake, and to amuse
him with an account of the affair.”  [Memoires de St. Simon, t. x.
p. 186.]

[Illustration: Madame de Maintenon and the Duchess of Burgundy.----27]

The dauphiness had died in 1690; the Duchess of Burgundy was, therefore,
almost from childhood queen of the court, and before long the idol of the
courtiers; it was around her that pleasures sprang up; it was for her
that the king gave the entertainments to which he had habituated
Versailles, not that for her sake or to take care of her health he would
ever consent to modify his habits or make the least change in his plans.
“Thank God, it is over!”  he exclaimed one day, after an accident to the
princess; “I shall no longer be thwarted in my trips, and in all I desire
to do, by the representations of physicians.  I shall come and go as I
fancy; and I shall be left in peace.”  Even in his court, and amongst his
most devoted servants, this monstrous egotism astounded and scandalized
everybody.  “A silence in which you might have heard an ant move
succeeded this sally,” says St. Simon, who relates the scene; “we looked
down; we hardly dared draw breath.  Everybody stood aghast.  To the very
builders-men and gardeners everybody was motionless.  This silence lasted
more than a quarter of an hour.  The king broke it, as he leaned against
a balustrade of the great basin, to speak about a carp.  Nobody made any
answer.  He afterwards addressed his remarks about these carp to some
builder’s-men who did not keep up the conversation in the regular way; it
was but a question of carp with them.  Everything was at a low ebb, and
the king went away some little time after.  As soon as we dared look at
one another out of his sight, our eyes meeting told all.”  There was no
venturing beyond looks.  Fenelon had said, with severe charity, “God will
have compassion upon a prince beset from his youth up by flatterers.”

Flattery ran a risk of becoming hypocrisy.  On returning to a regular
life, the king was for imposing the same upon his whole court; the
instinct of order and regularity, smothered for a while in the heyday of
passion, had resumed all its sway over the naturally proper and steady
mind of Louis XIV.  His dignity and his authority were equally involved
in the cause of propriety and regularity at his court; he imposed this
yoke as well as all the others; there appeared to be entire obedience;
only some princes or princesses escaped it sometimes, getting about them
a few free-thinkers or boon-companions; good, honest folks showed
ingenuous joy; the virtuous and far-sighted were secretly uneasy at the
falsehood, and deplored the pressure put on so many consciences and so
many lives.  The king was sincere in his repentance for the past, many
persons in his court were as sincere as he; others, who were not,
affected, in order to please him, the externals of austerity; absolute
power oppressed all spirits, extorting from them that hypocritical
complaisance which is liable to engender; corruption was already brooding
beneath appearances of piety; the reign of Louis XV. was to see its
deplorable fruits displayed with a haste and a scandal which are to be
explained only by the oppression exercised in the last years of King
Louis XIV.

Madame de Maintenon was like the genius of this reaction towards
regularity, propriety, order; all the responsibility for it had been
thrown upon her; the good she did has disappeared beneath the evil she
allowed or encouraged; the regard lavished upon her by the king has
caused illusions as to the discreet care she was continually taking to
please him.  She was faithful to her friends, so long as they were in
favor with the king; if they had the misfortune to displease him, she,
at the very least, gave up seeing them; without courage or hardihood to
withstand the caprices and wishes of Louis XIV., she had gained and
preserved her empire by dint of dexterity and far-sighted suppleness
beneath the externals of dignity.

She never forgot her origin.  “I am not a grandee,” she would say;
“I am a mushroom.”  Her life, entirely devoted to the king, had become a
veritable slavery; she said as much to Mdlle. d’Aumale at St. Cyr.  “I
have to take for my prayers and for mass the time when everybody else is
still sleeping.  For, when once they begin coming into my room, at half
past seven, I haven’t another moment to myself.  They come filing in, and
nobody goes out without being relieved by somebody higher.  At last comes
the king; then, of course, they all have to go out; he remains with me up
to mass.  I am, still in my night-cap.  The king comes back after mass;
then the Duchess of Burgundy with her ladies.  They remain whilst I dine.
I have to keep up the conversation, which flags every moment, and to
manage so as to harmonize minds and reconcile hearts which are as far as
possible asunder.  The circle is all round me, and I cannot ask for
anything to drink; I sometimes say to them (aside), ‘It is a great honor,
but really I should prefer a footman.’  At last they all go away to
dinner.  I should be free during that time, if Monseigneur did not
generally choose it for coming to see me, for he often dines earlier in
order to go hunting.  He is very difficult to entertain, having very
little to say, and finding himself a bore, and running away from himself
continually; so I have to talk for two.  Immediately after the king has
dined, he comes into my room with all the royal family, princes and
princesses; then I must be prepared for the gayest of conversation, and
wear a smiling face amidst so much distressing news.  When this company
disperses, some lady has always something particular to say to me; the
Duchess of Burgundy also wants to have a chat.  The king returns from
hunting.  He comes to me.  The door is shut, and nobody else is admitted.
Then I have to share his secret troubles, which are no small number.
Arrives a minister; and the king sets himself to work.  If I am not
wanted at this consultation, which seldom happens, I withdraw to some
farther distance and write or pray.  I sup, whilst the king is still at
work.  I am restless, whether he is alone or not.  The king says to me,
‘You are tired, Madame; go to bed.’  My women come.  But I feel that they
interfere with the king, who would chat with me, and does not like to
chat before them; or, perhaps, there are some ministers still there, whom
he is afraid they may overhear.  Wherefore I make haste to undress, so
much so that I often feel quite ill from it.  At last I am in bed.  The
king comes up and remains by my pillow until he goes to supper.  But a
quarter of an hour before supper, the dauphin and the Duke and Duchess of
Burgundy come in to me again.  At ten, everybody goes out.  At last I am
alone, but very often the fatigues of the day prevent me from sleeping.”

She was at that time seventy.  She was often ailing; but the Duchess of
Burgundy was still very young, and the burden of the most private matters
of court diplomacy fell entirely upon Madame de Maintenon.  “The Princess
des Ursins is about to return to Spain,” she said; “if I do not take her
in hand, if I do not repair by my attentions the coldness of the Duchess
of Burgundy, the indifference of the king and the curtness of the other
princes, she will go away displeased with our court, and it is expedient
that she should praise it, and speak well of it in Spain.”

It was, in fact, through Madame de Maintenon and her correspondence with
the Princess des Ursins, that the private business between the two courts
of France and Spain was often carried on.  At Madrid, far more than at
Versailles, the influence of women was all-powerful.  The queen ruled her
husband, who was honest and courageous, but without wit or daring; and
the Princess des Ursins ruled the queen, as intelligent and as amiable as
her sister the Duchess of Burgundy, but more ambitious and more haughty.
Louis XIV. had several times conceived some misgiving of the _camarera
major’s_ influence over his grandson; she had been disgraced, and then
recalled; she had finally established her sway by her fidelity, ability,
dexterity, and indomitable courage.  She served France habitually, Spain
and her own influence in Spain always; she had been charming, with an air
of nobility, grace, elegance, and majesty all together, and accustomed to
the highest society and the most delicate intrigues, during her sojourn
at Rome and Madrid; she was full of foresight and calculation, but
impassioned, ambitious, implacable, pushing to extremes her amity as well
as her hatred, faithful to her master and mistress in their most cruel
trials, and then hampering and retarding peace for the sake of securing
for herself a principality in the Low Countries.  Without having risen
from the ranks, like Madame de Maintenon, she had reached a less high and
less safe elevation; she had been more absolutely and more daringly
supreme during the time of her power, and at last she fell with the
rudest shock, without any support from Madame de Maintenon.  The
pretensions of Madame des Ursins during the negotiations had offended
France; “this was the stone of stumbling between the two supreme
directresses,” says St. Simon; after this attempt at sovereignty, there
was no longer the same accord between Madame de Maintenon and Madame des
Ursins, but this latter had reached in Spain a point at which she more
easily supposed that she could dispense with it.  The Queen of Spain had
died at the age of twenty-six, in 1714; did the princess for a moment
conceive the hope of marrying Philip V. in spite of the disproportion in
rank and age?  Nobody knows; she had already been reigning as sovereign
mistress for some months, when she received from the king this stunning
command: “Look me out a wife.”  She obeyed; she looked out.  Alberoni, an
Italian priest, brought into Spain by the Duke of Vendome, drew her
attention to the Princess of Parma, Elizabeth Farnese.  The principality
was small, the princess young; Alberoni laid stress upon her sweetness
and modesty.  “Nothing will be more easy,” he said, “than for you to
fashion her to Spanish gravity, by keeping her retired; in the capacity
of her _camarera major,_ intrusted with her education, you will easily be
able to acquire complete sway over her mind.”  The Princess des Ursins
believed him, and settled the marriage.  “Cardonne has surrendered at
last, Madame,” she wrote on the 20th of September, 1714, to Madame de
Maintenon; “there is nothing left in Catalonia that is not reduced.  The
new queen, at her coming into this kingdom, is very fortunate to find no
more war there.  She whom we have lost would have been beside herself
with delight at enjoying peace after having experienced such cruel
sufferings of all kinds.  The longer I live, the more I see that we are
never so near a reverse of Fortune as when she is favorable, or so near
receiving favors as when she is maltreating us.  For that reason, Madame,
if one were wise, one would take her inconstancy graciously.”

The time had come for Madame des Ursins to make definitive trial of
Fortune’s inconstancy.  She had gone to meet the new queen, in full dress
and with her ornaments; Elizabeth received her coldly; they were left
alone; the queen reproached the princess with negligence in her costume
Madame des Ursins, strangely surprised, would have apologized, “but, all
at once there was the queen at offensive words, and screaming, summoning,
demanding officers, guards, and imperiously ordering Madame des Ursins
out of her presence.  She would have spoken; but the queen, with
redoubled rage and threats, began to scream out for the removal of this
mad woman from her presence and her apartments; she had her put out by
the shoulders, and on the instant into a carriage with one of her women,
to be taken at once to St. Jean-de-Luz.  It was seven o’clock at night,
the day but one before Christmas, the ground all covered with ice and
snow; Madame des Ursins had no time to change gown or head-dress, to take
any measures against the cold, to get any money, or any anything else at
all.”  Thus she was conducted almost without a mouthful of food to the
frontier of France.  She hoped for aid from the king of Spain; but none
came; it got known that the queen had been abetted in everything and
beforehand by Philip V.  On arriving at St. Jean-de-Luz, she wrote to the
king and to Madame de Maintenon: “Can you possibly conceive, Madame, the
situation in which I find myself?  Treated in the face of all Europe,
with more contempt by the Queen of Spain than if I were the lowest of
wretches?  They want to persuade me that the king acted in concert with a
princess who had me treated with such cruelty.  I shall await his orders
at St. Jean-de-Luz, where I am in a small house close by the sea.  I see
it often stormy and sometimes calm; a picture of courts.  I shall have no
difficulty in agreeing with you that it is of no use looking for
stability but in God.  Certainly it cannot be found in the human heart,
for who was ever more sure than I was of the heart of the King of Spain?”

The king did not reply at all, and Madame de Maintenon but coldly,
begging the princess, however, to go to Versailles.  There she passed but
a short time, and received notice to leave the kingdom.  With great
difficulty she obtained an asylum at Rome, where she lived seven years
longer, preserving all her health, strength, mind, and easy grace until
she died, in 1722, at more than eighty-four years of age, in obscurity
and sadness, notwithstanding her opulence, but avenged of her Spanish
foes, Cardinals della Giudice and Alberoni, whom she met again at Rome,
disgraced and fugitive like herself.  “I do not know where I may die,”
 she wrote to Madame de Maintenon, at that time in retirement at St. Cyr.
Both had survived their power; the Princess des Ursins had not long since
wanted to secure for herself a dominion; Madame de Maintenon, more
far-sighted and more modest, had aspired to no more than repose in the
convent which she had founded and endowed.  Discreet in her retirement as
well as in her life, she had not left to chance the selection of a place
where she might die.

[Illustration: Death of Madame de Maintenon.----34]


“One has no more luck at our age,” Louis XIV. had said to his old friend
Marshal Villars, returning from his most disastrous campaign.  It was a
bitter reflection upon  himself which had put these words into the king’s
mouth.  After the most brilliant, the most continually and invariably
triumphant of reigns, he began to see Fortune slipping away  from him,
and the grievous consequences of his errors successively overwhelming the
state.  “God is punishing me; I have richly deserved it,” he said to
Marshal Villars, who was  on the point of setting out for the battle of
Denain.  The  aged king, dispirited and beaten, could not set down to men
his misfortunes and his reverses; the hand of God Himself was raised
against his house.  Death was knocking double knocks all round him.  The
grand-dauphin had for some days past been ill of small-pox.  The king had
gone to be with him at Meudon, forbidding the court to come near the
castle.  The small court of Monseigneur were huddled together in the
lofts.  The king was amused with delusive hopes; his chief physician,
Fagon, would answer for the invalid.  The  king continued to hold his
councils as usual, and the deputation of market-women (_dames de la
Halle_), come from Paris  to have news of Monseigneur, went away,
declaring that they would go and sing a Te Deum, as he was nearly well.
“It is not time yet, my good women,” said Monseigneur, who had given them
a reception.  That very evening he was dead,  without there having been
time to send for his confessor in ordinary.  “The parish priest of
Meudon, who used to look in every evening before he went home, had found
all the doors open, the valets distracted, Fagon heaping remedy upon
remedy without waiting for them to take effect.  He entered the room, and
hurrying to Monseigneur’s bedside, took his hand and spoke to him of God.
The poor prince was fully conscious, but almost speechless.  He repeated
distinctly a few words, others inarticulately, smote his breast, pressed
the priest’s hand, appeared to have the most excellent sentiments, and
received absolution with an air of contrition and wistfulness.”
 [Memoires de St. Simon, ix.]  Meanwhile word had been sent to the king,
who arrived quite distracted.  The Princess of Conti, his daughter, who
was deeply attached to Monseigneur, repulsed him gently: “You must think
only of yourself now, Sir,” she said.  The king let himself sink down
upon a sofa, asking news of all that came out of the room, without any
one’s daring to give him an answer.  Madame de Maintenon, who had hurried
to the king, and was agitated without being affected, tried to get him
away; she did not succeed, however, until Monseigneur had breathed his
last.  He passed along to his carriage between two rows of officers and
valets, all kneeling, and conjuring him to have pity upon them who had
lost all and were like to starve.

[Illustration: The King leaving the Death-bed of Monseigneur----36]

The excitement and confusion at Versailles were tremendous.  From the
moment that small-pox was declared, the princes had not been admitted to
Meudon.  The Duchess of Burgundy alone had occasionally seen the king.
All were living in confident expectation of a speedy convalescence; the
news of the death came upon them like a thunderclap.  All the courtiers
thronged together at once, the women half dressed, the men anxious and
concerned, some to conceal their extreme sorrow, others their joy,
according as they were mixed up in the different cabals of the court.
“It was all, however, nothing but a transparent veil,” says St.  Simon,
“which did not prevent good eyes from observing and discerning all the
features.  The two princes and the two princesses, seated beside them,
taking care of them, were most exposed to view.  The Duke of Burgundy
wept, from feeling and in good faith, with an air of gentleness, tears of
nature, of piety, and of patience.  The Duke of Berry, in quite as good
faith, shed abundance, but tears, so to speak, of blood, so great
appeared to be their bitterness; he gave forth not sobs, but shrieks,
howls.  The Duchess of Berry (daughter of the Duke of Orleans) was beside
herself.  The bitterest despair was depicted on her face.  She saw her
sister-in-law, who was so hateful to her, all at once raised to that
title, that rank of dauphiness, which were about to place so great a
distance between them.  Her frenzy of grief was not from affection, but
from interest; she would wrench herself from it to sustain her husband,
to embrace him, to console him, then she would become absorbed in herself
again with a torrent of tears, which helped her to stifle her shrieks.
The Duke of Orleans wept in his own corner, actually sobbing, a thing
which, had I not seen it, I should never have believed,” adds St.  Simon,
who detested Monseigneur, and had as great a dread of his reigning as the
Duke of Orleans had.  “Madame, re-dressed in full dress, in the middle of
the night, arrived regularly howling, not quite knowing why either one or
the other; inundating them all with her tears as she embraced them, and
making the castle resound with a renewal of shrieks, when the king’s
carriages were announced, on his return to Marly.”  The Duchess of
Burgundy was awaiting him on the road.  She stepped down and went to the
carriage window.  “What are you about, Madame?” exclaimed Madame de
Maintenon; “do not come near us, we are infectious.”  The king did not
embrace her, and she went back to the palace, but only to be at Marly
next morning before the king was awake.

The king’s tears were as short as they had been abundant.  He lost a son
who was fifty years old, the most submissive and most respectful creature
in the world, ever in awe of him and obedient to him, gentle and
good-natured, a proper man amid all his indolence and stupidity, brave
and even brilliant at head of an army.  In 1688, in front of Philipsburg,
the soldiers had given him the name of “Louis the Bold.”  He was full of
spirits and always ready, “revelling in the trenches,” says Vauban.  The
Duke of Montausier, his boyhood’s strict governor, had written to him,
“Monseigneur, I do not make you my compliments on the capture of
Philipsburg; you had a fine army, shells, cannon, and Vauban.  I do not
make them to you either on your bravery; it is an hereditary virtue in
your house; but I congratulate you on being open-handed, humane,
generous, and appreciative of the services of those who do well; that is
what I make you my compliments upon.”  “Did not I tell you so?” proudly
exclaimed the Chevalier de Grignan, formerly attached (as menin) to the
person of Monseigneur, on hearing his master’s exploits lauded; “for my
part, I am not surprised.”  Racine had exaggerated the virtues of
Monseigneur in the charming verses of the prologue of Esther:

          “Thou givest him a son, an ever ready aid,
          Apt or to woo or fight, obey or be obeyed;
          A son who, like his sire, drags victory in his train,
          Yet boasts but one desire, that father’s heart to gain;
          A son, who to his will submits with loving air,
          Who brings upon his foes perpetual despair.
          As the swift spirit flies, stern Equity’s envoy,
          So, when the king says, ‘Go,’ down rusheth he in joy,
          With vengeful thunderbolt red ruin doth complete,
          Then tranquilly returns to lay it at his feet.”

In 1690 and in 1691 he had gained distinction as well as in 1688.  “The
dauphin has begun as others would think it an honor to leave off,” the
Prince of Orange had said, “and, for my part, I should consider that I
had worthily capped anything great I may have done in war if, under
similar circumstances, I had made so fine a march.”  Whether it were
owing to indolence or court cabal, Monseigneur had no more commands;
he had no taste for politics, and always sat in silence at the council,
to which the king had formally admitted him at thirty years of age,
“instructing him,” says the Marquis of Sourches, “with so much vigor and
affection, that Monseigneur could not help falling at his feet to testify
his respect and gratitude.”  Twice, at grave conjunctures, the
grand-dauphin allowed his voice to be heard; in 1685, to offer a timid
opposition to the Edict of Nantes, and, in 1700, to urge very vigorously
the acceptance of the King of Spain’s will.  “I should be enchanted,” he
cried, as if with a prophetic instinct of his own destiny, “to be able to
say all my life, ‘The king my father, and the king my SON.’”  Heavy in
body as well as mind, living on terms of familiarity with a petty court,
probably married to Mdlle. Choin, who had been for a long time installed
in his establishment at Meudon, Monseigneur, often embarrassed and made
uncomfortable by the austere virtue of the Duke of Burgundy, and finding
more attraction in the Duke of Berry’s frank geniality, had surrendered
himself, without intending it, to the plots which were woven about him.
“His eldest son behaved to him rather as a courtier than as a son,
gliding over the coldness shown him with a respect and a gentleness
which, together, would have won over any father less a victim to
intrigue.  The Duchess of Burgundy, in spite of her address and her
winning grace, shared her husband’s disfavor.”  The Duchess of Berry had
counted upon this to establish her sway in a reign which the king’s great
age seemed to render imminent; already, it was said, the chief amusement
at Monseigneur’s was to examine engravings of the coronation ceremony,
when death carried him off suddenly on the 14th of April, 1711, to the
consternation of the lower orders, who loved him because of his
reputation for geniality.  The severity of the new dauphin caused some
little dread.

“Here is a prince who will succeed me before long,” said the king on
presenting his grandson to the assembly of the clergy; “by his virtue and
piety he will render the church still more flourishing, and the kingdom
more happy.”  That was the hope of all good men.  Fenelon, in his exile
in Cambrai, and the Dukes of Beauvilliers and Chevreuse, at court, began
to feel themselves all at once transported to the heights with the prince
whom they had educated, and who had constantly remained faithful to them.
The delicate foresight and prudent sagacity of Fenelon had a long while
ago sought to prepare his pupil for the part which he was about to play.
It was piety alone that had been able to triumph over the dangerous
tendencies of a violent and impassioned temperament.  Fenelon, who had
felt this, saw also the danger of devoutness carried too far.  “Religion
does not consist in a scrupulous observance of petty formalities,” he
wrote to the Duke of Burgundy; “it consists, for everybody, in the
virtues proper to one’s condition.  A great prince ought not to serve
God in the same way as a hermit or a simple individual.”

“The prince thinks too much and acts too little,” he said to the Duke of
Chevreuse; “his most solid occupations are confined to vague applications
of his mind and barren resolutions; he must see society, study it, mix in
it, without becoming a slave to it, learn to express himself forcibly,
and acquire a gentle authority.  If he do not feel the need of possessing
firmness and nerve, he will not make any real progress; it is time for
him to be a man.  The life of the region in which he lives is a life of
effeminacy, indolence, timidity, and amusement.  He will never be so true
a servant to the king and to Monseigneur as when he makes them see that
they have in him a man matured, full of application, firm, impressed with
their true interests, and fitted to aid them by the wisdom of his
counsels and the vigor of his conduct.  Let him be more and more little
in the hands of God, but let him become great in the eyes of men; it is
his duty to make virtue, combined with authority, loved, feared, and

Court-perfidy dogged the Duke of Burgundy to the very head of the army
over which the king had set him; Fenelon, always correctly informed, had
often warned him of it.  The duke wrote to him, in 1708, on the occasion
of his dissensions with VendOme: “It is true that I have experienced a
trial within the last fortnight, and I am far from having taken it as I
ought, allowing myself to give way to an oppression of the heart caused
by the blackenings, the contradictions, and the pains of irresolution,
and the fear of doing something untoward in a matter of extreme
importance to the State.  As for what you say to me about my indecision,
it is true that I myself reproach myself for it, and I pray God every day
to give me, together with wisdom and prudence, strength and courage to
carry out what I believe to be my duty.”  He had no more commands, in
spite of his entreaties to obtain, in 1709, permission to march against
the enemy.  “If money is short, I will go without any train,” he said;
“I will live like a simple officer; I will eat, if need be, the bread of
a common soldier, and none will complain of lacking superfluities when I
have scarcely necessaries.”  It was at the very time when the Archbishop
of Cambrai was urgent for peace to be made at any price.  “The people no
longer live like human beings,” he said, in a memorial sent to the Duke
of Beauvilliers; “there is no counting any longer on their patience, they
are reduced to such outrageous trials.  As they have nothing more to
hope, they have nothing more to fear.  The king has no right to risk
France in order to save Spain; he received his kingdom from God, not that
he should expose it to invasion by the enemy, as if it were a thing with
which he can do anything he pleases, but that he should rule it as a
father, and transmit it as a precious heirloom to his posterity.”  He
demanded at the same time the convocation of the assembly of notables.

It was this kingdom, harassed on all sides by its enemies, bleeding,
exhausted, but stronger, nevertheless, and more bravely faithful than was
made out by Fenelon, that the new dauphin found himself suddenly called
upon to govern by the death of Monseigneur, and by the unexpected
confidence testified in him before long by the king.  “The prince should
try more than ever to appear open, winning, accessible, and sociable,”
 wrote Fenelon; “he must undeceive the public about the scruples imputed
to him; keep his strictness to himself, and not set the court
apprehending a severe reform of which society is not capable, and which
would have to be introduced imperceptibly, even if it were possible.  He
cannot be too careful to please the king, avoid giving him the slightest
umbrage, make him feel a dependence founded on confidence and affection,
relieve him in his work, and speak to him with a gentle and respectful
force which will grow by little and little.  He should say no more than
can be borne; it requires to have the heart prepared for the utterance
of painful truths which are not wont to be heard.  For the rest, no
puerilities or pettinesses in the practice of devotion; government is
learned better from studying men than from studying books.”

The young dauphin was wise enough to profit by these sage and able
counsels.  “Seconded to his heart’s content by his adroit young wife,
herself in complete possession of the king’s private ear and of the heart
of Madame de Maintenon, he redoubled his attentions to the latter, who,
in her transport at finding a dauphin on whom she might rely securely
instead of one who did not like her, put herself in his hands, and, by
that very act, put the king in his hands.  The first fortnight made
perceptible to all at Marly this extraordinary change in the king, who
was so reserved towards his legitimate children, so very much the king
with them.  Breathing more freely after so great a step had been made,
the dauphin showed a bold front to society, which he dreaded during the
lifetime of Monseigneur, because, great as he was, he was often the
victim of its best received jests.  The king having come round to him;
the insolent cabal having been dispersed by the death of a father, almost
an enemy, whose place he took; society in a state of respect, attention,
alacrity; the most prominent personages with an air of slavishness; the
gay and frivolous, no insignificant portion of a large court, at his feet
through his wife,--it was observed that this timid, shy,
self-concentrated prince, this precise (piece of) virtue, this (bit of)
misplaced learning, this gawky man, a stranger in his own house,
constrained in everything,--it was observed, I say, that he was showing
himself by degrees, unfolding himself little by little, presenting
himself to society in moderation, and that he was unembarrassed,
majestic, gay, and agreeable in it.  A style of conversation, easy but
instructive, and happily and aptly directed, charmed the sensible
courtier and made the rest wonder.  There was all at once an opening of
eyes, and ears, and hearts.  There was a taste of the consolation, which
was so necessary and so longed for, of seeing one’s future master so well
fitted to be from his capacity and from the use that he showed he could
make of it.”

The king had ordered ministers to go and do their work at the prince’s.
The latter conversed modestly and discreetly with the men he thought
capable of enlightening him; the Duke of St. Simon had this honor, which
he owed to the friendship of the Duke of Beauvilliers, and of which he
showed himself sensible in his Memoires.  Fenelon was still at Cambrai,
“which all at once turned out to be the only road from all the different
parts of Flanders.  The archbishop had such and so eager a court there,
that for all his delight he was pained by it, from apprehension of the
noise it would make, and the bad effect he feared it might have on the
king’s mind.”  He, however, kept writing to the dauphin, sending him
plans of government prepared long before; some wise, bold, liberal,
worthy of a mind that was broad and without prejudices; others chimerical
and impossible of application.  The prince examined them with care.
“He had comprehended what it is to leave God for God’s sake, and had set
about applying himself almost entirely to things which might make him
acquainted with government, having a sort of foretaste already of
reigning, and being more and more the hope of the nation, which was at
last beginning to appreciate him.”

God had in former times given France a St. Louis.  He did not deem her
worthy of possessing such an ornament a second time.  The comfort and
hope which were just appearing in the midst of so many troubles vanished
suddenly like lightning; the dauphiness fell ill on the 5th of February;
she had a burning fever, and suffered from violent pains in the head; it
was believed to be scarlet-fever (rougeole), with whispers, at the same
time, of ugly symptoms; the malady went on increasing; the dauphin was
attacked in his turn; sacraments were mentioned; the princess, taken by
surprise, hesitated without daring to speak.  Her Jesuit confessor,
Father La Rue, himself proposed to go and fetch another priest.  A
_Recollet_ (Raptionist) was brought; when he arrived she was dying.  A
few hours later she expired, at the age of twenty-six, on the 12th of
February, 1712.  “With her there was a total eclipse of joys, pleasures,
amusements even, and every sort of grace; darkness covered the whole face
of the court; she was the soul of it all, she filled it all, she pervaded
all the interior of it.”  The king loved her as much as he was capable of
loving; she amused him and charmed him in the sombre moments of his life;
he, like the dauphin, had always been ignorant of the giddiness of which
she had been guilty; Madame de Maintenon, who knew of them, and who held
them as a rod over her, was only concerned to keep them secret; all the
court, with the exception of a few perfidious intriguers, made common
cause to serve her and please her.  “Regularly ugly, pendent cheeks,
forehead too prominent, a nose that said nothing; of eyes the most
speaking and most beautiful in the world; a carriage of the head gallant,
majestic, graceful, and a look the same; smile the most expressive, waist
long, rounded, slight, supple; the gait of a goddess on the clouds; her
youthful, vivacious, energetic gayety, carried all before it, and her
nymph-like agility wafted her everywhere, like a whirlwind that fills
many places at once, and gives to them movement and life.  If the court
existed after her it was but to languish away.”  [Memoires de St. Simon,
xi.]  There was only one blow more fatal for death to deal; and there was
not long to wait for it.

“I have prayed, and I will pray,” writes F6nelon.  “God knows whether the
prince is for one instant forgotten.  I fancy I see him in the state in
which St. Augustin depicts himself: ‘My heart is obscured by grief.  All
that I see reflects for me but the image of death.  All that was sweet to
me, when I could share it with her whom I loved, becomes a torment to me
since I lost her.  My eyes seek for her everywhere and find her nowhere.
When she was alive, wherever I might be without her, everything said to
me, You are going to see her.  Nothing says so now.  I find no solace but
in my tears.  I cannot bear the weight of my wounded and bleeding heart,
and yet I know not where to rest it.  I am wretched; for so it is when
the heart is set on the love of things that pass away.’”  “The days of
this affliction were soon shortened,” says St. Simon; “from the first
moment I saw him, I was scared at his fixed, haggard look, with a
something of ferocity, at the change in his countenance and the livid
marks I noticed upon it.  He was waiting at Marly for the king to awake;
they came to tell him he could go in; he turned without speaking a word,
without replying to his gentlemen (_menins_) who pressed him to go; I
went up to him, taking the liberty of giving him a gentle push; he gave
me a look, that pierced right to the heart, and went away.  I never
looked on him again.  Please God in His mercy I may look on him forever
there where his goodness, no doubt, has placed him!”

It was a desperate but a short struggle.  Disease and grief were
victorious over the most sublime courage.  “It was the spectacle of a man
beside himself, who was forcing himself to keep the surface smooth, and
who succumbed in the attempt.”  The dauphin took to his bed on the 14th
of February; he believed himself to be poisoned, and said, from the
first, that he should never recover.  His piety alone, through the most
prodigious efforts, still kept up; he spoke no more, save to God,
continually lifting up his soul to him in fervent aspirations.  “What
tender, but tranquil views!  What lively motions towards thanksgiving for
being preserved from the sceptre and the account that must be rendered
thereof!  What submission, and how complete!  What ardent love of God!
What a magnificent idea of infinite mercy!  What pious and humble awe!
What invincible patience!  What sweetness!  What constant kindness
towards all that approached him!  What pure charity which urged him
forward to God!  France at length succumbed beneath this last
chastisement; God gave her a glimpse of a prince whom she did not
deserve.  Earth was not worthy of him; he was already ripe for a blessed

“For some time past I have feared that a fatality hung over the dauphin,”
 Fenelon had written at the first news of his illness; “I have at the
bottom of my heart a lurking apprehension that God is not yet appeased
towards France.  For a long while He has been striking, as the prophet
says, and His anger is not yet worn out.  God has taken from us all our
hope for the Church and for the State.”

Fenelon and his friends had expected too much and hoped for too much;
they relied upon the dauphin to accomplish a work above human strength;
he might have checked the evil, retarded for a while the march of events,
but France carried simultaneously in her womb germs of decay and hopes of
progress, both as yet concealed and confused, but too potent and too
intimately connected with the very sources of her history and her
existence for the hand of the most virtuous and most capable of princes
to have the power of plucking them out or keeping them down.

There was universal and sincere mourning in France and in Europe.  The
death of the little Duke of Brittany, which took place a few days after
that of his parents, completed the consternation into which the court was
thrown.  The most sinister rumors circulated darkly; a base intrigue
caused the Duke of Orleans to be accused; people called to mind his taste
for chemistry and even magic, his flagrant impiety, his scandalous
debauchery; beside himself with grief and anger, he demanded of the king
to be sent to the Bastille; the king refused curtly, coldly, not unmoved
in his secret heart by the perfidious insinuations which made their way
even to him, but too just and too sensible to entertain a hateful lie,
which, nevertheless, lay heavy on the Duke of Orleans to the end of his

[Illustration: Louis XIV. in Old Age----47]

Darkly, but to more effect, the same rumors were renewed before long.
The Duke of Berry died at the age of twenty-seven on the 4th of May,
1714, of a disease which presented the same features as the scarlet fever
(_rougeole vourpree_) to which his brother and sister-in-law had
succumbed.  The king was old and sad; the state of his kingdom preyed
upon his mind; he was surrounded by influences hostile to his nephew,
whom he himself called “a vaunter of crimes.”  A child who was not five
years old remained sole heir to the throne.  Madame de Maintenon, as sad
as the king, “naturally mistrustful, addicted to jealousies,
susceptibilities, suspicions, aversions, spites, and woman’s wiles ”
 [_Lettres de Fenelon au duc de Chevreuse_], being, moreover, sincerely
attached to the king’s natural children, was constantly active on their
behalf.  On the 19th of July, 1714, the king announced to the premier
president and the attorney-general of the Parliament of Paris that it was
his pleasure to grant to the Duke of Maine and to the Count of Toulouse,
for themselves and their descendants, the rank of princes of the blood,
in its full extent, and that he desired that the deeds should be
enregistered in the Parliament.  Soon after, still under the same
influence, he made a will which was kept a profound secret, and which
he sent to be deposited in the strong-room (_greffe_) of the Parliament,
committing the guardianship of the future king to the Duke of Maine, and
placing him, as well his brother, on the council of regency, with close
restrictions as to the Duke of Orleans, who would he naturally called to
the government of the kingdom during the minority.  The will was darkly
talked about; the effect of the elevation of bastards to the rank of
princes of the blood had been terrible.  “There was no longer any son of
France; the Spanish branch had renounced; the Duke of Orleans had been
carefully placed in such a position as not to dare say a word or show the
least dissatisfaction; his only son was a child; neither the Duke (of
Berry), his brothers, nor the Prince of Conti, were of an age or of
standing, in the king’s eyes, to make the least trouble in the world
about it.  The bombshell dropped all at once when nobody could have
expected it, and everybody fell on his stomach as is done when a shell
drops; everybody was gloomy and almost wild; the king himself appeared as
if exhausted by so great an effort of will and power.  He had only just
signed his will, when he met, at Madame de Maintenon’s, the Ex-Queen of
England.  “I have made my will, Madame,” said he.  “I have purchased
repose; I know the impotence and uselessness of it; we can do all we
please as long as we are here; after we are gone, we can do less than
private persons; we have only to look at what became of my father’s, and
immediately after his death too, and of those of so many other kings.
I am quite aware of that; but, in spite of all that, it was desired; and
so, Madame, you see it has been done; come of it what may, at any rate I
shall not be worried about it any more.”  It was the old man yielding to
the entreaties and intrigues of his domestic circle; the judgment of the
king remained steady and true, without illusions and without prejudices.

Death was coming, however, after a reign which had been so long and had
occupied so much room in the world that it caused mistakes as to the very
age of the king.  He was seventy-seven; he continued to work with his
ministers; the order so long and so firmly established was, not disturbed
by illness any more than it had been by the reverses and sorrows of late;
meanwhile the appetite was diminishing, the thinness went on increasing,
a sore on the leg appeared, the king suffered a great deal.  On the 24th
of August he dined in bed, surrounded as usual by his courtiers; he had a
difficulty in swallowing; for the first time, publicity was burdensome to
him; he could not get on, and said to those who were there that he begged
them to withdraw.  Meanwhile the drums and hautboys still went on playing
beneath his window, and the twenty-four violins at his dinner.  In the
evening, he was so ill that he asked for the sacraments.  There had been
wrung from him a codicil which made the will still worse.  He,
nevertheless, received the Duke of Orleans, to whom he commended the
young king.  On the 26th he called to his bedside all those of the court
who had the entry.  “Gentlemen,” he said to them, “I ask your pardon for
the bad example I have set you.  I have to thank you much for the way in
which you have served me, and for the attachment and fidelity you have
always shown me.  I am very sorry not to have done for you what I should
have liked to do.  The bad times are the cause of that.  I request of
you, on my great-grandson’s behalf, the same attention and fidelity that
you have shown me.  It is a child who will possibly have many crosses to
bear.  Follow the instructions my nephew gives you; he is about to govern
the kingdom, and I hope that he will do it well; I hope also that you
will all contribute to preserve unity.  I feel that I am becoming
unmanned, and that I am unmanning you also; I ask your pardon.  Farewell,
gentlemen; I feel sure that you will think of me sometimes.”

The princesses had entered the king’s closet; they were weeping and
making a noise.  “You must not cry so,” said the king, who asked for them
to bid them farewell.  He sent for the little dauphin.  His governess,
the Duchess of Ventadour, brought him on to the bed.  “My child,” said
the king to him, “you are going to be a great king.  Render to God that
which you owe to Him; recognize the obligations you have towards Him;
cause Him to be honored by your subjects.  Try to preserve peace with
your neighbors.  I have been too fond of war; do not imitate me in that,
any more than in the too great expenses I have incurred.  Take counsel in
all matters, and seek to discern which is the best in order to follow it.
Try to relieve your people, which I have been so unfortunate as not to
have been able to do.”  He kissed the child, and said, “Darling, I give
you my blessing with all my heart.”  He was taken away; the king asked
for him once more and kissed him again, lifting hands and eyes to Heaven
in blessings upon him.  Everybody wept.  The king caught sight in a glass
of two grooms of the chamber who were sobbing.  “What are you crying
for?” he said to them; “did you think that I was immortal?”  He was left
alone with Madame de Maintenon.  “I have always heard say that it was
difficult to make up one’s mind to die,” said he; “I do not find it so
hard.”  “Ah, Sir,” she replied, “it may be very much so, when there are
earthly attachments, hatred in the heart, or restitutions to make!”
 “Ah!” replied the king, “as for restitutions to make, I owe nobody any
individually; as for those that I owe the kingdom, I have hope in the
mercy of God.”

[Illustration: The Death-bed of Louis XIV.----50]

The Duke of Orleans came back again; the king had sent for him.  “When I
am dead,” he said, “you will have the young king taken to Vincennes; the
air there is good; he will remain there until all the ceremonies are over
at Versailles, and the castle well cleaned afterwards; you will then
bring him back again.”  He at the same time gave orders for going and
furnishing Vincennes, and directed a casket to be opened in which the
plan of the castle was kept, because, as the court had not been there for
fifty years, Cavoye, grand chamberlain of his household, had never
prepared apartments there.  “When I was king .  .  .  ,” he said several

A quack had brought a remedy which would cure gangrene, he said.  The
sore on the leg was hopeless, but they gave the king a dose of the elixir
in a glass of Alicante.  “To life and to death,” said he as he took the
glass; “just as it shall please God.”  The remedy appeared to act; the
king recovered a little strength.  The throng of courtiers, which, the
day before, had been crowding to suffocation in the rooms of the Duke of
Orleans, withdrew at once.  Louis XIV. did not delude himself about this
apparent rally.  “Prayers are offered in all the churches for your
Majesty’s life,” said the parish priest of Versailles.  “That is not the
question,” said the king “it is my salvation that much needs praying

Madame de Maintenon had hitherto remained in the back rooms, though
constantly in the king’s chamber when he was alone.  He said to her once,
“What consoles me for leaving you, is that it will not be long before we
meet again.”  She made no reply.  “What will become of you?” he added;
“you have nothing.”  “Do not think of me,” said she; “I am nobody; think
only of God.”  He said farewell to her; she still remained a little while
in his room, and went out when he was no longer conscious.  She had given
away here and there the few movables that belonged to her, and now took
the road to St. Cyr.  On the steps she met Marshal Villeroy.  “Good by,
marshal,” she said curtly, and covered up her face in her coifs.  He! it
was who sent her news of the king to the last moment.  The Duke of
Orleans, on becoming regent, went to see her, and took her the patent
(_brevet_) for a pension of sixty thousand livres, “which her
disinterestedness had made necessary for her,” said the preamble.  It was
paid her up to the last day of her life.  History makes no further
mention of her name; she never left St. Cyr.  Thither the czar Peter the
Great, when he visited Paris and France, went to see her; she was
confined to her bed; he sat a little while beside her.  “What is your
malady?” he asked her through his interpreter.  “A great age,” answered
Madame de Maintenon, smiling.  He looked at her a moment longer in
silence; then, closing the curtains, he went out abruptly.  The memory he
would have called up had vanished.  The woman on whom the great king had,
for thirty years, heaped confidence and affection, was old, forgotten,
dying; she expired at St. Cyr on the 15th of April, 1719, at the age of

She had left the king to die alone.  He was in the agonies; the prayers
in extremity were being repeated around him; the ceremonial recalled him
to consciousness.  He joined his voice with the voices of those present,
repeating the prayers with them.  Already the court was hurrying to the
Duke of Orleans; some of the more confident had repaired to the Duke of
Maine’s; the king’s servants were left almost alone around his bed; the
tones of the dying man were distinctly heard above the great number of
priests.  He several times repeated, _Nunc et in hora mortis_.  Then he
said, quite loud, “O, my God, come Thou to help me, haste Thee to succor
me.”  Those were his last words.  He expired on Sunday, the 1st of
September, 1715, at eight A. M. Next day, he would have been seventy-
seven years of age, and he had reigned seventy-two of them.

In spite of his faults and his numerous and culpable errors, Louis XIV.
had lived and died like a king.  The slow and grievous agony of olden
France was about to begin.

[Illustration: Versailles at Night----52]


At the very moment when the master’s hand is missed from his work,
the narrative makes a sudden bound out of the simple times of history.
Under Henry IV., under Richelieu, under Louis XIV., events found quite
naturally their guiding hand and their centre; men as well as
circumstances formed a group around the head of the nation, whether king
or minister, to thence unfold themselves quite clearly before the eyes of
posterity.  Starting from the reign of Louis XV. the nation has no longer
a head, history no longer a centre; at the same time with a master of the
higher order, great servants also fail the French monarchy; it all at
once collapses, betraying thus the exhaustion of Louis XIV.’s latter
years; decadence is no longer veiled by the remnants of the splendor
which was still reflected from the great king and his great reign; the
glory of olden France descends slowly to its grave.  At the same time,
and in a future as yet obscured, intellectual progress begins to dawn;
new ideas of justice, of humanity, of generous equity towards the masses
germinate sparsely in certain minds; it is no longer Christianity alone
that inspires them, though the honor is reflected upon it in a general
way and as regards the principles with which it has silently permeated
modern society, but they who contribute to spread them, refuse with
indignation to acknowledge the source whence they have drawn them.
Intellectual movement no longer appertains exclusively to the higher
classes, to the ecclesiastics, or to the members of the Parliaments;
vaguely as yet, and retarded by apathy in the government as well as by
disorder in affairs, it propagates and extends itself imperceptibly
pending that signal and terrible explosion of good and evil which is to
characterize the close of the eighteenth century.  Decadence and progress
are going on confusedly in the minds as well as in the material condition
of the nation.  They must be distinguished and traced without any
pretence of separating them.

There we have the reign of Louis XV. in its entirety.

[Illustration: The Regent Orleans----54]

The regency of the Duke of Orleans and the ministry of Cardinal Dubois
showed certain traits of the general tendencies and to a certain extent
felt their influence; they formed, however, a distinct epoch, abounding
in original efforts and bold attempts, which remained without result, but
which testified to the lively reaction in men’s minds against the courses
and fundamental principles of the reign which had just ended.

Louis XIV. had made no mistake about the respect which his last wishes
were destined to meet with after his death.  In spite of the most extreme
precautions, the secret of the will had transpired, giving occasion for
some days past to secret intrigues.  Scarcely had the king breathed his
last, when the Duke of Orleans was urged to get the regency conferred
upon him by the dukes and peers, simply making to Parliament an
announcement of what had been done.  The Duke of Orleans was a better
judge of the moral authority belonging to that important body; and it was
to the Palace of Justice that he repaired on the morning of September 2,
1715.  The crowd there was immense; the young king alone was not there,
in spite of his great-grandfather’s express instructions.  The day was a
decisive one; the legitimatized princes were present, “the Duke of Maine
bursting with joy,” says St. Simon; “a smiling, satisfied air overrippled
that of audacity, of confidence, which nevertheless peeped through, and
the politeness which seemed to struggle against it.  He bowed right and
left, piercing every one with his looks.  Towards the peers, the
earnestness, it is not too much to say the respectfulness, the slowness,
the profoundness of his bow was eloquent.  His head remained lowered even
on recovering himself.”  The Duke of Orleans had just begun to speak; his
voice was not steady; he repeated the terms of which the king had made
use, he said, for the purpose of confiding the dauphin to his care.  “To
you I commend him; serve him faithfully as you have served me, and labor
to preserve to him his kingdom.  I have made such dispositions as I
thought wisest; but one cannot foresee everything; if there is anything
that does not seem good, it will of course be altered.”

The favor of the assembly was plainly with him, and the prince’s accents
became more firm.  “I shall never,” said he, “have any other purpose but
to relieve the people, to reestablish good order in the finances, to
maintain peace at home and abroad, and to restore unity and tranquillity
to the church; therein I shall be aided by the wise representations of
this august assembly, and I hereby ask for them in anticipation.”  The
Parliament was completely won; the right of representation (or
remonstrance) was promised them; the will of Louis XIV. was as good as
annulled; it was opened, it was read, and so were the two codicils.  All
the authority was intrusted to a council of regency of which the Duke of
Orleans was to be the head, but without preponderating voice and without
power to supersede any of the members, all designated in advance by Louis
XIV.  The person and the education of the young king, as well as the
command of the household troops, were intrusted to the Duke of Maine.

“It was listened to in dead silence, and with a sort of indignation,
which expressed itself in all countenances,” says St.  Simon.  “The king,
no doubt, did not comprehend the force of what he had been made to do,”
 said the Duke of Orleans; “he assured me in the last days of his life
that I should find in his dispositions nothing that I was not sure to be
pleased with, and he himself referred the ministers to me on business,
with all the orders to be given.”  He asked, therefore, to have his
regency declared such as it ought to be, “full and independent, with free
formation of the council of regency.”  The Duke of Maine wished to say a
word.  “You shall speak in your turn, Sir,” said the Duke of Orleans in a
dry tone.  The court immediately decided in his favor by acclamation, and
even without proceeding in the regular way to vote.  There remained the
codicils, which annulled in fact the Regent’s authority.  A discussion
began between the Duke of Orleans and the Duke of Maine; it was causing
Philip of Orleans to lose the advantage he had just won; his friends
succeeded in making him perceive this, and he put off the session until
after dinner.  When they returned to the Palace of Justice the codicils
were puffed away like the will by the breath of popular favor.  The Duke
of Maine, despoiled of the command of the king’s household, declared
that, under such conditions, it was impossible for him to be answerable
for the king’s person, and that he “demanded to be relieved of that
duty.”  “Most willingly, Sir,” replied the Regent; “your services are no
longer required;” and he forthwith explained to the Parliament his
intention of governing affairs according to the plan which had been found
among the papers of the Duke of Burgundy.  “Those gentry know little or
nothing of the French, and of the way to govern them,” had been the
remark of Louis XIV. on reading the schemes of Fenelon, the Duke of
Beauvilliers, and St. Simon.  The Parliament applauded the formation of
the six councils of foreign affairs, of finance, of war, of the marine,
of home or the interior, of conscience or ecclesiastical affairs; the
Regent was intrusted with the free disposal of graces.  “I want to be
free for good,” said he, adroitly repeating a phrase from Telemaque, “I
consent to have my hands tied for evil.”

The victory was complete.  Not a shred remained of Louis XIV.’s will.
The Duke of Maine, confounded and humiliated, retired to his Castle of
Sceaux, there to endure the reproaches of his wife.  The king’s affection
and Madame de Maintenon’s clever tactics had not sufficed to found his
power; the remaining vestiges of his greatness were themselves about to
vanish before long in their turn.

[Illustration: The Bed of Justice----57]

On the 12th of September, the little king held a bed of justice; his
governess, Madame de Ventadour, sat alone at the feet of the poor orphan,
abandoned on the pinnacle of power.  All the decisions of September 2
were ratified in the child’s name.  Louis XIV. had just descended to the
tomb without pomp and without regret.  The joy of the people broke out
indecently as the funeral train passed by; the nation had forgotten the
glory of the great king; it remembered only the evils which had for so
long oppressed it during his reign.

The new councils had already been constituted, when it was discovered
that commerce had been forgotten; and to it was assigned a seventh body.
“Three sorts of men, the choice of whom was dictated by propriety,
weakness, and necessity, filled the lists: in the first place, great
lords, veterans in intrigue but novices in affairs, and less useful from
their influence than embarrassing from their pride and their pettinesses;
next, the Regent’s friends, the cream of the rows, possessed with the
spirit of opposition and corruption, ignorant and clever, bold and lazy,
and far better calculated to harass than to conduct a government; lastly,
below them, were pitch-forked in, pell-mell, councillors of State,
masters of requests, members of Parliament, well-informed and industrious
gentlemen, fated henceforth to crawl about at the bottom of the
committees, and, without the spur of glory or emulation, to repair the
blunders which must be expected from the incapacity of the first and the
recklessness of the second class amongst their colleagues.”  [Lemontey,
_Histoire de la Regence,_ t. i.  p. 67.]  “It is necessary,” the young
king was made to say in the preamble to the ordinance which established
the councils, “that affairs should be regulated rather by unanimous
consent than by way of authority.”

How singular are the monstrosities of experience!  At the head of the
council of finance, a place was found for the Duke of Noailles, active in
mind and restless in character, without any fixed principles, an adroit
and a shameless courtier, strict in all religious observances under Louis
XIV., and a notorious debauchee under the Regency, but intelligent,
insolent, ambitious, hungering and thirsting to do good if he could, but
evil if need were, and in order to arrive at his ends.  His uncle,
Cardinal Noailles, who had been but lately threatened by the court of
Rome with the loss of his hat, and who had seen himself forbidden to
approach the dying king, was now president of the council of conscience.
Marshal d’Huxelles, one of the negotiators who had managed the treaty of
Utrecht, was at the head of foreign affairs.  The Regent had reserved to
himself one single department, the Academy of Sciences.  “I quite
intend,” said he, gayly, “to ask the king, on his majority, to let me
still be Secretary of State of the Academy.”

The Regent’s predilection, consolidating the work of Colbert, contributed
to the development of scientific researches, for which the neatness and
clearness of French thought rendered it thenceforth so singularly well

The gates of the prison were meanwhile being thrown open to many a poor
creature; the Jansenists left the Bastille; others, who had been for a
long time past in confinement, were still ignorant of the grounds for
their captivity, which was by this time forgotten by everybody.  A
wretched Italian, who had been arrested the very day of his arrival in
Paris, thirty-five years before, begged to remain in prison; he had no
longer any family, or relatives, or resources.  For a while the
Protestants thought they saw their advantage in the clemency with which
the new reign appeared to be inaugurated, and began to meet again in
their assemblies; the Regent had some idea of doing them justice,
re-establishing the Edict of Nantes, and re-opening to the exiles the
doors of their country, but his councillors dissuaded him; the more
virtuous, like St. Simon, from Catholic piety, the more depraved from
policy and indifference.  However, the lot of the Protestants remained
under the Regency less hard than it had been under Louis XIV., and than
it became under the Duke of Bourbon.

The chancellor, Voysin, had just died.  To this post the Regent summoned
the attorney-general, D’Aguesseau, beloved and esteemed of all, learned,
eloquent, virtuous, but too exclusively a man of Parliament for the
functions which had been confided to him.  “He would have made a sublime
premier president,” said St. Simon, who did not like him.  The magistrate
was attending mass at St. Andre-des-Arts; he was not ignorant of the
chancellor’s death, when a valet came in great haste to inform him that
the Regent wanted him at the Palais-Royal.  D’Aguesseau piously heard out
the remainder of the mass before obeying the prince’s orders.  The casket
containing the seals was already upon the table.  The Duke of Orleans
took the attorney-general by the arm and, going out with him into the
gallery thronged with courtiers, said, “Gentlemen, here is your new and
most worthy chancellor!” and he took him away with him to the Tuileries,
to pay his respects to the little king.

On returning home, still all in a whirl, D’Aguesseau went up to the room
of his brother, “M. de Valjouan, a sort of Epicurean (_voluptueux_)
philosopher, with plenty of wit and learning, but altogether one of the
oddest creatures.”  He found him in his dressing-gown, smoking in front
of the fire.  “Brother,” said he, as he entered, “I have come to tell you
that I am chancellor.”  “Chancellor!” said the other, turning round; “and
what have you done with the other one?”  “He died suddenly to-night.”
 “O, very well, brother, I am very glad; I would rather it were you than
I;” and he resumed his pipe.  Madame D’Aguesseau was better pleased.  Her
husband has eulogized her handsomely.  “A wife like mine,” he said, “is a
good man’s highest reward.”

The new system of government, as yet untried, and confided to men for
the most part little accustomed to affairs, had to put up with the most
formidable difficulties, and to struggle against the most painful
position.  The treasury was empty, and the country exhausted; the army
was not paid, and the most honorable men, such as the Duke of St. Simon,
saw no other remedy for the evils of the state but a total bankruptcy,
and the convocation of the States-general.  Both expedients were equally
repugnant to the Duke of Orleans.  The Duke of Noailles had entered upon
a course of severe economy; the king’s household was diminished, twenty-
five thousand men were struck off the strength of the army, exemption
from talliage for six years was promised to all such discharged soldiers
as should restore a deserted house, and should put into cultivation the
fields lying waste.  At the same time something was being taken off the
crushing weight of the taxes, and the state was assuming the charge of
recovering them directly, without any regard for the real or supposed
advances of the receivers-general; their accounts were submitted to the
revision of the brothers Paris, sons of an innkeeper in the Dauphinese
Alps, who had made fortunes by military contracts, and were all four
reputed to be very able in matters of finance.  They were likewise
commissioned to revise the bills circulating in the name of the state, in
other words, to suppress a great number without re-imbursement to the
holder, a sort of bankruptcy in disguise, which did not help to raise the
public credit.  At the same time also a chamber of justice, instituted
for that purpose, was prosecuting the tax-farmers (_traitants_), as Louis
XIV. had done at the commencement of his reign, during the suit against
Fouquet.  All were obliged to account for their acquisitions and the
state of their fortunes; the notaries were compelled to bring their books
before the court.  Several tax-farmers (_traitants_) killed themselves to
escape the violence and severity of the procedure.  The Parliament,
anything but favorable to the speculators, but still less disposed to
suffer its judicial privileges to be encroached upon, found fault with
the degrees of the Chamber.  The Regent’s friends were eager to profit by
the reaction which was manifesting itself in the public mind; partly from
compassion, partly from shameful cupidity, all the courtiers set
themselves to work to obtain grace for the prosecuted financiers.  The
finest ladies sold their protection with brazen faces; the Regent, who
had sworn to show no favor to anybody, yielded to the solicitations of
his friends, to the great disgust of M. Rouille-Ducoudray, member of the
council of finance, who directed the operations of the Chamber of Justice
with the same stern frankness which had made him not long before say to a
body of tax-farmers (_traitants_) who wanted to put at his disposal a
certain number of shares in their enterprise, “And suppose I were to go
shares with you, how could I have you hanged, in case you were rogues?”
 Nobody was really hanged, although torture and the penalty of death had
been set down in the list of punishments to which the guilty were liable;
out of four thousand five hundred amenable cases, nearly three thousand
had been exempted from the tax.  “The corruption is so wide-spread,” says
the preamble to the edict of March, 1727, which suppressed the Chamber of
Justice, “that nearly all conditions have been infected by it in such
sort that the most righteous severities could not be employed to punish
so great a number of culprits without causing a dangerous interruption to
commerce, and a kind of general shock in the system of the state.”  The
resources derived from the punishment of the tax-farmers (_traitants_),
as well as from the revision of the state’s debts, thus remaining very
much below expectation, the deficit went on continually increasing.  In
order to re-establish the finances, the Duke of Noailles demanded fifteen
years’ impracticable economy, as chimerical as the increment of the
revenues on which he calculated; and the Duke of Orleans finally suffered
himself to bo led away by the brilliant prospect which was flashed before
his eyes by the Scotsman, Law, who had now for more than two years been
settled in France.

[Illustration: John Law----62]

Law, born at Edinburgh, in 1611, son of a goldsmith, had for a long time
been scouring Europe, seeking in a clever and systematic course of
gambling a source of fortune for himself, and the first foundation of the
great enterprises he was revolving in his singularly inventive and daring
mind.  Passionately devoted to the financial theories he had conceived,
Law had expounded them to all the princes of Europe in succession.  “He
says that of all the persons to whom he has spoken about his system, he
has found but two who apprehended it, to wit, the King of Sicily and my
son,” wrote Madame, the Regent’s mother.  Victor Amadeo, however, had
rejected Law’s proposals.  “I am not powerful enough to ruin myself,” he
had said.  Law had not been more successful with Louis XIV.  The Regent
had not the same repugnance for novelties of foreign origin; so soon as
he was in power, he authorized the Scot to found a circulating and
discount bank (_banque de circulation et d’escompte_), which at once had
very great success, and did real service.  Encouraged by this first step,
Law reiterated to the Regent that the credit of bankers and merchants
decupled their capital; if the state became the universal banker, and
centralized all the values in circulation, the public fortune would
naturally be decupled.  A radically false system, fated to plunge the
state, and consequently the whole nation, into the risks of speculation
and trading, without the guarantee of that activity, zeal, and prompt
resolution which able men of business can import into their private
enterprises.  The system was not as yet applied; the discreet routine of
the French financiers was scared at such risky chances, the pride of the
great lords sitting in the council was shocked at the idea of seeing the
state turning banker, perhaps even trader.  St. Simon maintained that
what was well enough for a free state, could not take place under an
absolute government.  Law went on, however; to his bank he had just added
a great company.  The king ceded to him Louisiana, which was said to be
rich in gold and silver mines, superior to those of Mexico and Peru.
People vaunted the fertility of the soil, the facility offered for trade
by the extensive and rapid stream of the Mississippi; it was by the name
of that river that the new company was called at first, though it soon
took the title of _Compagnie d’ Occident,_ when it had obtained the
privilege of trading in Senegal and in Guinea; it became the _Compagnie
des Indes,_ on forming a fusion with the old enterprises which worked the
trade of the East.  For the generality, and in the current phraseology,
it remained the Mississippi; and that is the name it has left in history.
New Orleans was beginning to arise at the mouth of that river.  Law had
bought Belle-Isle-en-Mer and was constructing the port of Lorient.

The Regent’s councillors were scared and disquieted; the chancellor
proclaimed himself loudly against the deception or illusion which made of
Louisiana a land of promise; he called to mind that Crozat had been
ruined in searching for mines of the precious metals there.  “The worst
of him was his virtue,” said Duclos.  The Regent made a last effort to
convert him, as well as the Duke of Noailles, to the projects of Law.
It was at a small house in the faubourg St. Antoine, called La Roquette,
belonging to the last named, that the four interlocutors discussed the
new system thoroughly.  “With the use of very sensible language Law had
the gift of explaining himself so clearly and intelligibly that he left
nothing to desire as concerned making himself comprehended.  The Duke of
Orleans liked him and relished him.  He regarded him and all he did as
work of his own creation.  He liked, moreover, extraordinary and
out-of-the-way methods, and he embraced them the more readily in that he
saw the resources which had become so necessary for the state and all the
ordinary operations of finance vanishing away.  This liking of the
Regent’s wounded Noailles, as being adopted at his expense.  He wanted to
be sole master in the matter of finance, and all the eloquence of Law
could not succeed in convincing him.”  The chancellor stood firm; the
Parliament, which ever remained identified in his mind with his country,
was in the same way opposed to Law.  The latter declared that the
obstacles which arrested him at every step through the ill will of the
Council and of the magistrates, were ruining all the fruits of his
system.  The representations addressed by the Parliament to the king, on
the 20th of January, touching a re-coinage of all moneys, which had been
suggested by Law, dealt the last blow at the chancellor’s already
tottering favor.  On the morning of the 23d M. de La Vrilliere went to
him on behalf of the Regent and demanded the return of the seals.
D’Aguesseau was a little affected and surprised.  “Monseigneur,” he wrote
to the Duke of Orleans, “you gave me the seals without any merit on my
part, you take them away without any demerit.”  He had received orders to
withdraw to his estate at Fresnes; the Regent found his mere presence
irksome.  D’Aguesseau set out at once.  “He had taken his elevation like
a sage,” says St. Simon, “and it was as a sage too that he fell.”  “The
important point,” wrote the disgraced magistrate to his son, “is to be
well with one’s self.”

The Duke of Noailles had resigned his presidency of the council of
finance; but, ever adroit, even in disgrace, he had managed to secure
himself a place in the council of regency.  The seals were intrusted to
M. d’Argenson, for some years past chief of police at Paris.  “With a
forbidding face, which reminded one of the three judges of Hades, he made
fun out of everything with excellence of wit, and he had established such
order amongst that innumerable multitude of Paris, that there was no
single inhabitant of whose conduct and habits he was not cognizant from
day to day, with exquisite discernment in bringing a heavy or light hand
to bear on every matter that presented itself, ever leaning towards the
gentler side, with the art of making the most innocent tremble before
him.”  [St. Simon, t. xv.  p. 387.]  Courageous, bold, audacious in
facing riots, and thereby master of the people, he was at the same time
endowed with prodigious activity.  “He was seen commencing his audiences
at three in the morning, dictating to four secretaries at once on various
subjects, and making his rounds at night whilst working in his carriage
at a desk lighted with wax candles.  For the rest, without any dread of
Parliament, which had often attacked him, he was in his nature royal and
fiscal; he cut knots, he was a foe to lengthiness, to useless forms or
such as might be skipped, to neutral or wavering conditions.”  [Lemontey,
_Histoire de la Regence,_ t. i.  p. 77.]  The Regent considered that he
had secured to himself an effective instrument of his views; acceptance
of the system had been the condition _sine qua non_ of M. d’Argenson’s

He, however, like his predecessors, attempted before long to hamper the
march of the audacious foreigner; but the die had been cast, and the Duke
of Orleans outstripped Law himself in the application of his theories.
A company, formed secretly, and protected by the new keeper of the seals,
had bought up the general farmings (_fermes generales_), that is to say,
all the indirect taxes, for the sum of forty-eight million fifty-two
thousand livres; the _Compagnie des Indes_ re-purchased them for fifty-
two millions; the general receipts were likewise conceded to it, and
Law’s bank was proclaimed a Royal Bank; the company’s shares already
amounted to the supposed value of all the coin circulating in the
kingdom, estimated at seven or eight millions.  Law thought he might risk
everything in the intoxication which had seized all France, capital and
province.  He created some fifteen hundred millions of new shares,
promising his shareholders a dividend of twelve per cent.  From all parts
silver and gold flowed into his hands; everywhere the paper of the Bank
was substituted for coin.  The delirium had mastered all minds.  The
street called Quincampoix, for a long time past devoted to the operations
of bankers, had become the usual meeting-place of the greatest lords as
well as of discreet burgesses.  It had been found necessary to close the
two ends of the street with gates, open from six A. M. to nine P. M.;
every house harbored business agents by the hundred; the smallest room
was let for its weight in gold.  The workmen who made the paper for the
bank-notes could not keep up with the consumption.  The most modest
fortunes suddenly became colossal, lacqueys of yesterday were
millionaires to-morrow; extravagance followed the progress of this
outburst of riches, and the price of provisions followed the progress of
extravagance.  Enthusiasm was at its height in favor of the able author
of so many benefits.  Law became a convert to Catholicism, and was made
comptroller-general; all the court was at his feet.  “My son was looking
for a duchess to escort my granddaughter to Genoa,” writes Madame, the
Regent’s mother.  “‘Send and choose one at Madame Law’s,’ said I; ‘you
will find them all sitting in her drawing-room.’”  Law’s triumph was
complete; the hour of his fall was about to strike.

At the pinnacle of his power and success the new comptroller-general fell
into no illusion as to the danger of the position.  “He had been forced
to raise seven stories on foundations which he had laid for only three,”
 said a contemporary, as clear-sighted as impartial.  Some large
shareholders were already beginning to quietly realize their profits.
The warrants of the _Compagnie des Indes_ had been assimilated to the
bank-notes; and the enormous quantity of paper tended to lower its value.
First, there was a prohibition against making payments in silver above
ten francs, and in gold above three hundred.  Soon afterwards money was
dislegalized as a tender, and orders were issued to take every kind to
the Bank on pain of confiscation, half to go to the informer.  Informing
became a horrible trade; a son denounced his father.  The Regent openly
violated law, and had this miscreant punished.  The prince one day saw
President Lambert de Vernon coming to visit him.  “I am come,” said the
latter, “to denounce to your Royal Highness a man who has five hundred
thousand livres in gold.”  The Duke of Orleans drew back a step.  “Ah,
Mr. President,” he cried, “what low vocation have you taken to?”
 “Monseigneur,” rejoined the president, “I am obeying the law; but your
Royal Highness may be quite easy; it is myself whom I have come to
denounce, in hopes of retaining at least a part of this sum, which I
prefer to all the bank-notes.”  “My money is at the king’s service,” was
the proud remark of Nicolai, premier president of the Exchequer-Chamber,
“but it belongs to nobody.”  The great mass of the nation was of the same
opinion as the two presidents; forty-five millions only found their way
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
no serious result.  The Spaniards had become masters of the kingdom of
Naples and of nearly all Sicily; the Austrians had fallen back on the
Tyrol, keeping a garrison at Mantua only.  The Duke of Noailles, then at
the head of the army, was preparing for the siege of the place, in order
to achieve that deliverance of Italy which was as early as then the dream
of France, but the King of Sardinia and the Queen of Spain were already
disputing for Mantua; the Sardinian troops withdrew, and it was in the
midst of his forced inactivity that the Duke of Noailles heard of the
armistice signed in Germany.  Cardinal Fleury, weary of the war which he
had entered upon with regret, disquieted too at the new complications
which he foresaw in Europe, had already commenced negotiations; the
preliminaries were signed at Vienna in the month of October, 1735.

The conditions of the treaty astonished Europe.  Cardinal Fleury had
renounced the ambitious idea suggested to him by Chauvelin; he no longer
aspired to impose upon the emperor the complete emancipation of Italy,
but he made such disposition as he pleased of the states there, and
reconstituted the territories according to his fancy.  The kingdom of
Naples and the Two Sicilies were secured to Don Carlos, who renounced
Tuscany and the duchies of Parma and Piacenza.  These three
principalities were to form the appanage of Duke Francis of Lorraine,
betrothed to the Archduchess Maria Theresa.  There it was that France was
to find her share of the spoil; in exchange for the dominions formed for
him in Italy, Duke Francis ceded the duchies of Lorraine and Bar to King
Stanislaus; the latter formally renounced the throne of Poland, at the
same time preserving the title of king, and resuming possession of his
property; after him, Lorraine and the Barrois were to be united to the
crown of France, as dower and heritage of that queen who had been but
lately raised to the throne by a base intrigue, and who thus secured to
her new country a province so often taken and retaken, an object of so
many treaties and negotiations, and thenceforth so tenderly cherished by

The negotiations had been protracted.  England, stranger as she had been
to the war, had taken part in the diplomatic proposals.  The Queen of
Spain had wanted to keep the states in the north of Italy, as well as
those in the south.  “Shall I not have a new heir given me by and by? ”
 said the Duke of Tuscany, John Gaston de Medici, last and unworthy scion
of that illustrious family, who was dying without posterity.  “Which is
the third child that France and the empire mean to father upon me?”
 The King of Sardinia gained only Novara and Tortona, whilst the emperor
recovered Milaness.  France renounced all her conquests in Germany; she
guaranteed the Pragmatic-Sanction.  Russia evacuated Poland: peace seemed
to be firmly established in Europe.  Cardinal Fleury hasted to
consolidate it, by removing from power the ambitious and daring
politician whose influence he dreaded.  “Chauvelin had juggled the war
from Fleury,” said the Prince of Prussia, afterwards the great Frederick;
“Fleury in turn juggles peace and the ministry from him.”

“It must be admitted,” wrote M. d’Argenson, “that the situation of
Cardinal Fleury and the keeper of the seals towards one another is a
singular one just now.  The cardinal, disinterested, sympathetic, with
upright views, doing nothing save from excess of importunity, and
measuring his compliance by the number, and not the weight, of the said
importunities,--the minister, I say, considers himself bound to fill his
place as long as he is in this world.  It is only as his own creature
that he has given so much advancement to the keeper of the seals,
considering him wholly his, good, amiable, and of solid merit, without
the aid of any intrigue; and so his adjunction to the premier minister
has made the keeper of the seals a butt for all the ministers.  He has
taken upon himself all refusals, and left to the cardinal the honor of
all benefits and graces; he has, transported himself in imagination to
the time when he would be sole governor, and he would have had affairs
set, in advance, upon the footing on which he calculated upon placing
them.  It must be admitted, as regards that, that he has ideas too lofty
and grand for the state; he would like to set Europe by the ears, as the
great ministers did; he is accused of resembling M. de Louvois, to whom
he is related.  Now the cardinal is of a character the very opposite to
that of this adjunct of his.  M. Chauvelin has embarked him upon many
great enterprises, upon that of the late war, amongst others; but
scarcely is his Eminence embarked, by means of some passion that is
worked upon, when the chill returns, and the desire of getting out of the
business becomes another passion with him.  Altogether, I see no great
harm in the keeper of the seals being no longer minister, for I do not
like any but a homely (_bourgeoise_) policy, whereby one lives on good
terms with one’s neighbors, and whereby one is merely their arbiter, for
the sake of working a good long while and continuously at the task of
perfecting the home affairs of the kingdom, and rendering Frenchmen

M. d’Argenson made no mistake; the era of a great foreign policy had
passed away for France.  A king, who was frivolous and indifferent to his
business as well as to his glory; a minister aged, economizing, and
timid; an ambitious few, with views more bold than discreet,--such were
henceforth the instruments at the disposal of France; the resources were
insufficient for the internal government; the peace of Vienna and the
annexation of Lorraine were the last important successes of external
policy.  Chauvelin had the honor of connecting his name therewith before
disappearing forever in his retreat at Grosbois, to expend his life in
vain regrets for lost power, and in vain attempts to recover it.

Peace reigned in Europe, and Cardinal Fleury governed France without
rival and without opposition.  He had but lately, like Richelieu, to
whom, however, he did not care to be compared, triumphed over
parliamentary revolt.  Jealous of their ancient, traditional rights, the
Parliament claimed to share with the government the care of watching over
the conduct of the clergy.  It was on that ground that they had rejected
the introduction of the Legend of, Gregory VII., recently canonized at
Rome, and had sought to mix themselves up in the religious disputes
excited just then by the pretended miracles wrought at the tomb of Deacon
Paris, a pious and modest Jansenist, who had lately died in the odor of
sanctity in the parish of St. Medard.  The cardinal had ordered the
cemetery to be closed, in order to cut short the strange spectacles
presented by the convulsionists; and, to break down the opposition of
Parliament, the king had ordered, at a bed of justice, the registration
of all the papal bulls succeeding the Unigenitus.  In vain had
D’Aguesseau, reappointed to the chancellorship, exhorted the Parliament
to yield: he had fallen in public esteem.  Abbe Pernelle, ecclesiastical
councillor, as distinguished for his talent as for his courage, proposed
a solemn declaration, analogous, at bottom, to the maxims of the Gallican
church, which had been drawn up by Bossuet, in the assembly of the clergy
of France.  The decision of the Parliament was quashed by the council.
An order from the king, forbidding discussion, was brought to the court
by Count Maurepas; its contents were divined, and Parliament refused to
open it.  The king iterated his injunctions.  “If his Majesty were at the
Louvre,” cried Abbe Pernelle, “it would be the court’s duty to go and let
him know how his orders are executed.”  “Marly is not so very far!”
 shouted a young appeal-court councillor (_aux enquetes_) eagerly.  “To
Marly!  To Marly!” at once repeated the whole chamber.  The old
councillors themselves murmured between their teeth, “To Marly!”
 Fourteen carriages conveyed to Marly fifty magistrates, headed by the
presidents.  The king refused to receive them; in vain the premier
president insisted upon it, to Cardinal Fleury; the monarch and his
Parliament remained equally obstinate.  “What a sad position!” exclaimed
Abbe Pernelle, “not to be able to fulfil one’s duties without falling
into the crime of disobedience!  We speak, and we are forbidden a word;
we deliberate, and we are threatened.  What remains for us, then, in this
deplorable position, but to represent to the king the impossibility of
existing under form of Parliament, without having permission to speak;
the impossibility, by consequence, of continuing our functions?”  Abbe
Pernelle was carried off in the night, and confined in the abbey of
Corbigny, in Nivernais, of which he was titular head.  Other councillors
were arrested; a hundred and fifty magistrates immediately gave in their
resignation.  Rising in the middle of the assembly, they went out two and
two, dressed in their long scarlet robes, and threaded the crowd in
silence.  There was a shout as they went, “There go true Romans, and
fathers of their country!”  “All those who saw this procession,” says
the advocate Barbier, “declare that it was something august and
overpowering.”  The government did not accept the resignations; the
struggle continued.  A hundred and thirty-nine members received letters
under the king’s seal (_lettres de cachet_), exiling them to the four
quarters of France.  The Grand Chamber had been spared; the old
councillors, alone remaining, enregistered purely and simply the
declarations of the keeper of the seals.  Once more the Parliament was
subdued; it had testified its complete political impotence.  The iron
hand of Richelieu, the perfect address of Mazarin, were no longer
necessary to silence it; the prudent moderation, the reserved frigidity,
of Cardinal Fleury had sufficed for the purpose.  “The minister,
victorious over the Parliament, had become the arbiter of Europe,” said
Frederick II., in his _History of my Time_.  The standard of
intelligences and of wills had everywhere sunk down to the level of the
government of France.  Unhappily, the day was coming when the thrones of
Europe were about to be occupied by stronger and more expanded minds,
whilst France was passing slowly from the hands of a more than
octogenarian minister into those of a voluptuous monarch, governed by his
courtiers and his favorites.  Frederick II., Maria Theresa, Lord Chatham,
Catherine II., were about to appear upon the scene; the French had none
to oppose them but Cardinal Fleury with one foot in the grave, and, after
him, King Louis XV. and Madame de Pompadour.

It was amidst this state of things that the death of the Emperor Charles
VI., on the 20th of October, 1740, occurred, to throw Europe into a new
ferment of discord and war.  Maria Theresa, the emperor’s eldest
daughter, was twenty-three years old, beautiful, virtuous, and of a lofty
and resolute character; her rights to the paternal heritage had been
guaranteed by all Europe.  Europe, however, soon rose, almost in its
entirety, to oppose them.  The Elector of Bavaria claimed the domains of
the house of Austria, by virtue of a will of Ferdinand I., father of
Charles V.  The King of Poland urged the rights of his wife, daughter of
the Emperor Joseph I.  Spain put forth her claims to Hungary and Bohemia,
appanage of the elder branch of the house of Austria.  Sardinia desired
her share in Italy.  Prussia had a new sovereign, who spoke but little,
but was the first to act.

Kept for a long while by his father in cruel captivity, always carefully
held aloof from affairs, and, to pass the time, obliged to engage in
literature and science, Frederick II. had ascended the throne in August,
1740, with the reputation of a mind cultivated, liberal, and accessible
to noble ideas.  Voltaire, with whom he had become connected, had
trumpeted his praises everywhere.  The first act of the new king revealed
qualities of which Voltaire had no conception.  On the 23d of December,
after leaving a masked ball, he started post-haste for the frontier
of Silesia, where he had collected thirty thousand men.  Without
preliminary notice, without declaration of war, he at once entered the
Austrian territory, which was scantily defended by three thousand men and
a few garrisons.  Before the end of January, 1741, the Prussians were
masters of Silesia.  “I am going, I fancy, to play your game,” Frederick
had said, as he set off, to the French ambassador: “if the aces come to
me we will share.”

Meanwhile France, as well as the majority of the other nations, had
recognized the young Queen of Hungary.  She had been proclaimed at Vienna
on the 7th of November, 1740; all her father’s states had sworn alliance
and homage to her.  She had consented to take to the Hungarians the old
oath of King Andreas II., which had been constantly refused by the house
of Hapsburg: “If I, or any of my successors, at any time whatsoever,
would infringe your privileges, be it permitted you, by virtue of this
promise, you and your descendants, to defend yourselves, without being
liable to be treated as rebels.”

When Frederick II., encamped in the midst of the conquered provinces,
made a proposal to Maria Theresa to cede him Lower Silesia, to which his
ancestors had always raised pretensions, assuring her, in return, of his
amity and support, the young queen, deeply offended, replied haughtily
that she defended her subjects, she did not sell them.  At the same time
an Austrian army was advancing against the King of Prussia; it was
commanded by Count Neipperg.  The encounter took place at Molwitz, on the
banks of the Neiss.  For one instant Frederick, carried along by his
routed cavalry, thought the battle was lost, and his first step towards
glory an unlucky business.  The infantry, formed by the aged Prince of
Anhalt, and commanded by Marshal Schwerin, late comrade of Charles XII.,
restored the fortune of battle; the Austrians had retired in disorder.
Europe gave the King of Prussia credit for this first success, due
especially to the excellent organization of his father’s troops.  “Each
battalion,” says Frederick, “was a walking battery, whose quickness in
loading tripled their fire, which gave the Prussians the advantage of
three to one.”

Meanwhile, in addition to the heritage of the house of Austria, thus
attacked and encroached upon, there was the question of the Empire.  Two
claimants appeared: Duke Francis of Lorraine, Maria Theresa’s husband,
whom she had appointed regent of her dominions, and the Elector of
Bavaria, grandson of Louis XIV.’s faithful ally, the only Catholic
amongst the lay electors of the empire, who was only waiting for the
signal from France to act, in his turn, against the Queen of Hungary.

Cardinal Fleury s intentions remained as yet vague and secret.  Naturally
and stubbornly pacific as he was, he felt himself bound by the
confirmation of the Pragmatic-Sanction, lately renewed, at the time of
the treaty of Vienna.  The king affected indifference.  “Whom are you for
making emperor, Souvre?” he asked one of his courtiers.  “Faith, sir,”
 answered the marquis, “I trouble myself very little about it; but if your
Majesty pleased, you might tell us more about it than anybody.”  “No,”
 said the king; “I shall have nothing to do with it; I shall look on from
Mont-Pagnotte” (a post of observation out of cannon-shot).  “Ah, sir,”
 replied Souvre, “your Majesty will be very cold there, and very ill
lodged.”  “ How so?” said the king.  “Sir,” replied Souvre, because your
ancestors never had any house built there.”  “A very pretty answer,” adds
the advocate Barbier; “and as regards the question, nothing can be made
of it, because the king is mighty close.”

A powerful intrigue was urging the king to war.  Cardinal Fleury,
prudent, economizing, timid as he was, had taken a liking for a man of
adventurous, and sometimes chimerical spirit.  “Count Belle-Isle,
grandson of Fouquet,” says M. d’Argenson, “had more wit than judgment,
and more fire than force; but he aimed very high.”  He dreamed of
revising the map of Europe, and of forming a zone of small states,
destined to protect France against the designs of Austria.  Louis XV.
pretended to nothing, demanded nothing for the price of his assistance;
but France had been united from time immemorial to Bavaria: she was bound
to raise the elector to the imperial throne.  If it happened afterwards,
in the dismemberment of the Austrian dominions, that the Low Countries
fell to the share of France, it was the natural sequel of past conquests
of Flanders, Lorraine, and the Three Bishoprics.  Count Belle-Isle did
not disturb with his dreams the calm of the aged cardinal; he was modest
in his military aspirations.  The French navy was ruined, the king had
hardly twenty vessels to send to sea; that mattered little, as England
and Holland took no part in the contest; Austria was not a maritime
power; Spain joined with France to support the elector.  A body of forty
thousand men was put under the orders of that prince, who received the
title of lieutenant-general of the armies of the King of France.  Louis
XV. acted only in the capacity of Bavaria’s ally and auxiliary.
Meanwhile Marshal Belle-Isle, the King’s ambassador and plenipotentiary
in Germany, had just signed a treaty with Frederick II., guaranteeing to
that monarch Lower Silesia.  At the same time, a second French army,
under the orders of Marshal Maillebois, entered Germany; Saxony and
Poland came into the coalition.  The King of England, George II.,
faithful to the Pragmatic-Sanction, hurrying over to Hanover to raise
troops there, found himself threatened by Maillebois, and signed a treaty
of neutrality.  The elector had been proclaimed, at Lintz, Archduke of
Austria nowhere did the Franco-Bavarian army encounter any obstacle.  The
King of Prussia was occupying Moravia; Upper and Lower Austria had been
conquered without a blow, and by this time the forces of the enemy were
threatening Vienna.  The success of the invasion was like a dream; but
the elector had not the wit to profit by the good fortune which was
offered him.  On the point of entering the capital abandoned by Maria
Theresa, he fell back, and marched towards Bohemia; the gates of
Prague did not open like those of Passau or of Lintz; it had to be
besieged.  The Grand-duke of Tuscany was advancing to the relief of the
town; it was determined to deliver the assault.

Count Maurice of Saxony, natural son of the late King of Poland, the most
able and ere long the most illustrious of the generals in the service of
France, had opposed the retrograde movement towards Bohemia.  In front of
Prague, he sent for Chevert, lieutenant-colonel of the regiment of
Beauce, of humble origin, but destined to rise by his courage and merit
to the highest rank in the army; the two officers made a reconnoissance;
the moment and the point of attack were chosen.  At the approach of night
on the 25th of November, 1741, Chevert called up a grenadier.  “Thou
seest yonder sentry?”  said he to the soldier.  “Yes, colonel.”  “He will
shout to thee, ‘Who goes there?’”  “Yes, colonel.”  “He will fire upon
thee and miss thee.”  “Yes, colonel.”  “Thou’lt kill him, and I shall be
at thy heels.”  The grenadier salutes, and mounts up to the assault; the
body of the sentry had scarcely begun to roll over the rampart when
Colonel Chevert followed the soldier; the eldest son of Marshal Broglie
was behind him.

Fifty men had escaladed the wall before the alarm spread through the
town; a gate was soon burst to permit the entrance of Count Maurice with
a body of cavalry.  Next day the elector was crowned as King of Bohemia;
on the 13th of January, 1742, he was proclaimed emperor, under the name
of Charles VII.

A few weeks had sufficed to crown the success; less time sufficed to undo
it.  On flying from Vienna, Maria Theresa had sought refuge in Hungary;
the assembly of the Estates held a meeting at Presburg; there she
appeared, dressed in mourning, holding in her arms her son, scarce six
months old.  Already she had known how to attach the magnates to her by
the confidence she had shown them; she held out to them her child; “I am
abandoned of my friends,” said she in Latin, a language still in use in
Hungary amongst the upper classes; “I am pursued by my enemies, attacked
by my relatives; I have no hope but in your fidelity and courage; we--my
son and I--look to you for our safety.”

The palatines scarcely gave the queen time to finish; already the sabres
were out of the sheaths and flashing above their heads.  Count Bathyany
was the first to shout, “_Moriamur pro rege nostro Maria Theresa!”  The
same shout was repeated everywhere; Maria Theresa, restraining her tears,
thanked her defenders with gesture and voice; she was expecting a second
child before long.  “I know not,” she wrote to her mother-in-law, the
Duchess of Lorraine, “if I shall have a town left to be confined in.”

[Illustration: “Moriamur pro rege nostro.”----142]

Hungary rose, like one man, to protect her sovereign against the excess
of her misfortunes; the same spirit spread before long through the
Austrian provinces; bodies of irregulars, savage and cruel, formed at
all points, attacking and massacring the French detachments they
encountered,--and giving to the war a character of ferocity which
displayed itself with special excess against Bavaria.  Count Segur,
besieged in Lintz, was obliged to capitulate on the 26th of January, and
the day after the Elector of Bavaria had received the imperial crown at
Frankfurt, February 12, 1742--the Austrians, under the orders of General
Khevenhuller, obtained possession of Munich, which was given up to
pillage.  Jokes then began to fly about in Paris at the expense of the
emperor who had just been made after an interregnum of more than a year.
“The thing in the world which it is perceived that one can most easily do
without,” said Voltaire, “is an emperor.”  “As Paris is always crammed
with a number of Austrians in heart who are charmed at the sad events,”
 writes the advocate Barbier, “they have put in the Bastille some
indiscreet individuals who said in open cafe that the emperor was John
Lackland, and that a room would have to be fitted up for him at
Vincennes.  In point of fact, he remains at Frankfurt, and it would be
very hard for him to go elsewhere in safety.”

Meanwhile England had renounced her neutrality; the general feeling of
the nation prevailed over the prudent and farsighted ability of Robert
Walpole; he succumbed, after his long ministry, full of honors and
riches; the government had passed into warlike hands.  The women of
society, headed by the Duchess of Marlborough, raised a subscription of
one hundred thousand pounds, which they offered unsuccessfully to the
haughty Maria Theresa.  Parliament voted more effectual aid, and English
diplomacy adroitly detached the King of Sardinia from the allies whom
success appeared to be abandoning.  The King of Prussia had just gained
at Czezlaw an important victory; next day, he was negotiating with the
Queen of Hungary.  On the 11th of June the treaty which abandoned Silesia
to Frederick II. was secretly concluded; when the signatures were
exchanged at Berlin in the following month, the withdrawal of Prussia was
everywhere known in Europe.  “This is the method introduced and accepted
amongst the allies: to separate and do a better stroke of business by
being the first to make terms,” writes M. d’Argenson on 30th June; “it
used not to be so.  The English were the first to separate from the great
alliance in 1711, and they derive great advantages from it; we followed
this terrible example in 1735, and got Lorraine by it; lastly, here is
the King of Prussia, but under much more odious circumstances, since he
leaves us in a terrible scrape, our armies, in the middle of Germany,
beaten and famine-stricken; the emperor, despoiled of his hereditary
dominions and his estates likewise in danger.  All is at the mercy of the
maritime powers, who have pushed things to the extremity we see; and we,
France, who were alone capable of resisting such a torrent at this date--
here be we exhausted, and not in a condition to check these rogueries and
this power, even by uniting ourselves the most closely with Spain.  Let
be, let us meddle no more; it is the greatest service we can render at
this date to our allies of Germany.”

