Le Roi Manque

EARLY in the month of February, 1680, Louis XIV. of France dispatched Bossuet, Bishop of Condom, with Madame de Maintenon, to meet and welcome the bride of his son, the Princess Marie Anne Victoire of Bavaria, then approaching Paris by the slow stages of a royal progress.

It had been tacitly agreed that the dauphin of France should be early married. Monseigneur, as he was styled by will of the king, was the only legitimate son of Louis, and possessed a curiously anomalous character. With all the weakness of the Bourbon race, he had none of its ability, and lived a cipher at court, his personality always failing to climb to the height of his exalted position. Yet never had life opened more brightly than his. His early military campaigns disclosed the promise of qualities which failed to develop to fruition. He issued from the hands of the great Bossuet, his instructor, apparently without receiving any permanent impression from the scheme of education so lucidly explained in the bishop’s book, The Education of the Dauphin. He seemed soon to have been regarded as practically out of the line of succession, one of those curious intermediate organizations occurring in nature, which appear hardly to attain to separate existence, but which are indispensable in preserving the unity of successive generations. He indeed boasted, later in life, that, as the son and father of kings, he was content not to reign in person.

It is hardly probable that Monseigneur was seriously consulted in the choice of a wife. He took everything meekly from the paternal hand, — a snub, a tip, a wife, what you will! The king arranged all matters connected with the marriage of his son with the Bavarian princess, Marie Anne Victoire, the daughter of Henriette Adelaide of Savoy, granddaughter of Henry IV. through her mother, Christine of France. In addition to the illustrious personages whom the king, as we have seen, dispatched to meet the bride, a secret messenger was sent, commissioned to transmit to his royal master a true and faithful account of the personal appearance of the princess. Madame de Maintenon assured the king, in repeated letters, that the Bavarian princess was agreeable in person, perfect in figure, with fine throat, hands, and arms ; and that much wit and dignity were associated in her, with a very natural desire to please. “ Sire,” reported Sanguin, the secret messenger, “ you will be perfectly satisfied with Madame la Dauphine after the first shock is over.” Nothing is said of the impression to be made by Monseigneur upon his youthful bride. She probably had her own hopes and expectations, and had written to the dauphin a pretty, maidenly letter, embellished with various graceful nuances of style. Louis had not only tutored his son in the proper etiquette to be observed by royal personages on such occasions, but had prepared for his use a sort of geographical chart of a lover’s delicately graduated attentions, somewhat like the Carte du Tendre of Mademoiselle Scudéry. But that fatal first coup d’œil of the long nose and forehead of the princess ! — it was that which doubtless caused the dauphin, though so well instructed, to forget to salute the bride on handing her from her carriage, upon her arrival.

But the king was satisfied with his choice, and graciously accepted all her imputed graces ; and the obsequious courtiers were also in raptures over Madame la Dauphine’s fine teeth, hair, figure, hands, and throat. She was really a good and sensible woman, but the stock of solid German virtues which was a portion of her dowry proved, alas, both useless and unwelcome at the frivolous French court. She probably cherished a few illusions, which vanished all too soon, for it speedily appeared that never was human being so misplaced. Did a lady in waiting whisper some graceful scandal in her ear, she would withdraw coldly, saying, " I have no curiosity.” She did not like play, nor hunting, nor gossip, but reading, both prose and poetry, and " to please the king.” She would be seized with a most inopportune desire to confess herself, when there was only the uncomprehending ear of a French priest to receive the confession. However, it did not much matter ; absolution was always sure to follow a royal confession. A little round of duty was faithfully performed, but it was duty held so close to the dauphine’s honest vision as almost to obscure heaven itself. Still, out of sympathy as she was with her environment, she was clever enough to take in her true position as wife of an inferior man, who was also an indifferent husband and a despised prince. She recognized, alas, that her own value in the social equation was simply as prospective mother of an heir to the throne of France. As the hope of a child was deferred, the spirits of the dauphine drooped, for she felt already closing around her the isolation which earlier oppressed the gentle Queen Maria Theresa.

