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Comte du Luc, the son of Louis XV. and Madame de Vintimille; and afterwards with the Duc de Fronsac, the son of Richelieu. Richelieu, courtier as he was, declined the proffered alliance, saying he had the honor of belonging to the princes of the House of Lorraine by his mother, and that he was obliged to ask their consent. After the death of her daughter, her father, a shameless cynical buffoon, and her brother, a person of some modesty and merit, alone remained to her, and on them she lavish ly bestowed such gifts as fortune had allotted to her. While thus taking care of her family, she neglected not to draw upon the public finances to supply her own prodigalities, and the private expenses of the mistress for the nineteen years of her reign have been said to amount to thirty-six millions. The sale of her effects after her death lasted for more than a year.

But it was not the prodigality of Madame de Pompadour which was her most pernicious quality; year by year under Ker influence the spirit, morals, and resources of the country grew more and more degraded. No minister could keep his place who was not entirely her creature. Maurepas, relying on the favor of the queen and the princesses, found liberal employment for his caustic spirit in composing lampoons and satirical verses of which she was the subject. His repartees when they met were of the most cutting character; and on one occasion when she reproached him with not paying proper respect to the king's mistresses, he replied, "Je les ai toujours respectées de quelque espèce qu'elles fussent." One intolerable lampoon, the work of the minister, at last reached her; she could endure him no longer, and on pretence of fear of poison, affecting to believe he had been fatal to Madame de Châteauroux, she obtained his dismissal from the king. Two ministers of merit, Machault and the younger D'Argenson, still remained in the ministry. Machault was her own protégé, and she continued to make use of him until the attempt of Damiens, when his more than suspicious conduct toward herself afforded her an opportunity of gaining his dismissal. She got rid of the Comte d'Argenson on account of his antipathy to the Austrian alliance at the beginning of the Seven

Years' War; and she continued henceforward to fill the ministry with her own


The enemies of Madame de Pompadour had hoped that with her failing health would also decline her influence over the king; but the result was the contrary. The favorite intrigued so as to become from the mistress the indispensable female friend of Louis. Continually on the watch to prevent him from being ensnared into a permanent attachment to some great lady of the court, she became the procuress and the confidante of all kinds of base amours without a trace of sentiment and without a hope of a morrow. After harboring some of these poor creatures in her own hotel close to the Palace, the too celebrated house in the Rue St. Médéric, situate in an obscure quarter in Versailles, called the Parc aux Cerfs, was taken as an asylum for these obscure passions of the king, who was received there simply as a seigneur of court,* while all children as soon as born were taken away from the establishment. The infamous notoriety of this abode was increased by fabulous rumors, and in the increasing destitution of the country, mothers trembled for their children at the bare mention of the king's name; and in time Louis the bien-aimé became the tyran, the monstre, in the mouths of the people. He was even named Herod, and was believed, like the terrible seigneur of the middle ages, the prototype of Blue Beard, to endeavor to reinvigorate his decrepid powers by bathing in the blood of murdered infants. Owing to this belief, on the occasion of some severely cruel measures taken by the police, a danger ous revolt broke out in Paris, and the king from henceforth never ventured to exhibit himself in his capital, but had roads made, by which he might pass from one château to another without passing through Paris or indeed any of the neighboring towns. One of these, that from the Porte Maillots to St. Denis, is still called the Chemin de la Revolte. The king became, as Chesterfield remarked, both despised and hated at the same time; and the reigning mistress was re

*One of the denizens of the Parc aux Cerfs having made the discovery that her visitor was the king, was shut up in a madhouse.

garded with unmitigated detestation as the unhallowed and shameless partner and abettor in his scandalous vices and heartless misgovernment. Although the clergy and the Parliament nourished against each other inflexible rancor and hostility, and carried on a factious and interminable warfare about the Bull Unigenitus, which exasperated the patience of the king, she contrived to incur the enmity of both these bodies. Of the first by her countenance of the

doms and provinces were plunged in bloodshed and desolation, and a million of lives were uselessly and shamefully sacrificed.

