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Duke-Street, Lambeth.

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1. Daguesseau 1
2. Cromwell 11
3. Lionardo da Vinci 21
4. Vauban 29
5. William III. 37
6. Goethe 46
7. Correggio[1] 57
8. Napoleon 67
9. Linnæus 77
10. Priestley[1] 85
11. Ariosto 93
12. Marlborough 104
13. De l’Epée 113
14. Colbert 122
15. Washington 128
16. Murillo 137
17. Cervantes 147
18. Frederic II. 155
19. Delambre 165
20. Drake 170
21. Charles V. 179
22. Des Cartes 189
23. Spenser 194
24. Grotius 201

Footnote 1:

The paging of Part XXVII. has accidentally been repeated in Part


_Engraved by J. Mollison._


(_From am original Picture by Mignardi in the
possession of the Conntesa Segur._)

Under the Superintendance of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful

_London. Published by Charles Knight, Ludgate Street, & Pall Mall



The Chancellor Daguesseau is said to have been descended from a noble
family of the province of Saintonge; if so, he was careless of his
privileges, for he never used between the two first letters of his name
the comma, indicative of noble birth. He came however of distinguished
parentage; for his grandfather had been First President of the
Parliament of Bordeaux, and his father was appointed, by Colbert,
Intendant of the Limousin, and subsequently advanced to the Intendancies
of Bordeaux and of Languedoc. In the latter government he suggested to
Colbert the grand idea of uniting the Ocean and the Mediterranean by
means of that mighty work, the Canal of Languedoc. In the persecution
raised against the Protestants of the South of France by Louis XIV., he
was distinguished by mildness; and to his honour be it remembered, one
person only perished under his jurisdiction. Disgusted by the
_dragonnades_, and by the revocation of the Edict of Nantes, he resigned
his Intendancy, and removed to Paris, where he continued to enjoy the
royal favour, and to be employed in offices of trust: so that he may be
said not only to have formed his son’s youth, but to have watched over
his manhood.

That son, Henry François Daguesseau, was born at Limoges, November 7,
1668. In 1690, he was appointed King’s Advocate in the Court of the
Chatelet, and soon after, at his father’s recommendation,
Advocate-General in the Parliament of Paris. On hearing the wisdom of so
young a choice brought into question, the king observed, that “the
father was incapable of deceit, even in favour of his son.” So
brilliantly did the young lawyer acquit himself in his charge, that
Denis Talas, one of the chief of the magistracy, expressed the wish,
“that he might finish as Daguesseau had begun.” The law-officers of that
day did not confine themselves to a mere dry fulfilment of legal
functions; there was a traditional taste, a love of polite and classic
literature, a cultivation of poetry and eloquence, on which the jurists
prided themselves, and which prompted them to seize every opportunity of
rivalling the ecclesiastical orators and polite writers of the age.
Thus, at the opening of each session, the _Avocat-Général_ pronounced an
inaugurative discourse, which treated rather of points of high morality
than law. Daguesseau acquired great fame from these effusions of
eloquence. Their titles bespeak what they were: they treat of the
_Independence of the Advocate_; the _Knowledge of Man_; of
_Magnanimity_; of the _Censorship_. “The highest professions are the
most dependent,” exclaimed Daguesseau on one of those occasions; “he
whom the grandeur of his office elevates over other men, soon finds that
the first hour of his dignity is the last of his independence.” These
generous sentiments are strongly contrasted with the despotism of the
government and the general servility of the age.

In 1700, Daguesseau was appointed Procureur-General, in which capacity
he was obliged to form decisions on the gravest questions of state. A
learned Memoir, drawn up by him in the year 1700, to prove that no
ecclesiastics, not even cardinals, had a right to be exempt from royal
jurisdiction, shows his mind already imbued with that jealousy of Papal
supremacy which afterwards distinguished him. But his occupations were
not confined to legal functions, the administration of that day being
accustomed to have recourse, in all difficult and momentous questions,
to the wisdom and authority of the magistracy. Thus Daguesseau was
enabled, by directing his attention to the state of the hospitals, to
remedy the enormous abuses practised in them, and to remodel these
charitable institutions upon a new and philanthropic system. In the
terrible famine of 1709, he was appointed one of the commission to
inquire into the distresses of the time. He was the first to foresee the
famine ere it arrived, and to recommend the fittest measures for
obviating the misery which it menaced.