Cardinal Fleury had not waited for confirmation of the King of Prussia’s
defection to seek likewise to negotiate; Marshal Belle-Isle had been
intrusted with this business, and, at the same time with a letter
addressed by the cardinal--to Field-Marshal Konigseck.  The minister was
old, timid, displeased, disquieted at the war which he had been surprised
into; he made his excuses to the Austrian negotiator and delivered his
plenipotentiary into his hands at the very outset.  “Many people know,”
 said he, “how opposed I was to the resolutions we adopted, and that I was
in some sort compelled to agree to them.  Your Excellency is too well
informed of all that passes not to divine who it was who set everything
in motion for deciding the king to enter into a league which was so
contrary to my inclinations and to my principles.”

For sole answer, Maria Theresa had the cardinal’s letter published.  At
Utrecht, after the unparalleled disasters which were overwhelming the
kingdom, and in spite of the concessions they had been ordered to offer,
the tone of Louis XIV.’s plenipotentiaries was more dignified and prouder
than that of the enfeebled old man who had so long governed France by
dint of moderation, discretion, and patient inertness.  The allies of
France were disquieted and her foes emboldened.  Marshal Belle-Isle, shut
up in Prague, and Marshal Broglie, encamped near the town, remaining
isolated in a hostile country, hemmed in on all sides by a savage foe,
maintaining order with difficulty within the fortress itself.

“Marshal Broglie is encamped under the guns of Prague,” says Barbier’s
journal: “his camp is spoken of as a masterpiece.  As there is reason to
be shy of the inhabitants, who are for the Queen of Hungary, a battery
has been trained upon Prague, the garrison camps upon the ramparts, and
Marshal Belle-Isle patrols every night.”

Marshal Maillebois was at Dusseldorf, commissioned to observe the
Hollanders and protect Westphalia; he received orders to join Marshals
Broglie and Belle-Isle.  “It is the army of redemption for the captives,”
 was the saying at Paris.  At the same time that the marshal was setting
out for Prague, Cardinal Fleury sent him the following instructions:
“Engage in no battle of which the issue may be doubtful.”  All the
defiles of Bohemia were carefully guarded; Maillebois first retired on
Egra, then he carried his arms into Bavaria, where Marshal Broglie came
to relieve him of his command.  Marshal Belle-Isle remained with the sole
charge of the defence of Prague; he was frequently harassed by the
Austrians; his troops were exhausted with cold and privation.  During the
night between the 16th and 17th of December, 1742, the marshal sallied
from the town.  “I stole a march of twenty-four hours good on Prince
Lobkowitz, who was only five leagues from me,” wrote Belle-Isle, on
accomplishing his retreat; “I pierced his quarters, and I traversed ten
leagues of plain, having to plod along with eleven thousand foot and
three thousand two hundred and fifty worn-out horses, M. de Lobkowitz
having eight thousand good horses and twelve thousand infantry.  I made
such despatch that I arrived at the defiles before he could come up with
me.  I concealed from him the road I had resolved to take, for he had
ordered the occupation of all the defiles and the destruction of all the
bridges there are on the two main roads leading from Prague to Egra.  I
took one which pierces between the two others, where I found no obstacles
but those of nature, and, at last, I arrived on the tenth day, without a
check, though continually harassed by hussars in front, rear, and flank.”
 The hospitals at Egra were choke full of sick soldiers; twelve nights
passed on the snow without blankets or cloaks had cost the lives of many
men; a great number never recovered more than a lingering existence.
Amongst them there was, in the king’s regiment of infantry, a young
officer, M. de Vauvenargues, who expired at thirty-two years of age, soon
after his return to his country, leaving amongst those who had known him
a feeling that a great loss had been suffered by France and human

Chevert still occupied Prague, with six thousand sick or wounded; the
Prince of Lorraine had invested the place and summoned it to surrender at
discretion.  “Tell your general;” replied Chevert to the Austrian sent to
parley, “that, if he will not grant me the honors of war, I will fire the
four corners of Prague, and bury myself under its ruins.”  He obtained
what he asked for, and went to rejoin Marshal Belle-Isle at Egra.  People
compared the retreat from Prague to the Retreat of the Ten Thousand; but
the truth came out for all the fictions of flattery and national pride.
A hundred thousand Frenchmen had entered Germany at the outset of the
war; at the commencement of the year 1743, thirty-five thousand soldiers,
mustered in Bavaria, were nearly all that remained to withstand the
increasing efforts of the Austrians.

Marshal Belle-Isle was coldly received at Paris.  “He is much
inconvenienced by a sciatica,” writes the advocate Barbier, “and cannot
walk but with the assistance of two men.  He comes back with grand
decorations: prince of the empire, knight of the Golden Fleece, blue
riband, marshal of France, and duke.  He is held accountable, however,
for all the misfortunes that have happened to us; it was spread about at
Paris that he was disgraced and even exiled to his estate at Vernon, near
Gisors.  It is true, nevertheless, that he has several times done
business with the king, whether in M. Amelot’s presence, on foreign
affairs, or M. d’Aguesseau’s, on military; but this restless and
ambitious spirit is feared by the ministers.”

Almost at the very moment when the Austrians were occupying Prague and
Bohemia, Cardinal Fleury was expiring, at Versailles, at the age of
ninety.  Madame Marshal Noailles, mother of the present marshal, who is
at least eighty-seven, but is all alive, runs about Paris and writes all
day, sent to inquire after him.  He sent answer to her, “that she was
cleverer than he--she managed to live; as for him, he was ceasing to
exist.  In fact, it is the case of a candle going out, and being a long
while about it.  Many people are awaiting this result, and all the court
will be starting at his very ghost, a week after he has been buried.”
 [_Journal de Barbier,_ t. ii.  p. 348.]

Cardinal Fleury had lived too long: the trials of the last years of his
life had been beyond the bodily and mental strength of an old man
elevated for the first time to power at an age when it is generally seen
slipping from the hands of the most energetic.  Naturally gentle,
moderate, discreet, though stubborn and persevering in his views, he had
not an idea of conceiving and practising a great policy.  France was
indebted to him for a long period of mediocre and dull prosperity, which
was preferable to the evils that had for so long oppressed her, but as
for which she was to cherish no remembrance and no gratitude, when new
misfortunes came bursting upon her.

Both court and nation hurled the same reproach at Cardinal Fleury; he
alone prevented the king from governing, and turned his attention from
affairs, partly from jealousy, and partly from the old habit acquired as
a preceptor, who can never see a man in one who has been his pupil.  When
the old man died at last, as M. d’Argenson cruelly puts it, France turned
her eyes towards Louis XV.  “The cardinal is dead: hurrah! for the king!”
 was the cry amongst the people.  The monarch himself felt as if he were
emancipated.  “Gentlemen, here am I--premier minister!” said he to his
most intimate courtiers.  “When MM. de Maurepas and Amelot went to
announce to him this death, it is said that he was at first overcome, and
that when he had recovered himself, he told them that hitherto he had
availed himself of Cardinal Fleury’s counsels; but he relied upon it that
they would so act, that they would not need to place any one between them
and him.  If this answer is faithfully reported,” adds the advocate
Barbier, “it is sufficiently in the high style to let it be understood
that there will be no more any premier minister, or at any rate any body
exercising the functions thereof.”

For some time previously, in view of the great age and rapid enfeeblement
of Cardinal Fleury, Marshal Noailles, ever able and far-sighted, had been
pressing Louis XV. to take into his own hands the direction of his
affairs.  Having the command on the frontier of the Low Countries, he had
adopted the practice of writing directly to the king.  “Until it may
please your Majesty to let me know your intentions and your will,” said
the marshal at the outset of his correspondence, “confining myself solely
to what relates to the frontier on which you have given me the command, I
shall speak with frankness and freedom about the object confided to my
care, and shall hold my peace as regards the rest.  If you, Sir, desire
the silence to be broken, it is for you to order it.”  For the first time
Louis XV. seemed to awake from the midst of that life of intellectual
lethargy and physical activity which he allowed to glide along, without a
thought, between the pleasures of the chase and the amusements invented
by his favorite; a remembrance of Louis XIV. came across his mind,
naturally acute and judicious as it was.  “The late king, my great-
grandfather,” he writes to Marshal Noailles on the 26th of November,
1743, “whom I desire to imitate as much as I can, recommended me, on his
death-bed, to take counsel in all things, and to seek out the best, so as
always to follow it.  I shall be charmed, then, if you will give me some;
thus do I open your mouth, as the pope does the cardinals, and I permit
you to say to me what your zeal and your affection for me and my kingdom
prompt you.”  The first fruit of this correspondence was the entrance of
Marshal Noailles into the Council.

[Illustration: Louis XV. and his Councillors----148]

“One day as he was, in the capacity of simple courtier, escorting the
king, who was on his way to the Council, his Majesty said to him,
“Marshal, come in; we are going to hold a council,” and pointed to a
place at his left, Cardinal Tencin being on his right.  “This new
minister does not please our secretaries of state.  He is a troublesome
inspector set over them, who meddles in everything, though master of
nothing.”  The renewal of active hostilities was about to deliver the
ministers from Marshal Noailles.

The prudent hesitation and backwardness of Holland had at last yielded to
the pressure of England.  The States-general had sent twenty thousand men
to join the army which George II.  had just sent into Germany.  It was
only on the 15th of March, 1744, that Louis XV.  formally declared war
against the King of England and Maria Theresa, no longer as an auxiliary
of the ‘emperor, but in his own name and on behalf of France.  Charles
VII., a fugitive, driven from his hereditary dominions, which had been
evacuated by Marshal Broglie, had transported to Frankfurt his ill
fortune and his empty titles.  France alone supported in Germany a
quarrel the weight of which she had imprudently taken upon herself.

The effort was too much for the resources; the king’s counsellors felt
that it was; the battle of Dettingen, skilfully commenced on the 27th of
June, 1743, by Marshal Noailles, and lost by the imprudence of his
nephew, the Duke of Gramont, had completely shaken the confidence of the
armies; the emperor had treated with the Austrians for an armistice;
establishing the neutrality of his troops, as belonging to the empire.
Noailles wrote to the king on the 8th of July, “It is necessary to uphold
this phantom, in order to restrain Germany, which would league against
us, and furnish the English with all the troops therein, the moment the
emperor was abandoned.”  It was necessary, at the same time, to look out
elsewhere for more effectual support.  The King of Prussia had been
resting for the last two years, a curious and an interested spectator of
the contests which were bathing Europe in blood, and which answered his
purpose by enfeebling his rivals.  He frankly and coolly flaunted his
selfishness.  “In a previous war with France,” he says in his memoirs, “I
abandoned the French at Prague, because I gained Silesia by that step.
If I had escorted them to Vienna, they would never have given me so
much.”  In turn the successes of the Queen of Hungary were beginning to
disquiet him; on the 5th of June, 1744, he signed a new treaty with
France; for the first time Louis XV. was about to quit Versailles and
place himself at the head of an army.  “If my country is to be devoured,”
 said the king, with a levity far different from the solemn tone of Louis
XIV., “it will be very hard on me to see it swallowed without personally
doing my best to prevent it.”

He had, however, hesitated a long while before he started.  There was a
shortness of money.  For all his having been head of the council of
finance, Noailles had not been able to rid himself of ideas of arbitrary
power.  “When the late king, your great-grandfather, considered any
outlay necessary,” he wrote to Louis XV., “the funds had to be found,
because it was his will.  The case in question is one in which your
Majesty ought to speak as master, and lay down the law to your ministers.
Your comptroller-general ought, for the future, to be obliged to furnish
the needful funds without daring to ask the reasons for which they are
demanded of him, and still less to decide upon them.  It was thus that
the late king behaved towards M. Colbert and all who succeeded him in
that office; he would never have done anything great in the whole course
of his reign, if he had behaved otherwise.”  It was the king’s common
sense which replied to this counsel, “We are still paying all those debts
that the late king incurred for extraordinary occasions, fifty millions a
year and more, which we must begin by paying off first of all.”  Later
on, he adds, gayly, “As for me, I can do without any equipage, and, if
needful, the shoulder of mutton of the lieutenants of infantry will do
perfectly well for me.”  “There is nothing talked off here but the doings
of the king, who is in extraordinary spirits,” writes the advocate
Barbier; “he has visited the places near Valenciennes, the magazines, the
hospitals; he has tasted the broth of the sick, and the soldiers’ bread.
The ambassador of Holland came, before his departure, to propose a truce
in order to put us off yet longer.  The king, when he was presented,
merely said, ‘I know what you are going to say to me, and what it is all
about.  I will give you my answer in Flanders.’  This answer is a proud
one, and fit for a king of France.”

[Illustration: Louis XV. and the Ambassador of Holland----151]

The hopes of the nation were aroused.  “Have we, then, a king?” said
M. d’Argenson.  Credit was given to the Duchess of Chateauroux, Louis
XV.’s new favorite, for having excited this warlike ardor in the king.
Ypres and Menin had already surrendered after a few days’ open trenches;
siege had just been laid to Furnes.  Marshal Noailles had proposed to
move up the king’s household troops in order to make an impression upon
the enemy.  “If they must needs be marched up,” replied Louis XV., “I do
not wish to separate from my household: _verbum sap_.”

[Illustration: YPRES----151]

The news which arrived from the army of Italy was equally encouraging;
the Prince of Conde, seconded by Chevert, had forced the passage of the
Alps.  “There will come some occasion when we shall do as well as the
French have done,” wrote Count Campo-Santo, who, under Don Philip,
commanded the Spanish detachment; “it is impossible to do better.”

Madame de Chateauroux had just arrived at Lille; there were already
complaints in the army of the frequent absence of the king on his visits
to her, when alarming news came to cause forgetfulness of court intrigues
and dissatisfaction; the Austrians had effected the passage of the Rhine
by surprise near Philipsburg; Elsass was invaded.  Marshal Coigny, who
was under orders to defend it, had been enticed in the direction of
Worms, by false moves on the part of Prince Charles of Lorraine, and had
found great difficulty in recrossing the frontier.  “Here we are on the
eve of a great crisis,” writes Louis XV. on the 7th of July.  It was at
once decided that the king must move on Elsass to defend his threatened
provinces.  The King of Prussia promised to enter Bohemia immediately
with twenty thousand men, as the diversion was sure to be useful to
France.  Louis XV. had already arrived at Metz, and Marshal Noailles
pushed forward in order to unite all the corps.  On the 8th of August the
king awoke in pain, prostrated by a violent headache; a few days later,
all France was in consternation; the king was said to have been given

“The king’s danger was noised abroad throughout Paris in the middle of
the night,” writes Voltaire [_Siecle de Louis XV.,_ p. 103]: “everybody
gets up, runs about, in confusion, not knowing whither to go.  The
churches open at dead of night; nobody takes any more note of time,
bed-time, or day-time, or meal-time.  Paris was beside itself; all the
houses of officials were besieged by a continual crowd; knots collected,
at all the cross-roads.  The people cried, ‘If he should die, it will be
for having marched to our aid.’  People accosted one another, questioned
one another in the churches, without being the least acquainted.  There
were many churches where the priest who pronounced the prayer for the
king’s health interrupted the intoning with his tears, and the people
responded with nothing but sobs and cries.  The courier, who, on the
19th, brought to Paris the news of his convalescence, was embraced and
almost stifled by the people; they kissed his horse, they escorted him in
triumph.  All the streets resounded with a shout of joy.  ‘The king is
well!’  When the monarch was told of the unparalleled transports of joy
which had succeeded those of despair, he was affected to tears, and,
raising himself up in a thrill of emotion which gave him strength, ‘Ah!’
he exclaimed, ‘how sweet it is to be so loved!  What have I done to
deserve it?’”

What had he done, indeed!  And what was he destined to do?  France had
just experienced the last gush of that monarchical passion and fidelity
which had so long distinguished her, and which were at last used up and
worn out through the faults of the princes as well as through the
blindness and errors of the nation itself.

Confronted with death, the king had once more felt the religious terrors
which were constantly intermingled with the irregularity of his life;
he had sent for the queen, and had dismissed the Duchess of Chateauroux.
On recovering his health, he found himself threatened by new perils,
aggravated by his illness and by the troubled state into which it had
thrown the public mind.  After having ravaged and wasted Elsass, without
Marshals Coigny and Noailles having been able to prevent it, Prince
Charles had, without being harassed, struck again into the road towards
Bohemia, which was being threatened by the King of Prussia.  “This
prince,” wrote Marshal Belle-Isle on the 13th of September, “has written
a very strong letter to the king, complaining of the quiet way in which
Prince Charles was allowed to cross the Rhine; he attributes it all to
his Majesty’s illness, and complains bitterly of Marshal Noailles.”  And,
on the 25th, to Count Clermont, “Here we are, decided at last; the king
is to start on Tuesday the 27th for Lundville, and on the 5th of October
will be at Strasbourg.  Nobody knows as yet any further than that, and it
is a question whether he will go to Fribourg or not.  The ministers are
off back to Paris.  Marshal Noailles, who has sent for his equipage
hither, asked whether he should attend his Majesty, who replied, ‘As you
please,’ rather curtly.  Your Highness cannot have a doubt about his
doing so, after such a gracious permission.”

Louis XV. went to the siege of Fribourg, which was a long and a difficult
one.  He returned to Paris on the 13th of November, to the great joy of
the people.  A few days later, Marshal Belle-Isle, whilst passing through
Hanover in the character of negotiator, was arrested by order of George
II., and carried to England a prisoner of war, in defiance of the law of
nations and the protests of France.  The moment was not propitious for
obtaining the release of a marshal of France and an able general.  The
Emperor Charles VII., who but lately returned to his hereditary
dominions, and recovered possession of his capital, after fifteen months
of Austrian occupation, died suddenly on the 20th of January, 1745, at
forty-seven years of age.  The face of affairs changed all at once; the
honor of France was no longer concerned in the struggle; the Grand-duke
of Tuscany had no longer any competitor for the empire; the eldest son of
Charles VII. was only seventeen; the Queen of Hungary was disposed for
peace.  “The English ministry, which laid down the law for all, because
it laid down the money, and which had in its pay, all at one time, the
Queen of Hungary, the King of Poland, and the King of Sardinia,
considered that there was everything to lose by a treaty with France, and
everything to gain by arms.  War continued, because it had commenced.”
 [Voltaire, _Siecle de Louis XV_.]

The King of France henceforth maintained it almost alone by himself.  The
young Elector of Bavaria had already found himself driven out of Munich,
and forced by his exhausted subjects to demand peace of Maria Theresa.
The election to the empire was imminent; Maximilian-Joseph promised his
votes to the Grand-duke of Tuscany; at that price he was re-established
in his hereditary dominions.  The King of Poland had rejected the
advances of France, who offered him the title of emperor, beneath which
Charles VII. had succumbed.  Marshal Saxe bore all the brunt of the war.
A foreigner and a Protestant, for a long while under suspicion with Louis
XV., and blackened in character by the French generals, Maurice of Saxony
had won authority as well as glory by the splendor of his bravery and of
his military genius.  Combining with quite a French vivacity the
far-sightedness and the perseverance of the races of the north, he had
been toiling for more than a year to bring about amongst his army a
spirit of discipline, a powerful organization, a contempt for fatigue as
well as for danger.  “At Dettingen the success of the allies was due to
their surprising order, for they were not seasoned to war,” he used to
say.  Order did not as yet reign in the army of Marshal Saxe.  In 1745,
the situation was grave; the marshal was attacked with dropsy; his life
appeared to be in danger.  He nevertheless commanded his preparations to
be made for the campaign, and, when Voltaire, who was one of his friends,
was astounded at it, “It is no question of living, but of setting out,”
 was his reply.

[Illustration: Marshal Saxe 154]

The king was preparing to set out, like Marshal Saxe; he had just married
the dauphin to the eldest daughter of the King of Spain; the young prince
accompanied his father to the front before Tournai, which the French army
was besieging.  On the 8th of May Louis XV. visited the outskirts; an
attack from the enemy was expected, the field of battle was known
beforehand.  The village of Fontenoy had already been occupied by Marshal
Noailles, who had asked to serve as aide-de-camp to Marshal Saxe, to whom
he was attached by sincere friendship, and whom he had very much
contributed to advance in the king’s good graces.

“Never did Louis XV. show more gayety than on the eve of the fight,” says
Voltaire.  “The conversation was of battles at which kings had been
present in person.  The king said that since the battle of Poitiers no
king of France had fought with his son beside him, that since St. Louis
none had gained any signal victory over the English, and that he hoped to
be the first.  He was the first up on the day of action; he himself at
four o’clock awoke Count d’Argenson, minister of war, who on the instant
sent to ask Marshal Saxe for his final orders.  The marshal was found in
a carriage of osier-work, which served him for a bed, and in which he had
himself drawn about when his exhausted powers no longer allowed him to
sit his horse.”  The king and the dauphin had already taken up their
positions of battle; the two villages of Fontenoy and Antoin, and the
wood of Barri, were occupied by French troops.  Two armies of fifty
thousand men each were about to engage in the lists as at Dettingen.
Austria had sent but eight thousand soldiers, under the orders of the old
and famous General Konigseck; the English and the Hollanders were about
to bear all the burden and heat of the day.

It was not five in the morning, and already there was a thunder of
cannon.  The Hollanders attacked the village of Antoin, the English that
of Fontenoy.  The two posts were covered by a redoubt which belched forth
flames; the Hollanders refused to deliver the assault.  An attack made by
the English on the wood of Barri had been repulsed.  “Forward, my lord,
right to your front,” said old Konigseck to the Duke of Cumberland,
George II.’s son, who commanded the English; “the ravine in front of
Fontenoy must be carried.”  The English advanced; they formed a deep and
serried column, preceded and supported by artillery.  The French
batteries mowed them down right and left, whole ranks fell dead; they
were at once filled up; the cannon which they dragged along by hand,
pointed towards Fontenoy and the redoubts, replied to the French
artillery.  An attempt of some officers of the French guards to carry off
the cannon of the English was unsuccessful.  The two corps found
themselves at last face to face.

The English officers took off their hats; Count Chabannes and the Duke of
Biron, who had moved forward, returned their salute.  “Gentlemen of the
French guard, fire!” exclaimed Lord Charles Hay.  “Fire yourselves,
gentlemen of England,” immediately replied Count d’Auteroche; “we never
fire first.”  [All fiction, it is said.]  The volley of the English laid
low the foremost ranks of the French guards.  This regiment had been
effeminated by a long residence in Paris and at Versailles; its colonel,
the Duke of Gramont, had been killed in the morning, at the commencement
of the action; it gave way, and the English cleared the ravine which
defended Fontenoy.  They advanced as if on parade; the majors
[?sergeant-majors], small cane in hand, rested it lightly on the
soldiers’ muskets to direct their fire.  Several regiments successively
opposed to the English column found themselves repulsed and forced to
beat a retreat; the English still advanced.

Marshal Saxe, carried about everywhere in his osier-litter, saw the
danger with a calm eye; he sent the Marquis of Meuse to the king.  “I beg
your Majesty,” he told him to say, “to go back with the dauphin over the
bridge of Calonne; I will do what I can to restore the battle.”  “Ah! I
know well enough that he will do what is necessary,” answered the king,
“but I stay where I am.”  Marshal Saxe mounted his horse.

[Illustration: Battle of Fontenoy----157]

In its turn, the cavalry had been repulsed by the English; their fire
swept away rank after rank of the regiment of Vaisseaux, which would not
be denied.  “How is it that such troops are not victorious?” cried
Marshal Saxe, who was moving about at a foot’s pace in the middle of the
fire, without his cuirass, which his weakness did not admit of his
wearing.  He advanced towards Fontenoy; the batteries had just fallen
short of ball.  The English column had ceased marching; arrested by the
successive efforts of the French regiments, it remained motionless, and
seemed to receive no more orders, but it preserved a proud front, and
appeared to be masters of the field of battle.  Marshal Saxe was
preparing for the retreat of the army; he had relinquished his proposal
for that of the king, from the time that the English had come up and
pressed him closely.  “It was my advice, before the danger was so great,”
 he said; “now there is no falling back.”

A disorderly council was being held around Louis XV.  With the fine
judgment and sense which he often displayed when he took the trouble to
have an opinion on his affairs, the king had been wise enough to
encourage his troops by his presence without in any way interfering with
the orders of Marshal Saxe.  The Duke of Richelieu vented an opinion more
worthy of the name he bore than had been his wont in his life of
courtiership and debauchery.  “Throw forward the artillery against the
column,” he said, “and let the king’s household, with all the disposable
regiments, attack them at the same time; they must be fallen upon like so
many foragers.”

The retreat of the Hollanders admitted of the movement; the small
field-pieces, as yet dragged by hand, were pointed against the English
column.  Marshal Saxe, with difficulty keeping his seat upon his horse,
galloped hastily up to the Irish brigade, commanding all the troops he
met on the way to make no more false attacks, and to act in concert.  All
the forces of the French army burst simultaneously upon the English.  The
Irish regiments in the service of France, nearly all composed of Jacobite
emigrants, fought with fury.  Twice the brave enemy rallied, but the
officers fell on all sides, the ranks were everywhere broken; at last
they retired, without disorder, without enfeeblement, preserving, even in
defeat, the honor of a vigorous resistance.  The battle was gained at the
moment when the most clear-sighted had considered it lost.  Marshal Saxe
had still strength left to make his way to the king.  “I have lived long
enough, sir,” he said, “now that I have seen your Majesty victorious.
You now know on what the fortune of battles depends.”

The victory of Fontenoy, like that of Denain, restored the courage and
changed the situation of France.  When the King of Prussia heard of his
ally’s success, he exclaimed with a grin, “This is about as useful to us
as a battle gained on the banks of the Scamander.”  His selfish
absorption in his personal and direct interests obscured the judgment of
Frederick the Great.  He, however, did justice to Marshal Saxe: “There
was a discussion the other day as to what battle had reflected most honor
on the general commanding,” he wrote, a long while after the battle of
Fontenoy; “some suggested that of Almanza, others that of Turin; but I
suggested--and everybody finally agreed that it was undoubtedly that in
which the general had been at death’s door when it was delivered.”

The fortress of Tournai surrendered on the 22d of May; the citadel
capitulated on the 19th of June.  Ghent, Bruges, Oudenarde, Dendermonde,
Ostend, Nienport, yielded, one after another, to the French armies.  In
the month of February, 1746, Marshal Saxe terminated the campaign by
taking Brussels.  By the 1st of the previous September Louis XV. had
returned in triumph to Paris.

[Illustration: BRUSSELS----159]

Henceforth he remained alone confronting Germany, which was neutral, or
had rallied round the restored empire.  On the 13th of September, the
Grand-duke of Tuscany had been proclaimed emperor at Frankfurt, under the
name of Francis I.  The indomitable resolution of the queen his wife had
triumphed.  In spite of the checks she suffered in the Low Countries,
Maria Theresa still withstood, at all points, the pacific advances of the

On the 4th of June, the King of Prussia had gained a great victory at
Freilberg.  “I have honored the bill of exchange your Majesty drew on me
at Fontenoy,” he wrote to Louis XV.  A series of successful fights had
opened the road to Saxony.  Frederick headed thither rapidly; on the 18th
of December he occupied Dresden.

This time, the King of Poland, Elector of Saxony, forced the hand of the
new empress: “The Austrians and the Saxons have just sent ministers
hither to negotiate for peace,” said a letter to France from the King of
Prussia; “so I have no course open but to sign.  Would that I might be
fortunate enough to serve as the instrument of general pacification.
After discharging my duty towards the state I govern, and towards my
family, no object will be nearer to my heart than that of being able to
render myself of service to your Majesty’s interests.”  Frederick the
Great returned to Berlin covered with glory, and definitively master of
Silesia.  “Learn once for all,” he said at a later period, in his
instructions to his successor, “that where a kingdom is concerned, you
take when you can, and that you are never wrong when you are not obliged
to hand over.  An insolent and a cynical maxim of brute force, which
conquerors have put in practice at all times, without daring to set it up
as a principle.

Whilst Berlin was in gala trim to celebrate the return of her monarch in
triumph, Europe had her eyes fixed upon the unparalleled enterprise of a
young man, winning, courageous, and frivolous as he was, attempting to
recover by himself alone the throne of his fathers.  For nearly three
years past, Charles Edward Stuart, son of Chevalier St. George, had been
awaiting in France the fulfilment of the promises and hopes which had
been flashed before his eyes.  Weary of hope deferred, he had conceived
the idea of a bold stroke.  “Why not attempt to cross in a vessel to the
north of Scotland?” had been the question put to him by Cardinal Tencin,
who had, some time before, owed his cardinal’s hat to the dethroned King
of Great Britain.  “Your presence will be enough to get you a party and
an army, and France will be obliged to give you aid.”

Charles Edward had followed this audacious counsel.  Landing, in June,
1745, in the Highlands of Scotland, he had soon found the clans of the
mountaineers hurrying to join his standard.  At the head of this wild
army, he had in a few months gained over the whole of Scotland.  On the
20th of September he was proclaimed at Edinburgh Regent of England,
France, Scotland, and Ireland, for his father, King James III.  George
II. had left Hanover; the Duke of Cumberland, returning from Germany,
took the command of the troops assembled to oppose the invader.  Their
success in the battle of Preston-Pans against General Cope had emboldened
the Scots; at the end of December, 1745, Prince Charles Edward and his
army had advanced as far as Derby.

It was the fate of the Stuarts, whether heroes or dastards, to see their
hopes blasted all at once, and to drag down in their fall their most
zealous and devoted partisans.  The aid, so often promised by France and
Spain, had dwindled down to the private expeditions of certain brave
adventurers.  The Duke of Richelieu, it was said, was to put himself at
their head.  “As to the embarkation at Dunkerque,” writes the advocate
Barbier, at the close of the year 1745, “there is great anxiety about it,
for we are at the end of December, and it is not yet done, which gives
every one occasion to make up news according to his fancy.  This
uncertainty discourages the Frenchman, who gives out that our expedition
will not take place, or, at any rate, will not succeed.”  Charles Edward
had already been forced to fall back upon Scotland.  As in 1651, at the
time of the attempt of Charles II., England remained quite cold in the
presence of the Scottish invasion.  The Duke of Cumberland was closely
pressing the army of the mountaineers.  On the 23d of April, 1746, the
foes found themselves face to face at Culloden, in the environs of
Inverness.  Charles Edward was completely beaten, and the army of the
Highlanders destroyed; the prince only escaped either death or captivity
by the determined devotion of his partisans, whether distinguished or
obscure; a hundred persons had risked their lives for him, when he
finally succeeded, on the 10th of October, in touching land, in Brittany,
near St. Pol de Leon.  His friends and his defenders were meanwhile dying
for his cause on scaffold or gallows.

The anger and severity displayed by the English government towards the
Jacobites were aggravated by the checks encountered upon the Continent by
the coalition.  At the very moment when the Duke of Cumberland was
defeating Charles Edward at Culloden, Antwerp was surrendering to Louis
XV. in person: Mons, Namur, and Charleroi were not long before they fell.
Prince Charles of Lorraine was advancing to the relief of the besieged
places; Marshal Saxe left open to him the passage of the Meuse.  The
French camp seemed to be absorbed in pleasures; the most famous actors
from Paris were ordered to amuse the general and the soldiers.  On the
10th of October, in the evening, Madame Favart came forward on the stage.
“To-morrow,” said she, “there will be no performance, on account of the
battle: the day after, we shall have the honor of giving you _Le Coq du
Village_.”  At the same time the marshal sent the following order to the
columns which were already forming on the road from St. Tron to Liege,
near the village of Raucoux: “Whether the attacks succeed or not, the
troops will remain in the position in which night finds them, in order to
recommence the assault upon the enemy.”

[Illustration: BRUSSELS----159]

The battle of October 11 left the battle-field in the hands of the
victors, the sole result of a bloody and obstinate engagement.  Marshal
Saxe went to rest himself at Paris; the people’s enthusiasm rivalled and
indorsed the favors shown to him by the king.  At the opera, the whole
house rose at the entrance of the valiant foreigner who had dedicated his
life to France; there was clapping of hands, and the actress who in the
prologue took the character of Glory leaned over towards the marshal with
a crown of laurel.  “The marshal was surprised, and refused it with
profound bows.  Glory insisted; and as the marshal was too far off in the
boxes for her to hand it to him, the Duke of Biron took the crown from
Glory’s hands and passed it under Marshal Saxe’s left arm.  This striking
action called forth fresh acclamations, ‘Hurrah! for Marshal Saxe!’ and
great clapping of hands.  The king has given the marshal Chambord for
life, and has even ordered it to be furnished.  Independently of all
these honors, it is said that the marshal is extremely rich and powerful
just now, solely as the result of his safe-conducts, which, being
applicable to a considerable extent of country, have been worth immense
sums to him.”  The second marriage of the dauphin--who had already lost
the Infanta--with the Princess of Saxony, daughter of the King of Poland,
was about to raise, before long, the fortune and favor of Marshal Saxe to
the highest pitch: he was proclaimed marshal-general of the king’s

So much luck and so much glory in the Low Countries covered, in the eyes
of France and of Europe, the checks encountered by the king’s armies in
Italy.  The campaign of 1745 had been very brilliant.  Parma, Piacenza,
Montferrat, nearly all Milaness, with the exception of a few fortresses,
were in the hands of the Spanish and French forces.  The King of Sardinia
had recourse to negotiation; he amused the Marquis of Argenson, at that
time Louis XV.’s foreign minister, a man of honest, expansive, but
chimerical views.  At the moment when the king and the marquis believed
themselves to be remodelling the map of Europe at their pleasure, they
heard that Charles Emmanuel had resumed the offensive.  A French corps
had been surprised at Asti, on the 5th of March; thirty thousand
Austrians marched down from the Tyrol, and the Spaniards evacuated Milan.
A series of checks forced Marshal Maillebois to effect a retreat; the
enemy’s armies crossed the Var, and invaded French territory.  Marshal
Belle-Isle fell back to Puget, four leagues from Toulon.

The Austrians had occupied Genoa, the faithful ally of France.  Their
vengefulness and their severe exactions caused them to lose the fruits of
their victory.  The grandees were ruined by war-requisitions; the
populace were beside themselves at the insolence of the conquerors;
senators and artisans made common cause.  An Austrian captain having
struck a workman, the passengers in the streets threw themselves upon him
and upon his comrades who came to his assistance; the insurrection spread
rapidly in all quarters of Genoa; there was a pillage of the weapons
lying heaped in the palace of the Doges; the senators put themselves at
the head of the movement; the peasants in the country flew to arms.  The
Marquis of Botta, the Austrian commandant, being attacked on all sides,
and too weak to resist, sallied from the town with nine regiments.  The
allies, disquieted and dismayed, threatened Provence, and laid siege to
Genoa.  Louis XV. felt the necessity of not abandoning his ally; the Duke
of Boufflers and six thousand French shut themselves up in the place.
“Show me the danger,” the general had said on entering the town; “it is
my duty to ascertain it; I shall make all my glory depend upon securing
you from it.”  The resistance of Genoa was effectual; but it cost the
life of the Duke of Boufflers, who was wounded in an engagement, and died
three days before the retreat of the Austrians, on the 6th of July, 1747.

On the 19th of July, Common-Sense Belle-Isle (_Bon-Sens de Belle-Isle_),
as the Chevalier was called at court, to distinguish him from his brother
the marshal, nicknamed _Imagination,_ attacked, with a considerable body
of troops, the Piedmontese intrenchments at the Assietta Pass, between
the fortresses of Exilles and Fenestrelles; at the same time, Marshal
Belle-Isle was seeking a passage over the Stura Pass, and the Spanish
army was attacking Piedmont by the way of the Apennines.  The engagement
at the heights of Assietta was obstinate; Chevalier Belle-Isle, wounded
in both arms, threw himself bodily upon the palisades, to tear them down
with his teeth; he was killed, and the French sustained a terrible
defeat;--five thousand men were left on the battle-field.  The campaign
of Italy was stopped.  The King of Spain, Philip V., enfeebled and
exhausted almost in infancy, had died on the 9th of July, 1746.  The
fidelity of his successor, Ferdinand VI., married to a Portuguese
princess, appeared doubtful; he had placed at the head of his forces in
Italy the Marquis of Las Minas, with orders to preserve to Spain her only
army.  “The Spanish soldiers are of no more use to us than if they were
so much cardboard,” said the French troops.  Europe was tired of the war.
England avenged herself for her reverses upon the Continent by her
successes at sea; the French navy, neglected systematically by Cardinal
Fleury, did not even suffice for the protection of commerce.  The
Hollanders, who had for a long while been undecided, and had at last
engaged in the struggle against France without any declaration of war,
bore, in 1747, the burden of the hostilities.  Count Lowendahl, a friend
of Marshal Saxe, and, like him, in the service of France, had taken Sluys
and Sas-de-Gand; Bergen-op-Zoom was besieged; on the 1st of July, Marshal
Saxe had gained, under the king’s own eye, the battle of Lawfeldt.  As in
1672, the French invasion had been the signal for a political revolution
in Holland; the aristocratical burgessdom, which had resumed power,
succumbed once more beneath the efforts of the popular party, directed by
the house of Nassau and supported by England.  “The republic has need of
a chief against an ambitious and perfidious neighbor who sports with the
faith of treaties,” said a deputy of the States-general on the day of the
proclamation of the stadtholderate, re-established in favor of William
IV., grand-nephew of the great William III., and son-in-law of the King
of England, George II.  Louis XV. did not let himself be put out by this
outburst.  “The Hollanders are good folks,” he wrote to Marshal Noailles:
“it is said, however, that they are going to declare war against us; they
will lose quite as much as we shall.”

Bergen-op-Zoom was taken and plundered on the 16th of September.  Count
Lowendahl was made a marshal of France.  “Peace is in Maestricht, Sir,”
 was Maurice of Saxony’s constant remark to the king.  On the 9th of
April, 1748, the place was invested, before the thirty-five thousand
Russians, promised to England by the Czarina Elizabeth, had found time to
make their appearance on the Rhine.  A congress was already assembled at
Aix-la-Chapelle to treat for peace.  The Hollanders, whom the Marquis of
Argenson before his disgrace used always to call “the ambassadors of
England,” took fright at the spectacle of Maestricht besieged; from
parleys they proceeded to the most vehement urgency; and England yielded.
The preliminaries of peace were signed on the 30th of April; it was not
long before Austria and Spain gave in their adhesion.  On the 18th of
October the definitive treaty was concluded at Aix-la-Chapelle.  France
generously restored all her conquests, without claiming other advantages
beyond the assurance of the duchies of Parma and Piacenza to the Infante
Don Philip, son-in-law of Louis XV.  England surrendered to France the
Island of Cape Breton and the colony of Louisbourg, the only territory
she had preserved from her numerous expeditions against the French
colonies and from the immense losses inflicted upon French commerce.
The Great Frederic kept Silesia; the King of Sardinia the territories
already ceded by Austria.  Only France had made great conquests; and
only she retained no increment of territory.  She recognized the
Pragmatic-Sanction in favor of Austria and the Protestant succession in
favor of George II.  Prince Charles Edward, a refugee in France, refused
to quit the hospitable soil which had but lately offered so magnificent
an asylum to the unfortunates of his house: he was, however, carried off,
whilst at the Opera, forced into a carriage, and conveyed far from the
frontier.  “As stupid as the peace!” was the bitter saying in the streets
of Paris.

[Illustration: Arrest of Charles Edward----166]

The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle had a graver defect than that of
fruitlessness; it was not and could not be durable.  England was excited,
ambitious of that complete empire of the sea which she had begun to build
up upon the ruins of the French navy and the decay of Holland, and greedy
of distant conquests over colonies which the French could not manage to
defend.  In proportion as the old influence of Richelieu and of Louis
XIV. over European politics grew weaker and weaker, English influence,
founded upon the growing power of a free country and a free government,
went on increasing in strength.  Without any other ally but Spain,
herself wavering in her fidelity, the French remained exposed to the
attempts of England, henceforth delivered from the phantom of the
Stuarts.  “The peace concluded between England and France in 1748 was, as
regards Europe, nothing but a truce,” says Lord Macaulay “it was not even
a truce in other quarters of the globe.”  The mutual rivalry and mistrust
between the two nations began to show themselves everywhere, in the East
as well as in the West, in India as well as in America.


France was already beginning to perceive her sudden abasement in Europe;
the defaults of her generals as well as of her government sometimes
struck the king himself; he threw the blame of it on the barrenness of
his times.  “This age is not fruitful in great men,” he wrote to Marshal
Noailles: “you know that we miss subjects for all objects, and you have
one before your eyes in the case of the army which certainly impresses me
more than any other.”  Thus spoke Louis XV. on the eve of the battle of
Fontenoy Marshal Saxe was about to confer upon the French arms a
transitory lustre; but the king, who loaded him with riches and honors,
never forgot that he was not his born subject.  “I allow that Count Saxe
is the best officer to command that we have,” he would say; “but he is a
Huguenot, he wants to be supreme, and he is always saying that, if he is
thwarted, he will enter some other service.  Is that zeal for France?
I see, however, very few of ours who aim high like him.”

The king possessed at a distance, in the colonies of the Two Indies, as
the expression then was, faithful servants of France, passionately
zealous for her glory, “aiming high,” ambitious or disinterested, able
politicians or heroic pioneers, all ready to sacrifice both property and
life for the honor and power of their country: it is time to show how La
Bourdonnais, Dupleix, Bussy, Lally-Tollendal were treated in India; what
assistance, what guidance, what encouragement the Canadians and their
illustrious chiefs received from France, beginning with Champlain, one
of the founders of the colony, and ending with Montcalm, its latest
defender.  It is a painful but a salutary spectacle to see to what
meannesses a sovereign and a government may find themselves reduced
through a weak complaisance towards the foreigner, in the feverish desire
of putting an end to a war frivolously undertaken and feebly conducted.

French power in India threw out more lustre, but was destined to
speedier, and perhaps more melancholy, extinction than in Canada.
Single-handed in the East the chiefs maintained the struggle against the
incapacity of the French government and the dexterous tenacity of the
enemy; in America the population of French extraction upheld to the
bitter end the name, the honor, and the flag of their country.  “The fate
of France,” says Voltaire, “has nearly always been that her enterprises,
and even her successes, beyond her own frontiers should become fatal to
her.”  The defaults of the government and the jealous passions of the
colonists themselves, in the eighteenth century, seriously aggravated the
military reverses which were to cost the French nearly all their

More than a hundred years previously, at the outset of Louis XIV.’s
personal reign, and through the persevering efforts of Colbert marching
in the footsteps of Cardinal Richelieu, an India Company had been founded
for the purpose of developing French commerce in those distant regions,
which had always been shrouded in a mysterious halo of fancied wealth and
grandeur.  Several times the Company had all but perished; it had revived
under the vigorous impulse communicated by Law, and had not succumbed at
the collapse of his system.  It gave no money to its shareholders, who
derived their benefits only from a partial concession of the tobacco.
revenues, granted by the king to the Company, but its directors lived a
life of magnificence in the East, where they were authorized to trade on
their own account.  Abler and bolder than all his colleagues, Joseph
Dupleix, member of a Gascon family and son of the comptroller-general of
Hainault, had dreamed of other destinies than the management of a
counting-house; he aspired to endow France with the empire of India.
Placed at a very early age at the head of the French establishments at
Chandernuggur, he had improved the city and constructed a fleet, all the
while acquiring for himself an immense fortune; he had just been sent to
Pondicherry as governor-general of the Company’s agencies, when the war
of succession to the empire broke out in 1742.  For a long time past
Dupleix and his wife, who was called in India Princess Jane, had been
silently forming a vast network of communications and correspondence
which kept them acquainted with the innumerable intrigues of all the
petty native courts.  Madame Dupleix, a Creole, brought up in India,
understood all its dialects.  Her husband had been the first to conceive
the idea of that policy which was destined before long to deliver India
to the English, his imitators; mingling everywhere in the incessant
revolutions which were hatching all about him, he gave the support of
France at one time to one pretender and at another to another, relying
upon the discipline of the European troops and upon the force of his own
genius for securing the ascendency to his protege of the moment: thus
increasing little by little French influence and dominion throughout all
the Hindoo territory.  Accustomed to dealing with the native princes, he
had partially adopted their ways of craft and violence; more concerned
for his object than about the means of obtaining it, he had the
misfortune, at the outset of the contest, to clash with another who was
ambitious for the glory of France, and as courageous but less able a
politician than he; their rivalry, their love of power, and their
inflexible attachment to their own ideas, under the direction of a feeble
government, thenceforth stamped upon the relations of the two great
European nations in India a regrettable character of duplicity: all the
splendor and all the efforts of Dupleix’s genius could never efface it.

[Illustration: Dupleix----168]

Concord as yet reigned between Dupleix and the governor of Bourbon and of
Ile de France, Bertrand Francis Mahe de La Bourdonnais, when, in the
month of September, 1746, the latter put in an appearance with a small
squadron in front of Madras, already one of the principal English
establishments.  Commodore Peyton, who was cruising in Indian waters,
after having been twice beaten by La Bourdonnais, had removed to a
distance with his flotilla; the town was but feebly fortified; the
English, who had for a while counted upon the protection of the Nabob of
the Carnatic, did not receive the assistance they expected;,they
surrendered at the first shot, promising to pay a considerable sum for
the ransom of Madras, which the French were to retain as security until
the debt was completely paid.  La Bourdonnais had received from France
this express order “You will not, keep any of the conquests you may make
in India.”  The chests containing the ransom of the place descended
slowly from the white town, which was occupied solely by Europeans and by
the English settlements, to the black town, inhabited by a mixed
population of natives and foreigners of various races, traders or
artisans.  Already the vessels of La Bourdonnais, laden with these
precious spoils, had made sail for Pondicherry; the governor of Bourbon
was in a hurry to get back to his islands; autumn was coming on, tempests
were threatening his squadron, but Dupleix was still disputing the terms
of the treaty concluded with the English for the rendition of Madras; he
had instructions, he said, to raze the city and place it thus dismantled
in the hands of the Nabob of the Carnatic; the Hindoo prince had set
himself in motion to seize his prey; the English burst out into insults
and threats.  La Bourdonnais, in a violent rage, on the point of finding
himself arrested by order of Dupleix, himself put in prison the governor-
general’s envoys; the conflict of authority was aggravated by the
feebleness and duplicity of the instructions from France.  All at once a
fearful tempest destroyed a part of the squadron in front of Madras; La
Bourdonnais, flinging himself into a boat, had great difficulty in
rejoining his ships; he departed, leaving his rival master of Madras, and
adroitly prolonging the negotiations, in order to ruin at least the black
city, which alone was rich and prosperous, before giving over the place
to the Nabob.  Months rolled by, and the French remained alone at Madras.

[Illustration: La Bourdonnais----170]

A jealous love of power and absorption in political schemes had induced
Dupleix to violate a promise lightly given by La Bourdonnais in the name
of France; he had arbitrarily quashed a capitulation of which he had not
discussed the conditions.  The report of this unhappy conflict, and the
color put upon it by the representations of Dupleix, were about to ruin
at Paris the rival whom he had vanquished in India.

On arriving at Ile de France, amidst that colony which he had found
exhausted, ruined, and had endowed with hospitals, arsenals, quays, and
fortifications, La Bourdonnais learned that a new governor was already
installed there.  His dissensions with Dupleix had borne their fruits; he
had been accused of having exacted too paltry a ransom from Madras, and
of having accepted enormous presents; the Company had appointed a
successor in his place.  Driven to desperation, anxious to go and defend
himself, La Bourdonnais set out for France with his wife and his four
children; a prosecution had already been commenced against him.  He was
captured at sea by an English ship, and taken a prisoner to England.
The good faith of the conqueror of Madras was known in London; one of the
directors of the English Company offered his fortune as security for M.
de La Bourdonnais.  Scarcely had he arrived in Paris when he was thrown
into the Bastille, and for two years kept in solitary confinement.  When
his innocence was at last acknowledged and his liberty restored to him,
his health was destroyed, his fortune exhausted by the expenses of the
trial.  La Bourdonnais died before long, employing the last remnants of
his life and of his strength in pouring forth his anger against Dupleix,
to whom he attributed all his woes.  His indignation was excusable, and
some of his grievances were well grounded; but the germs of suspicion
thus sown by the unfortunate prisoner released from the Bastille were
destined before long to consign to perdition not only his enemy, but
also, together with him, that French dominion in India to which M. de La
Bourdonnais had dedicated his life.

Meanwhile Dupleix grew greater and greater, every day more powerful and
more daring.  The English had not forgotten the affair of Madras.  On the
30th of August, 1748, Admiral Boscawen went and laid siege to
Pondicherry; stopped at the outset by the fort of Ariocapang, of the
existence of which they were ignorant, the disembarked troops could not
push their trenches beyond an impassable morass which protected the town.
The fire of the siege-artillery scarcely reached the ramparts; the
sallies of the besieged intercepted the communications between the camp
and the squadron, which, on its side, was bombarding the walls of
Pondicherry without any serious result.  Dupleix himself commanded the
French batteries; on the 6th of October he was wounded, and his place
on the ramparts was taken by Madame Dupleix, seconded by her future
son-in-law, M. de Bussy-Castelnau, Dupleix’s military lieutenant,
animated by the same zeal for the greatness of France.  The fire of the
English redoubled; but there was laughter in Pondicherry, for the balls
did not carry so far; and on the 20th of October, after forty days’
siege, Admiral Boscawen put to sea again, driven far away from the coasts
by the same tempests which, two years before, had compelled La
Bourdonnais to quit Madras.  Twice had Dupleix been served in his designs
by the winds of autumn.  The peace of Aix-la-Chapelle came to put an end
to open war between the Europeans; at the French establishments in the
Indies the Te Deum was sung; Dupleix alone was gloomy, despite the riband
of St. Louis and the title of marquis, recently granted him by King Louis
XV: he had been obliged to restore Madras to the English.

War soon recommenced, in the name, and apparently to the profit, of the
Hindoo princes.  France and England had made peace; the English and
French Companies in India had not laid down arms.  Their power, as well
as the importance of their establishments was as yet in equipoise.  At
Surat both Companies had places of business; on the coast of Malabar the
English had Bombay, and the French Mahe; on the coast of Coromandel the
former held Madras and Fort St. George, the latter Pondicherry and
Karikal.  The principal factories, as well as the numerous little
establishments which were dependencies of them, were defended by a
certain number of European soldiers, and by Sepoys, native soldiers in
the pay of the Companies.

These small armies were costly, and diminished to a considerable extent
the profits of trade.  Dupleix espied the possibility of a new
organization which should secure to the French in India the
preponderance, and ere long the empire even, in the two peninsulas.  He
purposed to found manufactures, utilize native hand-labor, and develop
the coasting trade, or Ind to Ind trade, as the expression then was; but
he set his pretensions still higher, and carried his views still further.
He purposed to acquire for the Company, and, under its name, for France,
territories and subjects furnishing revenues, and amply sufficing for the
expenses of the commercial establishments.  The moment was propitious;
the ancient empire of the Great Mogul, tottering to its base, was
distracted by revolutions, all the chops and changes whereof were
attentively followed by Madame Dupleix; two contested successions opened
up at once--those of the Viceroy or Soudhabar of the Deccan and of his
vassal, the Nabob of the Carnatic.  The Great Mogul, nominal sovereign of
all the states of India, confined himself to selling to all the
pretenders decrees of investiture, without taking any other part in the
contest.  Dupleix, on the contrary, engaged in it ardently.  He took
sides in the Deccan for Murzapha Jung, and in the Carnatic for Tchunda
Sahib against their rivals supported by the English.  Versed in all the
resources of Hindoo policy, he had negotiated an alliance between his two
proteges; both marched against the Nabob of the Carnatic.  He, though a
hundred and seven years old, was at the head of his army, mounted on a
magnificent elephant.  He espied in the melley his enemy Tchunda Sahib,
and would have darted upon him; but, whilst his slaves were urging on the
huge beast, the little French battalion sent by Dupleix to the aid of his
allies marched upon the nabob, a ball struck him to the heart, and he
fell.  The same evening, Murzapha Jung was proclaimed Soudhabar of the
Deccan, and he granted the principality of the Carnatic to Tchunda Sahib,
at the same time reserving to the French Company a vast territory.

Some months rolled by, full of vicissitudes and sudden turns of fortune.
Murzapha Jung, at first victorious, and then vanquished by his uncle
Nazir Jung, everywhere dragged at his heels as a hostage and a trophy of
his triumph, had found himself delivered by an insurrection of the
Patanian chiefs, Affghans by origin, settled in the south of India.  The
head of Nazir Jung had come rolling at his feet.  For a while besieged in
Pondicherry, but still negotiating and everywhere mingling in intrigues
and conspiracies, Dupleix was now triumphant with his ally; the Soudhabar
of the Deccan made his entry in state upon French territory.  Pondicherry
was in holiday trim to receive him.  Dupleix, dressed in the magnificent
costume of, the Hindoo princes, had gone with his troops to meet him.
Both entered the town in the same palanquin to the sound of native
cymbals and the military music of the.French.  A throne awaited the
soudhabar, surrounded by the Affghan chiefs, who were already claiming
the reward of their services.  The Hindoo prince needed the aid of
France; he knew it.  He proclaimed Dupleix nabob of all the provinces to
the south of the River Krischna.  Tcbunda Sahib, but lately his ally,
became his vassal--“the vassal of France,” murmured Madame Dupleix, when
she heard of this splendid recompense for so many public and private
services.  The ability and indomitable bravery of M. de Bussy soon
extended the French conquests in the Deccan.  Murzapha Jung had just been
assassinated at the head of his army; Bussy proclaimed and supported a
new soudhabar, who was friendly to the French, and who ceded to them five
provinces, of which the large town of Masulipatam, already in French
hands, became the capital.  A third of India was obedient to Dupleix; the
Great Mogul sent him a decree of investiture, and demanded of the
Princess Jane the hand of her youngest daughter, promised to M. de Bussy.
Dupleix well know the frailty of human affairs, and the dark intrigues of
Hindoo courts; he breathed freely, however, for he was on his guard, and
the dream of his life seemed to be accomplished.  “The empire of France
is founded,” he would say.

[Illustration: Dupleix meeting the Soudhabar of the Deccan----174]

He reckoned without France, and without the incompetent or timid men who
governed her.  The successes of Dupleix scared King Louis XV. and his
feeble ministers; they angered and discomfited England, which was as yet
tottering in India, and whose affairs there had for a long while been ill
managed, but which remained ever vigorous, active, animated by the
indomitable ardor of a free people.  At Versailles attempts were made to
lessen the conquests of Dupleix, prudence was recommended to him, delay
was shown in sending him the troops he demanded.  In India England had at
last found a man still young and unknown, but worthy of being opposed to
Dupleix.  Clive, who had almost in boyhood entered the Company’s offices,
turned out, after the turbulence of his early years, a heaven-born
general; he was destined to continue Dupleix’s work, when abandoned by
France, and to found to the advantage of the English that European
dominion in India which had been the Governor of Pondicherry’s dream.
The war still continued in the Carnatic: Mahomet Ali, Tchunda Sahib’s
rival, had for the last six months been besieged in Trichinopoli; the
English had several times, but in vain, attempted to effect the raising
of the siege; Clive, who had recently entered the Company’s army, was for
saving the last refuge of Mahomet Ali by a bold diversion against Arcot,
the capital of the Carnatic.  To him was given the command of the
expedition he had suggested.  In the month of September, 1751, he made
himself master of Arcot by a surprise.  The Hindoo populations, left to
themselves, passed almost without resistance from one master to another.
The Europeans did not signalize by the infliction of punishment the act
of taking possession.  Clive was before long attacked in Arcot by Tchunda
Sahib, who was supported by a French detachment.  He was not in a
position to hold the town; so he took refuge in the fort, and there, for
fifty days, withstood all the efforts of his enemies.  Provisions fell
short; every day the rations were becoming more insufficient; but Clive
had managed to implant in his soldiers’ hearts the heroic resolution
which animated him.  “Give the rice to the English,” said the sepoys; “we
will be content with the water in which it is boiled.”  A body of
Mahrattas, allies of the English, came to raise the siege.  Clive pursued
the French on their retreat, twice defeated Tchunda Sahib, and, at last
effecting a junction with the Governor-General Lawrence, broke the
investment of Trichinopoli, and released Mahomet Ali.  Tchunda Sahib, in
his turn shut up in Tcheringham, was delivered over to his rival by a
Tanjore chieftain in whom he trusted; he was put to death; and the French
commandant, a nephew of Law’s, surrendered to the English.  Two French
corps had already been destroyed by Clive, who held the third army
prisoners.  Bussy was carrying on war in the Deccan, with great
difficulty making head against overt hostilities and secret intrigues.
The report of Dupleix’s reverses arrived in France in the month of
September, 1752.

[Illustration: Death of the Nabob of the Carnatic----174]

The dismay at Versailles was great, and prevailed over the astonishment.
There had never been any confidence in Dupleix’s projects, there had been
scarcely any belief in his conquests.  The soft-hearted inertness of
ministers and courtiers was almost as much disgusted at the successes as
at the defeats of the bold adventurers who were attempting and risking
all for the aggrandizement and puissance of France in the East.  Dupleix
secretly received notice to demand his recall.  He replied by proposing
to have M. de Bussy nominated in his place.  “Never was so grand a fellow
as this Bussy,” he wrote.  The ministers and the Company cared little for
the grandeur of Bussy or of Dupleix; what they sought was a dastardly
security, incessantly troubled by the enterprises of the politician and
the soldier.  The tone of England was more haughty than ever, in
consequence of Clive’s successes.  The recall of Dupleix was determined

The Governor of Pondicherry had received no troops, but he had managed to
reorganize an army, and had resumed the offensive in the Carnatic; Bussy,
set free at last as to his movements in the Deccan, was preparing to
rejoin Dupleix.  Clive was ill, and had just set out for England: fortune
had once more changed front.  The open conferences held with Saunders,
English Governor of Madras, failed in the month of January, 1754; Dupleix
wished to preserve the advantages he had won; Saunders refused to listen
to that.  The approach of a French squadron was signalled; the ships
appeared to be numerous.  Dupleix was already rejoicing at the arrival of
unexpected aid, when, instead of an officer commanding the twelve hundred
soldiers from France, he saw the apparition of M. Godeheu, one of the
directors of the Company, and but lately his friend and correspondent.
“I come to supersede you, sir,” said the new arrival, without any
circumstance; “I have full powers from the Company to treat with the
English.”  The cabinet of London had not been deceived as to the
importance of Dupleix in India; his recall had been made the absolute
condition of a cessation of hostilities.  Louis XV. and his ministers
had shown no opposition; the treaty was soon concluded, restoring the
possessions of the two Companies within the limits they had occupied
before the war of the Carnatic, with the exception of the district of
Masulipatam, which became accessible to the English.  All the territories
ceded by the Hindoo princes to Dupleix reverted to their former masters;
the two Companies interdicted one another from taking any part in the
interior policy of India, and at the same time forbade their agents to
accept from the Hindoo princes any charge, honor, or dignity; the most
perfect equality was re-established between the possessions and revenues
of the two great European nations, rivals in the East as well as in
Europe; England gave up some petty forts, some towns of no importance,
France ceded the empire of India.  When Godeheu signed the treaty,
Trichinopoli was at last on the point of giving in.  Bussy was furious,
and would have quitted the Deccan, which he still occupied, but Dupleix
constrained him to remain there; he himself embarked for France with his
wife and daughter, leaving in India, together with his life’s work
destroyed in a few days by the poltroonery of his country’s government,
the fortune he had acquired during his great enterprises, entirely sunk
as it was in the service of France; the revenues destined to cover his
advances were seized by Godeheu.

France seemed to comprehend what her ministers had not even an idea of;
Dupleix’s arrival in France was a veritable triumph.  It was by this time
known that the reverses which had caused so much talk had been half
repaired.  It was by this time guessed how infinite were the resources of
that empire of India, so lightly and mean-spiritedly abandoned to the
English.  “My wife and I dare not appear in the streets of Lorient,”
 wrote Dupleix, “because of the crowd of people wanting to see us and
bless us;” the comptroller-general, Herault de Sechelles, as well as the
king and Madame de Pompadour, then and for a long while the reigning
favorite, gave so favorable a reception to the hero of India that
Dupleix, always an optimist, conceived fresh hopes.  “I shall regain my
property here,” he would say, “and India will recover in the hands of

He was mistaken about the justice as he had been about the discernment
and the boldness of the French government; not a promise was
accomplished; not a hope was realized; after delay upon delay, excuse
upon excuse, Dupleix saw his wife expire at the end of two years, worn
out with suffering and driven to despair; like her, his daughter,
affianced for a long time past to Bussy, succumbed beneath the weight of
sorrow; in vain did Dupleix tire out the ministers with his views and his
projects for India; he saw even the action he was about to bring against
the Company vetoed by order of the king.  Persecuted by his creditors,
overwhelmed with regret for the relatives and friends whom he had
involvedin his enterprises and in his ruin, he exclaimed a few months
before his death, “I have sacrificed youth, fortune, life, in order to
load with honor and riches those of my own nation in Asia.  Unhappy
friends, too weakly credulous relatives, virtuous citizens, have
dedicated their property to promoting the success of my projects; they
are now in want.  .  .  .  I demand, like the humblest of creditors, that
which is my due; my services are all stuff, my demand is ridiculous, I am
treated like the vilest of men.  The little I have left is seized, I have
been obliged to get execution stayed to prevent my being dragged to
prison!”  Dupleix died at last on the 11th of November, 1763, the most
striking, without being the last or the most tragical, victim of the
great French enterprises in India.

Despite the treaty of peace, hostilities had never really ceased in
India.  Clive had returned from England; freed henceforth from the
influence, the intrigues, and the indomitable energy of Dupleix, he had
soon made himself master of the whole of Bengal, he had even driven the
French from Chandernuggur; Bussy had been unable to check his successes;
he avenged himself by wresting away from the English all their agencies
on the coast of Orissa, and closing against them the road between the
Coromandel coast and Bengal.

Meanwhile the Seven Years’ War had broken out; the whole of Europe had
joined in the contest; the French navy, still feeble in spite of the
efforts that had been made to restore it, underwent serious reverses on
every sea.  Count Lally-Tollendal, descended from an Irish family which
took refuge in France with James II., went to Count d’Argenson, still
minister of war, with a proposition to go and humble in India that
English power which had been imprudently left to grow up without
hinderance.  M. de Lally had served with renown in the wars of Germany;
he had seconded Prince Charles Edward in his brave and yet frivolous
attempt upon England.  The directors of the India Company went and asked
M. d’Argenson to intrust to General Lally the king’s troops promised for
the expedition.  “You are wrong,” M. d’Argenson said to them; “I know M.
de Lally; he is a friend of mine, but he is violent, passionate,
inflexible as to discipline; he will not tolerate any disorder; you will
be setting fire to your warehouses, if you send him thither.”  The
directors, however, insisted, and M. de Lally set out on the 2d of May,
1757, with four ships and a body of troops.  Some young officers
belonging to the greatest houses of France served on his staff.

M. de Lally’s passage was a long one; the English re-enforcements had
preceded, him by six weeks.  On arriving in India, he found the arsenals
and the magazines empty; the establishment of Pondicherry alone confessed
to fourteen millions of debt.  Meanwhile the enemy was pressing at all
points upon the French possessions.  Lally marched to Gondelour
(_Kaddaloue_), which he carried on the sixth day; he, shortly afterwards,
invested Fort St. David, the most formidable of the English fortresses in
India.  The first assault was repulsed; the general had neither cannon
nor beasts of burden to draw them.  He hurried off to Pondicherry and had
the natives harnessed to the artillery trains, taking pellmell such men
as fell in his way, without regard for rank or caste, imprudently
wounding the prejudices most dear to the country he had come to govern.
Fort St. David was taken and razed.  Devicotah, after scarcely the ghost
of a siege, opened its gates.  Lally had been hardly a month in India,
and he had already driven the English from the southern coast of the
Coromandel.  “All my policy is in these five words, but they are binding
as an oath--No English in the peninsula,” wrote the general.  He had sent
Bussy orders to come and join him in order to attack Madras.

The brilliant courage and heroic ardor of M. de Lally had triumphed over
the first obstacles; his recklessness, his severity, his passionateness
were about to lose him the fruits of his victories.  “The commission I
hold,” he wrote to the directors of the Company at Paris, “imports that I
shall be held in horror by all the people of the country.”  By his
personal defaults he aggravated his already critical position.  The
supineness of the French government had made fatal progress amongst its
servants; Count d’Ache, who commanded the fleet, had refused to second
the attempt upon Madras; twice, whilst cruising in Indian waters, the
French admiral had been beaten by the English; he took the course back to
Ile de France, where he reckoned upon wintering.  Pondicherry was
threatened, and Lally found himself in Tanjore, where he had hoped to
recover a considerable sum due to the Company; on his road he had
attacked a pagoda, thinking he would find there a great deal of treasure,
but the idols were hollow and of worthless material.  The pagoda was in
flames, the disconsolate Brahmins were still wandering round about their
temple; the general took them for spies, and had them tied to the
cannons’ mouths.  The danger of Pondicherry forced M. de Lally to raise
the siege of Tanjore; the English fell back on Madras.

Disorder was at its height in the Company’s affairs; the vast enterprises
commenced by Dupleix required success and conquests, but they had been
abandoned since his recall, not without having ingulfed, together with
his private fortune, a portion of the Company’s resources.  Lally was
angered at being every moment shackled for want of money; he attributed
it not only to the ill will, but also to the dishonesty, of the local
authorities.  He wrote, in 1758, to M. de Leyrit, Governor of
Pondicherry, “Sir, this letter shall be an eternal secret between you and
me, if you furnish me with the means of terminating my enterprise.  I
left you a hundred thousand livres of my own money to help you to meet
the expenditure it requires.  I have not found so much as a hundred sous
in your purse and in that of all your council; you have both of you
refused to let me employ your credit.  I, however, consider you to be
all of you under more obligation to the Company than I am, who have
unfortunately the honor of no further acquaintance with it than to the
extent of having lost half my property by it in 1720.  If you continue to
leave me in want of everything and exposed to the necessity of presenting
a front to the general discontent, not only shall I inform the king and
the Company of the fine zeal testified for their service by their
employees here, but I shall take effectual measures for not being at the
mercy, during the short stay I desire to make in this country, of the
party spirit and personal motives by which I see that every member
appears to be actuated to the risk of the Company in general.”

In the midst of this distress, and in spite of this ebullition, M. de
Lally led his troops up in front of Madras; he made himself master of the
Black Town.  “The immense plunder taken by the troops,” says the journal
of an officer who held a command under Count Lally, “had introduced
abundance amongst them.  Huge stores of strong liquors led to drunkenness
and all the evils it generates.  The situation must have been seen to be
believed.  The works, the guards in the trenches were all performed by
drunken men.  The regiment of Lorraine alone was exempt from this plague,
but the other corps surpassed one another.  Hence scenes of the most
shameful kind and most destructive of subordination and discipline, the
details of which confined within the limits of the most scrupulous
truthfulness would appear a monstrous exaggeration.”  Lally in despair
wrote to his friends in France, “Hell vomited me into this land of
iniquities, and I am waiting, like Jonah, for the whale that shall
receive me in its belly.”

The attack on the White Town and on Fort St. George was repulsed; and on
the 18th of February, 1759, Lally was obliged to raise the siege of
Madras.  The discord which reigned in the army as well as amongst the
civil functionaries was nowhere more flagrant than between Lally and
Bussy.  The latter could not console himself for having been forced to
leave the Deccan in the feeble bands of the Marquis of Conflans.  An
expedition attempted against the fortress of Wandiwash, of which the
English had obtained possession, was followed by a serious defeat;
Colonel Coote was master of Karikal.  Little by little the French army
and French power in India found themselves cooped within the immediate
territory of Pondicherry.  The English marched against this town.  Lally
shut himself up there in the month of March, 1760.  Bussy had been made
prisoner, and Coote had sent him to Europe.  “At the head of the French
army Bussy would be in a position by himself alone to prolong the war for
ten years,” said the Hindoos.  On the 27th of November, the siege of
Pondicherry was transformed into an investment.  Lally had taken all the
precautions of a good general, but he had taken them with his usual
harshness; he had driven from the city all the useless mouths; fourteen
hundred Hindoos, old men, women, and children, wandered for a week
between the English camp and the ramparts of the town, dying of hunger
and misery, without Lally’s consenting to receive them back into the
place; the English at last allowed them to pass.  The most severe
requisitions had been ordered to be made on all the houses of
Pondicherry, and the irritation was extreme; the heroic despair of M. de
Lally was continually wringing from him imprudent expressions.  “I would
rather go and command a set of Caffres than remain in this Sodom, which
the English fire, in default of Heaven’s, must sooner or later destroy,”
 had for a long time past been a common expression of the general’s, whose
fate was henceforth bound up with that of Pondicherry.

He held out for six weeks, in spite of famine, want of money, and
ever-increasing dissensions.  A tempest had caused great havoc to the
English squadron which was out at sea; Lally was waiting and waiting for
the arrival of M. d’Ache with the fleet which had but lately sought
refuge at Ile de France after a fresh reverse.  From Paris, on the report
of an attack projected by the--English against Bourbon and Ile de France,
ministers had given orders to M. d’Ache not to quit those waters.  Lally
and Pondicherry waited in vain.

It became necessary to surrender; the council of the Company called upon
the general to capitulate; Lally claimed the honors of war, but Coote
would have the town at discretion; the distress was extreme as well as
the irritation.  Pondicherry was delivered up to the conquerors on the
16th of January, 1761; the fortifications and magazines were razed;
French power in India, long supported by the courage or ability of a few
men, was foundering, never to rise again.  “Nobody can have a higher
opinion than I of M. de Lally,” wrote Colonel Coote; “he struggled
against obstacles that I considered insurmountable, and triumphed over
them.  There is not in India another man who could have so long kept an
army standing without pay and without resources in any direction.”
 “A convincing proof of his merits,” said another English officer, “is his
long and vigorous resistance in a place in which he was universally

[Illustration: Lally at Pondicherry----184]

Hatred bears bitterer fruits than is imagined even by those who provoke
it.  The animosity which M. de Lally had excited in India was everywhere
an obstacle to the defence; and it was destined to cost him his life and
imperil his honor.  Scarcely had he arrived in England, ill, exhausted by
sufferings and fatigue, followed even in his captivity by the reproaches
and anger of his comrades in misfortune, when be heard of the outbreak of
public opinion against him in France; he was accused of treason; and he
obtained from the English cabinet permission to repair to Paris.
“I bring hither my head and my innocence,” he wrote, on disembarking, to
the minister of war, and he went voluntarily to imprisonment in the
Bastille.  There he remained nineteen months without being examined.
When the trial commenced in December, 1764, the heads of accusation
amounted to one hundred and sixty, the number of witnesses to nearly two
hundred; the matter lasted a year and a half, conducted with violence on
the part of M. de Lally’s numerous enemies, with inveteracy on the part
of the Parliament, still at strife with the government, with courage and
firmness on the part of the accused.  He claimed the jurisdiction of a
court-martial, but his demand was rejected; when he saw himself
confronted with the dock, the general suddenly uncovered his whitened
head and his breast covered with scars, exclaiming, “So this is the
reward for fifty years’ service!”  On the 6th of May, 1766, his sentence
was at last pronounced.  Lally was acquitted on the charges of high
treason and malversation; he was found “guilty of violence, abuse of
authority, vexations and exactions, as well as of having betrayed the
interests of the king and of the Company.”  When the sentence was being
read out to the condemned, “Cut it short, sir,” said the count to the
clerk come to the conclusions.”  At the words “betrayed the interests of
the king,” Lally drew himself up to his full height, exclaiming, “Never,
never!”  He was expending his wrath in insults heaped upon his enemies,
when, suddenly drawing from his pocket a pair of mathematical compasses,
he struck it violently against his heart; the wound did not go deep
enough; M. de Lally was destined to drink to the dregs the cup of man’s

On the 9th of May, at the close of the day, the valiant general whose
heroic resistance had astounded all India, mounted the scaffold on the
Place de Greve, nor was permission granted to the few friends who
remained faithful to him to accompany him to the place of execution;
there was only the parish priest of St. Louis en l’Ile at his side; as
apprehensions were felt of violence and insult on the part of the
condemned, he was gagged like the lowest criminal when he resolutely
mounted the fatal ladder; he knelt without assistance, and calmly awaited
his death-blow.  “Everybody,” observed D’Alembert, expressing by that
cruel saying the violence of public feeling against the condemned,
“everybody, except the hangman, has a right to kill Lally.”  Voltaire’s
judgment, after the subsidence of passion and after the light thrown by
subsequent events upon the state of French affairs in India before
Lally’s campaigns, is more just.  “It was a murder committed with the
sword of justice.”  King Louis XV. and his government had lost India; the
rage and shame blindly excited amongst the nation by this disaster had
been visited upon the head of the unhappy general who had been last
vanquished in defending the remnants of French power.  The English were
masters forever of India when the son of M. de Lally-Tollendal at last
obtained, in 1780, the rehabilitation of his father’s memory.  Public
opinion had not waited till then to decide the case between the condemned
and his accusers.

Whilst the French power in India, after having for an instant had the
dominion over nearly the whole peninsula, was dying out beneath the
incapacity and feebleness of its government, at the moment when the
heroic efforts of La Bourdonnais, Dupleix, and Lally were passing into
the domain of history, a people decimated by war and famine, exhausted by
a twenty years’ unequal struggle, was slowly expiring, preserving to the
very last its hopes and its patriotic devotion.  In the West Indies the
whole Canadian people were still maintaining, for the honor of France,
that flag which had just been allowed to slip from the desperate hands of
Lally in the East.  In this case, there were no enchanting prospects of
power and riches easily acquired, of dominion over opulent princes and
submissive slaves; nothing but a constant struggle against nature, still
mistress of the vast solitudes, against vigilant rivals and a courageous
and cruel race of natives.  The history of the French colonists in Canada
showed traits and presented characteristics rare in French annals; the
ardor of the French nature and the suavity of French manners seemed to be
combined with the stronger virtues of the people of the north;
everywhere, amongst the bold pioneers of civilization in the new world,
the French marched in the first rank without ever permitting themselves
to be surpassed by the intrepidity or perseverance of the Anglo-Saxons,
down to the day when, cooped up within the first confines of their
conquests, fighting for life and liberty, the Canadians defended foot to
foot the honor of their mother-country, which had for a long while
neglected them, and at last abandoned them, under the pressure of a
disastrous war conducted by a government as incapable as it was corrupt.

For a long time past the French had directed towards America their ardent
spirit of enterprise; in the fifteenth century, on the morrow of the
discovery of the new world, when the indomitable genius and religious
faith of Christopher Columbus had just opened a new path to inquiring
minds and daring spirits, the Basques, the Bretons, and the Normans were
amongst the first to follow the road he had marked out; their light barks
and their intrepid navigators were soon known among the fisheries of
Newfoundland and the Canadian coast.  As early as 1506 a chart of the St.
Lawrence was drawn by John-Denis, who came from Honfleur in Normandy.
Before long the fishers began to approach the coasts, attracted by the
fur-trade; they entered into relations with the native tribes, buying,
very often for a mere song, the produce of their hunting, and ,
introducing to them, together with the first fruits of civilization, its
corruptions and its dangers.  Before long the savages of America became
acquainted with the fire-water.

Policy was not slow to second the bold enterprises of the navigators.
France was at that time agitated by various earnest and mighty passions;
for a moment the Reformation, personified by the austere virtues and
grand spirit of Coligny, had seemed to dispute the empire of the Catholic
church.  The forecasts of the admiral became more and more sombre every
day; he weighed the power and hatred of the Guises as well as of their
partisans; in his anxiety for his countrymen and his religion he
determined to secure for the persecuted Protestants a refuge, perhaps a
home, in the new world, after that defeat of which he already saw a

A first expedition had failed, after an attempt on the coasts of Brazil;
in 1562, a new flotilla set out from Havre, commanded by John Ribaut of
Dieppe.  A landing was effected in a beautiful country, sparkling with
flowers and verdure; the century-old trees, the vast forests, the unknown
birds, the game, which appeared at the entrance of the glades and stood
still fearlessly at the unwonted apparition of man--this spectacle,
familiar and at the same time new, presented by nature at the
commencement of May, caused great joy and profound gratitude amongst the
French, who had come so far, through so many perils, to the borders of
Florida; they knelt down piously to thank God; the savages, flocking
together upon the shore, regarded them with astonishment mingled with
respect.  Ribaut and his companions took possession of the country in the
name of France, and immediately began to construct a fort, which they
called Fort Charles, in honor of the young king, Charles IX.  Detachments
scoured the country, and carried to a distance the name of France: during
three years, through a course of continual suffering and intestine strife
more dangerous than the hardships of nature and the ambushes of savages,
the French maintained themselves in their new settlement, enlarged from
time to time by new emigrants.  Unhappily they had frequently been
recruited from amongst men of no character, importing the contagion of
their vices into the little colony which Coligny had intended to found
the Reformed church in the new world.  In 1565 a Spanish expedition
landed in Florida.  Pedro Menendez de Aviles, who commanded it, had
received from King Philip II. the title of _adelantado_ (governor) of
Florida; he had pledged himself, in return, to conquer for Spain this
territory impudently filched from the jurisdiction which His Catholic
Majesty claimed over the whole of America.  The struggle lasted but a few
days, in spite of the despair and courage of the French colonists; a
great number were massacred, others crowded on to the little vessels
still at their disposal, and carried to France the news of the disaster.
Menendez took possession of the ruined forts, of the scarcely cleared
fields strewn with the corpses of the unhappy colonists.  “Are you
Catholics or Lutherans?” he demanded of his prisoners, bound two and two
before him.  “We all belong to the Reformed faith,” replied John Ribaut;
and he intoned in a loud voice a psalm: “Dust we are, and to dust we
shall return; twenty years more or less upon this earth are of small
account;” and, turning towards the _adelantado,_ “Do thy will,” he said.
All were put to death, “as I judged expedient for the service of God and
of your Majesty,” wrote the Spanish commander to Philip II.,” and I
consider it a great piece of luck that this John Ribaut hath died in this
place, for the King of France might have done more with him and five
hundred ducats than with another man and five thousand, he having been
the most able and experienced mariner of the day for knowing the
navigation of the coasts of India and Florida.”  Above the heap of
corpses, before committing them to the flames, Menendez placed this
inscription: “Not as Frenchmen, but as heretics.”

Three years later, on the same spot on which the _adelantado_ had heaped
up the victims of his cruelty and his perfidy lay the bodies of the
Spanish garrison.  A Gascon gentleman, Dominic de Gourgues, had sworn to
avenge the wrongs of France; he had sold his patrimony, borrowed money of
his friends, and, trusting to his long experience in navigation, put to
sea with three small vessels equipped at his expense.  The Spaniards were
living unsuspectingly, as the French colonists had lately done; they had
founded their principal settlement at some distance from the first
landing-place, and had named it St. Augustine.  De Gourgues attacked
unexpectedly the little fort of San-Mateo; a detachment surrounded in the
woods the Spaniards who had sought refuge there; all were killed or
taken; they were hanged on the same trees which had but lately served for
the execution of the French.  “This I do not as to Spaniards, but as to
traitors, thieves, and murderers,” was the inscription placed by De
Gourgues above their heads.  When he again put to sea, there remained not
one stone upon another of the fort of San-Mateo.  France was avenged.
“All that we have done was done for the service of the king and for the
honor of the country,” exclaimed the bold Gascon as he re-boarded his
ship.  Florida, nevertheless, remained in the hands of Spain; the French
adventurers went carrying elsewhither their ardent hopes and their
indomitable courage.

For a long while expeditious and attempts at French colonization had been
directed towards Canada.  James Cartier, in 1535, had taken possession of
its coasts under the name of New France.  M. de Roberval had taken
thither colonists agricultural and mechanical; but the hard climate,
famine, and disease had stifled the little colony in the bud; religious
and political disturbances in the mother-country were absorbing all
thoughts; it was only in the reign of Henry IV., when panting France,
distracted by civil discord, began to repose, for the first time since
more than a century, beneath a government just, able, and firm at the
same time, that zeal for distant enterprises at last attracted to New
France its real founder.  Samuel de Champlain du Brouage, born in 1567, a
faithful soldier of the king’s so long as the war lasted, was unable to
endure the indolence of peace.  After long and perilous voyages, he
enlisted in the company which M. de Monts, gentleman of the bed-chamber
in ordinary to Henry IV., had just formed for the trade in furs on the
northern coast of America; appointed viceroy of Acadia, a new territory,
of which the imaginary limits would extend in our times from Philadelphia
to beyond Montreal, and furnished with a commercial monopoly, M. de Monts
set sail on the 7th of April, 1604, taking with him, Calvinist though he
was, Catholic priests as well as Protestant pastors.  “I have seen our
priest and the minister come to a fight over questions of faith,” writes
Champlain in his journal; “I can’t say which showed the more courage, or
struck the harder, but I know that the minister sometimes complained to
Sieur de Monts of having been beaten.”  This was the prelude to the
conversion of the savages, which was soon to become the sole aim or the
pious standard of all the attempts at colonization in New France.

[Illustration: Champlain----190]

M. de Monts and his comrades had been for many years struggling against
the natural difficulties of their enterprise, and against the ill-will or
indifference which they encountered in the mother-country; religious zeal
was reviving in France; the edict of Nantes had put a stop to violent
strife; missionary ardor animated the powerful society of Jesuits
especially.  At their instigation and under their direction a pious
woman, rich and of high rank, the Marchioness of Guercheville, profited
by the distress amongst the first founders of the French colony; she
purchased their rights, took possession of their territory, and, having
got the king to cede to her the sovereignty of New France, from the St.
Lawrence to Florida, she dedicated all her personal fortune to the holy
enterprise of a mission amongst the Indians of America.  Beside the
adventurers, gentlemen or traders, attracted by the hope of gain or by
zeal for discovery, there set out a large number of Jesuits, resolved to
win a new empire for Jesus Christ.  Champlain accompanied them.  After
long and painful explorations in the forests and amongst the Indian
tribes, after frequent voyages to France on the service of the colony, he
became at last, in 1606, the first governor of the nascent town of

Never was colony founded under more pious auspices; for some time past
the Recollects had been zealously laboring for the conversion of
unbelievers; seconded by the Jesuits, who were before long to remain sole
masters of the soil, they found themselves sufficiently powerful to
forbid the Protestant sailors certain favorite exercises of their
worship: “At last it was agreed that they should not chant the psalms,”
 says Champlain, “but that they should assemble to make their prayers.”  A
hand more powerful than that of Madame de Guercheville or of the Jesuits
was about to take the direction of the affairs of the colony as well as
of France: Cardinal Richelieu had become premier minister.

The blind gropings and intestine struggles of the rival possessors of
monopolies were soon succeeded by united action.  Richelieu favored
commerce, and did not disdain to apply thereto the resources of his great
and fertile mind.  In 1627 he put himself at the head of a company of a
hundred associates, on which the king conferred the possession as well as
the government of New France, together with the commercial monopoly and
freedom from all taxes for fifteen years.  The colonists were to be
French and Catholics; Huguenots were excluded: they alone had till then
manifested any tendency towards emigration; the attempts at colonization
in America were due to their efforts: less liberal in New France than he
had lately been in Europe, the cardinal thus enlisted in the service of
the foreigner all the adventurous spirits and the bold explorers amongst
the French Protestants, at the very moment when the English Puritans,
driven from their country by the narrow and meddlesome policy of James
I., were dropping anchor at the foot of Plymouth Rock., and were
founding, in the name of religious liberty, a new Protestant England, the
rival ere long of that New France which was Catholic and absolutist.

Champlain had died at Quebec on Christmas Day, 1635, after twenty-seven
years’ efforts and sufferings in the service of the nascent colony.  Bold
and enterprising, endowed with indomitable perseverance and rare
practical faculties, an explorer of distant forests, an intrepid
negotiator with the savage tribes, a wise and patient administrator,
indulgent towards all, in spite of his ardent devotion, Samuel de
Champlain had presented the rare intermixture of the heroic qualities of
past times with the zeal for science and the practical talents of modern
ages; he was replaced in his government by a knight of Malta, M. de
Montmagny.  Quebec had a seminary, a hospital, and a convent, before it
possessed a population.

The foundation of Montreal was still more exclusively religious.  The
accounts of the Jesuits had inflamed pious souls with a noble emulation;
a Montreal association was formed, under the direction of M. Olier,
founder of St. Sulpice.  The first expedition was placed under the
command of a valiant gentleman, Paul de Maisonneuve, and of a certain
Mademoiselle Mance, belonging to the middle class of Nogent-le-Roi, who
was not yet a nun, but who was destined to become the foundress of the
hospital-sisters of Ville-Marie, the name which the religious zeal of the
explorers intended for the new colony of Montreal.

It was not without jealousy that the governor of Quebec and the agents of
the hundred associates looked upon the enterprise of M. de Maisonneuve;
an attempt was made to persuade him to remain in the settlement already
founded.  “I am not come here to deliberate, but to act,” answered he;
“it is my duty, as well as an honor to me, to found a colony at Montreal,
and I shall go, though every tree were an Iroquois!”

On the 16th of May, 1642, the new colonists had scarcely disembarked when
they were mustered around Father Vimont, a Jesuit, clothed in his
pontifical vestments.  The priest, having first celebrated mass, turned
to those present.  “You are only a grain of mustard-seed,” said he, “but
you will grow until your branches cover the whole earth.  You are few in
number, but your work is that of God.  His eye is upon you, and your
children will replenish the earth.”  “You say that the enterprise of
Montreal is of a cost more suitable for a king than for a few private
persons too feeble to sustain it,” wrote the associates of Montreal, in
1643, in reply to their adversaries, “and you further allege the perils
of the navigation and the shipwrecks that may ruin it.  You have made a
better hit than you supposed in saying that it is a king’s work, for the
King of kings has a hand in it, He whom the winds and the sea obey.  We,
therefore, do not fear shipwrecks; He will not cause them save when it is
good for us, and when it is for His glory, which is our only aim.  If
the, finger of God be not in the affair of Montreal, if it be a human
invention, do not trouble yourselves about it; it will never endure; but,
if God have willed it, who are you, that you should gainsay Him?”

