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Her talents did not clear her in the public eye; never was a favouritemore outrageously pelted with pamphlets, or exposed to more clamorousinvectives. Of this her Memoirs are a full demonstration; her enemiescharged her with many very odious vices, without so much as allowing herone good quality.vii The grand subject of murmur was the bad state of thefinances, which they attributed to her amours with the King.
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The Count de Maurpas excelled all the ministers of that time in genius,activity, and penetration: he was of as long a standing in the ministryas Lewis XV. in the sovereignty. To him the kingdom is indebted forseveral noble institutions. It was he who re-established the navy,which, after the death of Lewis XIV. had been most shamefully neglected.I have been told that the Levant trade was entirely his work. He wasindefatigable17 in his department; and his dispatches were surprisinglyaccurate. I have seen many of his letters; and think it is scarcepossible to comprize so many things in so few words.
Marshal Belleisle was then in high reputation: the court and town werefull of his praise. There was not in all France a man who had been atmore pains to acquire a superficial knowlege of useless things: hepretended to be acquainted with every subject, and he had the art ofmaking others believe so; hence it was not in the least suspected thathe understood the art of war as little as that of negotiation:20 hismanners were mild and engaging, and he had an agreeable fluency ofspeech; but he was so conceited of his knowlege, that although heaffected a certain degree of modesty, still his deportment was sure tobetray his pride: in short, I never knew a vainer creature.
The French army was much more numerous than the allies, and both theKing and Dauphin were present; the presence of these two Princes, thuseye-witnesses of the bravery of their troops, created a second courage,which in gaining victories goes farther than the first: the magazineswere full; the soldiers wanted for nothing; the household-troops werethere; and the whole was commanded by an experienced general, whom thetroops idolized, as capable of the greatest enterprizes: the Princes ofthe blood, the Dukes, Peers, and almost all the nobility of the kingdom,fought along with the soldiery, sharing their dangers and glory;89 in aword, the whole French monarchy was present at Fontenoy. If, with allthese advantages, the allies had got the better, there would have beenan end of the monarchy; for the enemy was marching to the gates ofParis. I am far from intending here to lessen the glory of Marshal Saxe,who conducted the action.
This victory caused a general revolution; the Germans and Englishdetermined to break into the kingdom. They made their way by Provenceand Bretagne, but they only shewed themselves. The Austrians passed theVar, and then repassed it. The English landed and returned to theirships. Our modern history is full of these military follies. Posteritywill ever be at a loss why General94 Sinclair, who commanded in thisexpedition, after bringing a French city to capitulate, moved offwithout reaping the fruits of the capitulation.
The King, who had rewarded Marshal Saxe, did not forget the Count St.Severin, making him a minister of state.124 This Count, though not a greatgenius, had good rational sense, which he made to answer as well as asuperior understanding. He was slow in business, but sure; and hisphlegmatic disposition was better adapted to surmount thosedifficulties, which ever put fervid and eager minds to a full stand. Hewas a stranger to agitations; his passions moved in subordination topolitical laws. Resentment, anger, sallies of passion, spirit of party,with all the other prepossessing foibles which ruled most ministers,were never seen in him. Those he used to call the reverse of the medalof plenipotentiaries. In a negociation he moved straight on to hisdrift, without stopping by the way. He had a natural love for peace, andthus the more chearfully applied himself to forward a definitive treaty.
This part of political strength must be formed at once, and unknown tothe admiralty of England. We should without delay apply to Holland,Denmark, the republic of Genoa, and Venice; and there, at once, purchasea proper number of ships; and if those states cannot fully supply us,there is Malta, Algiers, Tripoli, Constantinople, &c. No matter fromwhat nation we have ships, or how they are152 built, if they will but holdmen and guns.
The particular favour with which Lewis XV. continued to honour me, drewgreat numbers to my apartment, so that I had every morning a full court:some persons of eminence appeared there purely to please the King; butthe business of the multitude was interest. I202 had brought the latter togive me memorials, as otherwise, I could never have recollected so manydifferent objects. It is impossible for those who live at a distancefrom court, to conceive the various classes of askers, and what a numberof favours the throne has the pleasure of bestowing.
France, Sir, is a home instance of this. Lewis XIII. a weak Prince, andwholly governed by his ministers, concerned not himself about abuses; heleft the state as he found it, full of mismanagement and disorder. Yourgreat grand-father changed the whole, and by the reformation he broughtabout in all the branches of government, imparted, as it were, a newgenius to his people.
Peace being the season for public foundations, a plan of a militaryschool, for instructing the French nobility in the art of war, was laidbefore his Majesty in the year 1751.226 The kingdom, said the author,was full of gentlemen who, unable, conveniently, to put themselvesunder masters, led an inactive life in the country, instead of spendingit in the service of the state.
A native of Spain, named Molina, in the fullness of his knowledge, tookit into his head to decide, and vindicate, how229 God acts on mortals, andin what manner mortals withstand God. The Popes, who know every thing,and pronounce sentence on every thing, had, till then, been totallyunacquainted with the mechanism of the metaphysical intercourse betweenthe Creator and creature; and, for their better information, Molinainvented many barbarous words, or scholastic terms, with innumerabledistinctions and divisions.
The calamities still recent, said that Ambassador, which the vacancy ofthe Imperial throne, on the demise of Charles VI. brought on Europe,should move Christian Princes to prevent the like. The Emperor nowreigning is in full health, and it may be presumed, that God will granthim length of days: but should one of those many accidents to whichhuman nature is liable, disappoint the public hopes, and shorten hisvaluable life, Christendom would be plunged in the same abysses, as onthe decease of the last Emperor.244 It is therefore the concern of all theEuropean powers to prevent a war, that scourge which throws every thinginto confusion, lays waste whole nations, and thins mankind. Thecalamities caused by the late vacancy of the empire are not likely to bebrought to a speedy end, and what will it be should new disturbances beaccumulated on the former?
When, on the other hand, I withdraw my confidence from a minister, orsome other place-man, then I am told that he is deficient in everypolitical quality: those very persons who could never say enough in hispraise, now draw him in the most contemptible colours; all his faultsand errors, and sinister practices, are laid open to me in full detail.The terrible accounts given of him from all hands set me against him, sothat I cannot bring myself to employ him, even though, by thereflections on his past conduct and253 disgrace, he should afterwardsbecome thoroughly qualified for a public station. 350c69d7ab