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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Madame Dubarry was to reign as much as Louis XV

the dauphin, it is said, overtaxed

his strength, and died at the age of thirty-six on the 20th of December, 1765, profoundly regretted by the bulk of the nation, who knew his virtues without troubling themselves, like the court and the philosophers, about the stiffness of his manners and his complete devotion to the cause of the clergy. The new dauphin, who would one day be Louis XVI., was still a child; the king had him brought into his closet. "Poor France!" he said sadly, "a king of fifty-five and a dauphin of eleven!" The dauphiness and Queen Mary Leczinska soon followed the dauphin to the tomb (1767-1768). The king, thus left alone and scared by the repeated deaths around him, appeared for a while to be drawn closer to his daughters, for whom he always retained some sort of affection, a mixture of weakness and habit. One of them, Madame Louise, who was deeply pious, left him to enter the convent of the Carmelites; he often went to see her, and granted her all the favors she asked. But by this time Madame Dubarry had become all- powerful; to secure to her the honors of presentation at court, the king personally solicited the ladies with whom he was intimate in order to get them to support his favorite on this new stage; when the youthful Marie Antoinette, Archduchess of Austria, and daughter of Maria Theresa, whose marriage the Duke of Choiseul had negotiated, arrived in France, in 1770, to espouse the dauphin, Madame Dubarry appeared alone with the royal family at the banquet given at La Muette on the
occasion of the marriage. After each reaction of religious fright and transitory repentance, after each warning from God that snatched him for an instant from the depravity of his life, the king plunged more deeply than before into shame. Madame Dubarry was to reign as much as Louis XV.

Before his fall the Duke of Choiseul had made a last effort to revive abroad that fortune of France which he saw sinking at home without his being able to apply any effective remedy. He had vainly attempted to give colonies once more to France by founding in French Guiana settlements which had been unsuccessfully attempted by a Rouennese Company as early as 1634. The enterprise was badly managed; the numerous colonists, of very diverse origin and worth, were cast without resources upon a territory as unhealthy as fertile. No preparations had been made to receive them; the majority died of disease and want; New France henceforth belonged to the English, and the great hopes which had been raised of replacing it in Equinoctial France, as Guiana was named, soon vanished never to return. An attempt made about the same epoch at St. Lucie was attended with the same result. The great ardor and the rare aptitude for distant enterprises which had so often manifested themselves in France from the fifteenth to the seventeenth century seemed to be henceforth extinguished. Only the colonies of the Antilles, which had escaped from the misfortunes of war, and were by this time recovered from their disasters, offered any encouragement to the patriotic efforts of the Duke of Choiseul. He had been more fortunate in Europe than in the colonies: henceforth Corsica belonged to France.

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