The affair of Montreal stood, like that of Quebec; New France was
founded, in spite of the sufferings of the early colonists, thanks to
their courage, their fervent enthusiasm, and the support afforded them by
the religious zeal of their friends in Europe.  The Jesuit missionaries
every day extended their explorations, sharing with M. de La Salle the
glory of the great discoveries of the West.  Champlain had before this
dreamed of and sought for a passage across the continent, leading to the
Southern seas and permitting of commerce with India and Japan.  La Salle,
in his intrepid expeditions, discovered Ohio and Illinois, navigated the
great lakes, crossed the Mississippi, which the Jesuits had been the
first to reach, and pushed on as far as Texas.  Constructing forts in the
midst of the savage districts, taking possession of Louisiana in the name
of King Louis XIV., abandoned by the majority of his comrades and losing
the most faithful of them by death, attacked by savages, betrayed by his
own men, thwarted in his projects by his enemies and his rivals, this
indefatigable explorer fell at last beneath the blows of a few mutineers,
in 1687, just as he was trying to get back to New France; he left the
field open after him to the innumerable travellers of every nation and
every language who were one day to leave their mark on those measureless
tracts.  Everywhere, in the western regions of the American continent,
the footsteps of the French, either travellers or missionaries, preceded
the boldest adventurers.  It is the glory and the misfortune of France to
always lead the van in the march of civilization, without having the wit
to profit by the discoveries and the sagacious boldness of her children.
On the unknown roads which she has opened to the human mind and to human
enterprise she has often left the fruits to be gathered by nations less
inventive and less able than she, but more persevering and less perturbed
by a confusion of desires and an incessant renewal of hopes.

The treaty of Utrecht had taken out of French hands the gates of Canada,
Acadia, and Newfoundland.  It was now in the neighborhood of New France
that the power of England was rising, growing rapidly through the
development of her colonies, usurping little by little the empire of the
seas.  Canada was prospering, however; during the long wars which the
condition of Europe had kept up in America, the Canadians had supplied
the king’s armies with their best soldiers.  Returning to their homes,
and resuming without an effort the peaceful habits which characterized
them, they skilfully cultivated their fields, and saw their population
increasing naturally, without any help from the mother-country.  The
governors had succeeded in adroitly counterbalancing the influence of the
English over the Indian tribes.  The Iroquois, but lately implacable foes
of France, had accepted a position of neutrality.  Agricultural
development secured to the country comparative prosperity, but money was
scarce, the instinct of the population was not in the direction of
commerce; it was everywhere shackled by monopolies.  The English were
rich, free, and bold; for them the transmission and the exchange of
commodities were easy.  The commercial rivalry which set in between the
two nations was fatal to the French; when the hour of the final struggle
came, the Canadians, though brave, resolute, passionately attached to
France, and ready for any sacrifice, were few in number compared with
their enemies.  Scattered over a vast territory, they possessed but poor
pecuniary resources, and could expect from the mother country only
irregular assistance, subject to variations of gov ernment and fortune as
well as to the chances of maritime warfare and engagements at sea, always
perilous for the French ships, which were inferior in build and in
number, whatever might be the courage and skill of their commanders.
The capture of Louisbourg and of the Island of Cape Breton by the English
colonists, in 1745, profoundly disquieted the Canadians.  They pressed
the government to make an attempt upon Acadia.  “The population has
remained French,” they said; “we are ready to fight for our relatives and
friends who have passed under the yoke of the foreigner.”  The ministry
sent the Duke of Anville with a considerable fleet; storms and disease
destroyed vessels and crews before it had been possible to attack.  A
fresh squadron, commanded by the Marquis of La Jonquiere, encountered the
English off Cape Finisterre in Spain.  Admiral Anson had seventeen ships,
M. de La Jonquiere had but six; he, however, fought desperately.  “I
never saw anybody behave better than the French commander,” wrote the
captain of the English ship Windsor; “and, to tell the truth, all the
officers of that nation showed great courage; not one of them struck
until it was absolutely impossible to manoeuvre.”  The remnants of the
French navy, neglected as it had been through the unreflecting economy of
Cardinal Fleury, were almost completely destroyed, and England reckoned
more than two hundred and fifty ships of war.  Neither the successes in
the Low Countries and in Germany nor the peace of Aix-la-Chapelle put a
serious end to the maritime war; England used her strength to despoil the
French forever of the colonies which she envied them.  The frontiers of
Canada and Acadia had not been clearly defined by the treaties of peace.
Distrust and disquiet reigned amongst the French colonists; the ardor of
conquest fired the English, who had for a long while coveted the valley
of the Ohio and its fertile territories.  The covert hostility which
often betrayed itself by acts of aggression was destined ere long to lead
to open war.  An important emigration began amongst the Acadians; they
had hitherto claimed the title of neutrals, in spite of the annexation of
their territory by England, in order to escape the test oath and to
remain faithful to the Catholic faith; the priests and the French agents
urged them to do more; more than three thousand Acadians left their
fields and their cottages to settle on the French coasts, along the Bay
of Fundy.  Every effort of the French governors who succeeded one another
only too rapidly in Canada was directed towards maintaining the natural
or factitious barriers between the two territories.  The savages, excited
and flattered by both sides, loudly proclaimed their independence and
their primitive rights over the country which the Europeans were
disputing between themselves.  “We have not ceded our lands to anybody,”
 they said; “and we have no mind to obey any king.”  “Do you know what is
the difference between the King of France and the Englishman?” the
Iroquois was asked by Marquis Duquesne, the then governor of Canada.
“Go and look at the forts which the king had set up, and you will see
that the land beneath his walls is still a hunting-ground, he having
chosen the spots frequented by you simply to serve your need.  The
Englishman, on the other hand, is no sooner in possession of land than
the game is forced to quit, the woods are felled, the soil is uncovered,
and you can scarcely find the wherewithal to shelter yourselves at

The governor of Canada was not mistaken.  Where France established mere
military posts, and as it were landmarks of her political dominion, the
English colonists, cultivators and traders, brought with them practical
civilization, the natural and powerful enemy of savage life.  Already war
was in preparation without regard to the claims of these humble allies,
who were destined ere long to die out before might and the presence of a
superior race.  The French commander in the valley of the Ohio, M. de
Contrecoeur, was occupied with preparations for defence, when he learned
that a considerable body of English troops were marching against him
under the orders of Colonel Washington.  He immediately despatched M. de
Jumonville with thirty men to summon the English to retire and to
evacuate French territory.  At break of day on the 18th of May, 1754,
Washington’s men surprised Jumonville’s little encampment.  The attack
was unexpected; it is not known whether the French envoy had time to
convey the summons with which he had been charged; he was killed,
together with nine men of his troops.  The irritation caused by this
event precipitated the commencement of hostilities.  A corps of
Canadians, re-enforced by a few savages, marched at once against
Washington; he was intrenched in the plain; he had to be attacked with
artillery.  The future hero of American independence was obliged to
capitulate; the English retired with such precipitation that they
abandoned even their flag.

Negotiations were still going on between London and Versailles, and
meanwhile the governors of the English colonies had met together to form
a sort of confederation against French power in the new world.  They were
raising militia everywhere.  On the 20th of January, 1755, General
Braddock with a corps of regulars landed at Williamsburg, in Virginia.
Two months later, or not until the end of April, in fact, Admiral Dubois
de la Motte quitted Brest with re-enforcements and munitions of war for
Canada.  After him and almost in his wake went Admiral Boscawen from
Plymouth, on the 27th of April, seeking to encounter him at sea.  “Most
certainly the English will not commence hostilities,” said the English
cabinet to calm the anxieties of France.

It was only off Newfoundland that Admiral Boscawen’s squadron encountered
some French vessels detached from the fleet in consequence of the bad
weather.  “Captain Hocquart, who commanded the _Alcide,_” says the
account of M. de Choiseul, “finding himself within hail of the
_Dunkerque,_ had this question put in English: ‘Are we at peace or war?’
The English captain appearing not to understand, the question was
repeated in French.  ‘Peace! peace!’ shouted the English.  Almost at the
same moment the _Dunkerque_ poured in a broadside, riddling the _Alcide_
with balls.”  The two French ships were taken; and a few days afterwards,
three hundred merchant vessels, peaceably pursuing their course, were
seized by the English navy.  The loss was immense, as well as the
disgrace.  France at last decided upon declaring war, which had already
been commenced in fact for more than two years.

It was regretfully, and as if compelled by a remnant of national honor,
that Louis XV. had just adopted the resolution of defending his colonies;
he had, and the nation had as well, the feeling that the French were
hopelessly weak at sea.  “What use to us will be hosts of troops and
plenty of money,” wrote the advocate Barbier, “if we have only to fight
the English at sea?  They will take all our ships one after another, they
will seize all our settlements in America, and will get all the trade.
We must hope for some division amongst the English nation itself, for the
king personally does not desire war.”

The English nation was not divided.  The ministers and the Parliament, as
well as the American colonies, were for war.  “There is no hope of repose
for our thirteen colonies, as long as the French are masters of Canada,”
 said Benjamin Franklin, on his arrival in London in 1754.  He was already
laboring, without knowing it, at that great work of American independence
which was to be his glory and that of his generation; the common efforts
and the common interest of the thirteen American colonies in the war
against France were the first step towards that great coalition which
founded the United States of America.

The union with the mother-country was as yet close and potent: at the
instigation of Mr. Fox, soon afterwards Lord Holland, and at the time
Prime Minister of England, Parliament voted twenty-five millions for the
American war.  The bounty given to the soldiers and marines who enlisted
was doubled by private subscription; fifteen thousand men were thus
raised to invade the French colonies.

Canada and Louisiana together did not number eighty thousand inhabitants,
whilst the population of the English colonies already amounted to twelve
hundred thousand souls; to the twenty-eight hundred regular troops sent
from France, the Canadian militia added about four thousand men, less
experienced but quite as determined as the most intrepid veterans of the
campaigns in Europe.  During more than twenty years the courage and
devotion of the Canadians never faltered for a single day.

Then began an unequal, but an obstinate struggle, of which the issue,
easy to foresee, never cowed or appeased the actors in it.  The able
tactics of M. de Vaudreuil, governor of the colony, had forced the
English to scatter their forces and their attacks over an immense
territory, far away from the most important settlements; the forts which
they besieged were scarcely defended.  “A large enclosure, with a
palisade round it, in which there were but one officer and nineteen
soldiers,” wrote the Marquis of Montcalm at a later period, “could not be
considered as a fort adapted to sustain a siege.”  In the first campaign,
the settlements formed by the Acadian emigrants on the borders of the Bay
of Fundy were completely destroyed: the French garrisons were obliged to
evacuate their positions.

This withdrawal left Acadia, or neutral land, at the mercy of the
Anglo-Americans.  Before Longfellow had immortalized, in the poem of
Evangeline, the peaceful habits and the misfortunes of the Acadians,
Raynal had already pleaded their cause before history.  “A simple and a
kindly people,” he said, “who had no liking for blood, agriculture was
their occupation.

They had been settled in the low grounds, forcing back, by dint of dikes,
the sea and rivers wherewith those plains were covered.  The drained
marshes produced wheat, rye, oats, barley, and maize.  Immense prairies
were alive with numerous flocks; as many as sixty thousand horned cattle
were counted there.  The habitations, nearly all built of wood, were very
commodious, and furnished with the neatness sometimes found amongst our
European farmers in the easiest circumstances.  Their manners were
extremely simple; the little differences which might from time to time
arise between the colonists were always amicably settled by the elders.
It was a band of brothers, all equally ready to give or receive that
which they considered common to all men.”

War and its horrors broke in upon this peaceful idyl.

The Acadians had constantly refused to take the oath to England; they
were declared guilty of having violated neutrality.  For the most part
the accusation was unjust; but all were involved in the same

On the 5th of September, 1755, four hundred and eighteen heads of
families were summoned to meet in the church of Grand Pre.  The same
order had been given throughout all the towns of Acadia.  The anxious
farmers had all obeyed.  Colonel Winslow, commanding the Massachusetts
militia, repaired thither with great array.  “It is a painful duty which
brings me here,” he said.  “I have orders to inform you that your lands,
your houses, and your crops are confiscated to the profit of the crown;
you can carry off your money and your linen on your deportation from the
province.”  The order was accompanied by no explanation; nor did it admit
of any.  All the heads of families were at once surrounded by the
soldiers.  By tens, and under safe escort, they were permitted to visit
once more the fields which they had cultivated, the houses in which they
had seen their children grow up.  On the 10th they embarked, passing, on
their way to the ships, between two rows of women and children in tears.
The young people had shown a disposition to resist, demanding leave to
depart with their families: the soldiers crossed their bayonets.  The
vessels set sail for the English colonies, dispersing over the coast the
poor creatures they had torn away from all that was theirs.  Many
perished of want while seeking from town to town their families, removed
after them from Acadia; the charity of the American colonists relieved
their first wants.  Some French Protestants, who had settled in
Philadelphia after the revocation of the edict of Nantes, welcomed them
as brothers, notwithstanding the difference of their creed; for they knew
all the heart-rending evils of exile.

Much emotion was excited in France by the woes of the Acadians.  In spite
of the declaration of war, Louis XV. made a request to the English
cabinet for permission to send vessels along the coasts of America, to
pick up those unfortunates.  “Our navigation act is against it,” replied
Mr. Grenville; “France cannot send ships amongst our colonies.”  A few
Acadians, nevertheless, reached France; they settled in the outskirts of
Bordeaux, where their descendants still form the population of two
prosperous communes.  Others founded in Louisiana settlements which bore
the name of Acadia.  The crime was consummated: the religious, pacific,
inoffensive population, which but lately occupied the neutral land, had
completely disappeared.  The greedy colonists, who envied them their
farms and pasturage, had taken possession of the spoil; Acadia was
forever in the power of the Anglo-Saxon race, which was at the same
moment invading the valley of the Ohio.

General Braddock had mustered his troops at Wills Creek, in the
neighborhood of the Alleghany Mountains.  He meditated surprising Fort
Duquesne, erected but a short time previously by the French on the banks
of the Ohio.  The little army was advancing slowly across the mountains
and the forests; Braddock divided it into two corps, and placing himself
with Colonel Washington, who was at that time serving on his staff at the
head of twelve hundred men, he pushed forward rapidly.  “Never,” said
Washington afterwards, “did I see a finer sight than the departure of the
English troops on the 9th of July, 1755; all the men were in full
uniform, marching in slow time and in perfect order; the sun was
reflected from their glittering arms; the river rolled its waves along on
their right, and on their left the vast forest threw over them its mighty
shadows.  Officers and soldiers were equally joyous and confident of

Twice the attacking column had crossed the Monongahela by fording; it was
leaving the plain which extended to some distance from Fort Duquesne, to
enter the wood-path, when the advance-guard was all at once brought up by
a tremendous discharge of artillery; a second discharge came almost
immediately from the right.  The English could not see their enemy; they
were confused, and fell back upon General Braddock and the main body of
the detachment who were coming up to their aid.  The disorder soon became
extreme.  The regular troops, unaccustomed to this kind of warfare,
refused to rally, in spite of the efforts of their general, who would
have had them manoeuvre as in the plains of Flanders; the Virginia
militia alone, recurring to habits of forest warfare, had dispersed, but
without flying, hiding themselves behind the trees, and replying to the
French or Indian sharpshooters.

[Illustration: Death of General Braddock----203]

Before long General Braddock received a mortal wound; his staff had
fallen almost to a man; Colonel Washington alone, reserved by God for
another destiny, still sought to rally his men.  “I have been protected
by the almighty intervention of Providence beyond every human
probability,” he wrote to his brother after the action.  “I received four
balls in my clothes, and I had two horses killed under me; nevertheless I
came out of it safe and sound, whilst death was sweeping down my comrades
around me.”  The small English corps was destroyed; the fugitives
communicated their terror to the detachment of Colonel Dunbar, who was
coming to join them.  All the troops disbanded, spiking the guns and
burning the munitions and baggage; in their panic the soldiers asked no
question save whether the enemy were pursuing them.  “We have been
beaten, shamefully beaten,” wrote Washington, “by a handful of French
whose only idea was to hamper our march.  A few moments before the action
we thought our forces almost a match for all those of Canada; and yet,
against every probability, we have been completely defeated and have lost
everything.”  The small French corps, which sallied from Fort Duquesne
under the orders of M. de Beaujeu, numbered only two hundred Canadians
and six hundred Indians.  It was not until three years later, in 1758,
that Fort Duquesne, laid in ruins by the defenders themselves, at last
fell into the hands of the English, who gave to it, in honor of the great
English minister, the name of Pittsburg, which is borne to this day by a
flourishing town.

The courage of the Canadians and the able use they had the wits to make
of their savage allies still balanced the fortunes of the war; but the
continuance of hostilities betrayed more and more every day the
inferiority of the forces and the insufficiency of the resources of the
colony.  “The colonists employed in the army, of which they form the
greater part, no longer till the lands they had formerly cleared, far
from clearing new ones,” wrote the superintendent of Canada; “the levies
about to be made will still further dispeople the country.  What will
become of the colony?  There will be a deficiency of everything,
especially of corn; up to the present the intention had been not to raise
the levies until the work of spring was over.  That indulgence can no
longer be accorded, since the war will go on during the winter, and the
armies must be mustered as early as the month of April.  Besides, the
Canadians are decreasing fast; a great number have died of fatigue and
disease.  There is no, relying,” added the superintendent, “on the
savages save so long as we have the superiority, and so long as all their
wants are supplied.”  The government determined to send re-enforcements
to Canada under the orders of the Marquis of Montcalm.

The new general had had thirty-five years’ service, though he was not yet
fifty; he had distinguished himself in Germany and in Italy.  He was
brave, amiable, clever; by turns indolent and bold; skilful in dealing
with the Indians, whom he inspired with feelings of great admiration;
jealous of the Canadians, their officers and their governor, M. de
Vaudreuil; convinced beforehand of the uselessness of all efforts and of
the inevitable result of the struggle he maintained with indomitable
courage.  More intelligent than his predecessor, General Dieskau, who,
like Braddock, had fallen through the error of conducting the war in the
European fashion, he, nevertheless, had great difficulty in wrenching
himself from the military traditions of his whole life.  An expedition,
in 1756, against Fort Oswego, on the right bank of Lake Ontario, was
completely successful; General Webb had no time to relieve the garrison,
which capitulated.  Bands of Canadians and Indians laid waste
Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia.  Montcalm wrote to the minister of
war, Rouille, “It is the first time that, with three thousand men and
less artillery, a siege has been maintained against eighteen hundred, who
could be readily relieved by two thousand, and who could oppose our
landing, having the naval superiority on Lake Ontario.  The success has
been beyond all expectation.  The conduct I adopted on this occasion and
the arrangements I ordered are so contrary to the regular rules, that the
boldness displayed in this enterprise must look like rashness in Europe.
Therefore, I do beseech you, monseigneur, as the only favor I ask, to
assure his Majesty that, if ever he should be pleased, as I hope, to
employ me in his own armies, I will behave differently.”

The same success everywhere attended the arms of the Marquis of Montcalm.
In 1757 he made himself master of Fort William Henry, which commanded the
lake of Saint-Sacrement; in 1758 he repulsed with less than four thousand
men the attack of General Abercrombie, at the head of sixteen thousand
men, on Carillon, and forced the latter to relinquish the shores of Lake
Champlain.  This was cutting the enemy off once more from the road to
Montreal; but Louisbourg, protected in 1757 by the fleet of Admiral
Dubois de la Motte, and now abandoned to its own resources, in vain
supported an unequal siege; the fortifications were in ruins, the
garrison was insufficient notwithstanding its courage and the heroism of
the governor, M. de Drucourt.  Seconded by his wife, who flitted about
the ramparts, cheering and tending the wounded, he energetically opposed
the landing of the English, and maintained himself for two months in an
almost open place.  When he was at last obliged to surrender, on the 26th
of July, Louisbourg was nothing but a heap of ruins; all the inhabitants
of the islands of St. John and Cape Breton were transported by the
victors to France.

Canada had by this time cost France dear; and she silently left it to its
miserable fate.  In vain did the governor, the general, the commissariat
demand incessantly re-enforcements, money, provisions; no help came from
France.  “We keep on fighting, nevertheless,” wrote Montcalm to the
minister of war, “and we will bury ourselves, if necessary, under the
ruins of the colony.”  Famine, the natural result of neglecting the land,
went on increasing: the Canadians, hunters and soldiers as they were, had
only cleared and cultivated their fields in the strict ratio of their
daily wants; there was a lack of hands; every man was under arms;
destitution prevailed everywhere; the inhabitants of Quebec were reduced
to siege-rations; the troops complained and threatened to mutiny; the
enemy had renewed their efforts: in the campaign of 1758, the journals of
the Anglo-American colonies put their land forces at sixty thousand men.
“England has at the present moment more troops in motion on this
continent than Canada contains inhabitants, including old men, women,
and children,” said a letter to Paris from M. Doreil, war commissioner.
Mr. Pitt, afterwards Lord Chatham, who had lately, come to the head of
the English government, resolved to strike the last blow at the French
power in America.  Three armies simultaneously invaded Canada; on the
25th of June, 1759, a considerable fleet brought under the walls of
Quebec General Wolfe, a young and hopeful officer who had attracted
notice at the siege of Louisbourg.  “If General Montcalm succeeds again
this year in frustrating our hopes,” said Wolfe, “he may be considered an
able man; either the colony has resources that nobody knows of, or our
generals are worse than usual.”

Quebec was not fortified; the loss of it involved that of all Canada; it
was determined to protect the place by an outlying camp; appeal was made
to the Indian tribes, lately zealous in the service of France, but now
detached from it by ill fortune and diminution of the advantages offered
them, and already for the most part won over by the English.  The
Canadian colonists, exhausted by war and famine, rose in mass to defend
their capital.  The different encampments which surrounded Quebec
contained about thirteen thousand soldiers.  “So strong a force had not
been reckoned upon,” says an eye-witness, “because nobody had expected to
have so large a number of Canadians; but there prevailed so much
emulation among this people that there were seen coming into the camp old
men of eighty and children of from twelve to thirteen, who would not hear
of profiting by the exemption accorded to their age.”  The poor
cultivators, turned soldiers, brought to the camp their slender
resources; the enemy was already devastating the surrounding country.
“It will take them half a century to repair the damage,” wrote an
American officer in his journal of the expedition on the St. Lawrence.
The bombardment of Quebec was commencing at the same moment.

For more than a month the town had stood the enemy’s fire; all the
buildings were reduced to ruins, and the French had not yet budged from
their camp of Ange-Gardien.  On the 31st of July, General Wolfe, with
three thousand men, came and attacked them in front by the River
St. Lawrence, and in flank by the River Montmorency.  He was repulsed by
the firm bravery of the Canadians, whose French impetuosity seemed to
have become modified by contact with the rough climates of the north.
Immovable in their trenches, they waited until the enemy was within
range; and, when at length they fired, the skill of the practised hunters
made fearful havoc in the English ranks.  Everywhere repulsed, General
Wolfe in despair was obliged to retreat.  He all but died of vexation,
overwhelmed with the weight of his responsibility.  “I have only a choice
of difficulties left,” he wrote to the English cabinet.  Aid and
encouragement did not fail him.

The forts of Carillon on Lake Champlain and of Niagara on Lake Ontario
were both in the hands of the English.  A portion of the Canadians had
left the camp to try and gather in the meagre crops which had been
cultivated by the women and children.  In the night between the 12th and
13th of September, General Wolfe made a sudden dash upon the banks of the
St. Lawrence; he landed at the creek of Foulon.  The officers had replied
in French to the _Qui vive_ ( Who goes there?) of the sentinels, who had
supposed that what they saw passing was a long-expected convoy of
provisions; at daybreak the English army was ranged in order of battle on
the Plains of Abraham; by evening, the French were routed, the Marquis of
Montcalm was dying, and Quebec was lost.

General Wolfe had not been granted time to enjoy his victory.  Mortally
wounded in a bayonet charge which he himself headed, he had been carried
to the rear.  The surgeons who attended to him kept watching the battle
from a distance.  “They fly,” exclaimed one of them.  “Who?” asked
the general, raising himself painfully.  “The French!”  was the answer.
“Then I am content to die.”  he murmured, and expired.

[Illustration: Death of Wolfe----209]

Montcalm had fought like a soldier in spite of his wounds; when he fell
he still gave orders about the measures to be taken and the attempts to
be made.  “All is not lost,” he kept repeating.  He was buried in a hole
pierced by a cannonball in the middle of the church of the Ursulines; and
there he still rests.  In 1827, when all bad feeling had subsided, Lord
Dalhousie, the then English governor of Canada, ordered the erection at
Quebec of an obelisk in marble bearing the names and busts of Wolfe and
Montcalm, with this inscription: _Mortem virtus communem, famam historia,
monumentum posteritas dedit_ [Valor, history, and posterity assigned
fellowship in death, fame, and memorial].

In 1759, the news of the death of the two generals was accepted as a sign
of the coming of the end.  Quebec capitulated on the 18th of September,
notwithstanding the protests of the population.  The government of Canada
removed to Montreal.

The joy in England was great, as was the consternation in France.  The
government had for a long while been aware of the state to which the army
and the brave Canadian people had been reduced, the nation knew nothing
about it; the repeated victories of the Marquis of Montcalm had caused
illusion as to the gradual decay of resources.  The English Parliament
resolved to send three armies to America, and the remains of General
Wolfe were interred at Westminster with great ceremony.  King Louis XV.
and his ministers sent to Canada a handful of men and a vessel which
suffered capture from the English; the governor’s drafts were not paid at
Paris.  The financial condition of France did not permit her to any
longer sustain the heroic devotion of her children.

M. de Lally-Tollendal was still struggling single-handed in India,
exposed to the hatred and the plots of his fellow-countrymen as well as
of the Hindoos, at the very moment when the Canadians, united in the same
ideas of effort and sacrifice, were trying their last chance in the
service of the distant mother-country, which was deserting them.  The
command had passed from the hands of Montcalm into those of the general
who was afterwards a marshal and Duke of Levis.  He resolved, in the
spring of 1760, to make an attempt to recover Quebec.

“All Europe,” says Raynal, “supposed that the capture of the capital was
an end to the great quarrel in North America.  Nobody supposed that a
handful of French who lacked everything, who seemed forbidden by fortune
itself to harbor any hope, would dare to dream of retarding inevitable
fate.”  On the 28th of April, the army of General de Levis, with great
difficulty maintained during the winter, debouched before Quebec on those
Plains of Abraham but lately so fatal to Montcalm.

General Murray at once sallied from the place in order to engage before
the French should have had time to pull themselves together.  It was a
long and obstinate struggle; the men fought hand to hand, with
impassioned ardor, without the cavalry or the savages taking any part in
the action; at nightfall General Murray had been obliged to re-enter the
town and close the gates.  The French, exhausted but triumphant, returned
slowly from the pursuit; the unhappy fugitives fell into the hands of the
Indians; General de Levis had great difficulty in putting a stop to the
carnage.  In his turn he besieged Quebec.

One single idea possessed the minds of both armies; what flag would be
carried by the vessels which were expected every day in the St.
Lawrence?  “The circumstances were such on our side,” says the English
writer Knox, “that if the French fleet had been the first to enter the
river, the place would have fallen again into the hands of its former

On the 9th of May, an English frigate entered the harbor.  A week
afterwards, it was followed by two other vessels.  The English raised
shouts of joy upon the ramparts, the cannon of the place saluted the
arrivals.  During the night between the 16th and 17th of May, the little
French army raised the siege of Quebec.  On the 6th of September, the
united forces of Generals Murray, Amherst, and Haviland invested

A little wall and a ditch, intended to resist the attacks of Indians, a
few pieces of cannon eaten up with rust, and three thousand five hundred
troops--such were the means of defending Montreal.  The rural population
yielded at last to the good fortune of the English, who burned on their
marsh the recalcitrant villages.  Despair was in every heart; M. de
Vaudreuil assembled during the night a council of war.  It was determined
to capitulate in the name of the whole colony.  The English generals
granted all that was asked by the Canadian population; to its defenders
they refused the honors of war.  M. de Levis retired to the Island of
Sainte-Helene, resolved to hold out to the last extremity; it was only at
the governor’s express command that he laid down arms.  No more than
three thousand soldiers returned to France.

The capitulation of Montreal was signed on the 8th of September, 1760;
on the 10th of February, 1763, the peace concluded between France, Spain,
and England completed without hope of recovery the loss of all the French
possessions in America; Louisiana had taken no part in the war; it was
not conquered; France ceded it to Spain in exchange for Florida, which
was abandoned to the English.  Canada and all the islands of the St.
Lawrence shared the same fate.  Only the little islands of St. Pierre and
Miquelon were preserved for the French fisheries.  One single stipulation
guaranteed to the Canadians the free exercise of the Catholic religion.
The principal inhabitants of the colony went into exile on purpose to
remain French.  The weak hands of King Louis XV. and of his government
had let slip the fairest colonies of France,

Canada and Louisiana had ceased to belong to her; yet attachment to
France subsisted there a long while, and her influence left numerous
traces there.  It is an honor and a source of strength to France that she
acts powerfully on men through the charm and suavity of her intercourse;
they who have belonged to France can never forget her.

The struggle was over.  King Louis XV. had lost his American colonies,
the nascent empire of India, and the settlements of Senegal.  He
recovered Guadaloupe and Martinique, but lately conquered by the English,
Chandernuggur and the ruins of Pondicherry.  The humiliation was deep and
the losses were irreparable.  All the fruits of the courage, of the
ability, and of the passionate devotion of the French in India and in
America were falling into the hands of England.  Her government had
committed many faults; but the strong action of a free people had always
managed to repair them.  The day was coming when the haughty passions of
the mother-country and the proud independence of her colonies would
engage in that supreme struggle which has given to the world the United
States of America.

CHOISEUL.  1748-1774.

It was not only in the colonies and on the seas that the peace of Aix-la-
Chapelle had seemed merely a truce destined to be soon broken;
hostilities had never ceased in India or Canada; English vessels scoured
the world, capturing, in spite of treaties, French merchant-ships; in
Europe and on the continent, all the sovereigns were silently preparing
for new efforts; only the government of King Louis XV., intrenched behind
its disinterestedness in the negotiations, and ignoring the fatal
influences of weakness and vanity, believed itself henceforth beyond the
reach of a fresh war.  The nation, as oblivious as the government, but
less careless than it, because they had borne the burden of the fault
committed, were applying for the purpose of their material recovery that
power of revival which, through a course of so many errors and reverses,
has always saved France; in spite of the disorder in the finances and the
crushing weight of the imposts, she was working and growing rich;
intellectual development was following the rise in material resources;
the court was corrupt and inert, like the king, but a new life,
dangerously free and bold, was beginning to course through men’s minds
the wise, reforming instincts, the grave reflections of the dying
Montesquieu no longer sufficed for them; Voltaire, who had but lately
been still moderate and almost respectful, was about to commence with his
friends of the _L’Encyclopedie_ that campaign against the Christian faith
which was to pave the way for the materialism of our own days.  “Never
was Europe more happy than during the years which rolled by between 1750
and 1758,” he has said in his _Tableau du Siecle de Louis XV._  The evil,
however, was hatching beneath the embers, and the last supports of the
old French society were cracking up noiselessly.  The Parliaments were
about to disappear, the Catholic church was becoming separated more and
more widely every day from the people of whom it claimed to be the sole
instructress and directress.  The natural heads of the nation, the
priests and the great lords, thought no longer and lived no longer as it.
The public voice was raised simultaneously against the authority or
insensate prodigality of Madame de Pompadour, and against the refusal,
ordered by the Archbishop of Paris, of the sacraments.  “The public, the
public!”  wrote M. d’Argenson; “its animosity, its encouragements, its
pasquinades, its insolence--that is what I fear above everything.”  The
state of the royal treasury and the measures to which recourse was had to
enable the state to make both ends meet, aggravated the dissension and
disseminated discontent amongst all classes of society.  Comptrollers-
general came one after another, all armed with new expedients; MM. de
Machault, Moreau de Sechelles, de Moras, excited, successively, the wrath
and the hatred of the people crushed by imposts in peace as well as war;
the clergy refused to pay the twentieth, still claiming their right of
giving only a free gift; the states-districts, Languedoc and Brittany at
the head, resisted, in the name of their ancient privileges, the
collection of taxes to which they had not consented; riots went on
multiplying; they even extended to Paris, where the government was
accused of kidnapping children for transportation to the colonies.  The
people rose, several police-agents were massacred; the king avoided
passing through the capital on his way from Versailles to the camp at
Compiegne; the path he took in the Bois de Boulogne received the name of
Revolt Road.  “I have seen in my days,” says D’Argenson, “a decrease in
the respect and love of the people for the kingship.”

Decadence went on swiftly, and no wonder.  At forty years of age Louis
XV., finding every pleasure pall, indifferent to or forgetful of business
from indolence and disgust, bored by everything and on every occasion,
had come to depend solely on those who could still manage to amuse him.

[Illustration: Madame de Pompadour----215]

Madame de Pompadour had accepted this ungrateful and sometimes shameful
task.  Born in the ranks of the middle class, married young to a rich
financier, M. Lenormant d’Etioles, Mdlle. Poisson, created Marchioness
of Pompadour, was careful to mix up more serious matters with the royal
pleasures.  The precarious lot of a favorite was not sufficient for her
ambition.  Pretty, clever, ingenious in devising for the king new
amusements and objects of interest, she played comedy before him in her
small apartments and travelled with him from castle to castle; she thus
obtained from his easy prodigality enormous sums to build pleasaunces
which she amused herself by embellishing; Bellevue, Babiole, the
marchioness’ house at Paris, cost millions out of the exhausted treasury.
Madame de Pompadour was fond of porcelain; she conceived the idea of
imitating in France the china-work of Saxony, and founded first at
Vincennes and then at Sevres the manufacture of porcelain, which the king
took under his protection, requiring the courtiers to purchase the
proceeds of it at high prices.  Everybody was anxious to please the
favorite; her incessantly renewed caprices contributed to develop certain
branches of the trade in luxuries.  The expenses of the royal household
went on increasing daily; the magnificent prodigalities of King Louis
XIV. were surpassed by the fancies of Madame de Pompadour.  Vigilant in
attaching the courtiers to herself, she sowed broadcast, all around her,
favors, pensions, profitable offices, endowing the gentlemen to
facilitate their marriage, turning a deaf ear to the complaints of the
people as well as to the protests of the States or Parliaments.  The
greedy and frivolous crowd that thronged at her feet well deserved the
severe judgment pronounced by Montesquieu on courtiers and courts.
“Ambition amidst indolence, baseness amidst pride, the desire to grow
rich without toil, aversion from truth, flattery, treason, perfidy,
neglect of all engagements, contempt for the duties of a citizen, fear of
virtue in the prince, hope in his weaknesses, and more than all that, the
ridicule constantly thrown upon virtue, form, I trow, the characteristics
of the greatest number of courtiers, distinctive in all places and at all
times.”  The majesty of Louis XIV. and the long lustre of his reign had
been potent enough to create illusions as to the dangers and the
corruptions of the court; the remnants of military glory were about to
fade out round Louis XV.; the court still swarmed with brave officers,
ready to march to death at the head of the troops; the command of armies
henceforth depended on the favor of Madame the Marchioness of Pompadour.

The day had come when the fortune of war was about to show itself fatal
to France.  Marshal Saxe had died at Chambord, still young and worn out
by excesses rather than by fatigue; this foreigner, this Huguenot, as he
was called by Louis XV., had been the last to maintain and continue the
grand tradition of French generals.  War, however, was inevitable; five
months of public or private negotiation, carried on by the ambassadors or
personal agents of the king, could not obtain from England any reparation
for her frequent violation of the law of nations; the maritime trade of
France was destroyed; the vessels of the royal navy were themselves no
longer safe at sea.  On the 21st of December, 1755, the minister of
foreign affairs, Rouille, notified to the English cabinet, “that His Most
Christian Majesty, before giving way to the effects of his resentment,
once more demanded from the King of England satisfaction for all the
seizures made by the English navy, as well as restitution of all vessels,
whether war-ships or merchant-ships, taken from the French, declaring
that he should regard any refusal that might be made as an authentic
declaration of war.”  England eluded the question of law, but refused
restitution.  On the 23d of January, an embargo was laid on all English
vessels in French ports, and war was officially proclaimed.  It had
existed in fact for two years past.

A striking incident signalized the commencement of hostilities.  Rather a
man of pleasure and a courtier than an able soldier, Marshal Richelieu
had, nevertheless, the good fortune to connect his name with the only
successful event of the Seven Years’ War that was destined to remain
impressed upon the mind of posterity.  Under his orders, a body of twelve
thousand men, on board of a squadron, commanded by M. de la
Galissonniere, left Toulon on the 10th of April, 1756, at the moment when
England was excited by expectation of a coming descent upon her coasts.
On the 17th, the French attacked the Island of Minorca, an important
point whence the English threatened Toulon, and commanded the western
basin of the Mediterranean.  Some few days later, the English troops,
driven out of Ciudadela and Mahon, had taken refuge in Fort St. Philip,
and the French cannon were battering the ramparts of the vast citadel.

On the 10th of May an English fleet, commanded by Admiral Byng, appeared
in the waters of Port Mahon; it at once attacked M. de la Galissonniere.
The latter succeeded in preventing the English from approaching land.
After an obstinate struggle, Admiral Byng, afraid of losing his fleet,
fell back on Gibraltar.  The garrison of Fort St.  Philip waited in vain
for the return of the squadron; left to its own devices, it nevertheless
held out; the fortifications seemed to be impregnable; the siege-works
proceeded slowly; the soldiers were disgusted, and began to indulge to
excess in the wine of Spain.  “No one who gets drunk shall have the honor
of mounting the breach,” said Richelieu’s general order.  Before long he
resolved to attempt the assault.

[Illustration: Attack on Fort St. Philip----218]

Fort St. Philip towered up proudly on an enormous mass of rock; the
French regiments flung themselves into the fosses, setting against the
ramparts ladders that were too short; the soldiers mounted upon one
another’s shoulders, digging their bayonets into the interstices between
the stones; the boldest were already at the top of the bastions.  On the
28th of June, at daybreak, three of the forts were in possession of the
French; the same day the English commandant decided upon capitulation.
The Duke of Fronsac, Marshal Richelieu’s son, hurried to Versailles to
announce the good news.  There was great joy at court and amongst the
French nation; the French army and navy considered themselves avenged of
England’s insults.  In London Admiral Byng was brought to trial; he was
held responsible for the reverse, and was shot, notwithstanding the
protests of Voltaire and of Richelieu himself.  At the same time the
king’s troops were occupying Corsica in the name of the city of Genoa,
the time-honored ally of France.  Mistress of half the Mediterranean, and
secure of the neutrality of Holland, France could have concentrated her
efforts upon the sea, and have maintained a glorious struggle with
England, on the sole condition of keeping peace on the Continent.  The
policy was simple, and the national interest palpable; King Louis XV.
and some of his ministers understood this; but they allowed themselves to
drift into forgetfulness of it.

For a long time past, under the influence of Count Kaunitz, a young
diplomat equally bold and shrewd, “frivolous in his tastes and profound
in his views,” Maria Theresa was inclining to change the whole system of
her alliances in Europe; she had made advances to France.  Count Kaunitz
had found means of pleasing Madame de Pompadour; the empress put the
crowning touch to the conquest by writing herself to the favorite, whom
she called “My cousin.”  The Great Frederick, on the contrary, all the
time that he was seeking to renew with the king his former offensive and
defensive relations, could not manage to restrain the flow of his bitter
irony.  Louis XV. had felt hurt, on his own account and on his
favorite’s; he still sought to hold the balance steady between the two
great German sovereigns, but he was already beginning to lean towards the
empress.  A proposal was made to Maria Theresa for a treaty of guarantee
between France, Austria, and Prussia; the existing war between England
and France was excepted from the defensive pact; France reserved to
herself the right of invading Hanover.  The same conditions had been
offered to the King of Prussia; he was not contented with them.  Whilst
Maria Theresa was insisting at Paris upon obtaining an offensive as well
as defensive alliance, Frederick II. was signing with England an
engagement not to permit the entrance into Germany of any foreign troops.
“I only wish to preserve Germany from war,” wrote the King of Prussia to
Louis XV.  On the 1st of May, 1756, at Versailles, Louis XV. replied to
the Anglo-Prussian treaty by his alliance with the Empress Maria Theresa.
The house of Bourbon was holding out the hand to the house of Austria;
the work of Henry IV. and of Richelieu, already weakened by an
inconsistent and capricious policy, was completely crumbling to pieces,
involving in its ruin the military fortunes of France.

The prudent moderation of Abbe de Bernis, then in great favor with Madame
de Pompadour, and managing the negotiations with Austria, had removed
from the treaty of Versailles the most alarming clauses.  The empress and
the King of France mutually guaranteed to one another their possessions
in Europe, “each of the contracting parties promising the other, in case
of need, the assistance of twenty-four thousand men.”  Russia and Saxony
were soon enlisted in the same alliance; the King of Prussia’s
pleasantries, at one time coarse and at another biting, had offended the
Czarina Elizabeth and the Elector of Saxony as well as Louis XV. and
Madame de Pompadour.  The weakest of the allies was the first to
experience the miseries of that war so frivolously and gratuitously
entered upon, from covetousness, rancor, or weakness, those fertile
sources of the bitterest sorrows to humanity.

“It is said that the King of Prussia’s troops are on the march,” wrote
the Duke of Luynes in his journal (September 3, 1756); “it is not said
whither.”  Frederick II. was indeed on the march with his usual
promptitude; a few days later, Saxony was invaded, Dresden occupied, and
the Elector-king of Poland invested in the camp of Pirna.  General Braun,
hurrying up with the Austrians to the Saxons’ aid, was attacked by
Frederick on the 1st of October, near Lowositz; without being decisive,
the battle was, nevertheless, sufficient to hinder the allies from
effecting their junction.  The Saxons attempted to cut their way through;
they were hemmed in and obliged to lay down their arms; the King of
Prussia established himself at Dresden, levying upon Saxony enormous
military contributions and otherwise treating it as a conquered country.
The unlucky elector had taken refuge in Poland.

The empress had not waited for this serious reverse to claim from France
the promised aid.  By this time it was understood how insufficient would
be a body of twenty-four thousand men for a distant and hazardous war.
Recently called to the council by King Louis XV., Marshal Belle-Isle,
still full of daring in spite of his age, loudly declared that, “since
war had come, it must be made on a large scale if it were to be made to
any purpose, and speedily.”  Some weeks later, preparations were
commenced for sending an army of a hundred thousand men to the Lower
Rhine.  The king undertook, besides, to pay four thousand Bavarians and
six thousand Wurtemburgers, who were to serve in the Austrian army.
Marshal d’Estrees, grandson of Louvois, was placed at the head of the
army already formed.  He was not one of the favorite’s particular
friends.  a Marshal d’Estrees,” she wrote to Count Clermont, “is one of
my acquaintances in society; I have never been in a position to make him
an intimate friend, but were he as much so as M. de Soubise, I should not
take upon myself to procure his appointment, for fear of having to
reproach myself with the results.”  Madame de Pompadour did not continue
to be always so reserved, and M. de Soubise was destined before long to
have his turn.  M. de Belle-Isle had insisted strongly on the choice of
Marshal d’Estrees; he was called “the Temporizer,” and was equally brave
and prudent.  “I am accustomed,” said the king, “to hear from him all he
thinks.”  The army was already on the march.

Whilst hostilities were thus beginning throughout Europe, whilst
negotiations were still going on with Vienna touching the second treaty
of Versailles, King Louis XV., as he was descending the staircase of the
marble court at Versailles on the 5th of January, 1757, received a stab
in the side from a knife.  Withdrawing full of blood the hand he had
clapped to his wound, the king exclaimed, “There is the man who wounded
me, with his hat-on; arrest him, but let no harm be done him!”  The
guards were already upon the murderer and were torturing him pending the
legal question.  The king had been carried away, slightly wounded by a
deep puncture from a penknife.  In the soul of Louis XV. apprehension had
succeeded to the first instinctive and kingly impulse of courage; he
feared the weapon might be poisoned, and hastily sent for a confessor.
The crowd of courtiers was already thronging to the dauphin’s.  To him
the king had at once given up the direction of affairs.

[Illustration: Assassination of Louis XV. by Damiens----221]

Justice, meanwhile, had taken the wretched murderer in hand.  Robert
Damiens was a lackey out of place, a native of Artois, of weak mind, and
sometimes appearing to be deranged.  In his vague and frequently
incoherent depositions, he appeared animated by a desire to avenge the
wrongs of the Parliament; he burst out against the Archbishop of Paris,
Christopher de Beaumont, a virtuous prelate of narrow mind and austere
character.  “The Archbishop of Paris,” he said, “is the cause of all this
trouble through ordering refusal of the sacraments.”  No investigation
could discover any conspiracy or accomplices; with less coolness and
fanatical resolution than Ravaillac, Damiens, like the assassin of Henry
IV., was an isolated criminal, prompted to murder by the derangement of
his own mind; he died, like Ravaillac, amidst fearful tortures which were
no longer in accord with public sentiment and caused more horror than
awe.  France had ceased to tremble for the life of King Louis XV.

For one instant the power of Madame de Pompadour had appeared to be
shaken; the king, in his terror, would not see her; M. de Machault, but
lately her protege, had even brought her orders to quit the palace.
Together with the salutary terrors of death, Louis XV.’s repentance soon
disappeared; the queen and the dauphin went back again to the modest and
pious retirement in which they passed their life; the marchioness
returned in triumph to Versailles.  MM. de Machault and D’Argenson were
exiled; the latter, who had always been hostile to the favorite, was
dismissed with extreme harshness.  The king had himself written the
sealed letter “Your services are no longer required.  I command you to
send me your resignation of the secretaryship of state for war, and of
all that appertains to the posts connected therewith, and to retire to
your estate of Ormes.”  Madame de Pompadour was avenged.

The war, meanwhile, continued; the King of Prussia, who had at first won
a splendid victory over the Austrians in front of Prague, had been beaten
at Kolin, and forced to fall back on Saxony.  Marshal d’Estrees, slowly
occupying Westphalia, had got the Duke of Cumberland into a corner on the

On the morning of July 23, 1757, the marshal summoned all his
lieutenant-generals.  “Gentlemen,” he said to them, “I do not assemble
you to-day to ask whether we should attack M. de Cumberland and invest
Hameln.  The honor of the king’s arms, his wishes, his express orders,
the interest of the common cause, all call for the strongest measures.  I
only seek, therefore, to profit by your lights, and to combine with your
assistance the means most proper for attacking with advantage.”  A day or
two after, July 26, the Duke of Cumberland, who had fallen back on the
village of Hastenbeck, had his intrenchments forced; he succeeded in
beating a retreat without being pursued; an able movement of Prince
Ferdinand of Brunswick, and a perhaps intentional mistake on the part of
M. de Maillebois had caused a momentary confusion in the French army.
Marshal d’Estrees, however, was not destined to enjoy for long the
pleasure of his victory.  Even before he had given battle the Duke of
Richelieu had set out from Versailles to supersede him in his command.

The conquest of Port Mahon had thrown around Richelieu a halo of glory;
in Germany, he reaped the fruits of Marshal d’Estrees’ successes; the
Electorate of Hanover was entirely occupied; all the towns opened their
gates; Hesse Cassel, Brunswick, the duchies of Verden and of Bremen met
with the same fate.  The marshal levied on all the conquered countries
heavy contributions, of which he pocketed a considerable portion.  His
soldiers called him “Father La Maraude.”  The pavilion of Hanover at
Paris was built out of the spoils of Germany.  Meanwhile, the Duke of
Cumberland, who had taken refuge in the marshes at the mouth of the Elbe,
under the protection of English vessels, was demanding to capitulate; his
offers were lightly accepted.  On the 8th of September, through the
agency of Count Lynar, minister of the King of Denmark, the Duke of
Cumberland and the marshal signed at the advanced posts of the French
army the famous convention of Closter-Severn.  The king’s troops kept all
the conquered country; those of Hesse, Brunswick, and Saxe-Gotha returned
to their homes; the Hanoverians were to be cantoned in the neighborhood
of Stade.  The marshal had not taken the precaution of disarming them.

Incomplete as the convention was, it nevertheless excited great emotion
in Europe.  The Duke of Cumberland had lost the military reputation
acquired at Fontenoy; the King of Prussia remained alone on the
Continent, exposed to all the efforts of the allies; every day fresh
reverses came down upon him; the Russian army had invaded the Prussian
provinces and beaten Marshal Schwald near Memel; twenty-five thousand
Swedes had just landed in Pomerania.  Desertion prevailed amongst the
troops of Frederick, recruited as they often were from amongst the
vanquished; it was in vain that the king, in his despair, shouted out on
the battle-field of Kolin, “D’ye expect to live forever, pray?”  Many
Saxon or Silesian soldiers secretly left the army.  One day Frederick
himself kept his eye on a grenadier whom he had seen skulking to the rear
of the camp.  “Whither goest thou?” he cried.  “Faith, sir,” was the
answer, “I am deserting; I’m getting tired of being always beaten.”  ”
 Stay once more,” replied the king, without showing the slightest anger;
“I promise that, if we are beaten, we will both desert together.”  In the
ensuing battle the grenadier got himself killed.

For a moment, indeed, Frederick had conceived the idea of deserting
simultaneously from the field of battle and from life.  “My dear sister,”
 he wrote to the Margravine of Baireuth, “there is no port or asylum for
me any more save in the arms of death.”  A letter in verse to the Marquis
of Argens pointed clearly to the notion of suicide.  A firmer purpose,
before long, animated that soul, that strange mixture of heroism and
corruption.  The King of Prussia wrote to Voltaire,--

          “Threatened with shipwreck though I be,
          I, facing storms that frown on me,
          Must king-like think, and live, and die.”

Fortune, moreover, seemed to be relaxing her severities.  Under the
influence of the hereditary grand-duke, a passionate admirer of Frederick
II., the Russians had omitted to profit by their victories; they were by
this time wintering in Poland, which was abandoned to all their
exactions.  The Swedes had been repulsed in the Island of Rugen, Marshal
Richelieu received from Versailles orders to remain at Halberstadt, and
to send re-enforcements to the army of the Prince of Soubise; it was for
this latter that Madame de Pompadour was reserving the honor of crushing
the Great Frederick.  More occupied in pillage than in vigorously pushing
forward the war, the marshal tolerated a fatal license amongst his
troops.  “Brigandage is more prevalent in the hearts of the superior
officers than in the conduct of the private soldier, who is full of good
will to go and get shot, but not at all to submit to discipline.  I’m
afraid that they do not see at court the alarming state of things to
their full extent,” says a letter from Paris-Duverney to the Marquis of
Cremille, “but I have heard so much of it, and perhaps seen so much since
I have been within eyeshot of this army, that I cannot give a glance at
the future without being transfixed with grief and dread.  I dare to say
that I am not scared more than another at sight of abuses and disorder,
but it is time to apply to an evil which is at its height other remedies
than palliatives, which, for the most part, merely aggravate it and
render it incurable as long as war lasts.  I have not seen and do not see
here anything but what overwhelms me, and I feel still more wretched for
having been the witness of it.”

Whilst the plunder of Hanover was serving the purpose of feeding the
insensate extravagance of Richelieu and of the army, Frederick II. had
entered Saxony, hurling back into Thuringia the troops of Soubise and of
the Prince of Hildburghausen.  By this time the allies had endured
several reverses; the boldness of the King of Prussia’s movements
bewildered and disquieted officers as well as soldiers.  “Might I ask
your Highness what you think of his Prussian majesty’s manoeuvring?”
 says a letter to Count Clermont, from an officer serving in the army of
Germany; “this prince, with eighteen or twenty thousand men at most,
marches upon an army of fifty thousand men, forces it to recross a river,
cuts off its rear guard, crosses this same river before its very eyes,
offers battle, retires, encamps leisurely, and loses not a man.  What
calculation, what audacity in this fashion of covering a country!”  On
the 3d of November the Prussian army was all in order of battle on the
left bank of the Saale, near Rosbach.

Soubise hesitated to attack; being a man of honesty and sense, he took
into account the disposition of his army, as well as the bad composition
of the allied forces, very superior in number to the French contingent.
The command belonged to the Duke of Saxe-Hildburghausen, who had no doubt
of success.  Orders were given to turn the little Prussian army, so as to
cut off its retreat.  All at once, as the allied troops were effecting
their movement to scale the heights, the King of Prussia, suddenly
changing front by one of those rapid evolutions to which he had
accustomed his men, unexpectedly attacked the French in flank, without
giving them time to form in order of battle.  The batteries placed on the
hills were at the same time unmasked, and mowed down the infantry.  The
German troops at once broke up.  Soubise sought to restore the battle by
cavalry charges, but he was crushed in his turn.  The rout became
general; the French did not rally till they reached Erfurt; they had left
eight thousand prisoners and three thousand dead on the field.

The news of the defeat at Rosbach came bursting on France like a clap of
thunder; the wrath, which first of all blazed out against Soubise, at
whose expense all the rhymesters were busy, was reflected upon the king
and Madame de Pompadour.

          “With lamp in hand, Soubise is heard to say
          ‘Why, where the devil can my army be?
          I saw it hereabouts but yesterday:
          Has it been taken?  has it strayed from me?
          I’m always losing-head and all, I know:
          But wait till daylight, twelve o’clock or so!
          What do I see?  O, heavens, my heart’s aglow:
          Prodigious luck !  Why, there it is, it is!
          Eh! _ventrebleu,_ what in the world is this?
          I must have been mistaken--it’s the foe.’”

Frederick II. had renovated affairs and spirits in Germany; the day after
Rosbach, he led his troops into Silesia against Prince Charles of
Lorraine, who had just beaten the Duke of Bevern; the King of Prussia’s
lieutenants were displeased and disquieted at such audacity.  He
assembled a council of war, and then, when he had expounded his plans,
“Farewell, gentlemen,” said be; “we shall soon have beaten the enemy,
or we shall have looked on one another for the last time.”  On the 3d of
December the Austrians were beaten at Lissa, as the French had been at
Rosbach, and Frederick II. became the national hero of Germany; the
Protestant powers, but lately engaged, to their sorrow, against him, made
up to the conqueror; admiration for him permeated even the French army.
“At Paris,” wrote D’Alembert to Voltaire, “everybody’s head is turned
about the King of Prussia; five months ago he was trailed in the mire.”

“Cabinet-generals,” says Duclos, “greedy of money, inexperienced and
presumptuous; ignorant, jealous, or ill-disposed ministers; subalterns
lavish of their blood on the battle-field and crawling at court before
the distributors of favors--such are the instruments we employed.  The
small number of those who had not approved of the treaty of Versailles
declared loudly against it; after the campaign of 1757, those who had
regarded it as a masterpiece of policy, forgot or disavowed their
eulogies, and the bulk of the public, who cannot be decided by anything
but the event, looked upon it as the source of all our woes.”  The
counsels of Abbe de Bernis had for some time past been pacific; from a
court-abbe, elegant and glib, he had become, on the 25th of June,
minister of foreign affairs.  But Madame de Pompadour remained faithful
to the empress.  In the month of January, 1758, Count Clermont was
appointed general-in-chief of the army of Germany.  In disregard of the
convention of Closter-Severn, the Hanoverian troops had just taken the
field again under the orders of the Grand-Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick; he
had already recovered possession of the districts of Luneberg, Zell, a
part of Brunswick and of Bremen.  In England, Mr. Pitt, afterwards Lord
Chatham, had again come into office; the King of Prussia could henceforth
rely upon the firmest support from Great Britain.

He had need of it.  A fresh invasion of Russians, aided by the savage
hordes of the Zaporoguian Cossacks, was devastating Prussia; the
sanguinary battle of Zorndorf, forcing them to fall back on Poland,
permitted Frederick to hurry into Saxony, which was attacked by the
Austrians.  General Daun surprised and defeated him at Hochkirch; in
spite of his inflexible resolution, the King of Prussia was obliged to
abandon Saxony.  His ally and rival, Ferdinand of Brunswick, had just
beaten Count Clermont at Crevelt.

The new commander-in-chief of the king’s armies, prince of the blood,
brother of the late Monsieur le Duc, abbot commendatory of St. Germain-
des-Pres, “general of the Benedictines,”, as the soldiers said, had
brought into Germany, together with the favor of Madame de Pompadour,
upright intentions, a sincere desire to restore discipline, and some
great illusions about himself.  “I am very impatient, I do assure you,
to be on the other side of the Rhine,” wrote Count Clermont to Marshal
Belle-Isle; “all the country about here is infested by runaway soldiers,
convalescents, camp-followers, all sorts of understrappers, who commit
fearful crimes.  Not a single officer does his duty; they are the first
to pillage; all the army ought to be put under escort and in detachments,
and then there would have to be escorts for those escorts.  I hang, I
imprison; but, as we march by cantonments and the regimental
(particuliers) officers are the first to show a bad example, the
punishments are neither sufficiently known nor sufficiently seen.
Everything smacks of indiscipline, of disgust at the king’s service,
and of asperity towards one’s self.  I see with pain that it will be
indispensable to put in practice the most violent and the harshest
measures.”  The king’s army, meanwhile, was continuing to fall back; a
general outcry arose at Paris against the general’s supineness.  On the
23d of June he was surprised by Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick in the strong
position of Crevelt, which he had occupied for two days past; the
reserves did not advance in time, orders to retreat were given too soon,
the battle was lost without disaster and without any rout; the general
was lost as well as the battle.  “It is certain,” says the Marquis of
Vogel, in his narrative of the affair, “that Count Clermont was at table
in his headquarters of Weschelen at one o’clock, that he had lost the
battle before six, arrived at Reuss at half past ten, and went to bed at
midnight; that is doing a great deal in a short time.”  The Count of
Gisors, son of Marshal Belle-Isle, a young officer of the greatest
promise, had been killed at Crevelt; Count Clermont was superseded by the
Marquis of Contades.  The army murmured; they had no confidence in their
leaders.  At Versailles, Abbe de Bernis, who had lately become a
cardinal, paid by his disgrace for the persistency he had shown in
advising peace.  He was chatting with M. de Stahrenberg, the Austrian
ambassador, when he received a letter from the king, sending him off to
his abbey of St. Medard de Soissons.  He continued the conversation
without changing countenance, and then, breaking off the conversation
just as the ambassador was beginning to speak of business.  “It is no
longer to me, sir,” he said, “that you must explain yourself on these
great topics; I have just received my dismissal from his Majesty.”  With
the same coolness he quitted the court and returned, pending his embassy
to Rome, to those elegant intellectual pleasures which suited him better
than the crushing weight of a ministry in disastrous times, under an
indolent and vain-minded monarch, who was governed by a woman as
headstrong as she was frivolous and depraved.

Madame de Pompadour had just procured for herself a support in her
obstinate bellicosity.  Cardinal Bernis was superseded in the ministry of
foreign affairs by Count Stainville, who was created Duke of Choiseul.
After the death of Marshal Belle-Isle he exchanged the office for that of
minister of war; with it he combined the ministry of the marine.  The
foreign affairs were intrusted to the Duke of Praslin, his cousin.  The
power rested almost entirely in the hands of the Duke of Choiseul.  Of
high birth, clever, bold, ambitious, he had but lately aspired to couple
the splendor of successes in the fashionable world with the serious
preoccupations of politics; his marriage with Mdlle. Crozat, a wealthy
heiress, amiable and very much smitten with him, had strengthened his
position.  Elevated to the ministry by Madame de Pompadour, and as yet
promoting her views, he nevertheless gave signs of an independent spirit
and a proud character, capable of exercising authority firmly in the
presence and the teeth of all obstacles.  France hoped to find once more
in M. de Choiseul a great minister; nor were her hopes destined to be
completely deceived.

A new and secret treaty had just riveted the alliance between France and
Austria.  M. de Choiseul was at the same time dreaming of attacking
England in her own very home, thus dealing her the most formidable of
blows.  The preparations were considerable.  M. de Soubise was recalled
from Germany to direct the army of invasion.  He was to be seconded in
his command by the Duke of Aiguillon, to whom, rightly or wrongly, was
attributed the honor of having repulsed in the preceding year an attempt
of the English at a descent upon the coasts of Brittany.  The expedition
was ready, there was nothing to wait for save the moment to go out of
port, but Admiral Hawke was cruising before Brest; it was only in the
month of November, 1759, that the marquis of Conflans, who commanded the
fleet, could put to sea with twenty-one vessels.  Finding himself at once
pursued by the English squadron, he sought shelter in the difficult
channels at the mouth of the Vilaine.  The English dashed in after him.
A partial engagement, which ensued, was unfavorable; and the commander of
the French rear-guard, M. St. Andre du Verger, allowed himself to be
knocked to pieces by the enemy’s guns in order to cover the retreat.  The
admiral ran ashore in the Bay of Le Croisic and burned his own vessel;
seven ships remained blockaded in the Vilaine.  M. de Conflans’ job, as
the sailors called it at the time, was equivalent to a battle lost
without the chances and the honor of the struggle.  The English navy was
triumphant on every sea, and even in French waters.

The commencement of the campaign of 1759 had been brilliant in Germany;
the Duke of Broglie had successfully repulsed the attack made by
Ferdinand of Brunswick on his positions at Bergen; the prince had been
obliged to retire.  The two armies, united under M. de Contades, invaded
Hesse and moved upon the Weser; they were occupying Minden when Duke
Ferdinand threw himself upon them on the 1st of August.  The action of
the two French generals was badly combined, and the rout was complete.
It was the moment of Canada’s last efforts, and the echo of that glorious
death-rattle reached even to Versailles.  The Duke of Choiseul had, on
the 19th of February, replied to a desperate appeal from Montcalm,
“I am very sorry to have to send you word that you must not expect any
re-enforcements.  To say nothing of their increasing the dearth of
provisions of which you have had only too much experience hitherto, there
would be great fear of their being intercepted by the English on the
passage, and, as the king could never send you aid proportionate to the
forces which the English are in a position to oppose to you, the efforts
made here to procure it for you would have no other effect than to rouse
the ministry in London to make still more considerable ones in order to
preserve the superiority it has acquired in that part of the continent.”
 The necessity for peace was, beginning to be admitted even, in Madame de
Pompadour’s little cabinets.

Maria Theresa, however, was in no hurry to enter into negotiations;
her enemy seemed to be bending at last beneath the weight of the double
Austrian and Russian attack.  At one time Frederick had thought that he
saw all Germany rallying round him; now, beaten and cantoned in Saxony,
with the Austrians in front of him, during the winter of 1760, he was
everywhere seeking alliances and finding himself everywhere rejected.
“I have but two allies left,” he would say, “valor and perseverance.”
 Repeated victories, gained at the sword’s point, by dint of boldness and
in the extremity of peril, could not even protect Berlin.  The capital of
Prussia found itself constrained to open its gates to the enemy, on the
sole condition that the regiments of Cossacks should not pass the line of
enclosure.  When the regular troops withdrew, the generals had not been
able to prevent the city from being pillaged.  The heroic efforts of the
King of Prussia ended merely in preserving to him a foothold in Saxony.
The Russians occupied Poland.

Marshal Broglie, on becoming general-in-chief of the French army, had
succeeded in holding his own in Hesse; he frequently made Hanover
anxious.  To turn his attention elsewhither and in hopes of deciding the
French to quit Germany, the hereditary Prince of Brunswick attempted a
diversion on the Lower Rhine; he laid siege to Wesel, whilst the English
were preparing for a descent at Antwerp.  Marshal Broglie detached M. de
Castries to protect the city.  The French corps had just arrived; it was
bivouacking.  On the night between the 15th and 16th of October,
Chevalier d’Assas, captain in the regiment of Auvergne, was sent to
reconnoitre.  He had advanced some distance from his men, and happened to
stumble upon a large force of the enemy.  The Prince of Brunswick was
preparing to attack.  All the muskets covered the young captain.  “Stir,
and thou’rt a dead man,” muttered threatening voices.  Without replying,
M. d’Assas collected all his strength and shouted, “Auvergne!  Here are
the foe!”  At the same instant he fell pierced by twenty balls.
[Accounts differ; but this is the tradition of the Assas family.]  The
action thus begun was a glorious one.  The hereditary prince was obliged
to abandon the siege of Wesel and to recross the Rhine.  The French
divisions maintained their positions.

[Illustration: Death of Chevalier D’Assas----233]

The war went on as bloodily as monotonously and fruitlessly, but the face
of Europe had lately altered.  The old King George II., who died on the
25th of September, 1760, had been succeeded on the throne of England by
his grandson, George III., aged twenty-two, the first really native
sovereign who had been called to reign over England since the fall of the
Stuarts.  George I. and George II. were Germans, in their feelings and
their manners as well as their language; the politic wisdom of the
English people had put up with them, but not without effort and
ill-humor; the accession of the young king was greeted with transport.
Pitt still reigned over Parliament and over England, governing a free
country sovereign-masterlike.  His haughty prejudice against France still
ruled all the decisions of the English government, but Lord Bute, the
young monarch’s adviser, was already whispering pacific counsels destined
ere long to bear fruit.  Pitt’s dominion was tottering when the first
overtures of peace arrived in London.  The Duke of Choiseul proposed a
congress.  He at the same time negotiated directly with England.  Whilst
Pitt kept his answer waiting, an English squadron blockaded Belle-Isle,
and the governor, M. de Sainte-Croix, left without relief, was forced to
capitulate after an heroic resistance.  When the conditions demanded by
England were at last transmitted to Versailles, the English flag was
floating over the citadel of Belle-Isle, the mouth of the Loire and of
the Vilaine was blockaded.  The arrogant pretensions of Mr. Pitt stopped
at nothing short of preserving the conquests of England in both
hemispheres; he claimed, besides, the demolition of Dunkerque “as a
memorial forever of the yoke imposed upon France.”  Completely separating
the interests of England from those of the German allies, he did not even
reply to the proposals of M. de Choiseul as to the evacuation of Hesse
and Hanover.  Mistress of the sea, England intended to enjoy alone the
fruits of her victories.

[Illustration: ANTWERP----233]

The parleys were prolonged, and M. de Choiseul seemed to be resigned to
the bitterest pill of concession, when a new actor came upon the scene of
negotiation; France no longer stood isolated face to face with triumphant
England.  The younger branch of the house of Bourbon cast into the scale
the weight of its two crowns and the resources of its navy.

The King of Spain, Ferdinand VI., who died on the 10th of August, 1759,
had not left any children.  His brother, Charles III., King of Naples,
had succeeded him.  He brought to the throne of Spain a more lively
intelligence than that of the deceased king, a great aversion for
England, of which he had but lately had cause to complain, and the
traditional attachment of his race to the interests and the glory of
France.  The Duke of Choiseul managed to take skilful advantage of this
disposition.  At the moment when Mr. Pitt was haughtily rejecting the
modest ultimatum of the French minister, the treaty between France and
Spain, known by the name of Family Pact, was signed at Paris (August 15,

Never had closer alliance been concluded between the two courts, even at
the time when Louis XIV.  placed his grandson upon the throne of Spain.
It was that intimate union between all the branches of the house of
Bourbon which had but lately been the great king’s conception, and which
had cost him so many efforts and so much blood; for the first time it was
becoming favorable to France; the noble and patriotic idea of M. de
Choiseul found an echo in the soul of the King of Spain; the French navy,
ruined and humiliated, the French colonies, threatened and all but lost,
found faithful support in the forces of Spain, recruited as they were.
by a long peace.  The King of the Two Sicilies and the Infante Duke of
Parma entered into the offensive and defensive alliance, but it was not
open to any other power in Europe to be admitted to this family union,
cemented by common interests more potent and more durable than the
transitory combinations of policy.  In all the ports of Spain ships were
preparing to put to sea.  Charles III. had undertaken to declare war
against the English if peace were not concluded before the 1st of May,
1762.  France promised in that case to cede to him the Island of Minorca.

All negotiations with England were broken off; on the 20th of September,
Mr. Pitt recalled his ambassador; this was his last act of power and
animosity; he at the same time proposed to the council of George III.
to include Spain forthwith in the hostilities.  Lord Bute opposed this;
he was supported by the young king as well as by the majority of the
ministers.  Pitt at once sent in his resignation, which was accepted.
Lord Bute and the Tories came into power.  Though more moderate in their
intentions, they were as yet urged forward by popular violence, and dared
not suddenly alter the line of conduct.  The family pact had raised the
hopes--always an easy task--of France, the national impulse inclined
towards the amelioration of the navy; the estates of Languedoc were the
first in the field, offering the king a ship of war; their example was
everywhere followed; sixteen ships, first-rates, were before long in
course of construction, a donation from the great political or financial
bodies; there were, besides, private subscriptions amounting to thirteen
millions; the Duke of Choiseul sought out commanders even amongst the
mercantile marine, and everywhere showed himself favorable to blue
officers, as the appellation then was of those whose birth excluded them
from the navy corps; the knowledge of the nobly born often left a great
deal to be desired, whatever may have been their courage and devotion.
This was a last generous effort on behalf of the shreds of France’s
perishing colonies.  The English government did not give it time to bear
fruit; in the month of January, 1762, it declared war against Spain.
Before the year had rolled by, Cuba was in the hands of the English, the
Philippines were ravaged and the galleons laden with Spanish gold
captured by British ships.  The unhappy fate of France had involved her
generous ally.  The campaign attempted against Portugal, always hand in
hand with England, had not been attended with any result.  Martinique had
shared the lot of Guadaloupe, lately conquered by the English after an
heroic resistance.  Canada and India had at last succumbed.  War dragged
its slow length along in Germany.  The brief elevation of the young czar,
Peter III., a passionate admirer of the great Frederick, had delivered
the King of Prussia from a dangerous enemy, and promised to give him an
ally equally trusty and potent.  France was exhausted, Spain discontented
and angry; negotiations recommenced, on what disastrous conditions for
the French colonies in both hemispheres has already been remarked; in
Germany the places and districts occupied by France were to be restored;
Lord Bute, like his great rival, required the destruction of the port of

This was not enough for the persistent animosity of Pitt.  The
preliminaries of peace had been already signed at Fontainebleau on the 3d
of November, 1762: when they were communicated to Parliament, the fallen
minister, still the nation’s idol and the real head of the people, had
himself carried to the House of Commons.  He was ill, suffering from a
violent attack of gout; two of his friends led him with difficulty to his
place, and supported him during his long speech; being exhausted, he sat
down towards the end, contrary to all the usages of the House, without,
however, having once faltered in his attacks upon a peace too easily
made, of which it was due to him that England was able to dictate the
conditions.  “It is as a maritime power,” he exclaimed, “that France is
chiefly if not exclusively formidable to us;” and the ardor of his spirit
restored to his enfeebled voice the dread tones which Parliament and the
nation had been wont to hear “what we gain in this respect is doubly
precious from the loss that results to her.  America, sir, was conquered
in Germany.  Now you are leaving to France a possibility of restoring her

The peace was signed, however, not without ill humor on the part of
England, but with a secret feeling of relief; the burdens which weighed
upon the country had been increasing every year.  In 1762, Lord Bute had
obtained from Parliament four hundred and fifty millions (eighteen
million pounds) to keep up the war.  “I wanted the peace to be a serious
and a durable one,” said the English minister in reply to Pitt’s attacks;
“if we had increased our demands, it would have been neither the one nor
the other.”

M. de Choiseul submitted in despair to the consequences of the
long-continued errors committed by the government of Louis XV.  “Were I
master,” said he, “we would be to the English what Spain was to the
Moors; if this course were taken, England would be destroyed in thirty
years from now.”  The king was a better judge of his weakness and of the
general exhaustion.  “The peace we have just made is neither a good one
nor a glorious one; nobody sees that better than I,” he said in his
private correspondence; “but, under such unhappy circumstances, it could
not be better, and I answer for it that if we had continued the war, we
should have made, a still worse one next year.”  All the patriotic
courage and zeal of the Duke of Choiseul, all the tardy impulse springing
from the nation’s anxieties, could not suffice even to palliate the
consequences of so many years’ ignorance, feebleness, and incapacity in

Prussia and Austria henceforth were left to confront one another, the
only actors really interested in the original struggle, the last to quit
the battle-field on to which they had dragged their allies.  By an
unexpected turn of luck, Frederick II. had for a moment seen Russia
becoming his ally; a fresh blow came to wrest from him this powerful
support.  The Czarina Catherine II., Princess of Anhalt-Zerbst and wife
of the Czar Peter III., being on bad terms with her husband and in dread
of his wrath, had managed to take advantage of the young czar’s
imprudence in order to excite a mutiny amongst the soldiers; he had been
deposed, and died before long in prison.  Catherine was proclaimed in his
place.  With her accession to the throne there commenced for Russia a new
policy, equally bold and astute, having for its sole aim, unscrupulously
and shamelessly pursued, the aggrandizement and consolidation of the
imperial power; Russia became neutral in the strife between Prussia and
Austria.  The two sovereigns, left without allies and with their
dominions drained of men and money, agreed to a mutual exchange of their
conquests; the boundaries of their territories once more became as they
had been before the Seven Years’ War.  Frederick calculated at more than
eight hundred thousand men the losses caused to the belligerents by this
obstinate and resultless struggle, the fruit of wicked ambition or
culpable weaknesses on the part of governments.  Thanks to the
indomitable energy and the equally zealous and unscrupulous ability of
the man who had directed her counsels during the greater part of the war,
England alone came triumphant out of the strife.  She had won India
forever; and, for some years at least, civilized America, almost in its
entirety, obeyed her laws.  She had won what France had lost, not by
superiority of arms, or even of generals, but by the natural and proper
force of a free people, ably and liberally governed.

The position of France abroad, at the end of the Seven Years’ War, was
as painful as it was humiliating; her position at home was still more
serious, and the deep-lying source of all the reverses which had come to
overwhelm the French.  Slowly lessened by the faults and misfortunes of
King Louis XIV.’s later years, the kingly authority, which had fallen,
under Louis XV., into hands as feeble as they were corrupt, was ceasing
to inspire the nation with the respect necessary for the working of
personal power: public opinion was no longer content to accuse the
favorite and the ministers; it was beginning to make the king responsible
for the evils suffered and apprehended.  People waited in vain for a
decision of the crown to put a stop to the incessantly renewed struggles
between the Parliament and the clergy.  Disquieted at one and the same
time by the philosophical tendencies which were beginning to spread in
men’s minds, and by the comptroller-general Machault’s projects for
exacting payment of the imposts upon ecclesiastical revenues, the
Archbishop of Paris, Christopher de Beaumont, and the Bishop of Mirepoix,
Boyer, who was in charge of the benefice-list, conceived the idea of
stifling these dangerous symptoms by an imprudent recourse to the
spiritual severities so much dreaded but lately by the people.  Several
times over, the last sacraments were denied to the dying who had declined
to subscribe to the bull Unigenitus, a clumsy measure, which was sure to
excite public feeling and revive the pretensions of the Parliaments to
the surveillance, in the last resort, over the government of the church;
Jansenism, fallen and persecuted, but still living in the depths of
souls, numbered amongst the ranks of the magistracy, as well as in the
University of Paris, many secret partisans; several parish-priests had
writs of personal seizure issued against them, and their goods were
confiscated.  Decrees succeeded decrees; in spite of the king’s feeble
opposition the struggle was extending and reaching to the whole of
France.  On the 22d of February, 1753, the Parliament of Paris received
orders to suspend all the proceedings they had commenced on the ground of
refusals of the sacraments; the king did not consent even to receive the
representations.  By the unanimous vote of the hundred and fifty-eight
members sitting on the Court, Parliament determined to give up all
service until the king should be pleased to listen.  “We declare,” said
the representation, “that our zeal is boundless, and that we feel
sufficient courage to fall victims to our fidelity.  The Court could not
serve without being wanting to their duties and betraying their oaths.”

Indolent and indifferent as he was, King Louis XV. acted as seldom and as
slowly as he could; he did not like strife, and gladly saw the
belligerents exhausting against one another their strength and their
wrath; on principle, however, and from youthful tradition, he had never
felt any liking for the Parliaments.  “The long robes and the clergy are
always at daggers drawn,” he would say to Madame de Pompadour “they drive
me distracted with their quarrels, but I detest the long robes by far the
most.  My clergy, at bottom, are attached to me and faithful to me; the
others would like to put me in tutelage. . . .  They will end by ruining
the state; they are a pack of republicans. . . .  However, things will
last my time, at any rate.”  Severe measures against the Parliament were
decided upon in council.  Four magistrates were arrested and sent to
fortresses; all the presidents, councillors of inquests and of requests,
were exiled; the grand chamber, which alone was spared, refused to
administer justice.  Being transferred to Pontoise, it persisted in its
refusal.  It was necessary to form a King’s Chamber, installed at the
Louvre; all the inferior jurisdictions refused to accept its decrees.
After a year’s strife, the Parliament returned in triumph to Paris in the
month of August, 1754; the clergy received orders not to require from the
dying any theological adhesion.  Next year, the Archbishop of Paris, who
had paid no attention to the prohibition, was exiled in his turn.

Thus, by mutually weakening each other, the great powers and the great
influences in the state were wasting away; the reverses of the French
arms, the loss of their colonies, and the humiliating peace of Paris
aggravated the discontent.  In default of good government the people are
often satisfied with glory.  This consolation, to which the French nation
had but lately been accustomed, failed it all at once; mental irritation,
for a long time silently brooding, cantoned in the writings of
philosophers and in the quatrains of rhymesters, was beginning to spread
and show itself amongst the nation; it sought throughout the state an
object for its wrath; the powerful society of the Jesuits was the first
to bear all the brunt of it.

A French Jesuit, Father Lavalette, had founded a commercial house at
Martinique.  Ruined by the war, he had become bankrupt to the extent of
three millions; the order having refused to pay, it was condemned by the
Parliament to do so.  The responsibility was declared to extend to all
the members of the Institute, and public opinion triumphed over the
condemnation with a “ quasi-indecent “ joy, says the advocate Barbier.
Nor was it content with this legitimate satisfaction.  One of the courts
which had until lately been most devoted to the Society of Jesus had just
set an example of severity.  In 1759, the Jesuits had been driven from
Portugal by the Marquis of Pombal, King Joseph I.’s all-powerful
minister; their goods had been confiscated, and their principal,
Malagrida, handed over to the Inquisition, had just been burned as a
heretic (Sept. 20, 1761).

The Portuguese Jesuits had been feebly defended by the grandees; the
clergy were hostile to them.  In France, their enemies showed themselves
bolder than their defenders.  Proudly convinced of the justice of their
cause, the Fathers had declined the jurisdiction of the grand council,
to which they had a right, as all ecclesiastical bodies had, and they had
consented to hand over to the Parliament the registers of their
constitutions, up to that time carefully concealed from the eyes of the
profane.  The skilful and clear-sighted hostility of the magistrates was
employed upon the articles of this code, so stringently framed of yore by
enthusiastic souls and powerful minds, forgetful or disdainful of the
sacred rights of human liberty.  All the services rendered by the Jesuits
to the cause of religion and civilization appeared effaced; forgotten
were their great missionary enterprises, their founders and their
martyrs, in order to set forth simply their insatiable ambition, their
thirst after power, their easy compromises with evil passions condemned
by the Christian faith.  The assaults of the philosophers had borne their
fruit in the public mind; the olden rancor of the Jansenists
imperceptibly promoted the severe inquiry openly conducted by the
magistrates.  Madame de Pompadour dreaded the influence of the Jesuits;
religious fears might at any time be aroused again in the soul of
Louis XV.  The dauphin, who had been constantly faithful to them, sought
in vain to plead their cause with the king.  He had attacked the Duke of
Choiseul; the latter so far forgot himself, it is asserted, as to say to
the prince, “Sir, I may have the misfortune to be your subject, but I
will never be your servant.”  The minister had hitherto maintained a
prudent reserve; he henceforth joined the favorite and the Parliament
against the Jesuits.

On the 6th of August, 1761, the Parliament of Paris delivered a decree
ordering the Jesuits to appear at the end of a year for the definite
judgment upon their constitutions; pending the judicial decision, all
their colleges were closed.  King Louis XV. still hesitated, from natural
indolence and from remembrance of Cardinal Fleury’s maxims.  “The
Jesuits,” the old minister would often say, “are bad masters, but you can
make them useful tools.”  An ecclesiastical commission was convoked; with
the exception of the Bishop of Soissons, the prelates all showed
themselves favorable to the Jesuits and careless of the old Gallican
liberties.  On their advice, the king sent a proposal to Rome for certain
modifications in the constitutions of the order.  Father Ricci, general
of the Jesuits, answered haughtily, “Let them be as they are, or not be”
 (_Sint ut sunt, aut non sint_).  Their enemies in France accepted the
challenge.  On the 6th of August, 1762, a decree of the Parliament of
Paris, soon confirmed by the majority of the sovereign courts, declared
that there was danger (_abus_) in the bulls, briefs, and constitutions of
the Society, pronounced its dissolution, forbade its members to wear the
dress and to continue living in common under the sway of the general and
other superiors.  Orders were given to close all the Jesuit houses.  The
principle of religious liberty, which had been so long ignored, and was
at last beginning to dawn on men’s minds, was gaining its first serious
victory by despoiling the Jesuits in their turn of that liberty for the
long-continued wrongs whereof they were called to account.  A strange and
striking reaction in human affairs; the condemnation of the Jesuits was
the precursory sign of the violence and injustice which were soon to be
committed in the name of the most sacred rights and liberties, long
violated with impunity by arbitrary power.

Vaguely and without taking the trouble to go to the bottom of his
impression, Louis XV. felt that the Parliaments and the philosophers were
dealing him a mortal blow whilst appearing to strike the Jesuits; he
stood out a long while, leaving the quarrel to become embittered and
public opinion to wax wroth at his indecision.  “There is a hand to mouth
administration,” said an anonymous letter addressed to the king and
Madame de Pompadour, “but there is no longer any hope of government.  A
time will come when the people’s eyes will be opened, and peradventure
that time is approaching.”

The persistency of the Duke of Choiseul carried the day at last; an edict
of December, 1764, declared that “the Society no longer existed in
France, that it would merely be permitted to those who composed it to
live privately in the king’s dominions, under the spiritual authority of
the local ordinaries, whilst conforming to the laws of the realm.”  Four
thousand Jesuits found themselves affected by this decree; some left
France, others remained still in their families, assuming the secular
dress.  “It will be great fun to see Father Perusseau turned abbe,” said
Louis XV. as he signed the fatal edict.  “The Parliaments fancy they are
serving religion by this measure,” wrote D’Alembert to Voltaire, “but
they are serving reason without any notion of it; they are the,
executioners on behalf of philosophy, whose orders they are executing
without knowing it.”  The destruction of the Jesuits served neither
religion nor reason, for it was contrary to justice as well as to
liberty; it was the wages and the bitter fruit of a long series of wrongs
and iniquities committed but lately, in the name of religion, against
justice and liberty.

Three years later, in 1767, the King of Spain, Charles III., less
moderate than the government of Louis XV., expelled with violence all the
members of the Society of Jesus from his territory, thus exciting the
Parliament of Paris to fresh severities against the French Jesuits, and,
on the 20th of July, 1773, the court of Rome itself, yielding at last to
pressure from nearly all the sovereigns of Europe, solemnly pronounced
the dissolution of the Order.  “Recognizing that the members of this
Society have not a little troubled the Christian commonwealth, and that
for the welfare of Christendom it were better that the Order should
disappear.”  The last houses still offering shelter to the Jesuits were
closed; the general, Ricci, was imprisoned at the castle of St. Angelo,
and the Society of Jesus, which had been so powerful for nearly three
centuries, took refuge in certain distant lands, seeking in oblivion and
silence fresh strength for the struggle which it was one day to renew.

The Parliaments were triumphant, but their authority, which seemed never
to have risen so high or penetrated so far in the government of the
state, was already tottering to its base.  Once more the strife was about
to begin between the kingly power and the magistracy, whose last victory
was destined to scarcely precede its downfall.  The financial
embarrassments of the state were growing more serious every day; to the
debts left by the Seven Years’ War were added the new wants developed by
the necessities of commerce and by the progress of civilization.  The
Board of Works, a useful institution founded by Louis XV., was everywhere
seeing to the construction of new roads, at the same time repairing the
old ones; the forced labor for these operations fell almost exclusively
on the peasantry.  The Parliament of Normandy was one of the first to
protest against “the impositions of forced labor, and the levies of money
which took place in the district on pretext of repairs and maintenance of
roads, without legal authority.”  “France is a land which devours its
inhabitants,” cried the Parliament of Paris.  The Parliament of Pau
refused to enregister the edicts; the Parliament of Brittany joined the
Estates in protesting against the Duke of Aiguillon, the then governor,
“the which hath made upon the liberties of the province one of those
assaults which are not possible save when the crown believes itself to be
secure of impunity.”  The noblesse having yielded in the states, the
Parliament of Rennes gave in their resignation in a body.  Five of its
members were arrested; at their head was the attorney-general, M. de la
Chalotais, author of a very remarkable paper against the Jesuits.  It was
necessary to form at St. Malo a King’s Chamber to try the accused.  M. de
Calonne, an ambitious young man, the declared foe of M. de la Chalotais,
was appointed attorney-general on the commission.  He pretended to have
discovered grave facts against the accused; he was suspected of having
invented them.  Public feeling was at its height; the magistrates loudly
proclaimed the theory of Classes, according to which all the Parliaments
of France, responsible one for another, formed in reality but one body,
distributed by delegation throughout the principal towns of the realm.
The king convoked a bed of justice, and, on the 2d of March, 1766, he
repaired to the Parliament of Paris.  “What has passed in my Parliaments
of Pau and of Rennes has nothing to do with my other Parliaments,” said
Louis XV. in a firm tone, to which the ears of the Parliament were no
longer accustomed.  “I have behaved in respect of those two courts as
comported with my authority, and I am not bound to account to anybody.  I
will not permit the formation in my kingdom of an association which might
reduce to a confederacy of opposition the natural bond of identical
duties and common obligations, nor the introduction into the monarchy of
an imaginary body which could not but disturb its harmony.  The
magistracy does not form a body or order separate from the three orders
of the kingdom; the magistrates are my officers.  In my person alone
resides the sovereign power, of which the special characteristic is the
spirit of counsel, justice, and reason; it is from me alone that my
courts have their existence and authority.  It is to me alone that the
legislative power belongs, without dependence and without partition.  My
people is but one with me, and the rights and interests of the nation
whereof men dare to make a body separate from the monarch are necessarily
united with my own, and rest only in my hands.”

