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Conti undertook that task. He proposed to 1 of preferment he coveted, the Abbey of the king that a gentleman who had as yet Mont-Saint-Michel, by his ready wit. It made a figure in war only, but whose talents was promised him by the regent, who was were much appreciated in the prince's circle, in no hurry to keep his word. One day, should be appointed to the vacant posts. This the abbé having spoken highly of some was Charles François, Count de Broglie, second son of the marshal and brother of the Burgundy which he pretended to have disduke (afterwards marshal) of that name, and covered, the regent expressed a wish for himself, though barely thirty-two years old, a cask, which was sent 'shortly afterwards, already a brigadier in the royal army.

with a note of the cost : " so much for the

price, so much for the duty, so much for The family of Broglie, which ranked the carriage : total — the Abbey of Montamongst the oldest of the noble houses of Saint-Michel.” The regent laughed, and Piedmont, was of comparatively, recent paid the bill. The abbé was proud of his standing in France ; and, although every family and race, and made a point of look. step of its rise was marked by an illustra. ing after their interests at court whilst tion, the duc thinks it necessary to say that they, bad courtiers at best, were absent on its elevation could hardly be attributed to their military or diplomatic duties. royal favor or caprice, since the personal The duc objects to regular historical character of its members was ill-adapted portraits, thinking that they are best drawn, for the atmosphere of a court." An inde- as dramatic characters are best evolved, pendent and caustic spirit, inordinate by events. He therefore refers us to Rul. frankness of language, austerity of princi- hière for the full-length portrait of the ples pushed to roughness and firmness of comte, avowing at the same time his prefconviction to obstinacy, these are not the erence for the sketch hit off in four lines qualities which commonly cause merit to by the Marquis d'Argenson in his journal: be appreciated or forgiven by people in "The Comte de Broglie has just been depower." The one exception during three clared ambassador to Poland. He is a generations was an abbé, the uncle of very little man, with the head set up like a the comte, known at Versailles as the little game-cock. He is choleric, clever grand abbé, who had the art of employ- and vivacious in everything". According ing his talent for raillery and free speak to another contemporary, his sparkling ing to divert, instead of offending, his eyes, when he was animated, resembled a superiors. The president Henault said of volcano. His services had been confined him that he was an intriguer without ambi- to the army. He was utterly inexperienced tion, and indecent without any impeach. in diplomacy, or in any other branch of ment of his morals. He contrived to be administration, and no one was more sur. always in the good graces of a part of the prised than himself when he was named ministry, which employed him to work ambassador. His surprise was dashed by against the other part, whilst all the while alarm and an almost overpowering sense making the king laugh at the expense of of responsibility when, eight days after the both ;

and he even won his way into the nomination (March 8, 1772), the prince private circle of the queen and the dauphi- placed in his hands this autographic billet ness, where the habitual tone was decorous from the king: “The Comte de Broglie and devout. His bons-mots were a peculiar will put faith in what will be told him by object of dread; and even the reputation the Prince de Conti, and speak of it to no of D’Aguesseau sustained a stain, like a living soul.” He was then made ac. shield struck by a glancing shot, from one quainted with the precise nature of the of them. Surprise being expressed that mission, and the complicated, contradicthis high-principled, stern, unbending mag- tory, probably compromising duties imistrate was called to the direction of eccle- posed by it. siastical affairs at a conjuncture when the court of Rome required to be met in a con- What a beginning for an impoverished ciliatory spirit, Fear nothing," said the diplomatist setting his foot for the first time abbé with a smile, “this man will no on unknown ground, to have to get a king sooner be in this place than a ministerial elected unknown to his own government ! soul will be injected into bim (on lui What a task, to carry out such a negotiation seringuera une âme de ministre), and he at a thousand leagues from Versailles in the

midst of a Diet in arms, in presence of the will be in all respects like the rest." The

league of three courts, while remaining conoperation, it is added, was effected, and stantly exposed to the risk of being publicly with success.

