HumanitiesWeb HumanitiesWeb
WelcomeHistoryLiteratureArtMusicPhilosophyResourcesHelp
Sort By Author Sort By Title
pixel

Resources
Sort By Author
Sort By Title

Search

Get Your Degree!

Find schools and get information on the program that’s right for you.

Powered by Campus Explorer

& etc
FEEDBACK

(C)1998-2012
All Rights Reserved.

Site last updated
28 October, 2012
Real Time Analytics
A Popular History of France Vol 6
CHAPTER LII. LOUIS XV., THE MINISTRY OF CARDINAL FLEURY., 1723-1748.
by Guizot, Francois Pierre Guillaume


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some days later Marshals Broglie and Coigny defeated the Austrians before Parma; the general-in-chief, M. de Mercy, had been killed on the 19th of September; the Prince of Wurtemberg, in his turn, succumbed at the battle of Guastalla, and yet these successes on the part of the French produced no serious result. The Spaniards had become masters of the kingdom of Naples and of nearly all Sicily; the Austrians had fallen back on the Tyrol, keeping a garrison at Mantua only. The Duke of Noailles, then at the head of the army, was preparing for the siege of the place, in order to achieve that deliverance of Italy which was as early as then the dream of France, but the King of Sardinia and the Queen of Spain were already disputing for Mantua; the Sardinian troops withdrew, and it was in the midst of his forced inactivity that the Duke of Noailles heard of the armistice signed in Germany. Cardinal Fleury, weary of the war which he had entered upon with regret, disquieted too at the new complications which he foresaw in Europe, had already commenced negotiations; the preliminaries were signed at Vienna in the month of October, 1735.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personae

Terms Defined

Referenced Works