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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Three months and a half after the death of Dubois


The

elevation and power of Dubois had the fatal effect of lowering France in her own eyes; she had felt that she was governed by a man whom she despised, and had a right to despise; this was a deep-seated and lasting evil; authority never recovered from the blow thus struck at its moral influence. Dubois, however, was more able and more farsighted in his foreign policy than the majority of his predecessors and his contemporaries were; without definitively losing the alliance of Spain, re-attached to the interests of France by the double treaty of marriage, he had managed to form a firm connection with England, and to rally round France the European coalition but lately in arms against her. He maintained and made peace ingloriously; he obtained it sometimes by meannesses in bearing and modes of acting; he enriched himself by his intrigues, abroad as well as at home; his policy none the less was steadfastly French, even in his relations with the court of Rome, and in spite of his eager desire for the cardinal's hat. He died sadly, shamefully, without a friend and without regret, even on the part of the Regent, whom he had governed and kept in hand by active and adroit assiduity, by a hardihood and an effrontery to the influence of which that prince submitted, all the while despising it. Dubois had raised up again, to place himself upon it, that throne of premier minister on which none had found a seat since Richelieu and Mazarin; the Duke of Orleans succeeded him without fuss, without
parade, without even appearing to have any idea of the humiliation inflicted upon him by that valet, lying in his coffin, whom he had raised to power, and whose place he was about to fill for a few days.

[Illustration: Death of the Regent---107]

On the 2d of December, 1723, three months and a half after the death of Dubois, the Duke of Orleans succumbed in his turn. Struck down by a sudden attack of apoplexy, whilst he was chatting with his favorite for the time, the Duchess of Falarie, he expired without having recovered consciousness. Lethargized by the excesses of the table and debauchery of all kinds, more and more incapable of application and work, the prince did not preserve sufficient energy to give up the sort of life which had ruined him. For a long while the physicians had been threatening him with sudden death. "It is all I can desire," said he. Naturally brave, intelligent, amiable, endowed with a charm of manner which recalled Henry IV., kind and merciful like him, of a mind that was inquiring, fertile, capable of applying itself to details of affairs, Philip of Orleans was dragged down by depravity of morals to the same in soul and mind; his judgment, naturally straightforward and correct, could still discern between good and evil, but he was incapable of energetically willing the one and firmly resisting the other; he had governed equitably, without violence and without harshness, he had attempted new and daring courses, and he had managed to abandon them without any excesses or severities; like Dubois, he had inspired France


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