repudiated, and handed over to ministerial He had never aspired to the episcopate, wrath by the slightest indiscretion of a postal but he managed to secure the only piece I agent ! What a complication, to have two masters to serve, two different sorts of lan-bition or policy, and had been notoriously guage to hold and to bring into agreement ! indulging his caustic vein at the expense of


the French court. He had, moreover, an the scruples and objections that could be old grudge against the Marshal Duc de urged. The sovereign had signified his Broglie, and was reported to have compleasure : the order was absolute : and to the son, that they had picked out one of

plained, on hearing of the nomination of withdraw after being put in possession of his personal enemies to act with him. the secret was to incur certain disgrace Little good, therefore, was argued from and fall under a lasting, imputation of dis, the meeting, and the comte came to it loyalty. And what minister, what royal armed at all points to encounter a sarcasm personage, could find fault with him for

or evade a snare. obeying their common master ?

He was agreeably dis

The pecuniary difficulty had been anticipated and invited him to dinner with the prince

appointed. Frederic was in good humor, by the king, who, on the first mention of his name for the appointment, had cried bishop of Breslau and other dignitaries of out, " Ah, he is not rich, he must be the Church, who were anything but edified helped." The attachment of the dauphin tion, which the king began by calling to the

by the scoffing scepticism of the conversaand especially of the dauphiness (a Saxon princess) for his family was an additional prince-bishop across the table that he liked qualification, as he was the less likely to nothing better than giving an occasional be suspected of intriguing against her fillip to the fanatics. The comte had no

time to recover from his astonishment, behouse.

fore his royal host rose, and passing beConvinced by these reasons, good or bad — hind his chair bade him graciously adieu, or rather led away by the love of adventure, saying he should hear with pleasure the which in the age of ambition overrules all con- success of his first essay in arms. siderations of prudence — the comte yielded, The comte reached Dresden just as the and Conti went to report to the king that court was starting for Grodno in Lithuania, (these are his own words) "M. de Broglie was where the Polish Diet was to meet. He ready to serve him, without consideration for followed it, and rejoined King Augustus at anybody, or for himself; and that, with talents, tranquillity, and the hope of pleasing the king, Bialystock, the residence of Count Brathere was nothing which might not be ex. nicki, grand.general and commandant of all pected of him.”

the military forces of Poland. He started with two sets of instructions. writes to the Marquis de Saint-Contest

, his

You may not perhaps care to know [he The official, from the minister of foreign Official chief] that Bialystock is a beautiful affairs, purported that he was to do his place, and that the house has all the air of a best to prevent the alliance of Poland with great noble's dwelling. Its owner may be re. the empresses, and to counteract the En-garded as one of the most powerful private glish project, but to do so, if possible individuals in Europe, and I only call him a " without appearing,” through the instru- private individual because he is not a sov. mentality of two or three important per ereign; otherwise he enjoys more enviable sonages of the French party, behind whom prerogatives than many princes, and his rev. he could operate with advantage. With enue is one million two hundred thousand regard to the contemplated vacancy of the livres. It is said, however

, that his income is

not sufficient for his expenses here. I cannot throne, he was to preserve a tone and atti- give you a better idea of the style in which he tude of strict neutrality, professing that lives than by likening it to that of the Duke any prince who should unite the free suf- of Orleans at Saint-Cloud, when he gives a frages of the nation would be acceptable to fête. You must add a military court consistFrance. The secret instructions, on the ing of a prodigious number of officers whom, contrary, made it his chief business to in his capacity of grand-general, he has always pave the way for the election of the Prince about him. de Conti, and specified the steps by which this (the real) object of his mission might be the character and bearing of his rival, Sir

In the same despatch he comments on brought about.