The primary cause of that deplorable page in European history was undoubtedly the satirical tongue of King Frederic and his caustic sayings about the petticoat government of Louis XV. It must, however, be added that the king himself willingly lent himself to the new line of policy; his besotted bigotry increased scheme of Machault for the taxation of as he grew older and grosser in his vices; the property of the Church, and of the he had become ashamed of the alliance second by encouraging the king in his of a Catholic king with the chief of the opposition to the right of remonstrance. heretics on the Continent, and in the It was indeed astonishing that the artful midst of the debauchery of the Parc aux woman succeeded, in spite of the hostility Cerfs he dreamed of becoming the chamof every party but that of the philoso- pion of the faith, and of expiating the phers, in maintaining her authority. At foulness of his daily life by war and pertimes it seemed that the influence of the secution. But nevertheless neither king king's daughters, who bravely took their nor mistress would have decided on places at the royal supper-parties, would taking the fatal step which was a reversucceed in procuring her dismissal; but sal of the whole of the past policy of she contrived to make her position in the France and led to so terrible a punishment court more secure by professions of re- for the first violation of faith in 1740, pentance and by proclamation of her had it not been for the fatal epistle of present innocent relations. There was Maria Theresa, in which the daughter of nothing she desired so much, she gave the Hapsburgs wrote with her own hand out, as to make atonement for the past. to a royal mistress, styling her "friend To give support to her new character she and cousin," and couched in terms of offered to return to the house of her own shameful flattery. So unlooked-for an husband if he would receive her back, exaltation from such a quarter turned and wrote to him to that effect, while by Madame de Pompadour's head; she felt a private message delivered by the Prince endowed with strength sufficient to bear de Conti she warned him to be on his down all opposition, and devoted her guard against taking her at her word. whole influence and energies to the cause By this artifice she outwitted the queen of her imperial friend, while she dreamed and her confessor, and the unhappy Maria of captured cities, great victories, a new Lecszinska was obliged to withdraw the order of policy, and a glorious place in opposition she had made to receiving the annals of her country. It was imposMadame de Pompadour as one of her sible to hope to get any of the older and ladies in waiting, was forced to allow more experienced statesmen of France her to have a place in her own carriage, to carry out her plans, and she therefore to dine at her table. The queen at last relied entirely The queen at last relied entirely on a creature of her own, consented to dine with the king and his known in history as the Cardinal de mistress at Choisy, was treated with all Bernis, whom she had recently introthe honors due to a queen-mother, and duced into the Government. affected to be enchanted; while the mistress was finally permitted to have her own tribune in the royal chapel at Versailles and to make the quête among the congregation at Easter. Her ascendancy reached its culminating period at the commencement of the Seven Years' War, a war by which the best interests of France were brought to utter ruin, by which, throughout Europe, whole king


The Cardinal de Bernis was originally round-cheeked, fresh-colored little abbé, great in madrigals and ladies' poetry, called by Voltaire "le bouquetier du Mont Parnasse," who had been long waiting about the court for advancement. He began by making suit to Fleury, and when warned by the Cardinal not to expect office in his lifetime, replied "Monseigneur, j'attendrai." Bernis'

opportunity was now arrived under the Pompadour, and at a little pavilion not inaptly named the Babiole, on a hill above the château of the mistress at Bellevue, on the 22d of September, 1755, the famous interview took place between Bernis, the Comte de Staremberg, and Madame de Pompadour, in which the preliminaries of the calamitous Treaty of Versailles took place, and the monarchy of France was signed away by an unprincipled priest and a shameless woman.

Having secured the Treaty of Versailles, the emissaries of Maria Theresa proceeded to buy over the ministers of Catherine of Russia, who was as ready as the Pompadour to seize the first opportunity of taking revenge on Frederic for the bitter jibes he had passed on herself, and a scheme for the partition of Prussia was speedily decided upon, into which Saxony was also induced to enter. But at the very outset of the war, an event occurred which cast Madame de Pompadour into the extremity of despair. The endless squabbles of the clergy and the Parliament still continued, complicated with the opposition which the latter maintained to the financial decrees of the king, and the tenacity with which they asserted their right of remonstrance. The king, in a fit of exasperation, applied such severe measures to the Parliament, that nearly two hundred magistrates renounced office. The people, whose misery was daily increasing, and to whom the government became daily more odious, took part warmly with the Parliament, and curses loud and deep were heard in the streets directed against the Pompadour and the tyran des Français. Seditious cries were raised, the king's death was openly wished for, and it was publicly said that the best thing that could happen for France would be toucher le Roi, avertir le Roi. A weakminded man, who had lived as servant in Parliamentary families, determined to be the instrument, not for killing, but for warning the king; he went to Versailles, waited for him in the Cour de Marbre, and stabbed him in the back with a penknife. The king, though the wound was barely an inch deep, took to his bed in a dreadful state of fright; his confessor attended him day and night, and the Pompadour had commands to leave. She persisted, however, in remaining,

