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Louis XV. is a succession of tyrannical ediets and financial embarrassments. Its external history, which we are here principally to consider, may be divided into three periods, - corresponding closely enough with similar periods in that of England. The first of these includes the compulsory peace which followed the War of the Spanish Succession (A.D. 1713–1742); and of this epoch the Regent Orleans and Sir Robert Walpole are the main representatives. The next period includes the War of the Austrian Succession (1742—1748); the chief agents in which are Marshal Belleisle, and (perhaps we may add) Lord Carteret. The last commences with the Seven Years War (1756-1763); in which the Duc de Choiseul and William Pitt wielded against each other the full energies of their respective nations. It is difficult to say during which of these periods France was most effectually discredited. But through them all there moves the living embodiment and representative of his day, — the worthless, frivolous, and brilliant Duc de Richelieu.

The first period we have named is characterised by the gradual modification of the Treaties of Utrecht. These treaties were, in the second and third decades of the eighteenth century, what the Treaties of Vienna have been to our own generation till within the last year, — the recognised basis of European international law. Concluded by Bolingbroke's Tory administration in the hour of extreme political need, they were yet wisely and honourably accepted by George I. and bis Whig Cabinet. There has seldom been an instance in which a departure from that rule of international good faith, to which the new government conformed, would have been so nearly justifiable. The treaties in question had been purchased for the House of Bourbon, by the violation of solemn alliances abroad; and at home by cabals, in which a knot of conspirators played on the prejudices of an imbecile Queen and an ignorant faction, till their reckless partizanship was scarcely distinguishable from treason. Nor had the tranquillity secured for Europe been such as to excuse the means by which it had been attained. Between Spain and Austria, the nominal principals in the War of the Succession, there existed only a precarious armistice. England and Holland still fancied themselves in danger from the formidable alliance of the French and Spanish Cabinets. The aggrandisement permitted to the House of Savoy was a standing grievance to the Power in whose Italian preponderance we were then most deeply interested. The clumsy stipulations for which we had exchanged our hold on Dunkirk, were evaded by the extension of the neighbouring fortifications at Mardyck. But the Whig Government, we repeat, acted wisely in accepting the situation as their predecessors had left it. Through fifteen years they laboured zealously to modify and improve it; and at length the policy, which, though it was once for a short time, opposed by Walpole, is inseparably and most justly associated with his name, realised its crowning triumph at the Treaty of Vienna in 1731.

However France might be exhausted by the War of the Succession, it is scarcely possible that the continuance of peace would long have been compatible with the life of Louis XIV. Even during the reign of Queen Anne, his evasion of the treaties for which his English partizans had sacrificed their honour and all the promise of their future career, had been so glaring, as to extort even from Harley's government a decent and perfunctory protest. But at the accession of the House of Hanover, causes of irritation were daily multiplied. Bolingbroke and Ormond were welcomed at Versailles with splendid hospitality. The profession of high Jacobitism became fashionable even with men like St. Simon, the habitual frondeurs of the Court. Lord Stair, the English ambassador of King George, was scarcely received at half-a-dozen houses in Paris; while the titular honours of King James were affectedly acknowledged at St. Germain.

Active preparations were carried on in the French ports for a descent by the Pretender on the English coast. But we were saved from actual attack by the death of Louis XIV., and the Regency of the Duke of Orleans. That prince had long been disliked by all who adhered closely to his uncle's military and diplomatic policy. Lord Stair, therefore, bent upon employing the interval of peace in quietly reconstructing the great Protestant Alliance, warmly encouraged him to assume the sole Regency, and offered him the whole moral support of England.

From the marriage of Philip, the Regent's father, with Henrietta of England, in 1661, down to the Fêtes of the Palais Royal, in 1830, there attaches to the House of Orleans an unusual continuity of historical interest — and especially in its bearing on the contemporary policy of England. We are told that Louis XIV. was mainly guided in his choice of Versailles as the habitual residence of his Court, by the recollections which associated Paris with the stormy times of the Fronde, and the days when Anne-Marie de Montpensier, la grande Mademoiselle, ordered the cannon of the Bastille to be fired on the royal troops. But this ostrich-like policy only served to blind the Kings of France to the influences they left at work behind them.' In the Palais Royal there arose, by the side of Versailles and its Court, the gathering germs and mimic centre of a Bourgeoise Royalty, - the parhelion to the sun of the elder

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Bourbons; and with it grew the House of Orleans, thriving on all the errors of the monarchy, and strengthening in its weak

In that House, at all seasons of difficulty, the population and society of Paris were familiarised with the focus of a chronic opposition; and through all their varieties of genius, the younger branch was sure to parade its antipathy to the prevailing tastes, and most unpopular characteristics of Versailles. Louis XIV. never forgot the pretensions of his brother (Monsieur, as he was styled, in the fashion which expired with Charles X.) to infringe on certain customary etiquettes. When the cause of Philip V. was overcast in Spain, we find the future Regent intriguing with the English generals, and offering himself as the fittest representative of a compromise. Extravagantly licentious, in opposition to the formal hypocrisies of Madame de Maintenon ; extravagantly Jansenist, in opposition to the Molinism of her successor, Madame de Chateauroux; Anglomâne with a zealous Constitutionalism, before the meeting of the States-General; mercilessly propagating the first slanders against Marie-Antoinette; adored by the Manuels and Lafayettes of the Restoration - the House of Orleans was not more surely and steadily advanced towards power by its own ambition, than by the sleepless suspicions of the reigning branch. The whole testament of Louis XIV. was inspired by the conviction, that without openly annulling the last Spanish renunciations, and surrounding the cradle of Louis XV. with the elements of a European war, it was impossible to exclude the Duke of Orleans from the nominal Regency; but that it was desirable to place the whole real power in the hands of the legitimated Princes, the Duc du Maine and the Comte de Toulouse, who alone were considered to represent faithfully the maxims and principles of the Monarchy.

