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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

And more bravely faithful than was made out by Fenelon


"The

prince thinks too much and acts too little," he said to the Duke of Chevreuse; "his most solid occupations are confined to vague applications of his mind and barren resolutions; he must see society, study it, mix in it, without becoming a slave to it, learn to express himself forcibly, and acquire a gentle authority. If he do not feel the need of possessing firmness and nerve, he will not make any real progress; it is time for him to be a man. The life of the region in which he lives is a life of effeminacy, indolence, timidity, and amusement. He will never be so true a servant to the king and to Monseigneur as when he makes them see that they have in him a man matured, full of application, firm, impressed with their true interests, and fitted to aid them by the wisdom of his counsels and the vigor of his conduct. Let him be more and more little in the hands of God, but let him become great in the eyes of men; it is his duty to make virtue, combined with authority, loved, feared, and respected."

Court-perfidy dogged the Duke of Burgundy to the very head of the army over which the king had set him; Fenelon, always correctly informed, had often warned him of it. The duke wrote to him, in 1708, on the occasion of his dissensions with VendOme: "It is true that I have experienced a trial within the last fortnight, and I am far from having taken it as I ought, allowing myself to give way to an oppression of the heart caused by the blackenings,

the contradictions, and the pains of irresolution, and the fear of doing something untoward in a matter of extreme importance to the State. As for what you say to me about my indecision, it is true that I myself reproach myself for it, and I pray God every day to give me, together with wisdom and prudence, strength and courage to carry out what I believe to be my duty." He had no more commands, in spite of his entreaties to obtain, in 1709, permission to march against the enemy. "If money is short, I will go without any train," he said; "I will live like a simple officer; I will eat, if need be, the bread of a common soldier, and none will complain of lacking superfluities when I have scarcely necessaries." It was at the very time when the Archbishop of Cambrai was urgent for peace to be made at any price. "The people no longer live like human beings," he said, in a memorial sent to the Duke of Beauvilliers; "there is no counting any longer on their patience, they are reduced to such outrageous trials. As they have nothing more to hope, they have nothing more to fear. The king has no right to risk France in order to save Spain; he received his kingdom from God, not that he should expose it to invasion by the enemy, as if it were a thing with which he can do anything he pleases, but that he should rule it as a father, and transmit it as a precious heirloom to his posterity." He demanded at the same time the convocation of the assembly of notables.

It was this kingdom, harassed on all sides by its enemies, bleeding, exhausted, but stronger, nevertheless, and more bravely faithful than was made out by Fenelon, that the new dauphin found himself suddenly called upon to govern by the death of Monseigneur, and by the unexpected confidence testified in him before long by the king. "The prince should try more than ever to appear open, winning, accessible, and sociable," wrote Fenelon; "he must undeceive the public about the scruples imputed to him; keep his strictness to himself, and not set the court apprehending a severe reform of which society is not capable, and which would have to be introduced imperceptibly, even if it were possible. He cannot be too careful to please the king, avoid giving him the slightest umbrage, make him feel a dependence founded on confidence and affection, relieve him in his work, and speak to him with a gentle and respectful force which will grow by little and little. He should say no more than can be borne; it requires to have the heart prepared for the utterance of painful truths which are not wont to be heard. For the rest, no puerilities or pettinesses in the practice of devotion; government is learned better from studying men than from studying books."


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