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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Monseigneur had no more commands


"Thou givest him a son, an ever ready aid, Apt or to woo or fight, obey or be obeyed; A son who, like his sire, drags victory in his train, Yet boasts but one desire, that father's heart to gain; A son, who to his will submits with loving air, Who brings upon his foes perpetual despair. As the swift spirit flies, stern Equity's envoy, So, when the king says, 'Go,' down rusheth he in joy, With vengeful thunderbolt red ruin doth complete, Then tranquilly returns to lay it at his feet."

In 1690 and in 1691 he had gained distinction as well as in 1688. "The dauphin has begun as others would think it an honor to leave off," the Prince of Orange had said, "and, for my part, I should consider that I had worthily capped anything great I may have done in war if, under similar circumstances, I had made so fine a march." Whether it were owing to indolence or court cabal, Monseigneur had no more commands; he had no taste for politics, and always sat in silence at the council, to which the king had formally admitted him at thirty years of age, "instructing him," says the Marquis of Sourches, "with so much vigor and affection, that Monseigneur could not help falling at his feet to testify his respect and gratitude." Twice, at grave conjunctures, the grand-dauphin allowed his voice to be heard; in 1685, to offer a timid opposition to the Edict of Nantes, and,

in 1700, to urge very vigorously the acceptance of the King of Spain's will. "I should be enchanted," he cried, as if with a prophetic instinct of his own destiny, "to be able to say all my life, 'The king my father, and the king my SON.'" Heavy in body as well as mind, living on terms of familiarity with a petty court, probably married to Mdlle. Choin, who had been for a long time installed in his establishment at Meudon, Monseigneur, often embarrassed and made uncomfortable by the austere virtue of the Duke of Burgundy, and finding more attraction in the Duke of Berry's frank geniality, had surrendered himself, without intending it, to the plots which were woven about him. "His eldest son behaved to him rather as a courtier than as a son, gliding over the coldness shown him with a respect and a gentleness which, together, would have won over any father less a victim to intrigue. The Duchess of Burgundy, in spite of her address and her winning grace, shared her husband's disfavor." The Duchess of Berry had counted upon this to establish her sway in a reign which the king's great age seemed to render imminent; already, it was said, the chief amusement at Monseigneur's was to examine engravings of the coronation ceremony, when death carried him off suddenly on the 14th of April, 1711, to the consternation of the lower orders, who loved him because of his reputation for geniality. The severity of the new dauphin caused some little dread.

"Here is a prince who will succeed me before long," said the king on presenting his grandson to the assembly of the clergy; "by his virtue and piety he will render the church still more flourishing, and the kingdom more happy." That was the hope of all good men. Fenelon, in his exile in Cambrai, and the Dukes of Beauvilliers and Chevreuse, at court, began to feel themselves all at once transported to the heights with the prince whom they had educated, and who had constantly remained faithful to them. The delicate foresight and prudent sagacity of Fenelon had a long while ago sought to prepare his pupil for the part which he was about to play. It was piety alone that had been able to triumph over the dangerous tendencies of a violent and impassioned temperament. Fenelon, who had felt this, saw also the danger of devoutness carried too far. "Religion does not consist in a scrupulous observance of petty formalities," he wrote to the Duke of Burgundy; "it consists, for everybody, in the virtues proper to one's condition. A great prince ought not to serve God in the same way as a hermit or a simple individual."


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