This haughty affirmation of absolute power, a faithful echo of Cardinal
Richelieu’s grand doctrines, succeeded for a while in silencing the
representations of the Parliaments; but it could not modify the course of
opinion, passionately excited in favor of M. de la Chalotais.  On the
24th of December, 1766, after having thrice changed the jurisdiction and
the judges, the king annulled the whole procedure by an act of his
supreme authority.  “We shall have the satisfaction,” said the edict, “of
finding nobody guilty, and nothing will remain for us but to take such
measures as shall appear best adapted to completely restore and maintain
tranquillity in a province from which we have on so many occasions had
proofs of zeal for our service.”  M. de la Chalotais and his comrades
were exiled to Saintes.  They demanded a trial and a legal justification,
which were refused.  “It is enough for them to know that their honor is
intact,” the king declared.  A Parliament was imperfectly reconstructed
at Rennes.  “It is D’Aiguillon’s bailiff-court,” was the contemptuous
saying in Brittany.  The governor had to be changed.  Under the
administration of the Duke of Duras, the agitation subsided in the
province; the magistrates who had resigned resumed their seats; M. de la
Chalotais and his son, M. de Caradeuc, alone remained excluded by order
of the king.  The restored Parliament immediately made a claim on their
behalf, accompanying the request with a formal accusation against the
Duke of Aiguillon.  The states supported the Parliament.  “What! sir,”
 said the remonstrance; “they are innocent, and yet you punish them!  It
is a natural right that nobody should be’ punished without a trial; we
have property in our honor, our lives, and our liberty, just as you have
property in your crown.  We would spill our blood to preserve your
rights; but, on your side, preserve us ours.  Sir, the province on its
knees before you asks you for justice.”  A royal ordinance forbade any
proceedings against the Duke of Aiguillon, and enjoined silence on the
parties.  Parliament having persisted, and declaring that the accusations
against the Duke of Aiguillon attached (_entachaient_) his honor, Louis
XV., egged on by the chancellor, M. de Maupeou, an ambitious, bold, bad
man, repaired in person to the office, and had all the papers relating to
the procedure removed before his eyes.  The strife was becoming violent;
the Duke of Choiseul, still premier--minister but sadly shaken in the
royal favor, disapproved of the severities employed against the
magistracy.  All the blows dealt at the Parliaments recoiled upon him.

King Louis XV. had taken a fresh step in the shameful irregularity of his
life; on the 15th of April, 1764, Madame de Pompadour had died, at the
age of forty-two, of heart disease.  As frivolous as she was deeply
depraved and baseminded in her calculating easiness of virtue, she had
more ambition than comported with her mental calibre or her force of
character; she had taken it into her head to govern, by turns promoting
and overthrowing the ministers, herself proffering advice to the king,
sometimes to good purpose, but more often still with a levity as fatal as
her obstinacy.  Less clever, less ambitious, but more potent than Madame
de Pompadour over the faded passions of a monarch aged before his time,
the new favorite, Madame Dubarry, made the least scrupulous blush at the
lowness of her origin and the irregularity of her life.  It was,
nevertheless, in her circle that the plot was formed against the Duke of
Choiseul.  Bold, ambitious, restless, presumptuous sometimes in his views
and his hopes, the minister had his heart too nearly in the right place
and too proper a spirit to submit to either the yoke of Madame Dubarry or
that of the shameless courtiers who made use of her influence.
Chancellor Maupeou, the Duke of Aiguillou, and the new comptroller-
general, Abbe Terray, a man of capacity, invention, and no scruple at
all, at last succeeded in triumphing over the force of habit, the only
thing that had any real effect upon the king’s listless mind.  After
twelve years’ for a long while undisputed power, after having held in his
hands the whole government of France and the peace of Europe, M. de
Choiseul received from the king on the 24th of December, 1770, a letter
in these terms:--

“Cousin, the dissatisfaction caused me by your services forces me to
banish you to Chanteloup, whither you will repair within twenty-four
hours.  I should have sent you much further off, but for the particular
regard I have for Madame de Choiseul, in whose health I feel great
interest.  Take care your conduct does not force me to alter my mind.
Whereupon I pray God, cousin, to have you in His holy and worthy

The thunderbolt which came striking the Duke of Choiseul called forth a
fresh sign of the times.  The fallen minister was surrounded in his
disgrace with marks of esteem and affection on the part of the whole
court.  The princes themselves and the greatest lords felt it an honor to
pay him a visit at his castle of Chanteloup.  He there displayed a
magnificence which ended by swallowing up his wife’s immense fortune,
already much encroached upon during his term of power.  Nothing was too
much for the proud devotion and passionate affection of the Duchess of
Choiseul: she declined the personal favors which the king offered her,
setting all her husband’s friends the example of a fidelity which was
equally honorable to them and to him.  Acute observers read a tale of the
growing weakness of absolute power in the crowd which still flocked to a
minister in disgrace; the Duke of Choiseul remained a power even during a
banishment which was to last as long as his life.

With M. de Choiseul disappeared the sturdiest prop of the Parliaments.
In vain had the king ordered the magistrates to resume their functions
and administer justice.  “There is nothing left for your Parliament,”
 replied the premier president, “but to perish with the laws, since the
fate of the magistrates should go with that of the state.”  Madame
Dubarry, on a hint from her able advisers, had caused to be placed in her
apartments a fine portrait of Charles I. by Van Dyck.  “France,” she was
always reiterating to the king with vulgar familiarity, “France, thy
Parliament will cut off thy head too!”

[Illustration: “France, thy Parliament will cut off thy Head too!”--249]

A piece of ignorant confusion, due even more to analogy of name than to
the generous but vain efforts often attempted by the French magistracy in
favor of sound doctrines of government.  The Parliament of Paris fell
sitting upon curule chairs, like the old senators of Rome during the
invasion of the Gauls; the political spirit, the collected and combative
ardor, the indomitable resolution of the English Parliament, freely
elected representatives of a free people, were unknown to the French
magistracy.  Despite the courage and moral, elevation it had so often
shown, its strength had been wasted in a constantly useless strife; it
had withstood Richelieu and Mazarin; already reduced to submission by
Cardinal Fleury, it was about to fall beneath the equally bold and
skilful blows of Chancellor Maupeou.  Notwithstanding the little natural
liking and the usual distrust he felt for Parliaments, the king still
hesitated.  Madame Dubarry managed to inspire him with fears for his
person; and he yielded.

During the night between the 19th and 20th of January, 1771, musketeers
knocked at the doors of all the magistrates; they were awakened in the
king’s name, at the same time being ordered to say whether they would
consent to resume their service.  No equivocation possible!  No margin
for those developments of their ideas which are so dear to parliamentary
minds!  It was a matter of signing yes or no.  Surprised in their
slumbers, but still firm in their resolution of resistance, the majority
of the magistrates signed no.  They were immediately sent into
banishment; their offices were confiscated.  Those members of the
Parliament from whom weakness or astonishment had surprised a yes
retracted as soon as they were assembled, and underwent the same fate as
their colleagues.  On the 23d of January, members delegated by the grand
council, charged with the provisional administration of justice, were
installed in the Palace by the chancellor himself.  The registrar-in-
chief, the ushers, the attorneys, declined or eluded the exercise of
their functions; the advocates did not come forward to plead.  The Court
of Aids, headed by Lamoignon de Malesherbes, protested against the attack
made on the great bodies of the state.  “Ask the nation themselves, sir,”
 said the president, “to mark your displeasure with the Parliament of
Paris, it is proposed to rob them--themselves--of the essential rights of
a free people.”  The Court of Aids was suppressed like the Parliament;
six superior councils, in the towns of Arras, Blois, Chalons-sur-Marne,
Lyon, Clermont, and Poitiers parcelled out amongst them the immense
jurisdiction of Paris; the members of the grand council, assisted by
certain magistrates of small esteem, definitively took the places of the
banished, to whom compensation was made for their offices.  The king
appeared in person on the 13th of April, 1771, at the new Parliament;
the chancellor read out the edicts.  “You have just heard my intentions,”
 said Louis XV.; “I desire that they may be conformed to.  I order you to
commence your duties.  I forbid any deliberation contrary to my wishes
and any representations in favor of my former Parliament, for I shall
never change.”

One single prince of the blood, the Count of La Marche, son of the Prince
of Conti, had been present at the bed of justice.  All had protested
against the suppression of the Parliament.  “It is one of the most useful
boons for monarchs and of those most precious to Frenchmen,” said the
protest of the princes, “to have bodies of citizens, perpetual and
irremovable, avowed at all times by the kings and the nation, who, in
whatever form and under whatever denomination they may have existed,
concentrate in themselves the general right of all subjects to invoke the
law.”  “Sir, by the law you are king, and you cannot reign but by it,”
 said the Parliament of Dijon’s declaration, drawn up by one of the
mortarcap presidents (_presidents a mortier_), the gifted president De
Brosses.  The princes were banished; the provincial Parliaments,
mutilated like that of Paris or suppressed like that of Rouen, which was
replaced by two superior councils, ceased to furnish a centre for
critical and legal opposition.  Amidst the rapid decay of absolute power,
the transformation and abasement of the Parliaments by Chancellor Maupeou
were a skilful and bold attempt to restore some sort of force and unity
to the kingly authority.  It was thus that certain legitimate claims had
been satisfied, the extent of jurisdictions had been curtailed, the
salability of offices had been put down, the expenses of justice had been
lessened.  Voltaire had for a long time past been demanding these
reforms, and he was satisfied with them.  “Have not the Parliaments often
been persecuting and barbarous?” he wrote; “I wonder that the _Welches_
[i. e., Barbarians, as Voltaire playfully called the French] should take
the part of those insolent and intractable cits.”  He added, however,
“Nearly all the kingdom is in a boil and consternation; the ferment is as
great in the provinces as in Paris itself.”

The ferment subsided without having reached the mass of the nation; the
majority of the princes made it up with the court, the dispossessed
magistrates returned one after another to Paris, astonished and mortified
to see justice administered without them and advocates pleading before
the Maupeou Parliament.  The chancellor had triumphed, and remained
master; all the old jurisdictions were broken up, public opinion was
already forgetting them; it was occupied with a question more important
still than the administration of justice.  The ever-increasing disorder
in the finances was no longer checked by the enregistering of edicts; the
comptroller-general, Abbe Terray, had recourse shamelessly to every
expedient of a bold imagination to fill the royal treasury; it was
necessary to satisfy the ruinous demands of Madame Dubarry and of the
depraved courtiers who thronged about her.  Successive bad harvests and
the high price of bread still further aggravated the position.  It was
known that the king had a taste for private speculation; he was accused
of trading in grain and of buying up the stores required for feeding the
people.  The odious rumor of this famine pact, as the bitter saying was,
soon spread amongst the mob.  Before its fall, the Parliament of Rouen
had audaciously given expression to these dark accusations; it had
ordered proceedings to be taken against the monopolists.  A royal
injunction put a veto upon the prosecutions.  “This prohibition from the
crown changes our doubts to certainty,” wrote the Parliament to the king
himself; “when we said that the monopoly existed and was protected, God
forbid, sir, that we should have had your Majesty in our eye, but
possibly we had some of those to whom you distribute your authority.”
 Silence was imposed upon the Parliaments, but without producing any
serious effect upon public opinion, which attributed to the king the
principal interest in a great private concern bound to keep up a certain
parity in the price of grain.  Contempt grew more and more profound; the
king and Madame Dubarry by their shameful lives, Maupeou and Abbe Terray
by destroying the last bulwarks of the public liberties, were digging
with their own hands the abyss in which the old French monarchy was about
to be soon ingulfed.

For a long while pious souls had formed great hopes of the dauphin;
honest, scrupulous, sincerely virtuous, without the austerity and
extensive views of the Duke of Burgundy, he had managed to live aloof,
without intrigue and without open opposition, preserving towards the king
an attitude of often sorrowful respect, and all the while remaining the
support of the clergy and their partisans in their attempts and their
aspirations.  The Queen, Mary Leczinska, a timid and proudly modest
woman, resigned to her painful situation, lived in the closest intimacy
with her son, and still more with her daughterin-law, Mary Josepha of
Saxony, though the daughter of that elector who had but lately been
elevated to the throne of Poland, and had vanquished King Stanislaus.
The sweetness, the tact, the rare faculties of the dauphiness had
triumphed over all obstacles.  She had three sons.  Much reliance was
placed upon the influence she had managed to preserve with the king, and
on the dominion she exercised over her husband’s mind.  In vain had the
dauphin, distracted at the woes of France, over and over again solicited
from the king the honor of serving him at the head of the army; the
jealous anxiety of Madame de Pompadour was at one with the cold
indifference of Louis XV. as to leaving the heir to the throne in the
shade.  The prince felt it deeply, in spite of his pious resignation.
“A dauphin,” he would say, “must needs appear a useless body, and a king
strive to be everybody” (_un homme universel_).

Whilst trying to beguile his tedium at the camp of Compiegne, the
dauphin, it is said, overtaxed his strength, and died at the age of
thirty-six on the 20th of December, 1765, profoundly regretted by the
bulk of the nation, who knew his virtues without troubling themselves,
like the court and the philosophers, about the stiffness of his manners
and his complete devotion to the cause of the clergy.  The new dauphin,
who would one day be Louis XVI., was still a child; the king had him
brought into his closet.  “Poor France!”  he said sadly, “a king of
fifty-five and a dauphin of eleven!”  The dauphiness and Queen Mary
Leczinska soon followed the dauphin to the tomb (1767-1768).  The king,
thus left alone and scared by the repeated deaths around him, appeared
for a while to be drawn closer to his daughters, for whom he always
retained some sort of affection, a mixture of weakness and habit.  One of
them, Madame Louise, who was deeply pious, left him to enter the convent
of the Carmelites; he often went to see her, and granted her all the
favors she asked.  But by this time Madame Dubarry had become all-
powerful; to secure to her the honors of presentation at court, the king
personally solicited the ladies with whom he was intimate in order to get
them to support his favorite on this new stage; when the youthful Marie
Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, and daughter of Maria Theresa, whose
marriage the Duke of Choiseul had negotiated, arrived in France, in 1770,
to espouse the dauphin, Madame Dubarry appeared alone with the royal
family at the banquet given at La Muette on the occasion of the marriage.
After each reaction of religious fright and transitory repentance, after
each warning from God that snatched him for an instant from the depravity
of his life, the king plunged more deeply than before into shame.  Madame
Dubarry was to reign as much as Louis XV.

Before his fall the Duke of Choiseul had made a last effort to revive
abroad that fortune of France which he saw sinking at home without his
being able to apply any effective remedy.  He had vainly attempted to
give colonies once more to France by founding in French Guiana
settlements which had been unsuccessfully attempted by a Rouennese
Company as early as 1634.  The enterprise was badly managed; the numerous
colonists, of very diverse origin and worth, were cast without resources
upon a territory as unhealthy as fertile.  No preparations had been made
to receive them; the majority died of disease and want; New France
henceforth belonged to the English, and the great hopes which had been
raised of replacing it in Equinoctial France, as Guiana was named, soon
vanished never to return.  An attempt made about the same epoch at St.
Lucie was attended with the same result.  The great ardor and the rare
aptitude for distant enterprises which had so often manifested themselves
in France from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century seemed to be
henceforth extinguished.  Only the colonies of the Antilles, which had
escaped from the misfortunes of war, and were by this time recovered from
their disasters, offered any encouragement to the patriotic efforts of
the Duke of Choiseul.  He had been more fortunate in Europe than in the
colonies: henceforth Corsica belonged to France.

In spite of the French occupations, from 1708 to 1756, in spite of the
refusals with which Cardinal Fleury had but lately met their appeals, the
Corsicans, newly risen against the oppression of Genoa, had sent a
deputation to Versailles to demand the recognition of their republic,
offering to pay the tribute but lately paid annually to their tyrannical

The hero of Corsican independence, Pascal Paoli, secretly supported by
England, had succeeded for several years past not only in defending his
country’s liberty, but also in governing and at the same time civilizing
it.  This patriotic soul and powerful mind, who had managed to profit by
the energetic passions of his compatriots whilst momentarily repressing
their intestine quarrels, dreamed of an ideal constitution for his
island; he sent to ask for one of J. J.  Rousseau, who was still in
Switzerland, and whom he invited to Corsica.  The philosophical chimeras
of Paoli soon vanished before a piece of crushing news.  The Genoese,
weary of struggling unsuccessfully against the obstinate determination of
the Corsicans, and unable to clear off the debts which they had but
lately incurred to Louis XV., had proposed to M. de Choiseul to cede to
France their ancient rights over Corsica, as security for their
liabilities.  A treaty, signed at Versailles on the 15th of May, 1768,
authorized the king to perform all acts of sovereignty in the places and
forts of Corsica; a separate article accorded to Genoa an indemnity of
two millions.

A cry arose in Corsica.  Paoli resolved to defend the independence of his
country against France, as he had defended it against Genoa.  For several
months now French garrisons had occupied the places still submitting to
Genoa; when they would have extended themselves into the interior, Paoli
barred their passage; he bravely attacked M. de Chauvelin, the king’s
lieutenant-general, who had just landed with a proclamation from Louis
XV. to his new subjects.  “The Corsican nation does not let itself be
bought and sold like a flock of sheep sent to market,” said the protest
of the republic’s Supreme Council.  Fresh troops from France had to be
asked for; under the orders of Count Vaux they triumphed without
difficulty over the Corsican patriots.  Mustering at the bridge of Golo
for a last effort, they made a rampart of their dead; the wounded had
lain down amongst the corpses to give the survivors time to effect their
retreat.  The town of Corte, the seat of republican government,
capitulated before long.  England had supplied Paoli with munitions and
arms; he had hoped more from the promises of the government and the
national jealousy against France.  “The ministry is too weak and the
nation too wise to make war on account of Corsica,” said an illustrious
judge, Lord Mansfield.  In vain did Burke exclaim, “Corsica, as a
province of France, is for me an object of alarm!”  The House of Commons
approved of the government’s conduct, and England contented herself with
offering to the vanquished Paoli a sympathetic hospitality; he left
Corsica on an English frigate, accompanied by most of his friends, and it
is in Westminster Abbey that he lies, after the numerous vicissitudes of
his life, which fluctuated throughout the revolutions of his native land,
from England to France and from France to England, to the day when
Corsica, proud of having given a master to France and the Revolution,
became definitively French with Napoleon.

[Illustration: Defeat of the Corsicans at Golo----256]

Corsica was to be the last conquest of the old French monarchy.  Great or
little, magnificent or insignificant, from Richelieu to the Duke of
Choiseul, France had managed to preserve her territorial acquisitions; in
America and in Asia, Louis XV. had shamefully lost Canada and the Indies;
in Europe, the diplomacy of his ministers had given to the kingdom
Lorraine and Corsica.  The day of insensate conquests ending in a
diminution of territory had not yet come.  In the great and iniquitous
dismemberment which was coming, France was to have no share.

Profound disquietude was beginning to agitate Europe: the King of Poland,
Augustus III., had died in 1763, leaving the unhappy country over which
he had reigned a prey to internal anarchy ever increasing and
systematically fanned by the avidity or jealousy of the great powers, its
neighbors.  “As it is to the interest of the two monarchs of Russia and
Prussia that the Polish commonwealth should preserve its right to free
election of a king,” said the secret treaty concluded in 1764 between
Frederick II.  and the Empress Catherine, “and that no family should
possess itself of the elective throne of that country, the two
undermentioned Majesties engage to prevent, by all means in their power,
Poland from being despoiled of its right of election and transformed into
an hereditary kingdom; they mutually promise to oppose in concert, and,
if necessary, by force of arms, all plans and designs which may tend
thereto as soon as discovered.”

A second article secured to the dissidents, as Protestants and Greeks
were called in Poland, the protection of the King of Prussia and of the
empress, “who will make every effort to persuade, by strong and friendly
representations, the king and the commonwealth of Poland to restore to
those persons the rights, privileges, and prerogatives they have acquired
there, and which have been accorded them in the past, as well in
ecclesiastical as in civil matters, but have since been, for the most
part, circumscribed or unjustly taken away.  But, should it be impossible
to attain that end at once, the contracting parties will content
themselves with seeing that, whilst waiting for more favorable times and
circumstances, the aforesaid persons are put beyond reach of the wrongs
and oppression under which they are at present groaning.”  In order to
remain masters of Poland and to prevent it from escaping the dissolution
with which it was threatened by its internal dissensions, Frederick and
Catherine, who were secretly pursuing different and often contrary
courses, united to impose on the Diet a native prince.  “I and my ally
the Empress of Russia,” said the King of Prussia, “have agreed to promote
the selection of a Piast (Pole), which would be useful and at the same
time glorious for the nation.”  In vain had Louis XV. by secret policy
sought for a long while to pave the way for the election of the Prince of
Conti to the throne of Poland; the influence of Russia and of Prussia
carried the day.  Prince Poniatowski, late favorite of the Empress
Catherine, was elected by the Polish Diet; in discouragement and sadness,
four thousand nobles only had responded to the letters of convocation.
The new king, Stanislaus Augustus, handsome, intelligent, amiable,
cultivated, but feeble in character and fatally pledged to Russia, sought
to rally round him the different parties, and to establish at last, in
the midst of general confusion, a regular and a strong government.  He
was supported in this patriotic task by the influence, ever potent in
Poland, of the Czartoriskis.  The far-seeing vigilance of Frederick II.
did not give them time to act.  “Poland must be left in her lethargy,” he
had said to the Russian ambassador Saldern.  “It is of importance,” he
wrote to Catherine, “that Her Majesty the empress, who knows perfectly
well her own interests and those of her friends and allies, should give
orders of the most precise kind to her ambassador at Warsaw, to oppose
any novelty in the form of government, and, generally speaking, the
establishment of a permanent council, the preservation of the commissions
of war and of the treasury, the power of the king and the unlimited
concession on the prince’s part of ability to distribute offices
according to his sole will.”  The useful reforms being thus abandoned and
the king’s feeble power radically shaken, religious discord came to fill
up the cup of disorder, and to pave the way for the dismemberment, as
well as definitive ruin, of unhappy Poland.

Subjected for a long time past to an increasing oppression, which was
encouraged by a fanatical and unenlightened clergy, the Polish dissidents
had conceived great hopes on the accession of Stanislaus Augustus; they
claimed not only liberty of conscience and of worship, but also all the
civil and political rights of which they were deprived.  “It is no
question of establishing the free exercise of different religions in
Poland,” wrote Frederick to Catherine; “it is necessary to reduce the
question to its true issue, the demand of the dissident noblesse, and
obtain for them the equality they demand, together with participation in
all acts of sovereignty.”  This was precisely what the clergy and the
Catholic noblesse were resolved never to grant.  In spite of support from
the empress and the King of Prussia, the demand of the dissidents was
formally rejected by the Diet of 1766.  At the Diet of 1767, Count
Repnin, Catherine’s ambassador and the real head of the government in
Poland, had four of the most recalcitrant senators carried off and sent
into exile in Russia.  The Diet, terrified, disorganized, immediately
pronounced in favor of the dissidents.  By the modifications recently
introduced into the constitution of their country, the Polish nobles had
lost their liberum veto; unanimity of suffrages was no longer necessary
in the Diet; the foreign powers were able to insolently impose their will
upon it; the privileges of the noblesse, as well as their traditional
faith, were attacked at the very foundations; religious fanaticism and
national independence boiled up at the same time in every heart; the
discontent, secretly fanned by the agents of Frederick, burst out, sooner
than the skilful weavers of the plot could have desired, with sufficient
intensity and violence to set fire to the four corners of Poland.  By a
bold surprise the confederates gained possession of Cracow and of the
fortress of Barr, in Podolia; there it was that they swore to die for the
sacred cause of Catholic Poland.  For more than a century, in the face of
many misatkes and many misfortunes, the Poles have faithfully kept that

The Bishop of Kaminck, Kraminski, had gone to Versailles to solicit the
support of France.  The Duke of Choiseul, at first far from zealous in
the cause of the Polish insurrection, had nevertheless sent a few troops,
who were soon re-enforced.  The Empress Catherine had responded to the
violence of the confederates of Barr by letting loose upon the Ukraine
the hordes of Zaporoguian Cossacks, speedily followed by regular troops.
The Poles, often beaten, badly led by chieftains divided amongst
themselves, but ever ardent, ever skilful in seizing upon the smallest
advantages, were sustained by the pious exhortations of the clergy, who
regarded the war as a crusade; they were rejoiced to see a diversion
preparing in their favor by the Sultan’s armaments.  “I will raise the
Turks against Russia the moment you think proper,” was the assurance
given to the Duke of Choiseul by the Count of Vergennes, French
ambassador at Constantinople, “but I warn you that they will be beaten.”
 Hostilities broke out on the 30th of October, 1768; a Turkish army set
out to aid the Polish insurrection.  Absorbed by their patriotic
passions, the Catholic confederates summoned the Mussulmans to their
assistance.  Prince Galitzin, at the head of a Russian force very
inferior to the Ottoman invaders, succeeded in barring their passage; the
Turks fell back, invariably beaten by the Russian generals.  Catherine at
the same time summoned to liberty the oppressed and persecuted Greeks;
she sent a squadron to support the rising which she had been fomenting
for some months past.  After a few brilliant successes, her arms were
less fortunate at sea than on land.  A French officer, of Hungarian
origin, Baron Tott, sent by the Duke of Choiseul to help the Sublime
Porte, had fortified the Straits of the Dardanelles; the Russians were
repulsed; they withdrew, leaving the Greeks to the vengeance of their
oppressors.  The efforts which the Empress Catherine was making in Poland
against the confederates of Barr had slackened her proceedings against
Turkey; she was nevertheless becoming triumphant on the borders of the
Vistula, as well as on the banks of the Danube, when the far-sighted and
bold policy of Frederick II. interfered in time to prevent Russia from
taking possession of Poland as well as of the Ottoman empire.

Secretly favoring the confederates of Barr whom he had but lately
encouraged in their uprising, and whom he had suffered to make purchases
of arms and ammunition in Prussia, Frederick II. had sought in Austria a
natural ally, interested like himself in stopping the advances of Russia.
The Emperor, Maria Theresa’s husband, had died in 1764; his son, Joseph
II., who succeeded him, had conceived for the King of Prussia the
spontaneous admiration of a young and ardent spirit for the most
illustrious man of his times.  In 1769, a conference which took place at
Neisse brought the two sovereigns together.  “The emperor is a man eaten
up with ambition,” wrote Frederick after the interview; “he is hatching
some great design.  At present, restrained as he is by his mother, he
is beginning to chafe at the yoke he bears, and, as soon as he gets
elbow-room, he will commence with some ‘startling stroke; it was
impossible for me to discover whether his views were directed towards the
republic of Venice, towards Bavaria, towards Silesia, or towards
Lorraine; but we may rely upon it that Europe will be all on fire the
moment he is master.”  A second interview, at Neustadt in 1770, clinched
the relations already contracted at Neisse.  Common danger brought
together old enemies.  “I am not going to have the Russians for
neighbors,” the Empress Maria Theresa was always repeating.  The
devastating flood had to be directed, and at the same time stemmed.  The
feeble goodwill of France and the small body of troops commanded by
Dumouriez were still supporting the Polish insurrection, but the Duke of
Choiseul had just succumbed to intrigue at home.  There was no longer any
foreign policy in France.  It was without fear of intervention from her
that the German powers began to discuss between them the partition of

She was at the same time suffering disseverment at her own hands through
her intestine divisions and the mutual jealousy of her chiefs.  In Warsaw
the confederates had attempted to carry off King Stanislaus Augustus,
whom they accused of betraying the cause of the fatherland; they had
declared the throne vacant, and took upon themselves to found an
hereditary monarchy.  To this supreme honor every great lord aspired,
every small army-corps acted individually and without concert with the
neighboring leaders.  Only a detachment of French, under the orders of
Brigadier Choisi, still defended the fort of Cracow; General Suwarrow,
who was investing it, forced them to capitulate; they obtained all the
honors of war, but in vain was the Empress Catherine urged by D’Alembert
and his friends the philosophers to restore their freedom to the glorious
vanquished; she replied to them with pleasantries.  Ere long the fate of
Poland was about to be decided without the impotent efforts of France in
her favor weighing for an instant in the balance.  The political
annihilation of Louis XV. in Europe had been completed by the dismissal
of the Duke of Choiseul.

The public conscience is lightened by lights which ability, even when
triumphant, can never altogether obscure.  The Great Frederick and the
Empress Catherine have to answer before history for the crime of the
partition of Poland, which they made acceptable to the timorous jealousy
of Maria Theresa and to the youthful ambition of her son.  As prudent as
he was audacious, Frederick had been for a long time paving the way for
the dismemberment of the country he had seemed to protect.  Negotiations
for peace with the Turks became the pretext for war-indemnities.  Poland,
vanquished, divided, had to pay the whole of them.  “I shall not enter
upon the portion that Russia marks out for herself,” wrote Frederick to
Count Solms, his ambassador at St. Petersburg.  “I have expressly left
all that blank in order that she may settle it according to her interests
and her own good pleasure.  When the negotiations for peace have advanced
to a certain stage of consistency, it will no longer depend upon the
Austrians to break them off if we declare our views unanimously as to
Poland.  She cannot rely any further upon France, which happens to be in
such a fearful state of exhaustion that it could not give any help to
Spain, which was on the point of declaring war against England.  If that
war do not take place, it must be attributed simply to the smash in the
finances of France.  I guarantee, then, to the Russians all that may
happen to suit them; they will do as much for me; and, supposing that the
Austrians should consider their share of Poland too paltry in comparison
with ours, and it were desirable to satisfy them, one would only have to
offer them that strip of the Venetian dominions which cuts them off from
Trieste in order to keep them quiet; even if they were to turn nasty, I
will answer for it with my head that our union with Russia, once clearly
established, will tide them over all that we desire.  They have to do
with two powers, and they have not a single ally to give them a

Frederick said truly; his sound and powerful judgment took in the
position of Europe: France, exhausted by the lingering decay of her
government and in travail with new and confused elements which had as yet
no strength but to shatter and destroy; Spain, lured on by France and
then abandoned by her; England, disturbed at home by parliamentary
agitation, favorably disposed to the court of Russia and for a long while
allied to Frederick; Sweden and Denmark, in the throes of serious events;
there was nothing to oppose the iniquity projected and prepared for with
so much art and ability.  It was in vain that the King of Prussia sought
to turn into a joke the unscrupulous manoeuvres of his diplomacy when he
wrote to D’Alembert in January, 1772, “I would rather undertake to put
the whole history of the Jews into madrigals than to cause to be of one
mind three sovereigns amongst whom must be numbered two women.”  The
undertaking was already accomplished.  Three months later, the first
partition of Poland had been settled between Russia, Prussia, and
Austria, and on the 2d of September, 1772, the treaty was made known at
Warsaw.  The manifesto was short.  “It is a general rule of policy,”
 Frederick had said, “that, in default of unanswerable arguments, it is
better to express one’s self laconically, and not go beating about the
bush.”  The care of drawing it up had been intrusted to Prince Kaunitz.
“It was of importance,” said the document, “to establish the commonwealth
of Poland on a solid basis whilst doing justice to the claims of the
three powers for services rendered against the insurrection.”  The king
and the senate protested.  The troops of the allies surrounded Warsaw,
and the Diet, being convoked, ratified by a majority of two voices the
convention presented by the spoilers themselves.  Catherine assigned to
herself three thousand square leagues, and one million five hundred
thousand souls, in Lithuania and Polish Livonia; Austria took possession
of two thousand five hundred square leagues, and more than two million
souls, in Red Russia and the Polish palatinates on the left of the
Vistula; the instigator and plotter of the whole business had been the
most modest of all; the treaty of partition brought Prussia only nine
hundred square leagues and eight hundred and sixty thousand souls, but he
found himself master of Prussian Poland and of a henceforth compact
territory.  England had opposed, in Russia, the cession of Dantzick to
the Great Frederick.  “The ill-temper of France and England at the
dismemberment of Poland calls for serious reflections,” wrote the King of
Prussia on the 5th of August, 1772: “these two courts are already moving
heaven and earth to detach the court of Vienna from our system; but as
the three chief points whence their support should come are altogether to
seek in France, and there is neither system, nor stability, nor money
there, her projects will be given up with the same facility with which
they were conceived and broached.  They appear to me, moreover, like the
projects of the Duke of Aiguillon, ebullitions of French vivacity.”

France did not do anything, and could not do anything; the king’s secret
negotiators, as well as the minister of foreign affairs, had been tricked
by the allied powers.  “Ah! if Choiseul had been here!”  exclaimed King
Louis XV., it is said, when he heard of the partition of Poland.  The
Duke of Choiseul would no doubt have been more clear-sighted and better
informed than the Duke of Aiguillon, but his policy could have done no
good.  Frederick II. knew that.  “France plays so small a part in
Europe,” he wrote to Count Solms, “that I merely tell you about the
impotent efforts of the French ministry’s envy just to have a laugh at
them, and to let you see in what visions the consciousness of its own
weaknesses is capable of leading that court to indulge.”  “O! where is
Poland?” Madame Dubarry had said to Count Wicholorsky, King Stanislaus
Augustus’ charge d’affaires, who was trying to interest her in the
misfortunes of his country.

The partition of Poland was barely accomplished, the confederates of
Barr, overwhelmed by the Russian troops, were still arriving in France to
seek refuge there, and already King Louis XV., for a moment roused by the
audacious aggression of the German courts, had sunk back into the
shameful lethargy of his life.  When Madame Louise, the pious Carmelite
of St. Denis, succeeded in awakening in her father’s soul a gleam of
religious terror, the courtiers in charge of the royal pleasures
redoubled their efforts to distract the king from thoughts so perilous
for their own fortunes.  Louis XV., fluctuating between remorse and
depravity, ruled by Madame Dubarry, bound hand and foot to the
triumvirate of Chancellor Maupeou, Abbe Terray, and the Duke of
Aiguillon, who were consuming between them in his name the last remnants
of absolute power, fell suddenly ill of small-pox.  The princesses, his
daughters, had never had that terrible disease, the scourge and terror of
all classes of society, yet they bravely shut themselves up with the
king, lavishing their attentions upon him to the last gasp.  Death,
triumphant, had vanquished the favorite.  Madame Dubarry was sent away as
soon as the nature of the malady had declared itself.  The king charged
his grand almoner to ask pardon of the courtiers for the scandal he had
caused them.  “Kings owe no account of their conduct save to God only,”
 he had often repeated to comfort himself for the shame of his life.  “It
is just He whom I fear,” said Maria Theresa, pursued by remorse for the
partition of Poland.

Louis XV. died on the 10th of May, 1774, in his sixty-fourth year, after
reigning fifty-nine years, despised by the people who had not so long ago
given him the name of Well-beloved, and whose attachment he had worn out
by his cold indifference about affairs and the national interests as much
as by the irregularities of his life.  With him died the old French
monarchy, that proud power which had sometimes ruled Europe whilst always
holding a great position therein.  Henceforth France was marching towards
the unknown, tossed about as she was by divers movements, which were
mostly hostile to the old state of things, blindly and confusedly as yet,
but, under the direction of masters as inexperienced as they were daring,
full of frequently noble though nearly always extravagant and reckless
hopes, all founded on a thorough reconstruction of the bases of society
and of its ancient props.  Far more even than the monarchy, at the close
of Louis XV.’s reign, did religion find itself attacked and threatened;
the blows struck by the philosophers at fanaticism recoiled upon the
Christian faith, transiently liable here below for human errors and
faults over which it is destined to triumph in eternity.


Nowhere and at no epoch had literature shone with so vivid a lustre as
in the reign of Louis XIV.; never has it been in a greater degree the
occupation and charm of mankind, never has it left nobler and rarer
models behind it for the admiration and imitation of the coming race;
the writers of Louis XV.’s age, for all their brilliancy and all their
fertility, themselves felt their inferiority in respect of their
predecessors.  Voltaire confessed as much with a modesty which was by no
means familiar to him.  Inimitable in their genius, Corneille, Bossuet,
Pascal, Moliere left their imprint upon the generation that came after
them; it had judgment enough to set them by acclamation in the ranks of
the classics; in their case, greatness displaced time.  Voltaire took
Racine for model; La Mothe imagined that he could imitate La Fontaine.
The illustrious company of great minds which surrounded the throne of
Louis XIV., and had so much to do with the lasting splendor of his reign,
had no reason to complain of ingratitude on the part of its successors;
but, from the pedestal to which they raised it, it exercised no potent
influence upon new thought and new passions.  Enclosed in their glory as
in a sanctuary, those noble spirits, discreet and orderly even in their
audacities, might look forth on commotions and yearnings they had never
known; they saw, with astonishment mingled with affright, their
successors launching without fear or afterthought upon that boundless
world of intellect, upon which the rules of conscience and the
difficulties of practical life do not come in anywhere to impose limits.
They saw the field everywhere open to human thought, and they saw falling
down on all sides the boundaries which they had considered sacred.  They
saw pioneers, as bold as they were thoughtless, marching through the
mists of a glorious hope towards an unknown future, attacking errors and
abuses, all the while that they were digging up the groundwork of society
in order to lay new foundations, and they must have shuddered even in
their everlasting rest to see ideas taking the place of creeds, doubt
substituted for belief, generous aspirations after liberty, justice, and
humanity mingled, amongst the masses, with low passions and deep-seated
rancor.  They saw respect disappearing, the church as well as the kingly
power losing prestige every day, religious faith all darkened and dimmed
in some corner of men’s souls, and, amidst all this general instability,
they asked themselves with awe, “What are the guiding-reins of the
society which is about to be?  What will be the props of the new fabric?
The foundations are overturned; what will the good man do?”

[Illustration: Montesquieu----269]

Good men had themselves sometimes lent a hand to the work, beyond what
they had intended or foreseen, perhaps; Montesquieu, despite the wise
moderation of his great and strong mind, had been the first to awaken
that yearning for novelty and reforms which had been silently brooding at
the bottom of men’s hearts.  Born in 1689 at the castle of La Brede, near
Bordeaux, Montesquieu really belonged, in point of age, to the reign of
Louis XIV., of which he bears the powerful imprint even amidst the
boldness of his thoughts and expressions.  Grandeur is the distinctive
characteristic of Montesquieu’s ideas, as it is of the seventeenth
century altogether.  He was already councillor in the Parliament of
Bordeaux when Louis XIV. died; next year (1716) he took possession of a
mortar-cap president’s (_president d mortier_) office, which had been
given up to him by one of his uncles.  “On leaving college,” he says,
“there were put into my hands some law-books; I examined the spirit of
them.”  Those profound researches, which were to last as long as his
life, were more suited to his tastes than jurisprudence properly so
called.  “What has always given me rather a low opinion of myself,” he
would say, “is that there are very few positions in the commonwealth for
which I should be really fit.  As for my office of president, I have my
heart in the right place, I comprehend sufficiently well the questions in
themselves; but as to the procedure I did not understand anything about
it.  I paid attention to it, nevertheless; but what disgusted me most was
to see fools with that very talent which, so to speak, shunned me.”  He
resolved to deliver himself from the yoke which was intolerable to him,
and resigned his office; but by this time the world knew his name, in
spite of the care he had taken at first to conceal it.  In 1721, when he
still had his seat on the fleurs-de-lis, he had published his _Lettres
persanes,_ an imaginary trip of two exiled Parsees, freely criticising
Paris and France.  The book appeared under the Regency, and bears the
imprint of it in the licentiousness of the descriptions and the witty
irreverence of the criticisms.  Sometimes, however, the future gravity of
Montesquieu’s genius reveals itself amidst the shrewd or biting
judgments.  It is in the _Lettres persanes_ that he seeks to set up the
notion of justice above the idea of God himself.  “Though there were no
God,” he says, “we should still be bound to love justice, that is to say,
make every effort to be like that Being of whom we have so grand an idea,
and who, if He existed, would of necessity be just.”  Holy Scripture,
before Montesquieu, had affirmed more simply and more powerfully the
unchangeable idea of justice in every soul of man.  “He who is judge of
all the earth, shall not He do right?.”  Abraham had said when
interceding with God for the righteous shut up in Sodom.

The success of the _Lettres persanes_ was great; Montesquieu had said
what many people thought without daring to express it; the doubt which
was nascent in his mind, and which he could only withstand by an effort
of will, the excessive freedom of the tone and of the style scared the
authorities, however; when he wanted to get into the French Academy, in
the place of M. de Sacy, Cardinal Fleury opposed it formally.  It was
only on the 24th of January, 1728, that Montesquieu, recently elected,
delivered his reception speech.  He at once set out on some long travels;
he went through Germany, Hungary, Italy, Switzerland, Holland, and ended
by settling in England for two years.  The sight of political liberty had
charmed him.  “Ambassadors know no more about England than a six months’
infant,” he wrote in his journal; “when people see the devil to pay in
the periodical publications, they believe that there is going to be a
revolution next day; but all that is required is to remember that in
England as elsewhere, the people are dissatisfied with the ministers and
write what is only thought elsewhere.  England is the freest country in
the world; I do not except any republic.”  He returned to France so
smitten with the parliamentary or moderate form of government, as he
called it, that he seemed sometimes to forget the prudent maxim of the
_Lettres persanes_.  “It is true,” said the Parsee Usbeck, “that, in
consequence of a whimsicality (_bizarrerie_) which springs rather from
the nature than from the mind of man, it is sometimes necessary to change
certain laws; but the case is rare, and, when it occurs, it should not be
touched save with a trembling hand.”

On returning to his castle of La Brede after so many and such long
travels, Montesquieu resolved to restore his tone by intercourse with the
past.  “I confess my liking for the ancients,” he used to say; “this
antiquity enchants me, and I am always ready to say with Pliny, ‘You are
going to Athens; revere the gods.’”  It was not, however, on the Greeks
that he concentrated the working of his mind; in 1734, he published his
_Considerations sur les causes de la grandeur et de la decadence des
Romaine_.  Montesquieu did not, as Bossuet did, seek to hit upon God’s
plan touching the destinies of mankind; he discovers in the virtues and
vices of the Romans themselves the secret of their triumphs and of their
reverses.  The contemplation of antiquity inspires him with language
often worthy of Tacitus, curt, nervous, powerful in its grave simplicity.
“It seemed,” he says, “that the Romans only conquered in order to give;
but they remained so positively the masters that, when they made war on
any prince, they crushed him, so to speak, with the weight of the whole

Montesquieu thus performed the prelude to the great work of his life; he
had been working for twenty years at the _Esprit des lois,_ when he
published it in 1748.  “In the course of twenty years,” he says, “I saw
my work begin, grow, progress, and end.”  He had placed as the motto to
his book this Latin phrase, which at first excited the curiosity of
readers: _Prolem sine matre creatam_ (Offspring begotten without a
mother).  “Young man,” said Montesquieu, by this time advanced in years,
to M. Suard (afterwards perpetual secretary to the French Academy),
“young man, when a notable book is written, genius is its father, and
liberty its mother; that is why I wrote upon the title-page of my work,
“Prolem sine matre creatam.”

It was liberty at the same time as justice that Montesquieu sought and
claimed in his profound researches into the laws which have from time
immemorial governed mankind; that new instinctive idea of natural rights,
those new yearnings which were beginning to dawn in all hearts, remained
as yet, for the most part, upon the surface of their minds and of their
lives; what was demanded at that time in France was liberty to speak and
write rather than to act and govern.  Montesquieu, on the contrary, went
to the bottom of things, and, despite the natural moderation of his mind,
he propounded theories so perilous for absolute power that he dared not
have his book printed at Paris, and brought it out in Geneva; its success
was immense; before his death, Montesquieu saw twenty-one French editions
published, and translations in all the languages of Europe.  “Mankind had
lost its titledeeds,” says Voltaire; “Montesquieu recovered and restored

The intense labor, the immense courses of reading, to which Montesquieu
had devoted himself, had exhausted his strength.  “I am overcome with
weariness,” he wrote in 1747; “I propose to rest myself for the remainder
of my days.”  “I have done,” he said to M. Suard; “I have burned all my
powder, all my candles have gone out.”  “I had conceived the design of
giving greater breadth and depth to certain parts of my _Esprit;_ I have
become incapable of it; my reading has weakened my eyes, and it seems to
me that what light I have left is but the dawn of the day when they will
close forever.”

Montesquieu was at Paris, ill and sad at heart, in spite of his habitual
serenity; notwithstanding the scoffs he had admitted into his _Lettres
persanes,_ he had always preserved some respect for religion; he
considered it a necessary item in the order of societies; in his soul and
on his own private account he hoped and desired rather than believed.
“Though the immortality of the soul were an error,” he had said, “I
should be sorry not to believe it; I confess that I am not so humble as
the atheists.  I know not what they think, but as for me I would not
truck the notion of my immortality for that of an ephemeral happiness.
There is for me a charm in believing myself to be immortal like God
himself.  Independently of revealed ideas, metaphysical ideas give me, as
regards my eternal happiness, strong hopes which I should not like to
give up.”  As he approached the tomb, his views of religion appeared to
become clearer.  “What a wonderful thing!”  he would say, “the Christian
religion, which seems to have no object but felicity in the next world,
yet forms our happiness in this.”  He had never looked to life for any
very keen delights; his spirits were as even as his mind was powerful.
“Study has been for me the sovereign remedy against the disagreeables of
life,” he wrote, “never having had any sorrow that an hour’s reading did
not dispel.  I awake in the morning with a secret joy at beholding the
light; I gaze upon the light with a sort of enchantment, and all the rest
of the day I am content.  I pass the night without awaking, and in the
evening, when I go to bed, a sort of entrancement prevents me from giving
way to reflections.”

Montesquieu died as he had lived, without retracting any of his ideas or
of his writings.  The priest of his parish brought him the sacraments,
and, “Sir,” said he, “you know how great God is!”  “Yes,” replied the
dying man, “and how little men are!”  He expired almost immediately on
the 10th of February, 1755, at the age of sixty-six.  He died at the
beginning of the reign of the philosophers, whose way he had prepared
before them without having ever belonged to their number.  Diderot alone
followed his bier.  Fontenelle, nearly a hundred years old, was soon to
follow him to the tomb.

[Illustration: Fontenelle----274]

Born at Rouen in February, 1657, and nephew of Corneille on the mother’s
side, Fontenelle had not received from nature any of the unequal and
sublime endowments which have fixed the dramatic crown forever upon the
forehead of Corneille; but he had inherited the wit, and indeed the
brilliant wit (_bel esprit_), which the great tragedian hid beneath the
splendors of his genius.  He began with those writings, superfine
(_precieux_), dainty, tricked out in the fashion of the court and the
drawing-room, which suggested La Bruyere’s piquant portrait.

“Ascanius is a statuary, Hegio a metal-founder, AEschines a fuller, and
Cydias a brilliant wit.  That is his trade; he has a sign, a workshop,
articles made to order, and apprentices who work under him.  Prose,
verse, what d’ye lack?  He is equally successful in both.  Give him an
order for letters of consolation, or on an absence; he will undertake
them.  Take them ready made, if you like, and enter his shop; there is a
choice assortment.  He has a friend whose only duty on earth is to puff
him for a long while in certain society, and then present him at their
houses as a rare bird and a man of exquisite conversation, and thereupon,
just as the musical man sings and the player on the lute touches his lute
before the persons to whom he has been puffed, Cydias, after coughing,
pulling up his wristband, extending his hand and opening his fingers,
gravely spouts his quintessentiated ideas and his sophisticated

Fontenelle was not destined to stop here in his intellectual
developments; when, at forty years of age, he became perpetual secretary
to the Academy of Sciences, he had already written his book on the
_Pluralite des Mondes,_ the first attempt at that popularization of
science which has spread so since then.  “I believe more and more,” he
said, “that there is a certain genius which has never yet been out of our
Europe, or, at least, has not gone far out of it.”  This genius, clear,
correct, precise, the genius of method and analysis, the genius of
Descartes, which was at a later period that of Buffon and of Cuvier, was
admirably expounded and developed by Fontenelle for the use of the
ignorant.  He wrote for society, and not for scholars, of whose labors
and discoveries he gave an account to society.  His extracts from the
labors of the Academy of Science and his eulogies of the Academicians are
models of lucidness under an ingenious and subtle form, rendered simple
and strong by dint of wit.  “There is only truth that persuades,” he used
to say, “and even without requiring to appear with all its proofs.  It
makes its way so naturally into the mind, that, when it is heard for the
first time, it seems as if one were merely remembering.”

Equitable and moderate in mind, prudent and cold in temperament,
Fontenelle passed his life in discussion without ever stumbling into
disputes.  “I am no theologian, or philosopher, or man of any
denomination, of any sort whatever; consequently I am not at all bound to
be right, and I can with honor confess that I was mistaken, whenever I am
made to see it.”  “How did you manage to keep so many friends without
making one enemy?” he was asked in his old age.  “By means of two
maxims,” he answered: “Everything is possible; everybody may be right”
 (_tout le monde a raison_).  The friends of Fontenelle were moderate like
himself; impressed with his fine qualities, they pardoned his lack of
warmth in his affections.  “He never laughed,” says Madame Geoffrin, his
most intimate friend.  “I said to him one day, ‘Did you ever laugh, M. de
Fontenelle?’  ‘No,’ he answered; ‘I never went ha! ha! ha!’  That was his
idea of laughing; he just smiled at smart things, but he was a stranger
to any strong feeling.  He had never shed tears, he had never been in a
rage, he had never run, and, as he never did anything from sentiment, he
did not catch impressions from others.  He had never interrupted anybody,
he listened to the end without losing anything; he was in no hurry to
speak, and, if you had been accusing against him, he would have listened
all day without saying a syllable.”

The very courage and trustiness of Fontenelle bore this stamp of discreet
moderation.  When Abbe St. Pierre was excluded from the French Academy
under Louis XV. for having dared to criticise the government of Louis
XIV., one single ball in the urn protested against the unjust pressure
exercised by Cardinal Fleury upon the society.  They all asked one
another who the rebel was; each defended himself against having voted
against the minister’s order; Fontenelle alone kept silent; when
everybody had exculpated himself, “It must be myself, then,” said
Fontenelle half aloud.

So much cool serenity and so much taste for noble intellectual works
prolonged the existence of Fontenelle beyond the ordinary limits; he was
ninety-nine and not yet weary of life.  “If I might but reach the
strawberry-season once more!” he had said.  He died at Paris on the 9th
of January, 1759; with him disappeared what remained of the spirit and
traditions of Louis XIV.’s reign.  Montesquieu and Fontenelle were the
last links which united the seventeenth century to the new era.  In a
degree as different as the scope of their minds, they both felt respect
for the past, to which they were bound by numerous ties, and the boldness
of their thoughts was frequently tempered by prudence.  Though naturally
moderate and prudent, Voltaire was about to be hurried along by the ardor
of strife, by the weaknesses of his character, by his vanity and his
ambition, far beyond his first intentions and his natural instincts.  The
flood of free-thinking had spared Montesquieu and Fontenelle; it was
about to carry away Voltaire almost as far as Diderot.

[Illustration: Voltaire----277]

Francois Marie Arouet de Voltaire was born at Paris on the 21st of
November, 1694.  “My dear father,” said a letter from a relative to his
family in Poitou, “our cousins have another son, born three days ago;
Madame Arouet will give me some of the christening sugar-plums for you.
She has been very ill, but it is hoped that she is going on better; the
infant is not much to look at, having suffered from a fall which his
mother had.”  M. Arouet, the father, of a good middle-class family, had
been a notary at the Chatelet, and in 1701 became paymaster of fees
(_payeur d’epices_) to the court of exchequer, an honorable and a
lucrative post, which added to the easy circumstances of the family.
Madame Arouet was dead when her youngest son was sent to the college of
Louis-le-Grand, which at that time belonged to the Jesuits.  As early as
then little Arouet, who was weak and in delicate health, but withal of a
very lively intelligence, displayed a freedom of thought and a tendency
of irreverence which already disquieted and angered his masters.  Father
Lejay jumped from his chair and took the boy by the collar, exclaiming,
“Wretch, thou wilt one of these days raise the standard of Deism in
France!” Father Pallou, his confessor, accustomed to read the heart,
said, as he shook his head, “This, child is devoured with a thirst for

Even at school and among the Jesuits, that passion for getting talked
about, which was one of the weaknesses of Voltaire’s character, as well
as one of the sources of his influence, was already to a certain extent
gratified.  The boy was so ready in making verses, that his masters
themselves found amusement in practising upon his youthful talent.
Little Arouet’s snuff box had been confiscated because he had passed it
along from hand to, hand in class; when he asked for it back from Father
Poree, who was always indulgent towards him, the rector required an
application in verse.  A quarter of an hour later the boy returned with
his treasure in his possession, having paid its ransom thus:

          “Adieu, adieu, poor snuff-box mine;
          Adieu; we ne’er shall meet again:
          Nor pains, nor tears, nor prayers divine
          Will win thee back; my efforts are in vain!
          Adieu, adieu, poor box of mine;
          Adieu, my sweet crowns’-worth of bane;
          Could I with money buy thee back once more,
          The treasury of Plutus I would drain.
          But ah! not he the god I must implore;
          To have thee back, I need Apollo’s vein.  .  .
          ‘Twixt thee and me how hard a barrier-line,
          To ask for verse!  Ah! this is all my strain!
          Adieu, adieu, poor box of mine;
          Adieu; we ne’er shall meet again!”

Arouet was still a child when a friend of his family took him to see
Mdlle. Ninon de l’Enclos, as celebrated for her wit as for the
irregularity of her life.  “Abbe Chateauneuf took me to see her in my
very tender youth,” says Voltaire; “I had done some verses, which were
worth nothing, but which seemed very good for my age.  She was then
eighty-five.  She was pleased to put me down in her will; she left me two
thousand francs to buy books; her death followed close upon my visit and
her will.”

Young Arouet was finishing brilliantly his last year of rhetoric, when
John Baptist Rousseau, already famous, saw him at the distribution of
prizes at the college.  “Later on,” wrote Rousseau, in the thick of his
quarrels with Voltaire, “some ladies of my acquaintance had taken me to
see a tragedy at the Jesuits in August, 1710; at the distribution of
prizes which usually took place after those representations, I observed
that the same scholar was called up twice.  I asked Father Tarteron, who
did the honors of the room in which we were, who the young man was that
was so distinguished amongst his comrades.  He told me that it was a
little lad who had a surprising turn for poetry, and proposed to
introduce him to me; to which I consented.  He went to fetch him to me,
and I saw him returning a moment afterwards with a young scholar who
appeared to me to be about sixteen or seventeen, with an ill-favored
countenance, but with a bright and lively expression, and who came and
shook hands with me with very good grace.”

Scarcely had Francois Arouet left college when he was called upon to
choose a career.  “I do not care for any but that of a literary man,”
 exclaimed the young fellow.  “That,” said his father, “is the condition
of a man who means to be useless to society, to be a charge to his
family, and to die of starvation.”  The study of the law, to which he was
obliged to devote himself, completely disgusted the poet, already courted
by a few great lords who were amused at his satirical vein; he led an
indolent and disorderly life, which drove his father distracted; the
latter wanted to get him a place.  “Tell my father,” was the young man’s
reply to the relative commissioned to make the proposal, “that I do not
care for a position which can be bought; I shall find a way of getting
myself one that costs nothing.”  “Having but little property when I began
life,” he wrote to M. d’Argenson, his sometime fellow-pupil, “I had the
insolence to think that I should have got a place as well as another,
if it were to be obtained by hard work and good will.  I threw myself
into the ranks of the fine arts, which always carry with them a certain
air of vilification, seeing that they do not make a man king’s counsellor
in his councils.  You may become a master of requests with money; but you
can’t make a poem with money, and I made one.”

This independent behavior and the poem on the _Construction du Choeur de
Notre-Dame de Paris,_ the subject submitted for competition by the French
Academy, did not prevent young Arouet from being sent by his father to
Holland in the train of the Marquis of Chateauneuf, then French
ambassador to the States General; he committed so many follies that on
his return to France, M. Arouet forced him to enter a solicitor’s office.
It was there that the poet acquired that knowledge of business which was
useful to him during the whole course of his long life; he, however, did
not remain there long: a satire upon the French Academy which had refused
him the prize for poetry, and, later on, some verses as biting as they
were disrespectful against the Duke of Orleans, twice obliged their
author to quit Paris.  Sent into banishment at Sully-sur-Loire, he there
found partisans and admirers; the merry life that was led at the
Chevalier Sully’s mitigated the hardships of absence from Paris.  “Don’t
you go publishing abroad, I beg,” wrote Arouet, nevertheless, to one of
his friends, “the happiness of which I tell you in confidence: for they
might perhaps leave me here long enough for me to become unhappy; I know
my own capacity; I am not made to live long in the same place.”

A beautiful letter addressed to the Regent and disavowing all the
satirical writings which had been attributed to him, brought Arouet back
to Paris at the commencement of the year 1717; he had been enjoying it
for barely a few months when a new satire, entitled _J’ai vu_ (I have
seen), and bitterly criticising the late reign, engaged the attention of
society, and displeased the Regent afresh.  Arouet defended himself with
just cause and with all his might against the charge of having written
it.  The Duke of Orleans one day met him in the garden of the
Palais-Royal.  “Monsieur Arouet,” said he, “I bet that I will make you
see a thing you have never seen.”  “What, pray, monseigneur?”  “The
Bastille.”  “Ah! monseigneur, I will consider it seen.”  Two days later,
young Arouet was shut up in the Bastille.

          I needs must go; I jog along in style,
          With close-shut carriage, to the royal pile
          Built in our fathers’ days, hard by St.  Paul,
          By Charles the Fifth.  0 brethren, good men all,
          In no such quarters may your lot be cast!
          Up to my room I find my way at last
          A certain rascal with a smirking face
          Exalts the beauties of my new retreat,
          So comfortable, so compact, so neat.
          Says he, “While Phoebus runs his daily race,
          He never casts one ray within this place.
          Look at the walls, some ten feet thick or so;
          You’ll find it all the cooler here, you know.”
           Then, bidding me admire the way they close
          The triple doors and triple locks on those,
          With gratings, bolts and bars on every side,
          “It’s all for your security,” he cried.
          At stroke of noon some skilly is brought in;
          Such fare is not so delicate as thin.
          I am not tempted by this splendid food,
          But what they tell me is, “‘Twill do you good
          So eat in peace; no one will hurry you.”
           Here in this doleful den I make ado,
          Bastilled, imprisoned, cabined, cribbed, confined,
          Nor sleeping, drinking, eating-to my mind;
          Betrayed by every one, my mistress too!
          O Marc Rene! [M. d’Argenson] whom Censor Cato’s ghost
          Might well have chosen for his vacant post,
          O Marc Rene! through whom ‘tis brought about
          That so much people murmur here below,
          To your kind word my durance vile I owe;
          May the good God some fine day pay you out!

Young Arouet passed eleven months in the Bastille; he there wrote the
first part of the poem called _La Henriade,_ under the title of _La
Ligue;_ when he at last obtained his release in April, 1718, he at the
same time received orders to reside at Chatenay, where his father had a
country house.  It was on coming out of the Bastille that the poet took,
from a small family-estate, that name of Voltaire which he was to render
so famous.  “I have been too unfortunate under my former name,” he wrote
to Mdlle. du Noy er; “I mean to see whether this will suit me better.”

The players were at that time rehearsing the tragedy of _OEdipe,_ which
was played on the 18th of November, 1718, with great success.  The daring
flights of philosophy introduced by the poet into this profoundly and
terribly religious subject excited the enthusiasm of the roues; Voltaire
was well received by the Regent, who granted him an honorarium.
“Monseigneur,” said Voltaire, “I should consider it very kind if his
Majesty would be pleased to provide henceforth for my board, but I
beseech your Highness to provide no more for my lodging.”  Voltaire’s
acts of imprudence were destined more than once to force him into leaving
Paris; he all his life preserved such a horror of prison, that it made
him commit more than one platitude.  “I have a mortal aversion for
prison,” he wrote in 1734; once more, however, he was to be an inmate of
the Bastille.

Launched upon the most brilliant society, everywhere courted and
flattered, Voltaire was constantly at work, displaying the marvellous
suppleness of his mind by shifting from the tragedies of _Artemise_ and
_Marianne,_ which failed, to the comedy of _L’Indiscret,_ to numerous
charming epistles, and lastly to the poem of _La Henriade,_ which he went
on carefully revising, reading fragments of it as he changed his quarters
from castle to castle.  One day, however, some criticisms to which he was
not accustomed angered him so much, that he threw into the fire the
manuscript he held in his hand.  “It is only worth burning, then,” he
exclaimed in a rage.  President Henault dashed at the papers.  “I ran up
and drew it out of the flames, saying that I had done more than they who
did not burn the AEneid as Virgil had recommended; I had drawn out of the
fire _La Henriade,_ which Voltaire was going to burn with his own hands.

[Illustration: The Rescue of “La Henriade.”----283]

If I liked, I might ennoble this action by calling to mind that picture
of Raphael’s at the Vatican which represents Augustus preventing Virgil
from burning the AEneid; but I am not Augustus, and Raphael is no more.”
 Wholly indulgent and indifferent as might be the government of the Regent
and of Dubois, it was a little scared at the liberties taken by Voltaire
with the Catholic church.  He was required to make excisions in order to
get permission to print the poem; the author was here, there, and
everywhere, in a great flutter and preoccupied with his literary,
financial, and fashionable affairs.  In receipt of a pension from the
queen, and received as a visitor at La Source, near Orleans, by Lord
Bolingbroke in his exile, every day becoming more brilliant and more
courted, he was augmenting his fortune by profitable speculations, and
appeared on the point of finding himself well off, when an incident,
which betrayed the remnant still remaining of barbarous manners, occurred
to envenom for a long while the poet’s existence.  He had a quarrel at
the Opera with Chevalier Rohan-Chabot, a court libertine, of little
repute; the scene took place in the presence of Mdlle. Adrienne
Lecouvreur; the great actress fainted they were separated.  Two days
afterwards, when Voltaire was dining at the Duke of Sully’s, a servant
came to tell him that he was wanted at the door of the hotel; the poet
went out without any suspicion, though he had already been the victim of
several ambuscades.  A coach was standing in the street, and he was
requested to get in; at that instant two men, throwing themselves upon
him and holding him back by his clothes, showered upon him a hailstorm of
blows with their sticks.  The Chevalier de Rohan, prudently ensconced
in a second vehicle, and superintending the--execution of his cowardly
vengeance, shouted to his servants, “Don’t hit him on the head; something
good may come out of it.”  When Voltaire at last succeeded in escaping
from these miscreants to take refuge in Sully’s house, he was half dead.

Blows with a stick were not at that time an unheard-of procedure in
social relations.  “Whatever would become of us if poets had no
shoulders!” was the brutal remark of the Bishop of Blois, M. de
Caumartin.  But the customs of society did not admit a poet to the honor
of obtaining satisfaction from whoever insulted him.  The great lords,
friends of Voltaire, who had accustomed him to attention and flattery,
abandoned him pitilessly in his quarrel with Chevalier de Rohan.  “Those
blows were well gotten and ill given,” said the Prince of Conti.  That
was all the satisfaction Voltaire obtained.  “The poor victim shows
himself as much as possible at court, in the city,” says the Marais news,
“but nobody pities him, and those whom he considered his friends have
turned their backs upon him.”

Voltaire was not of an heroic nature, but excess of rage and indignation
had given him courage; he had scarcely ever had a sword in his hand; he
rushed to the fencers’ and practised from morning till night, in order to
be in a position to demand satisfaction.  So much ardor disquieted
Chevalier de Rohan and his family; his uncle, the cardinal, took
precautions.  The lieutenant of police wrote to the officer of the watch,
“Sir, his Highness is informed that Chevalier de Rohan is going away
to-day, and, as he might have some fresh affair with Sieur de Voltaire,
or the latter might do something rash, his desire is for you to see that
nothing comes of it.”

Voltaire anticipated the intentions of the lieutenant of police he
succeeded in sending a challenge to Chevalier de Rohan; the latter
accepted it for the next day; he even chose his ground: but before the
hour fixed, Voltaire was arrested and taken to the Bastille; he remained
there a month.  Public opinion was beginning to pity him.  Marshal
Villars writes in his memoirs,--

“The chevalier was very much inconvenienced by a fall which did not admit
of his handling a sword.  He took the course of having a caning
administered in broad day to Voltaire, who, instead of adopting legal
proceedings, thought vengeance by arms more noble.  It is asserted that
he sought it diligently, but too indiscreetly.  Cardinal Rohan asked M.
le Duc to have him put in the Bastille: orders to that effect were given
and executed, and the poor poet, after being beaten, was imprisoned into
the bargain.  The public, whose inclination is to blame everybody and
everything, justly considered, in this case, that everybody was in the
wrong; Voltaire, for having offended Chevalier de Rohan; the latter, for
having dared to commit a crime worthy of death in causing a citizen to be
beaten; the government, for not having punished a notorious misdeed, and
for having put the beatee in the Bastille to tranquillize the beater.”

Voltaire left the Bastille on the 3d of May, 1726, and was accompanied by
an exon to Calais, having asked as a favor to be sent to England; but
scarcely had he set foot on English territory, scarcely had he felt
himself free, when the recurring sense of outraged honor made him take
the road back to France.  “I confess to you, my dear Theriot,” he wrote
to one of his friends, “that I made a little trip to Paris a short time
ago.  As I did not call upon you, you will easily conclude that I did not
call upon anybody.  I was in search of one man only, whom his dastardly
instinct kept concealed from me, as if he guessed that I was on his
track.  At last the fear of being discovered made me depart more
precipitately than I had come.  That is the fact, my dear Theriot.  There
is every appearance of my never seeing you again.  I have but two things
to do with my life: to hazard it with honor, as soon as I can, and to end
it in the obscurity of a retreat which suits my way of thinking, my
misfortunes, and the knowledge I have of men.”

Voltaire passed three years in England, engaged in learning English and
finishing _La Henriade,_ which he published by subscription in 1727.
Touched by the favor shown by English society to the author and the poem,
he dedicated to the Queen of England his new work, which was entirely
consecrated to the glory of France; three successive editions were
disposed of in less than three weeks.  Lord Bolingbroke, having returned
to England and been restored to favor, did potent service to his old
friend, who lived in the midst of that literary society in which Pope and
Swift held sway, without, however, relaxing his reserve with its impress
of melancholy.  “I live the life of a Bosicrucian,” he wrote to his
friends, “always on the move and always in hiding.”  When, in the month
of March, 1729, Voltaire at last obtained permission to revisit France,
he had worked much without bringing out anything.  The riches he had thus
amassed appeared ere long: before the end of the year 1731 he put
_Brutus_ on the stage, and began his publication of the _Histoire de
Charles XII.;_ he was at the same time giving the finishing touch to
_Eriphyle_ and _La Mort de Caesar_.  _Zaire,_ written in a few weeks, was
played for the first time on the 13th of August, 1732; he had dedicated
it to Mr. Falkner, an English merchant who had overwhelmed him with
attentions during his exile.  “My satisfaction grows as I write to tell
you of it,” he writes to his friend Cideville in the fulness of joy:
“never was a piece so well played as _Zaire_ at the fourth appearance.
I very much wished you had been there; you would have seen that the
public does not hate your friend.  I appeared in a box, and the whole pit
clapped their hands at me.  I blushed, I hid myself; but I should be a
humbug if I did not confess to you that I was sensibly affected.  It is
pleasant not to be dishonored in one’s own country.”

Voltaire had just inaugurated the great national tragedy of his country,
as he had likewise given it the only national epopee attempted in France
since the _Chansons de Geste;_ by one of those equally sudden and
imprudent reactions to which he was always subject, it was not long
before he himself damaged his own success by the publication of his
_Lettres philosophiques sur les Anglais_.

The light and mocking tone of these letters, the constant comparison
between the two peoples, with many a gibe at the English, but always
turning to their advantage, the preference given to the philosophical
system of Newton over that of Descartes, lastly the attacks upon religion
concealed beneath the cloak of banter--all this was more than enough to
ruffle the tranquillity of Cardinal Fleury.  The book was brought before
Parliament; Voltaire was disquieted.  “There is but one letter about Mr.
Locke,” he wrote to M. de Cideville; “the only philosophical matter I
have treated of in it is the little trifle of the immortality of the
soul, but the thing is of too much consequence to be treated seriously.
It had to be mangled so as not to come into direct conflict with our
lords the theologians, gentry who so clearly see the spirituality of the
soul that, if they could, they would consign to the flames the bodies of
those who have a doubt about it.”  The theologians confined themselves to
burning the book; the decree of Parliament delivered on the 10th of June,
1734, ordered at the same time the arrest of the author; the bookseller
was already in the Bastille.  Voltaire was in the country, attending the
Duke of Richelieu’s second marriage; hearing of the danger that
threatened him, he took fright and ran for refuge to Bale.  He soon left
it to return to the castle of Cirey, to the Marchioness du Chatelet’s, a
woman as learned as she was impassioned, devoted to literature, physics,
and mathematics, and tenderly attached to Voltaire, whom she enticed
along with her into the paths of science.  For fifteen years Madame du
Chatelet and Cirey ruled supreme over the poet’s life.  There began a
course of metaphysics, tales, tragedies; _Alzire, Merope, Mahomet,_ were
composed at Cirey and played with ever increasing success.  Pope Benedict
XIV.  had accepted the dedication of Mahomet, which Voltaire had
addressed to him in order to cover the freedoms of his piece.  Every now
and then, terrified in consequence of some bit of anti-religious
rashness, he took flight, going into hiding at one time to the court of
Lorraine beneath the wing of King Stanislaus, at another time in Holland,
at a palace belonging to the King of Prussia, the Great Frederick.
Madame du Chatelet, as unbelieving as he at bottom, but more reserved in
expression, often scolded him for his imprudence.  “He requires every
moment to be saved from himself,” she would say.  “I employ more policy
in managing him than the whole Vatican employs to keep all Christendom in
its fetters.”  On the appearance of danger, Voltaire ate his words
without scruple; his irreligious writings were usually launched under
cover of the anonymous.  At every step, however, he was advancing farther
and farther into the lists, and at the very moment when he wrote to
Father La Tour, “If ever anybody has printed in my name a single page
which could scandalize even the parish beadle, I am ready to tear it up
before his eyes,” all Europe regarded him as the leader of the open or
secret attacks which were beginning to burst not only upon the Catholic
church, but upon the fundamental verities common to all Christians.

Madame du Chatelet died on the 4th of September, 1749, at Luneville,
where she then happened to be with Voltaire.  Their intimacy had
experienced many storms, yet the blow was a cruel one for the poet; in
losing Madame de Chatelet he was losing the centre and the guidance of
his life.  For a while he spoke of burying himself with Dom Calmet in the
abbey of Senones; then he would be off to England; he ended by returning
to Paris, summoning to his side a widowed niece, Madame Denis, a woman of
coarse wit and full of devotion to him, who was fond of the drama and
played her uncle’s pieces on the little theatre which he had fitted
up in his rooms.  At that time Oreste was being played at the
_Comedie-Francaise;_ its success did not answer the author’s
expectations.  “All that could possibly give a handle to criticism,” says
Marmontel, who was present, “was groaned at or turned into ridicule.  The
play was interrupted by it every instant.  Voltaire came in, and, just as
the pit were turning into ridicule a stroke of pathos, he jumped up, and
shouted, ‘O, you barbarians; that is Sophocles!’ _Rome Sauvee_ was played
on the stage of Sceaux, at the Duchess of Maine’s; Voltaire himself took
the part of Cicero.  Lekain, as yet quite a youth, and making his first
appearance under the auspices of Voltaire, said of this representation,
‘I do not think it possible to hear anything more pathetic and real than
M. de Voltaire; it was, in fact, Cicero himself thundering at the bar.’”

Despite the lustre of that fame which was attested by the frequent
attacks of his enemies as much as by the admiration of his friends,
Voltaire was displeased with his sojourn at Paris, and weary of the court
and the men of letters.  The king had always exhibited towards him a
coldness which the poet’s adulation had not been able to overcome; he had
offended Madame de Pompadour, who had but lately been well disposed
towards him; the religious circle, ranged around the queen and the
dauphin, was of course hostile to him.  “The place of historiographer to
the king was but an empty title,” he says himself; “I wanted to make it a
reality by working at the history of the war of 1741; but, in spite of my
work, Moncrif had admittance to his Majesty, and I had not.”

In tracing the tragic episodes of the war, Voltaire, set as his mind was
on the royal favor, had wanted in the first place to pay homage to the
friends he had lost.  It was in the “eulogium of the officers who fell in
the campaign of 1741” that he touchingly called attention to the memory
of Vauvenargues.  He, born at Aix on the 6th of August, 1715, died of his
wounds, at Paris, in 1747.  Poor and proud, resigning himself with a sigh
to idleness and obscurity, the young officer had written merely to
relieve his mind.  His friends had constrained him to publish a little
book, one only, the _Introduction de la connaissance de l’esprit humain,
suivie de reflexions et de maximes_.  Its success justified their
affectionate hopes; delicate minds took keen delight in the first essays
of Vauvenargues. Hesitating between religion and philosophy, with a
palpable leaning towards the latter, ill and yet bravely bearing the
disappointments and sufferings of his life, Vauvenargues was already
expiring at thirty years of age, when Provence was invaded by the enemy.
The humiliation of his country and the peril of his native province
roused him from his tranquil melancholy.  “All Provence is in arms,” he
wrote to his friend Fauris de St. Vincent, “and here am I quite quietly
in my chimney-corner; the bad state of my eyes and of my health is not
sufficient excuse for me, and I ought to be where all the gentlemen of
the province are.  Send me word then, I beg, immediately whether there is
still any employment to be had in our newly raised, levies, and whether I
should be sure to be employed if I were to go to Provence.”  Before his
friend’s answer had reached Vauvenargues, the Austrians and the
Piedmontese had been forced to evacuate Provence; the dying man remained
in his chimney-corner, where he soon expired, leaving amongst the public,
and still more amongst those who had known him personally, the impression
of great promise sadly extinguished.  “It was his fate,” says his
faithful biographer, M. Gilbert, “to be always opening his wings and to
be unable to take flight.”

Voltaire, quite on the contrary, was about to take a fresh flight.  After
several rebuffs and long opposition on the part of the eighteen
ecclesiastics who at that time had seats in the French Academy, he had
been elected to it in 1746.  In 1750, he offered himself at one and the
same time for the Academy of Sciences and the Academy of Inscriptions;
he failed in both candidatures.  This mishap filled the cup of his
ill-humor.  For a long time past Frederick II. had been offering the poet
favors which he had long refused.  The disgust he experienced at Paris
through his insatiable vanity made him determine upon seeking another
arena; after having accepted a pension and a place from the King of
Prussia, Voltaire set out for Berlin.

But lately allied to France, to which he was ere long to deal such heavy
blows, Frederick II. was French by inclination, in literature and in
philosophy; he was a bad German scholar; he always wrote and spoke in
French, and his court was the resort of the cultivated French wits too
bold in their views to live in peace at Paris.  Maupertuis, La Mettrie,
and the Marquis of Argens had preceded Voltaire to Berlin.  He was
received there with enthusiasm and as sovereign of the little court of
philosophers.  “A hundred and fifty thousand victorious soldiers,” he
wrote in a letter to Paris, “no attorneys, opera, plays, philosophy,
poetry, a hero who is a philosopher and a poet, grandeur and graces,
grenadiers and muses, trumpets and violins, Plato’s symposium, society
and freedom!  Who would believe it?  It is all true, however!”  Voltaire
found his duties as chamberlain very light.  “It is Caesar, it is Marcus
Aurelius, it is Julian, it is sometimes Abbe Chaulieu, with whom I sup;
there is the charm of retirement, there is the freedom of the country,
with all those little delights of life which a lord of a castle who is a
king can procure for his very obedient humble servants and guests.  My
own duties are to do nothing.  I enjoy my leisure.  I give an hour a day
to the King of Prussia to touch up a bit his works in prose and verse; I
am his grammarian, not his chamberlain.  The rest of the day is my own,
and the evening ends with a pleasant supper.  .  .  .  Never in any place
in the world was there more freedom of speech touching the superstitions
of men, and never were they treated with more banter and contempt.  God
is respected, but all they who have cajoled men in His name are treated

The coarseness of the Germans and the mocking infidelity of the French
vied with each other in license.  Sometimes Voltaire felt that things
were carried rather far.  “Here be we, three or four foreigners, like
monks in an abbey,” he wrote; “please God the father abbot may content
himself with making fun of us.”

Literary or philosophical questions already gave rise sometimes to
disagreements.  “I am at present correcting the second edition which the
King of Prussia is going to publish of the history of his country,” wrote
Voltaire; “fancy! in order to appear more impartial, he falls tooth and
nail on his grandfather.  I have lightened the blows as much as I could.
I rather like this grandfather, because he displayed magnificence, and
has left some fine monuments.  I had great trouble about softening down
the terms in which the grandson reproaches his ancestor for his vanity in
having got himself made a king; it is a vanity from which his descendants
derive pretty solid advantages, and the title is not at all a
disagreeable one.  At last I said to him, ‘It is your grandfather, it is
not mine; do what you please with him,’ and I confined myself to weeding
the expressions.”

Whilst Voltaire was defending the Great Elector against his successor,
a certain coldness was beginning to slide into his relations with
Maupertuis, president of the Academy founded by the king at Berlin.
“Maupertuis has not easygoing springs,” the poet wrote to his niece; “he
takes my dimensions sternly with his quadrant.  It is said that a little
envy enters into his calculations.”  Already Voltaire’s touchy vanity was
shying at the rivals he encountered in the king’s favor.  “So it is
known, then, by this time at Paris, my dear child,” he writes to his
niece, “that we have played the Mort de Cesar at Potsdam, that Prince
Henry is a good actor, has no accent, and is very amiable, and that this
is the place for pleasure?  All that is true .  .  .  but .  .  .  The
king’s supper-parties are delightful; at them people talk reason, wit,
science; freedom prevails thereat; he is the soul of it all; no ill
temper, no clouds, at any rate no storms; my life is free and well
occupied .  .  .  but .  .  .  Opera, plays, carousals, suppers at Sans-
Souci, military manoeuvres, concerts, studies, readings .  .  but .  .
The city of Berlin, grand, better laid out than Paris; palaces,
play-houses, affable parish priests, charming princesses, maids of honor
beautiful and well made; the mansion of Madame de Tyrconnel always full,
and sometimes too much so .  .  .  but .  .  .  but.  .  .  .  My dear
child, the weather is beginning to settle down into a fine frost.”

The “frost” not only affected Voltaire’s relations with his brethren in
philosophy, it reached even to the king himself.  A far from creditable
lawsuit with a Jew completed Frederick’s irritation.  He forbade the poet
to appear in his presence before the affair was over.  “Brother Voltaire
is doing penance here,” wrote the latter to the Margravine of Baireuth,
the King of Prussia’s amiable sister he has a beast of a lawsuit with a
Jew, and, according to the law of the Old Testament, there will be
something more to pay for having been robbed. . . .”  Frederick, on his
side, writes to his sister, “You ask me what the lawsuit is in which
Voltaire is involved with a Jew.  It is a case of a rogue wanting to
cheat a thief.  It is intolerable that a man of Voltaire’s intellect
should make so unworthy an abuse of it.  The affair is in the hands of
justice; and, in a few days, we shall know from the sentence which is the
greater rogue of the two.  Voltaire lost his temper, flew in the Jew’s
face, and, in fact, behaved like a madman.  I am waiting for this affair
to be over to put his head under the pump or reprimand him severely (_lui
laver la tete_), and see whether, at the age of fifty-six, one cannot
make him, if not reasonable, at any rate less of a rogue.”

Voltaire settled matters with the Jew, at the same time asking the king’s
pardon for what he called his giddiness.  “This great poet is always
astride of Parnassus and Rue Quincampoix,” said the Marquis of Argenson.
Frederick had written him on the 24th of February, 1751, a severe letter,
the prelude and precursor of the storms which were to break off before
long the intimacy between the king and the philosopher.  “I was very glad
to receive you,” said the king; “I esteemed your wit, your talents, your
acquirements, and I was bound to suppose that a man of your age, tired of
wrangling with authors and exposing himself to tempests, was coming
hither to take refuge as in a quiet harbor; but you at the very first, in
a rather singular fashion, required of me that I should not engage
Frerron to write me news.  D’Arnauld did you some injuries; a generous
man would have pardoned them; a vindictive man persecutes those towards
whom he feels hatred.  In fine, though D’Arnauld had done nothing so far
as I was concerned, on your account he had to leave.  You went to the
Russian minister’s to speak to him about matters you had no business to
meddle with, and it was supposed that I had given you instructions; you
meddled in Madame de Bentinck’s affairs, which was certainly not in your
province.  Then you have the most ridiculous squabble in the world with
that Jew.  You created a fearful uproar all through the city.  The matter
of the Saxon bills is so well known in Saxony that grave complaints have
been made to me about them.  For my part, I kept peace in my household
until your arrival, and I warn you that, if you are fond of intrigue and
cabal, you have come to the wrong place.  I like quiet and peaceable
folks who do not introduce into their behavior the violent passions of
tragedy; in case you can make up your mind to live as a philosopher, I
shall be very glad to see you; but, if you give way to the impetuosity of
your feelings and quarrel with everybody, you will do me no pleasure by
coming hither and you may just as well remain at Berlin.”

Voltaire was not proud; he readily heaped apology upon apology; but he
was irritable and vain; his ill-humor against Maupertuis came out in a
pamphlet, as bitter as it was witty, entitled _La Diatribe du Docteur
Akakia;_ copies were circulating in Berlin; the satire was already
printed anonymously, when the Great Frederick suddenly entered the lists.
He wrote to Voltaire, “Your effrontery astounds me after that which you
have just done, and which is as clear as daylight.  Do not suppose that
you will make black appear white; when one does not see, it is because
one does not want to see everything; but, if you carry matters to
extremity, I will have everything printed, and it will then be seen that
if your works deserve that statues should be raised to you, your conduct
deserves handcuffs.”

Voltaire, affrighted, still protesting his innocence, at last gave up the
whole edition of the diatribe, which was burned before his eyes in the
king’s own closet.  According to the poet’s wily habit, some copy or
other had doubtless escaped the flames.  Before long _Le Docteur Akakia_
appeared at Berlin, arriving modestly from Dresden by post; people fought
for the pamphlet, and everybody laughed; the satire was spread over all
Europe.  In vain did Frederick have it burned on the Place d’Armes by the
hands of the common hangman; he could not assuage the despair of
Maupertuis.  “To speak to you frankly,” the king at last wrote to the
disconsolate president, “it seems to me that you take too much to heart,
both for an invalid and a philosopher, an affair which you ought to
despise.  How prevent a man from writing, and how prevent him from
denying all the impertinences he has uttered?  I made investigations to
find out whether any fresh satires had been sold at Berlin, but I heard
of none; as for what is sold in Paris, you are quite aware that I have
not charge of the police of that city, and that I am not master of it.
Voltaire treats you more gently than I am treated by the gazetteers of
Cologne and Lubeck, and yet I don’t trouble myself about it.”

Voltaire could no longer live at Potsdam or at Sans-Souci; even Berlin
seemed dangerous: in a fit of that incurable perturbation which formed
the basis of his character and made him commit so many errors, he had no
longer any wish but to leave Prussia, only he wanted to go without
embroiling himself with the king.  “I sent the Solomon of the North,” he
writes to Madame Denis on the 13th of January, 1753, “for his present,
the cap and bells he gave me, with which you reproached me so much.  I
wrote him a very respectful letter, for I asked him for leave to go.
What do you think he did?  He sent me his great factotum Federshoff, who
brought me back my toys; he wrote me a letter saying that he would rather
have me to live with than Maupertuis.  What is quite certain is, that I
would rather not live with either one or the other.”

Frederick was vexed with Voltaire; he nevertheless found it difficult to
give up the dazzling charm of his conversation.  Voltaire was hurt and
disquieted; he wanted to get away--the king, however, exercised a strong
attraction over him.  But in spite of mutual coquetting, making up, and
protesting, the hour of separation was at hand; the poet was under
pressure from his friends in France; in Berlin he had never completely
neglected Paris.  He had just published his _Siecle de Louis XIV.;_ he
flattered himself with the hope that he might again appear at court,
though the king had disposed of his place as historiographer in favor of
Duclos.  Frederick at last yielded; he was on the parade, Voltaire
appeared there.  “Ah!  Monsieur Voltaire,” said the king, “so you really
intend to go away?”  “Sir, urgent private affairs, and especially my
health, leave me no alternative.”  “Monsieur, I wish you a pleasant
journey.”  Voltaire jumped into his carriage, and hurried to Leipsic; he
thought himself free forever from the exactions and tyrannies of the King
of Prussia.

The poet, according to his custom, had tarried on the way.  He had passed
more than a month at Gotha, being overwhelmed with attentions by the
duke, and by the duchess, for whom he wrote the dry chronicle entitled
_Les Annales de L’Empire_.  He arrived at Frankfort on the 31st of May
only: the king’s orders had arrived before him.

“Here is how this fine adventure came to pass,” says Voltaire.  “There
was at Frankfort one Freytag, who had been banished from Dresden, and had
become an agent for the King of Prussia.  .  .  .  He notified me on
behalf of his Majesty that I was not to leave Frankfort till I had
restored the valuable effects I was carrying away from his Majesty.
‘Alack! sir, I am carrying away nothing from that country, if you please,
not even the smallest regret.  What, pray, are those jewels of the
Brandenburg crown that you require?’  ‘It be, sir,’ replied Freytag,
‘the work of poesy of the king, my gracious master.’  ‘O!  I will give
him back his prose and verse with all my heart,’ replied I, ‘though,
after all, I have more than one right to the work.  He made me a present
of a beautiful copy printed at his expense.  Unfortunately this copy is
at Leipsic with my other luggage.’  Then Freytag proposed to me to remain
at Frankfort until the treasure which was at Leipsic should have arrived;
and he signed an order for it.”

