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against the royal feelings in a still more un

Eardonable way. The King was in love with ia Valliere. He had surrounded his attachment with the mystery the young and sentimental delight in. Fouquet, quite unconscious of the royal fancy, had cast eyes of favour upon the same lady. Proceeding according to the custom of men of middle age and abundant means, he had wasted no time in petits soins and sighs, but, Jupiter-like, had offered to shower two hundred thousand livres upon the fair one. This proposition was reported to the King, and was the cause of the acharnement, the relentless fury, he showed in persecuting Fouquet. He would have dealt with him as Queen Christina had dealt with Monaldeschi, if he had dared. The hatred survived long after he had dismissed the fair cause of it from his affections and from his palace.

Such was the Surintendant's position when he issued his invitation to the King, Court, and bel-air for the seventeenth of August, 1661 — the fete de Vaiix, which fills a paragraph in every history of France. In June he had entertained the Queen of England in a style which made Mazarin's pageants for the Infanta Queen seem tasteless and old-fashioned. The present festival cast the preceding one into the shade. It began in the early afternoon, like a dejeuner of our day. The King was there, the QueenMother, Monsieur—brother to the King, and Madame, daughter of Charles I. of England, attended by princes, dukes, marquises, and counts, with their quick-witted, sharp-tongued, and independent spouses. The highest and noblest of France came to stare at Fouquet's magnificence, to wonder at the strange birds and beasts, and to admire the fountains and cascades. After a walk about the grounds, the august company were served with supper in the ckdteau. Vatel was the maitre d'hotcl. The King could not conceal his astonishment at the taste and luxury of the Surintendant, nor his annoyance when he recognised the portrait of La Valliere in a mythological panel. Over doors and windows were carved and painted Fouquet's arms—a squirrel, with the motto, "Qub non ascendant? The King asked a chamberlain for the translation. When the device was interpreted, the measure of his wrath was full. He was on the point of ordering Fouquet's instant arrest; but the Queen-Mother persuaded him to wait until every precaution had been taken.

After supper, the guests were conducted to the play. The theatre was at the end of an alley of pines, almost al fresco. The stage represented a garden decorated with fountains, and with statues of Terminus. Scenery by Le Brun; machinery and transmutations by Torelli; stage-manager, Moliere; the comedy, "Les Facheux," (" The Bores,") composed, written, and rehearsed expressly for this occasion in the short space of fifteen days. This piece was put upon the stage in a new way. The ballet, introduced by Mazarin a few years before, was the fashion, and indispensable. As

Moliere had only a few good dancers, he placed the scenes of the ballet between the acts of the comedy, in order to give his artists time to change their dresses and to take three or four different parts. To avoid awkwardness in these transitions, the plot of the comedy was carried over into the pantomime. This arrangement proved so successful, that Moliere made use of it in many of his later plays,

The curtain rises upon a man in citizen's dress (Moliere). He expresses amazement and dismay at seeing so large and so distinguished an audience, and implores his Majesty to pardon him for being there without actors enough and without time enough to prepare a suitable entertainment. While he is yet speaking, twenty jets of water spring into the air—a huge rock in the foreground changes into a shell—the shell opens—forth steps a Naiad (pretty Mademoiselle Bejart, a well-known actress—too well-known for Moliere's domestic comfort) and declaims verses written by Pellisson for the occasion. Here is a part of this prologue in commonplace prose; Pellison's verses are of a kind which loses little by translation, The flattery is heavy, but Louis XIV. was not dainty; he liked it strong, and probably swallowed more of it with pleasure and comfort during fifty years than any other man.

