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A Popular History of France From The Earliest Times
Louis XV., The Regency, And Cardinal Dubois. 1715-1723.
by Guizot, M.

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."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the pinnacle of his power and success the new comptroller-general fell into no illusion as to the danger of the position. "He had been forced to raise seven stories on foundations which he had laid for only three," said a contemporary, as clear-sighted as impartial. Some large shareholders were already beginning to quietly realize their profits. The warrants of the Compagnie des Indes had been assimilated to the bank-notes; and the enormous quantity of paper tended to lower its value. First, there was a prohibition against making payments in silver above ten francs, and in gold above three hundred. Soon afterwards money was dislegalized as a tender, and orders were issued to take every kind to the Bank on pain of confiscation, half to go to the informer. Informing became a horrible trade; a son denounced his father. The Regent openly violated law, and had this miscreant punished. The prince one day saw President Lambert de Vernon coming to visit him. "I am come," said the latter, "to denounce to your Royal Highness a man who has five hundred thousand livres in gold." The Duke of Orleans drew back a step. "Ah, Mr. President," he cried, "what low vocation have you taken to?" "Monseigneur," rejoined the president, "I am obeying the law; but your Royal Highness may be quite easy; it is myself whom I have come to denounce, in hopes of retaining at least a part of this sum, which I prefer to all the bank-notes." "My money is at the king's service," was the proud remark of Nicolai, premier president of the Exchequer-Chamber, "but it belongs to nobody." The great mass of the nation was of the same opinion as the two presidents; forty-five millions only found their way to the Bank; gold and silver were concealed everywhere. The crisis was becoming imminent; Law boldly announced that the value of the notes was reduced by a half. The public outcry was so violent that the Regent was obliged to withdraw the edict, as to which the council had not been consulted. "Since Law became comptroller-general, his head has been turned," said the prince. That same evening Law was arrested by the major of the Swiss; it was believed to be all over with him, but the admirable order in which were his books, kept by double entry after the Italian manner, as yet unknown in France, and the ingenious expedients he indicated for restoring credit, gave his partisans a moment's fresh confidence. He ceased to be comptroller-general, but he remained director of the Bank. The death-blow, however, had been dealt his system, for a panic terror had succeeded to the insensate enthusiasm of the early days. The Prince of Conti had set the example of getting back the value of his notes; four wagons had been driven up to his house laden with money. It was suffocation at the doors of the Bank, changing small notes, the only ones now payable in specie. Three men were crushed to death on one day in the crowd. It was found necessary to close the entrances to Quincampoix Street, in order to put a stop to the feverish tumult arising from desperate speculation. The multitude moved to the Place Vendome; shops and booths were thrown up; there was a share-fair; this ditty was everywhere sung in the streets:—
              "On Monday I bought share on share;
               On Tuesday I was a millionaire;
               On Wednesday took a grand abode;
               On Thursday in my carriage rode;
               On Friday drove to the Opera-ball;
               On Saturday came to the paupers' hall."

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

The public wrath and indignation fastened henceforth upon Law, the author and director of a system which had given rise to so many hopes, and had been the cause of so many woes. His carriage was knocked to pieces in the streets. President de Mesmes entered the Grand Chamber, singing with quite a solemn air,—
         "Sirs, sirs, great news!  What is it?
          It's—They've smashed Law's carriage all to bits."

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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