Charles Hanbury Williams, whose portrait On his way to the scene of action he stopped at Breslau for the purpose of com- taken as a specimen of the manner in

is carefully drawn by Rulhière, and municating with Frederic the Great, and which our countrymen are too frequently ascertaining how far he might calculate on judged by foreigners :the co-operation of this monarch, who was

quite as likely to be swayed in any given The ambassador whom they (the English) transaction by caprice or vanity as by am- sent to Warsaw was a man of strong imagina


may be

tion, who seduced at first by the range and George the Fourth, being then a child in vivacity of his mind, but who speedily revolted arms. Nor was there any Prince of Wales by his indiscretion, his flightiness, the infamy in 1752, to whom, a companion in debauchof his debauches, his abandonment of all the principles of decency and virtue, and the vio ery, Sir Charles could have made the lence of his melancholy. Renowned to this alleged promise ; Prince Frederick having day in London for having attempted to estab- died in March 1751, when his son, afterlish, under the form of a new worship, pure wards George the Third, was in his twelfth deism, he ended his days in an entire loss of year. It is almost superfluous to add that reason and a recognized madness. He owed neither of these two princes answers to his advancement to a society formed in En- the description of debauchees or profligland of men full of knowledge, of agreeability, gates. George the Third was from youth of talent, but the most corrupt that ever ex- upwards a pattern of the domestic virtues; isted in the world, priding themselves on their and his father, Prince Frederick, although depravity and their unbridled license, and re- he affected the reputation of a man of ingarding the avowed contempt of all the pro: trigue, was devoted to his wife. “This prieties as a part of their liberty. They had initiated a young English prince in their most reputation, and not beauty, appears to have secret pleasures : one of them, through the been his aim; and his principal favorite, credit of this young prince, had for a moment Lady Middlesex, is described as very attained to the ministry; and the chevalier short, very plain, very yellow, and full of Williams, one of the worst of this coterie, had | Greek and Latin." * been nominated by his companions in de- Sir Charles Hanbury Williams, a wit bauchery ambassador of England to Poland. and a man of pleasure, neither better nor

wolse than his modish contemporaries, The Duc de Broglie partially adopts and was brought into public life by Sir Robert confirms this description by introducing Walpole. He had a seat in Parliament Sir Charles as “apparently one of those and a place when, according to Horace diplomatists with the pretensions of roués, Walpole, his intimate friend, “domestic such as one encounters often enough in the crosses and disappointments drove him to English legations, to which British prudery shelter his discontents in a foreign em. gladly relegates them, as if, deemed un- bassy, where he displayed great talents for worthy to participate in the austere duties negotiation, and pleased as much by his of Parliamentary life, they were only letters as he had formerly done by his pothought suitable for the relaxed morals of etry.” The alleged engagement to bring a the Continent. He had promised his friends Russian army across Poland sounds apocin London, in particular the Prince of ryphal at best. In the short biographical Wales, of whom he was the companion in notice prefixed to his works it is briefly debauchery, to bring things so to pass that stated that he sided with Russia in supan army of one hundred thousand Russians porting the candidature of Czartoryski, might arrive at the first signal in the heart quarrelled with Count Brühl on that acof Germany, across all Poland laid open to count, and was consequently recalled. For thein.”

the purposes of the present narrative it is Considering that the duc is the author of enough to say that, on arriving at Warsaw, an able essay on diplomacy, this, literally Comte de Broglie found him an active and taken, may prove a damaging as well as an formidable opponent. unkind hit at English diplomats. None of them, to the best of our knowledge, cer down a little at first, but this did not last long.

My presence [writes the comte] kept him tainly none within living memory, have He talks to everybody, has become more been indebted for their elevation to British caressing than an Italian, and embraces the prudery; although our colonies may have old and young deputies all day long. I have had occasional reason for complaint that a often seen him talking in private to the young shattered fortune and party services have princes, whose influence is very trifling, and been held the primary qualifications for a even to the queen's waiting-women. He governor. The misapprehension of the neglects nothing to captivate them, and pubhistorian and the duc touching Sir Charles licly conversed for a whole hour before my is so complete, that we can only account eyes with the one who is at present in favor for it by supposing that they have mistak- with her Majesty. All this hubbub gives me

more amusement than uneasiness.

When one en him for one of a set who flourished at a is quite sure of what one is about, and the later period, the Medmenham Abbey set, cards are well sorted, one is really tranquil. one of whom, Lord Sandwich, became a

A less confident man would have seen Cabinet minister in 1763, but (as is clear from the date) not through the credit of a

* Earl Stanhope. “History of England from the prince; the Prince of Wales, afterwards | Peace of Utrecht," vol. ii., p. 303.