However, on the 6th of August, 1682, the world of Paris went mad with joy, for a son was born to the dauphin, another Louis, who received the title of Duke of Burgundy. The king showed his delight by suspending the rules of court etiquette, and (royal condescension could no further go) all who would approach his sacred person were allowed to do so. Everybody was happy, or feigned to be ; but one class of human beings needed no spur to joy, the prisoners for debt, for whose release the king appropriated 1,000,000 crowns. The Swiss Guards went mad with the unreasoning joy of the Frenchman, which is born of nothing, and which is kin to far different emotions. So they danced about the hogsheads which had been brimming with wine, and set fire to whatever combustible material they could find, whether it was the planks intended for the fine flooring, or the poles, of the Duc d’Aumont’s sedanchair. When there was nothing else to burn, the straw paillasses of the Guards served for fuel.

Of what spiritual descent was the young Louis, Duke of Burgundy, whose advent was thus hailed ? It would have puzzled one, curious in matters of heredity, to select for him a spiritual progenitor from among his ducal and royal ancestors, beginning with handsome Antony of Bourbon, and descending the line to Monseigneur. Physically he was their humble debtor, for theirs was a noble race, whose personal traits, so marked and so distinguished, were a heritage to be desired. They had other gifts, too, in their hands, valor, strength, ability, persuasion. Whose figure is more sternly grand than the Constable, Charles ? — he of whom said English Henry, on the Field of the Cloth of Gold, “ If he were my subject, he should not long keep his head upon his shoulders,” so haughty was his mien. But he was forced, by royal ingratitude and by royal spoliation from his native land, in the hope of redress through the favor of a foreign prince. We all know how the story ended, in what disappointment and despair, and must believe that the dying Bayard’s words to the Constable — " Pity me not. I die as a man of honor. It is I who should pity you, to find you serving against your prince, your country, your oath ” — found echo in a heart which had yet been tempted to revolt by every species of infamous wrong.

It was not from him, however, that the latest of his line inherited, nor from the first of the crowned Bourbons, Henry of Navarre. In the memoirs of many close observers, we have preserved to us a true portrait of the king whom all loved and many distrusted. Brave in war, true in friendship, but false when the smiles of fair ladies were the price of treachery, honest in the conviction of the moment, a winning summary of apparently opposing characteristics, Henry was the idol of a people who, however, took their own private precautions against him. Still less were the young prince’s gods those of Louis the Magnificent, fourteenth of his name. It is hard to believe that a heart which fed on the husks of ceremony and self-indulgence had ever felt a throb of generous enthusiasm for the sufferings of his people. At best the feeling was short-lived, and the king whose reign was made glorious by the lustre of the greatest names in French history is to-day best remembered by the women’s hearts he broke, by the precious blood he spilled, and by the genius used for the insufficient end of justifying to the world the policy of the self-styled god who sat upon the French throne.

Of what spiritual fibre were the parents of the young Duke of Burgundy we have already seen. To the temperament inherited from the dauphine was doubtless due the strongly religious nature of her sons, especially of the two elder. The mother was short-lived, but up to the time of her death — when the little Louis was eight years old — she no doubt gave to her children all the tender care possible to royal parentage. It is pleasant to know that her heart must at last have been satisfied, not only in the joy of motherhood, but in the consciousness of having performed her whole duty to the state and to her family.

The governor of the young prince, the Duc de Beauvilliers, was a most fortunate selection; one more important still in its secondary results. Obliged to select a preceptor for his charge, his choice fell upon the Abbé Fénelon, then associated with the Society of St. Sulpice. Of the youth of the young prince up to this date we have little or no information. Saint Simon, however, while depreciating Fénelon, and ignoring any influence he may have had in developing the Duke of Burgundy’s character, draws a startling picture of the prince’s early traits and dispositions. “ His youth,” he says, “ made every one tremble : stern and choleric to the last degree, and even against inanimate objects impetuous with frenzy ; incapable of suffering the slightest resistance, even from the boars or the elements, without flying into a passion that threatened to destroy his body ; obstinate to excess ; in short, abandoned to every passion, and transported by every pleasure. Naturally disposed towards cruelty, he looked down upon all men as from the sky, as atoms with whom he had nothing in common.” To this picture are added evidences of the early precocity of an intellect which astonished everybody by its extent and vivacity.

