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The present festival cast the preceding one into the shade. It began in the early afternoon, like a dejeuner of our day. The King was there, the Queen-Mother, Monsieur, brother to the King, and Madame, daughter of Charles L of England, attended by Princes, Dukes, Marquises, and Counts, with their quick - witted, sharp-tongued, and independent spouses. The highest and noblest of France came to stare at Fouquct's magnificence, to wonder at the strange birds and beasts, and to admire the fountains and cascades. After a walk about the grounds, the august company were served with supper in the chateau. Vfitel was the maitre tfhoteL The King could not conceal his astonishment at the taste and luxury of the Surintendant, nor his annoyance when he recognized the portrait of La Valliere in a mythological panel. Over doors and windows were carved and painted Fouquet's arms,—a squirrel, with the motto, "Quit non ascendam '/" The King asked a chamberlain for the translation. When the device was interpreted, the measure of his wrath was full. He was on the point of ordering Fouquet's instant arrest; but the Queen-Mother persuaded him to wait until every precaution had been taken.
After supper, the guests were conducted to the play. The theatre was at the end of an alley of pines, almost alfresco. The stage represented a garden decorated with fountains and with statues of Terminus. Scenery by Le Brun; machinery and transmutations by Torelli; stage-manager, Moliere; the comedy, "Les Facheux," "The Bores," composed, written, and rehearsed expressly for this occasion, in the short space of fifteen days. .This piece was put upon the stage in a new way. The ballet, introduced by Mazarin a few years before, was the fashion, and indispensable. As Molicrc had only a few good dancers, he placed the scenes of the ballet between the acts of the comedy, in order to give his artists time to change their dresses and to take three or four different parts. To avoid awkwardness in these transitions, the plot of the comedy was carried over into the panto
mime. This arrangement proved so successful that Moliero made use of it in many of his later plays.
The curtain rises upon a man in citizen's-dress (Moliere). He expresses amazement and dismay at seeing so large and so distinguished an audience, and implores His Majesty to pardon him for being there without actors enough and without time enough to prepare a suitable entertainment. While he is yet speaking, twenty jets of water spring into the air,—a huge rock in the foreground changes into a shell, — the shell opens,— forth steps a Naiad (pretty Mademoiselle Bejart, a well-known actress, — too well known for Moliere's domestic comfort) and declaims verses written by Pellisson for the occasion. Here is a part of this prologue in commonplace prose; Pellisson's verses are of a kind which loses little by translation. The flattery is heavy, but Louis XIV. was not dainty; he liked it strong, and probably swallowed more of it with pleasure and comfort during fifty years than any other man.
"Mortals," said la Bejart, "I come from my grotto to look upon the greatest king in the world. Shall the land or the water furnish a new spectacle for his amusement? He has only to speak,—to wish; nothing is impossible to him. Is he not himself a miracle? And has he not the right to demand miracles of Nature? He is young, victorious, wise, valiant, and dignified, — as benevolent and just as he is powerful. He governs his desires as well as his subjects; he unites labor and pleasure; always busy, never at fault, seeing all, hearing all. To such a prince Heaven can refuse nothing. If Louis commands, these Termini shall walk from their places, these trees shall speak better than the oaks of Dodona. Come forth, then, all of you! Louis commands it. Conic forth to amuse him, and transform yourselves upon this novel stage!" Trees and Termini fly open. Dryads, Fauns, and Satyrs skip out. Then the Naiad invokes Care, the goddess whose hand rests heavily upon monarchs, and implores her to grant the great King an hour's respite from the business of State and from his anxiety for his people. "Let him give his great heart up to pleasure. To-morrow, with strength renewed, he will take up his burden, sacrifice his own rest to give repose to mankind and maintain peace throughout the universe. But to-night let all facheux stand back, except those who can make themselves agreeable to him." The Naiad vanishes. The Fauns dance to the violins and hauthoys, until the play begins.
After the comedy, the spectators walked slowly to the chateau, A feu (CartiJice, ending in a bouquet of a thousand rockets from the dome, lighted them on their way back. Another repast followed, which lasted until the drums of the royal mousquetaires, the King's escort, were heard in the courtyard. This was the signal for breaking up.