"Mortals," said la Btjart, "I come from my grotto to look upon the greatest king in the world. Shall the land or the water furnish a new spectacle for his amusement? He has only to speak—to wish;, nothing is impossible to him. Is he not himself a miracle? And has he not the right to demand miracles of Nature! He is young, victorious, wise, valiant, and dignified — as benevolent and just as he is powerful. He governs his desires as well as his subjects; he unites labour and pleasure; always busy, never at fault, seeing all, hearing all. To such a prince heaven can refuse nothing. If Louis commands, these Termini shall walk from their places, these trees shall speak better than the oaks of Dodona. Come forth, then, all of you 1 Louis commands it. Come forth to amuse him, and transform yourselves upon this novel stage!" Trees and Termini fly open. Dryads, Fauns, and Satyrs skip ont. Then the Naiad invokes Care, the goddess whose hand rests heavily upon monarch*, and implores her to grant the great King an hour s respite from the business of State and from bis anxiety for his people. "Let him give his great heart up to pleasure. To-morrow, with strength renewed, he will take up his burden, sacrifice his own rest to give repose to m»n/ kind, and maintain peace throughout the universe. But to-night let si\ facheux stand back, except those who can make themselves agreeable to him." The Naiad vanishes. The Fauns dance to the violins and hautboys, until the play begins. ,

After the comedy, the spectators waweu slowly to the chateau. A feu d'artifice, ending in a bouquet of a thousand rockets from the dome, lighted them on their way back. Another repast followed, which lasted until the drums of the royal mousquetaires, the King's escort, were beard in the court-yard. This was the signal for breaking up.

The Surintendant seemed to be on the highest pinnacle of prosperity, beyond the reach of Fate. There was at Rome a Sire de Maucroix, sent thither by Fouquet on his private business. Tobim his friend La Fontaine wrote a full descriptiom of the day, and of the effect Vaux had produced upon the fashionable world. "You would think that Fame {la Renommie] was made only for him, he gives her so mnch to do at once.

"Plein d'eelat, plein de gloirc, adore des raorteU, H reqoit des honueurs qu'on no doit qu'aux autcls."

A few days later, the Surintendant arrived at Anders, on his way to Nantes. Arnauld writes, that the Bishop of Angers and himself waited upon the great man to pay their respects. "From the height upon which he stood, all others seemed so far removed from him that he could not recognize them. He scarcely looked at as, and Madame, his wife, seemed neither less frigid nor more civil." On the fifth of September, nineteen days after the fite, the thunderbolt fell upon him.

A Procureur-Gineral could be tried only by the Parliament to which he belonged. To make Fouqaet's destruction more certain, Colbert had induced him, by various misrepresentations, to sell out. He received fourteen hundred thousand livres for the place, and presented the enormous sum to the Treasury. This act of munificence, or of restitution, did not save him. If he had been backed by fifty thousand men, the King could hardly have taken greater precautions. His Majesty's manner was more gracious than ever. To prevent a rising in the West, Louis journeyed to Nantes, wnich is near Belleile. Fouquet accompanied the progress with almost equal state. He had his court, his guards, his own barge upon the Loire —and travelled brilliantly onward to ruin. The palace in Nantes was the scene of the arrest. Fouquet, suspecting nothing, waited upon the King. Louis kept him engaged in conversation, until he saw D'Artagnau, a name famous in story-books, and the mousquetaires in the courtyard. Then he gave the signal. The Surintendant was seized and taken to Angers, thence to Amboise, Yincennes, and finally to the Bastille. He was confined in a room lighted only from above, and allowed no communication ■with family or friends. The mask was now thrown off, and the blow followed up with a malignant energy which showed the determination to destroy. The King was very violent, and said openly that he had matter in his possession which would hang the Surintendant. His secretaries and agents were arrested. His friends, not knowing how much they might be implicated, either fled the kingdom, or kept out of the way in the provinces. Pellisson and Dr. Pecquet were sent to the Bastille; Gutncgaud

lost half his fortune; the Bishop of Avranches had to pay twelve thousand francs; Gourville fled to England; Pomponne was ordered to reside at Verdun. Fouquet's papers were examined in the presence of the King. Letters were there from persons in every class of life— a very large number from women, for the prisoner had charms which the fair sex have always found it difficult to resist. Madame Scarron had written to thank him for his bounty to the poor cripple whose name and roof protected her. The King had probably never before heard of this lady, who was to be the wife and ruler of his old age. The portfolio contained specimens of the gayest and brightest of letterwriters. In the course of his career the gallant Surintendant had attempted to add the charming widow Sevigne to his conquests. She refused the temptation, but always remained

