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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Who was kept well informed by Dubois


was helped, it is said, by a strange patron. Destouches, charge d'affaires in London, who was kept well informed by Dubois, went to see George I., requesting him to write to the Regent, recommending to him the negotiator of the treaties. The king burst out laughing. "How can you ask a Protestant prince," said he, "to mix himself up with the making of an archbishop in France? The Regent will laugh at the idea, as I do, and will do nothing of the sort." "Pardon me, sir," rejoined Destouches, "he will laugh, but he will do it, first out of regard for your Majesty, and then because he will think it a good joke. I beseech your Majesty to be pleased to sign the letter I have here already written." King George signed, and the adroit Dubois became Archbishop of Cambrai. He even succeeded in being consecrated, not only by the Bishop of Nantes, but also by Cardinal Rohan and by Massillon, one of the glories of the French episcopate, a timid man and a poor one, in despite of his pious eloquence. The Regent, as well as the whole court, was present at the ceremony, to the great scandal of the people attached to religion. Dubois received all the orders on the same day; and, when he was joked about it, he brazen-facedly called to mind the precedent of St. Ambrose. Dubois henceforth cast his eyes upon the cardinal's hat, and his negotiations at Rome were as brisk as those of Alberoni had but lately been with the same purpose.

Amidst so much defiance

of decency and public morality, in the presence of such profound abuse of sacred things, God did not, nevertheless, remain without testimony, and his omnipotent justice had spoken. On the 21st of July, 1719, the Duchess of Berry, eldest daughter of the Regent, had died at the Palais-Royal, at barely twenty-four years of age; her health, her beauty, and her wit were not proof against the irregular life she had led. Ere long a more terrible cry arose from one of the chief cities of the kingdom. "The plague," they said, "is at Marseilles, brought, none knows how, on board a ship from the East." The terrible malady had by this time been brooding for a month in the most populous quarters without anybody's daring to give it its real name. "The public welfare demands," said Chancellor d'Aguesseau, "that the people should be persuaded that the plague is not contagious, and that the ministry should behave as if it were persuaded of the contrary." Meanwhile emigration was commencing at Marseilles; the rich folks had all taken flight; the majority of the public functionaries, unfaithful to their duty, had imitated them, when, on the 31st of July, 1720, the Parliament of Aix, scared at the contagion, drew round Marseilles a sanitary line, proclaiming the penalty of death against all who should dare to pass it; the mayor (_viguier_) and the four sheriffs were left alone, and without resources to confront a populace bewildered by fear, suffering, and, ere long, famine. Then shone forth that grandeur of the human soul, which displays itself in the hour of terror, as if to testify of the divine image still existing amidst the wreck of us. Whilst the Parliament was flying from threatened Aix, and hurrying affrighted from town to town, accompanied or pursued in its route by the commandant of the province, all that while the Bishop of Marseilles, Monseigneur de Belzunce, the sheriffs Estelle and Moustier, and a simple officer of health, Chevalier Roze, sufficed in the depopulated town for all duties and all acts of devotion.

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