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tary right in the aristocracy, and to check the progress of studies and of intellect in the mass of the nation. Richelieu, had he lived to the commencement of the eighteenth century, might have conceived the former plan: and that minister's unshrinking use of the executioner's ax might have accomplished it, in which case the French monarch, like the Turk ish, would have found his authority checked merely by hi guards and by the Ulemas, the body of clerks and magistrates depositaries of the legal habits and prejudices of the people. But Louis XIV. did not dream of depriving the noblesse of their vital principle, hereditary right; and, consequently, they survived. They were, however, in a most oppressed state; authority, they had none in the government; they were employed in the armies, in which they acquired renown perhaps, and grade, but no solid remuneration. From the captain to the general, the officers of Louis XIV., instead of amassing fortunes from their pay, universally spent and wasted their own. A visit paid by Louis to a camp at Compiègne absolutely ruined the mareschal commanding, although the king paid him 10,000 livres towards the expenses. Military service, instead of being a resource to the noblesse, proved a tax upon them. Louis made them pay the capitation, the royal tenth, moreover took their plate; and, all things considered, the nobles, though exempt from the taille, contributed amply towards the expenses of the state in this reign. Those who fattened on the revenue were the ignoble class of contractors and financiers. It required the nicest and narrowest management on the part of the aristocracy to keep up their great fortunes; and this they only effected by means of distributing their younger sons in the church, or in the order of Malta, and keeping their daughters “sibyls in the corners of their old châteaux.” This expression, as well as the facts, is from St. Simon, who gives in full the history of several noble fami. lies, such as that of La Rochefoucault. No wonder, then, if we find the nobles discontented with the despotism of Louis XIV., and forming a party towards the end of his reign in tacit opposition: in this the magistracy joined, and the more independent portion of the church. Jansenism was the name to which they rallied, and which designated the anti-court party, most of whom in the mean time cared little for predestination or grace, or any of the original and abstract doctrines of Port Royal. They were political Jansenists in fact. Their first hopes were placed in the young duke of Burgundy, who had avowed sympathy for the degraded state of the aristocracy, and who had determined to restore them to influence. When this young prince met with an

1715. CHARACTER OF THE DUKE OF ORLEANS 1 41

untimely fate, the duke of Orleans became the sole prop of the party. Some of their chiefs, St. Simon himself, was in his confidence, and the duke accordingly found himself at their head. The Jesuits on their part, masters of Louis and of madame de Maintenon, exerted themselves to thwart the noblesse, and to continue the absolute rule of the sovereign For this purpose they elevated the duc du Maine, son of madame de Montespan, in opposition to the duke of Orleans, appointed him virtually regent by the last will of Louis, and through him hoped to reign. The good fathers had miscalculated their force. On the day after Louis XIV.'s death, the parliament assembled to hear his testament read: the duke of Orleans addressed them with confidence and art, stated his rights, and his intentions to avail himself, should he be intrusted with the government, of the sage remonstrances of the parliament. The will was read, which appointed a council of régency, consisting of the old ministers; and preserved to Orleans the name of president of this council, in which the majority, governed by the duc du Maine, would completely dominate. Moreover, the latter was to have the care of the young king's person. The parliament, without hesitation, declared these provisions null, broke the testament of Louis XIV. ere he was cold in his coffin, and proclaimed the duke of Orleans regent. To obviate all suspicion, however, the care of the young king was left to the due du Maine, and to his father's friend the mareschal de Villeroy. The character of the duke of Orleans, given by St. Simon, is, perhaps, the most acutely drawn and speaking portrait that ever the pen of writer delineated. His mother applied to him the old story of a prince, to whom every talent was given by the genii, until one old fairy, unfortunately forgotten in the general invitation, arrived, and added to his other talents the quality of making use of none. Conscious of great abilities, the young duke had borne with impatience that inactivity to which he was condemned by the jealousy of his royal uncle: he turned as a resource to dissipation. Louis then forced him to marry one of his illegitimate daughters by Montespan: the duke of Orleans felt himself disgraced by the match ; and hatred to his wife drove him, with the impulse of revenge, into debauch. Then the tutor Dubois, who had been given to him, was a monster of iniquity. Under all these causes, the duke of Orleans became an accomplished profligate. We have seen the horrid crimes of which he was accused; the prince, however, was not capable of murder: he was too indoent, too humane for such crimes. His affectation was to resemble Henry IV., and he unfortunately copied that monarch in his illegitimate descendants, the duke and prior of Ven. dôme, whose indolence, gallantry, valor, and voluptuousness, were proverbial. Darker and more singular traits are to be added to the character of the duke of Orleans: he disbelieved all religion, was a deist or atheist. This daring denial of all creeds had sprung up in England from the absurdity of the sectarians naturally producing an opposite extreme. Its seeds had blown across the Channel, and were germinating in France, soon to spread and overshadow the entire land. The regent gave an example of it in the highest station. Yet how little such opinions were the product of reason or enlightenment, is evident from the fact, that with them were coupled a belief in sorcery and in the absurdities of divination. The regent, who had become too refined and intellectual to wor ship God, did not disdain to invoke the devil; and he descended into the stone-quarries near Paris for this purpose. Thus de the extremes of credulity and incredulity meet in the absurd. As a ruler, however, the duke of Orleans had advantages. amongst others, that of not having been born to a throne. which, in the present day, is beginning to be fully appreciated. He had been brought up without an idea of his ever arriving at power; “a courtier beaten by storms, and thrown into the throng; one who had mingled in private life, and known all its habits, and personages, and experience.” Obstinacy was not to be expected from such a character; which, however, on the other hand, had been rendered too facile by this buffeting, joined to the reckless habits of dissipation. Thus the regent was totally without those passions which give consistency: he could no more hate than love; and to make a return in either vengeance or gratitude was beyond his power. He had no memory for either benefit or injury; and he was thus detested by those whom he forgot—despised by those whom he forgave. This latter part of the regent's character was the first that manifested itself on his elevation. Though raised by that union of the magistracy and noblesse, who might be called political Jansenists, he instantly showed that he would not enter into their resentments. Some of them proposed to banish the Jesuits from the kingdom; but this extreme act of retaliation was not for a moment entertained. The duke paid madame de Maintenon, his former political enemy, a visit of condolence at St. Cyr, showed her the most respectful attentions, and secured to her a handsome pension. Even in that great modification of the system of the government, the substitution of councils consisting of many members, in lieu of single

