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be thought competent to become judges of the actions of their countrymen, and capable of divesting themselves of partialities in the exercise of their decisions, it is at least possible that an historian may, in like manner, in the retirement of his library, abstract himself from every personal influence, and weigh the mass of evidence before him in an impartial balance. The historian, indeed, who is inspired with the real dignity of his subject, writes less to his contemporaries than to posterity; and cannot but be sensible that the immortality after which he is so laudably panting, must principally accrue from a sound and solid judgement, carefully chastised from every bias and obliquity, and transmitting the light of truth alone upon the pure mirror of his
page, We have been led into these observations from the appear ance of the voluminous publication before us, by an author who has heretofore furnished us with nine interesting volumes of French history, under the title of Memoirs of Marshal Richelieu; and is already engaged in a History of the Revolution, which will extend to the termination of the eighteenth century. We mean not, however, to anticipate the favour of the reader by applying these remarks either to the present or any of the collateral Memoirs of M. Soulavie, in this commencement of our strictures. We have merely offered them with a view of remoying general prejudices against contemporary histories, and shall now enable him to determine for himself, by a candid analysis of the work before us, and a brief statement of the documents to which the author has had recourse,
• It may be considered,' (observes he), “in the first place, as a continuation of my labours on the history of the decline of the French monarchy, published in nine volumes, under the title of Memoirs of Marshal Richelieu, which commence at the latter part of the reign of Lewis XV., and end at the accession of Lewis XVI. to the throne. These Memoirs, and those I am now publishing, are the result of indefatigable researches, ever since the year 1778. The most distinguished personages of ancient France have supplied me with the anecdotes and other curious materials, that have gone through two editions in the first of the works. I have frequented persons respectable for their talents and veracity, who were brought up in the court of Lewis XIV.; such as marshal Richelieu, cardinal Luynes, some ancient magistrates and ministers, confidential secretaries, subaltern agents of government, valets-de-chambres to the king, ancient favourites, and ladies of the court. All of them were still able to give clear and particular accounts of the events and persons mentioned in the memoirs of Richelieu. I have preserved from the flames of the revolution the most curious monuments of our madern history, by publishing, before the epoch of our misfortunes, the complete works of the duke of St. Simon, memoirs of Duclos, Massillon, Maurepas, d'Aiguillon, and others connected with the history of Lewis XV.
• During the reign of the unfortunate Lewis XVI., I did not discontinue my visits amongst people of the first distinction in the monarchy. Above all, I collected the monuments of the arts. My cabinet contains all the historical engravings of that period, and all that I could possibly find relating to anterior transactions.
• The execution of this project has formed a collection of prints, composed of an hundred and fixty-two volumes in folio, on the history of our nation, from the time of Pharamond to that of Bonaparte ; a monument truly national, since it is an history of France written by the imagination of our artists, as well as the history of modern Europe, with which France has ever been connected.
• To this assemblage I have added another no less important, that of printed works, on the reign of Lewis XVI., and on the revolution, which are also in my cabinet. It will hardly be believed that they consist of more than thirty thousand different publications, written by the leaders of factions, or by their disciples and ad. herents. So that in writing the history of the revolution, we are embarrassed in the choice of materials. We are obliged to confine ourselves to select the writings of the most remarkable personages of each party, as they contain the quintessence of the anarchy of the moment we have to delineate, and also the spirit of opposition which moved the rulers whose contests we must describe. Vol. i. P. xlii.
« The Memoirs of the Reign of Lewis XVI., which I am publishing, have, therefore, been composed from a valuable source, the papers of the king himself; from depositories to which the queen or ministers never had the least access : and I have availed myself of all the information that could be obtained from prints and books; and from the most distinguished and best-informed persons of that reign, whose situations were most favourable for observation, and with whom I have had frequent conversations since 1778. The work will besides have the merit of being exposed to all the çensures of my contemporaries, and to the contradiction of the opposite parties Í provoke. This contradiction will bring on explanations and detections, important to the history of our times and country.
