A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times - Volume VI. of VI.
by Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot
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By M. Guizot




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



















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."

"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.

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.

"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.' "

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 brief."

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.]

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.


"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.

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 respected."

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 eternity!"

"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 days.

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."

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 times.

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 for."

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 eighty-three.

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.


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.

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."

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