Such was the pupil confided to the care of the Abbé Fénelon. And what was the teacher, as he appeared to other eyes than the prejudiced ones of Saint Simon ? I think there are few literary portraits more exquisite than Henri Martin’s description of Fénelon : “ that noble and touching figure ; one of the purest and most beloved that remains engraved on the heart of France.” “ Never was man more completely revealed by his physiognomy. The fine proportions of his large features and of his whole person ; the fire of his eyes, tempered by an incomparable sweetness; his serious and smiling mouth, half unclosed, as if to suffer his soul to pour itself out upon all about him, exercised an almost irresistible fascination around him; inspiring men with an overpowering sympathy, and women with a chaste and impassioned attraction which seemed not to belong to this world. One felt that in this tender nature the heart had inherited all that had been ravished from the senses by priestly oaths. . . . The combat against nature had left but slight traces on that physiognomy. Scarcely a remnant of melancholy mingled a shadow with the serene joy which breathed from it. Spinoza had only known by austere intellect the joy of the soul that possesses God. Fénelon knew it by feeling; and it was not that light without heat of rational evidence, but all the flame of divine love, which made his countenance radiant, and illumined his discourses. Thence the equal charm of his face and his speech. One was moved before he had opened Ids lips; he was ravished, fascinated, when he had spoken. Whether he spoke or wrote, the same harmonious and inexhaustible abundance overflowed without effort from a heart which nothing could exhaust.”

For his pupil’s instruction Fénelon prepared a series of books, the first of which was the Fables, followed by the Dialogues of the Dead. In the latter work famous historic personages were opposed to each other, for the purpose of contrasting governments and of advocating theories of political reform. The great prose poem of Télémaque did not appear until a much later period, and, in fact, did much to precipitate Fénelon’s fall. Henri Martin calls it “ an Odyssey, transformed by Plato and Christianity.” The formation of a model kingdom is its fundamental idea, and its ideal society is founded upon principles of truth and justice. This society is not a republic, but a constitutional monarchy, governed by just laws, which deprive the king of all power of arbitrary rule. Extraordinary as was such doctrine administered to the heir of the most absolute of monarchs, it was less strange than the constitution of the ideal court. Or, rather, there is no court, pomp, or ceremony ; the tilling of the ground and the exercise of other arts of peace are the occupations of the people. In fact, the whole system of education of the prince was directed towards uprooting all established hereditary customs, that the seed of high endeavor, founded on principles of right and justice, might, in ground so prepared, spring up and bear the fruit of righteous deeds. There were enough scandalized courtiers at hand to convey promptly to the king information of the dangerous tendencies of the Abbé Fénelon. Incapable of reform himself, unable even to perceive its need in his own rule, Louis became at last suspicious of the influence to which the heir to the throne had become exposed, and the bestowal upon the abbé of the archbishopric of Cambrai was a virtual exile, since it removed Fénelon from the court for nearly three fourths of the year. Still, strange as it may seem, it was religious difficulties, not political, which precipitated the bishop’s final fall. Much of the theoretical teaching of Fénelon must have seemed to the king as the dreams and hopes of a visionary, whose relation to practical ends was vague and harmless. But Fenelon’s association with Madame Guyon, and his supposed bias in favor of the doctrines of her following, roused against him the opposing forces of all parties in the church. His book, Examination of the Maxims of the Saints, created for him a bitter and powerful enemy in Bossuet, Bishop of Condom, who appealed to the king to crush both heresy and heretic. Fénelon’s book was condemned by the Pope, and he himself sentenced by the king to absolute banishment to his diocese. Fénelon submitted, with that complete renunciation which marked a true son of the church, to the will of his earthly sovereign and to the mandate of the Pope. From his retreat at Cambrai he still, from time to time, as occasion presented, wrote to his former pupil words of tender counsel. They met again in this world but twice, and even then the expression of their love was repressed by the presence of the king’s witnesses.