frateful for the compliment Le Tellier told er cousin, Bussy-Rabutin, that the King liked her letters,—"very different," he said, "from the douceurs fades"—the insipid sweet things— "of the other feminine scribes." Nevertheless, she thought it prudent to reside for a time upon her estate in Brittany. A copy of a letter by St. Evremond was found, written three years before from the Spanish frontier. It was a sarcastic pleasantry at the expense of Mazarin and the Pair des Pyre'ne'es. St. Evremond was a soldier, a wit, and the leader of fashion; Colbert hated him, and magnified ajen d'esprit into a State crime. He was exiled, and spent the rest of his long life in England. Of the baser sort, hundreds were turned out of their places, and thrown penniless upon the world. It was a coup d'e'tat, a revolution, and most people were against Fouquet. It is such a consolation for the little to see the mighty fall!

The instinct which impels friends and servants to fly from sinking fortunes ;is a well-established fact in human natural history; but Fouquet's hold upon his followers was extraordinary: it resisted the shock of ruin. They risked Court favour, purse, and person, to help him. Gourville, before he thought of his own safety, carried a hundred thousand livres to Madame Fouquet, to be used in defending the Surintendant, or in bribing a judge or a jailer. The rest of his property he divided, intrusting one half to a devout friend, the other to a sinful beauty—Ninon de l'Enclos, and fled the country. The "professor" absorbed all that was left in his hands; Ninon returned her trust intact. This little incident was made much use of at a later day by the Philosophes, and Voltaire worked it up into "Le Depositaire." From the Bastille, Pellisson addressed to the King three papers in defence of his chief: "masterpieces of prose, worthy of Cicero," Voltaire says—" ce que Peloquence aproduit de plus beau," And Sainte-Beuve thinks that Louis must have yielded to them, if he had heard them spoken, instead of reading them in his closet. The faithful La Fontaine fearlessly sang the sorrows of his patron, and accustomed •• chacun a plaindre ses malheurs," He begged to the King for mercy in an ode full of feeling, if not of poetry. "Has not Oronte been sufficiently punished by the withdrawal of thy favour? Attack Rome, Vienna, but be merciful to us. La Clemence est fille des Dieux." A copy of this ode found its way to the prisoner. He protested against these lines:—

"Mais si tu crois qu'il est coupnblc
II ne veut point etre innocent."

Two years of prison had not broken him down to this point of self-abasement. Could any Sultan, or even the "Oriental Despot" of a radical penny-a-liner, be implored in more abject terms? Madame de Sevigne", Madame de Scudery, Le F&vre, talked, wrote, and spared no expense for their dear friend. Bre'beuf, the poet, who had neither influence nor money, took to his bed and died of grief. Hesnault, author of the "Avorton," a sonnet much admired in those days, and translated with approval into English verse, as,

"Frail spawn of nought and of existence mixed,"

eased his feelings by insulting Colbert in another sonnet, beginning thus :—

"Minitre avare et lache, esclare malheureux."

The poet escaped unpunished. His affront gave Colbert the chance for a mot—an opportunity which Frenchmen seldom throw away. When the injurious verses were reported to the Minister, he asked,—" Is there anything in them offensive to the King I" "No." "Then there can be nothing in them offensive to me." Loret, of the Gazette, was not so lucky. A gentle appeal in his journal for less severity was punished by striking the editor from the pension-list—a fine of fifteen hundred livres a-year. Fouquet heard of it, and found means to send, by the hands of Madame Scude'ry, a year's allowance to the faithful newsman.

The Government was not ready to proceed to trial until 1664. For three years the sharpest lawyers in France had been working on the Act of Accusation. It was very large even for its age. The accompanying "Pieces" were unusually voluminous. The accused had not been idle. His "Defenses" may be seen in fourteen closely-printed Elzevir ISmos.

