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A Popular History of France from the Earliest Time

Chauvelin had juggled the war from Fleury


The

negotiations had been protracted. England, stranger as she had been to the war, had taken part in the diplomatic proposals. The Queen of Spain had wanted to keep the states in the north of Italy, as well as those in the south. "Shall I not have a new heir given me by and by? " said the Duke of Tuscany, John Gaston de Medici, last and unworthy scion of that illustrious family, who was dying without posterity. "Which is the third child that France and the empire mean to father upon me?" The King of Sardinia gained only Novara and Tortona, whilst the emperor recovered Milaness. France renounced all her conquests in Germany; she guaranteed the Pragmatic-Sanction. Russia evacuated Poland: peace seemed to be firmly established in Europe. Cardinal Fleury hasted to consolidate it, by removing from power the ambitious and daring politician whose influence he dreaded. "Chauvelin had juggled the war from Fleury," said the Prince of Prussia, afterwards the great Frederick; "Fleury in turn juggles peace and the ministry from him."

"It must be admitted," wrote M. d'Argenson, "that the situation of Cardinal Fleury and the keeper of the seals towards one another is a singular one just now. The cardinal, disinterested, sympathetic, with upright views, doing nothing save from excess of importunity, and measuring his compliance by the number, and not the weight, of the said importunities,--the minister, I say, considers himself bound to fill his place

as long as he is in this world. It is only as his own creature that he has given so much advancement to the keeper of the seals, considering him wholly his, good, amiable, and of solid merit, without the aid of any intrigue; and so his adjunction to the premier minister has made the keeper of the seals a butt for all the ministers. He has taken upon himself all refusals, and left to the cardinal the honor of all benefits and graces; he has, transported himself in imagination to the time when he would be sole governor, and he would have had affairs set, in advance, upon the footing on which he calculated upon placing them. It must be admitted, as regards that, that he has ideas too lofty and grand for the state; he would like to set Europe by the ears, as the great ministers did; he is accused of resembling M. de Louvois, to whom he is related. Now the cardinal is of a character the very opposite to that of this adjunct of his. M. Chauvelin has embarked him upon many great enterprises, upon that of the late war, amongst others; but scarcely is his Eminence embarked, by means of some passion that is worked upon, when the chill returns, and the desire of getting out of the business becomes another passion with him. Altogether, I see no great harm in the keeper of the seals being no longer minister, for I do not like any but a homely (_bourgeoise_) policy, whereby one lives on good terms with one's neighbors, and whereby one is merely their arbiter, for the sake of working a good long while and continuously at the task of perfecting the home affairs of the kingdom, and rendering Frenchmen happy."


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