And what had his companionship, guidance, friendship, accomplished for his beloved pupil? It is still an open question what share education and environment have in forming the youthful character. We have seen what were the temper and habits of the Duke of Burgundy when confided to the care of Fénelon, and so marvelous was the change wrought in him during the formative period that Saint Simon, to avoid yielding to the preceptor any share in the result, prefers to ascribe the whole to a miracle of divine grace wrought upon the prince between his eighteenth and twentieth years. “ From the abyss,” he says, “ he came out affable, gentle, humane, moderate, patient, modest, penitent, humble.” The first unaided steps he took led him towards asceticism, as the natural expression of his ardent religious zeal. A devotee was most inconvenient as a grandson, the king finding the virtues of his heir a constant reproach to himself, while the courtiers looked forward with amusingdismay to the future reign of a sovereign who frowned with unconcealed disgust upon the licentiousness of the day, was not inclined towards strictly harmless pleasure in excess, and found the day too short for his studies, for prayer, and for pious reading. Fénelon then wrote to his pupil: “ Religion does not consist in a scrupulous observance of petty formalities. It consists for every one in the virtues proper to one’s condition. A great prince ought not to serve God as a hermit or a private individual.” A certain lack of decision, for which the teacher often rebuked his pupil, resulted from the purely intellectual pursuits of the young prince. Living in a world of ideas, before his faculties were coördinated, he found the difficulty experienced by all students, of adjusting theoretical principles to the requirements of practical life. Perhaps a more remarkable character never developed under so strange surroundings. In a court where pleasure was the aim and end of life, where sin sat triumphant on the chief seats, and where all higher and nobler things were but a jest and mockery, grew into manhood a youth absolutely pure, serious, earnest, devout, whose chief delight was to formulate and elaborate the plans for public reform which, with his master’s aid, he had conceived; a prince who looked forward to the crown solely that he might serve his people effectually, and realize some of his cherished hopes and projects. Alas ! these were destined to remain only unsubstantial visions. That he was committed to the narrow policy of the Roman Catholic Church, that his aims were too high, his habits too ascetic, for the requirements of court life, was the common reproach of those who could neither understand nor appreciate him. It is certainly true that the history of the royal family of France offered little precedent to govern the courtiers’ action.

The influence which proved most powerful iu softening the angularities of the young duke’s character was that of the duchess, to whom, when a mere boy, he had been married. Marie Adelaide, his young wife, was the daughter of Victor Amadeus, Duke of Savoy, one of the most accomplished, subtle, and faithless men of his times. Thoroughly acquainted with the character of the French court, he was convinced that the future queen of France should be educated in the country of her adoption. He had therefore consented to the early marriage, for some years a merely nominal one, which took place on the 16th of October, 1696. The Savoyard princess had been thoroughly instructed in the part she was to play, and in the traits of character of the king and Madame de Maintenon, the two persons whose favor it was essential she should gain. She parted from her Italian attendants without emotion, and was so fortunate as thoroughly to charm the king from the moment of meeting. Writing to Madame de Maintenon, he says of her: —

“ She is most graceful, and has the handsomest figure I have ever seen; dressed to be the model of a painter, with lively and beautiful eyes, eyelashes black and admirable, a clear complexion, white and red, the most beautiful flaxen hair that can be seen, and the most abundant. She is thin, as is proper at her age, with a vermilion mouth, full lips, white teeth, long and ill-arranged, hands well made, but of the color of her age.”

Saint Simon, who was enthusiastically devoted to both husband and wife, draws a much less flattering picture of the princess, but at a later period : “ She was regularly plain, with cheeks hanging, a forehead too prominent, a nose without meaning, thick, biting lips, hair and eyebrows of dark chestnut and well planted, the most speaking and most beautiful eyes in the world, few teeth, and those all rotten, about which she was the first to speak and jest, the most beautiful complexion and skin, the throat long, with the suspicion of a goitre, which did not ill become her; her head carried gallantly, majestically, gracefully, her mien noble, her smile most expressive, her figure long, round, slender, easy, perfectly shaped, her walk that of a goddess upon clouds. Grace accompanied her every step and shone through her most ordinary conversation. She wished to please even the most useless and most ordinary persons, and yet without making an effort to do so. You were tempted to believe her wholly and solely devoted to those with whom she found herself. . . . She was the ornament of all diversions, the life and soul of all pleasure.”

She won the selfish affection of the king, and, what was still more important, that of Madame de Maintenon, by her personal attractions and by means of her ready wit, which taught her how to employ her knowledge of their characters. Of her wonderful tact Saint Simon says, “ In public, serious and measured with the king and timidly decorous with Madame de Maintenon, whom she never addressed except as ‘ ma tante,’ — thus prettily confounding friendship and rank. In private, prattling, skipping, flying around them ; now perched upon the sides of their armchairs, now playing upon their knees, she clasped them round the neck, embraced them, rumpled them, tickled them under the chin, tormented them, rummaged their tables, their papers, their letters, broke open the seals and read the contents, in spite of opposition, if she saw that her waggeries were likely to be taken in good part.”