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that the odds were decidedly against him: for the loftiness of his stature, his personal that at Bialystock, where all the conflicting beauty, great bodily strength, rude eloelements were collected, he was in the very quence, and high courage. After serving centre of adverse influences, with hardly with distinction in the French army, he an available resource. The magnificent had attached himself to Count Branicki, lord of the castle, who had served in the and was reputed to stand high in the good mosquetaires and retained pleasant recol. graces of the beautiful countess. The lections of Versailles, was not personally duc mentions his entry on the scene as disinclined to France, but he had late in concerted with the Comte de Broglie ; but life contracted a marriage with a young Rulhière describes him as having his at. and beautiful Countess Poniatowski, to tention accidentally called to the scheme whom he was passionately attached. She as it was on the point of being consumbelonged on the mother's side to the illus- mated. trious house of Czartoryski, then repre.

He is informed that an act of confederation, sented by two brothers, Auguste and Michel, who, by dint of inherited or ac be signed by all the nobility. Nothing stops

already signed by all the senators, is about to quired possessions and dignities, united him ; neither the disfavor of the court, which with commanding force of character, had must feel affronted, nor that of the grandacquired a position not much unlike that general, on whom his whole fortune depends, of Warwick, the last of the barons, when nor the resentment of the Russians, who had he feasted daily thirty thousand retainers announced that their sovereign had an army in his halls. They sided with Russia. on the frontier to sustain their enterprise, nor The French party, if it deserved the name, finally the multitude in the act of signing. He was scattered and disheartened.

The sum

forces his way through them ; seizes the docuplaced at the comte's disposal was only ment, already consecrated by so many signaeight hundred thousand francs. (32,000l.)

, with life ; and, rushing with it to the grand

tures; swears that he will only part from it and the Polish nobles resembled petty general, boldly lays before him all the consestates to be subsidized rather than individ- quences of his co-operation in such an enter. uals to be bribed. As at any moment prise. The dangers of Russian protection, the they might be compelled to take the field, comparative advantages of France, were emthey naturally demanded money for equip- phatically pressed.. The grand-general was ment from the side on which they were to urged to consider his own dignity and name, act. He put the best face on the matter, which imperatively required him to stand forth scattered promises right and left, and ex- the liberator, the champion of his country, perienced little difficulty in recruiting a

instead of being made the catspaw or tool of a band of partisans amongst the turbulent faction, French or Russian, and the impetuous spirits who longed for action or the mem- the act of confederation to pieces and placing

orator ended a passionate appeal by tearing bers of the Diet who regarded the Czar. it in this state in the hands of his chief.* toryskis with distrust. His instructions

to bring about the rupture of the Branicki, who had given only a languid Diet, and thus prevent the adoption of the support to the measure, gazed and listened treaty; but he soon discovered that by so as one electrified: the full bearing of the doing he should be playing the game of engagements he had more than half conhis adversaries, which was to paralyze the tracted flashed upon him; hurried out of proceedings of the legislative body, and himself, he started to his feet, hailed Mothen resort to the extreme measure of a kranowski as his deliverer, embraced him confederation. At the instigation of the with transport, and vowed a never-dying Czartoryskis, a deputy had issued an insult. friendship with him from that hour. The ing manifesto against the king. This they Czartoryskis were checkmated; their comforthwith made the pretext for a counter- bination was broken up: the Diet separ. declaration in vindication of his Majesty, ated in confusion. “ A single result,” says which they invited the nobility to sign. It the duc,“ was clear: after twenty years of lay for signature at the palace of Count eclipse the French party was reconstructBranicki, whose definite adhesion would ed; this time on the excellent and almost have placed all the military forces of the impregnable basis of the defence of the State at the disposal of the confederates. national institutions.” It would have been It had already received the signatures of so reconstituted had the comte been propthe majority of the senate and other mag erly supported by his employers or been nates, when the plot was suddenly coun. left free to carry out his policy, but he was teracted and upset by the courage and so placed as to be under the necessity of energy of one man.