The Surintendant seemed to be on the highest pinnacle of prosperity, beyond the reach of Fate. There was at Rome a Sire de Maucroix.sent thither by Fouquet on his private business. To him his friend La Fontaine wrote a full description of the day, and of the effect Vaux had produced upon the fashionable world. "You would thiuk that Fame [la Renommee] was made ouly for him, he gives her so much to do at once.
'I'lein d"eclat, plein de gloire, adorti des mor
II recoil des honneurs qn'on ne doit qn'aux autels.'"
A few days later, the Surintendant arrived at Angers, on his way to Nantes. Arnauld writes, that the Bishop of Angers and himself waited upon the great man to pay their respects. ', From the height upon which he stood, all others seemed so far removed from him that he could not recognize them. He scarcely looked at us, and Madame, his wife, seemed neither less frigid nor more civil." On the fifth of September, nineteen days after the fete, the thunderbolt fell upon him.
A Procureur-General could be tried only by the Parliament to which he belonged. To make Fouquet's destruction more certain, Colbert had induced him, by va
Vol. xni. 31
rious misrepresentations, to sell out. He received fourteen hundred thousand livrea for the place, and presented the enormous sum to the Treasury. This act of munificence, or of restitution, did not save him. If he had been backed by fitty thousand men, the King could hardly have taken greater precautions. His Majesty's manner was more gracious than ever. To prevent a rising in the West, Louis journeyed to Nantes, which is near Belleile. Fouquet accompanied the progress with almost equal state. He had his court, his guards, his own barge upon the Loire,— and travelled brilliantly onward to ruin. The palace in Nantes was the scene of the arrest. Fouquet, suspecting nothing, waited upon the King. Louis kept him engaged in conversation, until he saw D'Artagnau, a name famous in storybooks, and the mousquetaires in the courtyard. Then he gave the signal. The Surintendant was seized and taken to Angers, thence to Amboise, Vincennes, and finally to the Bastille. He was confined in a room lighted only from above, and allowed no communication with family or friends. The mask was now thrown off, and the- blow followed up with a malignant energy which showed the determination to destroy. The King was very violent, and said openly that he had matter in his possession which would hang the Surintendant. His secretaries and agents were arrested. His friends, not knowing how much they might be implicated, either fled the kingdom, or kept out of the way in the provinces. Pellisson and Dr. Pecquet were sent to the Bastille; Guene*gaud lost half his fortune; the Bishop of Avranches had to pay twelve thousand franes; Gourville fled to England; Pomponne was ordered to reside at Verdun. Fouquet's papers were examined in the presence of the King. Letters were there from persons in every class of life,—a very large number from women, for the prisoner had charms which the fair sex have always found it difficult to resist. Madame Scarron had written to thank him for his bounty to the poor cripple whose name and roof protected her. The King had probably never before heard of this lady, who was to be the wife and ruler of his old age. The portfolio contained specimens of the gayest and brightest of letter-writers. In the course of his career, the gallant Surintendant had attempted to add the charming widow Sdvignd to his conquests. She refused the temptation, but always remained grateful for the compliment. Le Tellier told her cousin, Bnssy-Rabutin, that the King liked her letters, — "very different," he said, "from the douceurs fades"—the insipid sweet things — "of the other feminine scribes." Nevertheless, she thought it prudent to reside for a time upon her estate in Brittany. A copy of a letter by St. Evremond was found, written three years before from the Spanish frontier. It was a sarcastic pleasantry at the expense of M:izarin and the Paix des Pyre'nees. St. Evremond was a soldier, a wit, and the leader of fashion; Colbert hated him, and magnified a jeu d'ei'prU into a State - crime. He was exiled, and spent the rest of his long life in England. Of the baser sort, hundreds were turned out of their places and thrown pennih--ss upon the world. It was a coup d'etat, a revolution, and most people were against Fouquct. It is such a consolation for the little to see the mighty fall!
