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in his letters to Fayet, who, being compelled about talking of her, sought excuses for her conduct, and this time to make a journey to Paris, was received only spoke of her as his “ adorable deceiver." on his return with every mark of joy by the mis- “ The incidents of your narrative,” says Fléchier, tress of his affections. Still, although she had when thanking the obliging gentleman for the reached her twenty-fifth year, she seemed in no pleasure he had procured him, are very pleasant, hurry to take the steps necessary to their marriage ; and you have told them so agreeably, that I find she was less eager to hear from her lover, and less them marvellously so. If you ask my opinion, I assiduous in writing to him. Some time after take part with Fayet against his false mistress, wards, Fayet, discovered that she was in corre- and I wish that, for her punishment, the intendant spondence with M. Fortia, and chancing to see one may amuse her for a while and then leave her ; of her letters, he nearly fainted with surprise and that she may then seek to return to Fayet, and grief at its contents. “Do not press me, sir, I that Fayet may have nothing to say to her. entreat you," wrote the perfidious beauty,“ to Heaven often punishes one infidelity by another.” reply very exactly to the last passage in your letter. The adorable trompeuse, as we are informed by a You well know that word is difficult to utter, and note, ultimately married neither Fortia nor Fayet, still more so to write ; be satisfied with the assur- but became the wife of a M de la Barge. ance that as a good Christian I strictly obey the If we have thus lingered over the love story with commandment that bids me love my neighbor. which Fléchier commences his Mémoires, it is Another time you shall know more.” Poor Fayet because these milder episodes are, to our thinking, sought his mistress, who denied having written to more agreeable to dwell upon and, in their style Fortia, and protested that her sentiments were un of telling, more characteristic of the writer, than changed. Persuaded of her dissimulation, and the details of barbarous crimes and sanguinary overwhelmed with sorrow, he addressed her in a scenes with which, at a later period of the volume strain of feeling wholly thrown away upon the we are abundantly indulged. We will get on to calculating and deceitful damsel. “ If my suspi- the staple of the book, the proceedings of the cions are just, madam,' he said amongst other Grands-Jours. This tribunal, although, as already things," and you are more moved by the fortune mentioned, it took cognizance of all manner of of an intendant than by the sincere passion of a causes, civil as well as criminal, and judged offendlover lacking such brilliant recommendations, I feel ers of every degree, from the meanest peasant to that you will render me the most miserable of men; the highest noble, was intended chiefly for the but I consent to be miserable so that you be the benefit of the turbulent and tyrannical nobility, who, happier.” The lady consoled him, taxed him with in those latter days of expiring feudality, still opinjustice in thus suspecting her after ten years' pressed their weaker neighbors, murdered their fidelity, dismissed him only halt persuaded, and dependents, and kept up bloody feuds amongst wrote to him that same evening to beg him to re-themselves. Such excesses and injustice were turn her letters. Fayet saw that he was sacrificed. common in Bretagne, Dauphiné, and other provHe sent back the letters, retaining only a few of inces of France; but we cannot trace them as the best, especially the one written in blood. To having taken place anywhere quite so late as in add to his annoyance, his false friend the intendant Auvergne, whose remote position and mountainous had the hypocritical assurance to protest that he configuration, as well as the rude and obstinate had done all in his power for him, but that, finding character of its inhabitants, gave greater liberty all in vain, he at last, subjugated by the lady's and pretext for a state of things recalling in some charms, had pleaded his own cause. He then degree the lawless periods of the middle ages. told him in confidence that he was to be married " The license that a long war has introduced into in a few days, and, with more anxiety than deli- our provinces,” says the king's letter to the cacy, entreated him to say how far his fainiliarity Echevins, or chief magistrates of Clermont," and with Mademoiselle de Combes had been carried the oppression that the poor suffer from it, having during the ten years' courtship. Gentle creature made us resolve to establish in our town of Cleras the jilted suitor evidently was, he could not mont in Auvergne, a court vulgarly called the resist the temptation thus indiscreetly held out, Grands-Jours, composed of persons of high probity and, without compromising to the last point the and consummate experience, who, to the extent lady's reputation, he contrived, by his ambiguous of the authority we have intrusted to them, shall replies, greatly to perplex and torment his rival. take cognizance of all crimes, and pass judgment The latter, in his uneasiness, consulted other per- on the same, punishing the guilty, and powerfully sons; the report of his indiscretion got wind, and enforcing justice; we