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heads by putting together the most trivial occurrences, and giving significance and extent, to things utterly insignificant. Perhaps old Letellier came to the king a few moments sooner or later than usual; or Monsieur de Louvois gave his valet a blow with his cane ;-a proof that he is irritated at some one to whom he cannot display it in the same manner;—or Monsieur Colbert, (the North, as Madame de Sévigné called him,) appears a little more or less icy than usual ;*—or a courier has arrived from no one
* Although the responsibility of the ministers was far from being in France the legal corollary of the king's inviolability, this latter was established in fact, particularly since the Fronde. But as yet it scarcely went beyond raillery and portraits; not daring to attack actions,-characteristics were seized upon. The pulpit itself sometimes set the example in this. "One, (a minister,) always precipitate, makes your mind
uneasy;-the other, with a troubled countenance, makes your heart beat; this one presents himself before you from custom or politeness, and allows his thoughts to wander, while your remarks cannot arrest his attention; -the other, still more cruel, has his ears stopped by his preoccupations," etc.-BOSSUET. Funeral Oration of Letellier. These words doubtless caused the exchange of many a smile, for it was impossible, in a few words better to describe the four principal ministers of the period. But Louis XIV. was not sorry to see those defects criticized in his ministers, from which he was, or fancied himself free. The more impenetrable Colbert appeared, and the more repulsive Louvois,―the more affable it pleased the king to be. Thus, this same Doge of Genoa said, that the king took his heart captive, but the ministers restored it to him again.
In the discussions with Rome on the subject of the Assembly of 1682, the system of the responsibility of the ministers was used towards the pope with a boldness which would not have been tolerated towards the king. "I blush," says Bossuet, somewhere, "for those who have not been ashamed to inspire his Holiness with such sentiments." We shall not undertake to explain how this was reconcilable with the doctrine of papal infallibility. If the pope has been even once ill counselled,-wrongly inspired, there is not the least reason why he should not be again; if Bossuet thought himself obliged to blush for those who had influenced the pope in a certain direction,--were there not then others who could have blushed for those who influenced him in a contrary direction See note to Chap. XII.
knows what province, or has been dispatched no one knows whither. And if such is the importance of the slightest action, the smallest word of a minister,-what will be that of the least gesture, the least syllable of the king,-particularly when he is known to be so impenetrable,*-so completely master of himself as Louis XIV., so that a movement, a look, a nothing may be the indication of a punishment or a reward,-of fair weather, or of a tempest!
"This will be a great king;-he never says a word of what he thinks."-MAZARIN.
THE KING'S D SPLEASURE.-MONTAUSIER AND BOSSUET IN THE CABINET OF THE KING. MADAME DE MONTESPAN REFUSED ABSOLUTION.
THE internal storm, which manifested itself on this particular day by such an alteration in his usual manners, must have been very violent.
In the first place, he had come into the park half an hour later than usual. This was an event in itself, for never was the life of a prince, or even of a private individual, who was master of his own time, more systematically regulated. Every morning, after rising, he determined upon the arrangements for the day; everybody was enabled to tell, within a few minutes of the truth, where he would be at such an hour, where he would go at such another. This was another of the secrets of the art of ruling. “If you wish to have your will habitually respected," he wrote, thirty years after, to his grandson the king of Spain, "you must show that you yourself are a slave to it."
But what was still more extraordinary than this delay, was the physiognomy of the king. He whose countenance, at least in public, was so constantly the same, that it had without too gross a flattery been compared to that of a bronze or marble god,-he seemed almost to have lost all care for his dignity, all recollection of his almost invariable habits. He hastened his расе, he slackened it; he walked straight towards the basin of a fountain,
and did not perceive it until he was on the brink. The seven or eight lords and pages who followed him bare-headed,--for he had not thought of desiring them to be covered,-neither dared to speak to him nor to each other; a number of ladies had been met by him cn his way, and he had not saluted them,-he who was not able to meet a chambermaid upon the staircase of the palace, without carrying his hand to his hat!
All eyes far and near, followed him, but secretly. It was generally the contrary; he loved to have it seem as if he were sought for, and gazed at, and not lost out of sight;-the more eyes were fixed upon him, the more he was at his ease;—and the courtiers took care not to neglect so easy a method of paying their court to him. But if at this moment his mind had been disengaged enough to observe what was passing, he would have only seen backs turned to him, and eyes gazing at the heavens, or the earth, so much was it dreaded to encounter a look now! More than one heart throbbed without knowing why; the very atmosphere seemed to contain something mysterious and unusual. So well had he succeeded in disciplining them to live only by him, for him, and in him. The queen herself, never appeared in his presence without a little alteration of the voice, and a slight trembling of the hands;* and we will not venture to answer for it that Bossuet did not experience something of the same kind when his majesty called him.
Thus, he was not sorry to find in the cabinet of the king, the two men, whose presence could the best reassure him; these were, the duke of Montausier, (his colleague in the education of
* "It was necessary to become accustomed to looking upon him, if an orator in haranguing him did not wish to expose himself to the risk of stopping short. The respect inspired by his presence, wherever he was, caused a silence, and even a sort of fear."-ST. SIMON. "You see me here deprived of all grandeur," he said one day at Marly to a foreign nobleman. "Sire," said the latter, "one would never suspect it."
the dauphin,) and the Curé* of Versailles, Monsieur Thibaut, an
honorable and honored priest.
"You are still here, gentlemen ?" said the king.
"Did not your majesty order us to wait ?"
"True; I had forgotten it."
Louis XIV. forget! Decidedly it was an extraordinary day. Bossuet lost himself in conjectures.
"After all," said the king, "it is just as well that you should be here. Remain."
And he sat down, as if not knowing where to commence. Louis XIV., embarrassed, and allowing it to be perceived! It became more and more extraordinary;-but Bossuet began to guess. He began at least to foresee, confusedly, of what nature were to be the confidences of the king.
However, there the king left them, motionless and standing. It is true that no one ever sat down in his presence; not even in the council of state, where the chancellor alone, on account of his great age, was seated on a small stool; and the king had taken the precaution to have noted upon the registers of the chief master of the ceremonial, that he did not mean that the future chancellors should make this a precedent, and consider this favor as one of the privileges of their rank. As for himself,
* Versailles was not yet a bishopric.
"I have seen the dauphin and his sons present at the king's dinner, without his ever proposing to them to take seats. I have often seen Monsieur, the king's brother, present also. He handed the king's napkin and remained standing. A little after, the king, perceiving that he remained, asked him if he would not take a seat. He made a reverence, and the king ordered that a seat should be brought him. A tabouret was placed behind him, but he did not sit down. Some moments afterward the king said, 'Pray be seated, my brother.' Then he made another reverence, and took his seat."-ST. SIMON.
"The king is reserved from policy. The fear which he has, that the French,-who easily take advantage of any condescension which is showed