« AnteriorContinuar »
to soften her, and succeeds ;-the King arrives, and the doctor retires, leaving her to urge his suit. She found the King, we are told, furious against Mirabeau, but did all she could to appease him, and was seconded by the Lieutenant.
It seems that Quesnay never was easy in the King's presence, not from bashfulness, but from a kind of fear, which is thus described : · Un jour le roi lui parlant chez moi, et le docteur ayant l'air tout troublé, après que le roi fût sorti, je lui dis Vous avez l'air embarassé devant le roi, et cependant il est si bon !'-_Madame, m'a-t-il repondu, je suis sorti à quarante ans de mon vilJage, et j'ai bien peu d'experience du monde, auquel je m'habitue difficilement. Lorsque je suis dans une chambre avec le roi, je me dis, voilà un homme qui peut me faire couper la tête, et cette idée me trouble.' She urges consolatory topics, taking his expressions literally — Mais la justice et la bonté du roi ne devroient-elles pas vous rassurer .? He answers, that the affair is one of feeling, and not of reason :--and the Editor, in a note, seems to take it much in the sense of the femme-de-chambre, only that his remedy is of a more constitutional description : he argues that, by law, no King of France can cut off any man's head without a trial. It is singular enough, that neither Mad. du Hausset nor Mr Crawford should have reflected on the preceding story of Mirabeau's arrest for putting the King in a passion by a remark upon the principles of taxation; they might there have perceived the ground of Quesnay's alarms, which he described with a little jocose exaggeration.
We trust our readers will easily pardon us for having dwelt so long upon the subject of this excellent person. The services which he has rendered to science and to mankind are worthy of a greater fame than he enjoys. Without adopting the opinions of the sect which he founded, opinions in many respects erroneous, but chiefly from being pushed too far, we cannot hesitate in ascribing to his theory the high merit of having first given to political economy the form of a regular science; of having begun the destruction of the mercantile system, which Dr Smith completed; of having turned the attention of statesmen, as well as theorists, to the paramount importance of agriculture; and, above all, of having first put rulers out of conceit with too much governing. The ridicule cast upon Quesnay's school by persons ignorant of its great merits, chiefly by mere men of the world, would be hardly worth our notice, but that it shows itself a little in some of Mr Crawford's comments. The sight of a real sect of philosophers, acknowledging a master, bound together by a community of principles, as well as by private friendship, and devoted to the pro
pagation of those tenets with enthusiasm, had in it something strange, which easily became ludicrous, in the polished and gay court near which they sprung up. But while superficial men made themselves merry at their expense, the more rational observer could not fail to respect them for their-merits and their virtues, and to be interested in the revival of a kind of connexion little known in modern times, but famous for having first planted and cultivated philosophy among mankind. The Economists were, in reality, and not merely in appearance, a sect of philosophers; they acted from honest zeal for the truth, and not from fashion, eccentric tastes, or the love of singularity; their sole object was to enlighten and improve mankind; and to them, among political inquirers, belongs the rare praise of having first pointed out the natural order of things, or the observed course of nature in the conduct of the world, as the example and guide of human polity.
Secta fuit servare modum, finemque tueri,
Nec sibi sed toto genitum se credere mundo. In the course of this article we have seen several notable illustrations of the manner in which the most important affairs were managed under the tranquil, regular and legitimate goverriment of the Bourbons as long as they owed their crown solely to divine right, and had no occasion to think of their subjects. The sycophants of those days, as well as of the present, called it paternal ; but it should seem that the interests of the dear children were somewhat less attended to than the whiins of the mistress, a sort of stepmother whose power was so great and whose interference so continual, that we marvel no one ever started against the phrase gouvernement paternel, that of gouvernement de marátre. The following passage deserves to be extracted as carrying with it decisive evidence of the gross mismanagement of publick affairs, wherever the people have no voice. It is a specimen of the manner in which the wheels of government are inoved when left to the Prince's sole direction. It is in fact the history (but, of course, the secret history, for in such states there can be no other) of a great change of ministry; the dismissal of a Keeper of the Seals, and a chief Minister of State. We therefore humbly recommend it to the diligent perusal of the Lords Eldon and Castlereugh, who are supposed to feel oor rustic mode of governing by parliaments, trials by jury and a free press, as somewhat cumbrous and burthensome. By way of preface, we should mention that the time when the following drama begins, is immediately after Damien's attempt on the King's life, when the efforts made by the parti devot to procure the favourite's dismissal had nearly succeeded. The place is the favourite's room; the actors speak for themselves, and the action takes up about two days. All the rules of the drama are well observed. As the language of the original is not the Law French known to the Chancellor, and as it differs as widely, both in genders, grammar and vocabulary from that French which our Foreign Secretary is said to talk with great fluency and imperturbable boldness-being in short still further removed from his Lordship’s French than his parliamentary discourse is from the vulgar tongue, we feel the necessity of departing from our usual plan, and giving a translation of the original scene, for the benefit of those noble personages; bat it shall be a faithful and even a literal one. • (Enter, first, Mad. La Marechale de Mirepoix, confidante of Pom
padour ; and on coming in she immediately begins) Mad. de M. What's the er, Ma'am ? What are all those packages? Your servants say you are going.
Mad. de Pompadour. Alas ! My dear friend, the Master* will have it so, according to Mons. de Machant. +
Mad. de M. And what advice did he give the King ?
Mad. de. P. That I should go without delay. Hausset! (calling to the Maid--who comes in and undresses her, that she
may a: her ease upon the sofa.)
