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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

That he was Archbishop of Cambrai


Insurrection,

as well as desertion and political opposition, had been a failure; Philip V. was beaten at home as well as in Sicily. The Regent succeeded in introducing to the presence of the King of Spain an unknown agent, who managed to persuade the monarch that the cardinal was shirking his responsibility before Europe, asserting that the king and queen had desired the war, and that he had confined himself to gratifying their passions. The Duke of Orleans said, at the same time, quite openly, that he made war not against Philip V. or against Spain, but against Alberoni only. Lord Stanhope declared, in the name of England, that no peace was possible, unless its preliminary were the dismissal of the pernicious minister. The fall of Alberoni was almost as speedy as that which he had but lately contrived for his enemy the Princess des Ursins. On the 4th of December, 1719, he received orders to quit Madrid within eight days and Spain under three weeks. He did not see the king or queen again, and retired first to Genoa, going by France, and then finally to Rome. He took with him an immense fortune. It was discovered, after his departure, that he had placed amongst the number of his treasures, the authentic will of Charles II., securing the throne of Spain to Philip V. He was pursued, his luggage ransacked, and the precious document recovered. Alberoni had restored order in the internal administration of Spain; he had cleared away many abuses; Italian as he was, he had resuscitated Spanish
ambition. "I requickened a corpse," he used to say. His views were extensive and daring, but often chimerical; he had reduced to a nullity the sovereign whom he governed for so long, keeping him shut up far away from the world, in a solitude which he was himself almost the only one to interrupt. "The queen has the devil in her," he used to say; "if she finds a man of the sword who has some mental resources and is a pretty good general, she will make a racket in France and in Europe." The queen did not find a general; and on the 17th of February, 1720, peace was signed at the Hague between Spain and the powers in coalition against her, to the common satisfaction of France and Spain, whom so many ties already united. The haughty Elizabeth Farnese looked no longer to anybody but the Duke of Orleans for the elevation of her children.

So great success in negotiation, however servile had been his bearing, had little by little increased the influence of Dubois over his master. The Regent knew and despised him, but he submitted to his sway and yielded to his desires, sometimes to his fancies. Dubois had for a long while comprehended that the higher dignities of the church could alone bring him to the grandeur of which he was ambitious; yet everything about him seemed to keep them out of his reach, his scandalous life, his perpetual intrigues, the baseness, not of his origin, but of his character and conduct; nevertheless, the see of Cambrai having become vacant by the death of Cardinal de la Tremoille, Dubois conceived the hope of obtaining it. "Impudent as he was," says St. Simon, "great as was the sway he had acquired over his master, he found himself very much embarrassed, and masked his effrontery by ruse; he told the Duke of Orleans that he had dreamed a funny dream, that he was Archbishop of Cambrai. The Regent, who saw what he was driving at, answered him in a tone of contempt, 'Thou, Archbishop of Cambrai! thou hast no thought of such a thing?' And the other persisting, he bade him think of all the scandal of his life. Dubois had gone too far to stop on so fine a road, and quoted to him precedents, of which there were, unfortunately, only too many. The Duke of Orleans, less moved by such bad reasons than put to it how to resist the suit of a man whom he was no longer wont to dare gainsay in anything, sought to get out of the affair. 'Why! who would consecrate thee?' 'Ah! if that's all,' replied Dubois, cheerfully, 'the thing is done. I know well who will consecrate me; but is that all, once more?' 'Well! who?' asked the Regent. 'Your premier almoner; there he is, outside; he will ask nothing better.' And he embraces the legs of the Duke of Orleans,--who remains stuck and caught without having the power to refuse,--goes out, draws aside the Bishop of Nantes, tells him that he himself has got Cambrai, begs him to consecrate him,--who promises immediately,--comes in again, capers, returns thanks, sings praises, expresses wonder, seals the matter more and more surely by reckoning it done, and persuading the Regent that it is so, who never dared say no. That is how Dubois made himself Archbishop of Cambrai."


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