Thus from the first, as I have said, she succeeded in charming the king and Madame de Maintenon, who always regarded her with indulgent affection; but the price paid for such favor was not light. It meant always being ready, under every stress of circumstance and all conditions of body, to amuse and interest the king ; never betraying weariness, pain, exhaustion, if the monarch chose that the world should amuse itself. It entailed seeing him every day, on going out or coming in ; if up half the night at some court ball, still going to embrace the king at his waking, that he might be entertained with a description of the fête. Even during the reign of the brevet queens, the king would never allow the most delicate condition of woman to prevent the favorite’s appearing in full dress upon all occasions, nor to let it interfere with her accompanying him in his carriage upon excursions or on long journeys. The great Louis piously thanked God when, by accident, the hope of a child was lost to the Duchess of Burgundy, because now there would be no obstacle to her paying attention to his every caprice.

So charming a creature as the duchess could not fail to exert a strong influence over her husband, when finally allowed to share his life. His ascetic habits gradually yielded to her sportive attempts to attract him to her little court, full of gay girls and youthful matrons. His friend says, “ The bark of the tree little by little softened, without affecting the solidity of the trunk.” Although her natural instinctive desire to please exposed the duchess, in a society where scandal was the breath of life, to suspicions of coquetry, it is still quite certain that her whole love was her husband’s, whose interests she espoused with ardent zeal, lending the aid of her shrewd practical nature to his more visionary temperament.

The early military campaigns of the Duke of Burgundy had proved him possessed of courage, coolness, and military intelligence. After the siege of Briesbach, he returned to court, and did not rejoin the army until 1708, when he was given joint command with Vendôme of the French forces serving in Flanders. The public condition of France was terrible, only exceeded in general misery by the desolation caused by the wars of the Fronde. The long war of the Spanish Succession had been followed by the fatal attempt of the French king to support the claims of the Pretender to the English crown. Now, Villiers commanding in the Alps, and the Due d’Orléans in Spain, Vendôme and the dauphin were sent to oppose Marlborough in Flanders, in the hope of exciting a revolution in Belgium, while the Duke of Berwick with six thousand men made a descent upon Scotland, to raise again the standard of the Stuarts. There were never men more unlike than the two commanders so unfortunately associated. Vendôme, the grandson of Henry IV. and Gabrielle d’Estrées, was a man of ability, but his personal character, if it were not stained with crime, was tainted with almost every vice. In Saint Simon’s pages he appears in so horrible a light that one would fain believe his historian biased by prejudice of a personal nature. It was hinted that his great favor with the king was due to Louis XlV.’s known partiality for noncommissioned children, but it was probably obtained by Vendôme’s shrewd tact and power of adroit flattery. As his equal in command he was given the Duke of Burgundy, cold, serious, chaste, high principled, abhorring both through nature and grace the habits which Vendôme took no pains to conceal, and of which, indeed, he felt no shame. From the very opening of military operations, the two commanders were at variance on every question of strategy, and the fatal delay caused by this want of unity gave opportunity to Prince Eugene, on the failure of the Scottish expedition, to join forces with Marlborough, and oppose a formidable body to the French. Still, the first engagements resulted favorably for the armies of France; but although the occupation of Ghent and Bruges gave them every advantage of position, yet the want of harmony prevailing between the French generals caused immeasurable disaster. They hesitated when prompt action was of vital importance, made uncertain moves when combined attack might have changed the fate of war, allowed the enemy to bring in its supply trains under every favorable circumstance, until defeat became inevitable through the general want of confidence in its leaders which pervaded the army.

On the other side were the great soldiers Prince Eugene and Marlborough, — commanders whose previous victories bad been won by virtue of a perfect understanding of each other’s tactics, and of entire accord on all points of strategy.

The conflicting judgments which early appeared when the defense of the Dender or the Scheldt river was discussed continued throughout that fatal campaign to its deplorable sequel in the capitulation of Lille and its heroic garrison under Maréchal Boufflers.