The volume which Frederick claimed, and which he considered it of so much
importance to preserve from Voltaire’s indiscretions, contained amongst
other things a burlesque and licentious poem, entitled the Palladium,
wherein the king scoffed at everything and everybody in terms which he
did not care to make public.  He knew the reckless malignity of the poet
who was leaving him, and he had a right to be suspicious of it; but
nothing can excuse the severity of his express orders, and still less the
brutality of his agents.  The package had arrived; Voltaire, agitated,
anxious, and ill, wanted to get away as soon as possible, accompanied by
Madame Denis, who had just joined him.  Freytag had no orders, and
refused to let him go; the prisoner loses his head, he makes up his mind
to escape at any price, he slips from the hotel, he thinks he is free,
but the police of Frankfort was well managed.  “The moment I was off, I
was arrested, I, my secretary and my people; my niece is arrested; four
soldiers drag her through the mud to a cheese-monger’s named Smith, who
had some title or other of privy councillor to the King of Prussia; my
niece had a passport from the King of France, and, what is more, she had
never corrected the King of Prussia’s verses.  They huddled us all into a
sort of hostelry, at the door of which were posted a dozen soldiers; we
were for twelve days prisoners of war, and we had to pay a hundred and
forty crowns a day.”

[Illustration: Arrest of Voltaire----298]

The wrath and disquietude of Voltaire no longer knew any bounds; Madame
Denis was ill, or feigned to be; she wrote letter upon letter to
Voltaire’s friends at the court of Prussia; she wrote to the king
himself.  The strife which had begun between the poet and the maladroit
agents of the Great Frederick was becoming serious.  “We would have
risked our lives rather than let him get away,” said Freytag; “and if I,
holding a council of war with myself, had not found him at the barrier,
but in the open country, and he had refused to jog back, I don’t know
that I shouldn’t have lodged a bullet in his head.  To such a degree had
I at heart the letters and writings of the king.”

Freytag’s zeal received a cruel rebuff: orders arrived to let the poet
go.  “I gave you no orders like that,” wrote Frederick, “you should never
make more noise than a thing deserves.  I wanted Voltaire to give up to
you the key, the cross, and the volume of poems I had intrusted to him;,
as soon as all that was given up to you I can’t see what earthly reason
could have induced you to make this uproar.”  At last, on the 6th of
July, “all this affair of Ostrogoths and Vandals being over,” Voltaire
left Frankfort precipitately.  His niece had taken the road to Paris,
whence she soon wrote to him, “There is nobody in France, I say nobody
without exception, who has not condemned this violence mingled with so
much that is ridiculous and cruel; it makes a deeper impression than you
would believe.  Everybody says that you could not do otherwise than you
are doing, in resolving to meet with philosophy things so
unphilosophical.  We shall do very well to hold our tongues; the public
speaks quite enough.” Voltaire held his tongue, according to his idea of
holding his tongue, drawing, in his poem of _La Loi naturelle,_ dedicated
at first to the margravine of Baireuth and afterwards to the Duchess of
Saxe-Gotha, a portrait of Frederick which was truthful and at the same
time bitter:

          “Of incongruities a monstrous pile,
          Calling men brothers, crushing them the while;
          With air humane, a misanthropic brute;
          Ofttimes impulsive, sometimes over-’cute;
          Weak ‘midst his choler, modest in his pride;
          Yearning for virtue, lust personified;
          Statesman and author, of the slippery crew;
          My patron, pupil, persecutor too.”

Voltaire’s intimacy with the Great Frederick was destroyed it had for a
while done honor to both of them; it had ended by betraying the
pettinesses and the meannesses natural to the king as well as to the
poet.  Frederick did not remain without anxiety on the score of
Voltaire’s rancor; Voltaire dreaded nasty diplomatic proceedings on the
part of the king; he had been threatened with as much by Lord Keith,
Milord Marechal, as he was called on the Continent from the hereditary
title he had lost in his own country through his attachment to the cause
of the Stuarts:--

“Let us see in what countries M. de Voltaire has not had some squabble or
made himself many enemies,” said a letter to Madame Denis from the great
Scotch lord, when he had entered Frederick’s service: “every country
where the Inquisition prevails must be mistrusted by him; he would put
his foot in it sooner or later.  The Mussulmans must be as little pleased
with his Mahomet as good Christians were.  He is too old to go to China
and turn mandarin; in a word, if he is wise, there is no place but France
for him.  He has friends there, and you will have him with you for the
rest of his days; do not let him shut himself out from the pleasure of
returning thither, for you are quite aware that, if he were to indulge in
speech and epigrams offensive to the king my master, a word which the
latter might order me to speak to the court of France would suffice to
prevent M. de Voltaire from returning, and he would be sorry for it when
it was too late.”

Voltaire was already in France, but he dared not venture to Paris.
Mutilated, clumsy, or treacherous issues of the _Abrege de l’Histoire
Universelle_ had already stirred the bile of the clergy; there were to be
seen in circulation copies of _La Pucelle,_ a disgusting poem which the
author had been keeping back and bringing out alternately for several
years past.  Voltaire fled from Colmar, where the Jesuits held sway, to
Lyons, where he found Marshal Richelieu, but lately his protector and
always his friend, who was repairing to his government of Languedoc.
Cardinal Tencin refused to receive the poet, who regarded this sudden
severity as a sign of the feelings of the court towards him.  “The king
told Madame de Pompadour that he did not want me to go to Paris; I am of
his Majesty’s opinion, I don’t want to go to Paris,” wrote Voltaire to
the Marquis of Paulmy.  He took fright and sought refuge in Switzerland,
where he soon settled on the Lake of Geneva, pending his purchase of the
estate of Ferney in the district of Gex and that of Tourney in Burgundy.
He was henceforth fixed, free to pass from France to Switzerland and from
Switzerland to France.  “I lean my left on Mount Jura,” he used to say,
“my right on the Alps, and I have the beautiful Lake of Geneva in front
of my camp, a beautiful castle on the borders of France, the hermitage of
Delices in the territory of Geneva, a good house at Lausanne; crawling
thus from one burrow to another, I escape from kings.  Philosophers
should always have two or three holes under ground against the hounds
that run them down.”

The perturbation of Voltaire’s soul and mind was never stilled; the
anxious and undignified perturbation of his outer life at last subsided;
he left off trembling, and, in the comparative security which he thought
he possessed, he gave scope to all his free-thinking, which had but
lately been often cloaked according to circumstances.  He had taken the
communion at Colmar, to soften down the Jesuits; he had conformed to the
rules of the convent of Senones, when he took refuge with Dom Calmet; at
Delices he worked at the _Encyclopcedia,_ which was then being commenced
by D’Alembert and Diderot, taking upon himself in preference the
religious articles, and not sparing the creed of his neighbors, the
pastors of Geneva, any more than that of the Catholic church.  “I assure
you that my friends and I will lead them a fine dance; they shall drink
the cup to the very lees,” wrote Voltaire to D’Alembert.  In the great
campaign against Christianity undertaken by the philosophers, Voltaire,
so long, a wavering ally, will henceforth fight in the foremost ranks; it
is he who shouts to Diderot, “Squelch the thing (_Ecrasez l’infame_)!”
 The masks are off, and the fight is barefaced; the encyclopaedists march
out to the conquest of the world in the name of reason, humanity, and
free-thinking; even when he has ceased to work at the Encyclopaedia,
Voltaire marches with them.

The _Essai sur l’Histoire generale et les Moeurs_ was one of the first
broadsides of this new anti-religious crusade.  “Voltaire will never
write a good history,” Montesquieu used to say: “he is like the monks,
who do not write for the subject of which they treat, but for the glory
of their order: Voltaire writes for his convent.”  The same intention
betrayed itself in every sort of work that issued at that time from the
hermitage of Delices, the poem on _Le Tremblement de Terre de Lisbonne,_
the drama of _Socrate,_ the satire of the _Pauvre Diable,_ the sad story
of _Candide,_ led the way to a series of publications every day more and
more violent against the Christian faith.  The tragedy of _L’ Orphelin de
la Chine_ and that of _Tancrede,_ the quarrels with Freron, with Lefranc
de Pompignan, and lastly with Jean Jacques Rousseau, did not satiate the
devouring activity of the Patriarch, as he was called by the knot of
philosophers.  Definitively installed at Ferney, Voltaire took to
building, planting, farming.  He established round his castle a small
industrial colony, for whose produce he strove to get a market
everywhere.  “Our design,” he used to say, “is to ruin the trade of
Geneva in a pious spirit.”  Ferney, moreover, held grand and numerously
attended receptions; Madame Denis played her uncle’s pieces on a stage
which the latter had ordered to be built, and which caused as much
disquietude to the austere Genevese as to Jean Jacques Rousseau.  It was
on account of Voltaire’s theatrical representations that Rousseau wrote
his _Lettre centre les Spectacles_.  “I love you not, sir,” wrote
Rousseau to Voltaire: “you have done me such wrongs as were calculated to
touch me most deeply.  You have ruined Geneva in requital of the asylum
you have found there.”  Geneva was about to banish Rousseau before long,
and Voltaire had his own share of responsibility in this act of severity
so opposed to his general and avowed principles.  Voltaire was angry with
Rousseau, whom he accused of having betrayed the cause of philosophy; he
was, as usual, hurried away by the passion of the moment, when he wrote,
speaking of the exile, “I give you my word that if this blackguard
(_polisson_) of a Jean Jacques should dream of coming (to Geneva), he
would run great risk of mounting a ladder which would not be that of
Fortune.”  At the very same time Rousseau was saying, “What have I done
to bring upon myself the persecution of M. de Voltaire?  And what worse
have I to fear from him?  Would M. de Buffon have me soften this tiger
thirsting for my blood?  He knows very well that nothing ever appeases or
softens the fury of tigers; if I were to crawl upon the ground before
Voltaire, he would triumph thereat, no doubt, but he would rend me none
the less.  Basenesses would dishonor me, but would not save me.  Sir, I
can suffer, I hope to learn how to die, and he who knows how to do that
has never need to be a dastard.”

Rousseau was high-flown and tragic; Voltaire was cruel in his
contemptuous levity; but the contrast between the two philosophers was
even greater in the depths of them than on.  the surface.  Rousseau took
his own words seriously, even when he was mad, and his conduct was sure
to belie them before long.  He was the precursor of an impassioned and
serious age, going to extremes in idea and placing deeds after words.
In spite of occasional reticence dictated by sound sense, Voltaire had
abandoned himself entirely in his old age to that school of philosophy,
young, ardent, full of hope and illusions, which would fain pull down
everything before it knew what it could set up, and the actions of which
were not always in accordance with principles.  “The men were inferior to
their ideas.”  President De Brosses was justified in writing to Voltaire,
“I only wish you had in your heart a half-quarter of the morality and
philosophy contained in your works.”  Deprived of the counterpoise of
political liberty, the emancipation of thought in the reign of Louis XV.
had become at one and the same time a danger and a source of profound
illusions; people thought that they did what they said, and that they
meant what they wrote, but the time of actions and consequences had not
yet come; Voltaire applauded the severities against Rousseau, and still
he was quite ready to offer him an asylum at Ferney; he wrote to
D’Alembert, “I am engaged in sending a priest to the galleys,” at the
very moment when he was bringing eternal honor to his name by the
generous zeal which led him to protect the memory and the family of the
unfortunate people named Calas.

The glorious and bloody annals of the French Reformation had passed
through various phases; liberty, always precarious, even under Henry IV.,
and whilst the Edict of Nantes was in force, and legally destroyed by its
revocation, had been succeeded by periods of assuagement and comparative
repose; in the latter part of Louis XV.’s reign, about 1760, fresh
severities had come to overwhelm the Protestants.  Modestly going about
their business, silent and timid, as inviolably attached to the king as
to their hereditary creed, several of them had undergone capital
punishment.  John Calas, accused of murdering his son, had been broken on
the wheel at Toulouse; the reformers had been accustomed to these sombre
dramas, but the spirit of the times had marched onward; ideas of justice,
humanity, and liberty, sown broadcast by the philosophers, more imbued
than they were themselves aware of with the holy influences of
Christianity, had slowly and secretly acted upon men’s minds; executions
which had been so frequent in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries
caused trouble and dismay in the eighteenth: in vain did the fanatical
passions of the populace of Toulouse find an echo in the magistracy of
that city: it was no longer considered a matter of course that
Protestants should be guilty of every crime, and that those who were
accused should not be at liberty to clear themselves.  The philosophers
had at first hesitated.  Voltaire wrote to Cardinal Bernis, “Might I
venture to entreat your eminence to be kind enough to tell me what I am
to think about the frightful case of this Calas, broken on the wheel at
Toulouse, on a charge of having hanged his own son?  The fact is, they
maintain here that he is quite innocent, and that he called God to
witness it. . . .  This case touches me to the heart; it saddens my
pleasures, it taints them.  Either the Parliament of Toulouse or the
Protestants must be regarded with eyes of horror.”  Being soon convinced
that the Parliament deserved all his indignation, Voltaire did not grudge
time, efforts, or influence in order to be of service to the unfortunate
remnant of the Calas family.  “I ought to look upon myself as in some
sort a witness,” he writes: “several months ago Peter Calas, who is
accused of having assisted his father and mother in a murder, was in my
neighborhood with another of his brothers.  I have wavered a long while
as to the innocence of this family; I could not believe that any judges
would have condemned to a fearful death an innocent father of a family.
There is nothing I have not done to enlighten myself as to the truth.  I
dare to say that I am as sure of the innocence of this family as I am of
my own existence.”

For three years, with a constancy which he often managed to conceal
beneath an appearance of levity, Voltaire prosecuted the work of clearing
the Calas.  “It is Voltaire who is writing on behalf of this unfortunate
family,” said Diderot to Mdlle.  Voland: “O, my friend, what a noble work
for genius!  This man must needs have soul and sensibility; injustice
must revolt him; he must feel the attraction of virtue.  Why, what are
the Calas to him?  What can awaken his interest in them?  What reason has
he to suspend the labors he loves in order to take up their defence?”
 From the borders of the Lake of Geneva, from his solitude at Genthod,
Charles Bonnet, far from favorable generally to Voltaire, writes to
Haller, “Voltaire has done a work on tolerance which is said to be good;
he will not publish it until after the affair of the unfortunate Calas
has been decided by the king’s council.  Voltaire’s zeal for these
unfortunates might cover a multitude of sins; that zeal does not relax,
and, if they obtain satisfaction, it will be principally to his
championship that they will owe it.  He receives much commendation for
this business, and he deserves it fully.”

The sentence of the council cleared the accused and the memory of John
Calas, ordering that their names should be erased and effaced from the
registers, and the judgment transcribed upon the margin of the
charge-sheet.  The king at the same time granted Madame Calas and her
children a gratuity of thirty-six thousand livres, a tacit and inadequate
compensation for the expenses and losses caused them by the fanatical
injustice of the Parliament of Toulouse.  Madame Calas asked no more.
“To prosecute the judges and the ringleaders,” said a letter to Voltaire
from the generous advocate of the Calas, Elias de Beaumont, “requires the
permission of the council, and there is great reason to fear that these
petty plebeian kings appear powerful enough to cause the permission,
through a weakness honored by the name of policy, to be refused.”

Voltaire, however, was triumphant.  “You were at Paris,” he writes to
M. de Cideville, “when the last act of the tragedy finished so happily.
The piece is according to the rules; it is, to my thinking, the finest
fifth act there is on the stage.”  Henceforth he finds himself
transformed into the defender of the oppressed.  The Protestant Chaumont,
at the galleys, owed to him his liberation; he rushed to Ferney to thank
Voltaire.  The pastor, who had to introduce him, thus described the
interview to Paul Rabaut: “I told him that I had brought him a little
fellow who had come to throw himself at his feet to thank him for having,
by his intercession, delivered him from the galleys; that it was Chaumont
whom I had left in his antechamber, and whom I begged him to permit me to
bring in.  At the name of Chaumont M. de Voltaire showed a transport of
joy, and rang at once to have him brought in.  Never did any scene appear
to me more amusing and refreshing.  ‘What,’ said he, ‘my poor, little,
good fellow, they sent you to the galleys!  What did they mean to do with
you?  What a conscience they must have to put in fetters and chain to the
oar a man who had committed no crime beyond praying to God in bad
French!’  He turned several times to me, denouncing persecution.  He
summoned into his room some persons who were staying with him, that they
might share the joy he felt at seeing poor little Chaumont, who, though
perfectly well attired for his condition, was quite astonished to find
himself so well received.  There was nobody, down to an ex-Jesuit, Father
Adam, who did not come forward to congratulate him.”

Innate love of justice and horror of fanaticism had inspired Voltaire
with his zeal on behalf of persecuted Protestants; a more personal
feeling, a more profound sympathy, caused his grief and his dread when
Chevalier de la Barre, accused of having mutilated a crucifix, was
condemned, in 1766, to capital punishment; the scepticism of the
eighteenth century had sudden and terrible reactions towards fanatical
violence, as a protest and a pitiable struggle against the doubt which
was invading it on all sides; the chevalier was executed; he was not
twenty years old.  He was an infidel and a libertine, like the majority
of the young men of his day and of his age; the crime he expiated so
cruelly was attributed to reading bad books, which had corrupted him.
“I am told,” writes Voltaire to D’Alembert, “that they said at their
examination that they had been led on to the act of madness they
committed by the works of the _Encyclopaedists_.  I can scarcely believe
it; these madmen don’t read; and certainly no philosopher would have
counselled profanation.  The matter is important; try to get to the
bottom of so odious and dangerous a report.”  And, at another time, to
Abbe Morellet, “You know that Councillor Pasquier said in full Parliament
that the young men of Abbeville who were put to death had imbibed their
impiety in the school and the works of the modern philosophers.  .  .  .
They were mentioned by name; it is a formal denunciation.  .  .  .  Wise
men, under such terrible circumstances, should keep quiet and wait.”

Whilst keeping quiet, Voltaire soon grew frightened; he fancied himself
arrested even on the foreign soil on which he had sought refuge.  “My
heart is withered,” he exclaims, “I am prostrated, I am tempted to go and
die in some land where men are less unjust.”  He wrote to the Great
Frederick, with whom he had resumed active correspondence, asking him for
an asylum in the town of Cleves, where he might find refuge together with
the persecuted philosophers.  His imagination was going wild.  “I went to
him,” says the celebrated physician, Tronchin, an old friend of his;
“after I had pointed out to him the absurdity of his fearing that, for a
mere piece of imprudence, France would come and seize an old man on
foreign soil to shut him up in the Bastille, I ended by expressing my
astonishment that a head like his should be deranged to the extent I saw
it was.  Covering his eyes with his clinched hands and bursting into
tears, ‘Yes, yes, my friend, I am mad!’ was all he answered.  A few days
afterwards, when reflection had driven away fear, he would have defied
all the powers of malevolence.”

Voltaire did not find his brethren in philosophy so frightened and
disquieted by ecclesiastical persecution as to fly to Cleves, far from
the “home of society,” as he had himself called Paris.  In vain he wrote
to Diderot, “A man like you cannot look save with horror upon the country
in which you have the misfortune to live; you really ought to come away
into a country where you would have entire liberty not only to express
what you pleased, but to preach openly against superstitions as
disgraceful as they are sanguinary.  You would not be solitary there; you
would have companions and disciples; you might establish a chair there,
the chair of truth.  Your library might go by water, and there would not
be four leagues’ journey by land.  In fine, you would leave slavery for

All these inducements having failed of effect, Voltaire gave up the
foundation of a colony at Cleves, to devote all his energy to that at
Ferney.  There he exercised signorial rights with an active and restless
guardianship which left him no illusions and but little sympathy in
respect of that people whose sacred rights he had so often proclaimed.
“The people will always be sottish and barbarous,” he wrote to M. Bordes;
“they are oxen needing a yoke, a goad, and a bit of hay.”  That was the
sum and substance of what he thought; he was a stern judge of the French
character, the genuine and deep-lying resources of which he sounded
imperfectly, but the infinite varieties of which he recognized.  “I
always find it difficult to conceive,” he wrote to M. de Constant, “how
so agreeable a nation can at the same time be so ferocious, how it can so
easily pass from the opera to the St. Bartholomew, be at one time made up
of dancing apes and at another of howling bears, be so ingenious and so
idiotic both together, at one time so brave and at another so dastardly.”
 Voltaire fancied himself at a comedy still; the hour of tragedy was at
hand.  He and his friends were day by day weakening the foundations of
the edifice; for eighty years past the greatest minds and the noblest
souls have been toiling to restore it on new and strong bases; the work
is not finished, revolution is still agitating the depths of French
society, which has not yet recovered the only proper foundation-stones
for greatness and order amongst a free people.

Henceforth Voltaire reigned peacefully over his little empire at Ferney,
courted from afar by all the sovereigns of Europe who made any profession
of philosophy.  “I have a sequence of four kings” (_brelan de roi
quatrieme_), he would say with a laugh when he counted his letters from
royal personages.  The Empress of Russia, Catherine II., had dethroned,
in his mind, the Great Frederick.  Voltaire had not lived in her
dominions and at her court; he had no grievance against her; his vanity
was flattered by the eagerness and the magnificent attentions of the
Semiramis of the North, as he called her.  He even forgave her the most
odious features of resemblance to the Assyrian princess.  “I am her
knight in the sight and in the teeth of everybody,” he wrote to Madame du
Deffand; “I am quite aware that people bring up against her a few trifles
on the score of her husband; but these are family matters with which I do
not meddle, and besides it is not a bad thing to have a fault to repair.
It is an inducement to make great efforts in order to force the public to
esteem and admiration, and certainly her knave of a husband would never
have done any one of the great things my Catherine does every day.”  The
portrait of the empress, worked in embroidery by herself, hung in
Voltaire’s bedroom.  In vain had he but lately said to Pastor Bertrand,
“My dear philosopher, I have, thank God, cut all connection with kings;”
 instinct and natural inclination were constantly re-asserting themselves.
Banished from the court of Versailles by the disfavor of Louis XV., he
turned in despite towards the foreign sovereigns who courted him.
“Europe is enough for me,” he writes; “I do not trouble myself much about
the Paris clique, seeing that that clique is frequently guided by envy,
cabal, bad taste, and a thousand petty interests which are always opposed
to the public interest.”

Voltaire, however, returned to that Paris in which he was born, in which
he had lived but little since his early days, to which he belonged by the
merits as well as the defects of his mind, and in which he was destined
to die.  In spite of his protests about his being a rustic and a
republican, he had never allowed himself to slacken the ties which united
him to his Parisian friends; the letters of the patriarch of Ferney
circulated amongst the philosophical fraternity; they were repeated in
the correspondence of Grimm and Diderot with foreign princes; from his
splendid retreat at Ferney he cheered and excited the literary zeal and
often the anti-religious ardor of the _Encyclopaedists_.  He had,
however, ceased all working connection with that great work since it had
been suspended and afterwards resumed at the orders and with the
permission of government.  The more and more avowed materialistic
theories revolted his shrewd and sensible mind; without caring to go to
the bottom of his thought and contemplate its consequences, he clung to
the notion of Providence as to a waif in the great shipwreck of positive
creeds; he could not imagine

          “This clock without a Maker could exist.”

It is his common sense, and not the religious yearnings of his soul, that
makes him write in the poem of La Loi naturelle,--

          O God, whom men ignore, whom everything reveals,
          Hear Thou the latest words of him who now appeals;
          ‘Tis searching out Thy law that hath bewildered me;
          My heart may go astray, but it is full of Thee.

When he was old and suffering, he said to Madame Necker, in one of those
fits of melancholy to which he was subject, “The thinking faculty is lost
just like the eating, drinking, and digesting faculties.  The marionettes
of Providence, in fact, are not made to last so long as It.”  In his
dying hour Voltaire was seen showing more concern for terrestrial
scandals than for the terrors of conscience, crying aloud for a priest,
and, with his mouth full of the blood he spat, still repeating in a half
whisper, “I don’t want to be thrown into the kennel.”  A sad confession
of the insufficiency of his convictions and of the inveterate levity of
his thoughts; he was afraid of the judgment of man without dreading the
judgment of God.  Thus was revealed the real depth of an infidelity of
which Voltaire himself perhaps had not calculated the extent and the
fatal influences.

Voltaire was destined to die at Paris; there he found the last joys of
his life and there he shed the last rays of his glory.  For the twenty-
seven years during which he had been away from it he had worked much,
written much, done much.  Whilst almost invariably disavowing his works,
he had furnished philosophy with pointed and poisoned weapons against
religion; he had devoted to humanity much time and strength; one of the
last delights he had tasted was the news of the decree which cleared the
memory of M. de Lally; he had received into his house, educated and found
a husband for the grand-niece of the great Corneille; he had applied the
inexhaustible resources of his mind at one time to good and at another to
evil, with almost equal ardor; he was old, he was ill, yet this same
ardor still possessed him when he arrived at Paris on the 10th of
February, 1778.  The excitement caused by his return was extraordinary.
“This new prodigy has stopped all other interest for some time,” writes
Grimm; it has put an end to rumors of war, intrigues in civil life,
squabbles at court.  Encyclopeadic pride appeared diminished by half, the
Sorbonne shook all over, the Parliament kept silence; all the literary
world is moved, all Paris is ready to fly to the idol’s feet.”  So much
attention and so much glory had been too much for the old man.  Voltaire
was dying; in his fright he had sent for a priest and had confessed; when
he rose from his bed by a last effort of the marvellous elasticity,
inherent in his body and his mind, he resumed for a while the course of
his triumphs.  “M. de Voltaire has appeared for the first time at the
Academy and at the play; he found all the doors, all the approaches to
the Academy besieged by a multitude which only opened slowly to let him,
pass and then rushed in immediately upon his footsteps with repeated
plaudits and acclamations.  The Academy came out into the first room to
meet him, an honor it had never yet paid to any of its members, not even
to the foreign princes who had deigned to be present at its meetings.
The homage he received at the Academy was merely the prelude to that
which awaited him at the National theatre.  As soon as his carriage
was seen at a distance, there arose a universal shout of joy.  All the
curb-stones, all the barriers, all the windows were crammed with
spectators, and, scarcely was the carriage stopped, when people were
already on the imperial and even on the wheels to get a nearer view of
the divinity.  Scarcely had he entered the house when Sieur Brizard came
up with a crown of laurels, which Madame de Villette placed upon the
great man’s head, but which he immediately took off, though the public
urged him to keep it on by clapping of hands and by cheers which
resounded from all corners of the house with such a din as never was

“All the women stood up.  I saw at one time that part of the pit which
was under the boxes going down on their knees, in despair of getting a
sight any other way.  The whole house was darkened with the dust raised
by the ebb and flow of the excited multitude.  It was not without
difficulty that the players managed at last to begin the piece.  It was
_Irene,_ which was given for the sixth time.  Never had this tragedy been
better played, never less listened to, never more applauded.  The
illustrious old man rose to thank the public, and, the moment afterwards,
there appeared on a pedestal in the middle of the stage a bust of this
great man, and the actresses, garlands and crowns in hand, covered it
with laurels; M. de Voltaire seemed to be sinking beneath the burden of
age and of the homage with which he had just been overwhelmed.  He
appeared deeply affected, his eyes still sparkled amidst the pallor of
his face, but it seemed as if he breathed no longer save with the
consciousness of his glory.  The people shouted, ‘Lights! lights! that
everybody may see him!’  The coachman was entreated to go at a walk, and
thus he was accompanied by cheering and the crowd as far as Pont Royal.”

Thus is described in the words of an eye-witness the last triumph of an
existence that had been one of ceaseless agitation, owing to Voltaire
himself far more than to the national circumstances and events of the
time at which he lived.  His anxious vanity and the inexhaustible
movement of his mind had kept him constantly fluctuating between
alternations of intoxication and despair; he had the good fortune to die
at the very pinnacle of success and renown, the only immortality he could
comprehend or desire, at the outset of a new and hopeful reign; he did
not see, he had never apprehended the terrible catastrophe to which he
had been thoughtlessly contributing for sixty years.  A rare piece of
good fortune and one which might be considered too great, if the limits
of eternal justice rested upon earth and were to be measured by our

Voltaire’s incessant activity bore many fruits which survived him; he
contributed powerfully to the triumph of those notions of humanity,
justice, and freedom, which, superior to his own ideal, did honor to the
eighteenth century; he became the model of a style, clear, neat,
brilliant, the natural exponent of his own mind, far more than of the as
yet confused hopes and aspirations of his age; he defended the rights of
common sense, and sometimes withstood the anti-religious passion of his
friends, but he blasted both minds and souls with his sceptical gibes;
his bitter and at the same time temperate banter disturbed consciences
which would have been revolted by the materialistic doctrines of the
Encyclopaedists; the circle of infidelity widened under his hands; his
disciples were able to go beyond him on the fatal path he had opened to
them.  Voltaire has remained the true representative of the mocking and
stone-flinging phase of free-thinking, knowing nothing of the deep
yearnings any more than of the supreme wretchlessness of the human soul,
which it kept imprisoned within the narrow limits of earth and time.  At
the outcome from the bloody slough of the French Revolution and from the
chaos it caused in men’s souls, it was the infidelity of Voltaire which
remained at the bottom of the scepticism and moral disorder of the France
of our day.  The demon which torments her is even more Voltairian than

Other influences, more sincere and at the same time more dangerous, were
simultaneously undermining men’s minds.  The group of Encyclopaedists,
less prudent and less temperate than Voltaire, flaunted openly the flag
of revolt.  At the head marched Diderot, the most daring of all, the most
genuinely affected by his own ardor, without perhaps being the most sure
of his ground in his negations.  His was an original and exuberant
nature, expansively open to all new impressions.  “In my country,” he
says, “we pass within twenty-four hours from cold to hot, from calm to
storm, and this changeability of climate extends to the persons.  Thus,
from earliest infancy, they are wont to shift with every wind.  The head
of a Langrois stands on his shoulders like a weathercock on the top of a
church-steeple; it is never steady at one point, and, if it comes round
again to that which it had left, it is not to stop there.  As for me, I
am of my country; only residence of the capital and constant application
have corrected me a little.”

[Illustration: Diderot----314]

Narrow circumstances had their share in the versatility of Diderot’s
genius as well as in the variety of his labors.  Son of a cutler at
Langres, a strict and virtuous man, Denys Diderot, born in 1715, had at
first been intended by his father for the church.  He was educated at
Harcourt College, and he entered an attorney’s office.  The young man
worked incessantly, but not a law-book did he open.  “What do you mean to
be, pray?” the lawyer asked him one day; “do you think of being an
attorney?”  “No.”  “A barrister?”  “No.”  “A doctor?”  “No more than the
rest.”  “What then?”  “Nothing at all.  I like study, I am very happy,
very contented, I ask no more.”  Diderot’s father stopped the allowance
he had been making his son, trusting thus to force him to choose a
profession.  But the young man gave lessons for a livelihood.

“I know a pretty good number of things,” he wrote towards the end of his
life, “but there is scarcely a man who doesn’t know his own thing better
than I do.  This mediocrity in every sort is the consequence of
insatiable curiosity and of means so small, that they never permitted me
to devote myself to one single branch of human knowledge.  I have been
forced all my life to follow pursuits for which I was not adapted, and to
leave on one side those for which I had a call from inclination.”  Before
he was thirty years old, and without any resource but his lessons and the
work of every sort he did for third parties, Diderot married; he had not
asked the consent of his parents, but this did not prevent him from
saddling them before long with his wife and child.  “She started
yesterday,” he writes quite simply to his father, “she will be with you
in three days; you can say anything you like to her, and when you are
tired of her, you can send her back.”  Diderot intended to be free at any
price, and he threw off, one after another, the fetters he had forged for
himself, not without remorse, however, and not without acknowledging that
he was thus wanting to all natural duties.  “What can you expect,” he
would exclaim, “of a man who has neglected wife and daughter, got into
debt, given up being husband and father?”

Diderot never neglected his friends; amidst his pecuniary embarrassments,
when he was reduced to coin his brain for a livelihood, his labor and his
marvellous facility were always at the service of all.  It was to satisfy
the requirements of a dangerous fair friend that he wrote his _Pensees
philosophiques,) the sad tale of the _Bijoux indiscrets_ and the _Lettre
sur les Aveugles,_ those early attacks upon religious faith which sent
him to pass a few months in prison at the Castle of Vincennes.  It was to
oblige Grimm that he for the first time gave his mind to painting, and
wrote his _Salons,_ intended to amuse and instruct the foreign princes.
“A pleasure which is only for myself affects me but slightly and lasts
but a short time,” he used to say; “it is for self and friends that I
read, reflect, write, meditate, hear, look, feel.  In their absence, my
devotion towards them refers everything to them.  I am always thinking of
their happiness.  Does a beautiful line strike me, they shall know it.
Have I stumbled upon a beautiful trait, I make up my mind to communicate
it to them.  Have I before my eyes some enchanting scene; unconsciously,
I meditate an account of it for them.  To them I have dedicated the use
of all my senses and of all my faculties, and that perhaps is the reason
why everything is exaggerated, everything is embellished a little in my
imagination and in my talk; and they sometimes reproach me with this, the

It was, further, in conjunction with his friends and in community of
ideas that Diderot undertook the immense labor of the _Encyclopaedia_.
Having, in the first instance, received a commission from a publisher to
translate the English collection of [Ephraim] Chambers, Diderot was
impressed with a desire to unite in one and the same collection all the
efforts and all the talents of his epoch, so as to render joint homage to
the rapid progress of science.  Won over by his enthusiasm, D’Alembert
consented to share the task; and he wrote the beautiful exposition in the
introduction.  Voltaire sent his articles from Delices.  The Jesuits had
proposed to take upon themselves a certain number of questions, but their
co-operation was declined: it was a monument to philosophy that the
Encyclopaedists aspired to raise; the clergy were in commotion at seeing
the hostile army, till then uncertain and unbanded, rally organized and
disciplined around this vast enterprise.  An early veto, soon, however,
taken off, compelled the philosophers to a certain moderation; Voltaire
ceased writing for the _Encyclopaedia;_ it was not sufficiently
free-going for him.  “You admit articles worthy of the Trevoux journal,”
 he said to D’Alembert.  New severities on the part of the Parliament and
the grand council dealt a blow to the philosophers before long: the
editors’ privilege was revoked.  Orders were given to seize Diderot’s
papers.  Lamoignon de Malesherbes, who was at that time director of the
press, and favorable to freedom without ever having abused it in thought
or action, sent him secret warning.  Diderot ran home in consternation.
“What’s to be done?”  he cried; “how move all my manuscripts in twenty-
four hours?  I haven’t time even to make a selection.  And, above all,
where find people who would and can take charge of them safely?”  “Send
them all to me,” replied M. de Malesherbes; “nobody will come thither to
look for them.”

Feeble governments are ill served even by their worthiest servants; the
severities ordered against the _Encyclopaedia_ did not stop its
publication; D’Alembert, however, weary of the struggle, had ceased to
take part in the editorship.  Naturally cool and moderate, when it was
nothing to do with Mdlle. de Lespinasse, the great affection of his life,
the illustrious geometer was content with a little.  “Twelve hundred
livres a year are enough for me,” he wrote to the Great Frederick who was
pressing him to settle in his dominions.  “I will not go and reap the
succession to Maupertuis during his lifetime.  I am overlooked by
government, just as so many others by Providence; persecuted as much as
anybody can be, if some day I have to fly my country, I will simply ask
Frederick’s permission to go and die in his dominions, free and poor.”

[Illustration: Alembert----317]

Frederick II. gave D’Alembert a pension; it had but lately been Louis
XIV. who thus lavished kindnesses on foreign scholars: he made an offer
to the Encyclopaedists to go and finish their vast undertaking at Berlin.
Catherine II. made the same offers, asking D’Alembert, besides, to take
charge of the education of her son.  “I know your honesty too well,” she
wrote, “to attribute your refusals to vanity; I know that the cause is
merely love of repose in order to cultivate literature and friendship.
But what is to prevent your coming with all your friends?  I promise you
and them too all the comforts and every facility that may depend upon me;
and perchance you will find more freedom and repose than you have at
home.  You do not yield to the entreaties of the King of Prussia, and to
the gratitude you owe him, it is true, but then he has no son.  I confess
that I have my son’s education so much at heart, and that you are so
necessary to me, that perhaps I press you too much.  Pardon my
indiscretion for the reason’s sake, and rest assured that it is esteem
which has made me so selfish.”

D’Alembert declined the education of the hereditary Grand Duke, just as
he had declined the presidency of the Academy at Berlin; an infidel and
almost a materialist by the geometer’s rule, who knows no power but the
laws of mathematics, he did not carry into anti-religious strife the
bitterness of Voltaire, or the violence of Diderot.  “Squelch the thing!
you are always repeating to me,” he said to Voltaire on the 4th of May,
1762.  “Ah! my good friend, let it go to rack and ruin of itself, it is
hurrying thereto faster than you suppose.”  More and more absorbed by
pure science, which he never neglected save for the French Academy, whose
perpetual secretary he had become, D’Alembert left to Diderot alone the
care of continuing the _Encyclopaedia_.  When he died, in 1783, at
fifty-six years of age, the work had been finished nearly twenty years.
In spite of the bad faith of publishers, who mutilated articles to render
them acceptable, in spite of the condemnation of the clergy and the
severities of the council, the last volumes of the _Encyclopaedia_ had
appeared in 1765.

This immense work, unequal and confused as it was, a medley of various
and often ill-assorted elements, undertaken for and directed to the fixed
end of an aggressive emancipation of thought, had not sufficed to absorb
the energy and powers of Diderot.  “I am awaiting with impatience the
reflections of _Pantophile Diderot on Tancrede,_” wrote Voltaire:
“everything is within the sphere of activity of his genius: he passes
from the heights of metaphysics to the weaver’s trade, and thence he
comes to the stage.”

The stage, indeed, occupied largely the attention of Diderot, who sought
to introduce reforms, the fruit of his own thought as well as of
imitation of the Germans, which he had not perhaps sufficiently
considered.  For the classic tragedies, the heritage of which Voltaire
received from the hands of Racine, Diderot aspired to substitute the
natural drama.  His two attempts in that style, _Le Pere de Famille_ and
_Le Fils natural,_ had but little success in France, and contributed to
develop in Germany the school already founded by Lessing.  An excess of
false sensibility and an inflation of expression had caused certain true
ideas to fall flat on the French stage.

“You have the inverse of dramatic talent,” said Abbe Arnauld to Diderot;
“the proper thing is to transform one’s self into all the characters, and
you transform all the characters into yourself.”  The criticism did
Diderot wrong: he had more wits than his characters, and he was worth
more at bottom than those whom he described.  Carried away by the
richness as well as the unruliness of his mind, destitute as he was of
definite and fixed principles, he recognized no other moral law than the
natural impulse of the soul.  “There is no virtue or vice,” he used to
say, “but innate goodness or badness.”  Certain religious cravings,
nevertheless, sometimes: asserted themselves in his conscience: he had.
a glimmering perception of the necessity for a higher rule and law.
“O God, I know not whether Thou art,” he wrote in his _Interpretation de
la Nature,_ but I will think as if Thou didst see into my soul, I will
act as if I were in Thy presence.”

A strange illusion on the part of the philosopher about the power of
ideas as well as about the profundity of evil in the human heart!
Diderot fancied he could regulate his life by a perchance, and he was
constantly hurried away by the torrent of his passion into a violence of
thought and language foreign to his natural benevolence.  It was around
his name that the philosophic strife had waxed most fierce: the active
campaign undertaken by his friends to open to him the doors of the French
Academy remained unsuccessful.  “He has too many enemies,” said Louis XV.
“his election shall not be sanctioned.”  Diderot did not offer himself;
he set out for St. Petersburg; the Empress Catherine had loaded him with
kindnesses.  Hearing of the poverty of the philosopher who was trying to
sell his library to obtain a dower for his daughter, she bought the
books, leaving the enjoyment of them to Diderot, whom she appointed her
librarian, and, to secure his maintenance in advance, she had a sum of
fifty thousand livres remitted to him.  “So here I am obliged, in
conscience, to live fifty years,” said Diderot.

[Illustration: Diderot and Catherine II----321]

He passed some months in Russia, admitted several hours a day to the
closet of the empress, chatting with a frankness and a freedom which
sometimes went to the extent of license.  Catherine II. was not alarmed.
“Go on,” she would say; amongst men anything is allowable.”  When the
philosopher went away, he shed hot tears, and “so did she, almost,” he
declares.  He refused to go to Berlin; absolute power appeared to him
more arbitrary and less indulgent in the hands of Frederick than with
Catherine.  “It is said that at Petersburg Diderot is considered a
tiresome reasoner,” wrote the King of Prussia to D’ Alembert in January,
1774; “he is incessantly harping on the same things.  All I know is that
I couldn’t stand the reading of his, books, intrepid reader as I am;
there is a self-sufficient tone and an arrogance in them which revolts my
sense of freedom.”  The same sense of freedom which the king claimed for
himself whilst refusing it to the philosopher, the philosopher, in his
turn, refused to Christians not less intolerant than he.  The eighteenth
century did not practise on its own account that respect for conscience
which it, nevertheless, powerfully and to its glory promoted.

Diderot died on the 29th of July, 1784, still poor, an invalid for some
time past, surrounded to the end by his friends, who rendered back to him
that sincere and devoted affection which he made the pride of his life.
Hearing of his sufferings from Grimm, the Empress Catherine had hired a
furnished apartment for him; he had just installed himself in it when he
expired; without having retracted any one of his works, nearly all
published under the veil of the anonymous, he was, nevertheless, almost
reconciled with the church, and was interred quietly in the chapel of the
Virgin at St. Roch.  The charm of his character had often caused people
to forget his violence, which he himself no longer remembered the next
day.  “I should like to know this hot-headed metaphysician,” was the
remark made to Buffon by President De Brosses, who happened to be then at
Paris; and he afterwards added,

“He is a nice fellow, very pleasant, very amiable, a great philosopher,
a mighty arguer, but a maker of perpetual digressions.  Yesterday he made
quite five and twenty between nine o’clock and one, during which time he
remained in my room.  O, how much more lucid is Buffon than all those

The magistrate’s mind understood and appreciated the great naturalist’s
genius.  Diderot felt in his own fashion the charm of nature, but, as was
said by Chevalier Chastellux, “his ideas got drunk and set to work
chasing one another.”  The ideas of Buffon, on the other hand, came out
in the majestic order of a system under powerful organization, and
informed as it were with the very secrets of the Creator.  “The general
history of the world,” he says, “ought to precede the special history of
its productions; and the details of singular facts touching the life and
habits of animals, or touching the culture and vegetation of plants,
belong perhaps less to natural history than do the general results of the
observations which have been made on the different materials which
compose the terrestrial globe, on the elevations, the depressions, and
the unevennesses of its form, on the movement of the seas, on the
trending of mountains, on the position of quarries, on the rapidity and
effects of the currents of the sea--this is nature on the grand scale.”

M. Fleurens truly said, “ Bufon aggrandizes every subject he touches.”
 Born at Montbard in Burgundy on the 7th of September, 1707, Buffon
belonged to a family of wealth and consideration in his province.  In his
youth he travelled over Europe with his friend the Duke of Kingston; on
returning home, he applied himself at first to mathematics, with
sufficient success to be appointed at twenty-six years of age, in 1733,
adjunct in the mechanical class at the Academy of Sciences.  In 1739, he
received the superintendence of the _Jardin du Roi,_ not long since
enlarged and endowed by Richelieu, and lovingly looked after by the
scholar Dufay, who had just died, himself designating Buffon as his
successor.  He had shifted from mechanics to botany, “not,” he said,
“that he was very fond of that science, which he had learned and
forgotten three times,” but he was aspiring just then to the _Jardin du
Roi;_ his genius was yet seeking its proper direction.  “There are some
things for me,” he wrote to President De Brosses, “but there are some
against, and especially my age; however, if people would but reflect,
they would see that the superintendence of the _Jardin du Roi_ requires
an active young man, who can stand the sun, who is conversant with plants
and knows the way to make them multiply, who is a bit of a connoisseur in
all the sorts used in demonstration there, and above all who understands
buildings, in such sort that, in my own heart, it appears to me that I
should be exactly made for them: but I have not as yet any great hope.”

[Illustration: Buffon  323]

In Buffon’s hands the _Jardin du Roi_ was transformed; in proportion as
his mind developed, the requirements of the study appeared to him greater
and greater; he satisfied them fearlessly, getting together collections
at his own expense, opening new galleries, constructing hot-houses, being
constantly seconded by the good-will of Louis XV., who never shrank from
expenses demanded by Buffon’s projects.  The great naturalist died at
eighty years of age, without having completed his work; but he had
imprinted upon it that indisputable stamp of greatness which was the
distinctive feature of his genius.  The _Jardin du Roi,_ which became the
_Jardin des Plantes,_ has remained unique in Europe.

Fully engaged as he was in those useful labors, from the age of thirty,
Buffon gave up living at Paris for the greater part of the year.  He had
bought the ruins of the castle of Montbard, the ancient residence of the
Dukes of Burgundy, overlooking his native town.  He had built a house
there which soon became dear to him, and which he scarcely ever left for
eight months in the year.  There it was, in a pavilion which overhung the
garden planted in terraces, and from which he had a view of the rich
plains of La Brenne, that the great naturalist, carefully dressed by five
o’clock in the morning, meditated the vast plan of his works as he walked
from end to end and side to side.  “I passed delightful hours there,” he
used to say.  When he summoned his secretary, the work of composition was
completed.  “M. de Buffon gives reasons for the preference he shows as to
every word in his discourses, without excluding from the discussion even
the smallest particles, the most insignificant conjunctions,” says Madame
Necker; “he never forgot that he had written ‘the style is the man.’
The language could not be allowed to derogate from the majesty of the
subject.  ‘I made it a rule,’ he used to say, ‘to always fix upon the
noblest expressions.’”

It was in this dignified and studious retirement that Buffon quietly
passed his long life.  “I dedicated,” he says, “ twelve, nay, fourteen,
hours to study; it was my whole pleasure.  In truth, I devoted myself to
it far more than I troubled myself about fame; fame comes afterwards, if
it may, and it nearly always does.”

Buffon did not lack fame; on the appearance of the first three volumes of
his “Histoire naturelle,” published in 1749, the breadth of his views,
the beauty of his language, and the strength of his mind excited general
curiosity and admiration.  The Sorbonne was in a flutter at certain bold
propositions; Buffon, without being disconcerted, took pains to avoid
condemnation.  “I took the liberty,” he says in a letter to M. Leblant,
“of writing to the Duke of Nivernais (then ambassador at Rome), who has
replied to me in the most polite and most obliging way in the world; I
hope, therefore, that my book will not be put in the Index, and, in
truth, I have done all I could not to deserve it and to avoid theological
squabbles, which I fear far more than I do the criticisms of physicists
and geometricians.”  “Out of a hundred and twenty assembled doctors,” he
adds before long, “I had a hundred and fifteen, and their resolution even
contains eulogies which I did not expect.”  Despite certain boldnesses
which had caused anxiety, the Sorbonne had reason to compliment the great
naturalist.  The unity of the human race as well as its superior dignity
were already vindicated in these first efforts of Buffon’s genius, and
his mind never lost sight of this great verity.  “In the human species,”
 he says, “the influence of climate shows itself only by slight varieties,
because this species is one, and is very distinctly separated from all
other species; man, white in Europe, black in Africa, yellow in Asia, and
red in America, is only the same man tinged with the hue of climate; as
he is made to reign over the earth, as the whole globe is his domain, it
seems as if his nature were ready prepared for all situations; beneath
the fires of the south, amidst the frosts of the north, he lives, he
multiplies, he is found to be so spread about everywhere from time
immemorial that he appears to affect no climate in particular.  .  .  .
Whatever resemblance there may be between the Hottentot and the monkey,
the interval which separates them is immense, since internally he is
garnished with mind and externally with speech.”

Buffon continued his work, adroitly availing himself of the talent and
researches of the numerous co-operators whom he had managed to gather
about him, directing them all with indefatigable vigilance in their
labors and their observations.  “Genius is but a greater aptitude for
perseverance,” he used to say, himself justifying his definition by the
assiduity of his studies.  “I had come to the sixteenth volume of my work
on natural history,” he writes with bitter regret, “when a serious and
long illness interrupted for nearly two years the course of my labors.
This shortening of my life, already far advanced, caused one in my works.
I might, in the two years I have lost, have produced two or three volumes
of the history of birds, without abandoning for that my plan of a history
of minerals, on which I have been engaged for several years.”

In 1753 Buffon had been nominated a member of the French Academy.  He had
begged his friends to vote for his compatriot, Piron, author of the
celebrated comedy _Metromanie,_ at that time an old man and still poor.
“I can wait,” said Buffon.  “Two days before that fixed for the
election,” writes Grimm, “the king sent for President Montesquieu, to
whose lot it had fallen to be director of the Academy on that occasion,
and told him that, understanding that the Academy had cast their eyes
upon M. Piron, and knowing that he was the author of several licentious
works, he desired the Academy to choose some one else to fill the vacant
place.  His Majesty at the same time told him that he would not have any
member belonging to the order of advocates.”

Buffon was elected, and on the 25th of August, 1754, St. Louis’ day, he
was formally received by the Academy; Grimm describes the session.
“M. de Buffon did not confine himself to reminding us that Chancellor
Seguier was a great man, that Cardinal Richelieu was a very great man,
that Kings Louis XIV. and Louis XV.  were very great men too, that the
Archbishop of Sens (whom he succeeds) was also a great man, and finally
that all the forty were great men; this celebrated man, disdaining the
stale and heavy eulogies which are generally the substance of this sort
of speech, thought proper to treat of a subject worthy of his pen and
worthy of the Academy.  He gave us his ideas on style, and it was said,
in consequence, that the Academy had engaged a writing-master.”

“Well-written works are the only ones which will go down to posterity,”
 said Buffon in his speech; “quantity of knowledge, singularity of facts,
even novelty in discoveries, are not certain guaranties of immortality;
knowledge, facts, discoveries, are easily abstracted and transferred.
Those things are outside the man; the style is the man himself; the
style, then, cannot be abstracted, or transferred, or tampered with; if
it be elevated, noble, sublime, the author will be equally admired at all
times, for it is only truth that is durable and even eternal.”

Never did the great scholar who has been called “the painter of nature”
 relax his zeal for painstaking as a writer.  “I am every day learning to
write,” he would still say at seventy years of age.

To the _Theorie de la Terre,_ the _Idees generales sur les Animaux,_ and
the _Histoire de l’Homme,_ already published when Buffon was elected by
the French Academy, succeeded the twelve volumes of the _Histoire des
Quadrupedes,_ a masterpiece of luminous classifications and incomparable
descriptions; eight volumes on _Oiseaux_ appeared subsequently, a short
time before the _Histoire des Mineraux;_ lastly, a few years before his
death, Buffon gave to the world the _Epoques de la Nature_.  “As in civil
history one consults titles, hunts up medals, deciphers antique
inscriptions to determine the epochs of revolutions amongst mankind, and
to fix the date of events in the moral world, so, in natural history, we
must ransack the archives of the universe, drag from the entrails of the
earth the olden monuments, gather together their ruins and collect into a
body of proofs all the indications of physical changes that can guide us
back to the different ages of nature.  It is the only way of fixing
certain points in the immensity of space, and of placing a certain number
of memorial-stones on the endless road of time.”

“This is what I perceive with my mind’s eye,” Buffon would say, “thus
forming a chain which, from the summit of Time’s ladder, descends right
down to us.”  “This man,” exclaimed Hume, with an admiration which
surprised him out of his scepticism, “this man gives to things which no
human eye has seen a probability almost equal to evidence.”

Some of Buffon’s theories have been disputed by his successors’ science;
as D’Alembert said of Descartes: “If he was mistaken about the laws of
motion, he was the first to divine that there must be some.”  Buffon
divined the epochs of nature, and by the intuition of his genius,
absolutely unshackled by any religious prejudice, he involuntarily
reverted to the account given in Genesis.  “We are persuaded,” he says,
“independently of the authority of the sacred books, that man was created
last, and that he only came to wield the sceptre of the earth when that
earth was found worthy of his sway.”

It has often been repeated, on the strength of some expressions let fall
by Buffon amongst intimates, that the panorama of nature had shut out
from his eyes the omnipotent God, creator and preserver of the physical
world as well as of the moral law.  Wrong has been done the great
naturalist; he had answered beforehand these incorrect opinions as to his
fundamental ideas.  “Nature is not a being,” he said; “for that being
would be God;” and he adds, “Nature is the system of the laws established
by the Creator.”  The supreme notion of Providence appears to his eyes in
all its grandeur, when he writes, “The verities of nature were destined
to appear only in course of time, and the Supreme Being kept them to
Himself as the surest means of recalling man to Him when his faith,
declining in the lapse of ages, should become weak; when, remote from his
origin, he might begin to forget it; when, in fine, having become too
familiar with the spectacle of nature, he would no longer be moved by it,
and would come to ignore the Author.  It was necessary to confirm from
time to time, and even to enlarge, the idea of God in the mind and heart
of man.  Now every new discovery produces this grand effect, every new
step that we make in nature brings us nearer to the Creator.  A new
verity is a species of miracle; its effect is the same, and it only
differs from the real miracle in that the latter is a startling stroke
which God strikes instantaneously and rarely, instead of making use of
man to discover and exhibit the marvels which He has hidden in the womb
of Nature, and in that, as these marvels are operating every instant, as
they are open at all times and for all time to his contemplation, God is
constantly recalling him to Himself, not only by the spectacle of the
moment, but, further, by the successive development of His works.”

Buffon was still working at eighty years of age; he had undertaken a
dissertation on style, a development of his reception speech at the
French Academy.  Great sorrows had crossed his life.  Married late to a
young wife whom he loved, he lost her early; she left him a son, brought
up under his wing, and the object of his constant solicitude.  Just at
the time of sending him to school, he wrote to Madame Daubenton, wife of
his able and learned co-operator: “I expect Buffonet on Sunday.  I have
arranged all his little matters he will have a private room, with a
closet for his man-servant; I have got him a tutor in the school-house
itself, and a little companion of his own age.  I do not think that he
will be at all unhappy.”  And, at a later date, when he is expecting this
son who has reached man’s estate, and has been travelling in Europe: “My
son has just arrived; the empress and the grand-duke have treated him
very well, and we shall have some fine minerals, the collection of which
is being at this moment completed.  I confess that anxiety about his
return has taken away my sleep and the power of thinking.”

When the young Count de Buffon, an officer in the artillery, and at first
warmly favorable to the noble professions of the French Revolution, had,
like his peers, to mount the scaffold of the Terror, he damned with one
word the judges who profaned in his person his father’s glory.
“Citizens,” he exclaimed from the fatal car, “my name is Buffon.”  With
less respect for the rights of genius than was shown by the Algerian
pirates who let pass, without opening them, the chests directed to the
great naturalist, the executioner of the Committee of public safety cut
off his son’s head.

This last drop of bitterness, and the cruel spectacle of social disorder,
Buffon had been spared; he had died at the _Jardin du Roi_ on the 14th of
April, 1788, preserving at eighty years of age, and even in the
feebleness of ill health, all the powers of his intelligence and the calm
serenity of ‘his soul.  His last lines dictated to his son were addressed
to Madame Necker, who had been for a long time past on the most intimate
terms with him.  Faithful in death to the instincts of order and
regularity which had always controlled his mind even in his boldest
flight, he requested that all the ceremonies of religion should be
fulfilled around his body.  His son had it removed to Montbard, where it
lies between his father and his wife.

Buffon had lived long, he had accomplished in peace his great work, he
had reaped the fruits of it.  On the eve of the terrible shocks whereof
no presage disturbed his spirit, “directed for fifty years towards the
great objects of nature,” the illustrious scholar had been permitted to
see his statue placed during his lifetime in the _Jardin du Roi_.  On
sending to the Empress Catherine his bust which she had asked him for,
he wrote to his son who had charge of it: “I forgot to remark to you,
whilst talking of bust and effigy, that, by the king’s order, they have
put at the bottom of my statue the following inscription: _Majestati
naturae par ingenium_ (Genius to match the majesty of nature).  It is not
from pride that I send you this, but perhaps Her Majesty will have it put
at the bottom of the bust.”

“How many great men do you reckon?” Buffon was asked one day.  “Five,”
 answered he at once: “ Newton, Bacon, Leibnitz, Montesquieu, and myself.”

This self-appreciation, fostered by the homage of his contemporaries,
which showed itself in Buffon undisguisedly with an air of ingenuous
satisfaction, had poisoned a life already extinguished ten years before
amidst the bitterest agonies.  Taking up arms against a society in which
he had not found his proper place, Jean Jacques Rousseau had attacked the
present as well as the past, the Encyclopaedists as well as the old
social organization.  It was from the first his distinctive trait to
voluntarily create a desert around him.  The eighteenth century was in
its nature easily seduced; liberal, generous, and open to allurements, it
delighted in intellectual contentions, even the most dangerous and the
most daring; it welcomed with alacrity all those who thus contributed to
its pleasures.  The charming drawing-rooms of Madame Geoffrin, of Madame
du Deffand, of Madlle. Lespinasse, belonged of right to philosophy.
“Being men of the world as well as of letters, the philosophers of the
eighteenth century had passed their lives in the pleasantest and most
brilliant regions of that society which was so much attacked by them.
It had welcomed them, made them famous; they had mingled in all the
pleasures of its elegant and agreeable existence; they shared in all its
tastes, its manners, all the refinements, all the susceptibilities of a
civilization at the same time old and rejuvenated, aristocratic and
literary; they were of that old regimen which was demolished by their
hands.  The philosophical circle was everywhere, amongst the people of
the court, of the church, of the long robe, of finance; haughty here,
complaisant there, at one time indoctrinating, at another amusing its
hosts, but everywhere young, active, confident, recruiting and battling
everywhere, penetrating and fascinating the whole of society “ [M.
Guizot, Madame la comtesse de Rumford].  Rousseau never took his place in
this circle; in this society he marched in front like a pioneer of new
times, attacking tentatively all that he encountered on his way.  “Nobody
was ever at one and the same time more factious and more dictatorial,” is
the clever dictum of M. Saint Marc Girardin.

Rousseau was not a Frenchman: French society always felt that, in
consequence of certain impressions of his early youth which were never to
be effaced.  Born at Geneva on the 28th of June, 1712, in a family of the
lower middle class, and brought up in the first instance by an
intelligent and a pious mother, he was placed, like Voltaire and Diderot,
in an attorney’s office.  Dismissed with disgrace “as good for nothing
but to ply the file,” the young man was bound apprentice to an engraver,
“a clownish and violent fellow,” says Rousseau, “who succeeded very
shortly in dulling all the brightness of my boyhood, brutalizing my
lively and loving character, and reducing me in spirit, as I was in
fortune, to my real position of an apprentice.”

Rousseau was barely sixteen when he began that roving existence which is
so attractive to young people, so hateful in ripe age, and which lasted
as long as his life.  Flying from his master whose brutality he dreaded,
and taking refuge at Oharmettes in Savoy with a woman whom he at first
loved passionately, only to leave her subsequently with disgust, he had
reached the age of one and twenty, and had already gone through many
adventures when he set out, heart-sore and depraved, to seek at Paris a
means of subsistence.  He had invented a new system of musical notation;
the Academy of Sciences, which had lent him a favorable ear, did not
consider the discovery useful.  Some persons had taken an interest in
him, but Rousseau could never keep his friends; and he had many, zealous
and devoted.  He was sent to Venice as secretary to the French ambassador
M. de Montaigu.  He soon quarrelled with the ambassador and returned to
Paris.  He found his way into the house of Madame Dupin, wife of a rich
farmer-general (of taxes).  He was considered clever; he wrote little
plays, which he set to music.  Enthusiastically welcomed by the friends
of Madame Dupin, he contributed to their amusements.  “We began with the
_Engagement temeraire,_” says Madame d’Epinay in her Memoires: “it is a
new play by M. Rousseau, a friend of M. de Francueil’s, who introduced
him to us.  The author played a part in his piece.  Though it is only a
society play, it was a great success.  I doubt, however, whether it would
be successful at the theatre, but it is the work of a clever man and no
ordinary man.  I do not quite know, though, whether it is what I saw of
the author or of the piece that made me think so.  He is complimentary
without being polite, or at least without having the air of it.  He seems
to be ignorant of the usages of society, but it is easy to see that he
has infinite wit.  He has a brown complexion, and eyes full of fire light
up his face.  When he has been speaking and you watch him, you think him
good-looking; but when you recall him to memory, it is always as a plain
man.  He is said to be in bad health; it is probably that which gives him
from time to time a wild look.”

It was amid this brilliant intimacy, humiliating and pleasant at the same
time, that Rousseau published his _Discours sur les Sciences et les
Arts_.  It has been disputed whether the inspiration was such as he
claimed for this production, the first great work which he had ever
undertaken and which was to determine the direction of his thoughts.
“I was going to see Diderot at Vincennes,” he says, “and, as I walked, I
was turning over the leaves of the _Mercure de France,_ when I stumbled
upon this question proposed by the Academy of Dijon: Whether the advance
of sciences and arts has contributed to the corruption or purification of
morals.  All at once I felt my mind dazzled by a thousand lights, crowds
of ideas presented themselves at once with a force and a confusion which
threw me into indescribable bewilderment; I felt my head seized with a
giddiness like intoxication, a violent palpitation came over me, my bosom
began to heave.  Unable to breathe any longer as I walked, I flung myself
down under one of the trees in the avenue, and there spent half an hour
in such agitation that, on rising up, I found all the front of my
waistcoat wet with tears without my having had an idea that I had shed
any.”  Whether it were by natural intuition or the advice of Diderot,
Jean Jacques had found his weapons; poor and obscure as he was, he
attacked openly the brilliant and corrupt society which had welcomed him
for its amusement.  Spiritualistic at heart and nurtured upon Holy
Scripture in his pious childhood, he felt a sincere repugnance for the
elegant or cynical materialism which was every day more and more creeping
over the eighteenth century.  “Sciences and arts have corrupted the
world,” he said, and he put forward, as proof of it, the falsity of the
social code, the immorality of private life, the frivolity of the
drawing-rooms into which he had been admitted.  “Suspicions,
heart-burnings, apprehensions, coldness, reserve, hatred, treason, lurk
incessantly beneath that uniform and perfidious veil of politeness, under
that so much vaunted urbanity which we owe to the enlightenment of our

Rousseau had launched his paradox; the frivolous and polite society which
he attacked was amused at it without being troubled by it: it was a new
field of battle opened for brilliant jousts of wit; he had his partisans
and his admirers.  In the discussion which ensued, Jean Jacques showed
himself more sensible and moderate than he had been in the first
exposition of his idea; he had wanted to strike, to astonish he soon
modified the violence of his assertions.  “Let us guard against
concluding that we must now burn all libraries and pull down the
universities and academies,” he wrote to King Stanislaus: “we should only
plunge Europe once more into barbarism, and morals would gain nothing by
it.  The vices would remain with us, and we should have ignorance
besides.  In vain would you aspire to destroy the sources of the evil;
in vain would you remove the elements of vanity, indolence, and luxury;
in vain would you even bring men back to that primal equality, the
preserver of innocence and the source of all virtue: their hearts once
spoiled will be so forever.  There is no remedy now save some great
revolution, almost as much to be feared as the evil which it might cure,
and one which it were blamable to desire and impossible to forecast.  Let
us, then, leave the sciences and arts to assuage, in some degree, the
ferocity of the men they have corrupted.  .  ..  The enlightenment of the
wicked is at any rate less to be feared than his brutal stupidity.”

Rousseau here showed the characteristic which invariably distinguished
him from the philosophers, and which ended by establishing deep enmity
between them and him.  The eighteenth century espied certain evils,
certain sores in the social and political condition, believed in a cure,
and blindly relied on the power of its own theories.  Rousseau, more
earnest, often more sincere, made a better diagnosis of the complaint; he
described its horrible character and the dangerousness of it, he saw no
remedy and he pointed none out.  Profound and grievous impotence, whose
utmost hope is an impossible recurrence to the primitive state of
savagery!  “In the private opinion of our adversaries,” says M. Roy de
Collard eloquently, “it was a thoughtless thing, on the great day of
creation, to let man loose, a free and intelligent agent, into the midst
of the universe; thence the mischief and the mistake.  A higher wisdom
comes forward to repair the error of Providence, to restrain His
thoughtless liberality, and to render to prudently mutilated mankind the
service of elevating it to the happy innocence of the brute.”

Before Rousseau, and better than he, Christianity had recognized and
proclaimed the evil; but it had at the same time announced to the world a
remedy and a Saviour.

Henceforth Rousseau had chosen his own road: giving up the drawing-rooms
and the habits of that elegant society for which he was not born and the
admiration of which had developed his pride, he made up his mind to live
independent, copying music to get his bread, now and then smitten with
the women of the world who sought him out in his retirement,--in love
with Madame d’Epinay and Madame d’Houdetot, anon returning to the coarse
servant-wench whom he had but lately made his wife, and whose children he
had put in the foundling-hospital.  Music at that time absorbed all
minds.  Rousseau brought out a little opera entitled _Le Devin de
village_ (The Village Wizard), which had a great success.  It was played
at Fontainebleau before the king.  “I was there that day,” writes
Rousseau, “in the same untidy array which was usual with me; a great deal
of beard and wig rather badly trimmed.  Taking this want of decency for
an act of courage, I entered in this state the very room into which would
come, a short time afterwards, the king, the queen, the royal family, and
all the court.  .  .  .  When the lights were lit, seeing myself in this.
array in the midst of people all extensively got up, I began to be ill at
ease; I asked myself if I were in my proper place, if I were properly
dressed, and, after a few moments’ disquietude, I answered yes, with an
intrepidity which arose perhaps more from the impossibility of getting
out of it than from the force of my arguments.  After this little
dialogue, I plucked up so much, that I should have been quite intrepid if
there had been any need of it.  But, whether it were the effect of the
master’s presence or natural kindness of heart, I observed nothing but
what was obliging and civil in the curiosity of which I was the object.
I was steeled against all their gibes, but their caressing air, which I
had not expected, overcame me so completely, that I trembled like a child
when things began.  I heard all about me a whispering of women who seemed
to me as beautiful as angels, and who said to one another below their
breath, ‘This is charming, this is enchanting: there is not a note that
does not appeal to the heart.’  The, pleasure of causing emotion in so
many lovable persons moved me myself to tears.”

The emotions of the eighteenth century were vivid and easily roused;
fastening upon everything without any earnest purpose, and without any
great sense of responsibility, it grew as hot over a musical dispute as
over the gravest questions of morality or philosophy.  Grimm had attacked
French music, Rousseau supported his thesis by a _Lettre sur la Musique_.
It was the moment of the great quarrel between the Parliament and the
clergy.  “When my letter appeared, there was no more excitement save
against me,” says Rousseau; “it was such that the nation has never
recovered from it.  When people read that this pamphlet probably
prevented a revolution in the state, they will fancy they must be
dreaming.”  And Grimm adds in his correspondence: “The Italian actors who
have been playing for the last ten months on the stage of the Opera de
Paris and who are called here bouffons, have so absorbed the attention of
Paris that the Parliament, in spite of all its measures and proceedings
which should have earned it celebrity, could not but fall into complete
oblivion.  A wit has said that the arrival of Manelli saved us from a
civil war; and Jean Jacques Rousseau of Geneva, whom his friends have
dubbed the citizen of citizens (_le citoyen par excellence_), that
eloquent and bilious foe of the sciences, has just set fire to the four
corners of Paris with a _Lettre sur la Musique,_ in which he proves that
it is impossible to set French words to music.  .  .  .  What is not easy
to believe, and is none the less true for all that, is that M. Rousseau
was afraid of being banished for this pamphlet.  It would have been odd
to see Rousseau banished for having spoken ill of French music, after
having with impunity dealt with the most delicate political matter.”

Rousseau had just printed his _Discours sur l’Inegalite des conditions,_
a new and violent picture of the corruptions of human society.
“Inequality being almost nil in a state of nature,” he says, “it derives
its force and increment from the development of our faculties and from
the progress of the human mind .  .  .  according to the poet it is gold
and silver, but according to the philosopher it is iron and corn which
have civilized men and ruined the human race.”

The singularity of his paradox had worn off; Rousseau no longer
astounded, he shocked the good sense as well as the aspirations,
superficial or generous, of the eighteenth century.  The _Discours sur
l’Inegalite des conditions_ was not a success.  “I have received, sir,
your new book against the human race,” wrote Voltaire; “I thank you for
it.  You will please men to whom you tell truths about them, and you will
not make them any better.  Never was so much good wit expended in the
desire to make beasts of us; one feels disposed to walk on all fours when
one reads your work.  However, as it is more than sixty years since I
lost the knack, I unfortunately find it impossible to recover it, and I
leave that natural gait to those who are better fitted for it than you or
I.  No more can I embark upon a visit to the savages of Canada, first,
because the illnesses to which I am subject render a European doctor
necessary to me; secondly, because war has been introduced into that
country, and because the examples of our nations have rendered the
savages almost as wicked as ourselves.  I shall confine myself to being a
peaceable savage in the solitude I have selected hard by your own
country, where you ought to be.”

Rousseau had, indeed, thought of returning and settling at Geneva.  In
1754, during a trip he made thither, he renounced the Catholic faith
which he had embraced at sixteen under the influence of Madame de Warens,
without any more conviction than he carried with him in his fresh
abjuration.  “Ashamed,” says he, “at being excluded from my rights of
citizenship by the profession of a cult other than that of my fathers, I
resolved to resume the latter openly.  I considered that the Gospel was
the same for all Christians, and that, as the fundamental difference of
dogma arose from meddling with explanations of what could not be
understood, it appertained in every country to the sovereigns alone to
fix both the cult and the unintelligible dogma, and that, consequently,
it was the duty of the citizen to accept the dogma and follow the cult
prescribed by law.”  Strange eccentricity of the human mind!  The
shackles of civilization are oppressive to Rousseau, and yet he would
impose the yoke of the state upon consciences.  The natural man does not
reflect, and does not discuss his religion; whilst seeking to recover the
obliterated ideal of nature, the philosopher halts on the road at the
principles of Louis XIV. touching religious liberties.

[Illustration: Rousseau and Madame D’Epinay----338]

Madame d’Epinay had offered Rousseau a retreat in her little house, the
Hermitage.  There it was that he began the tale of _La Nouvelle Heloise,_
which was finished at Marshal de Montmorency’s, when the susceptible and
cranky temper of the philosopher had justified the malevolent predictions
of Grimm.  The latter had but lately said to Madame d’Epinay “I see in
Rousseau nothing but pride concealed everywhere about him; you will do
him a very sorry service in giving him a home at the Hermitage, but you
will do yourself a still more sorry one.  Solitude will complete the
blackening of his imagination; he will fancy all his friends unjust,
ungrateful, and you first of all, if you once refuse to be at his beck
and call; he will accuse you of having bothered him to live under your
roof and of having prevented him from yielding to the wishes of his
country.  I already see the germ of these accusations in the turn of the
letters you have shown me.”

Rousseau quarrelled with Madame d’Epinay, and shortly afterwards with all
the philosophical circle: Grimm, Helvetius, D’Holbach, Diderot; his
quarrels with the last were already of old date, they had made some
noise.  “Good God!” said the Duke of Castries in astonishment, “wherever
I go I hear of nothing but this Rousseau and this Diderot!  Did anybody
ever?  Fellows who are nobody, fellows who have no house, who lodge on a
third floor!  Positively, one can’t stand that sort of thing!”  The
rupture was at last complete, it extended to Grimm as well as to Diderot.
“Nobody can put himself in my place,” wrote Rousseau, “and nobody will
see that I am a being apart, who has not the character, the maxims, the
resources of the rest of them, and who must not be judged by their

Rousseau was right; he was a being apart; and the philosophers could not
forgive him for his independence.  His merits as well as his defects
annoyed them equally: his “Lettre contre les Spectacles” had exasperated
Voltaire, the stage at Deuces as in danger.  “It is against that Jean
Jacques of yours that I am most enraged,” he writes in his correspondence
with D’Alembert: “he has written several letters against the scandal to
deacons of the Church of Geneva, to my ironmonger, to my cobbler.  This
arch-maniac, who might have been something if he had left himself in your
hands, has some notion of standing aloof: he writes against theatricals
after having done a bad play; he writes against France which is a mother
to him; he picks up four or five rotten old hoops off Diogenes’ tub and
gets inside them to bay; he cuts his friends; he writes to me myself the
most impertinent letter that ever fanatic scrawled.  He writes to me in
so many words, ‘You have corrupted Geneva in requital of the asylum she
gave you;’ as if I cared to soften the manners of Geneva, as if I wanted
an asylum, as if I had taken any in that city of Socinian preachers, as
if I were under any obligation to that city!”

More moderate and more equitable than Voltaire, D’Alembert felt the
danger of discord amongst the philosophical party.  In vain he wrote to
the irritated poet: “I come to Jean Jacques, not Jean Jacques Lefranc de
Pompignan, who thinks he is somebody, but to Jean Jacques Rousseau, who
thinks be is a cynic, and who is only inconsistent and ridiculous.  I
grant that he has written you an impertinent letter; I grant that you and
your friends have reason to complain of that; in spite of all this,
however, I do not approve of your declaring openly against him, as you
are doing, and, thereanent, I need only quote to you your own words:
‘What will become of the little flock, if it is divided and scattered?’
We do not find that Plato, or Aristotle, or Sophocles, or Euripides,
wrote against Diogenes, although Diogenes said something insulting to
them all.  Jean Jacques is a sick man with a good deal of wit, and one
who only has wit when he has fever; he must neither be cured nor have his
feelings hurt.”  Voltaire replied with haughty temper to these wise
counsels, and the philosophers remained forever embroiled with Rousseau.

Isolated henceforth by the good as well as by the evil tendencies of his
nature, Jean Jacques stood alone against the philosophical circle which
he had dropped, as well as against the Protestant or Catholic clergy
whose creeds he often offended.  He had just published _Le Contrat
Social,_ “The Gospel,”; says M. Saint-Marc Girardin, “of the theory as to
the sovereignty of the state representing the sovereignty of the people.”
 The governing powers of the time had some presentiment of its danger;
they had vaguely comprehended what weapons might be sought therein by
revolutionary instincts and interests; their anxiety and their anger as
yet brooded silently; the director of publications (_de la librairie_),
M. de Malesherbes, was one of the friends and almost one of the disciples
of Rousseau whom he shielded; he himself corrected the proofs of the
_Emile_ which Rousseau had just finished.  The book had barely begun to
appear, when, on the 8th of June, 1762, Rousseau was awakened by a
message from la Marchale de Luxembourg: the Parliament had ordered
_Emile_ to be burned, and its author arrested.  Rousseau took flight,
reckoning upon finding refuge at Geneva.  The influence of the French
government pursued him thither; the Grand Council condemned _Emile_.
One single copy had arrived at Geneva it was this which was burned by the
hand of the common hangman, nine days after the, burning at Paris in the
Place de Greve.  “The Contrat Social has received its whipping on the
back of Emile,” was the saying at Geneva.  “At the instigation of M. de
Voltaire they have avenged upon me the cause of God,” Jean Jacques

Rousseau rashly put his name to his book; Voltaire was more prudent.
One day, having been imprisoned for some verses which were not his, he
had taken the resolution to impudently repudiate the paternity of his own
works.  “You must never publish anything under your own name,” he wrote
to Helvetius; “La Pucelle was none of my doing, of course.  Master Joly
de Fleury will make a fine thing of his requisition; I shall tell him
that he is a calumniator, that La Pucelle is his own doing, which he
wants to put down to me out of spite.”

Geneva refused asylum to the proscribed philosopher; he was warned of
hostile intentions on the part of the magnific signiors of Berne.
Neuchatel and the King of Prussia’s protection alone were left; thither
he went for refuge.  Received with open arms by the governor, my lord
Marshal (Keith), he wrote thence to the premier syndic Favre a letter
abdicating his rights of burghership and citizenship in the town of
Geneva.  “I have neglected nothing,” he said, “to gain the love of my
compatriots; nobody could have had worse success.  I desire to indulge
them even in their hate; the last sacrifice remaining for me to make is
that of a name which was dear to me.”

Some excitement, nevertheless, prevailed at Geneva; Rousseau had
partisans there.  The success of _Emile_ had been immense at Paris, and
was destined to exerciso a serious influence upon the education of a
whole generation.  It is good,” wrote Voltaire, “that the brethren should
know that yesterday six hundred persons came, for the third time, to
protest on behalf of Jean Jacques against the Council of Geneva, which
had dared to condemn the Vicaire savoyard.”  The Genevese magistrates
thought it worth while to defend their acts; the _Lettres ecrites de la
Campagne,_ published to that end, were the work of the attorney-general
Robert Tronchin.  Rousseau replied to them in the _Lettres de la
Montagne,_ with a glowing eloquence having a spice of irony.  He hurled
his missiles at Voltaire, whom, with weakly exaggeration, he accused of
being the author of all his misfortunes.  “Those gentlemen of the Grand
Council,” he said, “see M. de Voltaire so often, how is it that he did
not inspire them with a little of that tolerance which he is incessantly
preaching, and of which he sometimes has need?  If they had consulted him
a little on this matter, it appears to me that he might have addressed
them pretty nearly thus: ‘Gentlemen, it is not the arguers who do harm;
philosophy can gang its ain gait without risk;’ the people either do not
hear it at all or let it babble on, and pay it back all the disdain it
feels for them.  I do not argue myself, but others argue, and what harm
comes of it?  We have arranged that my great influence in the court and
my pretended omnipotence should serve you as a pretext for allowing a
free, peaceful course to the sportive jests of my advanced years; that is
a good thing, but do not, for all that, burn graver writings, for that
would be too shocking.  I have so often preached tolerance!  It must not
be always required of others and never displayed towards them.  This poor
creature believes in God, let us pass over that; he will not make a sect.
He is a bore; all arguers are.  If all bores of books were to be burned,
the whole country would have to be made into one great fireplace.  Come,
come, let us leave those to argue who leave us to joke; let us burn
neither people nor books and remain at peace, that is my advice.  That,
in my opinion, is what might have been said, only in better style, by M.
Voltaire, and it would not have been, as it seems to me, the worst advice
he could have given.”

My lord Marshal had left Neuchatel; Rousseau no longer felt safe there;
he made up his mind to settle in the Island of St. Pierre, in the middle
of the Lake of Bienne.  Before long an order from the Bernese senate
obliged, him to quit it “within four and twenty hours, and with a
prohibition against ever returning, under the heaviest penalties.”
 Rousseau went through Paris and took refuge in England, whither he was
invited by the friendliness of the historian Hume.  There it was that he
began writing his _Confessions_.

Already the reason of the unhappy philosopher, clouded as it had
sometimes been by the violence of his emotions, was beginning to be
shaken at the foundations; he believed himself to be the victim of an
immense conspiracy, at the head of which was his friend Hume.  The latter
flew into a rage; he wrote to Baron d’Holbach: “My dear Baron, Rousseau
is a scoundrel.”  Rousseau was by this time mad.

He returned to France.  The Prince of Conti, faithful to his
philosophical affections, quartered him at the castle of Trye, near
Gisors.  Thence he returned to Paris, still persecuted, he said, by
invisible enemies.  Retiring, finally, to the pavilion of Ermenonville,
which had been offered to him by M. de Girardin, he died there at the age
of sixty-six, sinking even more beneath imaginary woes than under the
real sorrows and bitter deceptions of his life.  The disproportion
between his intellect and his character, between the boundless pride and
the impassioned weakness of his spirit, had little by little estranged
his friends and worn out the admiration of his contemporaries.  By his
writings Rousseau acted more powerfully upon posterity than upon his own
times: his personality had ceased to do his genius injustice.

He belonged moreover and by anticipation to a new era; from the restless
working of his mind, as well as from his moral and political tendencies,
he was no longer of the eighteenth century properly speaking, though the
majority of the philosophers outlived him; his work was not their work,
their world was never his.  He had attempted a noble reaction, but one
which was fundamentally and in reality impossible.  The impress of his
early education had never been thoroughly effaced: he believed in God, he
had been nurtured upon the Gospel in childhood, he admired the morality
and the life of Jesus Christ; but he stopped at the boundaries of
adoration and submission.  “The spirit of Jean Jacques Rousseau inhabits
the moral world, but not that other which is above,” M. Joubert has said
in his _Pensees_.  The weapons were insufficient and the champion was too
feeble for the contest; the spirit of the moral world was vanquished as a
foregone conclusion.  Against the systematic infidelity which was more
and more creeping over the eighteenth century, the Christian faith alone,
with all its forces, could fight and triumph.  But the Christian faith
was obscured and enfeebled, it clung to the vessel’s rigging instead of
defending its powerful hull; the flood was rising meanwhile, and the
dikes were breaking one after, another.  The religious belief of the
Savoyard vicar, imperfect and inconsistent, such as it is set forth in
_Emile,_ and that sincere love of nature which was recovered by Rousseau
in his solitude, remained powerless to guide the soul and regulate life.

“What the eighteenth century lacked [M. Guizot, _Melanges biographiques_
(Madame la Comtesse de Rumford)], “what there was of superficiality in
its ideas and of decay in its morals, of senselessness in its pretensions
and of futility in its creative power, has been strikingly revealed to us
by experience; we have learned it to our cost.  We know, we feel the evil
bequeathed to us by that memorable epoch.  It preached doubt, egotism,
materialism.  It laid for some time an impure and blasting hand upon
noble and beautiful phases of human life.  But if the eighteenth century
had done only that, if such had been merely its chief characteristic, can
any one suppose that it would have carried in its wake so many and such
important matters, that it would have so moved the world?  It was far
superior to all its sceptics, to all its cynics.  What do I say?
Superior?  Nay, it was essentially opposed to them and continually gave
them the lie.  Despite the weakness of its morals, the frivolity of its
forms, the mere dry bones of such and such of its doctrines, despite its
critical and destructive tendency, it was an ardent and a sincere
century, a century of faith and disinterestedness.  It had faith in the
truth, for it claimed the right thereof to reign in this world.  It had
faith in humanity, for it recognized the right thereof to perfect itself
and would have had that right exercised without obstruction.  It erred,
it lost itself amid this twofold confidence; it attempted what was far
beyond its right and power; it misjudged the moral nature of man and the
conditions of the social state.  Its ideas as well as its works
contracted the blemish of its views.  But, granted so much, the original
idea, dominant in the eighteenth century, the belief that man, truth, and
society are made for one another, worthy of one another, and called upon
to form a union, this correct and salutary belief rises up and overtops
all its history.  That belief it was the first to proclaim and would fain
have realized.  Hence its power and its popularity over the whole face of
the earth.  Hence also, to descend from great things to small, and from
the destiny of man to that of the drawing-room, hence the seductiveness
of that epoch and the charm it scattered over social, life.  Never before
were seen all the conditions, all the classes that form the flower of a
great people, however diverse they might have been in their history and
still were in their interests, thus forgetting their past, their
personality, in order to draw near to one another, to unite in a
communion of the sweetest manners, and solely occupied in pleasing one
another, in rejoicing and hoping together during fifty years which were
to end in the most terrible conflicts between them.”

At the death of King Louis XV., in 1774, the easy-mannered joyance, the
peaceful and brilliant charm of fashionable and philosophical society
were reaching their end: the time of stern realities was approaching with
long strides.


[Illustration: Louis XVI.----347]

Louis XV. was dead; France breathed once more; she was weary of the
weakness as well as of the irregularities of the king who had untaught
her her respect for him, and she turned with joyous hope towards his
successor, barely twenty years of age, but already loved and impatiently
awaited by his people.  “He must be called Louis le Desire,” was the
saying in the streets before the death-rattle of Louis XV. had summoned
his grandson to the throne.  The feeling of dread which had seized the
young king was more prophetic than the nation’s joy.  At the news that
Louis XV. had just heaved his last sigh in the arms of his pious
daughters, Louis XVI. and Maria Antoinette both flung themselves on their
knees, exclaiming, “O God, protect us, direct us, we are too young.”

The monarch’s youth did not scare the country, itself everywhere animated
and excited by a breath of youth.  There were congratulations on escaping
from the well-known troubles of a regency; the king’s ingenuous
inexperience, moreover, opened a vast field for the most contradictory
hopes.  The philosophers counted upon taking possession of the mind of a
good young sovereign, who was said to have his heart set upon his
people’s happiness; the clergy and the Jesuits themselves expected
everything from the young prince’s pious education; the old parliaments,
mutilated, crushed down, began to raise up their heads again, while the
economists were already preparing their most daring projects.  Like
literature, the arts had got the start, in the new path, of the
politicians and the magistrates.  M. Turgot and M. de Malesherbes had
not yet laid their enterprising hands upon the old fabric of French
administration, and already painting, sculpture, architecture, and music
had shaken off the shackles of the past.  The conventional graces of
Vanloo, of Watteau, of Boucher, of Fragonard, had given place to a
severer school.  Greuze was putting upon canvas the characters and ideas
of Diderot’s _Drame naturel;_ but Vien, in France, was seconding the
efforts of Winkelman and of Raphael Mengs in Italy; he led his pupils
back to the study of ancient art; he had trained Regnault, Vincent,
Menageot, and lastly Louis David, destined to become the chief of the
modern school; Julien, Houdon, the last of the Coustous, were following
the same road in sculpture Soufflot, an old man by this time, was
superintending the completion of the church of St. Genevieve, dedicated
by Louis XV. to the commemoration of his recovery at Metz, and destined,
from the majestic simplicity of its lines, to the doubtful honor of
becoming the Pantheon of the revolution; Servandoni had died a short time
since, leaving to the church of St. Sulpice the care of preserving his
memory; everywhere were rising charming mansions imitated from the
palaces of Rome.  The painters, the sculptors, and the architects of
France were sufficient for her glory; only Gretry and Monsigny upheld the
honor of that French music which was attacked by Grimm and by Jean
Jacques Rousseau; but it was at Paris that the great quarrel went on
between the Italians and the Germans; Piccini and Gluck divided society,
wherein their rivalry excited violent passions.  Everywhere and on, all
questions, intellectual movement was becoming animated with fresh ardor;
France was marching towards the region of storms, in the blindness of her
confidence and _joyante;_ the atmosphere seemed purer since Madame
Dubarry had been sent to a convent by one of the first orders of young
Louis XVI.

Already, however, far-seeing spirits were disquieted; scarcely had he
mounted the throne, when the king summoned to his side, as his minister,
M. de Maurepas, but lately banished by Louis XV., in 1749, on a charge of
having tolerated, if not himself written, songs disrespectful towards
Madame de Pompadour.  “The first day,” said the disgraced minister, “I
was nettled; the second, I was comforted.”

