He joined the army the following year and almost immediately established himself as a public figure. He fought bravely in the annual campaigns, though his actions were never formally recognised. Under the patronage of Madame de Chevreuse , whom he met at this time, the first of the three celebrated women who influenced his life, he joined the service of Queen Anne of Austria. He was a conspicuous figure in the siege of Paris, fought in many of the frequent military engagements, and was seriously wounded at the siege of Mardyke.

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Some apology must be made for an attempt "to translate the untranslatable. Though so often translated, there is not a complete English edition of the Maxims and Reflections. All the translations are confined exclusively to the Maxims, none include the Reflections. This may be accounted for, from the fact that most of the translations are taken from the old editions of the Maxims, in which the Reflections do not appear.

Until M. Suard devoted his attention to the text of Rochefoucauld, the various editions were but reprints of the preceding ones, without any regard to the alterations made by the author in the later editions published during his life-time.

So much was this the case, that Maxims which had been rejected by Rochefoucauld in his last edition, were still retained in the body of the work. They were first published with the Maxims in an edition by Gabriel Brotier.

These fifty form the third supplement to this book. While the Reflections, in which the thoughts in the Maxims are extended and elaborated, now appear in English for the first time. And secondly, that it is an attempt to quote the preface of the edition of "to do the Duc de la Rochefoucauld the justice to make him speak English. The society of the last half of the seventeenth, and the whole of the eighteenth centuries, was doubtless greatly influenced by the precise and terse mode in which the popular writers of that date expressed their thoughts.

It is, perhaps, from this love of epigram, that we find so many eminent French writers of maxims. No other country can show such a list of brilliant writers—in England certainly we cannot. Our most celebrated, Lord Bacon, has, by his other works, so surpassed his maxims, that their fame is, to a great measure, obscured. Voltaire, whose opinion on the century of Louis XIV. Descended from the ancient Dukes of Guienne, the founder of the Family Fulk or Foucauld, a younger branch of the House of Lusignan, was at the commencement of the eleventh century the Seigneur of a small town, La Roche, in the Angounois.

Our chief knowledge of this feudal lord is drawn from the monkish chronicles. As the benefactor of the various abbeys and monasteries in his province, he is naturally spoken of by them in terms of eulogy, and in the charter of one of the abbeys of Angouleme he is called, "vir nobilissimus Fulcaldus.

From that time until that great crisis in the history of the French aristocracy, the Revolution of , the family of La Rochefoucauld have been, "if not first, in the very first line" of that most illustrious body. The eighth Seigneur Guy performed a great tilt at Bordeaux, attended according to Froissart to the Lists by some two hundred of his kindred and relations.

In he was created a baron, and was afterwards advanced to a count, on account of his great service to Francis and his predecessors. The second count pushed the family fortune still further by obtaining a patent as the Prince de Marsillac.

His widow, Anne de Polignac, entertained Charles V. Quintin, and only regained his liberty to fall a victim to the "bloody infamy" of St. His son, the fourth count, saved with difficulty from that massacre, after serving with distinction in the religious wars, was taken prisoner in a skirmish at St. Yriex la Perche, and murdered by the Leaguers in cold blood.

His son Francis, the second duke, by his writings has made the family name a household word. The third duke fought in many of the earlier campaigns of Louis XIV. His son, the fourth duke, commanded the regiment of Navarre, and took part in storming the village of Neerwinden on the day when William III.

He was afterwards created Duc de la Rochequyon and Marquis de Liancourt. The fifth duke, banished from Court by Louis XV. The sixth duke, the friend of Condorcet, was the last of the long line of noble lords who bore that distinguished name. In those terrible days of September, , when the French people were proclaiming universal humanity, the duke was seized as an aristocrat by the mob at Gisors and put to death behind his own carriage, in which sat his mother and his wife, at the very place where, some six centuries previously, his ancestor had been taken prisoner in a fair fight.

A modern writer has spoken of this murder "as an admirable reprisal upon the grandson for the writings and conduct of the grandfather. Sainte Beuve observes as to this, he can see nothing admirable in the death of the duke, and if it proves anything, it is only that the grandfather was not so wrong in his judgment of men as is usually supposed. Francis, the author, was born on the 15th December Sainte Beuve divides his life into four periods, first, from his birth till he was thirty-five, when he became mixed up in the war of the Fronde; the second period, during the progress of that war; the third, the twelve years that followed, while he recovered from his wounds, and wrote his maxims during his retirement from society; and the last from that time till his death.

His natural talents and his habits of observation soon, however, supplied all deficiencies. By birth and station placed in the best society of the French Court, he soon became a most finished courtier.

Knowing how precarious Court favour then was, his father, when young Rochefoucauld was only nine years old, sent him into the army. He was subsequently attached to the regiment of Auvergne. Though but sixteen he was present, and took part in the military operations at the siege of Cassel.