As victory after victory advanced the allied army into French Flanders, Yendôme’s despair at the threatened loss of the brilliant reputation he had won drove him to apply to the king to decide military questions whose simplest conditions Louis could not know, and of which, therefore, it was impossible that he should wisely judge. In the mad rage of disappoimnent and conscious error, Vendôme addressed insulting language to the prince, who met it with the calmness of Christian courage. It was, however, most unfortunate that the religious practices of the Duke of Burgundy — his employing hours of fateful import in invoking divine help by means of processions and masses — should have weakened his influence with the army at large, although his personal character was revered and his courage unassailed. At last, when the precious conquests of the early years of the king’s reign had been irretrievably lost, and French Flanders dismembered from the realm, both commanders were summoned to Paris, where, through the efforts of Vendôme, the Duke of Burgundy found himself in deep disgrace. The strong attachment which Louis at a later period felt for his grandson was then wanting, to suggest excuse or palliation to the offended king. The prince’s severity of morals accused him, his wellknown political principles displeased him, and he lent a willing ear while Vendôme cast reproach upon the duke’s military fame and exalted his own course of action. Some one was wanted upon whom to throw the blame of the late terrible reverses, and the Duke of Burgundy supplied that want. With the displeasure of the king as warrant and precedent, the little world of the court hastened ostentatiously to neglect him. The bourgeoisie lampooned him and made merry songs at his expense, while his father, Monseigneur, openly joined the cabal against him. It was at this period that a faint, flickering fire of ambition was lighted in the heart of the grand dauphin. His coterie, in which was included Vendôme, encouraged him with hopes of sovereignty, which the daily increasing infirmities of the king rendered more flattering ; and it was said that a sketch of his coronation robes was found among Monseigneur’s papers, on his decease. That the royal and public disfavor with which the Duke of Burgundy was regarded was not permanent was due to the Duchess of Burgundy. Further military command was, however, refused to the duke, in spite of his passionate entreaties.

The king had hearkened exclusively to the representations of Vendôme; it was therefore necessary to obtain from him an impartial hearing of the case, — a favor difficult to secure, since, having once taken his position, he was rarely open to influence directly exerted. Open appeal or undisguised opposition to the king was always worse than useless, and this none knew better than Madame de Maintenon. To shake any opinion Louis had formed, to bring him to the desired view of a subject, required the utmost tact and address. He must have the question so artfully suggested to his mind as to induce the belief that he had himself originated the change of base. The woman’s hand which in fact held the reins of government was actually believed by the king to be best suited to strictly feminine occupations. Madame de Maintenon sat quietly in her apartment, with her needlework in hand, while Louis worked with his ministers. A furtive nod, a significant glance, a suspicion of a shrug, conveyed to the ministers instruction as to the necessary omissions, additions, evasions, to be made in their papers. All documents presented to the king were inspected by Madame de Maintenon, who, by the exercise of her own delicate tact, brought round her royal master to the desired point.

But although she undoubtedly did much favorably to dispose the king towards his grandson, yet the glories of the victory were won by the young Duchess of Burgundy. She acquainted herself with every detail of the matters in dispute during the unfortunate campaign in Flanders, seeking information wherever it could be obtained. Her case being skillfully arranged, she succeeded in presenting it to the king ; exercising all the arts of tact and address which her quick intellect could suggest, and with the warmth of ardent pleading taught by her woman’s heart. It would be too detailed to follow all the strategic moves required by the conditions of the case. There were a few warm friends of the duke’s to support his cause, men of high character, like the Duc de Beauvilliers and the Duc de Chevreuse, to whom the vices of Vendôme were most abhorrent. At last the king’s eyes were opened to the true nature of the favorite upon whom he had so long lavished his bounty. Smarting under the humiliation of defeat upon defeat, ending in the loss of territory whose acquisition had been the glory of his youth, Louis was finally prepared to visit with deserved disgrace the man to whose unfaithfulness such defeat and loss could be plainly ascribed. The light of royal favor was little by little withdrawn from Vendôme. No military commission was issued to him, nor hope of such in the future; next, his generalship was demanded. He met this with apparent cheerful submission, though with deep inward mortification. But the Duchess of Burgundy was unsatisfied ; as long as her husband’s enemy still paid his court to the king, and was permitted to appear at Meudon and at Marly, her vengeance was incomplete. At her urgent request, it was hinted to the Duc de Vendôme that his presence at Meudon was not agreeable to the duchess, which meant his immediate withdrawal. Marly, that palace of delights, was still open to the unlucky man, but again a hint was given of the duchess’s wishes, and, shut out from that Eden, what remained to the banished one but obscurity and social extinction ?