M. de Maurepas, grandson of Chancellor Pontchartrain, had been provided
for, at fourteen years of age, by Louis XIV. with the reversion of the
ministry of marine, which had been held by his father, and had led a
frivolous and pleasant life; through good fortune and evil fortune he
clung to the court; when he was recalled thither, at the age of sixty-
three, on the suggestion of Madame Adelaide, the queen’s aunt, and of the
dukes of Aiguillon and La Vrilliere, both of them ministers and relations
of his, he made up his mind that he would never leave it again.  On
arriving at Versailles, he used the expression, “premier minister.”
 “Not at all,” said the king abruptly.  “O, very well,” replied M. de
Maurepas, “then to teach your Majesty to do without one.”  Nobody,
however, did any business with Louis XVI. without his being present,
and his address was sufficient to keep at a distance or diminish the
influence of the princesses as well as of the queen.  Marie Antoinette
had insisted upon the recall of M. de Choiseul, who had arranged her
marriage and who had remained faithful to the Austrian alliance.  The
king had refused angrily.  The sinister accusations which had but lately
been current as to the causes of the dauphin’s death had never been
forgotten by his son.

An able man, in spite of his incurable levity, M. de Maurepas soon
sacrificed the Duke of Aiguillon to the queen’s resentment; the people
attached to the old court accused her of despising etiquette; it was said
that she had laughed when she received the respectful condolence of aged
dames looking like beguines in their coifs; already there circulated
amongst the public bitter ditties, such as,

          My little queen, not twenty-one,
          Maltreat the folks, as you’ve begun,
          And o’er the border you shall run.  .  .  .

The Duke of Aiguillon, always hostile to the Choiseuls and the House of
Austria, had lent his countenance to the murmurs; Marie Antoinette was
annoyed, and, in her turn, fostered the distrust felt by the people
towards the late ministers of Louis XV.  In the place of the Duke of
Aiguillon, who had the ministry of war and that of foreign affairs both
together, the Count of Muy and the Count of Vergennes were called to
power.  Some weeks later, the obscure minister of marine, M. de Boynes,
made way for the superintendent of the district (generalite) of Limoges,
M. Turgot.

Anne Robert Jacques Turgot, born at Paris on the 10th of May, 1727, was
already known and everywhere esteemed, when M. de Maurepas, at the
instance, it is said, of his wife whom he consulted on all occasions,
summoned him to the ministry.  He belonged to an ancient and important
family by whom he had been intended for the Church.  When a pupil at
Louis-le-Grand college, he spent his allowance so quickly that his
parents became alarmed; they learned before long that the young man
shared all he received amongst out-of-college pupils too poor to buy

This noble concern for the wants of others, as well as his rare gifts
of intellect, had gained young Turgot devoted friends.  He was already
leaning towards philosophy, and he announced to his fellow-pupils his
intention of giving up his ecclesiastical status; he was a prior of
Sorbonne; the majority disapproved of it.  “Thou’rt but a younger son of
a Norman family,” they said, “and, consequently, poor.  Thou’rt certain
to get excellent abbotries and to be a bishop early.  Then thou’lt be
able to realize thy fine dreams of administration and to become a
statesman at thy leisure, whilst doing all manner of good in thy diocese.
It depends on thyself alone to make thyself useful to thy country, to
acquire a high reputation, perhaps to carve thy way to the ministry; if
thou enter the magistracy, as thou desirest, thou breakest the plank
which is under thy feet, thou’lt be confined to hearing causes, and
thou’lt waste thy genius, which is fitted for the most important public
affairs.”  “I am very fond of you,” my dear friends,” replied M. Turgot,
“but I don’t quite understand what you are made of.  As for me, it would
be impossible for me to devote myself to wearing a mask all my life.”  He
became councillor-substitute to the attorney-general, and before long
councillor in the Parliament, on the 30th of December, 1752.  Master of
requests in 1753, he consented to sit in the King’s Chamber, when the
Parliament suspended the administration of justice.  “The Court,” he
said, “is exceeding its powers.”  A sense of equity thus enlisted him in
the service of absolute government.  He dreaded, moreover, the corporate
spirit, which he considered narrow and intolerant.  “When you say, We,”
 he would often repeat, “do not be surprised that the public should
answer, You.”

Intimately connected with the most esteemed magistrates and economists,
such as MM. Trudaine, Quesnay, and Gournay, at the same time that he was
writing in the _Encyclopaedia,_ and constantly occupied in useful work,
Turgot was not yet five and thirty when he was appointed superintendent
of the district of Limoges.  There, the rare faculties of his mind and
his sincere love of good found their natural field; the country was poor,
crushed under imposts, badly intersected by roads badly kept, inhabited
by an ignorant populace, violently hostile to the recruitment of the
militia.  He encouraged agriculture, distributed the talliages more
equitably, amended the old roads and constructed new ones, abolished
forced labor (_corvees_), provided for the wants of the poor and wretched
during the dearth of 1770 and 1771, and declined, successively, the
superintendentship of Rouen, of Lyons, and of Bordeaux, in order that he
might be able to complete the useful tasks he had begun at Limoges.  It
was in that district, which had become dear to him, that he was sought
out by the kindly remembrance of Abbe de Wry, his boyhood’s friend, who
was intimate with Madame de Maurepas.  Scarcely had he been installed in
the department of marine and begun to conceive vast plans, when the late
ministers of Louis XV. succumbed at last beneath the popular hatred; in
the place of Abbe Terray, M. Turgot became comptroller-general.

The old parliamentarians were triumphant; at the same time as Abbe
Terray, Chancellor Maupeou was disgraced, and the judicial system he had
founded fell with him.  Unpopular from the first, the Maupeou Parliament
had remained in the nation’s eyes the image of absolute power corrupted
and corrupting.  The suit between Beaumarchais and Councillor Goezman had
contributed to decry it, thanks to the uproar the able pamphleteer had
managed to cause; the families of the former magistrates were powerful,
numerous, esteemed, and they put pressure upon public opinion; M. de
Maurepas determined to retract the last absolutist attempt of Louis XV.’s
reign; his first care was to send and demand of Chancellor Maupeou the
surrender of the seals.  “I know what you have come to tell me,” said the
latter to the Duke of La Vrilliere, who was usually charged with this
painful mission, “but I am and shall continue to be chancellor of
France,” and he kept his seat whilst addressing the minister, in
accordance with his official privilege.  He handed to the duke the
casket of seals, which the latter was to take straight to M. de
Miromesnil.  “I had gained the king a great cause,” said Maupeou; “he is
pleased to reopen a question which was decided; as to that he is master.”
 Imperturbable and haughty as ever, he retired to his estate at Thuit,
near the Andelys, where he drew up a justificatory memorandum of his
ministry, which he had put into the king’s hands, without ever attempting
to enter the court or Paris again; he died in the country, at the outset
of the revolutionary storms, on the 29th of July, 1792, just as he had
made the State a patriotic present of 800,000 livres.  At the moment when
the populace were burning him in effigy in the streets of Paris together
with Abbe Terray, when he saw the recall of the parliamentarians, and the
work of his whole life destroyed, he repeated with his usual coolness:
“If the king is pleased to lose his kingdom--well, he is master.”

Abbe Terray had been less proud, and was more harshly treated.  It was in
vain that he sought to dazzle the young king with ably prepared
memorials.  “I can do no more,” he said, “to add to the receipts, which I
have increased by sixty millions; I can do no more to keep down the.
debts, which I have reduced by twenty millions.  .  .  .  It is for you,
Sir, to relieve your people by reducing the expenses.  This work, which
is worthy of your kind heart, was reserved for you.”  Abbe Terray had to
refund nearly 900,000 livres to the public treasury.  Being recognized by
the mob as he was passing over the Seine in a ferry-boat, he had some
difficulty in escaping from the hands of those who would have hurled him
into the river.

The contrast was great between the crafty and unscrupulous ability of the
disgraced comptroller-general and the complete disinterestedness, large
views, and noble desire of good which animated his successor.  After his
first interview with the king, at Compiegne, M. Turgot wrote to Louis
XVI.:--“Your Majesty has been graciously pleased to permit me to place
before your eyes the engagement you took upon yourself, to support me in
the execution of plans of economy which are at all times, and now more
than ever, indispensable.  I confine myself for the moment, Sir, to
reminding you of these three expressions: 1. No bankruptcies; 2. No
augmentation of imposts; 3. No loans.  No bankruptcy, either avowed or
masked by forced reductions.  No augmentation of imposts the reason for
that lies in the condition of your people, and still more in your
Majesty’s own heart.  No loans; because every loan always diminishes the
disposable revenue: it necessitates, at the end of a certain time, either
bankruptcy or augmentation of imposts.  .  .  .  Your Majesty will not
forget that, when I accepted the office of comptroller-general, I
perceived all the preciousness of the confidence with which you honor me;
.  .  .  but, at the same time I perceived all the danger to which I was
exposing myself.  I foresaw that I should have to fight single-handed
against abuses of every sort, against the efforts of such as gain by
those abuses, against the host of the prejudiced who oppose every reform,
and who, in the hands of interested persons, are so powerful a means of
perpetuating disorder.  I shall be feared, shall be even hated by the
greater part of the court, by all that solicit favors.  .  .  .  This
people to whom I shall have sacrificed myself is so easy to deceive, that
I shall perhaps incur its hatred through the very measures I shall take
to defend it against harassment.  I shall be calumniated, and perhaps
with sufficient plausibility to rob me of your Majesty’s confidence.
.  .  .  You will remember that it is on the strength of your promises
that I undertake a burden perhaps beyond my strength; that it is to you
personally, to the honest man, to the just and good man, rather than to
the king, that I commit myself.”

It is to the honor of Louis XVI. that the virtuous men who served him,
often with sorrow and without hoping anything from their efforts, always
preserved their confidence in his intentions.  “It is quite encouraging,”
 wrote M. Turgot to one of his friends, “to have to serve a king who is
really an honest and a well-meaning man.”  The burden of the necessary
reforms was beyond the strength of the minister as well as of the
sovereign; the violence of opposing currents was soon about to paralyze
their genuine efforts and their generous hopes.

M. Turgot set to work at once.  Whilst governing his district of Limoges,
he had matured numerous plans and shaped extensive theories.  He belonged
to his times and to the school of the philosophers as regarded his
contempt for tradition and history; it was to natural rights alone, to
the innate and primitive requirements of mankind, that he traced back his
principles and referred as the basis for all his attempts.  “The rights
of associated men are not founded upon their history but upon their
nature,” says the _Memoire au Roi sur les Municipalites,_ drawn up under
the eye of Turgot.  By this time he desired no more to reform old France;
he wanted a new France.  “Before ten years are over,” he would say, “the
nation will not be recognizable, thanks to enlightenment.  This chaos
will have assumed a distinct form.  Your Majesty will have quite a new
people, and the first of peoples.”  A profound error, which was that of
the whole Revolution, and the consequences of which would have been
immediately fatal; if the powerful instinct of conservatism and of
natural respect for the past had not maintained between the regimen which
was crumbling away and the new fabric connections more powerful and more
numerous than their friends as well as their enemies were aware of.

Two fundamental principles regulated the financial system of M. Turgot,
economy in expenditure and freedom in trade; everywhere he ferreted out
abuses, abolishing useless offices and payments, exacting from the entire
administration that strict probity of which he set the example.  Louis
XVI. supported him conscientiously at that time in all his reforms; the
public made fun of it.  “The king,” it was said, “when he considers
himself an abuse, will be one no longer.”  At the same time, a decree of
September 13, 1774, re-established at home that freedom of trade in grain
which had been suspended by Abbe Terray, and the edict of April, 1776,
founded freedom of trade in wine.  “It is by trade alone, and by free
trade, that the inequality of harvests can be corrected,” said the
minister in the preamble of his decree.  “I have just read M. Turgot’s
masterpiece,” wrote Voltaire to D’Alembert “it seems to reveal to us new
heavens and a new earth.”  It was on account of his financial innovations
that the comptroller-general particularly dreaded the return of the old
Parliament, with which he saw himself threatened every day.  “I fear
opposition from the Parliament,” he said to the king.  “Fear nothing,”
 replied the king warmly, “I will stand by you;” and, passing over the
objections of the best politician amongst his ministers, he yielded to M.
de Maurepas, who yielded to public opinion.  On the 12th of November,
1774, the old Parliament was formally restored.

The king appeared at the bed of justice; the princes, the dukes, and the
peers were present; the magistrates were introduced.  “The king my
grandfather,” said Louis XVI., “compelled by your resistance to his
repeated orders, did what the maintenance of his authority and the
obligation of rendering justice to his people required of his wisdom.
Today I recall you to functions which you never ought to have given up.
Appreciate all the value of my bounties, and do not forget them.”  At the
same time the keeper of the seals read out an edict which subjected the
restored Parliament to the same jurisdiction which had controlled the
Maupeou Parliament.  The latter had been sent to Versailles to form a
grand council there.

Stern words are but a sorry cloak for feeble actions: the restored
magistrates grumbled at the narrow limits imposed upon their authority;
the Duke of Orleans, the Duke of Chartres, the Prince of Conti supported
their complaints; it was in vain that the king for some time met them
with refusals; threats soon gave place to concessions; and the
parliaments everywhere reconstituted, enfeebled in the eyes of public
opinion, but more than ever obstinate and Fronde-like, found themselves
free to harass, without doing any good, the march of an administration
becoming every day more difficult.  “Your Parliament may make
barricades,” Lord Chesterfield had remarked contemptuously to
Montesquieu, “it will never raise barriers.”

M. Turgot, meanwhile, was continuing his labors, preparing a project for
equitable redistribution of the talliage and his grand system of a
graduated scale (_hierarchie_) of municipal assemblies, commencing with
the parish, to culminate in a general meeting of delegates from each
province; he threatened, in the course of his reforms, the privileges of
the noblesse and of the clergy, and gave his mind anxiously to the
instruction of the people, whose condition and welfare he wanted to
simultaneously elevate and augment; already there was a buzz of murmurs
against him, confined as yet to the courtiers, when the dearness of bread
and the distress which ensued till the spring of 1775 furnished his
adversaries with a convenient pretext.  Up to that time the attacks had
been cautious and purely theoretical.  M. Necker, an able banker from
Geneva, for a long while settled in Paris, hand and glove with the
philosophers, and keeping up, moreover, a great establishment, had
brought to the comptroller-general a work which he had just finished on
the trade in grain; on many points he did not share M. Turgot’s opinions.
“Be kind enough to ascertain for yourself,” said the banker to the
minister, “whether the book can be published without inconvenience to the
government.”  M. Turgot was proud and sometimes rude.  “Publish, sir,
publish,” said he, without offering his hand to take the manuscript; “the
public shall decide.”  M. Necker, out of pique, published his book; it
had an immense sale; other pamphlets, more violent and less solid, had
already appeared; at the same moment a riot, which seemed to have been
planned and to be under certain guidance, broke out in several parts of
France.  Drunken men shouted about the public thoroughfares, “Bread!
cheap bread!”

Burgundy had always been restless and easily excited.  It was at Dijon
that the insurrection began; on the 20th of April, the peasantry moved
upon the town and smashed the furniture of a councillor in the Maupeou
Parliament, who was accused of monopoly; they were already overflowing
the streets; exasperated by the cruel answer of the governor, M. de la
Tour du Pin: “You want something to eat?  Go and graze; the grass is just
coming up.”  The burgesses trembled in their houses; the bishop threw
himself in the madmen’s way and succeeded in calming them with his
exhortations.  The disturbance had spread to Pontoise; there the riot
broke out on the 1st of May, the market was pillaged; and the 2d, at
Versailles, a mob collected under the balcony of the castle.  Everywhere
ruffians of sinister appearance mingled with the mob, exciting its
passions and urging it to acts of violence: the same men, such as are
only seen in troublous days, were at the same time scouring Brie,
Soissonnais, Vexin, and Upper Normandy; already barns had been burned and
wheat thrown into the river; sacks of flour were ripped to pieces before
the king’s eyes, at Versailles.  In his excitement and dismay he promised
the mob that the bread-rate should for the future be fixed at two sous;
the rioters rushed to Paris.

M. Turgot had been confined to his bed for some months by an attack of
gout; the Paris bakers’ shops had already been pillaged; the rioters had
entered simultaneously by several gates, badly guarded; only one bakery,
the owner of which had taken the precaution of putting over the door a
notice with shop to let on it, had escaped the madmen.  The
comptroller-general had himself put into his carriage and driven to
Versailles: at his advice the king withdrew his rash concession; the
current price of bread was maintained.  “No firing upon them,” Louis XVI.
insisted.  The lieutenant of police, Lenoir, had shown weakness and
inefficiency; Marshal Biron was intrusted with the repression of the
riot.  He occupied all the main thoroughfares and cross-roads; sentries
were placed at the bakers’ doors; those who had hidden themselves were
compelled to bake.  The _octroi_ dues on grain were at the same time
suspended at all the markets; wheat was already going down; when the
Parisians went out of doors to see the riot, they couldn’t find any.
“Well done, general in command of the flour (_general des farina_),” said
the tremblers, admiring the military arrangements of Marshal Biron.

The Parliament had caused to be placarded a decree against street
assemblies, at the same time requesting the king to lower the price of
bread.  The result was deplorable; the severe resolution, of the council
was placarded beside the proclamation of the Parliament; the magistrates
were summoned to Versailles.  The prosecution of offenders was forbidden
them; it was intrusted to the provost’s department.  “The proceedings of
the brigands appear to be combined,” said the keeper of the seals; “their
approach is announced; public rumors indicate the day, the hour, the
places at which they are to commit their outrages.  It would seem as if
there were a plan formed to lay waste the country-places, intercept
navigation, prevent the carriage of wheat on the high-roads, in order to
starve out the large towns, and especially the city of Paris.”  The king
at the same time forbade any “remonstrance.”  I rely,” said he on
dismissing the court, “upon your placing no obstacle or hinderance in the
way of the measures I have taken, in order that no similar event may
occur during the period of my reign.”

The troubles were everywhere subsiding, the merchants were recovering
their spirits.  M. Turgot had at once sent fifty thousand francs to a
trader whom the rioters had robbed of a boat full of wheat which they had
flung into the river; two of the insurgents were at the same time hanged
at Paris on a gallows forty feet high; and a notice was sent to the
parish priests, which they were to read from the pulpit in order to
enlighten the people as to the folly of such outbreaks and as to the
conditions of the trade in grain.  “My people, when they know the authors
of the trouble, will regard them with horror,” said the royal circular.
The authors of the trouble have remained unknown; to his last day M.
Turgot believed in the existence of a plot concocted by the Prince of
Conti, with the design of overthrowing him.

Severities were hateful to the king; he had misjudged his own character,
when, at the outset of his reign, he had desired the appellation of Louis
le Severe.  “Have we nothing to reproach ourselves with in these
measures?”  he was incessantly asking M. Turgot, who was as conscientious
but more resolute than his master.  An amnesty preceded the coronation,
which was to take place at Rheims on the 11th of June, 1775.

A grave question presented itself as regarded the king’s oath: should he
swear, as the majority of his predecessors had sworn, to exterminate
heretics?  M. Turgot had aroused Louis XVI.’s scruples upon this subject.
“Tolerance ought to appear expedient in point of policy for even an
infidel prince,” he said; “but it ought to be regarded as a sacred duty
for a religious prince.”  His opinion had been warmly supported by M. de
Malesherbes, premier president of the Court of Aids.  The king in his
perplexity consulted M. de Maurepas.  “M. Turgot is right,” said the
minister, “but he is too bold.  What he proposes could hardly be
attempted by a prince who came to the throne at a ripe age and in
tranquil times.  That is not your position.  The fanatics are more to be
dreaded than the heretics.  The latter are accustomed to their present
condition.  It will always be easy for you not to employ persecution.
Those old formulas, of which nobody takes any notice, are no longer
considered to be binding.”  The king yielded; he made no change in the
form of the oath, and confined himself to stammering out a few incoherent
words.  At the coronation of Louis XV. the people, heretofore admitted
freely to the cathedral, had been excluded; at the coronation of Louis
XVI. the officiator, who was the coadjutor of Rheims, omitted the usual
formula addressed to the whole assembly, “Will you have this king for
your king?”  This insolent neglect was soon to be replied to by the
sinister echo of the sovereignty of the people.  The clergy, scared by M.
Turgot’s liberal tendencies, reiterated their appeals to the king against
the liberties tacitly accorded to Protestants.  “Finish,” they said to
Louis XVI., “the work which Louis the Great began, and which Louis the
Well-beloved continued.”  The king answered with vague assurances;
already MM. Turgot and de Malesherbes were entertaining him with a
project which conceded to Protestants the civil status.

M. de Malesherhes, indeed, had been for some months past seconding his
friend in the weighty task which the latter had undertaken.  Born at
Paris on the 6th of December, 1721, son of the chancellor William de
Lamoignon, and for the last twenty-three years premier president in the
Court of Aids, Malesherbes had invariably fought on behalf of honest
right and sound liberty; popularity had followed him in exile; it had
increased continually since the accession of Louis XVI., who lost no time
in recalling him; he had just presented to the king a remarkable
memorandum touching the reform of the fiscal regimen, when M. Turgot
proposed to the king to call him to the ministry in the place of the Duke
of La Vrilliere.  M. de Maurepas made no objection.  “He will be the link
of the ministry,” he said, “because he has the eloquence of tongue and of
heart.”  “Rest assured,” wrote Mdlle. de Lespinasse, “that what is well
will be done and will be done well.  Never, no never, were two more
enlightened, more disinterested, more virtuous men more powerfully knit
together in a greater and a higher cause.”  The first care of M. de.
Malesherbes was to protest against the sealed letters (_lettres de
cachet_--summary arrest), the application whereof he was for putting in
the hands of a special tribunal; he visited the Bastille, releasing the
prisoners confined on simple suspicion.  He had already dared to advise
the king to a convocation of the states-general.  “In France,” he had
written to Louis XVI., “the nation has always had a deep sense of its
right and its liberty.  Our maxims have been more than once recognized by
our kings; they have even gloried in being the sovereigns of a free
people.  Meanwhile, the articles of this liberty have never been reduced
to writing, and the real power, the power of arms, which, under a feudal
government, was in the hands of the grandees, has been completely centred
in the kingly power.  .  .  .  We ought not to hide from you, Sir, that
the way which would be most simple, most natural, and most in conformity
with the constitution of this monarchy, would be to hear the nation
itself in full assembly, and nobody should have the poltroonery to use
any other language to you; nobody should leave you in ignorance that the
unanimous wish of the nation is to obtain states-general or at the least
states-provincial.  .  .  .  Deign to consider, Sir, that on the day you
grant this precious liberty to your people it may be said that a treaty
has been concluded between king and nation against ministers and
magistrates: against the ministers, if there be any perverted enough to
wish to conceal from you the truth; against the magistrates, if there
ever be any ambitious enough to pretend to have the exclusive right of
telling you it.”

Almost the whole ministry was in the hands of reformers; a sincere desire
to do good impelled the king towards those who promised him the happiness
of his people.  Marshal Muy had succumbed to a painful operation.  “Sir,”
 he had said to Louis XVI., before placing himself in the surgeon’s hands,
“in a fortnight I shall be at your Majesty’s feet or with your august
father.”  He had succumbed.  M. Turgot spoke to M. de Maurepas of the
Duke of St. Germain.  “Propose him to the king,” said the minister,
adding his favorite phrase “one can but try.”

In the case of government, trials are often a dangerous thing.  M. de St.
Germain, born in the Jura in 1707, and entered first of all amongst the
Jesuits, had afterwards devoted himself to the career of arms: he had
served the Elector Palatine, Maria Theresa, and the Elector of Bavaria;
enrolled finally by Marshal Saxe, he had distinguished himself under his
orders; as lieutenant-general during the Seven Years’ War, he had brought
up his divisionn at Rosbach more quickly than his colleagues had theirs,
he had fled less far than the others before the enemy; but his character
was difficult, suspicious, exacting; he was always seeing everywhere
plots concocted to ruin him.  “I am persecuted to the death,” he would
say.  He entered the service of Denmark: returning to France and in
poverty, he lived in Alsace on the retired list; it was there that the
king’s summons came to find him out.  In his solitude M. de St.  Germain
had conceived a thousand projects of reform; he wanted to apply them all
at once.  He made no sort of case of the picked corps and suppressed the
majority of them, thus irritating, likewise, all the privileged.  “M. de
St. Germain,” wrote Frederick II. to Voltaire, “had great and noble plans
very advantageous for your Welches; but everybody thwarted him, because
the reforms he proposed would have entailed a strictness which was
repugnant to them on ten thousand sluggards, well frogged, well laced.”
 The enthusiasm which had been excited by the new minister of war had
disappeared from amongst the officers; he lost the hearts of the soldiers
by wanting to establish in the army the corporal punishments in use
amongst the German armies in which he had served.  The feeling was so
strong, that the attempt was abandoned.  “In the matter of sabres,” said
a grenadier, “I like only the edge.”  Violent and weak both together, in
spite of his real merit and his genuine worth, often giving up wise
resolutions out of sheer embarrassment, he nearly always failed in what
he undertook; the outcries against the reformers were increased thereby;
the faults of M. de St. Germain were put down to M. Turgot.

It was against the latter indeed, that the courtiers’ anger and M. de
Maurepas’ growing jealousy were directed.  “Once upon a time there was
in France,” said a ,pamphlet, entitled _Le Songe de M. de Maurepas,_
attributed to Monsieur, the king’s brother,--“there was in France a
certain man, clumsy, crass, heavy, born with more of rudeness than of
character, more of obstinacy than of firmness, of impetuosity than of
tact, a charlatan in administration as well as in virtue, made to bring
the one into disrepute and the other into disgust, in other respects shy
from self-conceit, timid from pride, as unfamiliar with men, whom he had
never known, as with public affairs, which he had always seen askew; his
name was Turgot.  He was one of those half-thinking brains which adopt
all visions, all manias of a gigantic sort.  He was believed to be deep,
he was really shallow; night and day he was raving of philosophy,
liberty, equality, net product.”  “He is too much (trop fort) for me,” M.
de Maurepas would often say.  “A man must be possessed (or inspired--
_enrage_),” wrote Malesherbes, “to force, at one and the same time, the
hand of the king, of M. de Maurepas, of the whole court and of the

Perhaps the task was above human strength; it was certainly beyond that
of M. Turgot.  Ever occupied with the public weal, he turned his mind to
every subject, issuing a multiplicity of decrees, sometimes with rather
chimerical hopes.  He had proposed to the king six edicts; two were
extremely important; the first abolished jurorships (_jurandes_) and
masterships (_maitrises_) among the workmen.  “The king,” said the
preamble, “wishes to secure to all his subjects, and especially to the
humblest, to those who have no property but their labor and their
industry, the full and entire enjoyment of their rights, and to reform,
consequently, the institutions which strike at those rights, and which,
in spite of their antiquity, have failed to be legalized by time,
opinion, and even the acts of authority.”  The second substituted for
forced labor on roads and highways an impost to which all proprietors
were equally liable.

This was the first step towards equal redistribution of taxes; great was
the explosion of disquietude and wrath on the part of the privileged; it
showed itself first in the council, by the mouth of M. de Miromesnil;
Turgot sprang up with animation.  “The keeper of the seals,” he said,
“seems to adopt the principle that, by the constitution of the state, the
noblesse ought to be exempt from all taxation.  This idea will appear a
paradox to the majority of the nation.  The commoners (_roturiers_) are
certainly the greatest number, and we are no longer in the days when
their voices did not count.”  The king listened to the discussion in
silence.  “Come,” he exclaimed abruptly, “I see that there are only M.
Turgot and I here who love the people,” and he signed the edicts.

The Parliament, like the noblesse, had taken up the cudgels; they made
representation after representation.  “The populace of France,” said the
court boldly, “is liable to talliage and forced labor at will, and that
is a part of the constitution which the king cannot change.”  Louis XVI.
summoned the Parliament to Versailles, and had the edicts enregistered at
a bed of justice.  “It is a bed of beneficence!” exclaimed Voltaire, a
passionate admirer of Turgot.

The comptroller-general was triumphant; but his victory was but the
prelude to his fall.  Too many enemies were leagued against him,
irritated both by the noblest qualities of his character, and at the same
time by the natural defects of his manners.  Possessed of love “for a
beautiful ideal, of a rage for perfection,” M. Turgot had wanted to
attempt everything, undertake everything, reform everything at one blow.
He fought single-handed.  M. de Malesherbes, firm as a rock at the head
of the Court of Aids, supported as he was by the traditions and corporate
feeling of the magistracy, had shown weakness as a minister.  “I could
offer the king only uprightness and good-heartedness,” he said himself,
“two qualities insufficient to make a minister, even a mediocre one.”
 The courtiers, in fact, called him “good-heart” (_bonhomme_).  “M. de
Malesherbes has doubts about everything,” wrote Madame du Deffand; “M.
Turgot has doubts about nothing.”  M. de Maurepas having, of set purpose,
got up rather a serious quarrel with him, Malesherbes sent in his
resignation to the king; the latter pressed him to withdraw it: the
minister remained inflexible.  “You are better off than I,” said Louis
XVI. at last, “you can abdicate.”

For a long while the king had remained faithful to M. Turgot.  “People
may say what they like,” he would repeat, with sincere conviction, “but
he is an honest man!”  Infamous means were employed, it is said, with the
king; he was shown forged letters, purporting to come from M. Turgot,
intercepted at the post and containing opinions calculated to wound his
Majesty himself.  To pacify the jealousy of M. de Maurepas, Turgot had
given up his privilege of working alone with the king.  Left to the
adroit manoeuvres of his old minister, Louis XVI. fell away by degrees
from the troublesome reformer against whom were leagued all those who
were about him.  The queen had small liking for M. Turgot, whose strict
economy had cut down the expenses of her household; contrary to their
usual practice, her most trusted servants abetted the animosity of M. de
Maurepas.  “I confess that I am not sorry for these departures,” wrote
Marie Antoinette to her mother, after the fall of M. Turgot, “but I have
had nothing to do with them.”  “Sir,” M. Turgot had written to Louis
XVI., “monarchs governed by courtiers have but to choose between the fate
of Charles I. and that of Charles XI.”  The coolness went on increasing
between the king and his minister.  On the 12th of May, 1776, the
comptroller-general entered the king’s closet; he had come to speak to
him about a new project for an edict; the exposition of reasons was, as
usual, a choice morsel of political philosophy.  “Another commentary!”
 said the king with temper.  He listened, however.  When the
comptroller-general had finished, “Is that all?” asked the king.  “Yes,
Sir.”  “So much the better,” and he showed the minister out.  A few hours
later, M. Turgot received his dismissal.

[Illustration: Turgot’s Dismissal----367]

He was at his desk, drawing up an important decree; he laid down his pen,
saying quietly, “My successor will finish;” and when M. de Maurepas
hypocritically expressed his regret, “I retire,” said M. Turgot, “without
having to reproach myself with feebleness, or falseness, or
dissimulation.”  He wrote to the king: “I have done, Sir, what I believed
to be my duty in setting before you, with unreserved and unexampled
frankness, the difficulty of the position in which I stood and what I
thought of your own.  If I had not done so, I should have considered
myself to have behaved culpably towards you.  You, no doubt, have come to
a different conclusion, since you have withdrawn your confidence from me;
but, even if I were mistaken, you cannot, Sir, but do justice to the
feeling by which I was guided.  All I desire, Sir, is that you may always
be able to believe that I was short-sighted, and that I pointed out to
you merely fanciful dangers.  I hope that time may not justify me, and
that your reign may be as happy and as tranquil, for yourself and your
people, as they flattered themselves it would be, in accordance with your
principles of justice and beneficence.”

Useless wishes, belied in advance by the previsions of M. Turgot himself.
He had espied the danger and sounded some of the chasms just yawning
beneath the feet of the nation as well as of the king; he committed the
noble error of believing in the instant and supreme influence of justice
and reason.  “Sir,” said he to Louis XVI., “you ought to govern, like
God, by general laws.”  Had he been longer in power, M. Turgot would
still have failed in his designs.  The life of one man was too short, and
the hand of one man too weak to modify the course of events, fruit slowly
ripened during so many centuries.  It was to the honor of M. Turgot that
he discerned the mischief and would fain have applied the proper remedy.
He was often mistaken about the means, oftener still about the strength
he had at disposal.  He had the good fortune to die early, still sad and
anxious about the fate of his country, without having been a witness of
the catastrophes he had foreseen and of the sufferings as well as
wreckage through which France must pass before touching at the haven he
would fain have opened to her.

The joy of the courtiers was great, at Versailles, when the news arrived
of M. Turgot’s fall; the public regretted it but little: the inflexible
severity of his principles which he never veiled by grace of manners,
a certain disquietude occasioned by the chimerical views which were
attributed to him, had alienated many people from him.  His real friends
were in consternation.  “I was but lately rejoicing,” said Abbe Very, “at
the idea that the work was going on of coolly repairing a fine edifice
which time had damaged.  Henceforth, the most that will be done will be
to see after repairing a few of its cracks.  I no longer indulge in hopes
of its restoration; I cannot but apprehend its downfall sooner or later.”
 “O, what news I hear!” writes Voltaire to D’Alembert; “France would have
been too fortunate.  What will become of us?  I am quite upset.  I see
nothing but death for me to look forward to, now that M. Turgot is out of
office.  It is a thunderbolt fallen upon my brain and upon my heart.”

A few months later M. de St. Germain retired in his turn, not to Alsace
again, but to the Arsenal with forty thousand livres for pension.  The
first, the great attempt at reform had failed.  “M. de Malesherbes lacked
will to remain in power,” said Abbe Wry, “M. Turgot conciliatoriness
(_conciliabilite_), and M. de Maurepas soul enough to follow his lights.”
 “M. de Malesherbes,” wrote Condorcet, “has, either from inclination or
from default of mental rectitude, a bias towards eccentric and
paradoxical ideas; he discovers in his mind numberless arguments for and
against, but never discovers a single one to decide him.  In his private
capacity he had employed his eloquence in proving to the king and the
ministers that the good of the nation was the one thing needful to be
thought of; when he became minister, he employed it in proving that this
good was impossible.”  “I understand two things in the matter of war,”
 said M. de St. Germain just before he became minister, “to obey and to
command; but, if it comes to advising, I don’t know anything about it.”
 He was, indeed, a bad adviser; and with the best intentions he had no
idea either how to command or how to make himself obeyed.  M. Turgot had
correctly estimated the disorder of affairs, when he wrote to the king on
the 30th of April, a fortnight before his disgrace: “Sir, the parliaments
are already in better heart, more audacious, more implicated in the
cabals of the court than they were in 1770, after twenty years of
enterprise and success.  Minds are a thousand times more excited upon all
sorts of matters, and your ministry is almost as divided and as feeble as
that of your predecessor.  Consider, Sir, that, in the course of nature,
you have fifty years to reign, and reflect what progress may be made by a
disorder which, in twenty years, has reached the pitch at which we see

Turgot and Malesherbes had fallen; they had vainly attempted to make the
soundest as well as the most moderate principles of pure philosophy
triumphant in the government; at home a new attempt, bolder and at the
same time more practical, was soon about to resuscitate for a while the
hopes of liberal minds; abroad and in a new world there was already a
commencement of events which were about to bring to France a revival of
glory and to shed on the reign of Louis XVI. a moment’s legitimate and
brilliant lustre.

INDEPENDENCE.  1775-1783.

“Two things, great and difficult as they may be, are a man’s duty and may
establish his fame.  To support misfortune and be sturdily resigned to
it; to believe in the good and trust in it perseveringly.  [M. Guizot,

“There is a sight as fine and not less salutary than that of a virtuous
man at grips with adversity; it is the sight of a virtuous man at the
head of a good cause and securing its triumph.

“If ever cause were just and had a right to success, it was that of the
English colonies which rose in insurrection to become the United States
of America.  Opposition, in their case, preceded insurrection.

“Their opposition was founded on historic right and on facts, on rational
right and on ideas.

“It is to the honor of England that she had deposited in the cradle of
her colonies the germ of their liberty; almost all, at their foundation,
received charters which conferred upon the colonists the franchises of
the mother-country.

“At the same time with legal rights, the colonists had creeds.  It was
not only as Englishmen, but as Christians, that they wanted to be free,
and they had their faith even more at heart than their charters.  Their
rights would not have disappeared, even had they lacked their charters.
By the mere impulse of their souls, with the assistance of divine grace,
they would have derived them from a sublimer source and one inaccessible
to human power, for they cherished feelings that soared beyond even the
institutions of which they showed themselves to be so jealous.

“Such, in the English colonies, was the happy condition of man and of
society, when England, by an arrogant piece of aggression, attempted to
dispose, without their consent, of their fortunes and their destiny.”

The uneasiness in the relations between the mother-country and the
colonies was of old date; and the danger which England ran of seeing her
great settlements beyond the sea separating from her had for some time
past struck the more clear-sighted.  “Colonies are like fruits which
remain on the tree only until they are ripe,” said M. Turgot in 1750;
“when they have become self-sufficing, they do as Carthage did, as
America will one day do.”  It was in the war between England and France
for the possession of Canada that the Americans made the first trial of
their strength.

Alliance was concluded between the different colonies; Virginia marched
in tune with Massachusetts; the pride of a new power, young and already
victorious, animated the troops which marched to the conquest of Canada.
“If we manage to remove from Canada these turbulent Gauls,” exclaimed
John Adams, “our territory, in a century, will be more populous than
England herself.  Then all Europe will be powerless to subjugate us.”
 “I am astounded,” said the Duke of Choiseul to the English negotiator who
arrived at Paris in 1761, “I am astounded that your great Pitt should
attach so much importance to the acquisition of Canada, a territory too
scantily peopled to ever become dangerous for you, and one which, in our
hands, would serve to keep your colonies in a state of dependence from
which they will not fail to free themselves the moment Canada is ceded to
you.”  A pamphlet attributed to Burke proposed to leave Canada to France
with the avowed aim of maintaining on the border of the American
provinces an object of anxiety and an everthreatening enemy.

America protested its loyalty and rejected with indignation all idea of
separation.  “It is said that the development of the strength of the
colonies may render them more dangerous and bring them to declare their
independence,” wrote Franklin in 1760; “such fears are chimerical.  So
many causes are against their union, that I do not hesitate to declare it
not only improbable but impossible; I say impossible--without the most
provoking tyranny and oppression.  As long as the government is mild and
just, as long as there is security for civil and religious interests, the
Americans will be respectful and submissive subjects.  The waves only
rise when the wind blows.”

In England, many distinguished minds doubted whether the government of
the mother-country would manage to preserve the discretion and moderation
claimed by Franklin.  “Notwithstanding all you say of your loyalty, you
Americans,” observed Lord Camden to Franklin himself, “I know that some
day you will shake off the ties which unite you to us, and you will raise
the standard of independence.”  “No such idea exists or will enter into
the heads of the Americans,” answered Franklin, “unless you maltreat them
quite scandalously.”  “That is true,” rejoined the other, “and it is
exactly one of the causes which I foresee, and which will bring on the

The Seven Years’ War was ended, shamefully and sadly for France; M. de
Choiseul, who had concluded peace with regret and a bitter pang, was
ardently pursuing every means of taking his revenge.  To foment
disturbances between England and her colonies appeared to him an
efficacious and a natural way of gratifying his feelings.  “There is
great difficulty in governing States in the days in which we live,” he
wrote to M. Durand, at that time French minister in London; “still
greater difficulty in governing those of America; and the difficulty
approaches impossibility as regards those of Asia.  I am very much
astonished that England, which is but a very small spot in Europe, should
hold dominion over more than a third of America, and that her dominion
should have no other object but that of trade.  .  .  .  As long as the
vast American possessions contribute no subsidies for the support of the
mother-country, private persons in England will still grow rich for some
time on the trade with America, but the State will be undone for want of
means to keep together a too extended power; if, on the contrary, England
proposes to establish imposts in her American domains, when they are more
extensive and perhaps more populous than the mother-country, when they
have fishing, woods, navigation, corn, iron, they will easily part
asunder from her, without any fear of chastisement, for England could not
undertake a war against them to chastise them.”  He encouraged his agents
to keep him informed as to the state of feeling in America, welcoming and
studying all projects, even the most fantastic, that might be hostile to

When M. de Choiseul was thus writing to M. Durand, the English government
had already justified the fears of its wisest and most sagacious friends.
On the 7th of March, 1765, after a short and unimportant debate,
Parliament, on the motion of Mr. George Grenville, then first lord of the
treasury, had extended to the American colonies the stamp-tax everywhere
in force in England.  The proposal had been brought forward in the
preceding year, but the protests of the colonists had for some time
retarded its discussion.  “The Americans are an ungrateful people,” said
Townshend; “they are children settled in life by our care and nurtured by
our indulgence.”  Pitt was absent.  Colonel Barre rose: “Settled by your
care!” he exclaimed; “nay, it was your oppression which drove them to
America; to escape from your tyranny, they exposed themselves in the
desert to all the ills that human nature can endure!  Nurtured by your
indulgence!  Nay, they have grown by reason of your indifference; and do
not forget that these people, loyal as they are, are as jealous as they
were at the first of their liberties, and remain animated by the same
spirit that caused the exile of their ancestors.”  This was the only
protest.  “Nobody voted on the other side in the House of Lords,” said
George Grenville at a later period.

In America the effect was terrible and the dismay profound.  The Virginia
House was in session; nobody dared to speak against a measure which
struck at all the privileges of the colonies and went to the hearts of
the loyal gentlemen still passionately attached to the mother-country.
A young barrister, Patrick Henry, hardly known hitherto, rose at last,
and in an unsteady voice said, “I propose to the vote of the Assembly the
following resolutions: ‘Only the general Assembly of this colony has the
right and power to impose taxes on the inhabitants of this colony; every
attempt to invest with this power any person or body whatever other than
the said general Assembly has a manifest tendency to destroy at one and
the same time British and American liberties.’”  Then becoming more and
more animated and rising to eloquence by sheer force of passion: “Tarquin
and Caesar,” he exclaimed, “had each their Brutus; Charles I. had his
Cromwell, and George III.  .  .  .”  “Treason! treason!” was shouted on
all sides .  .  .  “will doubtless profit by their example,” continued
Patrick Henry proudly, without allowing himself to be moved by the wrath
of the government’s friends.  His resolutions were voted by 20 to 19.

The excitement in America was communicated to England; it served the
political purposes and passions of Mr. Pitt; he boldly proposed in the
House of Commons the repeal of the stamp-tax.  “The colonists,” he said,
“are subjects of this realm, having, like yourselves, a title to the
special privileges of Englishmen; they are bound by the English laws,
and, in the same measure as yourselves, have a right to the liberties of
this country.  The Americans are the sons and not the bastards of
England.  .  .  .  When in this House we grant subsidies to his Majesty,
we dispose of that which is our own; but the Americans are not
represented here: when we impose a tax upon them, what is it we do?  We,
the Commons of England, give what to his Majesty!  Our own personal
property?  No; we give away the property of the Commons of America.
There is absurdity in the very terms.”

The bill was repealed, and agitation was calmed for a while in America.
But ere long, Mr. Pitt resumed office under the title of Lord Chatham,
and with office he adopted other views as to the taxes to be imposed;
in vain he sought to disguise them under the form of custom-house duties;
the taxes on tea, glass, paper, excited in America the same indignation
as the stamp-tax.  Resistance was everywhere organized.

“Between 1767 and 1771 patriotic leagues were everywhere formed against
the consumption of English merchandise and the exportation of American
produce; all exchange ceased between the mother-country and the colonies.
To extinguish the source of England’s riches in America, and to force her
to open her eyes to her madness, the colonists shrank from no privation
and no sacrifice: luxury had vanished, rich and poor welcomed ruin rather
than give up their political rights” [M. Cornelis de Witt, _Histoire de
Washington_].  “I expect nothing more from petitions to the king,” said
Washington, already one of the most steadfast champions of American
liberties, “and I would oppose them if they were calculated to suspend
the execution of the pact of non-importation.  As sure as I live, there
is no relief to be expected for us but from the straits of Great Britain.
I believe, or at least I hope, that there is enough public virtue still
remaining among us to make us deny ourselves everything but the bare
necessaries of life in order to obtain justice.  This we have a right to
do, and no power on earth can force us to a change of conduct short of
being reduced to the most abject slavery.  .  .  .”  He added, in a
spirit of strict justice: “As to the pact of non-exportation, that is
another thing; I confess that I have doubts of its being legitimate.  We
owe considerable sums to Great Britain; we can only pay them with our
produce.  To have a right to accuse others of injustice, we must be just
ourselves; and how can we be so if we refuse to pay our debts to Great
Britain?  That is what I cannot make out.”

The opposition was as yet within the law, and the national effort was as
orderly as it was impassioned.  “There is agitation, there are meetings,
there is mutual encouragement to the struggle, the provinces concert
opposition together, the wrath against Great Britain grows and the abyss
begins to yawn; but such are the habits of order among this people, that,
in the midst of this immense ferment among the nation, it is scarcely
possible to pick out even a few acts of violence here and there; up to
the day when the uprising becomes general, the government of George III.
can scarcely find, even in the great centres of opposition, such as
Boston, any specious pretexts for its own violence” [M. Cornelis de Witt,
_Histoire de Washington_].  The declaration of independence was by this
time becoming inevitable when Washington and Jefferson were still writing
in this strain:

Washington to Capt. Mackenzie.

“You are taught to believe that the people of Massachusetts are a people
of rebels in revolt for independence, and what not.  Permit me to tell
you, my good friend, that you are mistaken, grossly mistaken.  .  .  .
I can testify, as a fact, that independence is neither the wish nor the
interest of this colony or of any other on the continent, separately or
collectively.  But at the same time you may rely upon it that none of
them will ever submit to the loss of those privileges, of those precious
rights which are essential to the happiness of every free State, and
without which liberty, property, life itself, are devoid of any

Jefferson to Mr. Randolph.

“Believe me, my dear sir, there is not in the whole British empire a man
who cherishes more cordially than I do the union with Great Britain.
But, by the God who made me, I would cease to live rather than accept
that union on the terms proposed by Parliament.  We lack neither motives
nor power to declare and maintain our separation.  It is the will alone
that we lack, and that is growing little by little under the hand of our

It was indeed growing.  Lord Chatham had been but a short time in office;
Lord North, on becoming prime minister, zealously promoted the desires of
George III. in Parliament and throughout the country.  The opposition,
headed by Lord Chatham, protested in the name of the eternal principles
of justice and liberty against the measures adopted towards the colonies.
“Liberty,” said Lord Chatham, “is pledged to liberty; they are
indissolubly allied in this great cause, it is the alliance between God
and nature, immutable, eternal, as the light in the firmament of heaven!
Have a care; foreign war is suspended over your heads by a thin and
fragile thread; Spain and France are watching over your conduct, waiting
for the fruit of your blunders; they keep their eyes fixed on America,
and are more concerned with the dispositions of your colonies than with
their own affairs, whatever they may be.  I repeat to you, my lords, if
ministers persist in their fatal counsels, I do not say that they may
alienate the affections of its subjects, but I affirm that they will
destroy the greatness of the crown; I do not say that the king will be
betrayed, I affirm that the country will be ruined!”

Franklin was present at this scene.  Sent to England by his
fellow-countrymen to support their petitions by his persuasive and
dexterous eloquence, he watched with intelligent interest the disposition
of the Continent towards his country.  “All Europe seems to be on our
side,” he wrote; “but Europe has its own reasons: it considers itself
threatened by the power of England, and it would like to see her divided
against herself.  Our prudence will retard for a long time yet, I hope,
the satisfaction which our enemies expect from our dissensions.  .  .  .
Prudence, patience, discretion; when the catastrophe arrives, it must be
clear to all mankind that the fault is not on our side.”

[Illustration: Destruction of the Tea----378]

The catastrophe was becoming imminent.  Already a riot at Boston had led
to throwing into the sea a cargo of tea which had arrived on board two
English vessels, and which the governor had refused to send away at once
as the populace desired; already, on the summons of the Virginia
Convention, a general Congress of all the provinces had met at
Philadelphia; at the head of the legal resistance as well as of the later
rebellion in arms marched the Puritans of New England and the sons of the
Cavaliers settled in Virginia; the opposition, tumultuous and popular in
the North, parliamentary and political in the South, was everywhere
animated by the same spirit and the same zeal.  “I do not pretend to
indicate precisely what line must be drawn between Great Britain and the
colonies,” wrote Washington to one of his friends, “but it is most
decidedly my opinion that one must be drawn, and our rights definitively
secured.”  He had but lately said: “Nobody ought to hesitate a moment to
employ arms in defence of interests so precious, so sacred, but arms
ought to be our last resource.”

The day had come when this was the only resource henceforth remaining to
the Americans.  Stubborn and irritated, George III. and his government
heaped vexatious measures one upon another, feeling sure of crushing down
the resistance of the colonists by the ruin of their commerce as well as
of their liberties.  “We must fight,” exclaimed Patrick Henry at the
Virginia Convention, “I repeat it, we must fight; an appeal to arms and
to the God of Hosts, that is all we have left.”  Armed resistance was
already being organized, in the teeth of many obstacles and
notwithstanding active or tacit opposition on the part of a considerable
portion of the people.

It was time to act.  On the 18th of April, 1775, at night, a picked body
of the English garrison of Boston left the town by order of General Gage,
governor of Massachusetts.  The soldiers were as yet in ignorance of
their destination, but the American patriots had divined it.  The
governor had ordered the gates to be closed; some of the inhabitants,
however, having found means of escaping, had spread the alarm in the
country; already men were repairing in silence to posts assigned in
anticipation.  When the king’s troops, on approaching Lexington, expected
to lay hands upon two of the principal movers, Samuel Adams and John
Hancock, they came into collision, in the night, with a corps of militia
blocking the way.  The Americans taking no notice of the order given them
to retire, the English troops, at the instigation of their officers,
fired; a few men fell; war was begun between England and America.  That
very evening, Colonel Smith, whilst proceeding to seize the ammunition
depot at Concord, found himself successively attacked by detachments
hastily formed in all the villages; he fell back in disorder beneath the
guns of Boston.

Some few days later the town was besieged by an American army, and the
Congress, meeting at Philadelphia, appointed Washington “to be general-
in-chief of all the forces of the united colonies, of all that had been
or should be levied, and of all others that should voluntarily offer
their services or join the said army to defend American liberty and to
repulse every attack directed against it.”

George Washington was born on the 22d of February,

1732, on the banks of the Potomac, at Bridge’s Creek, in the county of
Westmoreland in Virginia.  He belonged to a family of consideration among
the planters of Virginia, descended from that race of country gentlemen
who had but lately effected the revolution in England.  He lost his
father early, and was brought up by a distinguished, firm, and judicious
mother, for whom he always preserved equal affection and respect.
Intended for the life of a surveyor of the still uncleared lands of
Western America, he had led, from his youth up, a life of freedom and
hardship; at nineteen, during the Canadian war, he had taken his place in
the militia of his country, and we have seen how he fought with credit at
the side of General Braddock.  On returning home at the end of the war
and settling at Mount Vernon, which had been bequeathed to him by his
eldest brother, he had become a great agriculturist and great hunter,
esteemed by all, loved by those who knew him, actively engaged in his own
business as well as that of his colony, and already an object of
confidence as well as hope to his fellow-citizens.  In 1774, on the eve
of the great struggle, Patrick Henry, on leaving the first Congress
formed to prepare for it, replied to those who asked which was the
foremost man in the Congress: “If you speak of eloquence, Mr. Rutledge of
South Carolina is the greatest orator; but, if you speak of solid
knowledge of things and of sound judgment, Colonel Washington is
indisputably the greatest man in the Assembly.”  “Capable of rising to
the highest destinies, he could have ignored himself without a struggle,
and found in the culture of his lands satisfaction for those powerful
faculties which were to suffice for the command of armies and for the
foundation of a government.  But when the occasion offered, when the need
came, without any effort on his own part, without surprise on the part of
others, the sagacious planter turned out a great man; he had in a
superior degree the two qualities which in active life render men capable
of great things: he could believe firmly in his own ideas, and act
resolutely upon them, without fearing to take the responsibility.” [M.
Guizot, _Washington_].

He was, however, deeply moved and troubled at the commencement of a
contest of which he foresaw the difficulties and the trials, without
fathoming their full extent, and it was not without a struggle that he
accepted the power confided to him by Congress.  “Believe me, my dear
Patsy,” he wrote to his wife, “I have done all I could to screen myself
from this high mark of honor, not only because it cost me much to
separate myself from you and from my family, but also because I felt that
this task was beyond my strength.”  When the new general arrived before
Boston to take command of the confused and undisciplined masses which
were hurrying up to the American camp, he heard that an engagement had
taken place on the 16th of June on the heights of Bunker’s Hill, which
commanded the town; the Americans who had seized the positions had
defended them so bravely that the English had lost nearly a thousand men
before they carried the batteries.  A few months later, after unheard of
efforts on the general’s part to constitute and train his army, he had
taken possession of all the environs of the place, and General Howe, who
had superseded General Gage, evacuated Boston (March 17, 1776).

Every step was leading to the declaration of independence.  “If everybody
were of my opinion,” wrote Washington in the month of February, 1776,
“the English ministers would learn in few words what we want to arrive
at.  I should set forth simply, and without periphrasis, our grievances
and our resolution to have justice.  I should tell them that we have long
and ardently desired an honorable reconciliation, and that it has been
refused.  I should add that we have conducted ourselves as faithful
subjects, that the feeling of liberty is too strong in our hearts to let
us ever submit to slavery, and that we are quite determined to burst
every bond with an unjust and unnatural government, if our enslavement
alone will satisfy a tyrant and his diabolical ministry.  And I should
tell them all this not in covert terms, but in language as plain as the
light of the sun at full noon.”

Many people still hesitated, from timidity, from foreseeing the
sufferings which war would inevitably entail on America, from hereditary,
faithful attachment to the mother-country.  “Gentlemen,” had but lately
been observed by Mr. Dickinson, deputy from Pennsylvania, at the reading
of the scheme of a solemn declaration justifying the taking up of arms,
“there is but one word in this paper of which I disapprove--Congress.”
 “And as for me, Mr. President,” said Mr. Harrison, rising, “there is but
one word in this paper of which I approve--Congress.”

Deeds had become bolder than words.  “We have hitherto made war by
halves,” wrote John Adams to General Gates; “you will see in to-morrow’s
papers that for the future we shall probably venture to make it by three-
quarters.  The continental navy, the provincial navies, have been
authorized to cruise against English property throughout the whole extent
of the ocean.  Learn, for your governance, that this is not Independence.
Far from it!  If one of the next couriers should bring you word of
unlimited freedom of commerce with all nations, take good care not to
call that Independence.  Nothing of the sort!  Independence is a spectre
of such awful mien that the mere sight of it might make a delicate person

Independence was not yet declared, and already, at the end of their
proclamations, instead of the time-honored formula, ‘God save the king!’
the Virginians had adopted the proudly significant phrase, ‘God save the
liberties of America!’

The great day came, however, when the Congress resolved to give its true
name to the war which the colonies had been for more than a year
maintaining against the mothercountry.  After a discussion which lasted
three days, the scheme drawn up by Jefferson, for the declaration of
Independence, was adopted by a large majority.  The solemn proclamation
of it was determined upon on the 4th of July, and that day has remained
the national festival of the United States of America.  John Adams made
no mistake when, in the transport of his patriotic joy, he wrote to his
wife: “I am inclined to believe that this day will be celebrated by
generations to come as the great anniversary of the nation.  It should be
kept as the day of deliverance by solemn thanksgivings to the Almighty.
It should be kept with pomp, to the sound of cannon and of bells, with
games, with bonfires and illuminations from one end of the continent to
the other, for ever.  You will think me carried away by my enthusiasm;
but no, I take into account, perfectly, the pains, the blood, the
treasure we shall have to expend to maintain this declaration, to uphold
and defend these States; but through all these shadows I perceive rays of
ravishing light and joy, I feel that the end is worth all the means and
far more, and that posterity will rejoice over this event with songs of
triumph, even though we should have cause to repent of it, which will not
be, I trust in God.”

The declaration of American Independence was solemn and grave; it began
with an appeal to those natural rights which the eighteenth century had
everywhere learned to claim.  “We hold as self-evident all these truths,”
 said the Congress of united colonies: “All men are created equal, they
are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; among those
rights are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Governments are
established amongst men to guarantee those rights, and their just power
emanates from the consent of the governed.”

To this declaration of the inalienable right of people to choose their
own government for the greatest security and greatest happiness of the
governed, succeeded an enumeration of the grievances which made it
forever impossible for the American colonists to render obedience to the
king of Great Britain; the list was long and overwhelming; it ended with
this declaration: “Wherefore we, the representatives of the United States
of America, met together in general Congress, calling the Supreme Judge
of the universe to witness the uprightness of our intentions, do solemnly
publish and declare in the name of the good people of these colonies,
that the United colonies are and have a right to be free and independent
States, that they are released from all allegiance to the crown of Great
Britain, and that every political tie between them and Great Britain is
and ought to be entirely dissolved.  .  .  .  Full of firm confidence in
the protection of Divine Providence, we pledge, mutually, to the
maintenance of this declaration our lives, our fortunes, and our most
sacred possession, our honor.”

The die was cast, and retreat cut off for the timid and the malcontent;
through a course of alternate successes and reverses Washington had kept
up hostilities during the rough campaign of 1776.  Many a time he had
thought the game lost, and he had found himself under the necessity of
abandoning posts he had mastered to fall back upon Philadelphia.  “What
will you do if Philadelphia is taken?” he was asked.  “We will retire
beyond the Susquehanna, and then, if necessary, beyond the Alleghanies,”
 answered the general without hesitation.  Unwavering in his patriotic
faith and resolution, he relied upon the savage resources and the vast
wildernesses of his native country to wear out at last the patience and
courage of the English generals.  At the end of the campaign, Washington,
suddenly resuming the offensive, had beaten the king’s troops at Trenton
and at Princeton one after the other.  This brilliant action had restored
the affairs of the Americans, and was a preparatory step to the formation
of a new army.  On the 30th of December, 1776, Washington was invested by
Congress with the full powers of a dictator.

Europe, meanwhile, was following with increasing interest the
vicissitudes of a struggle which at a distance had from the first
appeared to the most experienced an unequal one.  “Let us not anticipate
events, but content ourselves with learning them when they occur,” said a
letter, in 1775, to M. de Guines, ambassador in London, from Louis XVI.’s
minister for foreign affairs, M. de Vergennes: “I prefer to follow, as a
quiet observer; the course of events rather than try to produce them.”
 He had but lately said with prophetic anxiety: “Far from seeking to
profit by the embarrassment in which England finds herself on account of
affairs in America, we should rather desire to extricate her.  The spirit
of revolt, in whatever spot it breaks out, is always of dangerous
precedent; it is with moral as with physical diseases, both may become
contagious.  This consideration should induce us to take care that the
spirit of independence, which is causing so terrible an explosion in
North America, have no power to communicate itself to points interesting
to us in this hemisphere.”

For a moment French diplomatists had been seriously disconcerted;
remembrance of the surprise in 1755, when England had commenced
hostilities without declaring war, still troubled men’s minds.  Count de
Guines wrote to M. de Vergennes “Lord Rochford confided to me yesterday
that numbers of persons on both sides were perfectly convinced that the
way to put a stop to this war in America was to declare it against
France, and that he saw with pain that opinion gaining ground.  I assure
you, sir, that all which is said for is very extraordinary and far from
encouraging.  The partisans of this plan argue that fear of a war,
disastrous for England, which might end by putting France once more in
possession of Canada, would be the most certain bugbear for America,
where the propinquity of our religion and our government is excessively
apprehended; they say, in fact, that the Americans, forced by a war to
give up their project of liberty and to decide between us and them, would
certainly give them the preference.”

The question of Canada was always, indeed, an anxious one for the
American colonists; Washington had detached in that direction a body of
troops which had been repulsed with loss.  M. de Vergennes had determined
to keep in the United States a semi-official agent, M. de Bonvouloir,
commissioned to furnish the ministry with information as to the state of
affairs.  On sending Count de Guines the necessary instructions, the
minister wrote on the 7th of August, 1775: “One of the most essential
objects is to reassure the Americans on the score of the dread which they
are no doubt taught to feel of us.  Canada is the point of jealousy for
them; they must be made to understand that we have no thought at all
about it, and that, so far from grudging them the liberty and
independence they are laboring to secure, we admire, on the contrary, the
grandeur and nobleness of their efforts, and that, having no interest in
injuring them, we should see with pleasure such a happy conjunction of
circumstances as would set them at liberty to frequent our ports; the
facilities they would find for their commerce would soon prove to them
all the esteem we feel for them.”

Independence was not yet proclaimed, and already the committee charged by
Congress “to correspond with friends in England, Ireland, and other parts
of the world,” had made inquiry of the French government, by roundabout
ways, as to what were its intentions regarding the American colonies, and
was soliciting the aid of France.  On the 3d of March, 1776, an agent of
the committee, Mr. Silas Deane, started for France; he had orders to put
the same question point blank at Versailles and at Paris.

The ministry was divided on the subject of American affairs; M. Turgot
inclined towards neutrality.  “Let us leave the insurgents,” he said,
“at full liberty to make their purchases in our ports, and to provide
themselves by the way of trade with the munitions, and even the money,
of which they have need.  A refusal to sell to them would be a departure
from neutrality.  But it would be a departure likewise to furnish then
with secret aid in money, and this step, which it would be difficult to
conceal, would excite just complaints on the part of the English.”

This was, however, the conduct adopted on the advice of M. de Vergennes;
he had been powerfully supported by the arguments presented in a
memorandum drawn up by M. de Rayneval, senior clerk in the foreign
office; he was himself urged and incited by the most intelligent, the
most restless, and the most passionate amongst the partisans of the
American rebellion--Beaumarchais.

Peter Augustin Caron de Beaumarchais, born at Paris on the 24th of
January, 1732, son of a clockmaker, had already acquired a certain
celebrity by his lawsuit against Councillor Goezman before the parliament
of Paris.  Accused of having defamed the wife of a judge, after having
fruitlessly attempted to seduce her, Beaumarchais succeeded, by dint of
courage, talent, and wit, in holding his own against the whole magistracy
leagued against him.  He boldly appealed to public opinion.  “I am a
citizen,” he said; “that is to say, I am not a courtier, or an abbe, or a
nobleman, or a financier, or a favorite, nor anything connected with what
is called influence (_puissance_) nowadays.  I am a citizen; that is to
say, something quite new, unknown, unheard of in France.  I am a citizen;
that is to say, what you ought to have been for the last two hundred
years, what you will be, perhaps, in twenty!”  All the spirit of the
French Revolution was here, in those most legitimate and at the same time
most daring aspirations of his.

French citizen as he proclaimed himself to be, Beaumarchais was quite
smitten with the American citizens; he had for a long while been pleading
their cause, sure, he said, of its ultimate triumph.  On the 10th of
January, 1776, three weeks before the declaration of independence, M. de
Vergennes secretly remitted a million to M. de Beaumarchais; two months
later the same sum was intrusted to him in the name of the King of Spain.
Beaumarchais alone was to appear in the affair and to supply the
insurgent Americans with arms and ammunition.  “You will found,” he had
been told, “a great commercial house, and you will try to draw into it
the money of private individuals; the first outlay being now provided, we
shall have no further hand in it, the affair would compromise the
government too much in the eyes of the English.”  It was under the style
and title of Rodrigo Hortalez and Co. that the first instalment of
supplies, to the extent of more than three millions, was forwarded to the
Americans; and, notwithstanding the hesitation of the ministry and the
rage of the English, other instalments soon followed.  Beaumarchais was
henceforth personally interested in the enterprise; he had commenced it
from zeal for the American cause, and from that yearning for activity and
initiative which characterized him even in old age.  “I should never have
succeeded in fulfilling my mission here without the indefatigable,
intelligent, and generous efforts of M. de Beaumarchais,” wrote Silas
Deane to the secret committee of Congress: “the United States are more
indebted to him, on every account, than to any other person on this side
of the ocean.”

Negotiations were proceeding at Paris; Franklin had joined Silas Deane
there.  His great scientific reputation, the diplomatic renown he had won
in England, his able and prudent devotion to the cause of his country,
had paved the way for the new negotiator’s popularity in France: it was
immense.  Born at Boston on the 17th of January, 1706, a printer before
he came out as a great physicist, Franklin was seventy years old when he
arrived in Paris.  His sprightly good-nature, the bold subtilty of his
mind cloaked beneath external simplicity, his moderation in religion and
the breadth of his philosophical tolerance, won the world of fashion as
well as the great public, and were a great help to the success of his
diplomatic negotiations.  Quartered at Passy, at Madame Helvetius’, he
had frequent interviews with the ministers under a veil of secrecy and
precaution which was, before long, skilfully and discreetly removed; from
roundabout aid accorded to the Americans, at Beaumarchais’ solicitations,
on pretext of commercial business, the French Government had come to
remitting money straight to the agents of the United States; everything
tended to recognition of the independence of the colonies.  In England,
people were irritated and disturbed; Lord Chatham exclaimed with the
usual exaggeration of his powerful and impassioned genius “Yesterday
England could still stand against the world, today there is none so poor
as to do her reverence.  I borrow the poet’s words, my lords, but what
his verse expresses is no fiction.  France has insulted you, she has
encouraged and supported America, and, be America right or wrong, the
dignity of this nation requires that we should thrust aside with contempt
the officious intervention of France; ministers and ambassadors from
those whom we call rebels and enemies are received at Paris, there they
treat of the mutual interests of France and America, their countrymen are
aided, provided with military resources, and our ministers suffer it,
they do not protest!  Is this maintaining the honor of a great kingdom,
of that England which but lately gave laws to the House of Bourbon?”

The hereditary sentiments of Louis XVI. and his monarchical principles,
as well as the prudent moderation of M. Turgot, retarded at Paris the
negotiations which caused so much illhumor among the English; M. de
Vergennes still preserved, in all diplomatic relations, an apparent
neutrality.  “It is my line (_metier_), you see, to be a royalist,” the
Emperor Joseph II. had said during a visit he had just paid to Paris,
when he was pressed to declare in favor of the American insurgents.  At
the bottom of his heart the King of France was of the same opinion; he
had refused the permission to serve in America which he had been asked
for by many gentlemen: some had set off without waiting for it; the most
important, as well as the most illustrious of them all, the Marquis of La
Fayette, was not twenty years old when he slipped away from Paris,
leaving behind his young wife close to her confinement, to go and embark
upon a vessel which he had bought, and which, laden with arms, awaited
him in a Spanish port; arrested by order of the court, he evaded the
vigilance of his guards; in, the month of July, 1777, he disembarked in

Washington did not like France; he did not share the hopes which some of
his fellow-countrymen founded upon her aid; he made no case of the young
volunteers who came to enroll themselves among the defenders of
independence, and whom Congress loaded with favors.  “No bond but
interest attaches these men to America,” he would say; “and, as for
France, she only lets us get our munitions from her, because of the
benefit her commerce derives from it.”  Prudent, reserved, and proud,
Washington looked for America’s salvation to only America herself;
neither had he foreseen nor did he understand that enthusiasm, as
generous as it is unreflecting, which easily takes possession of the
French nation, and of which the United States were just then the object.
M. de La Fayette was the first who managed to win the general’s affection
and esteem.  A great yearning for excitement and renown, a great zeal for
new ideas and a certain political perspicacity, had impelled M. de La
Fayette to America; he showed himself courageous, devoted, more judicious
and more able than had been expected from his youth and character.
Washington came to love him as a son.

It was with the title of major-general that M. de La Fayette made his
first campaign; Congress had passed a decree conferring upon him this
grade, rather an excess of honor in Washington’s opinion; the latter was
at that time covering Philadelphia, the point aimed at by the operations
of General Howe.  Beaten at Brandywine and at Germantown, the Americans
were obliged to abandon the town to the enemy and fall back on Valley
Forge, where the general pitched his camp for wintering.  The English had
been beaten on the frontiers of Canada by General Gates; General
Burgoyne, invested on all sides by the insurgents, had found himself
forced to capitulate at Saratoga.  The humiliation and wrath of the
public in England were great, but the resolution of the politicians was
beginning to waver; on the 10th of February, 1778, Lord North had
presented two bills whereby England was to renounce the right of levying
taxes in the American colonies, and was to recognize the legal existence
of Congress.  Three commissioners were to be sent to America to treat for
conditions of peace.  After a hot discussion, the two bills had been

This was a small matter in view of the growing anxiety and the political
manoeuvrings of parties.  On the 7th of April, 1778, the Duke of Richmond
proposed in the House of Lords the recall of all the forces, land and
sea, which were fighting in America.  He relied upon the support of Lord
Chatham, who was now at death’s door, but who had always expressed
himself forcibly against the conduct of the government towards the
colonists.  The great orator entered the House, supported by two of his
friends, pale, wasted, swathed in flannel beneath his embroidered robe.
He with difficulty dragged himself to his place.  The peers, overcome at
the sight of this supreme effort, waited in silence.  Lord Chatham rose,
leaning on his crutch and still supported by his friends.  He raised one
hand to heaven.  “I thank God,” he said, “that I have been enabled to
come hither to-day to fulfil a duty and say what has been weighing so
heavily on my heart.  I have already one foot in the grave; I shall soon
descend into it; I have left my bed to sustain my country’s cause in this
House, perhaps for the last time.  I think myself happy, my lords, that
the grave has not yet closed over me, and that I am still alive to raise
my voice against the dismemberment of this ancient and noble monarchy!
My lords, his Majesty succeeded to an empire as vast in extent as proud
in reputation.  Shall we tarnish its lustre by a shameful abandonment of
its rights and of its fairest possessions?  Shall this great kingdom,
which survived in its entirety the descents of the Danes, the incursions
of the Scots, the conquest of the Normans, which stood firm against the
threatened invasion of the Spanish Armada, now fall before the House of
Bourbon?  Surely, my lords, we are not what we once were!  .  .  .  In
God’s name, if it be absolutely necessary to choose between peace and
war, if peace cannot be preserved with honor, why not declare war without
hesitation?  .  .  .  My lords, anything is better than despair; let us
at least make an effort, and, if we must fail, let us fail like men!”

He dropped back into his seat, exhausted, gasping.  Soon he strove to
rise and reply to the Duke of Richmond, but his strength was traitor to
his courage, he fainted; a few days later he was dead (May 11th, 1778);
the resolution’ of the Duke of Richmond had been rejected.

When this news arrived in America, Washington was seriously uneasy.
He had to keep up an incessant struggle against the delays and the
jealousies of Congress; it was by dint of unheard-of efforts and of
unwavering perseverance that he succeeded in obtaining the necessary
supplies for his army.  “To see men without clothes to cover their
nakedness,” he exclaimed, “without blankets to lie upon, without victuals
and often without shoes (for you might follow their track by the blood
that trickled from their feet), advancing through ice and snow, and
taking up their winter-quarters, at Christmas, less than a day’s march
from the enemy, in a place where they have not to shelter them either
houses or huts but such as they have thrown up themselves,--to see these
men doing all this without a murmur, is an exhibition of patience and
obedience such as the world has rarely seen.”

As a set-off against the impassioned devotion of the patriots, Washington
knew that the loyalists were still numerous and powerful; the burden of
war was beginning to press heavily upon the whole country, he feared some
act of weakness.  “Let us accept nothing short of Independence,” he wrote
at once to his friends: “we can never forget the outrages to which Great
Britain has made us--submit; a peace on any other conditions would be a
source of perpetual disputes.  If Great Britain, urged on by her love for
tyranny, were to seek once more to bend our necks beneath her iron yoke,
--and she would do so, you may be sure, for her pride and her ambition
are indomitable,--what nation would believe any more in our professions
of faith and would lend us its support?  It is to be feared, however,
that the proposals of England will produce a great effect in this
country.  Men are naturally friends of peace, and there is more than one
symptom to lead me to believe that the American people are generally
weary of war.  If it be so, nothing can be more politic than to inspire
the country with confidence by putting the army on an imposing footing,
and by showing greater energy in our negotiations with European powers.
I think that by now France must have recognized our independence, and
that she will immediately declare war against Great Britain, when she
sees that we have made serious proposals of alliance to her.  But if,
influenced by a false policy, or by an exaggerated opinion of our power,
she were to hesitate, we should either have to send able negotiators at
once, or give fresh instructions to our charges d’affaires to obtain a
definitive answer from her.”

It is the property of great men, even when they share the prejudices of
their time and of their country, to know how to get free from them, and
how to rise superior to their natural habits of thought.  It has been
said that, as a matter of taste, Washington did not like France and had
no confidence in her, but his great and strong common sense had
enlightened him as to the conditions of the contest he had entered upon.
He knew it was a desperate one, he foresaw that it would be a long one;
better than anybody he knew the weaknesses as well as the merits of the
instruments which he had at disposal; he had learned to desire the
alliance and the aid of France.  She did not belie his hopes: at the very
moment when Congress was refusing to enter into negotiations with Great
Britain as long as a single English soldier remained on American soil,
rejoicings and thanksgivings were everywhere throughout the thirteen
colonies greeting the news of the recognition by France of the
Independence of the United States; the treaties of alliance, a triumph of
diplomatic ability on the part of Franklin, had been signed at Paris on
the 6th of February, 1778.

“Assure the English government of the king’s pacific intentions,” M. de
Vergennes had written to the Marquis of Noailles, then French ambassador
in England.  George III. replied to these mocking assurances by recalling
his ambassador.

“Anticipate your enemies,” Franklin had said to the ministers of Louis
XVI.;” act towards them as they did to you in 1755: let your ships put to
sea before any declaration of war, it will be time to speak when a French
squadron bars the passage of Admiral Howe who has ventured to ascend the
Delaware.”  The king’s natural straightforwardness and timidity were
equally opposed to this bold project; he hesitated a long while; when
Count d’Estaing at last, on the 13th of April, went out of Toulon harbor
to sail for America with his squadron, it was too late, the English were
on their guard.

When the French admiral arrived in America, hostilities had commenced
between France and England, without declaration of war, by the natural
pressure of circumstances and the state of feeling in the two countries.
England fired the first shot on the 17th of June, 1778.  The frigate La
Belle Poule, commanded by M. Chaudeau de la Clochetterie, was cruising in
the Channel; she was surprised by the squadron of Admiral Keppel, issuing
from Portsmouth; the Frenchman saw the danger in time, he crowded sail;
but an English frigate, the Arethusa, had dashed forward in pursuit.  La
Clochetterie waited for her and refused to make the visit demanded by the
English captain: a cannon-shot was the reply to this refusal.  La Belle
Poule delivered her whole broadside.  When the Arethusa rejoined Lord
Keppel’s squadron, she was dismasted and had lost many men.  A sudden
calm had prevented two English vessels from taking part in, the
engagement.  La Clochetterie went on and landed a few leagues from Brest.
The fight had cost the lives of forty of his crew, fifty-seven had been
wounded.  He was made postcaptain (_capitaine de vaisseau_).  The glory
of this small affair appeared to be of good augury; the conscience of
Louis XVI. was soothed; he at last yielded to the passionate feeling
which was hurrying the nation into war, partly from sympathy towards the
Americans, partly from hatred and rancor towards England.  The treaty of
1763 still lay heavy on the military honor of France.

From the day when the Duke of Choiseul had been forced to sign that
humiliating peace, he had never relaxed in his efforts to improve the
French navy.  In the course of ministerial alternations, frequently
unfortunate for the work in hand, it had nevertheless been continued by
his successors.  A numerous fleet was preparing at Brest; it left the
port on the 3d of July, under the orders of Count d’Orvilliers.  It
numbered thirty-two men-of-war and some frigates.  Admiral Keppel came
to the encounter with thirty ships, mostly superior in strength to the
French vessels.  The engagement took place on the 27th, at thirty
leagues’ distance from Wessant and about the same from the Sorlingues
Islands.  The splendid order of the French astounded the enemy, who had
not forgotten the deplorable _Journee de M. de Conflans_.  The sky was
murky, and the manoeuvres were interfered with from the difficulty of
making out the signals.  Lord Keppel could not succeed in breaking the
enemy’s line; Count d’Orvilliers failed in a like attempt.  The English
admiral extinguished his fires and returned to Plymouth harbor, without
being forced to do so from any serious reverse; Count d’Orvilliers fell
back upon Brest under the same conditions.  The English regarded this
retreat as a humiliation to which they were unaccustomed Lord Keppel had
to appear before a court-martial.  In France, after the first burst of
enthusiasm, fault was found with the inactivity of the Duke of Chartres,
who commanded the rear-guard of the fleet, under the direction of M. de
La Motte-Piquet; the prince was before long obliged to leave the navy, he
became colonel-general of the hussars.  A fresh sally on the part of the
fleet did not suffice to protect the merchant-navy, the losses of which
were considerable.  The English vessels everywhere held the seas.

Count d’Estaing had at last arrived at the mouth of the Delaware on the
9th of July, 1778; Admiral Howe had not awaited him, he had sailed for
the anchorage of Sandy Hook.  The heavy French ships could not cross the
bar; Philadelphia had been evacuated by the English as soon as the
approach of Count d’Estaing was signalled.  “It is not General Howe who
has taken Philadelphia,” said Franklin; “it is Philadelphia that has
taken General Howe.”  The English commander had foreseen the danger; on
falling back upon New York he had been hotly pursued by Washington, who
had, at Monmouth, gained a serious advantage over him.  The victory of
the Americans would have been complete but for the jealous disobedience
of General Lee.  Washington pitched his camp thirty miles from New York.
“After two years’ marching and counter-marching,” he wrote, “after
vicissitudes so strange that never perhaps did any other war exhibit the
like since the beginning of the world, what a subject of satisfaction and
astonishment for us to see the two armies back again at the point from
which they started, and the assailants reduced in self-defence to have
recourse to the shovel and the axe!”

The combined expedition of D’Estaing and General Sullivan against the
little English corps which occupied Rhode Island had just failed; the
fleet of Admiral Howe had suddenly appeared at the entrance of the roads,
the French squadron had gone out to meet it, an unexpected tempest
separated the combatants; Count d’Estaing, more concerned for the fate of
his vessels than with the clamors of the Americans, set sail for Boston
to repair damages.  The campaign was lost; cries of treason were already
heard.  A riot was the welcome which awaited the French admiral at
Boston.  All Washington’s personal efforts, seconded by the Marquis of La
Fayette, were scarcely sufficient to restore harmony.  The English had
just made a descent upon the coasts of Georgia, and taken possession of
Savannah.  They threatened Carolina, and even Virginia.

Scarcely were the French ships in trim to put to sea when Count d’Estaing
made sail for the Antilles.  Zealous and brave, but headstrong and
passionate, like M. de Lally-Tollendal, under whom he had served in
India, the admiral could ill brook reverses, and ardently sought for an
occasion to repair them.  The English had taken St. Pierre and Miquelon.
M. de Bouille, governor of Iles-du-Vent, had almost at the same time made
himself master of La Dominique.  Four thousand English had just landed at
St. Lucie; M. d’Estaing, recently arrived at Martinique, headed thither
immediately with his squadron, without success, however: it was during
the absence of the English admiral, Byron, that the French seamen
succeeded in taking possession first of St. Vincent, and soon afterwards
of Grenada.  The fort of this latter island was carried after a brilliant
assault.  The admiral had divided his men into three bodies; he commanded
the first, the second marched under the orders of Viscount de Noailles,
and Arthur Dillon, at the head of the Irish in the service of France, led
the third.  The cannon on the ramparts were soon directed against the
English, who thought to arrive in time to relieve Grenada.

Count d’Estaing went out of port to meet the English admiral; as he was
sailing towards the enemy, the admiral made out, under French colors, a
splendid ship of war, _Le Fier-Rodrigue,_ which belonged to Beaumarchais,
and was convoying ten merchant-men.  “Seeing the wide berth kept by this
fine ship, which was going proudly before the wind,” says the sprightly
and sagacious biographer of Beaumarchais, M. de Lomdnie, “Admiral
d’Estaing signalled to her to bear down; learning that she belonged to
his majesty Caron de Beaumarchais, he felt that it would be a pity not to
take advantage of it, and, seeing the exigency of the case, he appointed
her her place of battle without asking her proprietor’s permission,
leaving to the mercy of the waves and of the English the unhappy
merchant-ships which the man-of-war was convoying. _Le Fier-Rodrique_
resigned herself bravely to her fate, took a glorious part in the battle
off Grenada, contributed in forcing Admiral Byron to retreat, but had her
captain killed, and was riddled with bullets.”  Admiral d’Estaing wrote
the same evening to Beaumarchais; his letter reached the scholar-merchant
through the medium of the minister of marine.  To the latter Beaumarchais
at once replied: “Sir, I have to thank you for having forwarded to me the
letter from Count d’Estaing.  It is very noble in him at the moment of
his triumph to have thought how very agreeable it would be to me to have
a word in his handwriting.  I take the liberty of sending you a copy of
his short letter, by which I feel honored as the good Frenchman I am, and
at which I rejoice as a devoted adherent of my country against that proud
England.  The brave Montault appears to have thought that he could not
better prove to me how worthy be was of the post with which he was
honored than by getting killed; whatever may be the result as regards my
own affairs, my poor friend Montault has died on the bed of honor, and I
feel a sort of childish joy in being certain that those English who have
cut me up so much in their papers for the last four years will read
therein that one of my ships has helped to take from them the most
fertile of their possessions.  And as for the enemies of M. d’Estaing and
especially of yourself, sir, I see them biting their nails, and my heart
leaps for joy!”

The joy of Beaumarchais, as well as that of France, was a little
excessive, and smacked of unfamiliarity with the pleasure of victory.
M. d’Estaing had just been recalled to France; before he left, he would
fain have rendered to the Americans a service pressingly demanded of him.
General Lincoln was about to besiege Savannah; the English general, Sir
Henry Clinton, a more able man than his predecessor, had managed to
profit by the internal disputes of the Union, he had rallied around him
the loyalists in Georgia and the Carolinas, civil war prevailed there
with all its horrors; D’Estaing bore down with his squadron for Savannah.
Lincoln was already on the coast ready to facilitate his landing; the
French admiral was under pressure of the orders from Paris, he had no
time for a regular siege.  The trenches had already been opened twenty
days, and the bombardment, terrible as it was for the American town, had
not yet damaged the works of the English.  On the 9th of October,
D’Estaing determined to deliver the assault.  Americans and French vied
with each other in courage.  For a moment the flag of the Union floated
upon the ramparts, some grenadiers made their way into the place, the
admiral was wounded; meanwhile, the losses were great, and perseverance
was evidently useless.  The assault was repulsed.  Count D’Estaing still
remained nine days before the place, in hopes of finding a favorable
opportunity; he was obliged to make sail for France, and the fleet
withdrew, leaving Savannah in the hands of the English.  The only
advantage from the admiral’s expedition was the deliverance of Rhode
Island, abandoned by General Clinton, who, fearing an attack from the
French, recalled the garrison to New York.  Washington had lately made
himself master of the fort at Stony Point, which had up to that time
enabled the English to command the navigation of the Hudson.

In England the commotion was great: France and America in arms against
her had just been joined by Spain.  A government essentially monarchical,
faithful to ancient traditions, the Spaniards had for a long while
resisted the entreaties of M. de Vergennes, who availed himself of the
stipulations of the Family pact.  Charles III. felt no sort of sympathy
for a nascent republic; he feared the contagion of the example it showed
to the Spanish colonies; he hesitated to plunge into the expenses of a
war.  His hereditary hatred against England prevailed at last over the
dictates of prudence.  He was promised, moreover, the assistance of
France to reconquer Gibraltar and Minorca.  The King of Spain consented
to take part in the war, without however recognizing the independence of
the United States, or entering into alliance with them.

The situation of England was becoming serious, she believed herself to be
threatened with a terrible invasion.  As in the days of the Great Armada,
“orders were given to all functionaries, civil and military, in case of a
descent of the enemy, to see to the transportation into the interior and
into a place of safety of all horses, cattle, and flocks that might
happen to be on the coasts.”  “Sixty-six allied ships of the line
ploughed the Channel, fifty thousand men, mustered in Normandy, were
preparing to burst upon the southern counties.  A simple American
corsair, Paul Jones, ravaged with impunity the coasts of Scotland.  The
powers of the North, united with Russia and Holland, threatened to
maintain, with arms in hand, the rights of neutrals, ignored by the
English admiralty courts.  Ireland awaited only the signal to revolt;
religious quarrels were distracting Scotland and England; the authority
of Lord North’s cabinet was shaken in Parliament as well as throughout
the country; the passions of the mob held sway in London, and among the
sights that might have been witnessed was that of this great city given
up for nearly a week to the populace, without anything that could stay
its excesses save its own lassitude and its own feeling of shame “ [M.
Cornelis de Witt, _Histoire de Washington_].

So many and such imposing preparations were destined to produce but
little fruit.  The two fleets, the French and the Spanish, had effected
their junction off Corunna, under the orders of Count d’Orvilliers; they
slowly entered the Channel on the 31st of August, near the Sorlingues
(Scilly) Islands; they sighted the English fleet, with a strength of only
thirty, seven vessels.  Count de Guichen, who commanded the vanguard, was
already manoeuvring to cut off the enemy’s retreat; Admiral Hardy had the
speed of him, and sought refuge in Plymouth Sound.  Some engagements
which took place between frigates were of little importance, but glorious
for both sides.  On the 6th of October, the _Surveillante,_ commanded by
Chevalier du Couedic, had a tussle with the _Quebec;_ the broadsides were
incessant, a hail of lead fell upon both ships, the majority of the
officers of the _Surveillante_ were killed or wounded.  Du Couedic had
been struck twice on the head.  A fresh wound took him in the stomach;
streaming with blood, he remained at his post and directed the fight.
The three masts of the _Surveillante_ had just fallen, knocked to pieces
by balls, the whole rigging of the _Quebec_ at the same moment came down
with a run.  The two ships could no longer manoeuvre, the decimated crews
were preparing to board, when a thick smoke shot up all at once from the
between-decks of the _Quebec;_ the fire spread with unheard of rapidity;
the _Surveillante,_ already hooked on to her enemy’s side, was on the
point of becoming, like her, a prey to the flames, but her commander,
gasping as he was and scarcely alive, got her loose by a miracle of
ability.  The _Quebec_ had hardly blown up when the crew of the
_Surveillante_ set to work picking up the glorious wreck of their
adversaries; a few prisoners were brought into Brest on the victorious
vessel, which was so blackened by the smoke and damaged by the fight that
tugs had to be sent to her assistance.  A few months afterwards Du
Couedic died of his wounds, carrying to the grave the supreme honor of
having been the only one to render his name illustrious in the great
display of the maritime forces of France and Spain.  Count d’Orvilliers
made no attempt; the inhabitants upon the English coasts ceased to
tremble; sickness committed ravages amongst the crews.  After a hundred
and four days’ useless cruising in the Channel, the huge fleet returned
sorrowfully to Brest; Admiral d’Orvilliers had lost his son in a partial
engagement; he left the navy and retired ere long to a convent.  Count de
Guichen sailed for the Antilles with a portion of the French fleet, and
maintained with glory the honor of his flag in a series of frequently
successful affairs against Admiral Rodney.  At the beginning of the war,
the latter, a great scapegrace and overwhelmed with debt, happened to be
at Paris, detained by the state of his finances.  “If I were free,” said
he one day in the presence of Marshal Biron, “I would soon destroy all
the Spanish and French fleets.”  The marshal at once paid his debts.
“Go, sir,” said he, with a flourish of generosity to which the eighteenth
century was a little prone, “the French have no desire to gain advantages
over their enemies save by their bravery.”  Rodney’s first exploit was to
revictual Gibraltar, which the Spanish and French armaments had invested
by land and sea.