will, and command you, was made the subject of songs and pasquinades, &c.” “ This letter,” (of which the remainder rather witty than decent. The marriage, which refers to the quarters to be provided for the judges, was to have taken place in a few days, had been and to the consideration to be shown to their perseveral months pending when Fléchier heard the sons and quality,) “ read, with sound of trumpet, story, and the general opinion was, that the inten- upon the principal squares and cross-streets of the dant was only amusing himself, and that it would town, produced an effect difficult to describe. One never occur. Meanwhile poor feeble Fayet could can form an idea of it, only when the picture of not get cured of his love ; he thought continually the Grands-Jours, unrolled before our eyes by of his lost mistress, took pleasure in praising and 'Fléchier, shall have permitted us to imagine the system of oppression under which the people flight, and not a gentleman remained who did not groaned. The letter was like a signal of general examine his conscience, recall the evil passages deliverance.” (Introduction, p. xix.) of deliv- of his life, and endeavor to repair the wrongs done erance, that is to say, for the lower orders, the his vassals, in hopes of stifling complaint. Novast majority, who foresaw, in the severity and merous were the conversions wrought, less by the omnipotence of the dreaded tribunal, revenge for grace of God than by the justice of man, but their long sufferings at the hands of arrogant and which were not the less advantageous for being lawless masters. The aristocracy of the province, compulsory. Those who had been the tyrants on the other hand, few of whom could boast clear of the poor became their suppliants, and more consciences, beheld the arrival of the royal commis- restitutions were made than had been operated at sioners with feelings far less pleasing; and although the great jubilee of the holy year. The arrest of a body of them, including many notorious delin- M. de la Mothe Canillac was the chief subject of quents, went out to meet and welcome the Mes- consternation.” Evil was the fate of the unlucky sieurs des Grands-Jours, the ceremony was scarcely delinquents who fell into the clutches of the dread at an end when most of them took to flight, to tribunal, before the severity of its zeal had been await in distant hiding-places the subsidence of the appeased by the infliction of punishment, and storm of retribution. These were the gentlemen daunted by the popular effervescence its first sanreferred to in the popular song of the day, com- guinary measures occasioned. The Viscount de posed for the occasion, and which resounded in la Mothe was the most estimable of the numerous the streets of Clermont on the morrow of the and powerful family of Canillac ; he was much receipt of the king's letter. It is given, at its full esteemed in the province, and by no means the length of twenty-two couplets, in the appendix to man who should have been selected for conthe Mémoires, and breathes a bitter hatred of the dign chastisement, as an example to titled evilunfeeling nobles and insolent retainers who ill-doers. Nevertheless, the judges had scarcely are treated the people—a savage joy at their impend- rived at Clermont, when their president, Monsieur ing castigation. One of the verses may be quoted, de Novion, (himself distantly connected by maras comprising the principal hardships and extor- riage with the Canillac family,) and Talon, the tions suffered by the peasantry.
advocate-general, agreed to arrest M. de la Mothe.
The provost of Auvergne and his archers found A parler Français,
him in bed, and so surprised was he at the intiChaque gentilhomme
mation of arrest, that he lost his presence of Du matin au soir Fait croître ses cens,
mind, and gave up some letters he had just reEt d'un liard en a six.
ceived from a mistress. At dinner, that day, his Il vit sans foi,
friends had bantered him about the Grands-Jours, Prend le pré, le foin,
but he thought himself so innocent, that he could Le champ et les choux du bonhomme;
not believe his danger. Nor would he perhaps, Puis fait l'économe
have been interfered with, but for reasons which De ses pois, de son salé, Bat celui qui lui déplaît;
ought never to have swayed ministers of justice. Et, comme un roi dans son royaume,
The name of Canillac was in ill repute as that of Dit que cela lui plaît. *
a turbulent and tyrannical family; M. de Norion
desired to strike terror and prove his impartiality “Tel est notre plaisir,such is our pleasure, by arresting a man of first-rate importance, who the customary termination of all royal edicts and was also a connection of his own ; and, moreover, ordinances, was the closing phrase of the letter the viscount had borne arms against the king in already cited, conveying the king's will to the
the civil wars. The crime alleged against him authorities of Clermont. And the insolent as- could hardly be deemed very flagrant, and did not suteption of the Auvergnat nobles had to yield to justify, at least in those days, the rigor of his the strong will and energetic measures of the
judges. During the wars, M. de la Mothe had fourteeth Louis. Without dreaming of disputing received a sum of money from the Prince de the royal mandate, the guilty fled in confusion and Condé, to be employed in levying cavalry. The dismay.