On the 14th of April, 1711, the grand dauphin died, but, save that he chose a most inconvenient mode of exit from this world, — exposing to the dangers of contagion from small-pox people who had always carefully ignored Monseigneur, — there were very few to lament his death. One of the most curious of the many picturesque scenes described by Saint Simon is that portraying the groups about Monseigneur’s death-bed and assembled in the antechamber. Fulldressed conventional grief was there in the person of Madame, who arrived howling at Meudon in the middle of the night; moderate affection, too, represented by the king, who, having no anxiety concerning the succession (Monseigneur, even as a cipher, not adding value to that equation), shed a few scanty tears; a little genuine sorrow also, shown by the Princesse de Conti, who was said to love her half-brother. All these elements were present, and some true unalloyed grief, — that of the servants of the grand dauphin, who, prostrating themselves before the king, bewailed themselves, and besought him to pity their lost condition. There was grief of still another kind to disturb that death-bed, the despair of the Duchesse de Berri, the daughter of the Duc d’Orléans, who was also the grandchild of the king and Madame de Montespan, — despair at the elevation of her envied sister-in-law, the new dauphine.

If life’s end seals the sum of life’s work, what other emotion could Monseigneur’s death have awakened ? For years he had been a nobody at court, engaged in petty cabals, not against his dreaded father, but against his son, whose virtues he both feared and detested. He copied the king’s vices, in a futile, absurd fashion, and had his own coterie, who looked forward to aggrandizement in the event of Monseigneur’s accession to the throne. Ludicrously enough, he had also his lefthanded wife, a brown, stolid, fat Mademoiselle Choin, who, after the prince’s death, sank back into obscurity. Let us lay upon Monseigneur’s grave the memory of his life’s one noble act, his earnest protest against the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.

Monseigneur being left to his valets, the world of courtiers thronged to pay homage to the new dauphin in his own apartment, which at once became the centre of excited interest.

From this period the king, whose health had long been visibly failing, made a point of drawing the Duke of Burgundy into the consideration of all state measures, compelling his attendance at the meetings of the privy council, and thus making him familiar with public affairs, while he acquainted himself with the dauphin’s ability and tested his judgment. “ Here,” he said, referring to his grandson, “is a young prince who will soon succeed me, and by his virtue and piety will make the church still more flourishing and the kingdom happier.” The duke applied himself with marked and lively interest to his new duties, and, incited by the king and Madame de Maintenon, the tide of court favor rolled to the feet of the royal pair. That closing scene of the drama was bright with all the promise that earthly favor could give.

On the 5th of February, 1712, the dauphine was attacked with what appeared to be the pain and inflammation frequently occasioned by her defective teeth. Still, she was as usual in attendance upon the king, and at last, though then suffering exquisite torture from a small centre of pain beneath the temple, rose from her bed, and, in her morning robe, played at cards with the king. Another day developed livid spots under the skin, which were really symptomatic of purple measles, an epidemic then fatally prevalent in Paris. But these spots, in the existing state of medical science, were very generally assumed to be unmistakable proofs of poison. To this supposition confirmation was lent by the disappearance of a box of fine Spanish snuff, given to the dauphine by the Duc de Noailles at the beginning of her illness. The box could never afterwards be found. But the serious illness of any distinguished person, who stood in the way of some one else, was always regarded as presumptive proof of poison, and the removal of the box was doubtless due to fear of the king’s displeasure should he discover that the dauphine was addicted to snuff-taking. After being put to the torture by the greater question of emetics, frequent and violent, and by the lesser question of repeated bleeding in the foot, — all under the supervision of the chief executioners, known as the king’s physicians, — it was found that even the previous perfect physical condition of the dauphine could not resist the combined forces of disease and remedies. It was suggested to her that she confess herself and take the sacrament, — “ only in case of accidents.” She was surprised, — she had expected to live so long, — but prepared for death calmly; only refusing in her last hours the Jesuit confessor whom the arbitrary king had forced upon her, and sending for one of the sect called Recollets.

