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destined to make the latter go down, had only too agreeably caressed his pride. Bossuet had meant to put the remedy beside the evil, but had, in reality, only put the evil beside the remedy. So the king had soon abandoned himself to the charm of that species of music so familiar to his ear; deaf to all which might have destroyed its harmony, the little sermon which he had just heard, was reduced in his mind to three ideas, or rather to the three first halves of these ideas; "I am wise, I am resolute, I am great;" the three last halves, being lost in the abyss of his pride.
The form of speech used by Bossuet, a form, by the way, which we find in almost all the exhortations addressed to Louis XIV., either from the pulpit, or elsewhere, was one of the worst which could be used to such a man as the king. Far from being alarmed by the idea that there were two men in him, he caressed it complacently. Remark, in effect, that it is a twoedged sword; pious and humble, you will groan as the apostle did, to feel the evil within you continually enfeebling the good; self-satisfied, you will reverse the thought; you will not say to yourself, that if there is good in you there is also evil; you will say, that if there is evil, there is also good; and thus you will be perfectly at rest. Thus did Louis XIV.; thus, again, he deceived himself, when, many years later, old and unhappy, but so much the more a slave to pride, because he imagined himself free from it, he liked to repeat these lines of one of Racine's paraphrases;
"O God this cruel strife!
"Mon Dieu, quelle guerre cruelle !
And confessors and courtiers repeated in chorus, that there were actually two men in him, and that God could not fail to pardon
one of them for the sake of the other. Alas! it is not necessary to be a king and to have courtiers, in order to whisper to one's self the same language!
Bossuet perceived accordingly, that he had not gained much. However, he revolved the same ideas a few moments longer in his mind;-perhaps he was not entirely displeased with it. All were so accustomed to praise him and to listen to his praises! The language of a Corneille, of a Racine seemed only made to celebrate Louis XIV.*
"Sire," he at length said,—and this time the courtier was altogether merged in the archbishop,-"you do not listen to me, or rather you only listen to me too much. I do not wish to retract my praises; I believe them just; I will repeat them at any time. But so long as you have not imposed silence upon me, I will also repeat my rebukes; and then, not in my own name, but in the name of religion, of the salvation of your soul, I shall summon you to answer them. The law of God, the law of the church is explicit; councils, popes, doctors, all agree; excommunication-”
"Do not be startled at the word, sire; you know well, that I would be the first to sustain your crown against the thunders of a Boniface VIII., or a Sixtus V. Such an excommunication you would defy, and you would do well; but take care, there is
* And the Academy in particular, had only been created to stimulate and direct this employment of the language. See in 1728, in the discourse at his reception, what the same Montesquieu, who had so ridiculed it at other times, says of it; "Above all, it is gratifying to see you working at the portrait of the great Louis,—this portrait always commenced and never finished,-every day further advanced and more difficult. We can now scarcely realize that wonderful reign which you celebrate.”
Bossuet was quite right, but a Protestant might have remarked to him, that, if he who is excommunicated may be judge of the nature and
another which cannot be defied. Pronounced or not it exists; if you merit it,-in vain the Church may shut its eyes and not register it on the earth-it is nevertheless registered in heaven." "And you think that I have incurred this?"-cried the king, with a sudden start.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery."
"Adultery! adultery!" repeated the king, more and more agitated; "Adultery! but it is the first time I ever imagined— In truth-it is-"
And he began to stride to and fro in the room, repeating every moment: "Adultery! adultery!"
He spoke the truth. It was really the first time that he had applied this word to himself; neither preachers nor confessors had yet ventured to pronounce it in so direct a manner that he was forced to understand that it involved himself.* Not that he had not vaguely felt when it was by accident pronounced, that there was something beneath the word that he might take to himself; but we do not like to examine too
validity of this act, it is not very clear what is to become of its virtue. And this is not the only difficulty. If excommunication signify any thing, it signifies vastly too much, for then it must be admitted, that the most pious and virtuous of men dying excommunicated, must of necessity be damned. If one shrinks from this consequence, excommunication is nothing more than a disciplinary penalty, a simple declaration, in virtue of which, the excommunicated ceases to belong to the Roman church. This is more reasonable; but it is clear that Rome, in the time of her power, was very far from understanding it thus.
'Thou shalt not commit adultery," is one of the ten commandments of God, the seventh in the Bible, and the sixth in the Roman Catholic catechisms. It is known that the Romish church has suppressed the second, (that forbidding the worship of images,) and makes ten only by dividing the last into two. It is difficult to understand, not from whence this fraud comes, for the motive which prompted it is sufficiently clear, but how it was dared.
closely into the merits of those questions, at the bottom of which a secret instinct tells us that we should find our condemnation. He had arranged the matter with himself as do those romance writers, whose plots contain the grossest adultery, and who consider themselves moral writers, because the worst is not there.
"And what is to be done? What is to be done?" he at length said, in the half interrogative tone of a man who sees very clearly what is to be done, but does not wish to see it; who asks, but would be delighted if no answer were given him.
"What is to be done? Your Majesty knows better than I do. First-Madame de Montespan must leave the court."
"She will never consent to it—”"
These words escaped the king with the rapidity of lightning. He bit his lips.
"Consent to it, Sire !—Did I say a word about
ting her to go?"
The king blushed at finding himself understood, and began to walk faster than ever. He was evidently afraid of the proud Sultana. This was known to be the case, besides; many proofs of it had been seen. "She had a pride reaching to the clouds, from whose effects none were exempt, the king as little as any other person."* Not long before, she had openly chidden him, in presence of several persons, because her brother, the Duke de Vivonne, had not been included in a promotion of Marshals; and the monarch had been not only seen to take a pen immediately, in order to add to the other names that of the Duke de Vivonne, but further, in the tone of a child caught in a fault,-to essay an excuse for himself by putting it to the score of the forgetfulness of the Minister of War. This, then, was the yoke which he dared not throw off, he the most imperious of men. Once subjected, the man who is most difficult to subject, is often more *SAINT SIMON.
submissive than any other.-The more conscious a man is of his power, the less he thinks it to the interest of his glory never to appear weak.
However, it is one thing to wear the yoke in silence, and another to confess to the wearing of it. Therefore a lively vexation was depicted in the countenance of the king; what would he not have given to withdraw his unlucky confession! But Bossuet had gone too far to let go his hold now, and the king's vexation gave him the best of the game. "Did I say a word about your supplicating her to go?" was almost an irony in itself.—
"I never would have believed," he pursued, in the same tone, "that I should be obliged to remind the king, Louis XIV., that he is master at Versailles. Say one word, Sire-”
The king was silent, and continued to walk.
"Do you fear to speak this word ?-Do you wish that I should charge myself with it?"
The king stopped suddenly. To refuse this offer, would be to take upon himself the performance of an act, for which he felt he had neither strength nor courage; to accept it, would be to renew the confession of his weakness and terror, it would be besides the consummation of the sacrifice, and this idea filled him with dread. Not that he loved Madame de Montespan as he had loved Madame de la Vallière; but she was the life of his court; she had the art of amusing him; him of whom Madame de Maintenon said, many years afterwards, that he was no longer amusable; she was in fact quite as invaluable to him, perhaps more so, from her wit, rather than her beauty. "The court of Madame de Montespan," says Saint-Simon, "was the centre of wit,—and wit of so peculiar a turn, so delicate, so fine, but always so natural and so agreeable, that it came to be distinguished by its unique characte ̧* This wit was her own, and she had the art
* "One may still perceive this charming manner,"-wrote St. Simon