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HIS NEPHEW 1S CREATED REGENT.
blazed at the apex of society, found their way rapidly to its broad and wide extended base. Literature reflected the tone of the palace; generally sparkling and clever, the publications of the day were always intolerably indecent. The bloodiest heroes of the revolution were the sons and grandsons of the men who had been taught by their rulers that there is no God in the universe, and no happiness on earth that is not found in the overthrow of the moral sense and in the anarchy of the passions. The rising of the people against authority at the close of the eighteenth century had been preceded by the rising of authority against the people at the beginning of it. There was as clear a renunciation, upon the part of the Regent Orleans and his government, of all the duties they owed to the state, as there was, in 1792, of all the loyalty and obedience due from subjects to the Crown. Had the Duke of Orleans, the nephew of Louis XIV., kept faith with the parliament, his last memorable descendant in all probability would never have reached his kingly eminence or earned his bitter suffering. He broke that faith, he unloosed the bands that kept society together, and so prepared the way for a catastrophe that filled Europe with horror and amazement, but made no impression upon any member of the House of Orleans.
The minister of the Regent was Dubois, who had been his tutor. The character of that worthy has been already briefly given. In his youth he had been an apothecary's apprentice; in his old age he brought up the whole conclave at Rome to the election of a Pope pledged to the elevation of Dubois," and was made a cardinal, having previously,
on account of his desperate immorality, found some difficulty in receiving common ordination. For a financial coadjutor the Duke of Orleans took to himself the celebrated Mr. John Law, who because he was a Protestant could not legally dupe the Roman Catholic population of Paris, and who was therefore made a Roman Catholic for a present of his own banknotes by a perjured abbé, the brother of Dubois' mistress; the very gentleman, by the way, who carried the bribes to the conclave at Rome, and did, in fact, all the dirty work of his sister's holy and powerful protector. Law's skill as a financier is universally appreciated. The exchequer of the Regent was in a deplorable condition, when Law undertook to revive it by a coup de main. The professional gambler manufactured notes by the basketful, distributed them, impressed the Parisians with a notion that they were more valuable than specie, and thus providing, for a time at least, against the possibility of their being converted into coin, poured heaps of wealth into a nation that awoke from a delusion to find itself irretrievably bankrupt. Rotten from beginning to end, the kingdom of France passed from the hands of the Regent to those of Louis XV., ripe for the dissolution that awaited it. In 1723, eight years after he had received a sacred trust from the parliament, the Regent transferred it to the King, his nephew, very much the worse for wear. Parliament had been treated with even greater contumely than during the monarchy; and civil and religious liberty, that had expected so much from the promises of selfishness, had been bound down by chains more galling than any it had ever known. Corruption
PROPOSED ROYAL MARRIAGES.
pervaded every branch of the public service, profanity characterised the upper classes, penury and suffering afflicted the lowest. Between the two extremities a disposition had taken root to question the authority of kings and the abiding providence of God.
An incident that occurred during the regency is too remarkable to be overlooked. Dubois proposed a reconciliation between France and Spain. The condition of the Minister was the marriage of Louis XV., then twelve years of age, with the Spanish Infanta, upon her arriving at maturity; and this condition was accompanied by another :—the marriage of the Prince of the Asturias, fourteen years of age, with Mademoiselle de Montpensier, fourth daughter of the Duke of Orleans, in her thirteenth year. When the marriages were announced in France, it was whispered that the Regent had selected a child for the King in order to increase the chances of his own family in France and Spain. Fifteen years must elapse before an heir could be born to Louis XV.; and in that interval what might not accident or crime achieve ? Events, as we have said, repeat themselves.
Upon the 2nd of December, 1723—the year in which Louis XV. ascended the throne of his fathershis uncle, the ex-Regent, dined with the Duchess of Phalaria, his last mistress. During the inorning he had received a visit from his physician, who had for some days recommended abstinence and the loss of blood for ailments with which the Duke was troubled. “Wait until to-morrow, my good doctor," said the Duke, “I will enjoy myself to-day.” The doctor ventured to remonstrate, but his patient told him that
he had more faith in his cook than in his physician, and so dismissed him. After dinner he retired to the apartment of the Duchess, and sat upon a sofa whilst she took a low stool and placed herself at his feet. As her head reposed upon his knees the Duke bade her relate one of those lively stories which she could so well tell. “Once upon a time," began the Duchess, “there lived a king and a queen.” The words were hardly uttered before the Duke's head sank on his breast, and he fell sideways on her shoulder. The lady went on with her story; she had often before sung her lover to sleep; but his limbs stiffened, and then she sprang to the bell and rang it violently. No one answered. The accident had happened when everybody was either occupied or away. Half an hour elapsed before a doctor could be brought, and he came in time to find the Duke dead. So disappeared the Royal philosopher and sensualist. One may charitably conclude that a spark of honest shame still lingered in the land defiled by the wickedness which the deceased had so largely helped to create ; for we read that no real mourner presented himself at the cold funeral of the Duke of Orleans, and that the Bishop of Angers, who delivered the last oration at the tomb, declined to bestow any eulogy upon the departed.
CHAPTER THE SECOND.
Louis Philippe of Orleans, son of the Regent, was born August 4, 1703. According to his father's description, the youth, deformed in person and dull in intellect, united in himself the defects of all the
SON OF THE REGENT.
other princes of the blood. But, whatsoever the deficiencies of his mind, blame rested with that unworthy father alone; not the slightest attention had been paid to the boy's education. The Palais Royal was his home when that palace was a den of infamy; through its dissipated circles he was allowed to wander at will, and with the eager interest of thoughtless childhood, listened intently to conversation which manhood, if not lost to shame, could not hear without a blush. Fortunately for the youth, a tutor was found at an early age, who contrived to chain his passions down by the most extraordinary revelation concerning the punishments of Hell. Religious asceticism saved the Regent's son possibly from the Regent's fate. The fashion of the day compelled the young Duke to take an opera dancer for his mistress, but such time as he passed with the lady he generally employed in a harmless endeavour to convince her of the truth of the metempsychosis theory, in which he himself devoutly believed. It is difficult to overrate the great benefit conferred upon the Duke by his stern and astute preceptor. Upon one occasion, after the Duke had passed some hours in the Queen's apartment, no one being present but her Majesty, the young man suddenly fell upon his knees and spent several minutes in prayer. carnestly supplicating God to pardon the thoughts which, during the interview, had presented themselves to his imagination. The Queen used to relate the incident as one in which perfect gallantry and perfect piety met in combination.
Notwithstanding the pious tendencies of the Duke, however, he contrived, like the more worldly, to