« The Memoirs of Marshal Richelieu commence with the 18th century, and end at the death of Lewis XV.
« Those of the Reign of Lewis XVI. begin at the time of his marriage, in 1771, and finish at his death,
• My History of the Revolution, now in the press, begins with the first assembly of the notables, and ends with the 18th century. This is the completion of the task I proposed to myself in 1778. Vol. i. p. lxxi.
The first chapter is merely introductory; and as the Memoirs before us are a direct continuation of those devoted to the mi nistry of marshal Richelieu, much of it might have been spared without any loss to the integrity of the general design It gives a sketch of the intrigues between Austria and France to obtain a supremacy of control amidst the different states of Europe,
and the means by which Spain, the perpetual tool of these rival courts, was sometimes the adjunct of the one and sometimes of the other, according to the superior degree of policy which was evinced by the respective ministers for the time being. Henry III. opposed the unbounded ambition of Austria with all his might. The emperor Philip II. had conceived the enormous design of subjugating both England and France, as well as Spain, and of composing for all Europe one grand Christian monarchy. For this purpose, he created what was denominated an armed league, and put himself at the head of it. In the midst of this contention Henry III. was suddenly assassinated by a monk, sent from the bosom of the 'league ; and his successor Henry IV. a few years afterwards, by a villain of the same conspiracy, in conjunction with his own wife the celebrated Mary de' Medici, of Austrian descent,-having previously escaped not less than three times from similar at. tempts. The Austrian party now appeared to have obtained an unbounded sway at the court of Versailles, more especially as the queen-dowager compelled her son Lewis XIII. to marry an Austrian princess. It was the good fortune of Lewis XIII., however, to be possessed of some of the most profound and able ministers that have ever influenced the politics of Europe. The original plan of Henry IV. was now prosecuted by the renowned Richelieu with the utmost degree of spirit; and the op position of Mary of Medici was at length silenced by her ba. nishment from the court; in consequence of which she retreated to Austria, and died shortly afterwards of pure chagrin. Mazarin pursued the system of French aggrandisement so successfully advanced by Richelieu ; the result of which was, the fa, mous thirty years' war, and the treaty of Westphalia—which gave so much splendor to the reign of Lewis XIV., but which, by wresting from Austria, Alsace and the three bishoprics, and by elevating the French monarch to the high office of protector of the liberties of the Germanic states, threw the control of Europe too largely into the hands of the court of Versailles; a danger infinitely increased, when, in the course of a few years afterwards, Spain, who had uniformly of late been connected with the house of Austria, was induced, through French intrigues, to dissolve the old family compact, and to receive a king from the line of the Bourbons. Austria continued to decline from this period; and the triple and quadruple alliances, in which England, alarmed at the growing greatness of the French monarchy, appeared so conspicuously, were incapable of aiding her very essentially. The regency and power of the duke of Orléans, who had' united himself with the confederates, terminated with the majority of Lewis XV.; the kingdom of Naples was wrested from the emperor in the south ; while Frederic of Prussia, perceiving his decline and incapacity of effectual · resistance, attacked him at the same time in the north, and seised possession of Silesia. With the justly celebrated Maria Theresa, however, a new æra arose : she was fortunate in the choice of count Kaunitz for her minister, who artfully obtained for his mistress a new alliance with the court of Versailles, and considerably indemnified her for the losses sustained by her ancestors, by compensations in Poland. All the powers of Europe were alarmed at the alliance of the two first monarchies on the continent, and a variety of memorials and coalitions were the consequence. Lewis was at this moment assassinated by Damien; but the blow was not successful. It was truly indeed a regicide age; for in less than three years afterwards the king of Portugal was stabbed through the heart; and very shortly after this event the dauphin and his consort were both poisoned. In France and Portugal these assassinations were for the most part attributed to the Jesuits; and the duke of Choiseul, who bore them an inveterate hatred, left no step unattempted to crush the existence of their society: Voltaire was his chief instrument; and by his own exertions as minister, and the writings of that philosophical wit, he at length succeeded, and their society was abolished in 1762.