The unabated rigour of Fouquet's prison had convinced his friends that it was useless to hope for clemency, and that it might be difficult to save his life. The King was as malignant as at first; Colbert and Le Tellier as venomous, as if it had been a question of Fouquet's head or their own. They talked about justice, affected moderation, and deceived nobody. Marshal Turenne, speaking of their respective feelings in the matter, said a thing which was considered good by the bel-esprits—" I think that Colbert is the more anxious to have him hanged, and Le Tellier the more afraid he will not be 1"

But meantime the Parisians had changed their minds about the Surintendant. Now they were all for him. His friends had done much to bring this about; time, and the usual reaction of feeling, had done more. His haughtiness and his pomp were gone and forgotten: there remained only an unfortunate gentleman, crushed, imprisoned, threatened with death, attacked by his enemies with a bitterness which showed they were seeking to destroy the man rather than to punish the criminal—yet bearing up against his unexampled afflictions with unshaken courage. The great Public has strong levelling propensities, both upward and downward. If it delights to see the prosperous humbled, it is always ready to pity the unfortunate; and even in l Cfi-i the popular feeling in Paris was powerful enough to check the ministers of an absolute king, and to save Fouquet's life. His persecutors were so eager to run down their prey that they overran it. "In their anxiety to hang him," someone said, "they have made their rope so thick that they cannot tighten it about his neck!"

In November, 1664, Fouquet was brought before a commission of twenty-two judges, selected from the different parliaments of the kingdom. After protesting against the jurisdiction of the court, he took hie seat upon the sellette, although a chair had been prepa-ed for him beside it. The interrogatories commenced. There were two principal charges against him. First, diversion of the public funds to his own use—embezzlement or defalcation we shou'd call it. Proof: bis great expenditure—too large for any private fortune. Answer: that his expenses were within the income he derived from his salaries, pensions, and the property of himself and wife. He was questioned closely upon his administration of the finances. He was invariably self-possessed and ready with an answer, and he eluded satisfactorily every attempt of the judges to entrap him, although, as one of his best friends confessed, "some places were very slippery." The second charge—treason against the state—was based upon a paper addressed to his wife, and found in his desk. Fifteen years before, after a quarrel with Mazarin, he had drawn up a plan of the measures to be taken by his family and adherents in case of an attack upon his life or liberty. It was a mere rough draught, incomplete, which had umained unburned because forgotten. The fortifications of Belleile, and the number of his retainers, were brought up as evidence of his intention to carry out the "projet," as it was called, if it became necessary. Fouquet's explanations, and the date of the paper, were satisfactory to the majority of the commission. At last even the Chancellor admitted that the proof was insufficient to sustain this part of the accusation. Fouquet's answer to Seguier, during the examination on the "projet," was much admired, and repeated out-of-doors. Seguier asserted more than once, "This is clearly treason." "No," retorted Fouquet, "it is not treason; but I will tell you whr.' is treason

to hold high office, to be in the confidence of the King, then suddenly to desert to the enemies of that King, to carry over relatives, with the regiments and the fortresses under their command, and to betray the secrets of state: that is treason!" And that was exactly what Chancellor Se'guier had done in the Fronde.

In French criminal jurisprudence, the theory seems to be that the accused is guilty until he has proved his innocence, and those conversant with French trials need not be told that the judges assist the public prosecutor. In this case they sought, by cross-examinations, to confuse Fouquet, and to entrap him into dangerous admissions. Seguier sternly repressed any leanings in his favour; he even reproved some of the judges for returning the salutation of the prisoner as he entered the court-room.

Tbe trial lasted five weeks: all Paris looked on absorbed, as at a drama of the most exciting interest. Fouquet never appeared so admirable as then, at bay, firmly facing king, ministers, judges, eager for his blood, excited by the ardour of pursuit, and embittered by the roar of applause with which his masterly defence was received out-of-doors. Even those who knew the Surintendent best were astonished at his courage and his presence of mind. He seemed greater in his adversity than in his magnificence. Some of the judges began to waver. Ren&rd J., said, "I must confess that this man is incomparable. He never spoke so well when he was Procureur; he never showed so much self-possession." Another (one Nesmond) died during the trial, and regretted openly on his death-bed that he had lent himself to this persecution. The King ordered that this dying speech and confession should not be repeated, but it circulated only the more widely.