Everywhere the strength of the belligerents was being exhausted without
substantial result and without honor; for more than four years now
America had been keeping up the war, and her Southern provinces had been
everywhere laid waste by the enemy; in spite of the heroism which was
displayed by the patriots, and of which the women themselves set the
example, General Lincoln had just been forced to capitulate at
Charleston.  Washington, still encamped before New York, saw his army
decimated by hunger and cold, deprived of all resources, and reduced to
subsist at the expense of the people in the neighborhood.  All eyes were
turned towards France; the Marquis of La Fayette had succeeded in
obtaining from the king and the French ministry the formation of an
auxiliary corps; the troops were already on their way under the orders of
Count de Rochambeau.

Misfortune and disappointments are great destroyers of some barriers,
prudent tact can overthrow others.  Washington and the American army
would but lately have seen with suspicion the arrival of foreign
auxiliaries; in 1780, transports of joy greeted the news of their
approach.  M. de La Fayette, moreover, had been careful to spare the
American general all painful friction.  Count de Rochambeau and the
French officers were placed under the orders of Washington, and the
auxiliary corps entirely at his disposal.  The delicate generosity and
the disinterestedness of the French government had sometimes had the
effect of making it neglect the national interests in its relations with
the revolted colonies; but it had derived therefrom a spirit of conduct
invariably calculated to triumph over the prejudices as well as the
jealous pride of the Americans.

“The history of the War of Independence is a history of hopes deceived,”
 said Washington.  He had conceived the idea of making himself master of
New York with the aid of the French.  The transport of the troops had
been badly calculated; Rochambeau brought to Rhode Island only the first
division of his army, about five thousand men; and Count de Guichen,
whose squadron had been relied upon, had just been recalled to France.
Washington was condemned to inaction.  “Our position is not sufficiently
brilliant,” he wrote to M. de La Fayette, “to justify our putting
pressure upon Count de Rochambeau; I shall continue our arrangements,
however, in the hope of more fortunate circumstances.”  The American army
was slow in getting organized, obliged as it had been to fight
incessantly and make head against constantly recurring difficulties; it
was getting organized, however; the example of the French, the discipline
which prevailed in the auxiliary corps, the good understanding
thenceforth established among the officers, helped Washington in his
difficult task.  From the first the superiority of the general was
admitted by the French as well as by the Americans; naturally, and by the
mere fact of the gifts he had received from God, Washington was always
and everywhere chief of the men placed within his range and under his

This natural ascendency, which usually triumphed over the base jealousies
and criminal manoeuvres into which the rivals of General Washington had
sometimes allowed themselves to be drawn, had completely failed in the
case of one of his most brilliant lieutenants; in spite of his inveterate
and well-known vices, Benedict Arnold had covered himself with glory by
daring deeds and striking bravery exhibited in a score of fights, from
the day when, putting himself at the head of the first bands raised in
Massachusetts, he had won the grade of general during his expedition to
Canada.  Accused of malversation, and lately condemned by a court-martial
to be reprimanded by the general-in-chief, Arnold, through an excess of
confidence on Washington’s part, still held the command of the important
fort of West Point: he abused the trust.  Washington, on returning from
an interview with Count de Rochambeau, went out of his way to visit the
garrison of West Point: the commandant was absent.  Surprised and
displeased, the general was impatiently waiting for his return, when his
aide-de-camp and faithful friend, Colonel Hamilton, brought him important
despatches.  Washington’s face remained impassible; but throughout the
garrison and among the general’s staff there had already spread a whisper
of Arnold’s treachery: he had promised, it was said, to deliver West
Point to the enemy.  An English officer, acting as a spy, had actually
been arrested within the American lines.

It was true; and General Arnold, turning traitor to his country from
jealousy, vengeance, and the shameful necessities entailed by a
disorderly life, had sought refuge at New York with Sir Henry Clinton.
Major Andre was in the hands of the Americans.  Young, honorable, brave,
endowed with talents, and of elegant and cultivated tastes, the English
officer, brought up with a view to a different career, but driven into
the army from a disappointment in love, had accepted the dangerous
mission of bearing to the perfidious commandant of West Point the English
general’s latest instructions.  Sir Henry Clinton had recommended him not
to quit his uniform; but, yielding to the insinuating Arnold, the unhappy
young man had put on a disguise; he had been made prisoner.  Recognized
and treated as a spy, he was to die on the gallows.  It was the ignominy
alone of this punishment which perturbed his spirit.  “Sir,” he wrote to
Washington, “sustained against fear of death by the reflection that no
unworthy action has sullied a life devoted to honor, I feel confident
that in this my extremity, your Excellency will not be deaf to a prayer
the granting of which will soothe my last moments.  Out of sympathy for a
soldier, your Excellency will, I am sure, consent to adapt the form of my
punishment to the feelings of a man of honor.  Permit me to hope that, if
my character have inspired you with any respect, if I am in your eyes
sacrificed to policy and not to vengeance, I shall have proof that those
sentiments prevail in your heart by learning that I am not to die on the

With a harshness of which there is no other example in his life, and of
which he appeared to always preserve a painful recollection, Washington
remained deaf to his prisoner’s noble appeal: Major Andre underwent the
fate of a spy.  “You are a witness that I die like a man of honor,” he
said to an American officer whose duty it was to see the orders carried
out.  The general did him justice.  “Andre,” he said, “paid his penalty
with the spirit to be expected from a man of such merit and so brave an
officer.  As to Arnold, he has no heart.  .  .  .  Everybody is surprised
to see that he is not yet swinging on a gibbet.”  The passionate
endeavors of the Americans to inflict upon the traitor the chastisement
he deserved remained without effect.  Constantly engaged, as an English
general, in the war, with all the violence bred of uneasy hate, Arnold
managed to escape the just vengeance of his countrymen; he died twenty
years later, in the English possessions, rich and despised.  “What would
you have done if you had succeeded in catching me?” he asked an American
prisoner one day.  “We would have severed from your body the leg that had
been wounded in the service of the country, and would have hanged the
rest on a gibbet,” answered the militiaman quietly.

The excitement caused by the treachery of Arnold had not yet
subsided, when a fresh cup of bitterness was put to the lips of
the general-in-chief, and disturbed the hopes he had placed on the
reorganization of his army.  Successive revolts among the troops of
Pennsylvania, which threatened to spread to those of New Jersey, had
convinced him that America had come to the end of her sacrifices.  “The
country’s own powers are exhausted,” he wrote to Colonel Lawrence in a
letter intended to be communicated to Louis XVI.; “single-handed we
cannot restore public credit and supply the funds necessary for
continuing the war.  The patience of the army is at an end, the people
are discontented; without money, we shall make but a feeble effort, and
probably the last.”

The insufficiency of the military results obtained by land and sea, in
comparison with the expenses and the exhibition of force, and the
slowness and bad management of the operations, had been attributed, in
France as well as in America, to the incapacity of the ministers of war
and marine, the Prince of Montbarrey and M. de Sartines.  The finances
had up to that time sufficed for the enormous charges which weighed upon
the treasury; credit for the fact was most justly given to the consummate
ability and inexhaustible resources of M. Necker, who was, first of all,
made director of the treasury on October 22, 1776, and then
director-general of finance on June 29, 1777, By his advice, backed by
the favor of the queen, the two ministers were superseded by M. de Segur
and the Marquis of Castries.  A new and more energetic impulse before
long restored the hopes of the Americans.  On the 21st of March, 1780,
a fleet left under the orders of Count de Grasse; after its arrival at
Martinique, on the 28th of April, in spite of Admiral Hood’s attempts to
block his passage, Count de Grasse took from the English the Island of
Tobago, on the 1st of June; on the 3d of September, he brought Washington
a reinforcement of three thousand five hundred men, and twelve hundred
thousand livres in specie.  In a few months King Louis XVI. had lent to
the United States or procured for them on his security sums exceeding
sixteen million livres.  It was to Washington personally that the French
government confided its troops as well as its subsidies.  “The king’s
soldiers are to be placed exclusively under the orders of the
general-in-chief,” M. Girard, the French minister in America, had said,
on the arrival of the auxiliary corps.

After so many and such painful efforts, the day of triumph was at last
dawning upon General Washington and his country.  Alternations of success
and reverse had signalized the commencement of the campaign of 1781.
Lord Cornwallis, who commanded the English armies in the South, was
occupying Virginia with a considerable force, when Washington, who had
managed to conceal his designs from Sir Henry Clinton, shut up in New
York, crossed Philadelphia on the 4th of September, and advanced by
forced marches against the enemy.  The latter had been for some time past
harassed by the little army of M. de La Fayette.  The fleet of Admiral de
Grasse cut off the retreat of the English.  Lord Cornwallis threw himself
into Yorktown; on the 30th of September the place was invested.

It was but slightly and badly fortified; the English troops were fatigued
by a hard campaign; the besiegers were animated by a zeal further
stimulated by emulation; French and Americans vied with one another in
ardor.  Batteries sprang up rapidly, the soldiers refused to take any
rest, the trenches were opened by the 6th of October.  On the 10th, the
cannon began to batter the town; on the 14th an American column,
commanded by M. de La Fayette, Colonel Hamilton and Colonel Lawrence,
attacked one of the redoubts which protected the approaches to the town,
whilst the French dashed forward on their side to attack the second
redoubt, under the orders of Baron de Viomenil, Viscount de Noailles, and
Marquis de St. Simon, who, ill as he was, had insisted on being carried
at the head of his regiment.  The flag of the Union floated above both
works at almost the same instant; when the attacking columns joined again
on the other side of the outwork they had attacked, the French had made
five hundred prisoners.  All defence became impossible.  Lord Cornwallis
in vain attempted to escape; he was reduced, on the 17th of October, to
signing a capitulation more humiliating than that of Saratoga: eight
thousand men laid down their arms, the vessels which happened to be lying
at Yorktown and Gloucester were given up to the victors.  Lord Cornwallis
was ill of grief and fatigue.  General O’Hara, who took his place,
tendered his sword to Count de Rochambeau; the latter stepped back, and,
pointing to General Washington, said aloud, “I am only an auxiliary.”  In
receiving the English general’s sword, Washington was receiving the
pledge of his country’s independence.

England felt this.  “Lord North received the news of the capitulation
like a bullet in his breast,” said Lord George Germaine, secretary of
state for the colonies; he threw up his arms without being able to utter
a word beyond ‘My God, all’s lost!’”  To this growing conviction on the
part of his ministers, as well as of the nation, George III. opposed an
unwavering persistency.  “None of the members of my cabinet,” he wrote
immediately, “will suppose, I am quite sure, that this event can in any
way modify the principles which have guided me hitherto and which will
continue to regulate my conduct during the rest of this struggle.”

Whilst the United States were celebrating their victory with
thanksgivings and public festivities, their allies were triumphing at all
the different points, simultaneously, at which hostilities had been
entered upon.  Becoming embroiled with Holland, where the republican
party had prevailed against the stadtholder, who was devoted to them, the
English had waged war upon the Dutch colonies.  Admiral Rodney had taken
St. Eustache, the centre of an immense trade; he had pillaged the
warehouses and laden his vessels with an enormous mass of merchandise;
the convoy which was conveying a part of the spoil to England was
captured by Admiral La Motte-Piquet; M. Bouille surprised the English
garrison remaining at St. Eustache and recovered possession of the
island, which was restored to the Dutch.  They had just maintained
gloriously, at Dogger Bank, their old maritime renown.  “Officers and
men all fought like lions,” said Admiral Zouttman.  The firing had not
commenced until the two fleets were within pistol-shot.  The ships on
both sides were dismasted, scarcely in a condition to keep afloat; the
glory and the losses were equal; but the English admiral, Hyde Parker,
was irritated and displeased.  George III. went to see him on board his
vessel.  “I wish your Majesty younger seamen and better ships,” said the
old sailor, and he insisted on resigning.  This was the only action
fought by the Dutch during the war; they left to Admiral de Kersaint the
job of recovering from the English their colonies of Demerara, Essequibo,
and Berbice, on the coasts of Guiana.

A small Franco-Spanish army was at the same time besieging Minorca.
The fleet was considerable, the English were ill-prepared; they were soon
obliged to shut themselves up in Fort St. Philip.  The ramparts were as
solid, the position was as impregnable, as in the time of Marshal
Richelieu.  The admirals were tardy in bringing up the fleet; their
irresolution caused the failure of operations that had been ill-combined;
the squadrons entered port again.  The Duke of Crillon, who commanded the
besieging force, weary of investing the fortress, made a proposal to the
commandant to give the place up to him: the offers were magnificent, but
Colonel Murray answered indignantly: “Sir, when the king his master
ordered your brave ancestor to assassinate the Duke of Guise, he replied
to Henry III., Honor forbids!  You ought to have made the same answer to
the king of Spain when he ordered you to assassinate the honor of a man
as well born as the Duke of Guise or yourself.  I desire to have no
communication with you but by way of arms.”  And he kept up the defence
of his fortress, continually battered by the besiegers’ cannonballs.
Assault succeeded assault: the Duke of Crillon himself escaladed the
ramparts to capture the English flag which floated on the top of a tower:
he was slightly wounded.  “How long have generals done grenadiers’ work?”
 said the officers to one another.  The general heard them.  “I wanted to
make my Spaniards thorough French,” he said, “that nobody might any
longer perceive that there are two nationalities here.”  Murray at last
capitulated on the 4th of February, 1782: the fortress contained but a
handful of soldiers exhausted with fatigue and privation.

Great was the joy at Madrid as well as in France, and deep the dismay in
London: the ministry of Lord North could not stand against this last
blow.  So many efforts and so many sacrifices ending in so many disasters
were irritating and wearing out the nation.  “Great God!” exclaimed
Burke, “is it still a time to talk to us of the rights we are upholding
in this war!  Oh! excellent rights!  Precious they should be, for they
have cost us dear.  Oh! precious rights, which have cost Great Britain
thirteen provinces, four islands, a hundred thousand men, and more than
ten millions sterling!  Oh! wonderful rights, which have cost Great
Britain her empire upon the ocean and that boasted superiority which made
all nations bend before her!  Oh! inestimable rights, which have taken
from us our rank amongst the nations, our importance abroad and our
happiness at home, which have destroyed our commerce and our
manufactures, which have reduced us from the most flourishing empire in
the world to a kingdom circumscribed and grandeur-less!  Precious rights,
which will, no doubt, cost us all that we have left!”  The debate was
growing more and more bitter.  Lord North entered the House with his
usual serenity.  “This discussion is a loss of valuable time to the
House,” said he: “His Majesty has just accepted the resignation of his
ministers.”  The Whigs came into power; Lord Rockingham, the Duke of
Richmond, Mr. Fox; the era of concessions was at hand.  An unsuccessful
battle delivered against Hood and Rodney by Admiral de Grasse restored
for a while the pride of the English.  A good sailor, brave and for a
long time successful in war, Count de Grasse had many a time been
out-manoeuvred by the English.  He had suffered himself to be enticed
away from St. Christopher, which he was besieging, and which the Marquis
of Bouille took a few days later; embarrassed by two damaged vessels,
he would not abandon them to the English, and retarded his movements to
protect them.  The English fleet was superior to the French in vessels
and weight of metal; the fight lasted ten hours; the French squadron was
broken, disorder ensued in the manoeuvres; the captains got killed one
after another, nailing their colors to the mast or letting their vessels
sink rather than strike; the flag-ship, the Ville de Paris, was attacked
by seven of the enemy’s ships at once, her consorts could not get at her;
Count de Grasse, maddened with grief and rage, saw all his crew falling
around him.  “The admiral is six foot every day,” said the sailors, “on a
fighting day he is six foot one.”  So much courage and desperation could
not save the fleet, the count was forced to strike; his ship had received
such damage that it sank before its arrival in England; the admiral was
received in London with great honors against which his vanity was not
proof, to the loss of his personal dignity and his reputation in Europe.
A national subscription in France reinforced the fleet with new vessels:
a squadron, commanded by M. de Suffren, had just carried into the East
Indies the French flag, which had so long been humiliated, and which his
victorious hands were destined to hoist aloft again for a moment.

As early as 1778, even before the maritime war had burst out in Europe,
France had lost all that remained of her possessions on the Coromandel
coast.  Pondicherry, scarcely risen from its ruins, was besieged by the
English, and had capitulated on the 17th of October, after an heroic
resistance of forty days’ open trenches.  Since that day a Mussulman,
Hyder Ali, conqueror of the Carnatic, had struggled alone in India
against the power of England: it was around him that a group had been
formed by the old soldiers of Bussy and by the French who had escaped
from the disaster of Pondicherry.  It was with their aid that the able
robber-chief, the crafty politician, had defended and consolidated the
empire he had founded against that foreign dominion which threatened the
independence of his country.  He had just suffered a series of reverses,
and he was on the point of being forced to evacuate the Carnatic and take
refuge in his kingdom of Mysore, when he heard, in the month of July,
1782, of the arrival of a French fleet commanded by M. de Suffren.  Hyder
Ali had already been many times disappointed.  The preceding year Admiral
d’Orves had appeared on the Coromandel coast with a squadron; the Sultan
had sent to meet him, urging him to land and attack Madras, left
defenceless; the admiral refused to risk a single vessel or land a single
man, and he returned without striking a blow to Ile-de-France.  Ever
indomitable and enterprising, Hyder Ali hoped better things of the
new-comers; he was not deceived.

Born at St. Cannat in Provence, on the 13th of July, 1726, of an old and
a notable family amongst the noblesse of his province, Peter Andrew de
Suffren, admitted before he was seventeen into the marine guards, had
procured his reception into the order of Malta; he had already
distinguished himself in many engagements, when M. de Castries gave him
the command of the squadron commissioned to convey to the Cape of Good
Hope a French garrison promised to the Dutch, whose colony was
threatened.  The English had seized Negapatam and Trincomalee; they hoped
to follow up this conquest by the capture of Batavia and Ceylon.  Suffren
had accomplished his mission, not without a brush with the English
squadron commanded by Commodore Johnston.  Leaving the Cape free from
attack, he had joined, off Ile-de-France, Admiral d’Orves, who was ill
and at death’s door.  The vessels of the commander (of the Maltese order)
were in a bad state, the crews were weak, the provisions were deficient;
the inexhaustible zeal and the energetic ardor of the chief sufficed to
animate both non-combatants and combatants.  When he put to sea on the
7th of December, Count d’Orves still commanded the squadron; on the 9th
of February he expired out at sea, having handed over his command to M.
de Suffren.  All feebleness and all hesitation disappeared from that
moment in the management of the expedition.  When the nabob sent a French
officer in his service to compliment M. de Suffren and proffer alliance,
the commander interrupted the envoy: “We will begin,” said he, “by
settling the conditions of this alliance;” and not a soldier set foot on
land before the independent position of the French force, the number of
its auxiliaries, and the payment for its services had been settled by a

Hyder Ali consented to everything.  M. de Suffren set sail to go in
search of the English.

[Illustration: Suffren----413]

He sought them for three months without any decisive result; it was only
on the 4th of July in the morning, at the moment when Hyder Ali was to
attack Negapatam, that a serious engagement began between the hostile
fleets.  The two squadrons had already suffered severely; a change of
wind had caused disorder in the lines: the English had several vessels
dismantled; one single French vessel, the _Severe,_ had received serious
damage; her captain, with cowardly want of spirit, ordered the flag to be
hauled down.  His lieutenants protested; the volunteers to whom he had
appealed refused to execute his orders.  By this time the report was
spreading among the batteries that the captain, was giving the order to
cease firing; the sailors were as indignant as the officers: a cry arose,
“The flag is down!”  A complaisant subaltern had at last obeyed the
captain’s repeated orders.  The officers jumped upon the quarter-deck.
“You are master of your flag,” fiercely cried an officer of the blue,
Lieutenant Dien, “but we are masters as to fighting, and the ship shall
not surrender!”  By this time a boat from the English ship, the _Sultan,_
had put off to board the Severe, which was supposed to have struck, when
a fearful broadside from all the ship’s port-holes struck the _Sultan,_
which found herself obliged to sheer off.  Night came; without waiting
for the admiral’s orders, the English went and cast anchor under

M. de Suffren supposed that hostilities would be resumed; but, when the
English did not appear, he at last prepared to set sail for Gondelour to
refit his vessels, when a small boat of the enemy’s hove in sight: it
bore a flag of truce.  Admiral Hughes claimed the _Severe,_ which had for
an instant hauled down her flag.  M. de Suffren had not heard anything
about her captain’s poltroonery; the flag had been immediately replaced;
he answered that none of the French vessels had surrendered.  “However,”
 he added with a smile, “as this vessel belongs to Sir Edward Hughes, beg
him from me to come for it himself.”  Suffren arrived without hinderance
at Gondelour (_Kaddalore_).

Scarcely was he there, when Hyder Ali expressed a desire to see him, and
set out for that purpose without waiting for his answer.  On the 26th of
July, M. de Suffren landed with certain officers of his squadron; an
escort of cavalry was in waiting to conduct him to the camp of the nabob,
who came out to meet him.  “Heretofore I thought myself a great man and a
great general,” said Hyder Ali to the admiral; “but now I know that you
alone are a great man.”  Suffren informed the nabob that M. de Bussy-
Castelnau, but lately the faithful lieutenant of Dupleix and the
continuer of his victories, had just been sent to India with the title of
commander-in-chief; he was already at Ile de France, and was bringing
some troops.  “Provided that you remain with us, all will go well,” said
the nabob, detaching from his turban an aigrette of diamonds which he
placed on M. de Suffren’s hat.  The nabob’s tent was reached; Suffren was
fat, he had great difficulty in sitting upon the carpets; Hyder Ali
perceived this and ordered cushions to be brought.  “Sit as you please,”
 said he to the commander, “etiquette was not made for such as you.”  Next
day, under the nabob’s tent, all the courses of the banquet offered to M.
de Suffren were prepared in European style.  The admiral proposed that
Hyder Ali should go to the coast and see all the fleet dressed, but, “I
put myself out to see you only,” said the nabob, “I will not go any
farther.”  The two great warriors were never to meet again.

The French vessels were ready; the commander had more than once put his
own hand to the work in order to encourage the workmen’s zeal.
Carpentry-wood was wanted; he had ransacked Gondelour (_Kaddalore_) for
it, sometimes pulling down a house to get hold of a beam that suited him.
His officers urged him to go to Bourbon or Ile-de-France for the
necessary supplies and for a good port to shelter his damaged ships.
“Until I have conquered one in India, I will have no port but the sea,”
 answered Suffren.  He had re-taken Trincomalee before the English could
come to its defence.  The battle began.  As had already happened more
than once, a part of the French force showed weakness in the thick of the
action either from cowardice or treason; a cabal had formed against the
commander; he was fighting single-handed against five or six assailants:
the main-mast and the flag of the _Heros,_ which he was on, fell beneath
the enemy’s cannon-balls.  Suffren, standing on the quarter-deck, shouted
beside himself “Flags!  Set white flags all round the Heros!”  The
vessel, all bristling with flags, replied so valiantly to the English
attacks, that the rest of the squadron had time to re-form around it; the
English went and anchored before Madras.

Bussy had arrived, but aged, a victim to gout, quite a stranger amid
those Indian intrigues with which he had but lately been so well
acquainted.  Hyder Ali had just died on the 7th of December, 1782,
leaving to his son Tippoo Sahib affairs embroiled and allies enfeebled.
At this news the Mahrattas, in revolt against England, hastened to make
peace; and Tippoo Sahib, who had just seized Tanjore, was obliged to
abandon his conquest and go to the protection of Malabar.  Ten thousand
men only remained in the Carnatic to back the little corps of French.
Bussy allowed himself to be driven to bay by General Stuart beneath the
walls of Gondelour; he had even been forced to shut himself up in the
town.  M. de Suffren went to his release.  The action was hotly
contested; when the victor landed, M. de Bussy was awaiting him on the
shore.  “Here is our savior,” said the general to his troops, and the
soldiers taking up in their arms M. de Suffren, who had been lately
promoted by the grand master of the order of Malta to the rank of grand-
cross (_bailli_), carried him in triumph into the town.  “He pressed
M. de Bussy every day to attack us,” says Sir Thomas Munro, “offering to
land the greater part of his crews and to lead them himself to deliver
the assault upon our camp.”  Bussy had, in fact, resumed the offensive,
and was preparing to make fresh sallies, when it was known at Calcutta
that the preliminaries of peace had been signed at Paris on the 9th of
February.  The English immediately proposed an armistice.  The
_Surveillante_ shortly afterwards brought the same news, with orders for
Suffren to return to France.  India was definitively given up to the
English, who restored to the French Pondicherry, Chandernuggur, Mahe, and
Karikal, the last strips remaining of that French dominion which had for
a while been triumphant throughout the peninsula.  The feebleness and the
vices of Louis XV.’s government weighed heavily upon the government of
Louis XVI. in India as well as in France, and at Paris itself.

It is to the honor of mankind and their consolation under great reverses
that political checks and the inutility of their efforts do not obscure
the glory of great men.  M. de Suffren had just arrived at Paris, he was
in low spirits; M. de Castries took him to Versailles.  There was a
numerous and brilliant court.  On entering the guards’ hall, “Gentlemen,”
 said the minister to the officers on duty, “this is M. de Suffren.”
 Everybody rose, and the body-guards, forming an escort for the admiral,
accompanied him to the king’s chamber.  His career was over; the last of
the great sailors of the old regimen died on the 8th of December, 1788.

Whilst Hyder Ali and M. de Suffren were still disputing India with
England, that power had just gained in Europe an important advantage in
the eyes of public opinion as well as in respect of her supremacy at sea.

For close upon three years past a Spanish army had been investing by land
the town and fortress of Gibraltar; a strong squadron was cruising out of
cannon-shot of the place, incessantly engaged in barring the passage
against the English vessels.  Twice already, in 1780 by Admiral Rodney,
and in 1781 by Admiral Darby, the vigilance of the cruisers had been
eluded and reinforcements of troops, provisions, and ammunition had been
thrown into Gibraltar.  In 1782 the town had been half destroyed by an
incessantly renewed bombardment, the fortifications had not been touched.
Every morning, when he awoke, Charles III. would ask anxiously, “Have we
got Gibraltar?” and when “No” was answered, “We soon shall,” the monarch
would rejoin imperturbably.  The capture of Fort Philip had confirmed him
in his hopes; he considered his object gained, when the Duke of Crillon
with a corps of French troops came and joined the besiegers; the Count of
Artois, brother to the king, as well as the Duke of Bourbon, had come
with him.  The camp of St. Roch was the scene of continual festivities,
sometimes interrupted by the sallies of the besieged.  The fights did not
interfere with mutual good offices: in his proud distress, General Eliot
still kept up an interchange of refreshments with the French princes and
the Duke of Crillon; the Count of Artois had handed over to the English
garrison the letters and correspondence which had been captured on the
enemy’s ships, and which he had found addressed to them on his way
through Madrid.

Preparations were being made for a grand assault.  A French engineer,
Chevalier d’Arcon, had invented some enormous floating batteries,
fire-proof, as he believed; a hundred and fifty pieces of cannon were to
batter the place all at once, near enough to facilitate the assault.  On
the 13th of September, at 9 A. M., the Spaniards opened fire: all the
artillery in the fort replied at once; the surrounding mountains repeated
the cannonade; the whole army covered the shore awaiting with anxiety the
result of the enterprise.  Already the fortifications seemed to be
beginning to totter; the batteries had been firing for five hours; all at
once the Prince of Nassau, who commanded a detachment, thought he
perceived flames mastering his heavy vessel; the fire spread rapidly; one
after another, the floating batteries found themselves disarmed.  “At
seven o’clock we had lost all hope,” said an Italian officer who had
taken part in the assault; “we fired no more, and our signals of distress
remained unnoticed.  The red-hot shot of the besieged rained down upon
us; the crews were threatened from every point.”  Timidly and by weak
detachments, the boats of the two fleets crept up under cover of the
batteries in hopes of saving some of the poor creatures that were like to
perish; the flames which burst out on board the doomed ships served to
guide the fire of the English as surely as in broad daylight.  At the
head of a small squadron of gunboats Captain Curtis barred the passage of
the salvors; the conflagration became general, only the discharges from
the fort replied to the hissing of the flames and to the Spaniard’s cries
of despair.  The fire at last slackened; the English gunboats changed
their part; at the peril of their lives the brave seamen on board of them
approached the burning ships, trying to save the unfortunate crews; four
hundred men owed their preservation to those efforts.  A month after this
disastrous affair, Lord Howe, favored by the accidents of wind and
weather, revictualled for the third time, and almost without any
fighting, the fortress and the town under the very eyes of the allied
fleets.  Gibraltar remained impregnable.

Peace was at hand, however: all the belligerents were tired of the
strife; the Marquis of Rockingham was dead; his ministry, after being
broken up, had re-formed with less lustre under the leadership of Lord
Shelburne.  William Pitt, Lord Chatham’s second son, at that time
twenty-two years of age, had a seat in the cabinet.  Already negotiations
for a general peace had begun at Paris; but Washington, who eagerly
desired the end of the war, did not yet feel any confidence.  “The old
infatuation, the political duplicity and perfidy of England, render me, I
confess, very suspicious, very doubtful,” he wrote; “and her position
seems to me to be perfectly summed up in the laconic saying of Dr.
Franklin ‘They are incapable of continuing the war and too proud to make
peace.’  The pacific overtures made to the different belligerent nations
have probably no other design than to detach some one of them from the
coalition.  At any rate, whatever be the enemy’s intentions, our
watchfulness and our efforts, so far from languishing, should become more
vigorous than ever.  Too much trust and confidence would ruin

America was the first to make peace, without however detaching herself
officially from the coalition which had been formed to maintain her
quarrel and from which she had derived so many advantages.  On the 30th
of November, 1782, in disregard of the treaties but lately concluded
between France and the revolted colonies, the American negotiators signed
with stealthy precipitation the preliminary articles of a special peace,
“thus abandoning France to the dangers of being isolated in negotiations
or in arms.”  The votes of Congress, as well as the attitude of
Washington, did not justify this disloyal and ungrateful eagerness.
“The articles of the treaty between Great Britain and America,” wrote the
general to Chevalier de La Luzerne, French minister at Philadelphia, “are
so far from conclusive as regards a general pacification, that we must
preserve a hostile attitude and remain ready for any contingency, for war
as well as peace.”

On the 5th of December, at the opening of Parliament, George III.
announced in the speech from the throne that he had offered to recognize
the independence of the American colonies.  “In thus admitting their
separation from the crown of this kingdom, I have sacrificed all my
desires to the wishes and opinion of my people,” said the king.
“I humbly pray Almighty God, that Great Britain may not feel the evils
which may flow from so important a dismemberment of its empire, and that
America may be a stranger to the calamities which have before now proved
to the mother-country that monarchy is inseparable from the benefits of
constitutional liberty.  Religion, language, interests, affections may
still form a bond of union between the two countries, and I will spare no
pains or attention to promote it.”  “I was the last man in England to
consent to the Independence of America,” said the king to John Adams, who
was the first to represent the new republic at the Court of St. James; “I
will be the last in the world to sanction any violation of it.”  Honest
and sincere in his concessions as he had been in his persistent
obstinacy, the king supported his ministers against the violent attacks
made upon them in Parliament.  The preliminaries of general peace had
been signed at Paris on the 20th of January, 1783.

To the exchange of conquests between France and England was added the
cession to France of the island of Tobago and of the Senegal River with
its dependencies.  The territory of Pondicherry and Karikal received some
augmentation.  For the first time for more than a hundred years the
English renounced the humiliating conditions so often demanded on the
subject of the harbor of Dunkerque.  Spain saw herself confirmed in her
conquest of the Floridas and of the island of Minorca.  Holland recovered
all her possessions, except Negapatam.

Peace was made, a glorious and a sweet one for the United States, which,
according to Washington’s expression, “saw opening before them a career
that might lead them to become a great people, equally happy and
respected.”  Despite all the mistakes of the people and the defects every
day more apparent in the form of its government, this noble and healthy
ambition has always been present to the minds of the American nation as
the ultimate aim of their hopes and their endeavors.  More than eighty
years after the war of independence, the indomitable energy of the
fathers reappeared in the children, worthy of being called a great people
even when the agonies of a civil war without example denied to them the
happiness which had a while ago been hoped for by the glorious founder of
their liberties as well as of their Constitution.

France came out exhausted from the struggle, but relieved in her own eyes
as well as those of Europe from the humiliation inflicted upon her by the
disastrous Seven Years’ War and by the treaty of 1763.  She saw
triumphant the cause she had upheld and her enemies sorrow-stricken at
the dismemberment they had suffered.  It was a triumph for her arms and
for the generous impulse which had prompted her to support a legitimate
but for a long while doubtful enterprise.  A fresh element, however, had
come to add itself to the germs of disturbance, already so fruitful,
which were hatching within her.  She had promoted the foundation of a
Republic based upon principles of absolute right; the government had
given way to the ardent sympathy of the nation for a people emancipated
from a long yoke by its deliberate will and its indomitable energy.
France felt her heart still palpitating from the efforts she had
witnessed and shared on behalf of American freedom; the unreflecting
hopes of a blind emulation were already agitating many a mind.  “In all
states,” said Washington, “there are inflammable materials which a single
spark may kindle.”  In 1783, on the morrow of the American war, the
inflammable materials everywhere accumulated in France were already
providing means for that immense conflagration in the midst of which the
country well-nigh perished.


We have followed the course of good and bad fortune; we have exhibited
France engaged abroad in a policy at the same time bold and generous,
proceeding from rancor as well as from the sympathetic enthusiasm of the
nation; we have seen the war, at first feebly waged, soon extending over
every sea and into the most distant colonies of the belligerents, though
the European continent was not attacked at any point save the barren rock
of Gibraltar; we have seen the just cause of the United States triumphant
and freedom established in the New World: it is time to inquire what new
shocks had been undergone by France whilst she was supporting far away
the quarrel of the revolted colonies, and what new burdens had come to be
added to the load of difficulties and deceptions which she had seemed to
forget whilst she was fighting England at so many different points.  It
was not without great efforts that France had acquired the generous fame
of securing to her allies blessings which she did not herself yet possess
to their full extent; great hopes, and powers fresh and young had been
exhausted in the struggle: at the close of the American war M. Necker was
played out politically as well as M. Turgot.

It was not to supersede the great minister who had fallen that the
Genevese banker had been called to office.  M. de Maurepas was still
powerful, still up and doing; he loved power, in spite of his real levity
and his apparent neglectfulness.  M. Turgot had often galled him, had
sometimes forced his hand; M. de Clugny, who took the place of the
comptroller-general, had no passion for reform, and cared for nothing but
leading, at the treasury’s expense, a magnificently scandalous life;
M. de Malesherbes had been succeeded in the king’s household by Marquis
Amelot.  “At any rate,” said M. de Maurepas, “nobody will accuse me of
having picked him out for his wits.”

Profoundly shocked at the irreligious tendencies of the philosophers, the
court was, nevertheless, aweary of the theoricians and of their essays in
reform; it welcomed the new ministers with delight; without fuss, and as
if by a natural recurrence to ancient usage, the edict relative to forced
labor was suspended, the anxieties of the noblesse and of the clergy
subsided; the peasantry knew nothing yet of M. Turgot’s fall, but they
soon found out that the evils from which they had imagined they were
delivered continued to press upon them with all their weight.  For their
only consolation Clugny opened to them the fatal and disgraceful chances
of the lottery, which became a royal institution.  To avoid the
remonstrances of Parliament, the comptroller-general established the new
enterprise by a simple decree of the council.  “The entries being
voluntary, the lottery is no tax and can dispense with enregistration,”
 it was said.  It was only seventy-five years later, in 1841, under the
government of King Louis Philippe and the ministry of M. Humann, that the
lottery was abolished, and this scandalous source of revenue forbidden to
the treasury.

So much moral weakness and political changeableness, so much poltroonery
or indulgence towards evil and blind passions disquieted serious minds,
and profoundly shook the public credit.  The Dutch refused to carry out
the loan for sixty millions which they had negotiated with M. Turgot; the
discount-fund (_caisse d’escompte_) founded by him brought in very slowly
but a moderate portion of the assets required to feed it; the king alone
was ignorant of the prodigalities and irregularities of his minister.
M. de Maurepas began to be uneasy at the public discontent, he thought of
superseding the comptroller-general: the latter had been ill for some
time, on the 22d of October he died.  By the advice of M. de Maurepas,
the king sent for M. Necker.

James Necker was born at Geneva in 1732.  Engaging in business without
any personal taste for it and by his father’s wish, he had been
successful in his enterprises; at forty he was a rich man, and his
banking-house enjoyed great credit when he retired from business, in
1772, in order to devote himself to occupations more in accordance with
his natural inclinations.  He was ambitious and disinterested.  The great
operations in which he had been concerned had made his name known.  He
had propped up the _Compagnie des Indes_ nearly falling to pieces, and
his financial resources had often ministered to the necessities of the
State.  “We entreat your assistance in the day of need,” wrote Abbe
Terray when he was comptroller-general; “deign to come to our assistance
with a sum which is absolutely necessary.”  On ceasing to be a banker,
Necker soon gave indications of the direction in which his thoughts
turned; he wrote an indifferent Bloge de Colbert, crowned by the French
Academy, in 1773.  He believed that he was destined to wear the mantle of
Louis XIV.’s great minister.

Society and public opinion exercised an ever increasing influence in the
eighteenth century; M. Necker managed to turn it to account.  He had
married, in 1764, Mdlle. Suzanne Curchod, a Swiss pastor’s daughter,
pretty, well informed, and passionately devoted to her husband, his
successes and his fame.  The respectable talents, the liberality, the
large scale of living of M. and Madame Necker attracted round them the
literary and philosophical circle; the religious principles, the
somewhat stiff propriety of Madame Necker maintained in her drawing-room
an intelligent and becoming gravity which was in strong contrast with
the licentious and irreligious frivolity of the conversations customary
among the philosophers as well as the courtiers.  Madame Necker paid
continuous and laborious attention to the duties of society.  She was
not a Frenchwoman, and she was uncomfortably conscious of it.  “When I
came to this country,” she wrote to one of her fair friends, “I thought
that literature was the key to everything, that a man cultivated his
mind with books only, and was great by knowledge only.”  Undeceived by
the very fact of her admiration for her husband, who had not found
leisure to give himself up to his natural taste for literature, and who
remained rather unfamiliar with it, she made it her whole desire to be
of good service to him in the society in which she had been called upon
to live with him.  “I hadn’t a word to say in society,” she writes; “I
didn’t even know its language.  Obliged, as a woman, to captivate
people’s minds, I was ignorant how many shades there are of self-love,
and I offended it when I thought I was flattering it. Always striking
wrong notes and never hitting it off, I saw that my old ideas would
never accord with those I was obliged to acquire; so I have hid my
little capital away, never to see it again, and set about working for my
living and getting together a little stock, if I can.”  Wit and
knowledge thus painfully achieved are usually devoid of grace and charm.
Madame du Deffand made this a reproach against M. Necker as well as his
wife “He wants one quality, that which is most conducive to
agreeability, a certain readiness which, as it were, provides wits for
those with whom one talks; he doesn’t help to bring out what one thinks,
and one is more stupid with him than one is all alone or with other
folks.”  People of talent, nevertheless, thronged about M. and Madame
Necker.  Diderot often went to see them; Galiani, Raynal, Abbe Morellet,
M. Suard, quite young yet, were frequenters of the house; Condorcet did
not set foot in it, passionately enlisted as he was amongst the
disciples of M. Turgot, who were hostile to his successor; Bernardin de
St. Pierre never went thither again from the day when the reading of
_Paul and Virginia_ had sent the company to sleep. “At first everybody
listens in silence,” says M. Aime Martin; “by degrees attention flags,
people whisper, people yawn, nobody listens any more; M. de Buffon looks
at his watch and asks for his carriage; the nearest to the door slips
out, Thomas falls asleep, M. Necker smiles to see the ladies crying, and
the ladies ashamed of their tears dare not acknowledge that they have
been interested.”

[Illustration: The Reading of “Paul and Virginia.”----427]

The persistent admiration of the general public, and fifty imitations
of _Paul and Virginia_ published in a single year, were soon to avenge
Bernardin de St. Pierre for the disdainful yawns of the philosophers.
It is pretty certain that Madame Necker’s daughter, little Germaine,
if she were present at the reading, did not fall asleep as M. Thomas did,
and that she was not ashamed of her tears.

Next to M. Buffon, to whom Madame had vowed a sort of cult, and who was
still writing to this faithful friend when he was near his last gasp,
M. Thomas had more right than anybody to fall asleep at her house if he
thought fit.  Marmontel alone shared with him the really intimate
friendship of M. and Madame Necker; the former had given up tragedies and
moral tales; a pupil of Voltaire, without the splendor and inexhaustible
vigor of his master, he was less prone to license, and his feelings were
more serious; he was at that time correcting his _Elements de
Litterature,_ but lately published in the _Encyclopaedie,_ and commencing
the _Memoires d’un pere, pour servir d l’instruction de ses enfants_.
Thomas was editing his _Eloges,_ sometimes full of eloquence, often
subtle and delicate, always long, unexceptionable, and wearisome.  His
noble character had won him the sincere esteem and affection of Madame
Necker.  She, laboriously anxious about the duties politeness requires
from the mistress of a house, went so far as to write down in her tablets
“To recompliment M. Thomas more strongly on the song of France in his
poem of Pierre le Grand.”  She paid him more precious homage when she
wrote to him: “We were united in our youth in every honorable way; let us
be more than ever united now when ripe age, which diminishes the vivacity
of impressions, augments the force of habit, and let us be more than ever
necessary to one another when we live no longer save in the past and in
the future, for, as regards myself, I, in anticipation, lay no store by
the approbation of the circles which will surround us in our old age, and
I desire nothing among posterity but a tomb to which I may precede M.
Necker, and on which you will write the epitaph.  Such resting-place will
be dearer to me than that among the poplars which cover the ashes of

It was desirable to show what sort of society, cultivated and virtuous,
lively and serious, all in one, the new minister whom Louis XVI. had just
called to his side had managed to get about him.  Though friendly with
the philosophers, he did not belong to them, and his wife’s piety
frequently irked them.  “The conversation was a little constrained
through the strictness of Madame Necker,” says Abbe Morellet; “many
subjects could not be touched upon in her presence, and she was
particularly hurt by freedom in religious opinions.”  Practical
acquaintance with business had put M. Necker on his guard against the
chimerical theories of the economists.  Rousseau had exercised more
influence over his mind; the philosopher’s wrath against civilization
seemed to have spread to the banker, when the latter wrote in his _Traite
sur le commerce des grains,_ “One would say that a small number of men,
after dividing the land between them, had made laws of union and security
against the multitude, just as they would have made for themselves
shelters in the woods against the wild beasts.  What concern of ours are
your laws of property? the most numerous class of citizens might say: we
possess nothing.  Your laws of right and wrong?  We have nothing to
defend. Your laws of liberty?  If we do not work to-morrow, we shall

Public opinion was favorable to M. Necker, his promotion was well
received; it presented, however, great difficulties: he had been a
banker, and hitherto the comptrollers-general had all belonged to the
class of magistrates or superintendents; he was a Protestant, and, as
such, could not hold any office.  The clergy were in commotion; they
tried certain remonstrances.  “We will give him up to you,” said M. de
Maurepas, “if you undertake to pay the debts of the state.”  The
opposition of the church, however, closed to the new minister an
important opening; at first director of the treasury, then
director-general of finance, M. Necker never received the title of
comptroller-general, and was not admitted to the council.  From the
outset, with a disinterestedness not devoid of ostentation, he had
declined the salary attached to his functions.  The courtiers looked at
one another in astonishment.  It is easy to see that he is a foreigner,
a republican, and a Protestant,” people said.  M. de Maurepas laughed.
“M. Necker,” he declared, “is a maker of gold; he has introduced the
philosopher’s stone into the kingdom.”

This was for a long while the feeling throughout France.  “No
bankruptcies, no new imposts, no loans,” M. Turgot had said, and had
looked to economy alone for the resources necessary to restore the
finances.  Bolder and less scrupulous, M. Necker, who had no idea of
having recourse to either bankruptcy or imposts, made unreserved use of
the system of loans.  During the five years that his ministry lasted, the
successive loans he contracted amounted to nearly five hundred million
livres.  There was no security given to insure its repayment to the
lenders.  The mere confidence felt in the minister’s ability and honesty
had caused the money to flow into the treasury.

M. Necker did not stop there: a foreigner by birth, he felt no respect
for the great tradition of French administration; practised in the
handling of funds, he had conceived as to the internal government of the
finances theories opposed to the old system; the superintendents
established a while ago by Richelieu had become powerful in the central
administration as well as in the provinces, and the comptroller-general
was in the habit of accounting with them; they nearly all belonged to old
and notable families; some of them had attracted the public regard and
esteem.  The new minister suppressed several offices and diminished the
importance of some others; he had taken away from M. Trudaine,
administrator of gabels and heavy revenues (_grosses fermes_), the right
of doing business with the king; M. Trudaine sent in his resignation; he
was much respected, and this reform was not approved of.  “M. Necker,”
 people said, “wants to be assisted by none but removable slaves.”  At the
same time the treasurers-general, numbering forty-eight, were reduced to
a dozen, and the twenty-seven treasurers of marine and war to two; the
farmings-general (of taxes) were renewed with an advantage to the
treasury of fifteen millions.  The posts at court likewise underwent
reform; the courtiers saw at one blow the improper sources of their
revenues in the financial administration cut off, and obsolete and
ridiculous appointments, to which numerous pensions, were attached,
reduced.  “Acquisitions of posts, projects of marriage or education,
unforeseen losses, abortive hopes, all such matters had become an
occasion for having recourse to the sovereign’s munificence,” writes M.
Necker.  “One would have said that the royal treasury was bound to do all
the wheedling, all the smoothing-down, all the reparation; and as the
method of pensions, though pushed to the uttermost (the king was at that
time disbursing in that way some twenty-eight millions of livres), could
not satisfy all claims or sufficiently gratify shameful cupidity, other
devices had been hit upon, and would have gone on being hit upon, every
day; interests in the collection of taxes, in the customs, in army
supplies, in the stores, in many pay-offices, in markets of every kind,
and even in the furnishing of hospitals, all was fair game, all was
worthy of the attention of persons often, from their position, the most
above any business of the kind.”

The discontent of the great financiers and that of the courtiers was
becoming every day more noisy, without as yet shaking the credit of
M. Necker.  “M. Necker wants to govern the kingdom of France like his
little republic of Geneva,” people said: “he is making a desert round the
king; each loan is the recompense for something destroyed.”  “Just so,”
 answered M. de Maurepas: “he gives us millions, provided that we allow
him to suppress certain offices.”  “And if he were to ask permission to
have the superintendents’ heads cut off?”  “Perhaps we should give it
him,” said the veteran minister, laughing.  “Find us the philosopher’s
stone, as he has done, and I promise you that his Majesty will have you
into the ministry that very day.”

M. Necker did not indulge in illusions, he owed to the embarrassments of
the government and to the new burdens created by the American war a
complaisance which his bold attempts would not have met with under other
circumstances.  “Nobody will ever know,” he himself said, “the
steadfastness I found necessary; I still recall that long and dark
staircase of M. de Maurepas’ which I mounted in fear and sadness,
uncertain of succeeding with him as to some new idea which I had in my
mind, and which aimed most frequently at obtaining an increase of revenue
by some just but severe operation.  I still recall that upstairs closet,
beneath the roof of Versailles, but over the rooms, and, from its
smallness and its situation, seeming to be really a superfine extract and
abstract of all vanities and ambitions; it was there that reform and
economy had to be discussed with a minister grown old in the pomps and
usages of the court.  I remember all the delicate management I had to
employ to succeed, after many a rebuff.  At last I would obttin some
indulgences for the commonwealth.  I obtained them, I could easily see,
as recompense for the resources I had found during the war.  I met with
more courage in dealing with the king.  Young and virtuous, he could and
would hear all.  The queen, too, lent me a favorable ear, but, all around
their Majesties, in court and city, to how much enmity and hatred did I
not expose myself?  There were all kinds of influence and power which I
had to oppose with firmness; there were all sorts of interested factions
with which I had to fight in this perpetual struggle.”

“Alas!” Madame Necker would say, “my heart and my regrets are ever
yearning for a world in which beneficence should be the first of virtues.
What reflections do I not make on our own particular case!  I thought to
see a golden age under so pure an administration; I see only an age of
iron.  All resolves itself into doing as little harm as possible.”  0 the
grievous bitterness of past illusions!  Madame Necker consoled herself
for the enmity of the court and for the impotence of that beneficence
which had been her dream by undertaking on her own account a difficult
reform, that of the hospitals of Paris, scenes, as yet, of an almost
savage disorderliness.  The sight of sick, dead, and dying huddled
together in the same bed had excited the horror and the pity of Madame
Necker.  She opened a little hospital, supported at her expense and under
her own direction, which still bears the name of Necker Hospital, and
which served as a model for the reforms attempted in the great public
establishments.  M. Necker could not deny himself the pleasure of
rendering homage to his wife’s efforts in a report to the king; the
ridicule thrown upon this honest but injudicious gush of conjugal pride
proved the truth of what Madame Necker herself said.  “I did not know the
language of this country.  What was called frankness in Switzerland
became egotism at Paris.”

[Illustration: Necker Hospital----432]

The active charity of Madame Necker had won her the esteem of the
Archbishop of Paris, Christopher de Beaumont, a virtuous, fanatical
priest; he had gained a great lawsuit against the city of Paris, which
had to pay him a sum of three hundred thousand livres.  “It is our wish,”
 said the archbishop, “that M. Necker should dispose of these funds to the
greatest advantage for the state, trusting to his zeal, his love of good,
and his wisdom, for the most useful employment of the said funds, and
desiring further that no account be required of him, as to such
employment, by any person whatsoever.”  The prelate’s three hundred
thousand livres were devoted to the internal repairs of the Hotel-Dieu.
“How is it,” people asked, “that the archbishop thinks so highly of M.
Necker, and even dines with him?”  “0!” answered the wicked wags, “it is
because M. Necker is not a Jansenist, he is only a Protestant.”

Notwithstanding this unusual tolerance on the part of Christopher de
Beaumont, his Protestantism often placed M. Necker in an awkward
position.  “The title of liberator of your Protestant brethren would be a
flattering one for you,” said one of the pamphlets of the day, “and it
would be yours forever, if you could manage to obtain for them a civil
existence, to procure for them the privileges of a citizen, liberty and
tolerance.  You are sure of a diminution in the power of the clergy.
Your vigorous edict regarding hospitals will pave the way for the ruin of
their credit and their wealth; you have opened the trenches against them,
the great blow has been struck.  All else will not fail to succumb; you
will put all the credit of the state and all the money of France in the
hands of Protestant bankers, Genevese, English, and Dutch.  Contempt will
be the lot of the clergy, your brethren will be held in consideration.
These points of view are full of genius, you will bring great address to
bear upon them.”  M. Necker was at the same time accused of being
favorable to England.  “M. Necker is our best and our last friend on the
Continent,” Burke had said in the House of Commons.  Knowing better than
anybody the burdens which the war imposed upon the state, and which he
alone had managed to find the means of supporting, M. Necker desired
peace.  It was for Catholics and philosophers that the honor was reserved
of restoring to Protestants the first right of citizens, recognition of
their marriages and a civil status for their children.  The court, the
parliaments, and the financiers were leagued against M. Necker.  “Who,
pray, is this adventurer,” cried the fiery Epremesnil, “who is this
charlatan who dares to mete out the patriotism of the French magistracy,
who dares to suppose them lukewarm in their attachments and to denounce
them to a young king?”  The assessment of the twentieths (tax) had raised
great storms; the mass of citizens were taxed rigorously, but the
privileged had preserved the right of themselves making a declaration of
their possessions; a decree of the council ordered verification of the
income from properties.  The Parliaments burst out into remonstrances.
“Every owner of property has the right to grant subsidies by himself or
by his representatives,” said the Parliament of Paris; “if he do not
exercise this right as a member of a national body, it must be reverted
to indirectly, otherwise he is no longer master of his own, he is no
longer undisturbed owner.”  Confidence in personal declarations, then, is
the only indemnity for the right, which the nation has not exercised but
has not lost, of itself granting and assessing the twentieths.  A bold
principle, even in a free state, and one on which the income-tax rests in
England, but an untenable principle, without absolute equality on the
part of all citizens and a common right to have their consent asked to
the imposts laid upon them.

M. Necker did not belong to the court; he had never lived there, he did
not set foot therein when he became minister.  A while ago Colbert and
Louvois had founded families and taken rank among the great lords who
were jealous of their power and their wealth.  Under Louis XVI., the
court itself was divided, and one of the queen’s particular friends,
Baron do Besenval, said, without mincing the matter, in his Memoires: “I
grant that the depredations of the great lords who are at the head of the
king’s household are enormous, revolting.  .  .  .  Necker has on his
side the depreciation into which the great lords have fallen; it is such
that they are certainly not to be dreaded, and that their opinion does
not deserve to be taken into consideration in any political speculation.”

M. Necker had a regard for public opinion, indeed he attached great
importance to it, but he took its influence to be more extensive and its
authority to rest on a broader bottom than the court or the parliaments
would allow.  “The social spirit, the love of regard and of praise,” said
he, “have raised up in France a tribunal at which all men who draw its
eyes upon them are obliged to appear: there public opinion, as from the
height of a throne, decrees prizes and crowns, makes and unmakes
reputations.  A support is wanted against the vacillations of ministers,
and this important support is only to be expected from progress in the
enlightenment and resisting power of public opinion.  Virtues are more
than ever in want of a stage, and it becomes essential that public
opinion should rouse the actors; it must be supported, then, this
opinion, it must be enlightened, it must be summoned to the aid of ideas
which concern the happiness of men.”

M. Necker thought the moment had come for giving public opinion the
summons of which he recognized the necessity he felt himself shaken at
court, weakened in the regard of M. de Maurepas, who was still puissant
in spite of his great age, and jealous of him as he had been of M.
Turgot; he had made up his mind, he said, to let the nation know how its
affairs had been managed, and in the early days of the year 1781 he
published his _Compte rendu au roi_.

It was a bold innovation; hitherto the administration of the finances had
been carefully concealed from the eyes of the public as the greatest
secret in the affairs of state; for the first time the nation was called
upon to take cognizance of the position of the public estate, and,
consequently, pass judgment upon its administration.  “The principal
cause of the financial prosperity of England, in the very midst of war,
said the minister, “is to be found in the confidence with which the
English regard their administration and the source of the government’s
credit.”  The annual publication of a financial report was, M. Necker
thought, likely to inspire the same confidence in France.  It was paying
a great compliment to public opinion to attribute to it the power derived
from free institutions and to expect from satisfied curiosity the serious
results of a control as active as it was minute.

The Report to the king was, moreover, not of a nature to stand the
investigation of a parliamentary committee.  In publishing it M. Necker
had a double end in view.  He wanted, by an able exposition of the
condition of the treasury, to steady the public credit which was
beginning to totter, to bring in fresh subscribers for the loans which
were so necessary to support the charges of the war; he wanted at the
same time to call to mind the benefits and successes of his own
administration, to restore the courage of his friends and reduce his
enemies to silence.  With this complication of intentions, he had drawn
up a report on the ordinary state of expenditure and receipts, designedly
omitting the immense sacrifices demanded by the land and sea armaments as
well as the advances made to the United States.  He thus arrived, by a
process rather ingenious than honest, at the establishment of a budget
showing a surplus of ten million livres.  The maliciousness of M. de
Maurepas found a field for its exercise in the calculations which he had
officially overhauled in council.  The Report was in a cover of blue
marbled paper.  Have you read the _Conte bleu_ (a lying story)?”  he
asked everybody who went to see him; and, when he was told of the great
effect which M. Necker’s work was producing on the public: “I know, I
know,” said the veteran minister, shrugging his shoulders, “we have
fallen from Turgomancy into Necromancy.”

M. Necker had boldly defied the malevolence of his enemies.  “I have
never,” said he, “offered sacrifice to influence or power.  I have
disdained to indulge vanity.  I have renounced the sweetest of private
pleasures, that of serving my friends or winning the gratitude of those
who are about me.  If anybody owes to my mere favor a place, a post, let
us have the name.”  He enumerated all the services he had rendered to the
king, to the state, to the nation, with that somewhat pompous
satisfaction which was afterwards discernible in his Memoires.  There it
was that he wrote: “Perhaps he who contributed, by his energies, to keep
off new imposts during five such expensive years; he who was able to
devote to all useful works the funds which had been employed upon them in
the most tranquil times; he who gratified the king’s heart by providing
him with the means of distributing among his provinces the same aids as
during the war, and even greater; he who, at the same time, proffered to
the monarch’s amiable impatience the resources necessary in order to
commence, in the midst of war, the improvement of the prisons and the
hospitals; he who indulged his generous inclinations by inspiring him
with the desire of extinguishing the remnants of serfage; he who,
rendering homage to the monarch’s character, seconded his disposition
towards order and economy; he who pleaded for the establishment of
paternal administrations in which the simplest dwellers in the
country-places might have some share; he who, by manifold cares, by
manifold details, caused the prince’s name to be blest even in the hovels
of the poor,--perhaps such a servant has some right to dare, without
blushing, to point out, as one of the first rules of administration, love
and care for the people.”

“On the whole,” says M. Droz, with much justice, in his excellent
_Histoire du regne de Louis XVI.,_ “the Report was a very ingenious work,
which appeared to prove a great deal and proved nothing.”  M. Necker,
however, had made no mistake about the effect which might be produced by
this confidence, apparently so bold, as to the condition of affairs in a
single year, 1781, the loans amounted to two hundred and thirty-six
millions, thus exceeding in a few months the figures reached in the four
previous years.  A chorus of praises arose even in England, reflected
from the minister on to his sovereign.  “It is in economy,” said Mr.
Burke, “that Louis XVI. has found resources sufficient to keep up the
war.  In the first two years of this war, he imposed no burden on his
people.  The third year has arrived, there has as yet been no question of
any impost, indeed I believe that those which are a matter of course in
time of war have not yet been put on.  I apprehend that in the long run
it will no doubt be necessary for France to have recourse to imposts, but
these three years saved will scatter their beneficent influence over a
whole century.  The French people feel the blessing of having a master
and minister devoted to economy; economy has induced this monarch to
trench upon his own splendor rather than upon his people’s subsistence.
He has found in the suppression of a great number of places a resource
for continuing the war without increasing his expenses.  He has stripped
himself of the magnificence and pomp of royalty, but he has manned a
navy; he has reduced the number of persons in his private service, but he
has increased that of his vessels.  Louis XVI., like a patriotic king,
has shown sufficient firmness to protect M. Necker, a foreigner, without
support or connection at court, who owes his elevation to nothing but his
own merit and the discernment of the sovereign who had sagacity enough to
discover him, and to his wisdom which can appreciate him.  It is a noble
example to follow: if we would conquer France, it is on this ground and
with her own weapons that we must fight her: economy and reforms.”

It was those reforms, for which the English orator gave credit to
M. Necker and Louis XVI., that rendered the minister’s fall more imminent
every day.  He had driven into coalition against him the powerful
influences of the courtiers, of the old families whose hereditary
destination was office in the administration, and of the parliament
everywhere irritated and anxious.  He had lessened the fortunes and
position of the two former classes, and his measures tended to strip the
magistracy of the authority whereof they were so jealous.  “When
circumstances require it,” M. Necker had said in the Report, “the
augmentation of imposts is in the hands of the king, for it is the power
to order them which constitutes sovereign greatness;” and, in a secret
Memoire which saw publicity by perfidious means: “The imposts are at
their height, and minds are more than ever turned towards administrative
subjects.  The result is a restless and confused criticism which adds
constant fuel to the desire felt by the parliaments to have a hand in the
matter.  This feeling on their part becomes more and more manifest, and
they set to work, like all those bodies that wish to acquire power, by
speaking in the name of the people, calling themselves defenders of the
nation’s rights; there can be no doubt but that, though they are strong
neither in knowledge nor in pure love for the well-being of the state,
they will put themselves forward on all occasions as long as they believe
that they are supported by public opinion.  It is necessary, therefore,
either to take this support away from them, or to prepare for repeated
contests which will disturb the tranquillity of your Majesty’s reign, and
will lead successively either to a degradation of authority or to extreme
measures of which one cannot exactly estimate the consequences.”

In order to apply a remedy to the evils he demonstrated as well as to
those which he foresaw, M. Necker had borrowed some shreds from the great
system of local assemblies devised by M. Turgot; he had proposed to the
king and already organized in Berry the formation of provincial
assemblies, recruited in every district (_generalite_) from among the
three orders of the noblesse, the clergy, and the third estate.  A part
of the members were to be chosen by the king; these were commissioned to
elect their colleagues, and the assembly was afterwards to fill up its
own vacancies as they occurred.  The provincial administration was thus
confided almost entirely to the assemblies.  That of Berry had already
abolished forced labor, and collected two hundred thousand livres by
voluntary contribution for objects of public utility.  The assembly of
Haute-Guyenne was in course of formation.  The districts (_generalites_)
of Grenoble, Montauban, and Moulins claimed the same privilege.  The
parliaments were wroth to see this assault upon their power.  Louis XVI.
had hesitated a long while before authorizing the attempt.  “The
presidents-born, the councillors, the members of the states-districts
(_pays d’etats_), do not add to the happiness of Frenchmen in the
districts which are under their administration,” wrote the king in his
marginal notes to M. Necker’s scheme.  “Most certainly Brittany, with its
states, is not happier than Normandy which happens to be without them.
The most just and most natural among the powers of the parliaments is
that of hanging robbers of the finances.  In the event of provincial
administrations, it must not be taken away.  It concerns and appertains
to the repose of my people to preserve privileges.”

The instinct of absolute power and the traditions of the kingship
struggled in the narrow mind and honest heart of Louis XVI. against the
sincere desire to ameliorate the position of his people and against a
vague impression of new requirements.  It was to the former of these
motives that M. de Vergennes appealed in his Note to the king on the
effect of the Report.  “Your Majesty,” he said, “is enjoying the
tranquillity which you owe to the long experience of your ancestors, and
to the painful labors of the great ministers who succeeded in
establishing subordination and general respect in France.  There is no
longer in France clergy, or noblesse, or third estate; the distinction is
factitious, merely representative and without real meaning; the monarch
speaks, all else are people, and all else obey.

“M. Necker does not appear content with this happy state of things.  Our
inevitable evils and the abuses flowing from such a position are in his
eyes monstrosities; a foreigner, a republican, and a Protestant, instead
of being struck with the majestic totality of this harmony, he sees only
the discordants, and he makes out of them a totality which he desires to
have the pleasure and the distinction of reforming in order to obtain for
himself the fame of a Solon or a Lycurgus.

“Your Majesty, Sir, told me to open my heart to you: a contest has begun
between the regimen of France and the regimen of M. Necker.  If his ideas
should triumph over those which have been consecrated by long experience,
after the precedent of Law, of Mazarin, and of the Lorraine princes,
M. Necker, with his Genevese and Protestant plans, is quite prepared to
set up in France a system in the finance, or a league in the state, or a
‘Fronde’ against the established administration.  He has conducted the
king’s affairs in a manner so contrary to that of his predecessors that
he is at this moment suspected by the clergy, hateful to the grandees of
the state, hounded to the death by the heads of finance (_la haute
finance_), dishonored amongst the magistracy.  His Report, on the whole,
is a mere appeal to the people, the pernicious consequences whereof to
this monarchy cannot as yet be felt or foreseen.  M. Necker, it is true,
has won golden opinions from the philosophy and the innovators of these
days, but your Majesty has long ago appraised the character of such
support.  In his Report M. Necker lays it down that advantage has been
taken of the veil drawn over the state of the finances in order to
obtain, amidst the general confusion, a credit which the state would not
otherwise be entitled to.  It is a new position, and a remarkable one in
our history is that of M. Necker teaching the party he calls public
opinion that under a good king, under a monarch beloved of the people,
the minister of finance has become the sole hope, the sole security, by
his moral qualities, of the lenders and experts who watch the government.
It will be long before your Majesty will close up the wound inflicted
upon the dignity of the throne by the hand of the very person in the
official position to preserve it and make it respected by the people.”

The adroit malevolence of M. de Vergennes had managed to involve in one
and the same condemnation the bold innovations of M. Necker and the
faults he had committed from a self-conceit which was sensitive and
frequently hurt.  He, had not mentioned M. de Maurepas in his long
exposition of public administration, and it was upon the virtue of the
finance-minister that he had rested all the fabric of public confidence.
The contest was every day becoming fiercer and the parties warmer.  The
useful reforms, the generous concern for the woes and the wants of the
people, the initiative of which belonged to M. Necker, but which the king
always regarded with favor, were by turns exclusively attributed to the
minister and to Louis XVI. in the pamphlets published every day.  Madame
Necker became anxious and heartbroken at the vexation which such attacks
caused her husband.  “The slightest cloud upon his character was the
greatest suffering the affairs of life could cause him,” writes Madame de
Stael; “the worldly aim of all his actions, the land-breeze which sped
his bark, was love of reputation.”  Madame Necker took it into her head
to write, without her husband’s knowledge, to M. de Maurepas to complain
of the libels spread about against M. Necker, and ask him to take the
necessary measures against these anonymous publications this was
appealing to the very man who secretly encouraged them..  Although Madame
Necker had plenty of wits, she, bred in the mountains of Switzerland, had
no conception of such an idiosyncrasy as that of M. de Maurepas, a man
who saw in an outspoken expression of feeling only an opportunity of
discovering the vulnerable point.  As soon as he knew M. Necker’s
susceptibility he flattered himself that, by irritating it, he would
drive him to give in his resignation.”  [_onsiderations sur la Revolution
frangaise,_t. i.  p. 105.]

M. Necker had gained a victory over M. de Maurepas when he succeeded in
getting M. de Sartines and the Prince of Montbarrey superseded by MM. de
Castries and de Segur.  Late lieutenant of police, with no knowledge of
administration, M. de Sartines, by turns rash and hesitating, had failed
in the difficult department of the ministry of marine during a distant
war waged on every sea; to him were attributed the unsatisfatory results
obtained by the great armaments of France; he was engaged in the intrigue
against M. Necker.  The latter relied upon the influence of the queen,
who supported MM. de Castries and de Segur, both friends of hers.  M. de
Sartines was disgraced; he dragged down with him in his fall the Prince
of Montbarrey, the heretofore indifferent lieutenant of M. de Saint-
Germain.  M. de Maurepas was growing feeble, the friends of M. Necker
declared that he drivelled, and the latter already aspired to the aged
minister’s place.  As a first step, the director-general of finance
boldly demanded to be henceforth admitted to the council.

Louis XVI. hesitated, perplexed and buffeted between contrary influences
and desires.  He was grateful to M. Necker for the courageous
suppressions he had accomplished, and for the useful reforms whereof the
honor was to remain inseparable from his name; it was at M. Necker’s
advice that he had abolished mortmain in his dominions.  A remnant of
feudal serfdom still deprived certain of the rural classes, subject to
the tenement law, of the right to marry or bequeath what they possessed
to their children without permission of their lord.  If they left the
land which made them liable to this tyranny, their heritage reverted of
right to the proprietor of the fief.  Perfectly admitting the iniquity of
the practice, Louis XVI. did not want to strike a blow at the principle
of property; he confined himself to giving a precedent which the
Parliament enregistered with this reservation: “Without there being
anything in the present edict which can in any way interfere with the
rights of lords.”  A considerable number of noblemen imitated the
sovereign; many held out, amongst others the chapter of St. Claude; the
enfranchisement of the serfs of the Jura, in whose favor Voltaire had but
lately pleaded, would have cost the chapter twenty-five thousand livres a
year; the monks demanded an indemnification from government.  The body
serfs, who were in all places persecuted by the signiorial rights, and
who could not make wills even on free soil, found themselves everywhere
enfranchised from this harsh law.  Louis XVI. abolished the _droit de
suite_ (henchman-law), as well as the use of the preparatory question or
preliminary torture applied to defendants.  The regimen of prisons was at
the same time ameliorated, the dark dungeons of old times restored to
daylight the wretches who were still confined in them.

So many useful and beneficent measures, in harmony with the king’s honest
and generous desires, but opposed to the prejudices still potent in many
minds and against the interests of many people, kept up about M. Necker,
for all the esteem and confidence of the general public, powerful
hatreds, ably served: his admission to the council was decidedly refused.
“You may be admitted,” said M. de Maurepas with his, usual malice, “if
you please to abjure the errors of Calvin.”  M. Necker did not deign to
reply.  “You who, being quite certain that I would not consent, proposed
to me a change of religion in order to smooth away the obstacles you put
in my path,” says M. Necker in his Memoires, “what would you not have
thought me worthy of after such baseness?  It was rather in respect of
the vast finance-administration that this scruple should have been
raised.  Up to the moment when it was intrusted to me, it was uncertain
whether I was worth an exception to the general rules.  What new
obligation could be imposed upon him who held the post before promising?”

“If I was passionately attached to the place I occupied,” says M: Necker
again, “it is on grounds for which I have no reason to blush.  I
considered that the administrator of finance, who is responsible on his
honor for ways and means, ought, for the welfare of the state and for his
own reputation, to be invited, especially after several years’ ministry,
to the deliberations touching peace and war, and I looked upon it as very
important that he should be able to join his reflections to those of the
king’s other servants: A place in the council may, as a general rule, be
a matter in which self-love is interested; but I am going to say a proud
thing: when one has cherished another passion, when one has sought praise
and glory, when one has followed after those triumphs which belong to
one’s self alone, one regards rather coolly such functions as are shared
with others.”

“Your Majesty saw that M. Necker, in his dangerous proposal, was sticking
to his place with a tenacity which lacks neither reason nor method,” said
M. de Vergennes in a secret Note addressed to the king; “he aspires to
new favors, calculated from their nature to scare and rouse that long
array of enemies by whom his religion, his birth, his wife, the epochs
and improvements of their fortune, are, at every moment of his
administration, exposed to the laughter or the scrutiny of the public.
Your Majesty finds yourself once more in the position in which you were
with respect to M. Turgot, when you thought proper to accelerate his
retirement; the same dangers and the same inconveniences arise from the
nature of their analogous systems.”

It was paying M. Necker a great compliment to set his financial talents
on a par with the grand views, noble schemes, and absolute
disinterestedness of M. Turgot.  Nevertheless, when the latter fell,
public opinion had become, if not hostile, at any rate indifferent to
him; it still remained faithful to M. Necker.  Withdrawing his
pretensions to admission into the council, the director-general of
finance was very urgent to obtain other marks of the royal confidence,
necessary, he said, to keep up the authority of his administration.
M. de Maurepas had no longer the pretext of religion, but he hit upon
others which wounded M. Necker deeply; the latter wrote to the king on a
small sheet of common paper, without heading or separate line, and as if
he were suddenly resuming all the forms of republicanism: “The
conversation I have had with M. de Maurepas permits me to no longer defer
placing my resignation in the king’s hands.  I feel my heart quite
lacerated by it, and I dare to hope that his Majesty will deign to.
preserve some remembrance of five years’ successful but painful toil, and
especially of the boundless zeal with which I devoted myself to his
service.”  [May 19, 1783.]

M. Necker had been treated less harshly than M. Turgot.  The king
accepted his resignation without having provoked it.  The queen made some
efforts to retain him, but M. Necker remained inflexible.  “Reserved as
he was,” says his daughter, “he had a proud disposition, a sensitive
spirit; he was a man of energy in his whole style of sentiments.”  The
fallen minister retired to his country-house at St. Ouen.

He was accompanied thither by the respect and regret of the public, and
the most touching proofs of their esteem.  “You would have said, to see
the universal astonishment, that never was news so unexpected as that of
M. Necker’s resignation,” writes Grimm in his _Correspondance
litteraire;_ “consternation was depicted on every face; those who felt
otherwise were in a very small minority; they would have blushed to show
it.  The walks, the cafes, all the public thoroughfares were full of
people, but an extraordinary silence prevailed.  People looked at one
another, and mournfully wrung one another’s hands, as if in the presence,
I would say, of a public calamity, were it not that these first moments
of distress resembled rather the grief of a disconsolate family which has
just lost the object and the mainstay of its hopes.  The same evening
they gave, at the Comedie-Francaise, a performance of the _Partie de
Chasse de Henri IV_.  I have often seen at the play in Paris allusions to
passing events caught up with great cleverness, but I never saw any which
were so with such palpable and general an interest.  Every piece of
applause, when there was anything concerning Sully, seemed, so to speak,
to bear a special character, a shade appropriate to the sentiment the
audience felt; it was by turns that of sorrow and sadness, of gratitude
and respect; the applause often came so as to interrupt the actor the
moment it was foreseen that the sequel of a speech might be applicable to
the public feeling towards M. Necker.  The players have been to make
their excuses to the lieutenant of police, they established their
innocence by proving that the piece had been on the list for a week.
They have been forgiven, and it was thought enough to take this
opportunity of warning the journalists not to speak of M. Necker for the
future-well or ill.”

M. Necker derived some balm from these manifestations of public feeling,
but the love of power, the ambition that prompted the work he had
undertaken, the bitterness of hopes deceived still possessed his soul.
When he entered his study at St. Ouen, and saw on his desk the memoranda
of his schemes, his plans for reforming the gabel, for suppressing
custom-houses, for extending provincial assemblies, he threw himself back
in his arm-chair, and, dropping the papers he held in his hand, burst
into tears.  Like him, M. Turgot had wept when he heard of the
re-establishment of forced labor and jurands.

“I quitted office,” says M. Necker, “leaving funds secured for a whole
year; I quitted it when there were in the royal treasury more ready money
and more realizable effects than had ever been there within the memory of
man, and at a moment when the public confidence, completely restored, had
risen to the highest pitch.

“Under other circumstances I should have been more appreciated; but it is
when one can be rejected and when one is no longer essentially necessary
that one is permitted to fall back upon one’s own reflections.  Now there
is a contemptible feeling which may be easily found lurking in the
recesses of the human heart, that of preferring for one’s retirement the
moment at which one might enjoy the embarrassment of one’s successor.  I
should have been forever ashamed of such conduct; I chose that which was
alone becoming for him who, having clung to his place from honorable
motives, cannot, on quitting it, sever himself for one instant from the

M. Necker fell with the fixed intention and firm hope of soon regaining
power.  He had not calculated either the strength or inveteracy of his
enemies, or the changeableness of that public opinion on which he relied.
Before the distresses of the state forced Louis XVI. to recall a minister
whom he had deeply wounded, the evils which the latter had sought to
palliate would have increased with frightful rapidity, and the remedy
would have slipped definitively out of hands too feeble for the immense
burden they were still ambitious to bear.


We leave behind us the great and serious attempts at reform.  The vast
projects of M. Turgot, seriously meant and founded on reason, for all
their somewhat imaginative range, had become, in M. Necker’s hands,
financial expedients or necessary remedies, honorably applied to the most
salient evils; the future, however, occupied the mind of the minister
just fallen; he did not content himself with the facile gratifications of
a temporary and disputed power, he had wanted to reform, he had hoped to
found; his successors did not raise so high their real desires and hopes.
M. Turgot had believed in the eternal potency of abstract laws; he had
relied upon justice and reason to stop the kingdom and the nation on the
brink of the abyss; M. Necker had nursed the illusion that his courage
and his intelligence, his probity and his reputation would suffice for
all needs and exorcise all dangers; both of them had found themselves
thwarted in their projects, deceived in their hopes, and finally
abandoned by a monarch as weak and undecided as he was honest and good.
M. de Turgot had lately died (March 20, 1781), in bitter sorrow and
anxiety; M. Necker was waiting, in his retirement at St. Ouen, for public
opinion, bringing its weight to bear upon the king’s will, to recall him
to office.  M. de Maurepas was laughing in that little closet at
Versailles which he hardly quitted any more: “The man impossible to
replace is still unborn,” he would say to those who were alarmed at M.
Necker’s resignation.  M. Joly de Fleury, councillor of state, was
summoned to the finance-department; but so strong was the current of
popular opinion that he did not take up his quarters in the residence of
the comptroller-general, and considered himself bound to pay M. Necker a
visit at St. Ouen.

Before experience had been long enough to demonstrate the error committed
by M. de Maurepas in depriving the king of M. Necker’s able and honest
services, the veteran minister was dead (November 21, 1784).  In the
teeth of all inclinations opposed to his influence, he had managed to the
last to preserve his sway over the mind of Louis XVI.: prudent, moderate,
imperturbable in the evenness of his easy and at the same time sarcastic
temper, he had let slide, so far as he was concerned, the reformers and
their projects, the foreign war, the wrath of the parliaments, the
remonstrances of the clergy, without troubling himself at any shock,
without ever persisting to obstinacy in any course, ready to modify his
policy according to circumstances and the quarter from which the wind
blew, always master, at bottom, in the successive cabinets, and
preserving over all the ministers, whoever they might be, an ascendency
more real than it appeared.  The king regretted him sincerely.  “Ah!”
 said he, “I shall no more hear, every morning, my friend over my head.”
 The influence of M. de Maurepas had often been fatal; he had remained,
however, like a pilot still holding with feeble hand the rudder he had
handled for so long.  After him, all direction and all predominance of
mind disappeared from the conduct of the government.  “The loss is more
than we can afford,” said clear-sighted folks already.

For a moment, and almost without consideration, the king was tempted to
expand his wings and take the government into his own hands; he had a
liking for and confidence in M. de Vergennes; but the latter, a man of
capacity in the affairs of his own department and much esteemed in
Europe, was timid, devoid of ambition and always disposed to shift
responsibility into the hands of absolute power.  Notwithstanding some
bolder attempts, the death of M. de Maurepas did not seriously augment
his authority.  The financial difficulties went on getting worse; on
principle and from habit, the new comptroller-general, like M. de
Vergennes, was favorable to the traditional maxims and practices of the
old French administration; he was, however, dragged into the system of
loans by the necessities of the state, as well as by the ideas impressed
upon men’s minds by M. Necker.  To loans succeeded imposts; the dues and
taxes were increased uniformly, without regard for privileges and the
burdens of different provinces; the Parliament of Paris, in the body of
which the comptroller-general counted many relatives and friends, had
enregistered the new edicts without difficulty; the Parliament of
Besangon protested, and its resistance went so far as to place the
comptroller-general on his defence.  “All that is done in my name is done
by my orders,” replied Louis XVI. to the deputation from Franche-Comte.
The deputation required nothing less than the convocation of the
States-general.  On all sides the nation was clamoring after this ancient
remedy for their woes; the most clear-sighted had hardly a glimmering of
the transformation which had taken place in ideas as well as manners;
none had guessed what, in the reign of Louis XVI., those States-general
would be which had remained dumb since the regency of Mary de Medici.

Still more vehement and more proud than the Parliamentarians, the states
of Brittany, cited to elect the deputies indicated by the governor, had
refused any subsidy.  “Obey,” said the king to the deputies; “my orders
have nothing in them contrary to the privileges which my predecessors
were graciously pleased to grant to my province of Brittany.”  Scarcely
had the Bretons returned to the states, when M. Amelot, who had charge of
the affairs of Brittany, received a letter which he did not dare to place
before the king’s eyes.  “Sir,” said the states of Brittany, “we are
alarmed and troubled when we see our franchises and our liberties,
conditions essential to the contract which gives you Brittany, regarded
as mere privileges, founded upon a special concession.  We cannot hide
from you, Sir, the direful consequences of expressions so opposed to the
constant principles of our national code.  You are the father of your
people, and exercise no sway but that of the laws; they rule by you and
you by them.  The conditions which secure to you our allegiance form a
part of the positive laws of your realm.”  Contrary to all received
usages during the session of the states, the royal troops marched into
Rennes; the noblesse refused to deliberate, so long as the assembly had
not recovered its independence.  The governor applied to the petty nobles
who preponderated in their order; ignorant and poor as they were, they
allowed themselves to be bought, their votes carried the day, and the
subsidies were at last voted, notwithstanding the opposition on the part
of the most weighty of the noblesse; a hundred of them persistently staid

Internal quarrels in the cabinet rendered the comptroller-general’s
situation daily more precarious; he gave in his resignation.  The king
sent for M. d’Ormesson, councillor of state, of a virtue and integrity
which were traditional in his family, but without experience of affairs
and without any great natural capacity.  He was, besides, very young, and
he excused himself from accepting such a post on the score of his age and
his feeble lights.  “I am only thirty-one, Sir,” he said.  “I am younger
than you,” replied the king, “and my post is more difficult than yours.”
 A few months later, the honest magistrate, overwhelmed by a task beyond
his strength, had made up his mind to resign; he did not want to have any
hand in the growing disorder of the finances; the king’s brothers kept
pressing him to pay their debts; Louis XVI. himself, without any warning
to the comptroller-general, had just purchased Rambouillet from the Duke
of Penthievre, giving a bond of fourteen millions; but Madame d’Ormesson
had taken a liking to grandeur; she begged her husband hard to remain,
and he did.  It was not long before the embarrassments of the treasury
upset his judgment: the tax-farming contract, so ably concluded by M.
Necker, was all at once quashed; a _regie_ was established; the Discount-
fund (_Caisse d’Escompte+) had lent the treasury six millions: the secret
of this loan was betrayed, and the holders of bills presented themselves
in a mass demanding liquidation; a decree of the council forbade payment
in coin over a hundred livres, and gave the bills a forced currency.  The
panic became general; the king found himself obliged to dismiss M.
d’Ormesson, who was persecuted for a long while by the witticisms of the
court.  His incapacity had brought his virtue into ridicule.

Marshal de Castries addressed to the king a private note.  “I esteem M.
d’Ormesson’s probity,” said the minister of marine frankly, “but if the
financial affairs should fall into such discredit that your Majesty finds
yourself forced at last to make a change, I dare entreat you to think of
the valuable man who is now left unemployed; I do beg you to reflect
that, without Colbert, Louis XIV. would never perhaps have been called
Louis le Grand; that the wish of the nation, to be taken into account by
a good king, is secretly demanding, Sir, that the enlightened,
economical, and incorruptible man whom Providence has given to your
Majesty, should be recalled to his late functions.  The errors of your
other ministers, Sir, are nearly always reparable, and their places are
easily filled.  But the choice of him to whom is committed the happiness
of twenty-four millions of souls and the duty of making your authority
cherished is of frightful importance.  With M. Necker, Sir, even in
peace, the imposts would be accepted, whatever they might be, without a
murmur.  The conviction would be that inevitable necessity had laid down
the laws for them, and that a wise use of them would justify them, .  .
.  whereas, if your Majesty puts to hazard an administration on which all
the rest depend, it is to be feared that the difficulties will be
multiplied with the selections you will be obliged to have recourse to;
you will find one day destroy what another set up, and at last there will
arrive one when no way will be seen of serving the state but by failing
to keep all your Majesty’s engagements, and thereby putting an end to all
the confidence which the commencement of your reign inspired.”

The honest zeal of Marshal de Castries for the welfare of the state had
inspired him with prophetic views; but royal weakness exhibits sometimes
unexpected doggedness.  “As regards M. Necker,” answered Louis XVI., “I
will tell you frankly that after the manner in which I treated him and
that in which he left me, I couldn’t think of employing him at all.”
 After some court-intrigues which brought forward names that were not in
good odor, that of Foulon, late superintendent of the forces, and of the
Archbishop of Toulouse, Lomenie de Brienne, the king sent for M. de
Calonne, superintendent of Lille, and intrusted him with the post of

It was court-influence that carried the day, and, in the court, that of
the queen, prompted by her favorite, Madame de Polignac.  Tenderly
attached to his wife, who had at last given him a son, Louis XVI.,
delivered from the predominant influence of M. de Maurepas, was yielding,
almost unconsciously, to a new power.  Marie Antoinette, who had long
held aloof from politics, henceforth changed her part; at the instigation
of the friends whom she honored with a perhaps excessive intimacy, she
began to take an important share in affairs, a share which was often
exaggerated by public opinion, more and more hard upon her every day.

Received on her arrival in France with some mistrust, of which she had
managed to get the better amongst the public, having been loved and
admired as long as she was dauphiness, the young queen, after her long
period of constraint in the royal family, had soon profited by her
freedom; she had a horror of etiquette, to which the court of Austria had
not made her accustomed; she gladly escaped from the grand palaces of
Louis XIV., where the traditions of his reign seemed still to exercise a
secret influence, in order to seek at her little manor-house of Trianon
new amusements and rustic pleasures, innocent and simple, and attended
with no other inconvenience but the air of cliquedom and almost of
mystery in which the queen’s guests enveloped themselves.  Public rumor
soon reached the ears of Maria Theresa.  She, tenderly concerned for her
daughter’s happiness and conduct, wrote to her on this subject:--

“I am always sure of success if you take anything in hand, the good God
having endowed you with such a face and so many charms besides, added to
your goodness, that hearts are yours if you try and exert yourself, but I
cannot conceal from you, nevertheless, my apprehension: it reaches me
from every quarter and only too often, that you have diminished your
attentions and politenesses in the matter of saying something agreeable
and becoming to everybody, and of making distinctions between persons.
It is even asserted that you are beginning to indulge in ridicule,
bursting out laughing in people’s faces; this might do you infinite harm
and very properly, and even raise doubts as to the goodness of your
heart; in order to amuse five or six young ladies or gentlemen, you might
lose all else.  This defect, my dear child, is no light one in a
princess; it leads to imitation, in order to pay their court, on the part
of all the courtiers, folks ordinarily with nothing to do and the least
estimable in the state, and it keeps away honest folks who do not like
being turned into ridicule or exposed to the necessity of having their
feelings hurt, and in the end you are left with none but bad company,
which by degrees leads to all manner of vices.  .  .  .  Likings carried
too far are baseness or weakness; one must learn to play one’s part
properly if one wishes to be esteemed; you can do it if you will but
restrain yourself a little and follow the advice given you; if you are
heedless, I foresee great troubles for you, nothing but squabbles and
petty cabals which will render your days miserable.  I wish to prevent
this and to conjure you to take the advice of a mother who knows the
world, who idolizes her children, and whose only desire is to pass her
sorrowful days in being of service to them.”