viscount sought assistance from his friends, and “On my arrival at Clermont," says Fléchier, especially from a certain M. d'Orsonette, to whom “ I remarked universal terror, there, and through he remitted five thousand francs to equip a troop out the country. All the nobility had taken to of horse. The levies not coming in fast enough * In plair. good French,
to please the prince, he flew into a passion with Each gentleman
the viscount, who, proud as Lucifer, would not From morn till night Doth swell bis rents,
put up with blame, abandoned Condé, and And multiply his gain.
demanded an account from d'Orsonette of the Observes no faith,
cash intrusted to him. This person, however, Takes field and hay, The farmer's grass and grain ;
neither produced his recruits ror restored the Then plays the steward
enlistment money, and, whilst acknowledging the With his pease and pork,
debt, showed little haste to discharge it. Ill And cudgels all at leisure ; And like a king, with crown on head,
blood was the consequence; the two gentlemen Proclaims it his good pleasure.
met, each with retainers at his back, a fight ensued, D'Orsonette was wounded and his fal- riage only can pass along them ; so that the meetconer killed. All this was an old story in 1665, ing of two vehicles caused a terrible blaspheming and a malicious animus appeared in the eagerness of coachmen, who swear there, Fléchier thinks, of the court to revive it. La Mothe even ob- better than anywhere else, and who assuredly would tained letters of pardon for the offence, but by a have set fire to the town had they been more nulegal quibble these were nullified and made to merous, and but for the many beautiful fountains serve against him. The evidence was very con- at hand to extinguish the flames. “ On the other tradictory as to who had been the assailant, al- hand, the town is well peopled, the women are though it seemed well established that the vis- ugly but prolific, and if they do not inspire love, count had greatly the advantage of numbers. At they at least bear many children. It is an estabthe worst, and to judge from Fléchier's account, lished fact, that a lady who died a short time ago, the offence did not exceed manslaughter, and aged eighty years, made the addition of her dewould have been sufficiently punished by a less scendants, and counted up four hundred and sixtypenalty than death, to which M. de la Mothe was nine living, and more than a thousand dead, whom condemned, and which he suffered four hours af- she had seen during her life. After that, can one terwards. Fléchier displays some indignation, doubt the prodigious propagation of Israel during cloaked by his hahitnally-guarded phrase, in his the time of the captivity, and may not one ask here comments on the hard measure of justice shown what the Dutch asked when they entered China to the poor viscount. “I know,” he says, and saw the immense population, whether the “that many persons, who judge things very women of that country bore ten children at a wisely, thought the president and M. Talon might time?" If Fléchier, when inditing the lively recwell have consulted the principal of those Mes- ord of his residence in Auvergne, contemplated the sieurs” (the members of the tribunal) “ on this probability of his manuscript some day finding its affair, and especially M. de Canmartin, who held way into print, it is evident that he cared little for 80 high a rank aniong them ; and that they would the suffrages of the ladies of Clermont. Had he have done better not to have thus spread the alarm valued their good opinion, or expected the Mémoires amongst a great number of gentlemen, who took to be submitted to them, he would hardly have their departure immediately after this arrest. To ventured to note thus plainly—not to say brutally prevent the escape of a man who was only half -his depreciation of their personal attractions. guilty, they lost the opportunity of capturing a Ugly, child-bearing housewives ! Such crude unhundred criminals ; and every one agrees that this civil phrase would have been more appropriate in first arrest is a good hit for the judge, but not for the day of the eccentric monarch who used firejustice." There was one very singular circum- tongs to remove a love-letter from a lady's bosom, * stance in the case, and which could have been than in that of the graceful lover of La Vallière, met with, as the abbé observes, only in a country who cloaked the extremity of egotism under the 80 full of crime as Auvergne then was. The most exquisite external courtesy. Not often do accuser, the person who laid the information, and we catch Fléchier thus transgressing the limits of the witnesses, were all more criminal than the polite comment. His keen perception of the ridicaccused himself. The first was charged by his ulous more frequently finds vent in sly and guarded own father with having killed his brother, with satire. But the rusticity and want of court-usage having attempted parricide, and with a hundred of the Auvergne dames meet in him a cruel