"No public man," Voltaire says, "ever had so many personal friends;" and no friends were ever more faithful and energetic. They repeated his happy answers in all quarters, praised his behaviour, pitied his sufferings, and reviled and ridiculed his enemies. They managed to meet him, as he walked to and from 'he arsenal, where the commission sat, and cheered him with kind looks. Madame de Sevigni tells us how she and other ladies of the same faith took post at a window to see "notre pavore ami" go by. "M. d'Artagnau walked by his side, followed by a guard of fifty mousquetairts. He seemed sad. D'Artagnau touched him to let him know that we were there. He saluted us with tnat quiet smile we all knew so **u." She says that her heart beat and her knees trembled. The lively lady was still grateful for that compliment.

The animosity which the King did not conceal made an acquittal almost hopeless, but great efforts were made to save the life of the Surinfeudant. Money was used skilfully and abundantly. Several judges yielded to the force of tbis argument; others were known to incline to tt"cy. Fouquet himself thought the result

doubtful. He begged his friends to let him

know the verdict by signal, that he might have half-an-hour to prepare himself to receive his sentence with firmness.

The commission deliberated for one week— an anxious period for Fouquet's friends, who trembled lest they had not secured judges enough to resist the pressure from above. At last the court was reopened. D'Ormeson, a man of excellent family and social position, who had favoured the accused throughout the trial, delivered his opinion at length. He concluded for banishment. The next judge voted for decapitation, but with a recommendation to mercy. Next, one Pussort, a malignant tool of the Chancellor, inveighed against Fouquet for four hours, so violently, that he injured his case. His voice was for the gallows, but, in consideration of the criminal's rank, he would consent to ommute the cord for the axe. After him, four voted for death; then five for banishment. Six to six. Anxiety had now reached a distressing point. The Chancellor stormed and threatened; but in vain. On the twenty-fifth of December the result was known. Nine for death, thirteen for banishment. Saved!" I am so glad," Sevigne wrote to Simon Arnauld, "that I am beside myself." She exulted too soon. The King was not to be balked of his vengeance. He refused to abide by the verdict of the Commission he himself had packed, and arbitrarily changed the decree of banishment to imprisonment for life in the Castle of Pignerol—to solitary confinement —wife, family, friends, not to be permitted to see the prisoner, or to write to him; even his valet was taken away.

Thus the magnificent Surintendant disappeared from the world forever—buried alive, but indomitable and cheerful. His last message to his wife was, "I am well. Keep up your courage; I have enough for myself, and to spare."

'We still hope for some relaxation," SeVigne writes again; but none ever came from the narrow-hearted, vindictive King. He exiled lloquesante, the judge who had shown the most kindness to Fouquet, and turned an AvocatGtiifral out of office for saying that Pussort was a disgrace to the Parliament he belonged to. Madame Fouquet, the mother, famous for her book of prescriptions, "Recueil de Recettes Choises," who had cured, or was supposed to have cured the Queen by a plaster of her composition, threw herself at the King's feet, with her son's wife and children. Their prayer was coldly refused, and they 6oon received an order to reside in remote parts of France. Time seemed to have no mollifying effect upon the animosity of the King. Six years later, a young man, who attempted to carry a letter from Fouquet to his wife was sent to the galleys; and in 1676, fifteen years after tbe arrest, Madame de Montespan had not influence Enough to obtain permission for Madame Fouquet and her children to visit the prisoner.