The Jesuits, however, could not be the only assassins of the day; for the dauphin was their grand protector, and he himself did not fall till after the suppression of their order. It was generally suspected, and probably with great truth, that the dauphin and his consort both became victims to the diabolical craft of the duke of Choiseul himself, who was detested by the prince, and who was publicly accused of that crime by the general voice of the nation, as well as by his opponents the duke d’Aiguillon and marshal Richelieu. He retained his post notwithstanding, and had art enough to prevail on the old king, who was now become equally decrepit in body and mind, a superstitious religionist and a debauchee, to propose to his grandson the young dauphin, afterwards Lewis XVI., another connexion with Austria, by a marriage with the late unfortunate Marie Antoinette. This bold and decided, but cruel and unprincipled man, who recoiled at nothing that gave a chance of accomplishing his purpose, was at length, however, completely disgraced and banished to Chanteloup, where he employed himself in defaming every branch of the royal family to whom he was indebted for his dignities and support. . His ruin was accomplished by a variety of concurring circumstances. The party of the duke d’Aiguillon, his irreconcilable antagonist, left no means unattempted to injure him both in the opinion of the court and the people : the seven years' war, into which he had rashly plunged the nation against England, had been attended with almost uninterrupted disgrace, and the most complete predominance of the English Hag upon the ocean; and
the sacrifice of the unfortunate Lally, by whose death he had meant to have wiped away all the imputations cast upon his administration, aggravated the general odium against him, and eventually completed his downfall.
As general Lally was the father of a nobleman who exhibited a conspicuous figure in the commencement of the revolution, and as the story of his decapitation is related with no small degree of interest by our author, we shall select it as a favourable specimen of his narrative talents.
• General Lally was a man of quality, who had devoted himself to follow the fortunes of the house of Stuart, expelled from the throne of England. He had chosen France for his new country, and had distinguished himself in the war of 1740 against the English, particularly by breaking into the famous column of the enemy at the battle of Fontenoy. Being sent to India, he was there less fortunate. The French squadron, though superior to the English, abandoned Pondicherry, the most valuable of our possessions. Choiseul's party was humbled by the misfortunes of the war; and it had three motives that required a victim : the first to make it believed abroad that the Irish had betrayed us, and save the honour of our flag ; the next to enable the ministry to keep up their haughty tone at home, after the manner of Richelieu ; and lastly, to ruin the near relation of general Lally, M. de Saint-Priest, intendant of Languedoc; who, designed by a powerful party for the place of the duke of Choiseul, had the courage not to disown Lally for his relation, to defend him, and to proclaim his innocence. •• The English did not accomplish their views in the death of ad. miral Byng; and in the case of Lally, the equally senseless official accusation of having betrayed the interests of Lewis XV. met with no better success. The duke of Choiseul, who deceived the king on this occasion, insensibly declined in the good opinion of his master, when this prince, being afterwards better informed, learned that he had been misled by his minister. It was to little purpose the general's condemnation was sanctioned by the forms of justice; the king was sensible of the fault he had committed, in leaving to the authority of the parliament, which he considered only as the tribu. nal for private disputes among his subjects, a cause of supreme ju, risdiction, with which Choiseul had invested it. Thus, by the most strange perversion of ideas, the parliament was charged with the office of sitting in judgment on an affair of state, on a military transaction, of which generals alone were competent to take cognisance; and of a cause of the supreme jurisdiction, in which the parliament could not interfere without overturning all political ideas of a moparchy. M. de Choiseul changed his dear parliament into a committee, subverting on the other hand the moral maxims of the first tribunal of the realm of a tribunal which, under former ministers, had been the natural and necessary enemy of arbitrary punishments, the enemy of government commissions, and the last asylum of the people of France, when persecuted by the enmity of ministers or courtiers.