censor. other crimes ; the second was a convicted forger ; “ All the ladies of the town come to pay their reand the others, for sundry crimes, were either at spects to our ladies, not successively, but in troops. the galleys or in perpetual banishment. So that, Each visit fills the room ; there is no finding chairs to all appearance, the viscount must have been enough ; it takes a long time to place all these litacquitted for want of testimony, had not the pres- tle people ; (ce petit monde ;) you would think it ident, by a pettifogging manœuvre, not very clearly a conference or an assembly, the circle is so large. explained but manifestly unfair, managed to turn I have heard say that it is a great fatigue to salute against him his own admissions in the letters of so many persons at one time, and that one is much pardon granted by M. de Caumartin, and in which embarrassed before and after so many kisses. As it was customary to set down the criminal's full the greater number (of the visitors) are not accusconfession of his offences. Fléchier's account is, tomed to court ceremony, and know nothing but however, too disconnected and imperfect to afford their provincial customs, they come in a crowd, to us a clear view of the singular system of juris- avoid special notice, and to gain courage from each prudence argued by this remarkable trial and sen- other. It is a pleasant sight to see them enter, tence.
one with her arms crossed, another with her hands The versatile abbé does not plume himself on hanging down like those of a doll; all their conhis legal knowledge, and indeed is rather too apt, versation is trivial (bagatelle ;) and it is a happiness as many will think, to turn from the rigorous and for them when they can turn the discourse to their somewhat partial proceedings of the tribunal, to dress, and talk of the points d'Aurillac.”+ Even flowery topics of gallant gossip. The town of Clermont finds little favor in his eyes, and he * An anecdote told of Louis XIII. and Mademoiselle doubts that there is one more disagreeable in all d'Hutefort
A species of thread lace, in which there was formerly France, the streets being so narrow that one car-i a great trade in Upper Auvergne. It is now scarcely
the homage paid to his own talents and growing but their houses were razed, their lands confiscated, reputation is insufficient to mollify the abbé and or struck with a heavy fine, and they themselves blunt the point of his sarcastic pen. A capuchin were frequently decapitated in effigy, a ceremony monk of worldly tastes, who passed his time at to which they attached but slight importance. watering places, coquetting with sick belles and After the execution of poor Canillac, the court belles lettres, had read some of Fléchier's poetry, flagged a little in their proceedings, and resumed and spread his fame amongst the Clermont blue their energy only towards the close of the session, stockings. Forthwith the abbé received the visits and under terror of its further prolongation-one of two or three of these précieuses languissantes, having already taken place. “Then,” says Fléchwho thought, he informs us with less than his ier, “they applied themselves without pause or usual modesty—" that to be seen with me would relaxation to the consideration of important ofmake them pass for learned persons, and that wit fences, and despatched them' so rapidly that they is to be acquired by contagion. One was of a did not give us time to make ourselves thoroughly height approaching that of the giants of antiquity, acquainted with the circumstances.” Assassinawith a face of Amazonian ugliness ; the other, on tions, abductions, and oppression, were the usual the contrary, was very short, and her countenance subjects of their deliberations; and so numerous was so covered with patches, that I could form no were the condemnations, that in one day thirty opinion of it, except that she had a nose and eyes. persons were executed in effigy. These pasteIt did not escape me that she was a little lame, and board punishments must seriously have diminished I remarked that both thought themselves beautiful. the prestige of the Grands-Jours, by imparting an The pair alarmed me, and I took them for evil air of ridiculous impotency to their proceedings. spirits trying to disguise themselves as angels of And amongst others, the Marquis of Canillac, a light.” Then comes a dialogue à la Molière-cousin of La Mothe, and the biggest and oldest clumsy compliments on the one hand, modestly sinner in the province, was greatly diverted by the declined on the other, and at last the ladies take bloodless beheading of his counterfeit. Fléchier their departure, after turning over the abbé's believes it was matter of deep regret to this harbooks, and borrowing a translation of the “Art dened offender that he could not look on at his of Love." "I wish,” concludes the abbé, “I own execution, as he had done once before when could also have given them the art of becoming similarly condemned by the parliament of Toulouse. loveable."