| 715. FINANCE. 143

ministers, or state secretaries, which took place at the request and for the gratification of the noblesse, the regent preserved men of all parties; even those supposed the most attached to the policy of the late king, such as the chancellor Voisin, Willeroy, and Villars. These seven councils, to which the several departments of policy were committed, were imagined in order to obviate the despotic power exercised by upstart ministers, gens de plume et de robe, as they were contemptuously called, as also to allow to the nobles a sphere for acquiring experience and exercising influence. D'Aguesseau sat in these councils, and represented the magistracy. The dukes of St. Simon and of Noailles had as yet the chief influence with the regent. The first act of the new government was to liberate the prisoners confined for Jansenism. They crowded the prisons of the Bastile and Vincennes. Amongst them was D'Aremberg, who had been immured twelve years for favoring the escape of Quesnel. The sight of these victims was enough to call forth the popular voice against the Jesuits. The regent, though urged to it, would not indulge them by persecution. He visited them with the severest punishment that can fall on a religious sect or party, viz. with toleration and contempt. The Jesuits in consequence abandoned the field, and fled to Spain, where, obtaining the confessorship of Philip V., and the support of the minister Alberoni, they continued their machinations against the regent of France. The most pressing subject of consideration was finance. The expenditure, which, in the year 1670, amounted to eighty millions of livres, had, in the last years of the war, reached 260 millions. Every means were used to meet this enormous outlay. The royal tenth on all property, planned by Vauban, was laid on in 1710. The capitation was raised. Paper money was issued at an enormous discount; Louis giving thirty-two millions in paper for eight millions of specie. Vanity seemed the national commodity most productive when taxed; and offices of all absurd kinds were created for sale, such as comptrollers-general for piling wood and trying butter, and royal counsellors inspectors of wigs. Despite of all these ways and means, Louis left a debt in bills, demanding immediate payment, that amounted to upwards of 700 millions of livres, besides a funded debt, of which the yearly interest was ninety-six millions. To get rid of this burden, the duke of St. Simon proposed a bankruptcy. This, he said, would fall chiefly on the commercial and moneyed classes of the capital, who were not to be feared or pitied. The measure would operate, in his view, not only as a momentary relief, but as a salutary and permament warning to the ignoble classes not to lend money to strengthen the hands of a minister or a king. This was aris. tocratic policy. But then no statesman could support the odium of such a measure; consequently, he proposed calling the states-general together, and making them decree it. The regent very plainly saw that they would decree no such thing; and that they might, at the same time, set about decreeing a regular representative government, of which an example rose so near on the other side of the Channel. He would not, therefore, hear of the states-general; and the parliament, which affected to represent the commons in their own body, was of the regent's opinion. The hatred of St. Simon and the nobles towards the men of commerce and finance, the wealthy upstarts of the plebeian class, was never. theless amply gratified. A decree was issued for verifying the bills of the public creditor: he was examined as to the value given for each; and if his account did not satisfy the commission, his bill was cancelled. By this means one half of the 700 millions due on bills was rubbed off. The denial of payment being found so successful, it was resolved to proceed further, and attempt not only to curtail debts due, but to reclaim gains that had been made. The commission changed its nature and functions into an inquisitive court, or chambre ardente. It summoned before it all people guilty of having lent money to the state, or of having farmed the revenue. The greater part of these were flung into prison, threatened with capital punishment, and treated precisely as the poor Jews were by the feudal barons of old: in other words, tortured till they redeemed themselves from pain. The regent made merry with their woes, and sold his pardon and protection. His counsellors followed his example. Even women meddled in the traffic. A certain count visited a certain poor financier in prison, and offered to procure his release for 300,000 livres. “I am infinitely flattered and obliged, monsieur le comte,” was the reply, “but madame your countess has just procured me my liberty for half that sum. You see you come too late.” Never was the spoliation of a pacha by an Oriental sultan more barefaced than this; and yet it was not the act of an absolute monarch, but of those very nobles who were making an outcry against absolutism. But their Saturnalia were now come. They recompensed themselves for long submission by oppressing the classes beneath them; and for the poverty, or rather for the stopping of fresh supplies of riches to them in the last reign, by grasping pension, and place, and gratification, and at the same time throwing every

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