The instinct which impels friends and servants to fly from sinking fortunes is a well-established fact in human natural history; but Fouquet's hold upon his followers was extraordinary: it resisted the shock of ruin. They risked court-favor, purse, and person, to help him. Gourville, before he thought of his own safety, carried a hundred thousand livres to Madame Fouquet, to be used in defending the Surintendant, or in bribing a judge or a jailer. The rest of his property he divided, intrusting one"half to a devout friend, the other to a sinful beauty, Ninon de 1'Enclos, and fled the country. The "professor" absorbed all that was left in his hands; Ninon returned her trust intact. This little incident was made much use of at a later day by the Philosopher, and Voltaire worked it up into "Le D6
positaire." From the Bastille, Pellisson addressed to the King three papers in defence of his chief: "masterpieces of prose, worthy of Cicero," Voltaire says, — " ce que Cdloquence a produit de plus beau." And Sainte-Beuve thinks that Louis must have yielded to them, if he had heard them spoken, instead of reading them in his closet. The faithful La Fontaine fearlessly sang the sorrows of his patron, and- accustomed "chacun it plaintire ses malheurs." He begged to the King for mercy, in an ode full of feeling, if not of poetry. "Has not Oronte been sufficiently punished by the withdrawal of thy favor? Attack Home, Vienna, but be merciful to us. La Clemence est fille des Dieuz." A copy of this ode found its way to the prisoner. He protested against these lines : —
"Mais, si tu crois qn'il est coupable,
Two years of prison had not broken him down to this point of self-abasementCould any Sultan, or even the "Oriental Despot" of a radical penny-a-liner, be implored in more abject terms? Madame de Se"vigne', Madame de Scudery, Le Fevre, talked, wrote, and spared no expense for their dear friend. Brdbeuf, the poet, who had neither influence nor money, took to his bed and died of grief. Hesnault, author of the "Avorton," a sonnet much admired in those days, and translated with approval into English verse, as,
"Frail spawn of nought and of existence mixed,"
eased his feelings by insulting Colbert in another sonnet, beginning thus : —
"Ministre avare et lache, esclave malheureux." The poet escaped unpunished. His affront gave Colbert the chance for a mot, — an opportunity which Frenchmen seldom throw away. When the injurious verses were reported to the Minister, he asked, — " Is there anything in them offensive to the King?" "No." "Then there can be nothing in them offensive to me." Loret, of the Gazette, was not so lucky. A gentle appeal in his journal for less severity was punished by striking the editor from the pensionlist, — a fine of fifteen hundred livres a year. Fouquet heard of it, and found means to send, by the hands of Madame Scudery, a year's allowance to the faithful newsman.
The Government was not ready to proceed to trial until 1664. For three years the sharpest lawyers in France had been working on the Act of Accusation. It was very large even for its age. The accompanying Pieces were unusually voluminous. The accused had not been idle. His Defenses may be seen in fourteen closely printed Elzevir 18mos.
The unabated rigor of Fouquet's prison had convinced his friends that it was useless to hope for clemency, and that it might be difficult to save his life. The King was as malignant as at first; Colbert and Le Tellier as venomous, as if it had been a question of Fouquet's head or their own. They talked about justice, affected moderation, and deceived nobody. Marshal Turenne, speaking of their respective feelings in the matter, said a thing which was considered good by the bel-esprits: — "I think that Colbert is the more anxious to have him hanged, and Le Tellier the more afraid he will not be."
But meantime the Parisians had changed their minds about the Surintendant. Now, they were all for him. His friends had done much to bring this about; time, and the usual reaction of feeling, had done more. His haughtiness and his pomp were gone and forgotten; there remained only an unfortunate gentleman, crushed, imprisoned, threatened with death, attacked by his enemies with a bitterness which showed they were seeking to destroy the man rather than to punish the criminal,— yet bearing up against his unexampled afflictions with unshaken courage. The great Public has strong levelling propensities, both upward and downward. If it delights to see the prosperous humbled, it is always ready to pity the unfortunate; and even in 1664 the popular feeling in Paris was powerful
enough to check the ministers of an absolute king, and to save Fouquet's life. His persecutors were so eager to run down their prey that they overran it . "In their anxiety to hang him," some one said, "they have made their rope Eo thick that they cannot tighten it about his neck."