These incidents and digressions, petty “ He had seen his execution himself from an adin the abstract, will have a collective worth in the jacent window, and had found it very pleasant to eyes of those who seek in the Mémoires what we be at his ease in a house whilst he was beheaded maintain ought to be there sought :-a valuable in the street; and to see himself die out of doors, addition to our knowledge of the manners, follies, when perfectly comfortable at his fire-side.” Judgand foibles of a very interesting period.
ing from the smallness of the sum (thirty livres) The comprehensive nature of the court of the set down in the account of expenses of the GrandsGrands-Jours, competent to judge every description Jours as paid the painter, the decapitated portraits of case, is one cause of the motley appearance of were by no means masterpieces of art, nor probably Fléchier's pages.
There was little sorting of was it deemed necessary to obtain a very exact causes, civil or criminal, but all were taken as they resemblance of the contumacious originals. came uppermost, and strong contrasts are the re- Although none ever ventured to cast a doubt on sult. We pass from farce to tragedy, and thence Fléchier's strict orthodoxy, he made himself reagain to comedy, with curious rapidity of transi- markable by a spirit of tolerance unusual in that tion. Now we are horrified by the account of an age, by discountenancing superstition, and by his atrocious assassination or wholesale massacre ; turn enlightened disapproval of the abuses of the conthe leaf, and we trace the derelictions of a rakish ventual system. A great doubter of modern mirahusband, or the scandalous details of conventual cles, he scrupled not, when a bishop, to protest in irregularities. Here we have a puissant count or a letter to his flock, relating to some miraculous baron brought up for judgment, or, more often, cross, against “ those who put their confidence in condemned by default ; thereafter followeth the wood and in lying prodigies." His natural good trial and sentence of a scoundrel-peasant, or un- sense and kindness of heart made him oppose the lucky fille-de-joie. The Grands-Jours would cer-compulsory profession of young women. In the tainly have been improved by the establishment of Mémoires, he relates an anecdote of a young girl, a court of appeal ; many of the sentences needed at whose reception as a nun M. Chéron, the grand revision, and the errors committed were seldom on vicar of Bourges, was requested to assist. The the side of mercy. The reproach usually made to vicar, having donned his sacerdotal robes, asked partial judges, of favoring the rich, and dealing the novice, in the usual formula, what she dehardly with the poor, would here have been un- manded. “ I demand the keys of the monastery, justly applied, for it was the wealthy and power- sir, in order to leave it,” was her firm reply, ful whom this tribunal chiefly delighted to condemn. which astonished all present. The vicar could not These, it is true, in some degree neutralized the believe his ears, till she repeated her words, effects of such disfavor by getting out of the way; adding, that she had chosen that opportunity to used except hy peasant women, and its manufacture is protest against her destiny, because there were almost abandoned.