The Orleans Regency maintained to its close, and bequeathed to its immediate successors, a latitudinarian and compromising policy, very different in spirit from the resolute dynastic ambition of the preceding reign; and for this it has been condemned without measure by the ultra-royalists of its own day, and by the few French writers who, in our own time, have permitted themselves to remember that France owes her most important and permanent acquisitions to the Bourbon family. Many of the Regent's most trusted supporters complained of his defection from the traditional alliances with Spain and Sweden. The expert staff of French diplomatists, trained in the school of Lionne, Pomponne, and Torcy - men, to whom every court in Europe had been for half a century a post of observation, in standing hostility to the English and Imperial legations—had still strength to thwart by their indifference the new schemes which they were commissioned to execute. The Marshals of France, who had won distinction in the wars of the Reunion and of the Succession, all, with the single exception of the Duke of Berwick, threw their weight into the same scale. Villars even compiled a formal memorial, in which he urged on the Regent a moderate approximation to Spain. M. de Tocqueville acquiesces in this advice so far as relates to the possible extension of Spanish influence in Italy; and he also laments that the Regent missed the opportunity of at once securing, by an alliance with Turkey, in the year 1719, a position in the rear of Austria; and that he should not have developed the policy which combined Richelieu with Gustavus Adolphus, by substituting a Russian for a Swedish alliance. There can be no doubt indeed of the justice of these complaints against the foreign policy of the regency. But we are not the less convinced that Philip and his minister Dubois showed singular skill in the attitude they assumed; and that all their short-comings are chargeable on the ferocious opposition which threatened the former, from the moment that he broke through the testament of Louis XIV. and assumed the sole Regency.

From that moment there could be no peace between Philip of Orleans and the adherents of the old Court. The new régime ushered in a true revolution — at once social, political, and religious. It was inaugurated by an exposure of the financial ruin to which the expensive reign of Louis XIV. had brought the kingdom. It then at once attacked all the Princes of his family whom he had most delighted to honour; and their defence and reprisals were embittered by all the acrimony of feminine malice, in the person of the Duchesse du Maine. Except for her, indeed, it is probable that her husband, an educated but retiring and unambitious man, would have quietly acquiesced in his deposition. But she was a daughter of the great Condé; and having once lowered herself by an alliance with a legitimated Prince, her whole subsequent life was a struggle to repair this humiliation. The history of faction-fertile in indignities - does not contain an instance of warfare so savage, so unprincipled, and unrelenting, as now broke forth against the Regent. The head-quarters of the conspiracy were fixed among the gardens and terraces of Sceaux; and there, amid the wits and savants, whom Madame du Maine, reviving the usages of the Hôtel de Rambouillet, had collected round her, were coined the libels which, inshrined in Duclos, in the terrible Philippiques of La Grange Chancel, and in Soulavie's Memoirs of Richelieu, have placed the Duke of Orleans, as a monster of lust and cruelty, on a parallel with Nero and the Borgias. We have now reason to believe their most frightful details to have been utterly untrue,- to have been explained in some points by the Regent's notorious spirit of bravado, and refuted in others by the equally notorious gentleness of his nature. But these attacks made themselves a voice through all the ramifications of French society — in the Jesuit colleges—in the diplomatic circles all over Europe — in La Vendée and Languedoc — already the classic soil of Royalist counter-revolution.

While the Regent was thus incessantly harassed by an organisation which was always ready to exchange its lampoons and epigrams for the poison-bowl and the secret dagger, and which corrupted his own representatives, and defied him at his own council-board, Lord Stair was perpetually at his side, to remind him of the inextinguishable hatred of the ultra-Royalists, and to urge, in Bishop Atterbury's words, that cracked 'titles must ‘rest upon each other.' The Triple Alliance of 1715, by which George I. and the Regent gave a mutual guarantee for the succession prescribed by the Treaty of Utrecht, was thus a matter of sheer necessity. It was the same with the Regent's compulsory refusal to displease England by concluding a Russian and Turkish alliance. The mere instinct of self-preservation at home committed him, in short, irredeemably, as the antagonist of the Catholic cause in Europe ; and the Catholic cause (if we may use that expression to describe the party which peculiarly embraced the views of Louis XIV.) was still too formidable to enable him to dispense with the help so officiously proffered, even though it came from the habitual enemies of his race and country. At the head of the Catholic cause in Europe stood two of the most remarkable names in history - George Henry Goertz and Giulio Alberoni: And to appreciate properly the Regent's difficulties, we must glance for a moment at these, his two great antagonists.

The great coalition, against which Charles XII. passed his life in struggling, had originated in a dispute between the Duke of Holstein-Gottorp and the King of Denmark. The former had shared in the reverses which fell upon the Swedish cause after the battle of Pultowa ; and the burricane which blew from all the northern courts during Charles XII.'s Turkish exile, forced him to submit to Denmark, by the capitulations of Tonningen in 1714. His minister, Baron Goertz, then attached himself to the King of Sweden; and the chivalrous heart of the king was soon captivated by the fluency and boldness of his new adviser.

He was a thoroughly revolutionary Minister — of the school which followed Richelieu in effacing every centre of local govern

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