Wise counsels of the most illustrious of mothers uselessly lavished upon
her daughters!  Already the Queen of Naples was beginning to betray the
fatal tendencies of her character; whilst, in France, frivolous
pleasures, unreflecting friendships, and petty court-intrigues were day
by day undermining the position of Marie Antoinette.  “I am much affected
at the situation of my daughter,” wrote Maria Theresa, in 1776, to Abbe
Vermond, whom she had herself not long ago placed with the dauphiness,
then quite a child, and whose influence was often pernicious: “she is
hurrying at a great pace to her ruin, surrounded as she is by base
flatterers who urge her on for their own interests.”

Almost at the same moment she was writing to the queen “I am very pleased
to learn that you had nothing to do with the change that has been made in
the cases of MM. Turgot and Malesherbes, who, however, have a great
reputation among the public and whose only fault, in my opinion, is that
they attempted too much at once.  You say that you are not sorry; you
must have your own good reasons, but the public, for some time past, has
not spoken so well of you, and attributes to you point blank petty
practices which would not be seemly in your place.  The king loving you,
his ministers must needs respect you; by asking nothing that is not right
and proper, you make yourself respected and loved at the same time.  I
fear nothing in your case (as you are so young) but too much dissipation.
You never did like reading, or any sort of application: this has often
caused me anxieties.  I was so pleased to see you devoted to music; that
is why I have often plagued you with questions about your reading.  For
more than a year past there has no longer been any question of reading or
of music; I hear of nothing but horse-racing, hunting too, and always
without the king and with a number of young people not over-select, which
disquiets me a great deal, loving you as I do so tenderly.  I must say,
all these pleasures in which the king takes no part, are not proper.  You
will tell me, ‘he knows, he approves of them.’  I will tell you, he is a
good soul, and therefore you ought to be circumspect and combine your
amusements with his; in the long run you can only be happy through such
tender and sincere union and affection.”

[Illustration: MARIE ANTOINETTE   456]

The misfortune and cruel pangs of their joint lives were alone destined
to establish between Marie Antoinette and her husband that union and that
intimacy which their wise mother would have liked to create in the days
of tranquillity.  Affectionate and kind, sincerely devoted to his wife,
Louis XVI. was abrupt and awkward; his occupations and his tastes were
opposed to all the elegant or frivolous instincts of the young queen.
He liked books and solid books; his cabinet was hung with geographical
charts which he studied with care; he had likewise a passion for
mechanical works, and would shut himself up for hours together in a
workshop in company with a blacksmith named Gamin.  “The king used to
hide from the queen and the court to forge and file with me,” this man
would remark in after days: “to carry about his anvil and mine, without
anybody’s knowing anything about it required a thousand stratagems which
it would take no end of time to tell of.”  You will allow that I should
make a sorry figure at a forge,” writes the queen to her brother Joseph
II.; “I should not be Vulcan, and the part of Venus might displease the
king more than those tastes of mine of which he does not disapprove.”

Louis XVI. did not disapprove, but without approving.  As he was weak in
dealing with his ministers, from kindliness and habit, so he was towards
the queen with much better reason.  Whilst she was scampering to the
Opera ball, and laughing at going thither in a hackney coach one day when
her carriage had met with an accident, the king went to bed every evening
at the same hour, and the talk of the public began to mix up the name of
Marie Antoinette with stories of adventure.  In the hard winter of 1775,
whilst the court amused themselves by going about in elegantly got-up
sledges, the king sent presents of wood to the poor.  “There are my
sledges, sirs,” said he as he pointed out to the gentlemen in attendance
the heavy wagons laden with logs.  The queen more gladly took part in the
charities than in the smithy.  She distributed alms bountifully; in a
moment of gratitude the inhabitants of Rue St. Honore had erected in her
honor a snow pyramid bearing these verses:

          Fair queen, whose goodness is thy chiefest grace,
          With our good king, here occupy thy place;
          Though this frail monument be ice or snow,
          Our warm hearts are not so.

[Illustration: “There are my Sledges, Sirs.”----458]

Bursts of kindness and sympathy, sincere as they may be, do not suffice
to win the respect and affection of a people.  The reign of Louis XV.
had used up the remnants of traditional veneration, the new right of the
public to criticise sovereigns was being exercised malignantly upon the
youthful thoughtlessnesses of Marie Antoinette.

In the home circle of the royal family, the queen had not found any
intimate; the king’s aunts had never taken to her; the crafty ability of
the Count of Provence and the giddiness of the Count of Artois seemed in
the prudent eye of Maria Theresa to be equally dangerous; Madame
Elizabeth, the heroic and pious companion of the evil days, was still a
mere child; already the Duke of Chartres, irreligious and debauched,
displayed towards the queen, who kept him at a distance, symptoms of a
bitter rancor which was destined to bear fruit.  Marie Antoinette,
accustomed to a numerous family, affectionately united, sought friends
who could “love her for herself,” as she used to say: an illusive hope,
in one of her rank, for which she was destined to pay dearly.  She formed
an attachment to the young Princess of Lamballe, daughter-in-law of the
Duke of Penthievre, a widow at twenty years of age, affectionate and
gentle, for whom she revived the post of lady-superintendent, abolished
by Mary Leczinska.  The court was in commotion, and the public murmured;
the queen paid no heed, absorbed as she was in the new delights of
friendship; the intimacy, in which there was scarcely any inequality,
with the Princess of Lamballe, was soon followed by a more perilous
affection.  The Countess Jules de Polignac, who was generally detained
in the country by the narrowness of her means, appeared at court on the
occasion of a festival; the queen was pleased with her, made her remain,
and loaded her, her and her family, not only with favors, but with
unbounded and excessive familiarity.  Finding the court circles a
constraint and an annoyance, Marie Antoinette became accustomed to seek
in the drawing-room of Madame de Polignac amusements and a freedom which
led before long to sinister gossip.  Those who were admitted to this
royal intimacy were not always prudent or discreet, they abused the
confidence as well as the generous kindness of the queen; their ambition
and their cupidity were equally concerned in urging Marie Antoinette to
take in the government a part for which she was not naturally inclined.
M. de Calonne was intimate with Madame de Polignac; she, created a
duchess and appointed governess to the children of France (the royal
children), was all-powerful with her friend the queen; she dwelt upon
the talents of M. de Calonne, the extent and fertility of his resources;
M. de Vergennes was won over, and the office of comptroller-general,
which had but lately been still discharged with lustre by M. Turgot and
M. Necker, fell on the 30th of October, 1784, into the hands of M. de

Born in 1734 at Douai, Charles Alexander de Calonne belonged to a family
of magistrates of repute and influence in their province; he commenced
his hereditary career by the perfidious manoeuvres which contributed to
the ruin of M. de la Chalotais.  Discredited from the very first by a
dishonorable action, he had invariably managed to get his vices
forgotten, thanks to the charms of a brilliant and fertile wit.  Prodigal
and irregular as superintendent of Lille, he imported into the
comptroller-generalship habits and ideas opposed to all the principles of
Louis XVI.  “The peace would have given hope a new run,” says M. Necker
in his Memoires, “if the king had not confided the important functions of
administering the finances to a man more worthy of being the hero of
courtiers than the minister of a king.  The reputation of M. de Calonne
was a contrast to the morality of Louis XVI., and I know not by what
argumentation, by what ascendency such a prince was induced to give a
place in his council to a magistrate who was certainly found agreeable in
the most elegant society of Paris, but whose levity and principles were
dreaded by the whole of France.  Money was lavished, largesses were
multiplied, there was no declining to be good-natured or complaisant,
economy was made the object of ridicule, it was daringly asserted that
immensity of expenditure, animating circulation, was the true principle
of credit.”

M. de Calonne had just been sworn in at the Court of Aids, pompously
attended by a great number of magistrates and financiers; he was for the
first time transacting business with the king.  “Sir,” said he, “the
comptrollers-general have many means of paying their debts: I have at
this moment two hundred and twenty thousand livres’ worth payable on
demand; I thought it right to tell your Majesty, and leave everything to
your goodness.”  Louis XVI., astounded at such language, stared a moment
at his minister, and then, without any answer, walked up to a desk.
“There are your two hundred and twenty thousand livres,” he said at last,
handing M. de Calonne a packet of shares in the Water Company.  The
comptroller-general pocketed the shares, and found elsewhere the
resources necessary for paying his debts.  “If my own affairs had not
been in such a bad state, I should not have undertaken those of France,”
 said Calonne gayly to M. de Machault, at that time advanced in age and
still the centre of public esteem.  The king, it was said, had but lately
thought of sending for him as minister in the room of M. de Maurepas,
he had been dissuaded by the advice of his aunts; the late
comptroller-general listened gravely to his frivolous successor; the
latter told the story of his conversation with the king.  “I had
certainly done nothing to deserve a confidence so extraordinary,”
 said M. de Machault to his friends.  He set out again for his estate
at Arnonville, more anxious than ever about the future.

If the first steps of M. de Calonne dismayed men of foresight and of
experience in affairs, the public was charmed with them, no less than the
courtiers.  The _bail des fermes_ was re-established, the _Caisse
d’escompte_ had resumed payment, the stockholders (_rentiers_) received
their quarters’ arrears, the loan whereby the comptroller-general met all
expenses had reached eleven per cent.  “A man who wants to borrow,” M. de
Calonne would say, “must appear rich, and to appear rich he must dazzle
by his expenditure.  Act we thus in the public administration.  Economy
is good for nothing, it warns those who have money, not to lend it to an
indebted treasury, and it causes decay among the arts which prodigality
vivifies.”  New works, on a gigantic scale, were undertaken everywhere.
“Money abounds in the kingdom,” the comptroller-general would remark to
the king; “the people never had more openings for work; lavishness
rejoices their eyes, because it sets their hands going.  Continue these
splendid undertakings, which are an ornament to Paris, Bordeaux, Lyons,
Nantes, Marseilles, and Nimes, and which are almost entirely paid for by
those flourishing cities.  Look to your ports, fortify Havre, and create
a Cherbourg, braving the jealousy of the English.  None of those measures
which reveal and do not relieve the straits of the treasury!  The people,
whom declaiming jurisconsults so vehemently but vainly incite to speak
evil of lavishness, would be grieved if they saw any interruption in the
expenditure which a silly parsimony calls superfluous.”

The comptroller-general’s practice tallied with his theories; the
courtiers had recovered the golden age; it was scarcely necessary to
solicit the royal favor.  “When I saw everybody holding out hands, I held
out my hat,” said a prince.  The offices abolished by M. Turgot and M.
Necker were re-established, the abuses which they had removed came back,
the acceptances (_acquits de comptant_) rose in 1785 to more than a
hundred and thirty-six millions of livres.  The debts of the king’s
brothers were paid; advantageous exchanges of royal lands were effected
to their profit; the queen bought St. Cloud, which belonged to the Duke
of Orleans; all the great lords who were ruined, all the courtiers who
were embarrassed, resumed the pleasant habit of counting upon the royal
treasury to relieve their wants.  The polite alacrity of the
comptroller-general had subdued the most rebellious; he obtained for
Brittany the right of freely electing its deputies; the states-hall at
Rennes, which had but lately resounded with curses upon him, was now
repeating a new cry of “Hurrah for Calonne!”  A vote of the assembly
doubled the gratuitous gift which the province ordinarily offered the
king.  “If it is possible, it is done,” the comptroller would say to
applicants; “if it is impossible, it will get done.”

The captivation was general, the blindness seemed to be so likewise;
a feverish impulse carried people away into all newfangled ways, serious
or frivolous.  Mesmer brought from Germany his mysterious revelations in
respect of problems as yet unsolved by science, and pretended to cure all
diseases around the magnetic battery; the adventurer Cagliostro,
embellished with the title of count, and lavishing gold by handfuls,
bewitched court and city, and induced Councillor d’Epremesnil to say,
“The friendship of M. de Cagliostro does me honor.”  At the same time
splendid works in the most diverse directions maintained at the topmost
place in the world that scientific genius of France which the great minds
of the seventeenth century had revealed to Europe.  “Special men
sometimes testify great disdain as regards the interest which men of the
world may take in their labors, and, certainly, if it were merely a
question of appraising their scientific merit, they would be perfectly
right.  But the esteem, the inclination of the public for science, and
the frequent lively expression of that sentiment, are of high importance
to it, and play a great part in its history.  The times for that
sympathy, somewhat ostentatious and frivolous as it may be, have always
been, as regards sciences, times of impulse and progress, and, regarding
things in their totality, natural history and chemistry profited by the
social existence of M. de Buffon and of M. Lavoisier as much as by their
discoveries” [M. Guizot, _Melanges biographiques,_ Madame de Rumford].

[Illustration: Lavoisier----465]

It was this movement in the public mind, ignorant but sympathetic, which,
on the eve of the Revolution, supported, without understanding them, the
efforts of the great scholars whose peaceful conquests survived the
upheaval of society.  Farmer-general (of taxes) before he became a
chemist, Lavoisier sought to apply the discoveries of science to common
and practical wants.  “Devoted to the public instruction, I will seek to
enlighten the people,” he said to the king who proposed office to him.
The people were to send him to the scaffold.  The ladies of fashion
crowded to the brilliant lectures of Fourcroy.

The princes of pure science, M. de Lagrange, M. de Laplace, M. Monge, did
not disdain to wrench themselves from their learned calculations in order
to second the useful labors of Lavoisier.  Bold voyagers were scouring
the world, pioneers of those enterprises of discovery which had appeared
for a while abandoned during the seventeenth century.  M. de Bougainville
had just completed the round of the world, and the English captain, Cook,
during the war which covered all seas with hostile ships, had been
protected by generous sympathy.  On the 19th of March, 1779, M. de
Sartines, at that’ time minister of marine, wrote by the king’s order, at
the suggestion of M. Turgot: “Captain Cook, who left Plymouth in the
month of July, 1776, on board the frigate Discovery, to make explorations
on the coasts, islands, and seas of Japan and California, must be on the
point of returning to Europe.  As such enterprises are for the general
advantage of all nations, it is the king’s will that Captain Cook be
treated as the commander of a neutral and allied power, and that all
navigators who meet this celebrated sailor do inform him of his Majesty’s
orders regarding him.”

Captain Cook was dead, massacred by the savages, but the ardor which had
animated him was not extinct; on the 10th of August, 1785, a French
sailor, M. de La Peyrouse, left Brest with two frigates for the purpose
of completing the discoveries of the English explorer.  The king had been
pleased to himself draw up his instructions, bearing the impress of an
affectionate and over-strained humanity.  “His Majesty would regard it as
one of the happiest successes of the expedition,” said the instructions,
“if it were terminated without having cost the life of a single man.”  La
Peyrouse and his shipmates never came back.  Louis XVI. was often
saddened by it.  “I see what it is quite well,” the poor king would
repeat, “I am not lucky.”

M. de La Peyrouse had scarcely commenced the preparations for his fatal
voyage, when, on the 5th of June, 1783, the States of the Vivarais,
assembled in the little town of Annonay, were invited by MM. de
Montgolfier, proprietors of a large paper-manufactory, to be witnesses
of an experiment in physics.  The crowd thronged the thoroughfare.  An
enormous bag, formed of a light canvas lined with paper, began to swell
slowly before the curious eyes of the public; all at once the cords which
held it were cut, and the first balloon rose majestically into the air.
Successive improvements made in the Montgolfiers’ original invention
permitted bold physicists ere long to risk themselves in a vessel
attached to the air-machine.  There sailed across the Channel a balloon
bearing a Frenchman, M. Blanchard, and an Englishman, Dr. Jefferies; the
latter lost his flag.  Blanchard had set the French flag floating over
the shores of England; public enthusiasm welcomed him on his return.  The
queen was playing cards at Versailles.  “What I win this game shall go to
Blanchard,” she said.  The same feat, attempted a few days later by a
professor of physics, M. Pilatre de Rozier, was destined to cost him his

So many scientific explorations, so many new discoveries of nature’s
secrets were seconded and celebrated by an analogous movement in
literature.  Rousseau had led the way to impassioned admiration of the
beauties of nature; Bernardin de St. Pierre had just published his
_Etudes de la Nature;_ he had in the press his _Paul et Virginie;_ Abbe
Delille was reading his _Jardin,_ and M. de St. Lambert his _Saisons_.
In their different phases and according to their special instincts, all
minds, scholarly or political, literary or philosophical, were tending to
the same end, and pursuing the same attempt.  It was nature which men
wanted to discover or recover: scientific laws and natural rights divided
men’s souls between them.  Buffon was still alive, and the great sailors
were every day enriching with their discoveries the _Jardin du Roi;_ the
physicists and the chemists, in the wake of Lavoisier, were giving to
science a language intelligible to common folks; the jurisconsults were
attempting to reform the rigors of criminal legislation at the same time
with the abuses they had entailed, and Beaumarchais was bringing on the
boards his _Manage de Figaro_.

The piece had been finished and accepted at the Theatre Francais since
the end of 1781, but the police-censors had refused permission to bring
it out.  Beaumarchais gave readings of it; the court itself was amused to
see itself attacked, caricatured, turned into ridicule; the friends of
Madame de Polignac reckoned among the most ardent admirers of the _Manage
de Figaro_.  The king desired to become acquainted with the piece.  He
had it read by Madame de Campan, lady of the chamber to the queen, and
very much in her confidence.  The taste and the principles of Louis XVI.
were equally shocked.  “Perpetually Italian concetti!” he exclaimed.
When the reading was over: “It is detestable,” said the king; “it shall
never be played; the Bastille would have to be destroyed to make the
production of this play anything but a dangerous inconsistency.  This
fellow jeers at all that should be respected in a government.”

Louis XVI. had correctly criticised the tendencies as well as the effects
of a production sparkling with wit, biting, insolent, licentious; but he
had relied too much upon his persistency in his opinions and his personal
resolves.  Beaumarchais was more headstrong than the king; the readings
continued.  The hereditary grand-duke of Russia, afterwards Paul I.,
happening to be at Paris in 1782, under the name of Count North, no
better diversion could be thought of for him than a reading of the
_Manage de Figaro_.  Grimm undertook to obtain Beaumarchais’ consent.
“As,” says Madame de Oberkirsch, who was present at the reading,--as the
mangy (_chafouin_) looks of M. de la Harpe had disappointed me, so the
fine face, open, clever, somewhat bold, perhaps, of M. de Beaumarchais
bewitched me.  I was found fault with for it.  I was told he was a
good-for-naught.  I do not deny it, it is possible; but he has prodigious
wit, courage enough for anything, a strong will which nothing can stop,
and these are great qualities.”

Beaumarchais took advantage of the success of the reading to boldly ask
the keeper of the seals for permission to play the piece; he was
supported by public curiosity, and by the unreflecting enthusiasm of a
court anxious to amuse itself; the game appeared to have been won, the
day for its representation, at the _Menus-Plaisirs Theatre,_ was fixed,
an interdiction on the part of the king only excited the ill-humor and
intensified the desires of the public.  “This prohibition appeared to be
an attack upon liberty in general,” says Madame Campan.  “The
disappointment of all hopes excited discontent to such a degree, that the
words oppression and tyranny were never uttered, in the days preceding
the fall of the throne, with more passion and vehemence.”  Two months
later, the whole court was present at the representation of the _Mariage
de Figaro,_ given at the house of M. de Vandreuil, an intimate friend of
the Duchess of Polignac, on his stage at Gennevilliers.  “You will see
that Beaumarchais will have more influence than the keeper of the seals,”
 Louis XVI. had said, himself foreseeing his own defeat. The _Mariage de
Figaro_ was played at the Theatre Francais on the 27th of April, 1784.

“The picture of this representation is in all the collections of the
period,” says M. de Lomenie.  “It is one of the best known reminiscences
of the eighteenth century; all Paris hurrying early in the morning to the
doors of the Theatre Francais, the greatest ladies dining in the
actresses’ dressing-room in order to secure places.”  “The blue ribands,”
 says Bachaumont, “huddled up in the crowd, and elbowing Savoyards; the
guard dispersed, the doors burst, the iron gratings broken beneath the
efforts of the assailants.”  “Three persons stifled,” says La Harpe, “one
more than for Scudery; and on the stage, after the rising of the curtain,
the finest collection of talent that had probably ever had possession of
the _Theatre Francais,_ all employed to do honor to a comedy
scintillating with wit, irresistibly lively and audacious, which, if
it shocks and scares a few of the boxes, enchants, rouses, and fires an
electrified pit.”  A hundred representations succeeding the first
uninterruptedly, and the public still eager to applaud, such was the
twofold result of the audacities of the piece and the timid hesitations
of its censors.  The _Mariage de Figgaro_ bore a sub-title, _la Folle
Journee_.  “There is something madder than my piece,” said Beaumarchais,
“and that is its success.” Figaro ridiculed everything with a dangerously
pungent vigor; the days were coming when the pleasantry was to change
into insults.  Already public opinion was becoming hostile to the queen:
she was accused of having remained devoted to the interests of her German
family; the people were beginning to call her the Austrian.  During the
American war, M. de Vergennes had managed to prevail upon the king to
remain neutral in the difficulties that arose in 1778 between Austria and
Prussia on the subject of the succession to the elector palatine; the
young queen had not wanted or had not been able to influence the behavior
of France, as her mother had conjured her to do.  “My dear lady--
daughter,” wrote Maria Theresa, “Mercy is charged to inform you of my
cruel position, as sovereign and as mother.  Wishing to save my dominions
from the most cruel devastation, I must, cost what it may, seek to wrest
myself from this war, and, as a mother, I have three sons who are not
only running the greatest danger, but are sure to succumb to the terrible
fatigues, not being accustomed to that sort of life.  By making peace at
this juncture, I not only incur the blame of great pusillanimity, but I
render the king of Prussia still greater, and the remedy must be prompt.
I declare to you, my head whirls and my heart has for a long time been
entirely numb.”  France had refused to engage in the war, but she had
contributed to the peace of Teschen, signed on the 13th of May, 1779.  On
the 29th of November, 1780, Maria Theresa died at the age of sixty-three,
weary of life and of that glory to which she “was fain to march by all
roads,” said the Great Frederick, who added: “It was thus that a woman
executed designs worthy of a great man.”

In 1784, Joseph II. reigned alone.  Less prudent and less sensible than
his illustrious mother, restless, daring, nourishing useful or fanciful
projects, bred of humanity or disdain, severe and affectionate at the
same time towards his sister the queen of France, whose extravagance he
found fault with during the trip he made to Paris in 1777, he was now
pressing her to act on his behalf in the fresh embarrassments which his
restless ambition had just excited in Europe.  The mediation of King
Louis XVI. between the emperor and the Dutch, as to the navigation of the
Scheldt, had just terminated the incident pacifically: the king had
concluded a treaty of defensive alliance with Holland.  The minister of
war, M. de Segur, communicated to the queen the note he had drawn up on
this important question.  “I regret,” he said to Marie Antoinette, “to be
obliged to give the king advice opposed to the desire of the emperor.”
 “I am the emperor’s sister, and I do not forget it,” answered the queen;
“but I remember above all that I am queen of France and mother of the
dauphin.”  Louis XVI. had undertaken to pay part of the indemnity imposed
upon Joseph II.; this created discontent in France.  “Let the emperor pay
for his own follies,” people said; and the ill-humor of the public openly
and unjustly accused the queen.

This direful malevolence on the part of public opinion, springing from a
few acts of imprudence and fomented by a long series of calumnies, was
about to burst forth on the occasion of a scandalous and grievous
occurrence.  On the 15th of August, 1785, at Mass-time, Cardinal Rohan,
grand almoner of France, already in full pontificals, was arrested in the
palace of Versailles and taken to the Bastille.  The king had sent for
him into his cabinet.  “Cardinal,” said Louis XVI. abruptly, “you bought
some diamonds of Bcehmer?”  “Yes, Sir.”  “What have you done with them?”
 “I thought they had been sent to the queen.”  “Who gave you the
commission?” (The cardinal began to be uneasy.) “A lady, the Countess de
la Motte Valois, .  .  .  she gave me a letter from the queen; I thought
I was obliging her Majesty.  .  .  .  “The queen interrupted.  She had
never forgiven M. de Rohan for some malevolent letters written about her
when she was dauphiness.  On the accession of Louis XVI. this intercepted
correspondence had cost the prince his embassy to Vienna.  “How, sir,”
 said the queen, “could you think, you to whom I have never spoken for
eight years, that I should choose you for conducting this negotiation,
and by the medium of such a woman?”  “I was mistaken, I see; the desire I
felt to please your Majesty misled me, and he drew from his pocket the
pretended letter from the queen to Madame de la Motte.  The king took it,
and, casting his eye over the signature: “How could a prince of your
house and my grand almoner suppose that the queen would sign Marie
Antoinette de France?  Queens sign their names quite short.  It is not
even the queen’s writing.  And what is the meaning of all these doings
with jewellers, and these notes shown to bankers?”

[Illustration: Cardinal Rohan’s Discomfiture----470]

The cardinal could scarcely stand; he leaned against the table.  “Sir,”
 he stammered, “I am too much overcome to be able to reply.”  “Walk into
this room, cardinal,” rejoined the king kindly; “write what you have to
say to me.”  The written explanations of M. de Rohan were no clearer than
his words; an officer of the body-guard took him off to the Bastille; he
had, just time to order his grand-vicar to burn all his papers.

The correspondence as well as the life of M. de Rohan was not worthy of a
prince of the church: the vices and the credulity of the cardinal had
given him over, bound hand and foot, to an intriguing woman as adroit as
she was daring.  Descended from a bastard of Henry II.’s, brought up by
charity and married to a ruined nobleman, Madame de la Motte Valois had
bewitched, duped, and robbed Cardinal Rohan.  Accustomed to an insensate
prodigality, asserting everywhere that a man of gallantry could not live
on twelve hundred thousand livres a year, he had considered it very
natural that the queen should have a fancy for possessing a diamond
necklace worth sixteen hundred thousand livres.  The jewellers had,
in fact, offered this jewelry to Marie Antoinette; it was during the
American war.  “That is the price of two frigates,” the king had said.
“We want ships and not diamonds,” said the queen, and dismissed her
jeweller.  A few months afterwards he told anybody who would listen that
he had sold the famous collar in Constantinople for the favorite sultana.
“This was a real pleasure to the queen,” says Madame Campan; “she,
however, expressed some astonishment that a necklace made for the
adornment of Frenchwomen should be worn in the seraglio, and, thereupon,
she talked to me a long while about the total change which took place in
the tastes and desires of women in the period between twenty and thirty
years of age.  She told me that when she was ten years younger she loved
diamonds madly, but that she had no longer any taste for anything but
private society, the country, the work and the attentions required by the
education of her children.  From that moment until the fatal crisis there
was nothing more said about the necklace.”

The crisis would naturally come from the want of money felt by the
jewellers.  Madame de la Motte had paid them some instalments on account
of the stones, which her husband had sold in England: they grew impatient
and applied to the queen.  For a long while she did not understand their
applications: when the complaints of the purveyors at last made her
apprehend an intrigue, she sent for Abbe de Vermond and Baron de
Breteuil, minister of the king’s household both detested the cardinal,
both fanned the queen’s wrath; she decided at last to tell the king
everything.  “I saw the queen after the departure of the baron and the
abbe,” says Madame Campan; “she made me tremble at her indignation.”  The
cardinal renounced the privileges of his rank and condition; he boldly
accepted the jurisdiction of the Parliament.

The trial revealed a gross intrigue, a disgraceful comedy, a prince of
the church and a merchant equally befooled by a shameless woman, with the
aid of the adventurer Cagliostro, and the name, the favors, and even the
personality of the queen impudently dragged in.  The public feeling was
at its height, constantly over-excited by the rumors circulated during
the sessions of the court.  Opinion was hostile to the queen.  “It was
for her and by her orders that the necklace was bought,” people said.
The houses of Conde and Rohan were not afraid to take sides with the
cardinal: these illustrious personages were to be seen, dressed in
mourning, waiting for the magistrates on their way, in order to canvass
them on their relative’s behalf.  On the 31st of May, 1786, the court
condemned Madame de la Motte to be whipped, branded, and imprisoned; they
purely and simply acquitted Cardinal Rohan.  In its long and continual
tussle with the crown, the Parliament had at last found the day of its
revenge: political passions and the vagaries of public opinion had
blinded the magistrates.

“As soon as I knew the cardinal’s sentence, I went to the queen,” says
Madame Campan.  “She heard my voice in the room leading to her closet;
she called to me.  I found her very sad.  She said to me in a broken
voice: ‘Condole with me; the intriguer who wanted to ruin me, or procure
money by using my name and forging my signature, has just been fully
acquitted.  But,’ she added vehemently, ‘as a Frenchwoman, accept my
condolence.  A people is very unfortunate to have for its supreme
tribunal a lot of men who consult nothing but their passions, and of whom
some are capable of bribery and others of an audacity which they have
always displayed towards authority, and of which they have just given a
striking example against those who are clothed therewith.’  The king
entered at this moment.  ‘You find the queen in great affliction,’ he
said to me: ‘she has great reason to be.  But what then!  They would not
see in this business anything save a prince of the church and the prince
of Rohan, whereas it is only the case of a man in want of money and a
mere dodge for raising the wind, wherein the cardinal has been swindled
in his turn.  Nothing can be easier to understand, and it needs no
Alexander to cut this Gordian knot.’”

Guilty in the king’s eyes, a dupe according to the judgment of history,
Cardinal Rohan was exiled to his abbey of Chaise-Dieu, less to be pitied
than the unhappy queen abruptly wrenched from the sweet dreams of a
romantic friendship and confidence, as well as from the nascent joys of
maternal happiness, to find herself henceforth confronting a deluded
people and an ever increasing hostility which was destined to unjustly
persecute her even to the block.

M. de Calonne had taken little part in the excitement which the trial
of Cardinal Rohan caused in court and city he was absorbed by the
incessantly recurring difficulties presented by the condition of the
treasury; speculation had extended to all classes of society; loans
succeeded loans, everywhere there were formed financial companies,
without any resources to speak of, speculating on credit.  Parliament
began to be alarmed, and enregistered no more credits save with
repugnance.  Just as he was setting out on a trip to Normandy, which
afforded him one of the last happy days of his life and as it were a
dying flicker of his past popularity, the king scratched out on the
registers of the Parliament the restrictions introduced by the court into
the new loan of eighty millions presented by M. de Calonne.  “I wish it
to be known that I am satisfied with my comptroller-general,” said Louis
XVI. with that easy confidence which he did not always place wisely.
When he returned from Cherbourg, at the end of June, 1786, M. de Calonne
had at last arrived at the extremity of his financial expedients.  He set
his views and his ideas higher.  Speculation was succeeded by policy.

“Sir,” said the note handed to the king by the comptroller-general, “I
will not go back to the fearful position in which the finances were when
your Majesty deigned to intrust them to me.  It is impossible to recall
without a shudder that there was at that time neither money nor credit,
that the pressing debts were immense, the revenues exhausted in
anticipation, the resources annihilated, the public securities valueless,
the coinage impoverished and without circulation, the discount-fund
bankrupt, the general tax-exchequer (_ferme general_) on the point of
failing to meet its bills, and the royal treasury reduced to two bags of
1200 livres.  I am far from claiming credit for the success of the
operations which, owing to the continuous support given by your Majesty,
promptly established abundance of coin, punctuality in the payments,
public confidence proved by the rise in all securities and by the highest
degree of credit, abroad as well as at home: what I must forcibly call
your Majesty’s attention to is the importance of the present moment, the
terrible embarrassment concealed beneath the appearance of the happiest
tranquillity, the necessity of soon taking some measure for deciding the
lot of the state.  It must be confessed, Sir, that France at this moment
is only kept up by a species of artifice; if the illusion which stands
for reality were destroyed, if the confidence at present inseparable from
the working staff were to fail, what would become of us with a deficit of
a hundred millions every year?  Without a doubt no time must be lost in
filling up a void so enormous; and that can be done only by great
measures.  The plan I have formed appears to me the one that can solve so
difficult a problem.  Solely occupied with this great object, which
demands enormous labor, and for the accomplishment of which I would
willingly sacrifice my existence, I only beg your Majesty to accord to
me, until I have carried it out, so much support and appearance of favor
as I need to give me strength to attain it.  It will perhaps be an affair
of six months or a year at most.  After that your Majesty may do as you
please with me; I shall have followed the promptings of the heartiest
zeal for your service, I shall be able to say,--

               ‘Nunc dimittis servum tuum, Domino.’”

This mysterious plan, which was to produce results as desirable as rare,
and which M. de Calonne had hit upon to strengthen his shaky position,
was the same which, in 1628, had occurred to Cardinal Richelieu, when he
wanted to cover his responsibility in regard to the court of Rome.  In
view of the stress at the treasury, of growing discontent, of vanished
illusions, the comptroller-general meditated convoking the Assembly of
Notables, the feeble resource of the old French kingship before the days
of pure monarchy, an expedient more insufficient and more dangerous than
the most far-seeing divined after the lessons of the philosophers and the
continuous abasement of the kingly Majesty.

The convocation of the Notables was the means upon which M. de Calonne
relied; the object was the sanctioning of a financial system new in
practice but old in theory.  When the comptroller-general proposed to the
king to abolish privileges, and assess the impost equally, renouncing the
twentieths, diminishing the gabel, suppressing custom-houses in the
interior and establishing provincial assemblies, Louis XVI. recognized an
echo of his illustrious ministers.  “This is sheer Necker!” he exclaimed.
“In the condition in which things are, Sir, it is the best that can be
done,” replied M. de Calonne.  He had explained his reasons to the king
in an intelligent and able note.

“Such a plan,” said the comptroller-general, after having unfolded his
projects, “demands undoubtedly the most solemn examination and the most
authentic sanction.  It must be presented in the form most calculated.
to place it beyond reach of any retardation and to acquire for it
unassailable strength by uniting all the suffrages of the nation.  Now,
there is nothing but an assembly of notables that can fulfil this aim.
It is the only means of preventing all parliamentary resistance, imposing
silence on the clergy, and so clinching public opinion that no special
interest dare raise a voice against the overwhelming evidence of the
general interest.  Assemblies of notables were held in 1558, in 1583, in
1596, in 1617, and in 1626; none was convoked for objects so important as
those in question now, and never were circumstances’ more favorable to
success; as the situation requires strong measures, so it permits of the
employment of strong means.”

The king hesitated, from instinctive repugnance and the traditions of
absolutism, at anything that resembled an appeal to the people.  He was
won, however, by the precedent of Henry IV. and by the frank honesty of
the project.  The secret was strictly kept.  The general peace was
threatened afresh by the restless ambition of Joseph II. and by the
constant encroachments of the Empress Catherine.  The Great Frederick was
now dead.  After being for a long while the selfish disturber of Europe,
he had ended by becoming its moderator, and his powerful influence was
habitually exerted on behalf of peace.  The future was veiled and charged
with clouds.  M. de Vergennes, still possessing Louis XVI.’s confidence,
regarded with dread the bold reforms proposed by M. de Calonne; he had
yielded to the comptroller-general’s representations, but he made all
haste to secure for France some support in Europe; he concluded with
England the treaty of commerce promised at the moment of signing the
peace.  There was a lively debate upon it in the English Parliament.  Mr.
Fox, then in opposition, violently attacked the provisions of the treaty;
Mr. Pitt, quite young as yet, but already established in that foremost
rank among orators and statesmen which he was to occupy to his last hour,
maintained the great principles of European policy.  “It is a very false
maxim,” said he, “to assert that France and England are not to cease to
be hostile because they have been so heretofore.  My mind revolts at so
monstrous a principle, which is an outrage upon the constitution of
societies as well as upon the two nations.  Situated as we are in respect
of France, it is expedient, it is a matter of urgency for the welfare of
the two countries, to terminate this constant enmity which has been
falsely said to be the basis of the true sentiments felt by the two
nations towards each other.  This treaty tends to augment the means of
making war and to retard its coming.”

Generous and sound maxims, only too often destined to be strikingly
belied by human passions!  When he supported in the House of Commons, in
1786, an alliance with monarchical France, Mr. Pitt did not foresee the
terrible struggle he--would one day maintain, in the name of England and
of Europe, against revolutionary, anarchical, or absolutist France.

The treaty had just been signed (September 26, 1786).  M. de Vergennes
was not long to survive his latest work: he died on the 13th of February,
1787, just before the opening of the Assembly of Notables, as if he would
fain escape the struggle and the crisis he dreaded.  Capable and
far-sighted in his foreign policy, ever conciliatory and sometimes
daring, M. de Vergennes, timid and weak as he was in home affairs, was
nevertheless esteemed: he had often served as a connect ing link between
the different elements of the government. The king gave his place to
M. de Montmorin, an honest but insignificant man, without influence in
France as well as in Europe.

On the 29th of December, 1786, at the close of the despatch-council, the
king at last broke the silence he had so long kept even as regarded the
queen herself.  “Gentlemen,” he said, “I shall convoke for the 29th of
January an assembly composed of persons of different conditions and the
best qualified in the state, in order to communicate to them my views for
the relief of my people, the ordering of the finances, and the
reformation of several abuses.”  Louis XVI.’s hesitations had
disappeared: he was full of hope.  “I have not slept a wink all night,”
 he wrote on the morning of the 30th of December to M. de Calonne, “but it
was for joy.”

The sentiments of the public were very diverse: the court was in
consternation.  “What penalty would King Louis XIV. have inflicted upon
a minister who spoke of convoking an assembly of notables?” asked old
Marshal Richelieu, ever witty, frivolous, and corrupt.  “The king sends
in his resignation,” said the young Viscount de Segur.  At Paris
curiosity was the prevalent feeling; but the jokes were bitter.  “The
comptroller-general has raised a new troop of comedians; the first
performance will take place on Monday the 20th instant,” said a sham
play-bill: “they will give us the principal piece _False Confidences,_
followed by _Forced Consent_ and an allegorical ballot, composed by M. de
Calonne, entitled _The Tub of the Danaids_.”

The convocation of the notables was better received in the provinces: it
was the first time for a hundred and sixty years that the nation had been
called upon to take a part, even nominally, in the government of its
affairs; it already began to feel powerful and proud.  A note had been
sent to the _Journal de Paris_ to announce the convocation of the
Assembly.  “The nation,” it said, “will see with transport that the king
deigns to draw near to her.”  The day of excessive humiliation was no
more, even in forms; M. de Calonne modified the expression thus: “The
nation will see with transport that the king draws near to her.”

Indisposition on the part of the comptroller-general had retarded the
preparatory labors; the session opened on the 22d of February, 1787.
The Assembly numbered one hundred and forty-four members, all nominated
by the king: to wit, seven princes of the blood; fourteen archbishops and
bishops; thirty-six dukes and peers, marshals of France and noblemen;
twelve councillors of state and masters of requests; thirty-eight
magistrates of sovereign courts; twelve deputies of states-districts, the
only ones allowed to present to the king memorials of grievances; and
twenty-five municipal officers of the large towns.  In this Assembly,
intended to sanction the abolition of privileges, a few municipal
officers alone represented the third estate and the classes intended to
profit by the abolition.  The old Marquis of Mirabeau said facetiously:
“This Calonne assembles a troop of Guillots, which he calls the nation,
to present them with the cow by the horns, and say to them, ‘Gentlemen,
we take all the milk and what not, we devour all the meat and what not,
and we are going to try and get that what not out of the rich, whose
money has no connection with the poor, and we give you notice that the
rich means you.  Now, give us your opinion as to the manner of

The king’s speech was short and unimportant.  Though honestly impressed
with reminiscences of Henry IV., he could not manage, like him, to say to
the notables he had just convoked, “I have had you assemble to take your
counsels, to trust in them, to follow them, in short, to place myself
under tutelage in your hands,--a feeling which is scarcely natural to
kings, graybeards, and conquerors; but the violent love I bear my
subjects, the extreme desire I have to add the title of liberator and
restorer of this realm to that of king, make me find everything easy and
honorable.” M. de Calonne had reserved to himself the duty of explaining
the great projects he had suggested to the king.  “Gentle men,” said he
in his exordium, “the orders I am under at present do me the more honor
in that the views of which the king has charged me to set before you the
sum and the motives have been entirely adopted by him personally.”  Henry
IV. might have said to the notables assembled by his successor, as he had
said regarding his predecessors: “You were summoned hither not long ago
to approve of the king’s wishes.”

The state was prosperous, at any rate in appearance; the
comptroller-general assumed the credit for it.  “The economy of a
minister of finance,” he said, “may exist under two forms so different
that one might say they were two sorts of economy: one, which strikes the
eye by its external strictness, which proclaims itself by startling and
harshly uttered refusals, which flaunts its severity in the smallest
matters in order to discourage the throng of applicants.  It has an
imposing appearance which really proves nothing, but which does a great
deal as regards opinion; it has the double advantage of keeping
importunate cupidity at arm’s length and of quieting anxious ignorance.
The other, which considers duty rather than force of character, can do
more, whilst showing less strictness and reserve, as regards whatever is
of any importance; it affects no austerity as regards that which is of
none; it lets the talk be of what it grants, and does not talk about what
it saves.  Because it is seen to be accessible to requests, people will
not believe that it refuses the majority of them; because it has not the
useful and vulgar character of inflexibility, people refuse it that of
wise discretion, and often, whilst by assiduous application to all the
details of an immense department, it preserves the finances from the most
fatal abuses and the most ruinously unskilful handling, it seems to
calumniate itself by an easy-going appearance which the desire to injure
transforms very soon into lavishness.”

So much easy grace and adroitness succeeding the austere stiffness of M.
Necker had been powerless to relieve the disorder of the finances; it was
great and of ancient date.  “A deficit has been existing in France for
centuries,” the comptroller-general asserted.  It at last touched the
figure of a hundred millions a year.  “What is left for filling up so
frightful a void and for reaching the desired level?”  exclaimed M. de
Calonne: “abuses!  Yes, gentlemen, it is in abuses themselves that there
is to be found a mine of wealth which the state has a right to reclaim
and which must serve to restore order.  Abuses have for their defenders
interests, influence, fortune, and some antiquated prejudices which time
seems to have respected.  But of what force is such a vain confederation
against the public welfare and the necessity of the state?  Let others
recall this maxim of our monarchy: ‘As willeth the king, so willeth the
law;’ his Majesty’s maxim is: ‘As willeth the happiness of the people, so
willeth the king.’”

Audaciously certain of the success of his project, M. de Calonne had not
taken the trouble to disguise the vast consequences of it; he had not
thought any the more about pre-securing a majority in the assembly.  The
members were divided into seven committees presided over by the princes;
each committee disposed of one single vote; the comptroller-general had
not taken exception to the selections designated by his adversaries.
“I have made it a point of conscience,” he said, “to give suitable
nominations according to the morality, and talent, and importance of
individuals.”  He had burned his ships, and without a care for the
defective composition of the assembly, he set forth, one after the other,
projects calculated to alarm the privileged orders.  “More will be paid,”
 he said in the preamble printed at the head of his notes and circulated
in profusion over the whole of France, “undoubtedly more will be paid,
but by whom?  .  .  . By those only who do not pay enough; they will pay
what they ought, according to a just proportionment, and nobody will be
aggrieved.  Privileges will be sacrificed!  Yes!  Justice wills it,
necessity requires it!  Would it be better to surcharge the
non-privileged, the people?”

The struggle was about to begin, with all the ardor of personal interest;
the principle of provincial assemblies had been favorably received by the
notables; the committees (_bureaux_) had even granted to the third estate
a representation therein equal to that of the two upper orders, on
condition that the presidents of the delegates should be chosen from the
nobility or the clergy.  The recognition of a civil status for
Protestants did not seem likely to encounter any difficulty.  For more
than twenty years past the parliaments, especially the parliament of
Toulouse, had established the ruling of the inadmissibility of any one
who disputed the legitimacy of children issue of Protestant marriages.
In 1778, the parliament of Paris had deliberated as to presenting to the
king a resolution in favor of authentic verification of non-Catholic
marriages, births, and deaths; after a long interval, on, the 2d of
February, 1787, this resolution had been formally, promulgated.

It was M. de Lafayette who had the honor of supporting in the assembly of
notables the royal project announced by M. de Calonne and advised by the
Parliament.  In the ministry, MM. de Castries and De Breteuil had
supported the equitable measure so long demanded by Protestants.  M. de
Rulhieres had drawn up for the king a note, entitled: _Historic Evidences
as to the Causes of the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes,_ and M. de
Malesherbes had himself presented to Louis XVI. a scheme for a law.  “It
is absolutely necessary,” said he, “that I should render the Protestants
some kind offices; my great-uncle De Baville did them so much injury!”
 The Assembly of notables appealed to the king’s benevolence on behalf of
“that considerable portion of his subjects which groans under a regimen
of proscription equally opposed to the general interests of religion, to
good morals, to population, to national industry, and to all the
principles of morality and policy.”  “In the splendid reign of Louis
XIV.,” M. de Calonne had said, “the state was impoverished by victories,
and the kingdom dispeopled through intolerance.”  “Are assemblies of non-
Catholics dangerous?”  asked M. Turgot.  “Yes, as long as they are
forbidden; no, when they are authorized.”

The preliminary discussions had been calm, the great question was coming
on; in theory, the notables were forced to admit the principle of equal
assessment of the impost; in practice, they were, for the most part,
resolved to restrict its application.  They carried the war into the
enemy’s camp, and asked to examine the financial accounts.  The king gave
notice to the committees that his desire was to have the deliberations
directed not to the basis of the question but to the form of collection
of taxes.  The Archbishop of Narbonne (Dillon) raised his voice against
the king’s exclusive right to decide upon imposts.  “Your Royal Highness
will allow me to tell you,” was the reply made to the Count of Artois,
president of his committee, by an attorney-general of the parliament of
Aix, M. de Castillon, “that there exists no authority which can pass a
territorial impost such as that proposed, nor this assembly, august as it
may be, nor the parliaments, nor the several states, nor the king
himself; the States-general alone would have that power.”

Thus was proposed, in the very midst of the Assembly intended to keep it
out, that great question of the convocation of the States-general which
had been so long uppermost in all minds.  “It is the States-general you
demand!”  said the Count of Artois to M. de La Fayette.  “Yes, my lord,”
 replied the latter, “and something better still if possible!”  The
comptroller-general continued to elude inquiry into the state of the
treasury.  M. Necker, offended by the statements of his successor, who
questioned the truthfulness of the Report, addressed explanatory notes to
the several committees of the Assembly.  He had already, in 1784,
published an important work in explanation and support of his financial
system; the success of the book had been immense; in spite of the
prohibition issued, at first, against the sale, but soon tacitly
withdrawn, the three volumes had sold, it was said, to the extent of
eighty thousand copies.  In 1787, the late director-general asked leave
to appear before the Assembly of notables to refute the statements of M.
de Calonne; permission was refused.  “I am satisfied with your services,”
 the king sent word to him, “and I command you to keep silence.”
 A pamphlet, without any title, was however sent to the notables.  “I
served the king for five years,” said M. Necker, “with a zeal which knew
no limits the duties I had taken upon myself were the only object of my
solicitude.  The interests of the state had become my passion and
occupied all my faculties of heart and mind.  Forced to retire through a
combination of singular circumstances, I devoted my powers to the
composition of a laborious work, the utility of which appears, to me to
have been recognized.  I heard it said that a portion of those ideas
about administration which had been so dear to me formed the basis of the
projects which were to be submitted to the Assembly of notables.  I
rendered homage to the beneficent views of his Majesty.  Content with the
contributions I had offered to the common weal, I was living happily and
in peace, when all at once I found myself attacked or rather assailed in
the most unjust and the strangest manner.  M. de Calonne, finding it
advisable to trace to a very remote period the causes of the present
condition of the finances, was not afraid, in pursuance of this end,
to have recourse to means with which he will, probably, sooner or later
reproach himself; he declared in a speech, now circulated throughout
Europe, that the Report to his Majesty, in 1781, was so extraordinarily
erroneous, that, instead of the surplus published in that Report, there
was, at that very time, an enormous deficit.”

At the moment when M. Necker was publishing, as regarded the statements
of M. de Calonne, an able rectification which did not go to the bottom
of things any more than the Report had previously gone, the
comptroller-general was succumbing beneath his enemies’ attacks and his
own errors.  Justly irritated at the perfidious manoeuvres practised
against him by the keeper of the seals in secretly heading at the
Assembly of notables the opposition of the magistracy, Calonne had
demanded and obtained from the king the recall of M. Miromesnil.  He was
immediately superseded by M. de Lamoignon, president of the parliament of
Paris and a relative of M. de Malesherbes.  The comptroller-general had
the imprudence to push his demands further; he required the dismissal of
M. de Breteuil.  “I consent,” said Louis XVI. after some hesitation; “but
leave me time to forewarn the queen, she is much attached to M. de
Breteuil.”  When the king quitted Marie Antoinette, the situation had
changed face; the disgrace of M. de Calonne was resolved upon.

The queen had represented the dissatisfaction and opposition of the
notables, which “proceeded solely,” she said, “from the mistrust inspired
by the comptroller-general;” she had dwelt upon the merits and resources
of the Archbishop of Toulouse.  “I don’t like priests who haven’t the
virtues of their cloth,” Louis XVI. had answered dryly.  He called to the
ministry M. Fourqueux, councillor of state, an old man, highly esteemed,
but incapable of sustaining the crushing weight of affairs.  The king
himself presented M. de Calonne’s last projects to the Assembly of
notables; the rumor ran that the comptroller-general was about to
re-enter the cabinet.  Louis XVI. was informed of the illicit manoeuvres
which M. de Calonne had authorized in operations on ‘Change: he exiled
him to his estate in Berry, and a few days afterwards to Lorraine.
M. Necker had just published without permission his reply to the attacks
of M. de Calonne the king was put out at it.  “The eye of the public
annoys those who manage affairs with carelessness,” M. Necker had but
lately said in his work on financial administration, “but those who are
animated by a different spirit would be glad to multiply lights from
every quarter.”  “I do not want to turn my kingdom into a republic
screeching over state affairs as the city of Geneva is, and as happened
during the administration of M. Necker,” said Louis XVI.  He, banished
his late minister to a distance of twenty leagues from Paris.  Madame
Necker was ill, and the execution of the king’s order was delayed for a
few days.

Meanwhile the notables were in possession of the financial accounts,
but the satisfaction caused them by the disgrace of M. de Calonne was of
short duration; they were awaiting a new comptroller-general, calculated
to enlighten them as to the position of affairs.  M. de Montmorin and M.
de Lamoignon were urgent for the recall of M. Necker.  The king’s ill
feeling against his late minister still continued.  “As long as M. Necker
exists,” said M. de Montmorin, “it is impossible that there should be any
other minister of finance, because the public will always be annoyed to
see that post occupied by any but by him.”  “I did not know M. Necker
personally,” adds M. de Montmorin in his notes left to Marmontel; “I had
nothing but doubts to oppose to what the king told me about his
character, his haughtiness, and his domineering spirit.”  Louis XVI.
yielded, however.  “Well!” he said, snappishly, “if it must be, recall
him.”  M. de Breteuil was present.  “Your Majesty,” said he, “has but
just banished M. Necker he has scarcely arrived at Montargis; to recall
him now would have a deplorable effect.”  He once more mentioned the name
of Leonie de Brienne, and the king again yielded.  Ambitious, intriguing,
debauched, unbelieving, the new minister, like his predecessor, was
agreeable, brilliant, capable even, and accustomed in his diocese to
important affairs.  He was received without disfavor by public opinion.
The notables and the chief of the council of finance undertook in concert
the disentanglement of the accounts submitted to them.

In this labyrinth of contradictory figures and statements, the deficit
alone came out clearly.  M. de Brienne promised important economies, the
Assembly voted a loan: they were not willing to accept the responsibility
of the important reforms demanded by the king.  The speeches were long
and vague, the objections endless.  All the schemes of imposts were
censured one after the other.  “We leave it to the king’s wisdom,” said
the notables at last; “he shall himself decide what taxes will offer the
least inconveniences, if the requirements of the state make it necessary
to impose new sacrifices upon the people.”  “The notables have seen with
dismay the depth of the evil caused by an administration whereof your
parliament had more than once foreseen the consequence,” said the premier
president of the parliament of Paris.  “The different plans proposed to
your Majesty deserve careful deliberation.  The most respectful silence
is at this moment our only course.”

The notables had themselves recognized their own impotence and given in
their resignation.  A formal closing session took place on the 25th of
May, 1787.  The keeper of the seals, enumerating the results of the
labors of the Assembly, enregistered the royal promises as accomplished
facts: “All will be set right without any shock, without any ruin of
fortunes, without any alteration in the principles of government, without
any of those breaches of faith which should never be so much as mentioned
in the presence of the monarch of France.

“The resolved or projected reform of various abuses, and the permanent
good for which the way is being paved by new laws concerted with you,
gentlemen, are about to co-operate successfully for the present relief of
the people.

“Forced labor is proscribed, the gabel (or salt-tax) is revised
(_juyee_), the obstacles which hamper home trade are destroyed, and
agriculture, encouraged by the free exportation of grain, will become day
by day more flourishing.

“The king has solemnly promised that disorder shall not appear again in
his finances, and his Majesty is about to take the most effective
measures for fulfilling this sacred engagement, of which you are the

“The administration of the state will approach nearer and nearer to the
government and vigilance of a private family, and a more equitable
assessment, which personal interest will incessantly watch over, will
lighten the burden of impositions.”

Only the provincial administrations were constituted; the hopes which had
been conceived of the Assembly of notables remained more vague than
before its convocation: it had failed, like all the attempts at reform
made in succession by Louis XVI.’s advisers, whether earnest or
frivolous, whether proved patriots or ambitious intriguers.  It had,
however, revealed to the whole country the deplorable disorder of the
finances; it had taught the third estate and even the populace how deep
was the repugnance among the privileged classes towards reforms which
touched their interests.  Whilst spreading, as a letter written to
America by M. de La Fayette put it, “the salutary habit of thinking about
public affairs,” it had at the same time betrayed the impotence of the
government, and the feebleness of its means of action.  It was a stride,
and an immense stride, towards the Revolution.


Thirteen years had rolled by since King Louis XV. had descended to a
dishonored grave, and on the mighty current which was bearing France
towards reform, whilst dragging her into the Revolution, King Louis XVI.,
honest and sincere, was still blindly seeking to clutch the helm which
was slipping from his feeble hands.  Every day his efforts were becoming
weaker and more inconsistent, every day the pilot placed at the tiller
was less and less deserving of public confidence.  From M. Turgot to M.
Necker, from Calonne to Lomenie de Brienne, the fall had been rapid and
deep.  Amongst the two parties which unequally divided the nation,
between those who defended the past in its entirety, its abuses as well
as its grandeurs, and those who were marching on bewildered towards a
reform of which they did not foresee the scope, the struggle underwent
certain moments of stoppage and of abrupt reaction towards the old state
of things.  In 1781, the day after M. Necker’s fall, an ordinance of the
minister of war, published against the will of that minister himself, had
restored to the verified and qualified noblesse (who could show four
quarterings) the exclusive privilege of military grades.  Without any
ordinance, the same regulation had been applied to the clergy.  In 1787,
the Assembly of notables and its opposition to the king’s projects
presented by M. de Calonne were the last triumph of the enthusiastic
partisans of the past.  The privileged classes had still too much
influence to be attacked with success by M. de Calonne, who appeared to
be in himself an assemblage of all the abuses whereof he desired to be
the reformer.  A plan so vast, however ably conceived, was sure to go to
pieces in the hands of a man who did not enjoy public esteem and
confidence; but the triumph of the notables in their own cause was a
fresh warning to the people that they would have to defend theirs with
more vigor.” [_Memoires de Malouet,_ t. i.  p. 253].  We have seen how
monarchy, in concert with the nation, fought feudality, to reign
thenceforth as sovereign mistress over the great lords and over the
nation; we have seen how it slowly fell in public respect and veneration,
and how it attempted unsuccessfully to respond to the confused wishes of
a people that did not yet know its own desires or its own strength; we
shall henceforth see it, panting and without sure guidance, painfully
striving to govern and then to live.  “I saw,” says M. Malouet in his
_Memoires,_ “under the ministry of the archbishop (of Toulouse, and
afterwards of Sens), all the _avant-couriers_ of a revolution in the
government.  Three parties were already pronounced: the first wanted to
take to itself all the influence of which it despoiled the king, whilst
withstanding the pretensions of the third estate; the second proclaimed
open war against the two upper orders, and already laid down the bases of
a democratic government; the third, which was at that time the most
numerous, although it was that of the wisest men, dreaded the ebullience
of the other two, wanted compromises, reforms, and not revolution.”  By
their conflicts the two extreme parties were to stifle for a while the
party of the wise men, the true exponent of the national aspirations and
hopes, which was destined, through a course of cruel vicissitudes and
long trials, to yet save and govern the country.

The Assembly of notables had abdicated; contenting itself with a negative
triumph, it had left to the royal wisdom and responsibility the burden of
decisions which Louis XVI. had hoped to get sanctioned by an old and
respected authority.  The public were expecting to see all the edicts,
successively presented to the notables as integral portions of a vast
system, forthwith assume force of law by simultaneous registration of
Parliament.  The feebleness and inconsistency of governors often stultify
the most sensible foresight.  M. de Brienne had come into office as a
support to the king’s desires and intentions, for the purpose of
obtaining from the notables what was refused through their aversion for
M. de Calonne; as soon as he was free of the notables as well as of M. de
Calonne, he hesitated, drew back, waited, leaving time for a fresh
opposition to form and take its measures.  “He had nothing but bad moves
to make,” says M. Mignet.  Three edicts touching the trade in grain,
forced labor, and the provincial assemblies, were first sent up to the
Parliament and enregistered without any difficulty; the two edicts
touching the stamp-tax and equal assessment of the impost were to meet
with more hinderance; the latter at any rate united the sympathies of all
the partisans of genuine reforms; the edict touching the stamp-tax was by
itself and first submitted for the approval of the magistrates: they
rejected it, asking, like the notables, for a communication as to the
state of finance.  “It is not states of finance we want,” exclaimed a
councillor, Sabatier de Cabre, “it is States-general.”  This bold sally
became a theme for deliberation in the Parliament.  “The nation
represented by the States-general,” the court declared, “is alone
entitled to grant the king subsidies of which the need is clearly
demonstrated.”  At the same time the Parliament demanded the impeachment
of M. de Calonne; he took fright and sought refuge in England.  The mob
rose in Paris, imputing to the court the prodigalities with which the
Parliament reproached the late comptroller-general.  Sad symptom of the
fatal progress of public opinion!  The cries heretofore raised against
the queen under the name of Austrian were now uttered against Madame
Deficit, pending the time when the fearful title of Madame Veto would
give place in its turn to the sad name of the woman Capet given to the
victim of October 16, 1793.

The king summoned the Parliament to Versailles, and on the 6th of August,
1787, the edicts touching the stamp-tax and territorial subvention were
enregistered in bed of justice.  The Parliament had protested in advance
against this act of royal authority, which it called “a phantom of
deliberation.”  On the 13th of August, the court declared “the
registration of the edicts null and without effect, incompetent to
authorize the collection of imposts, opposed to all principles;” this
resolution was sent to all the seneschalties and bailiwicks in the
district.  It was in the name of the privilege of the two upper orders
that the Parliament of Paris contested the royal edicts and made appeal
to the supreme jurisdiction of the States-general; the people did not see
it, they took out the horses of M. d’Espremesnil, whose fiery eloquence
had won over a great number of his colleagues, and he was carried in
triumph.  On the 15th of August the Parliament was sent away to Troyes.

Banishment far away from the capital, from the ferment of spirits, and
from the noisy centre of their admirers, had more than once brought down
the pride of the members of Parliament; they were now sustained by the
sympathy ardently manifested by nearly all the sovereign courts.
“Incessantly repeated stretches of authority,” said the Parliament of
Besanccon, “forced registrations, banishments, constraint and severity
instead of justice, are astounding in an enlightened age, wound a nation
that idolizes its kings, but is free and proud, freeze the heart and
might break the ties which unite sovereign to subjects and subjects to
sovereign.”  The Parliament of Paris declared that it needed no authority
for its sittings, considering that it rendered justice wherever it
happened to be assembled.  “The monarchy would be transfigured into a
despotic form,” said the decree, “if ministers could dispose of persons
by sealed letters (_lettres de cachet_), property by beds of justice,
criminal matters by change of venue (_evocation_) or cassation, and
suspend the course of justice by special banishments or arbitrary

Negotiations were going on, however; the government agreed to withdraw
the new imposts which it had declared to be indispensable; the
Parliament, which had declared itself incompetent as to the establishment
of taxes, prorogued for two years the second twentieth.  “We left Paris
with glory upon us, we shall return with mud,” protested M. d’Espremesnil
in vain; more moderate, but not less resolute, Duport, Robert de St.
Vincent, and Freteau sought to sustain by their speeches the wavering
resolution of their colleagues.  The Parliament was recalled to Paris on
the 19th of September, 1787.

The state of Europe inclined men’s minds to reciprocal concessions; a
disquieting good understanding appeared to be growing up between Russia
and Austria.  The Emperor Joseph II. had just paid a visit to the Crimea
with the czarina.  “I fancy I am still dreaming,” wrote the Prince of
Ligne, who had the honor of being in the trip, “when in a carriage with
six places, which is a real triumphal car adorned with ciphers in
precious stones, I find myself seated between two persons on whose
shoulders the heat often sets me dozing, and I hear, as I wake up, one of
my comrades say to the other ‘I have thirty’ millions of subjects, they
say, counting males only.’  ‘And I twenty-two,’ replies the other, ‘all
included.’  ‘I require,’ adds the former, ‘an army of at least six
hundred thousand men between Kamtchatka and Riga.’  ‘With half that,’
replies the other, ‘I have just what I require.’  God knows how we settle
all the states and great personages.  ‘Rather than sign the separation of
thirteen provinces, like my brother George,’ says Catherine II. sweetly,
‘I would have put a bullet through my head.’ ‘And rather than give in my
resignation like my brother and brother-in-law, by convoking and
assembling the nation to talk over abuses, I don’t know what I wouldn’t
have done,’ says Joseph II.”  Before the two allies could carry out their
designs against Turkey, that ancient power, enfeebled as it was, had
taken the offensive at the instigation of England; the King of Sweden,
on his side, invaded Russia; war burst out in all directions.  The
traditional influence of France remained powerless in the East to
maintain peace; the long weakness of the government was everywhere
bearing fruit.

Nowhere was this grievous impotence more painfully striking than in
Holland.  Supported by England, whose slavish instrument he had been for
so long, the stadtholder William V. was struggling, with the help of the
mob, against the patriotic, independent, and proud patricians.  For the
last sixty years the position of Holland had been constantly declining in
Europe.  “She is afraid of everything,” said Count de Broglie in 1773;
“she puts up with everything, grumbles at everything, and secures herself
against nothing.”  “Holland might pay all the armies of Europe,” people
said in 1787, “she couldn’t manage to hold her own against any one of
them.”  The civil war imminent in her midst and fomented by England had
aroused the solicitude of M. de Calonne; he had prepared the resources
necessary for forming a camp near Givet; his successor diverted the funds
to another object.  When the Prussians entered Dutch territory, being
summoned to the stadtholder’s aid by his wife, sister of the young King
Frederick William II., the French government afforded no assistance to
its ally; it confined itself to offering an asylum to the Dutch patriots,
long encouraged by its diplomatists, and now vanquished in their own
country, which was henceforth under the yoke of England.  “France has
fallen, I doubt whether she will get up again,” said the Emperor Joseph
II.  “We have been caught napping,” wrote M. de La Fayette to Washington;
“the King of Prussia has been ill advised, the Dutch are ruined, and
England finds herself the only power which has gained in the bargain.”

The echo of humiliations abroad came to swell the dull murmur of public
discontent.  Disturbance was arising everywhere.  “From stagnant chaos
France has passed to tumultuous chaos,” wrote Mirabeau, already an
influential publicist, despite the irregularity of his morals and the
small esteem excited by his life; “there may, there should come a
creation out of it.”  The Parliament had soon resumed its defiant
attitude; like M. de La Fayette at the Assembly of notables, it demanded
the convocation of the States-general at a fixed epoch, in 1792; it was
the date fixed by M. de Brienne in a vast financial scheme which he had
boldly proposed for registration by the court.  By means of a series of
loans which were to reach the enormous total of four hundred and twenty
millions, the States-general, assembled on the conclusion of this vast
operation, and relieved from all pecuniary embarrassment, would be able
to concentrate their thoughts on the important interests of the future.
At the same time with the loan-edict, Brienne presented to the Parliament
the law-scheme, for so long a time under discussion, on behalf of

The king had repaired in person to the palace in royal session; the
keeper of the seals, Lamoignon, expounded the necessity of the edicts.
“To the monarch alone,” he repeated, “belongs the legislative power,
without dependence and without partition.”  This was throwing down the
gauntlet to the whole assembly as well as to public opinion.  Abbe
Sabatier and Councillor Freteau had already spoken, when Robert de St.
Vincent rose, an old Jansenist and an old member of Parliament,
accustomed to express his thoughts roughly.  “Who, without dismay, can
hear loans still talked of?” he exclaimed “and for what sum? four hundred
and twenty millions!  A plan is being formed for five years?  But, since
your Majesty’s reign began, have the same views ever directed the
administration of finance for five years in succession?  Can you be
ignorant, sir (here he addressed himself to the comptroller-general),
that each minister, as he steps into his place, rejects the system of his
predecessor in order to substitute that which he has devised?  Within
only eight months, you are the fourth minister of finance, and yet you
are forming a plan which cannot be accomplished in less than five years!
The remedy, sir, for the wounds of the state has been pointed out by your
Parliament: it is the convocation of the Statesgeneral.  Their
convocation, to be salutary, must be prompt.  Your ministers would like
to avoid this assembly whose surveillance they dread.  Their hope is
vain.  Before two years are over, the necessities of the state will force
you to convoke the States-general.”

M. d’Espremesnil was overcome; less violent than usual, he had, appealed
to the king’s heart; for a moment Louis XVI. appeared to be moved, and so
was the assembly with him; the edicts were about to be enregistered
despite the efforts of the opposition; already the premier president was
collecting the votes; the keeper of the seals would not, at this grave
moment, renounce any kingly prerogative.  “When the king is at the
Parliament, there is no deliberation; his will makes law,” said the legal
rule and the custom of the magistracy.  Lamoignon went up to the throne;
he said a few words in a low voice.  “Mr. Keeper of the seals, have the
edicts enregistered,” said Louis XVI.  The minister immediately repeated
the formula used at beds of justice.  A murmur ran through the assembly;
the Duke of Orleans rose; he had recently become the head of his house
through his father’s death, and found himself more than ever involved in
intrigues hostile to the court.  “Sir,” said he in a broken voice, “this
registration appears to me illegal.  .  .  .  It should be distinctly
stated that the registration is done by the express command of your
Majesty.”  The king was as much moved as the prince.  “It is all the same
to me,” he replied.  “You are master, of course.”  “Yes,--it is legal,
because I so will.”  The edict relative to non-Catholics was read, and
Louis XVI. withdrew.

There was violent commotion in the assembly; the protest of the Duke of
Orleans was drawn up in a more explicit form.  “The difference between a
bed of justice and a royal session is, that one exhibits the frankness of
despotism and the other its duplicity,” cried d’Espremesnil.
Notwithstanding the efforts of M. de Malesherbes and the Duke of
Nivernais, the Parliament inscribed on the registers that it was not to
be understood to take any part in the transcription here ordered of
gradual and progressive loans for the years 1788, 1789, 1790, 1791, and
1792.  In reply, the Duke of Orleans was banished to Villers-Cotterets,
whilst Councillors Freteau and Sabatier were arrested and taken to a

By the scandalousness of his life, as well as by his obstructive
buildings in the Palais-Royal, the Duke of Orleans had lost favor with
the public; his protest and his banishment restored him at once to his
popularity.  The Parliament piled remonstrance upon remonstrance, every
day more and more haughty in form as well as in substance.  Dipping into
the archives in search of antiquated laws, the magistrates appealed to
the liberties of olden France, mingling therewith the novel principles of
the modern philosophy.  “Several pretty well-known facts,” they said,
“prove that the nation, more enlightened as to its true interests, even
in the least elevated classes, is disposed to accept from the hands of
your Majesty the greatest blessing a king can bestow upon his subjects
--liberty.  It is this blessing, Sir, which your Parliament come to ask
you to restore, in the name of a generous and faithful people.  It is no
longer a prince of your blood, it is no longer two magistrates whom your
Parliament ask you to restore in the name of the laws and of reason, but
three Frenchmen, three men.”

To peremptory demands were added perfidious insinuations.

“Such ways, Sir,” said one of these remonstrances, “have no place in your
heart, such samples of proceeding are not the principles of your Majesty,
they come from another source.”  For the first time the queen was thus
held up to public odium by the Parliament which had dealt her a fatal
blow by acquitting Cardinal Rohan; she was often present at the king’s
conferences with his ministers, reluctantly and by the advice of M. de
Brienne, for and in whom Louis XVI. never felt any liking or confidence.
“There is no more happiness for me since they have made me an intriguer,”
 she said sadly to Madame Campan.  And when the latter objected: “Yes,”
 replied the queen, “it is the proper word: every woman who meddles in
matters above her lights and beyond the limits of her duty, is nothing
but an intriguer; you will remember, however, that I do not spare myself,
and that it is with regret I give myself such a title.  The other day,
as I was crossing the Bull’s Eye (_Eil de Boeuf_), to go to a private
committee at the king’s, I heard one of the chapel-band say out loud,
‘A queen who does her duty remains in her rooms at her needlework.’
I said to myself: ‘Thou’rt quite right, wretch; but thou know’st not my
position; I yield to necessity and my evil destiny.’”  A true daughter of
Maria Theresa in her imprisonment and on the scaffold, Marie Antoinette
had neither the indomitable perseverance nor the simple grandeur in
political views which had restored the imperial throne in the case of her
illustrious mother.  She weakened beneath a burden too heavy for a mind
so long accustomed to the facile pleasures of youth.  “The queen
certainly has wits and firmness which might suffice for great things,”
 wrote her friend, the Count of La Marck, to M. de Mercy Argenteau, her
mother’s faithful agent in France; “but it must be confessed that,
whether in business or in mere conversation, she does not always exhibit
that degree of attention and that persistence which are indispensable for
getting at the bottom of what one ought to know, in order to prevent
errors and to insure success.”

The same want of purpose and persistence of which the Count of La Marck
complained was strikingly apparent everywhere and in all matters; the
Duke of Orleans was soon tired of banishment; he wrote to the queen, who
obtained his recall.  The ministers were making mysterious preparations
for a grand stroke.  The Parliament, still agitated and anxious, had at
last enregistered the edict relating to non-Catholics.  Public opinion,
like the government, supported it eagerly; the principles of tolerance
which had prompted it were henceforth accepted by all; certain bishops
and certain bigots were still trying to hinder this first step towards a
legal status for a long while refused to Protestants.  M. d’Espremesnil,
an earnest disciple of the _philosophe inconnu,_ the mystic St. Martin,
just as he had been the dupe of Mesmer and of Cagliostro, was almost
single-handed in the Parliament in his opposition to the registration of
the edict.  Extending his hand towards the crucifix, he exclaimed with
violence: “Would you crucify him a second time?”  The court was a better
judge of Christian principles, and Protestants were permitted to be born,
to marry, and to die on French territory.  The edict did not as yet
concede to them any other right.

The contest extended as it grew hotter; everywhere the parliaments took
up the quarrel of the court of Paris; the formation of the provincial
assemblies furnished new centres of opposition; the petty noblesse made
alliance with the magistracy; the antagonism of principles became every
day more evident; after the five months elapsed since the royal session,
the Parliament was still protesting against the violence done to it.
“I had no need to take or count the votes,” said the king’s reply; “being
present at the deliberation, I judged for myself without taking any
account of plurality.  If plurality in my courts were to force my will,
the monarchy would be nothing but an aristocracy of magistrates.”  “No,
sir, no aristocracy in France, but no despotism either,” replied the
members of parliament.

The indiscretion of a printer made M. d’Espremesnil acquainted with
the great designs which were in preparation; at his instigation the
Parliament issued a declaration as to the reciprocal rights and duties
of the monarch and the nation.  “France,” said the resolution, “is a
monarchy hereditary from male to male, governed by the king following the
laws; it has for fundamental laws the nation’s right to freely grant
subsidies by means of the States-general convoked and composed according
to regulation, the customs and capitulations of the provinces, the
irremovability of the magistrates, the right of the courts to enregister
edicts, and that of each citizen to be judged only by his natural judges,
without liability ever to be arrested arbitrarily.”  “The magistrates
must cease to exist before the nation ceases to be free,” said a second

Bold and defiant in its grotesque mixture of the ancient principles of
the magistracy with the novel theories of philosophy, the resolution of
the Parliament was quashed by the king.  Orders were given to arrest
M. d’Espremesnil and a young councillor, Goislard de Montsabert, who had
proposed an inquiry into the conduct of the comptrollers commissioned to
collect the second twentieth.  The police of the Parliament was perfect
and vigilant; the two magistrates were warned and took refuge in the
Palace of Justice; all the chambers were assembled and the peers
convoked.  Ten or a dozen appeared, notwithstanding the king’s express

The Parliament had placed the two threatened members “under the
protection of the king and of the law;” the premier president, at the
head of a deputation, had set out for Versailles to demand immunity for
the accused; the court was in session awaiting his return.

The mob thronged the precincts of the Palace, some persons had even
penetrated into the grand chamber; no deliberations went on.  Towards
midnight, several companies of the French guards entered the hall of the
Pas-Perdus; all the exits were guarded.  The court was in commotion, the
young councillors demanded that the deliberations should go on publicly.
“Gentlemen,” said President de Gourgues, “would you derogate from the
ancient forms?”  The spectators withdrew.  The Marquis d’Agoult,
aide-major of the French guards, demanded admission; he had orders from
the king.  The ushers opened the doors; at sight of the magistrates in
scarlet robes, motionless upon their seats, the officer was for a moment
abashed; he cast his eye from bench to bench, his voice faltered when he
read the order signed by the king to arrest “MM. d’Espremesnil and De
Montsabert, in the grand chamber or elsewhere.”  “The court will proceed
to deliberate thereon, sir,” replied the president.  “Your forms are to
deliberate,” hotly replied M. d’Agoult, who had recovered himself; “I
know nothing of those forms, the king’s orders must be executed without
delay; point out to me those whom I have to arrest.”  Silence reigned
throughout the hall; not a word, not a gesture indicated the accused.
Only the dukes and peers made merry aloud over the nobleman charged with
so disagreeable a mission: he repeated his demand: “We are all
d’Espremesnil and Montsabert,” exclaimed the magistrates.  M. d’Agoult
left the room.

He soon returned, accompanied by an exon of the short robe, named
Larchier.  “Show me whom I have to arrest,” was the officer’s order.
The exon looked all round the room; he knew every one of the magistrates;
the accused were sitting right in front of him.  “I do not see
MM. d’Espremesnil and Montsabert anywhere,” he at last said, tremulously.
M. d’Agoult’s threats could not get any other answer out of him.

The officer had gone to ask for fresh orders; the deputation sent to
Versailles had returned, without having been received by Louis XVI., of
whom an audience had not been requested.  The court wanted to send some
of the king’s people at once to notify a fresh request; the troops
guarded all the doors, nobody could leave the Palace.

“Gentlemen,” said d’Espr4mesnil at last, “it would be contrary to our
honor as well as to the dignity of the Parliament to prolong this scene
any further; and, besides, we cannot be the ruin of Larchier; let
M. d’Agoult be shown in again.”  The officer was recalled, the
magistrates were seated and covered.  “Sir,” said M. d’Espremesnil,
“I am one of those you are in search of.  The law forbids me to obey
orders irregularly obtained (_surpris_) of the sovereign, and it is to
be faithful to him that I have not mentioned who I am until this moment.
I call upon you to state whether, in case I should not go with you
voluntarily, you have orders to drag me from this building.”  “Certainly,
sir.”  D’Agoult was already striding towards the door to order in his
troops.  “Enough,” said M. d’Espremesnil; “I yield to force;” and,
turning to his colleagues, “Gentlemen,” he said, “to you I protest
against the violence of which I am the object; forget me and think
henceforth of nothing but the common weal; I commend to you my family;
whatever may be my fate, I shall never cease to glory in professing to
the last hour the principles which do honor to this court.”  He made a
deep obeisance, and followed the major, going out by the secret
staircases in order to avoid the crowd whose shouts could be heard even
within the palace buildings.  Goislard de Montsabert followed his
colleague’s example: he was confined at Pierre-Encise; M. d’Espremesnil
had been taken to the Isle of St. Marguerite.

Useless and ill-judged violence, which excited the passions of the public
without intimidating opponents!  The day after the scene of May 6th, at
the moment when the whole magistracy of France was growing hot over the
thrilling account of the arrest of the two councillors, the Parliament of
Paris was sent for to Versailles (May 8, 1788).

[Illustration: Arrest of the Members----502]

The magistrates knew beforehand what fate awaited them.  The king uttered
a few severe words.  After a pompous preamble, the keeper of the seals
read out six fresh edicts intended to ruin forever the power of the
sovereign courts.

Forty-seven great baillie-courts, as a necessary intermediary between the
parliaments and the inferior tribunals, were henceforth charged with all
civil cases not involving sums of more than twenty thousand livres, as
well as all criminal cases of the third order (estate).  The
representations of the provincial assembly of Dauphiny severely
criticised the impropriety of this measure.  “The ministers,” they said,
“have not been afraid to flout the third estate, whose life, honor, and
property no longer appear to be objects worthy of the sovereign courts,
for which are reserved only the causes of the rich and the crimes of the
privileged.”  The number of members of the Parliament of Paris was
reduced to sixty-nine.  The registration of edicts, the only real
political power left in the hands of the magistrates, was transferred to
a plenary court, an old title without stability and without tradition,
composed, under the king’s presidency, of the great functionaries of
state, assisted by a small number of councillors.  The absolute power was
thus preparing a rampart against encroachments of authority on the part
of the sovereign courts; it had fortified itself beforehand against the
pretensions of the States-general, “which cannot pretend to be anything
but a more extended council on behalf of the sovereign, the latter still
remaining supreme arbiter of their representations and their grievances.”

Certain useful ameliorations in the criminal legislation, amongst others
total abolition of torture, completed the sum of edicts.  A decree of the
council declared all the parliarnents prorogued until the formation of
the great bailliecourts.  The plenary court was to assemble forthwith at
Versailles.  It only sat once; in presence of the opposition amongst the
majority of the men summoned to compose it, the ministers, unforeseeing
and fickle even with all their ability and their boldness, found
themselves obliged to adjourn the sittings indefinitely.  All the members
of the Parliament of Paris had bound themselves by a solemn oath not to
take a place in any other assembly.  “In case of dispersal of the
magistracy,” said the resolution entered upon the registers of the court,
“the Parliament places the present act as a deposit in the hands of the
king, of his august family, of the peers of the realm, of the States-
general, and of each of the orders, united or separate, representing the

At sight of this limitation, less absolute and less cleverly calculated,
of the attempts made by Chancellor Maupeou, after seventeen years’ rapid
marching towards a state of things so novel and unheard of, the commotion
was great in Paris; the disturbance, however, did not reach to the
masses, and the disorder in the streets was owing less to the Parisian
populace than to mendicants, rascals of sinister mien, flocking in, none
knew why, from the four points of the compass.  The provinces were more
seriously disturbed.  All the sovereign courts rose up with one accord;
the Parliament of Rouen declared “traitors to the king, to the nation, to
the province, perjured and branded with infamy, all officers and judges”
 who should proceed in virtue of the ordinances of May 8.  “The authority
of the king is unlimited for doing good to his subjects,” said one of the
presidents, “but everybody should put limits to it when it turns towards
oppression.”  It was the very commandant of the royal troops whom the
magistrates thus reproached with their passive obedience.

Normandy confined herself to declarations and speeches; other provinces
went beyond those bounds: Brittany claimed performance “of the marriage
contract between Louis XII. and the Duchess Anne.”  Notwithstanding the
king’s prohibition, the Parliament met at Rennes.  A detachment of
soldiers having been ordered to disperse the magistrates, a band of
gentlemen, supported by an armed mob, went to protect the deliberations
of the court.  Fifteen officers fought duels with fifteen gentlemen.  The
court issued a decree of arrest against the holders of the king’s
commission.  The youth of Nantes hurried to the aid of the youth of
Rennes.  The intermediary commission of the states ordered the bishops to
have the prayers said which were customary in times of public calamity,
and a hundred and thirty gentlemen carried to the governor a declaration
signed by the noblesse of almost the whole province.  “We, members of the
noblesse of Brittany, do declare infamous those who may accept any place,
whether in the new administration of justice or in the administration of
the states, which is not recognized by the laws and constitutions of the
province.”  A dozen of them set off for Versailles to go and denounce the
ministers to Louis XVI.  Being put in the Bastille, eighteen of their
friends went to demand then back; they were followed by fifty others.
The officers of the Bassigny regiment had taken sides with the
opposition, and discussed the orders sent to them.  Among the great lords
of the province, attached to the king’s own person, MM. de La Tremoille,
de Rieux, and de Guichen left the court to join their protests to those
of their friends; the superintendent, Bertrand de Molleville, was hanged-
in effigy and had to fly.

In Bearn, the peasantry had descended from the mountains; hereditary
proprietors of their little holdings, they joined the noblesse to march
out and meet the Duke of Guiche, sent by the king to restore order.
Already the commandant of the province had been obliged to authorize the
meeting of the Parliament.  The Bearnese bore in front of their ranks the
cradle of Henry IV., carefully preserved in the Castle of Pau.  “We are
no rebels,” they said: “we claim our contract and fidelity to the oaths
of a king whom we love.  The Bearnese is free-born, he will not die a
slave.  Let the king have all from us in love and not by force; our blood
is his and our country’s.  Let none come to take our lives when we are
defending our liberty.”

Legal in Normandy, violent in Brittany, tumultuous in Bearn, the
parliamentary protests took a politic and methodical form in Dauphiny.
An insurrection amongst the populace of Grenoble, soon supported by the
villagers from the mountains, had at first flown to arms at the sound of
the tocsin.  The members of the Parliament, on the point of leaving the
city, had been detained by force, and their carriages had been smashed.
The troops offered little resistance; an entry was effected into the
house of the governor, the Duke of Clermont-Tonnerre, and, with an axe
above his head, the insurgents threatened to hang him to the chandelier
in his drawing-room if he did not convoke the Parliament.  Ragged
ruffians ran to the magistrates, and compelled them to meet in the
sessions-hall.  The members of Parliament succeeded with great difficulty
in pacifying the mob.  As soon as they found themselves free, they
hastened away into exile.  Other hands had taken up their quarrel.  A
certain number of members of the three orders met at the town hall, and,
on their private authority, convoked for the 21st of July the special
states of Dauphiny, suppressed a while before by Cardinal Richelieu.

The Duke of Clermont-Tonnerre had been superseded by old Marshal Vaux,
rough and ready.  He had at his disposal twenty thousand men.  Scarcely
had he arrived at Grenoble, when he wrote to Versailles.  “It is too
late,” he said.  The prerogatives of royal authority were maintained,
however.  The marshal granted a meeting of the states-provincial, but he
required permission to be asked of him.  He forbade the assembly to be
held at Grenoble.  It was in the Castle of Vizille, a former residence
of the dauphins, that the three orders of Dauphiny met, closely united
together in wise and patriotic accord.  The Archbishop of Vienne, Lefranc
de Pompignan, brother of the poet, lately the inveterate foe of Voltaire,
an ardently and sincerely pious man, led his clergy along the most
liberal path; the noblesse of the sword, mingled with the noblesse of the
robe, voted blindly all the resolutions of the third estate; these were
suggested by the real head of the assembly, M. Mounier, judge-royal of
Grenoble, a friend of M. Necker’s, an enlightened, loyal, honorable man,
destined ere long to make his name known over the whole of France by his
courageous resistance to the outbursts of the National Assembly.
Unanimously the three orders presented to the king their claims to the
olden liberties of the province; they loudly declared, however, that they
were prepared for all sacrifices and aspired to nothing but the common
rights of all Frenchmen.  The double representation of the third in the
estates of Dauphiny was voted without contest, as well as equal
assessment of the impost intended to replace forced labor.  Throughout
the whole province the most perfect order had succeeded the first
manifestations of popular irritation.

It was now more than a year since Brienne had become chief minister.
MM. de Segur and de Castries had retired, refusing to serve under a man
whom they did not esteem.  Alone, shut up in his closet, the archbishop
listened without emotion to the low murmur of legal protests, the noisy
tumult of insurrections.  “I have foreseen all, even civil war.  The king
shall be obeyed, the king knows how to make himself obeyed,” he kept
repeating in the assured tones of an oracle.  Resolved not to share the
responsibility of the reverse he foresaw, Baron de Breteuil sent in his

Meanwhile the treasury was found to be empty; Brienne appealed to the
clergy, hoping to obtain from ecclesiastical wealth one of those
gratuitous gifts which had often come in aid of the State’s necessities.
The Church herself was feeling the influence of the times.  Without
relaxing in her pretensions to the maintenance of privileges, the
ecclesiastical assembly thought itself bound to plead the cause of that
magistracy which it had so, often fought.  “Our silence,” said the
remonstrances, “would be a crime, of which the nation and posterity would
never absolve us.  Your Majesty has just effected at the bed of justice
of May 8, a great movement as regards things and persons.  Such ought to
be a consequence rather than a preliminary of the States-general; the
will of a prince which has not been enlightened by his courts may be
regarded as a momentary will.  Your Majesty has issued an edict carrying