abundant witnesses. “ If the girls who are daily sacrificed, had as much resolution,” says Fléchier, good-humored bonhomie; and such sallies, more“ the convents would be less populous, but the over, could not have been intended to wound the sacrifices offered up in them would be more holy feelings of persons in whose lifetime, it is pretty and voluntary." When invested with the episco- evident, Fléchier did not destine his book to pubpal purple, the worthy man acted up to these lication. Neither can fault be fairly found with sound opinions. “I may be allowed," says M. the occasional freedom of his language and pecuGonod in his appendix, “ to cite, to his glory and liarity of his topics. What we esteem license in to that of religion, his conduct with regard to a nun these strait-laced days, was regarded as decorous, at Nismes, who had not, like her sister at Bour- and passed without censure or observation in those ges, had the courage to demand the keys of the in which he wrote ; and the most rigorous will convent, and who subsequently yielded to another admit the absence of all offensive intention. The description of weakness. Fléchier, then Bishop abbé is a chronicler; as such he puts down facts, of Nismes, extended to her his paternal hand, and unmutilated and unabridged. If the words in in this instance, as in many others, approved him- which he clothes them have sometimes more of the self of the same merciful family as a Vincent de courtier's easy pleasantry than of the churchman's Paul and a Fénelon.” The story is told by grave reserve, we must make allowance for the D'Alembert in his “ Eulogiums read at the public spirit of the age, look to intention rather than sittings of the French Academy," p. 421. An form, and we shall admit that his gaillardises, are unfortunate girl, whom unfeeling parents had set down all “ in the ease of his heart,” without forced into a convent, was unable to conceal the the least design of conveying impure thoughts or consequences of a deplorable error, and her supe- immodest images to the imaginations of his conrior confined her in a dungeon, where she lay upon temporaries or of future generations. “If any straw, scarcely nourished by an insufficient ration wonder,” says M. Gonod, “at Fléchier's lanof bread, and praying for death as a rescue from guage, as being sometimes rather free, I tell them suffering. Fléchier heard of it, hastened to the he derived his freedom from his virtue ; unreconvent, and after encountering much resistance, proached by his conscience, he thought he might obtained admission into the wretched cell where speak plainly: omnia munda mundis. As an histhe unfortunate creature languished and despaired. torian, he understood the historian's duty differOn beholding her pastor, she extended her arms ently from the Abbé Ducreux, differently from this as to a liberator sent by divine mercy. The prel- or that obscure critic who may dare attack him ; ate cast a look of horror and indignation at the he took as a guide this maxim : 'Ne quid falsi abbess. “I ought,” he said, “ if I obeyed the dicere audeat, ne quid veri non audeat.'—(Cic. de voice of human justice, to put you in the place of Orat., ii. 15.) We must also revert to the times this unhappy victim of your barbarity; but the in which he wrote ; do we not see, if only by God of clemency, whose minister I am, bids me Molière's comedies, how much more prudish and show, even to you, an indulgence you have not reserved our language has become ?" had for her. Go, and for sole penance, read daily Amongst the long list of crimes of which the in the evangelists the chapter of the woman taken Grands-Jours took cognizance, that of sorcery was in adultery.' He released the nun, and caused not forgotten. “ Conversation is an agreeable every care to be taken of her, but she was past thing," says Fléchier, after three or four pages of recovery, and died soon afterwards, blessing his gossip, including an anecdote of Mademoiselle de
Scudéry and her brother, who had been arrested How can we, after reading such traits as this, at Lyons on suspicion of high treason, for having criticise with any severity the occasional levity dis- discussed rather too loudly the manner of slaying played in the Mémoires ? How dwell invidiously the king in a projected tragedy—“but exercise is on the sinall frivolities and flippancies of the also necessary, and I know nothing pleasanter than abbé, whose after life was a pattern of Christian to take the country air after having passed several virtue and charity? Short of a degree of perfec-hours discoursing in one's apartment. So we got tion impossible to humanity, we can scarcely into our coaches with some ladies, and went to imagine a more charming character than that of visit the source of the Clermont fountains, one of Fléchier, whose very failings “ leaned to virtue's the curiosities of the country.”
His elegant side.” His sincere benevolence and gentle tem- account of these springs and the surrounding per display themselves in each page of his book, scenery is alone sufficient to establish his reputain every recorded action of his life. His professed tion as a proficient in the descriptive art, and principles—from which we can nowhere trace his loses little by comparison with Charles Nodier's practice to have differed-breathed a very different brilliant description of the same spot, the Tivoli of spirit to that usually attributed to the Roman Auvergne. “ On our return home we found M. Catholic priesthood. “Violence and oppression,” | l'Intendant there before us. He had come from he says, in a letter to M. Vignier, are not the Aurillac, and had had great difficulty in getting paths the gospel has marked out for us." His through the snow which had already fallen in the smallest actions were inspired by the same kindly mountains. He had caused a president of the maxims, by a spirit of tolerance and compassion election of Brioude to be arrested, accused of sevfor human frailty. The vein of satire we have eral crimes, and especially of magic. One of his exemplified by extracts is tempered by a tone of servants deposed that he had given him certain