This cruel and illegal punishment lasted for twenty years, until an attack of apoplexy placed

P

the Surintendant beyond the reach of his torturer. So lost bad he been in his living tomb, tbat it is a debated point whether he died in Pignerol or not. .He has even been one of the candidates for the mysterious dignity of the Iron Mask. In his dungeon he could learn nothing of what was passing in the world. Lauzun, whose every-day life seemed more unreal and romantic than the dreams of ordinary men, was confined in Pignerol. Active and daring as Jack Shepherd, he dug through the wall of his cell, and discovered that his next neighbour was Fouquet. When he told his fellow-prisoner of his adventures and of his honours, bow be had lost the place of Grand Master of the Artillery through Louvois, and bad only missed being the acknowledged husband of thegrand-daughter of Henry IV. because Madame de Montespan persuaded the King to withdraw his consent, Fouquet, who recollected him as a poor cadet defamille, thought him crazy, and begged the jailer to have him watched and properly cared for.

The Surintendant had twice wounded the vanity of his King. He had presumed to have a more beautiful chateau than his master, and had unluckily fancied the same woman. Louis revenged himself by burying his rival alive for twenty years. That Fouquet had plotted rebellion nobody believed. He was too wise a politician not to know that the French were weary of civil war, and could not be tempted to exchange one master for half-a-dozen military tyrants. That be had taken the public money for his own use was npt denied, even by his friends; and banishment would have been a just punishment, although, perhaps, a harsh one—for it is hardly fyir to judge Fouquet by qur modern standard of financial honesty, low as tbat may be. We at least, try to cover up jobs, contracts, and defalcations by professions or appearances. The difficulty of raising money for the expenses of Government in a state impoverished by years of internal commotion, had accustomed public men to strange and irregular expedients, and unscrupulous financiers patch fine fish in troubled waters. Mazarin openly put thousands of liyres into his pocket; the Surintendant imitated him qn a smaller scale. But, if he paid himself liberally for bis services, he also showed energy and skill in his attempts to restore order and economy in the administration of the revenue. After his disgrace money was not much more plentiful. France, it is true, tranquil and secure within her borders, again showed signs of wealth, and was able to pay heavier taxes: but the King wasted them on his wars, his chateaux, and bis mistresses as recklessly as the Surintendant. He had no misgivings as to his right

to spend the people's money. From his principles, "L'Etat, c'est moi," followed the carollary, "The income of the State is mine." From 1664 to 1690 one hundred and sixteen millions of livres were laid out in unnecessary hotels. chateaux, and gardens. His ministers imitated him at a humble distance. Louvois boasted that he had reached his fourteenth million at Meudon. "I like," said Louis," to have those who manage my affairs skilfully do a good business for themselves."

Before many years had passed, it was evident that Colbert, with all his energy and his systems, did not make both the financial ends meet any better than the Surintendant. A merchant of Paris, with whom he consulted, told him— "You found the cart upset qn one side, and yon have upset it on the other." Colbert had tried to lighten it by striking eight millions of rentes from the funded debt: but it was too deeply imbedded in the mire; the shoulder of Hercules at the wheel could pot have extricated it. After Colbert was removed times grew harder. Long before the King's death the financial distress was greater than in the wars and days of the Fronde. Every possible contrivance by which money could be raised was resorted to. Lotteries were drawn, tontines established, letters of nobility offered for sale at two thousand crowns each. Those who preferred official rank could buy the title of Councillor of State or of Commissioner of Police. New and profitable offices were created and disposed of to the highest bidder -inspectorships of wood, of hay, of wine, of butter. Arbitrary power, no matter whether we call it sovereign prince or sovereign people, falls instinctively into the same ways in all times and countries. The Demos of a neighbouring state, absolute and greedy as any monarch, have furnished us with plenty of examples of this last imposition upon industry. Zealous servants are rewarded and electionexpenses paid by similar inspectorships and commissionerships, not only useless, but injurious, to everyone except those, who hold them.

When these resources became exhausted, a capitation-tax was laid, followed by an »*•««ment of one-tenth, and the adulteration of the currency. The King cut off the pension-list, sold his plate, and dismissed his servants. Misery and starvation laid waste the ni^ At last, the pompous, *' stagy" old monarch died, full of infirmities and of humiliations; and the road from the Boulevard to St. Denis ww lined with booths as for a fete, and the pe°F feasted, sang, and danced for joy that the tyrant was in his coffin. Time, the galantuomo, amply avenged Fouquet.

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