Mad. de M. He wishes to have it all his own way, this Keeper of ours, and he is betraying you ; whoever leaves the table loses the game. (Enter the Abhé de Bernis, M. de Soubise and M. de Marigni
who all remain closetted with the ladies for an hour. Then exeunt. Then follows a scene between M. de Marigni and
the Maid.) M. de Marigni. She remains ; but mum mum. I She'll pretend to go, that her enemies may be quieted—'Tis the little Marechale has decided the matter, but her Keeper will pay the reckoning. (Enter Dr Quesnay--who tells a fable of a fox, who being at table with other beasts, persuaded one of them that his enemies were in pursuit of him, in order to fall heir to his share of the food.) The rest of the piece, its denouement, we must give in the narrative of Mad. du Hausset. • I did not see my mistress again till late at night, when I put
her to bed. She was more composed ; things were going on better and better for her and Machant; her faithless friend was dismissed. The King returned to his former habits of frequenting her apartment. I learnt from M. de Marigni that the abbé had been to M. d'Argenson (the Minister of War) to persuade him to live on a more amicable footing with my mistress, and that he had met with a cold reception.
* Not Dr Quesnay-but the King. t. Keeper of the Seals and of Mad. de Mirepoix, as well as Minister of the Marine.
| Orig. Motus, which is a vulgar word for silence-and may be of use to our great negotiator at the impending Congress.
“ He is puffed up with Machant's dismissal, said the abbé, as it leaves the field open to the ablest and most expérienced ; and I fear a dreadful struggle may ensue. The next day my mistress laving ordered her chair, I was curious to know where she was going, as she seldom went out except to church, or to some of the ministers. I learnt that she went to M. d'Argenson's. An hour afterwards, she returned, and appeared to be very much out of sorts. She stood leaning over the chimney-piece, with her eyes fixed on the jambs. The abbé came in. I waited while she took off her cloak and gloves -she kept her hands in her muff. The abbé looked at her for some minutes, and then said—“ You have the air of a sheep in a reverie. She roused herself and answered, throwing her muff on the sofa—“ It's the wolf that throws the sheep into a reverie.” I left the room. The King came soon after, and I heard my mistress sobbing. The abbé came and bid me bring some Hoffman's drops. The King himself prepared the cordial with sugar, and gave it to her with the most gracious air possible-she candidly smiling and kissing his hands. I left the room ; and heard early in the morning, the next day but one, that M. d'Argenson was. banished. It was all his own fault;
and this is the greatest proof of her influence my mistress ever gave. The King was extremely fond of M. d'Argenson ; and the war both by sea and land required those two ministers to have remained in office. Such, at least, was the prevailing opinion, at the time, among all classes.
We may add to this, that her protegé M. de Soubise was kept in the command of the army by her influence, while he ruined the campaign. The battle of Rosbach, accordingly, threatened to shake her ascendancy, and attempts were made to dismiss her; but some trifling success soon after was gained by the Marshal, and she was confirmed in favour; although our journalist mentions a cruel mortification that happened, from some one to whom Mad. de Pompadour was talking of the
great victory of her friend, never having heard of it. There is no reason whatever to doubt the accuracy
of all Mad. du Hausset's details; for, beside the strong internal evidence of the style, and the testimony borne to her character by M. de Marigni, the coincidences of her story, with the narratives of other writers, who were in all probability unknown to her, wherever they touch on the same subject, afford irrefragable proof of her correctness. This remark applies also to tho Memoires Secretes of Duclos, which were not published till after Mad. du Hausset's death. The dismissals, for instance, of which we have just seen the secret springs, are mentioned by him (tom. II. p. 441, 516.) in terms quite consistent with the statement of the Journal, as far as he knew the cause of that change; except that he speaks of Machant as Minister of the Marine only, and does not mention the Seals: He adds, that never was there any thing worse timed than turning out those experienced ministers, more especially as their successors were persons of the most manifest incapacity. Indeed, this author (and be it l'ecollected, that he was no gossiping waiting maid, but the Historiographer of France) seems to have been abundantly sensible of the pernicious influence enjoyed by Royal mistresses at the old legitimate Court of Versailles. To Madame de Maintenon he ascribes in detail, the change of Lewis XIV.'s plan of campaign, when she procured the dismissal of Chamillart; and indeed her power during a period of thirtyfive years, was generally admitted by all Europe. Mad. de Pompadour exercised an equal sway: Perhaps, from the character of the King, and the complexion of the times, her influence was more important. Duclos ascribes to it entirely the alliance with Austria, and the war of 1756, admitted by all French politicians to have been the greatest error ever made in foreign affairs, and the cause of all the mischiefs that happened previously to the Revolution. The flatteries of Maria Theresa, and the vanity of being thought her personal friend, were the sole cause of this line of policy.
A trifling anecdote in the Journal shows the trifling causes which were supposed to influence so important a matter as the patronage of the ministers. Mad. du Hausset obtained a military post for a relation, from a person of high rank, on the condition that she made her mistress give the latter a part to play at their private theatricals, which had only a few lines to recite. It must be admitted, however, that these pages are full of proofs showing how generally and cordially the favourite was hated by the publick. The fear of this breaking out in some act of violence, seems now and then to have restrained her; it was indleed the only obstacle to her absolute sway, and it certainly had this effect upon her worthy and philosophical brother, M. de Marigni, who, greatly to her chagrin, constantly resisted all offers of promotion, whether by place, rank or marriage, saying, that for himself he loved a quiet life, and for her, it would be far worse if he acceded to her earnest wishes as the Royal mistresses are always sufficiently hated on their own account, without sharing in the odium belonging to ministers.'
At the period to which the Journal refers, Turgot was a young man entering into publick life; but there is one passage relating to him which we shall transcribe, although of no very remarkable interest.
. Un jour que j'étois à Paris j'allois diner chez le docteur. Il avoit assez de monde contre son ordinaire, et entre autres un jeune maître Jes requêtes d'une belle figure, qui portoit un nom de terre dont je