The dauphin had watched by her bedside silently, almost apathetically, stunned by the magnitude of his affliction, and also by the approach of the same dreaded disease, whose symptoms soon were unmistakably present.

Nothing could exceed the horror and apprehension of the court at the blow which thus descended upon the kingdom, the royal family, and society itself, which had centred around the youthful pair. On the 18th of February the dauphin too died, and was followed in a few days by his eldest son, the rosy little Duc de Bretagne. The baby, Duc d’Anjou, the only remaining member of the little family, was seized with the same disease which had proved so fatal to the others, and, as the strange malady was still believed to be due to the effects of poison, the child’s recovery was ascribed to an antidote administered by his governess, the Duchesse de Ventadour. This lovely boy, fondly named in early youth by his people “ Le Bien Aimé, ” the son of a high-souled, noble father, grew up to be Louis XV.! At least it can be said in his favor that he never ceased to feel and express gratitude to the Duchesse de Ventadour for a service which to the world, alas, was but an equivocal benefit.

The general suspicions that poison had carried to the grave the family of the heir to the throne were certainly sustained by strange reports. Boudin, chief physician to the king, warned the dauphine, a day or two before her seizure, that he had received undoubted proof of a plot to poison the dauphin and herself. Twenty-four hours after this communication was made, but disregarded. a message of like import was received in dispatches from the king of Spain. Popular suspicion pointed at once to the Duc d’Orléans, whose daughter had been recently married to the next heir to the throne, the Duc de Berri, as author of the triple murder. He was a man of depraved habits, yet of fine intellect and cultivated tastes, one of which, the passion for chemical research, had long caused him to be regarded as dabbling in the black arts. From chemistry to murder there is naturally but a step, and the duke barely escaped falling a victim — and a most innocent one — to popular fury. Saint Simon openly accuses the Duchesse de Berri of the crime, not only because she would directly benefit thereby, but because she was a woman of most horribly depraved habits, and vicious to the core, who eventually fell a victim, at an early age, to the consequences of her excesses. But the survival of the little Duc d’Anjou put an end to suspicions of both father and daughter, in which, happily, the king never shared. We all know now that, although the dauphin and his family were undoubtedly poisoned, it was by means of poison received through residence in the ill-drained, ill-ventilated royal houses, and not administered by the victims’ nearest relatives.

The blow which removed his grandson and heir fell with crushing weight upon the king. Although he survived until 1715, it was only as a brokenhearted, feeble old man. The joy and delight of his later years, the loving, winning dauphine, took with her all that had of late made his age and infirmities less burdensome. Yet he struggled with his grief, saying to Villiers, with weeping, “ You see my condition: in one month to lose my grandson, my granddaughter, and their son, all of great promise, and tenderly loved. God is punishing me.” Then, rising, he added, heroically, “ Let us leave my domestic misfortunes, and see how to avert those of the kingdom.”

The grief of all France at the death of the dauphin was deep and lasting. Men long survived who, bewailing the nation’s loss, believed that had so pure and upright a prince but lived the monarchy might have been preserved, and much of the subsequent evil been averted. The best thinkers of our day are not persuaded of this. It is conceded that the great ability of the lost prince, directed by his personal worth and by his liberal opinions, would have granted to his kingdom many much-desired measures of reform, and doubtless the fall of monarchical rule might have been deferred. But the enlightenment of the dauphin was hut partial, as was that of his master, Fénelon, and would always have been fettered by his absolute adherence to a narrow religious system. which must have made his government one of limited benefit to his people. To us it is difficult of belief that this true and noble lover of his fellowmen should see neither cruelty nor injustice in the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes ; and many of the reforms planned by Fénelon and his pupil were in their very nature ideally perfect, but entirely impracticable. Martin, who calls him “ a St. Louis, strayed into the generation of Voltaire,” says he would have ruled in a spirit inverse to that of the age. Perhaps, after all, we must acknowledge that it was happier for France and for himself that the life of this pure, true man was fated to be so short.

From the death-bed of the dauphine Saint Simon led him to his own room. “ He cast upon me a look that pierced my soul, and went away. I never saw him again. May I, by the mercy of God, see him eternally where God’s goodness has doubtless placed him ! ”

Ellen Terry Johnson.