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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

The dauphin showed a bold front to society


The young dauphin was wise enough to profit by these sage and able counsels. "Seconded to his heart's content by his adroit young wife, herself in complete possession of the king's private ear and of the heart of Madame de Maintenon, he redoubled his attentions to the latter, who, in her transport at finding a dauphin on whom she might rely securely instead of one who did not like her, put herself in his hands, and, by that very act, put the king in his hands. The first fortnight made perceptible to all at Marly this extraordinary change in the king, who was so reserved towards his legitimate children, so very much the king with them. Breathing more freely after so great a step had been made, the dauphin showed a bold front to society, which he dreaded during the lifetime of Monseigneur, because, great as he was, he was often the victim of its best received jests. The king having come round to him; the insolent cabal having been dispersed by the death of a father, almost an enemy, whose place he took; society in a state of respect, attention, alacrity; the most prominent personages with an air of slavishness; the gay and frivolous, no insignificant portion of a large court, at his feet through his wife,--it was observed that this timid, shy, self-concentrated prince, this precise (piece of) virtue, this (bit of) misplaced learning, this gawky man, a stranger in his own house, constrained in everything,--it was observed, I say, that he was showing himself by degrees, unfolding himself little by little, presenting himself to society in moderation, and that he was unembarrassed, majestic, gay, and agreeable in it. A style of conversation, easy but instructive, and happily and aptly directed, charmed the sensible courtier and made the rest wonder. There was all at once an opening of eyes, and ears, and hearts. There was a taste of the consolation, which was so necessary and so longed for, of seeing one's future master so well fitted to be from his capacity and from the use that he showed he could make of it."

The king had ordered ministers to go and do their work at the prince's. The latter conversed modestly and discreetly with the men he thought capable of enlightening him; the Duke of St. Simon had this honor, which he owed to the friendship of the Duke of Beauvilliers, and of which he showed himself sensible in his Memoires. Fenelon was still at Cambrai, "which all at once turned out to be the only road from all the different parts of Flanders. The archbishop had such and so eager a court there, that for all his delight he was pained by it, from apprehension of the noise it would make, and the bad effect he feared it might have on the king's mind." He, however, kept writing to the dauphin, sending him plans of government prepared long before; some wise, bold, liberal, worthy of a mind that was broad and without prejudices; others chimerical and impossible of application. The prince examined them with care. "He had comprehended what it is to leave God for God's sake, and had set about applying himself almost entirely to things which might make him acquainted with government, having a sort of foretaste already of reigning, and being more and more the hope of the nation, which was at last beginning to appreciate him."

God had


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