By joining in the plots of Gaston of Orleans, he gave Richelieu an opportunity of ridding Paris of his opposition. When those plots were discovered, the Duke was sent into a sort of banishment to Blois.

His son, who was then at Court with him, was, upon the pretext of a liaison with Mdlle. Vivonne, and that she was the mother of five sons and three daughters, nothing is known of her.

While Rochefoucauld and his father were at Blois, the Duchesse de Chevreuse, one of the beauties of the Court, and the mistress of Louis, was banished to Tours. She and Rochefoucauld met, and soon became intimate, and for a time she was destined to be the one motive of his actions. The Duchesse was engaged in a correspondence with the Court of Spain and the Queen. Into this plot Rochefoucauld threw himself with all his energy; his connexion with the Queen brought him back to his old love Mdlle.

The course he took shut him off from all chance of Court favour. The King regarded him with coldness, the Cardinal with irritation.

Although the Bastile and the scaffold, the fate of Chalais and Montmorency, were before his eyes, they failed to deter him from plotting. He was about twenty-three; returning to Paris, he warmly sided with the Queen. He says in his Memoirs that the only persons she could then trust were himself and Mdlle. Into this plan he entered with all his youthful indiscretion, it being for several reasons the very one he would wish to adopt, as it would strengthen his influence with Anne of Austria, place Richelieu and his master in an uncomfortable position, and save Mdlle.

But Richelieu of course discovered this plot, and Rochefoucauld was, of course, sent to the Bastile. During this period he was more or less engaged in plotting against his enemy the Cardinal, and hatching treason with Cinq Mars and De Thou.

The bitter disappointment of the passionate love, the high hopes then formed, the deceit and treachery then witnessed, furnished the real key to their meaning. The cutting cynicism of the morality was built on the ruins of that chivalrous ambition and romantic affection.

He saw his friend Cinq Mars sent to the scaffold, himself betrayed by men whom he had trusted, and the only reason he could assign for these actions was intense selfishness. Meanwhile, Richelieu died. Rochefoucauld returned to Court, and found Anne of Austria regent, and Mazarin minister. They were bitterly disappointed. The most that any received were promises that were never performed. He was flatly refused. Disappointment gave rise to anger, and uniting with his old flame, the Duchesse de Chevreuse, who had received the same treatment, and with the Duke of Beaufort, they formed a conspiracy against the government.

The plot was, of course, discovered and crushed. Beaufort was arrested, the Duchesse banished. Rochefoucauld did not stay long with the army. He was badly wounded at the siege of Mardik, and returned from thence to Paris. On recovering from his wounds, the war of the Fronde broke out.

This war is said to have been most ridiculous, as being carried on without a definite object, a plan, or a leader.

But this description is hardly correct; it was the struggle of the French nobility against the rule of the Court; an attempt, the final attempt, to recover their lost influence over the state, and to save themselves from sinking under the rule of cardinals and priests. With the general history of that war we have nothing to do; it is far too complicated and too confused to be stated here.

The memoirs of Rochefoucauld and De Retz will give the details to those who desire to trace the contests of the factions—the course of the intrigues.

We may confine ourselves to its progress so far as it relates to the Duc de la Rochefoucauld. Leaving her at Dieppe, he went into Poitou, of which province he had some years previously bought the post of governor. He was there joined by the Duc de Bouillon, and he and the Duke marched to, and occupied Bordeaux.

Cardinal Mazarin and Marechal de la Meilleraie advanced in force on Bordeaux, and attacked the town. A bloody battle followed. Rochefoucauld defended the town with the greatest bravery, and repulsed the Cardinal. Notwithstanding the repulse, the burghers of Bordeaux were anxious to make peace, and save the city from destruction.

The Parliament of Bordeaux compelled Rochefoucauld to surrender. He did so, and returned nominally to Poitou, but in reality in secret to Paris. In August, , the contending parties met in the Hall of the Parliament of Paris, and it was with great difficulty they were prevented from coming to blows even there. It is even said that Rochefoucauld had ordered his followers to murder De Retz. Rochefoucauld was soon to undergo a bitter disappointment. While occupied with party strife and faction in Paris, Madame de Chevreuse left him, and formed an alliance with the Duc de Nemours.

Rochefoucauld still loved her. It was, probably, thinking of this that he afterwards wrote, "Jealousy is born with love, but does not die with it.

The Duc de Nemours was soon after killed in a duel. The war went on, and after several indecisive skirmishes, the decisive battle was fought at Paris, in the Faubourg St. Antoine, where the Parisians first learnt the use or the abuse of their favourite defence, the barricade. In this battle, Rochefoucauld behaved with great bravery. He was wounded in the head, a wound which for a time deprived him of his sight. Before he recovered, the war was over, Louis XIV.

When he recovered his health, he devoted himself to society.


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