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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Boulduc and I looked at one another


Accusations

of greater gravity had been recently renewed against the Duke of Orleans. The king had been ill; for just a moment the danger had appeared serious; the emotion in France was general, the cabal opposed to the Regent went beyond mere anxiety. "The consternation everywhere was great," says St. Simon; "I had the privileges of entry, and so I went into the king's chamber. I found it very empty; the Duke of Orleans seated at the chimney-corner, very forlorn and very sad. I went up to him for a moment, then I approached the king's bed. At that moment, Boulduc, one of his apothecaries, was giving him something to take. The Duchess of la Ferte was at Boulduc's elbow, and, having turned round to see who was coming, she saw me, and all at once said to me, betwixt loud and soft, 'He is poisoned, he is poisoned.' 'Hold your tongue, do,' said I; 'that is awful!' She went on again, so much and so loud, that I was afraid the king would hear her. Boulduc and I looked at one another, and I immediately withdrew from the bed and from that madwoman, with whom I was on no sort of terms. The illness was not a long one, and the convalescence was speedy, which restored tranquillity and joy, and caused an outburst of Te Deums and rejoicings. On St. Louis' day, at the concert held every year on that evening at the Tuileries, the crowd was so dense that a pin would not have fallen to the ground in the garden. The windows of the Tuileries were decorated and crammed full, and all the roofs of the
Carrousel filled with all that could hold on there, as well as the square. Marshal Villeroy revelled in this concourse, which bored the king, who kept hiding himself every moment in the corners; the marshal pulled him out by the arm and led him up to the windows. Everybody shouted 'Hurrah! for the king!' and the marshal, detaining the king, who would still have gone and hidden himself, said, 'Pray look, my dear master, at all this company, all this people; it is all yours, it all belongs to you; you are their master; pray give them a look or two just to satisfy them!' A fine lesson for a governor, and one which he did not tire of impressing upon him, so fearful was he lest he should forget it; accordingly he retained it very perfectly."

[Illustration: The Boy King and his People----104]

The Duke of Beauvilliers and Fenelon taught the Duke of Burgundy differently; the Duke of Montausier and Bossuet himself, in spite of the majestic errors of his political conceptions, had not forgotten in the education of the granddauphin the lesson of kings' duties towards their peoples.

Already, over the very infancy of Louis XV. was passing the breath of decay; little by little that people, as yet so attached to their young sovereign, was about to lose all respect and submission towards its masters; a trait long characteristic of the French nation.

The king's majority was approaching, the Regent's power seemed on the point of slipping from him; Marshal Villeroy, aged, witless, and tactless, irritated at the elevation of Dubois, always suspicious of the Regent's intentions towards the young king, burst out violently against the minister, and displayed towards the Regent an offensive distrust. "One morning," says Duclos, "when the latter came to give an account to the king of the nomination to certain benefices, he begged his Majesty to be pleased to walk into his closet, where he had a word to say to him in private. The governor objected, saying that he knew the duties of his place, that the king could have no secrets from his governor, protested that he would not lose sight of him for an instant, and that he was bound to answer for his person. The Regent, then taking a tone of superiority, said to the marshal, 'You forget yourself, sir; you do not see the force of your expressions; it is only the king's presence that restrains me from treating you as you deserve.' Having so said, he made a profound bow to the king and went out. The disconcerted marshal followed the Regent to the door, and would have entered upon a justification; all his talk all day long was a mixture of the Roman's haughtiness and the courtier's meanness." [_Memoires de St. Simon_.]


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