following the advice of the crafty old Maréchale de Mirepoix, who said, "qui quitte la partie la perd." On the king's getting up from his bed her influence grew stronger than ever, while she revenged herself on the king's ministers, Machault and the younger D'Argenson, who had countenanced her dismissal, by getting them superseded. The unhappy man Damiens was executed on the Place de la Grêve, with a refinement of torture which became proverbial, while the great ladies of the court sat at the windows, looking complacently on as the poor wretch was being tortured with an atrocity too horrible now to dwell upon even in recital.

After this event the domination of Madame de Pompadour was more assured than ever, and she threw all her energies into the terrible contest with redoubled assurance, flushed with the unexpected success of the conquest of Minorca, in spite of the opposition of the unfortunate Byng, and still more elated with the victory of Hastenbeck, gained by the Maréchal d'Estrées over the Duke of Cumberland. But after this deceptive appearance of good fortune, victory abandoned the arms of France; henceforward Madame de Pompadour knew nothing but disaster.

England, after carrying on a desultory warfare against France for two years, awoke in all her might at the sound of the majestic voice of Pitt. The two greatest men of the age, who would have been great men in any age-Pitt and Frederic-entered into close alliance, and while the former year by year swept the ocean with English ships, ruined the commerce of France, and stripped her of all her colonial possessions, the other stood like a noble animal at bay dashing hither and thither, amid the multitude of pursuers who attempted to hem him in, appearing never so great or so unconquerable as on the morrow of temporary reverses, dividing his enemies with every device of war and politics, and annihilating one after the other the formidable masses which opposed him.

The escape of the Prussian king from the toils which were set for him was indeed marvellous; but he owed his preservation alone to the weakness of resolve of his enemies, to their divided counsels, and to the reckless spirit of

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court intrigue which rendered futile all the power arrayed against him. Both the French and Russian generals contrived always to leave him some means of escape from ruin through fear of a change of policy in their respective courts. Even Choiseul wrote to the ambassador of Vienna that it was not for their interest that Frederic should be utterly ruined. The fall of the Pompadour at any moment might, Richelieu well knew, bring about a total change in the policy of France, and for this reason he kept away from the favorite's general Soubise at the shameful disaster at Rosbach, where Frederic's stern veterans of the north scattered in wild confusion the disorganized legions of France, officered by the gay and frivolous noblesse, who carried with them to the field a second army of hair-dressers, cooks, courtesans, and valetaille of all descriptions, and spent hours in the morning, in front of their tents at their toilette, under the hands of their valets and barbers.

Madame de Pompadour had neither capacity nor judgment sufficient to enable her to struggle against the tide of misfortune. Nevertheless, in spite of disasters and defeats, she clung to the Austrian alliance with almost Roman tenacity. When her creature the Cardinal de Bernis hesitated to carry on her reckless policy, she had him dismissed and exiled from court, and brought the Duc de Choiseul into the Ministry. It is sufficiently characteristic of the period, and of the increasing degradation of the government, that Choiseul, who began office as the creature of Madame de Pompadour, came in time to be regarded as a patriot and the best hope of his country. Although of undoubtedly superior capacity to Bernis, he did little to restore the fallen fortunes of France. India and Canada became irretrievably lost, and the best portion of the French colonies in the West Indies. The English even, for the first time since the middle ages, effected a lodgement on the French soil, and took possession of Belle Isle on the coast of Brittany. The new minister in vain endeavored to oppose the famous Family Compact to the ascendancy of England. He too was, after fruitless efforts and blood and treasure spent without limit and without profit, obliged, by

the increasing exhaustion of the country, to do that for which Bernis was dismissed -counsel submission; and the Peace of Paris was concluded; a peace of ignominy for France, since she abandoned every object for which she had gone to war, resigned an immense colonial empire to her ancient rival, and undertook to destroy the fortifications of Dunkirk. The two German Powers remained precisely as they were, after having subjected all Germany to devastations equal to those of the Thirty Years' War. The only Power who was a gainer in this fearful contest was England, who, invigorated by liberty and inspired by the heroic impulse of Chatham, became the undisputed arbitress of the ocean, the unrivalled mistress of India and America, and established an unchallenged supremacy in every quarter of the world.