This was a young noble, named Mokranowski, remarkable

Rulbière, vol. i., p. 160




apologizing for his triumph, instead of can only go in carriages, and even the taking credit for it. In his official despatch maîtres d'hôtel, generally speaking, will to the minister for foreign affairs he begins not go otherwise to market. One easily by modestly suggesting that, although spends fifty thousand livres in four months things might have turned out much the in a country where it is quite common to same without his intervention and he had drink one hundred ducats worth of Hun. bitherto kept in the background, it might, garian wine at a sitting.” notwithstanding, be advisable for him to His representations having been disreprofit by the emergency and come forward garded, he took the decided step of stating as the open and declared protector of the positively and distinctively, that he was patriots. As a first step, he requested that ready to submit to anything for the king's ihe services of Mokranowski should be service, with one exception; he had alrecompensed by the cross of St. Louis ready sacrificed his own small fortune, but and a high grade in the French army. he could not contemplate without alarm The request was peremptorily refused in the prospect of sacrificing the fortunes of a manner that partook more of reproof others. If therefore he should be comthan concurrence or satisfaction, and the manded to remain without an augmentation correspondence with the Prince de Conti of his salary (sixty-five livres a day), his was still more embarrassing, for in it he is mind was made up to change his abode informed that the king, whilst approving for a humbler one, reduce his establishwhat he has done, is particularly anxious ment, and scrupulously adapt his expendithat he should avoid coming to a distinct tures to his means. This produced an understanding with his minister or inviting arrangement. M. de Saint-Contest (the official instructions which must prove irrec minister) administered an official rebuke to oncilable with the secret object of his mis- the comte, and informed him that the sion. To this he pointedly replies: “How king saw no objection to the reduction of can I take upon myself to speak to the his establishment. On the same day, he Saxon minister in the tone which his Maj. received five thousand ducats to aid bim esty thinks I ought to assume, without in keeping it up on the same scale as being authorized by my minister, who pre- before. He rightly calculated that an air scribes the exact contrary?

of self-assertion was indispensable, and he What added to his vexation was the step resolved, in the midst of intrigues and taken by Count Brühl, who, after telling jealousies, to suffer no abatement of his the Polish nobles that the French ambas. dignity. The queen of Poland (electoral sador was acting without the authority of princess of Saxony), suspecting his hidden his court, caused the queen of Poland to purpose, had begun to treat him with write to her daughter, the dauphiness, to marked coldness, and one evening at a complain of the course pursued by him. court ball given to the Prince of Modena The queen spoke to the abbé, who, know- she made a pretext of her pregnancy for ing nothing of the secret mission, wrote to declining to dance, in order to avoid openremonstrate with the comte at what he ing the ball with him, according to the called his ingratitude and imprudence. right of the ambassador of France, even All bis friends and well-wishers adopted a in presence of a prince. A few minutes similar tone. Convinced that he was on afterwards he saw her dancing with the the right track, the comte was little moved Prince of Modena, and advanced so as to by these warnings and remonstrances. be exactly opposite her at the moment What most troubled him was his incapac. when she resumed her seat. “I am quite ity to make good the promises he had lav- out of breath,” said the princess, with ished amongst his partisans, and to meet some embarrassment. “That is not surthe expenses of his establishment. He prising," replied the comte, “your Highbad already spent more than one hundred ness having committed the imprudence of thousand livres, including one thousand dancing in your present situation.”.

“ Neve louis for post-horses, five hundred louis for ertheless,” said the princess, “that shall house rent, and five hundred more for car- not prevent me from dancing with you, riages. “No one,” he says, “ without liav. when I am a little rested.”

"I have no ing been in Poland, can form an idea of wish to dance," rejoined the comte drily, the multiplicity of expenses required to and, taking his sword and his muff, he left keep the state of ambassador. I could the room without another word. not go out without having twenty-six or The next day all the court was in a thirty persons, or horses, with me; the turmoil. The princess shed tears of morsecretaries or gentlemen by whom I am tification, and Count Brühl could only obliged to send the ordinary compliments quiet her by promising to have the of.

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