In November, 1664, Fouquet was brought before a commission of twentytwo judges, selected from the different Parliaments of the kingdom. After protesting against the jurisdiction of the court, he took his seat upon the sellette, although a chair had been prepared for him beside it. The interrogatories commenced. There were two principal charges against him. First, diversion of the public funds to his own use,— embezzlement or defalcation we should call it. Proof: his great expenditure, too large for any private fortune. Answer: that his expenses were within the income he derived from his salaries, pensions, and the property of himself and wife. He was questioned closely upon his administration of the finances. He was invariably self-possessed and ready with an answer, and he eluded satisfactorily every attempt of the judges to entrap him, although, as one of his best friends confessed, "some places were very slippery." Thesecondcharge, treason against. the State, was based upon a paper addressed to his wife, and found in his desk. Fifteen years before, after a quarrel with Mazarin, he had drawn up a plan of the measures to be taken by his family and adherents in ease of an attack upon his life or liberty. It was a mere rough draught, incomplete, which had remained unburned because forgotten. The fortifications of Belleile and the number of his retainers were brought up as evidence of his intention to carry out the "projet," as it was called, if it became necessary. Fouquet's explanations, and the date of the paper, were satisfactory to the majority of the Commission. At last even the Chancellor admitted that the proof was insufficient to sustain this part of the accusation. Fouquet's answer to
Sdguier, during the examination on the "projet," was much admired, and repeated out-of-doors. Sdguier asserted more than once, "This is clearly treason." "No," retorted Fouquet, "it is not treason; but I will tell you what is treason. To hold high office, to be in the confidence of the King; then suddenly to desert to the enemies of that King, to carry over relatives, with the regiments and the fortresses under their command, and to betray the secrets of State : that is treason." And that was exactly what Chancellor Scguier had done in the Fronde.
In French criminal jurisprudence, the theory seems to be that the accused is guilty until he has proved his innocence, and those conversant with French trials need not be told that the judges assist the public prosecutor. In this case, they sought by cross-examinations to confuse Fouquet, and to entrap him into dangerous admissions. Se'guier sternly repressed any leanings in his favor; he even reproved some of the judges for returning the salutation of the prisoner, as he entered the court-room.
The trial lasted five weeks. All Paris looked on absorbed, as at a drama of the most exciting interest . Fouquet never appeared so admirable as then, at bay, firmly facing king, ministers, judges, eager for his blood, excited by the ardor of pursuit, and embittered by the roar of applause with which his masterly defence was received out-of-doors. .Even those who knew the Surintendant best were astonished at his courage and his presence of mind. He seemed greater in his adversity than in his magnificence. Some of the judges began to waver. Renard, J., said,—" I must confess that this man is incomparable. He never spoke so well when he was Procwew; he never showed so much self-possession." Another, one Nesmond, died during the trial, and regretted openly on his death-bed that he had lent himself to this persecution. The King ordered that this dying speech and confession should not be repeated, but it circulated only the more widely.
"No public man," Voltaire says, "ever had so many personal friends"; and no friends were ever more faithful and energetic. They repeated his happy answers in all quarters, praised his behavior, pitied his sufferings, and reviled and ridiculed his enemies. They managed to meet him, as he walked to and from the Arsenal, where the Commission sat, and cheered him with kind looks. Madame de Se-vigne- tells us how she and other ladies of the same faith took post at a window to see "notre pauilre ami" go by. "M. d'Artagnau walked by his side, followed by a guard of fifty mousqvetaires. He seemed sad. D'Artagnau touched him to let him know that we were there. He saluted us with that quiet smile we all knew so well." She says that her heart beat and her knees trembled. The lively lady was still grateful for that compliment.
The animosity which the King did not conceal made an acquittal almost hopeless, but great efforts were made to save the life of the Surintendant, Money was used skilfully and abundantly. Several judges yielded to the force of this argument; others were known to incline to mercy. Fouquet himself thought the result doubtful. He begged his friends to let him know the verdict by signal, that he might have half an hour to prepare himself to receive his sentence with firmness.
The Commission deliberated for one week,— an anxious period for Fouquefs friends, who trembled lest they had not secured judges enough to resist the pressure from above. At last the court was reopened. D'Onnesson, a man of excellent family and social position, who had favored the accused throughout the trial, delivered his opinion at length. He concluded for banishment. The next judge voted for decapitation, but with a recommendation to mercy. Next, one Pussort, a malignant tool of the Chancellor, inveighed against Fouquet for four hours, Bo violently that he injured his case. Hivoice was for the gallows, — but, in consideration of the criminal's rank, he would consent to commute the cord for