One great event only after the Seven Years' War occurred during the reign of the Pompadour-the destruction of the order of the Jesuits. During her last years the opposition of the Parliaments, both of Paris and the provinces, against the arbitrary and faithless measures taken by the court to supply the wants of a ruined treasury acquired unprecedented boldness and persistency; but she died before matters came to a climax by their dissolution and the institution of the Parliament Maupéou, against which Beaumarchais directed the sharpest shafts of his wit and irony. The increasing anxieties with which she had had to contend ever since the opening of the Seven Years' War accelerated the progress of the fever which devoured her feeble and attenuated frame, and hurried her to a premature grave. In vain did she as her charms departed plaster her faded leaden cheeks with white and red, and use every art to conceal her emaciation and her lassitude from the world; all saw in her a sick, dying, disappointed woman. Nothing remained in her latter days of her former attractions but the brilliancy of her eyes, which the glow of fever and the spareness of her features rendered still more lustrous and large. Up to the last hour, however, Madame de Pompadour remained the favorite and the mistress; she gave audiences as long as she drew breath, and her last words as her confessor left her are redolent of the grace with which she main

tained her authority through life. "Un moment, Monsieur le curé, nous nous en irons ensemble."

If we turn from the political to the artistic and literary influence of Madame de Pompadour, history will take a more favorable aspect of her character. It is true the best painters she patronizedBoucher and Vanloo-may be styled the mere Raphael and Rubens of the Parc aux Cerfs, but she possessed in an eminent degree the taste of the age. She founded the porcelain manufactory of Sèvres, and there is hardly an article of furniture from the carriage, the sedanchair, the fireplace, down to the fan and toothpick, on which she did not place her stamp: she was the true Muse and nursing-mother of the florid style of ornament which still bears her name.

For nearly five years the king remained without a mistress. Events occurred in his family which made even him live decently for a time. The dauphin, the father of Louis XIV., died at the end of 1765, and the queen in 1768.* Choiseul as chief minister was all powerful. His facility of getting through business, his knowledge of affairs, the services he had rendered, the charm of his manners, all combined to make him indispensable; and the friends of the minister fondly hoped that since the monarch had reached the age of sixty, he was in some measure beyond the reach of female seduction, and the reign of Choiseul would thenceforth be permanent and absolute. One attempt was made to introduce a Madame d'Esparbes to the king, but M. de Choiseul destroyed her hopes by taking the lady by the chin as he met her on the grand staircase at Versailles, in the presence of all the courtiers, and asking her "Petite, comment vont vos affaires ?" M. de Choiseul, however, was detested by an active party of the court and the nation; all the bigots, all the partisans of the Jesuits, all the adversaries of the

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Parliament and the Jansenists, were eager to have recourse to any influence in order to eject him from power, and the character of the times is well illustrated by an anecdote connected with the advent of Madame du Barry. On the day of her first presentation at court, previously to her being publicly declared the king's mistress, two ecclesiastics met at a dinner-table, and the one invited the other to toast the presentation of the new Esther, who was to deliver the Jewish people from the oppression of Haman. Haman was the Duc de Choiseul. The new Esther was Madame du Barry.

By the elevation of Madame du Barry the king exhibited to his subjects every form of scandalous life. After living openly with four sisters of noble blood, he lived in double adultery with one of the bourgeoisie, and now he descended to a daughter of the people, of unknown father, whose original name was Jeanne Bécu, and who at one time had gained her living by hawking wares in the street, and was at the time of her elevation the mistress of a gamester, the Chevalier du Barry, who made use of her surpassing and sensual beauty of person to attract victims to his card-table. The king, through the officiousness of his valet Lebel, had enjoyed the opportunity of seeing her through a window in a wall at a private supper-party in the palace. The voluptuous charms of the courtesan inspired the sexagenarian king with a new passion, and he resolved never to part from her. She was established at Versailles; she was married to an elder brother of her former lover; she was presented at court, where the brilliancy of her beauty disarmed for an instant the disgust of the spectators. Yet at first even in that depraved circle the new mistress was quite alone; speedily, however, a little party from the adversaries of Choiseul gathered around her, of which Richelieu, Maupéou, and D'Aiguillon were the chiefs.

Soon, moreover, Choiseul himself began to bend to the mistress, and then the king had the satisfaction of seeing the last creature of his choice surrounded France; the Duchesse de Mirepoix, the by a cortège of the noblest ladies of Duchesse de Montmorenci, the Duchesse de Valentinois, and the Comtesse de

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