There existed, at that time, few questions on which a French statesman
or magistrate found himself in opposition to the sovereign.
Constitutional political liberty was unknown; and even freedom of
conscience had been violated by the persecuting edicts of Louis XIV. The
magistracy had allowed the Protestants to be crushed, awed by the fear
of being considered favourers of rebellion. The legal and the lettered
class of French, however they had abandoned the great cause of Reform,
exaggerated as it had been by Calvin, were nevertheless still unprepared
to submit to the spiritual despotism of Rome. They did not presume to
question fundamental doctrines of faith; but they rejected the
interference of the Pope in matters of ecclesiastical government, and
their claim to independence was sanctioned by the ancient privileges of
the Gallican Church. And they were resolutely opposed to the faithless
and insidious doctrines of the Jesuits, who sought to make the rule of
conscience subordinate to the dictation of the priesthood. These two
grounds of opposition to Rome and to the Jesuits constituted the better
part of Jansenism. Louis XIV., in his later years, commenced a crusade
against this species of resistance to his royal will; and, amongst other
acts of repression, he procured a Bull from Rome, called _Unigenitus_,
from its first word, which condemned the combined opposition of the
Gallican clergy and the anti-Jesuit moralist. In order to be binding
upon the French, it was necessary that it should be registered in
Parliament. The consent of the great legal officers was requisite, and
they were accordingly summoned before Louis XIV. The First President and
the Advocate-General had already been won over to the court. The
independent character of Daguesseau was the only obstacle; and they had
hopes that he might be induced to yield, from the known mildness of his
disposition. His parting from his wife on this occasion is recorded both
by Duclos and St. Simon: “Go,” said she, as she embraced him; “when
before the king, forget wife and children: sacrifice all but honour.”
Daguesseau acted by the noble counsel, and remained immoveable, though
threatened by his despotic master with the loss of his place. The death
of Louis XIV., in 1715, soon relieved Daguesseau from the difficulty of
his position.

On the establishment of the Regency, the administration was reorganized
on a different plan, each department being intrusted to a council.
Daguesseau was appointed member of the Council of Conscience, being, in
fact, the ecclesiastical department. He proposed the immediate
banishment of the Jesuits from the kingdom; but this measure he was
unable to compass. In February, 1717, a vacancy occurred in the office
of Chancellor, and the Regent immediately sent for Daguesseau, who was
at mass in his parish church, and refused to come until he was twice
sent for. When he arrived, the Regent exclaimed to the company, “Here is
a new and very worthy Chancellor!” and carrying him to the Tuileries in
his coach, made the young king present him with the box of seals.
Daguesseau escaped from the crowd to acquaint his brother with his good
fortune: “I had rather it was you than I,” exclaimed the latter,
continuing to smoke his pipe.

The Regent, however, did not long remain satisfied with his choice,
which had been made from a generous impulse of the moment. During the
last years of Louis the Fourteenth’s reign, there had been a confusion
of parties and of opinions, which were almost all united against the
bigotry and despotism of the monarch’s dotage. The grandee and the
magistrate displayed equal discontent, and joined in common
protestations. On the demise of the monarch, however, this union
disappeared. The grandee hoped to see that aristocratic influence
restored, which had been suspended since the wars of the Fronde. The
magistracy did not favour this idea, being of opinion that the
Parliament was the fittest council and check to the authority of the
crown. Daguesseau of course inclined to the magistracy, in whose
interest he laboured, in conjunction with the Duc de Noailles, to root
out the Jesuits, and deprive the church of ultra-montane support. The
Duc de St. Simon was of the opposite opinion. He was the partisan of an
aristocratic government, and he defended the church, and even the
Jesuits, as useful allies. These discordant views led to bickerings in
the council. St. Simon accused some magistrates of malpractices. The
Chancellor sought, more than was just, to screen them. He obtained a
rule, about the same time, that all the members of the Great Council,
consisting chiefly of magistrates, should be rendered noble by their
office, another offence to the nobility of birth. The Regent, at first
inclined to be neutral, soon leaned to the noblesse. The Parliament
thwarted him, and showed symptoms of an intention to support his rival
the Duke of Maine, the illegitimate son of Louis XIV. The difference
between the Regent and the magistracy was widened into a breach by the
scheme of Law, and by the advancement of that foreigner to influence in
political and financial affairs, which had hitherto been chiefly in the
hands of the magistracy. The legists looked upon Law as an intruder, and
regarded his acts as audacious innovations. Their remonstrances
accordingly grew louder and louder, and their opposition more bold,
until the Regent began to fear the renewal of the scenes of the Fronde.
The Memoirs of the Cardinal de Retz were then published for the first
time; and their perusal, filling the public mind, excited it strongly to
renew the scenes and the struggle which they described. The Chancellor’s
true office, as a minister, had been to manage the Parliament, to
cajole, to persuade, to menace, to repress; but the task suited neither
the character nor the principles of Daguesseau, and accordingly nothing
but censure of him was heard at court. He was weak, he was irresolute,
and lawyers were declared to make very bad statesmen. “They might have
reproached the Chancellor with indecision,” says Duclos, “but what
annoyed them most was his virtue.”

On the 26th of January, 1718, the seals were re-demanded of him and
given to D’Argenson, the famous lieutenant of police. Daguesseau was
exiled to his country-house at Fresnes. Whilst in retirement he occupied
his time chiefly in the education of his children. His letters to them
on the subject of their classical and mathematical studies, lately given
to the public, bear witness to his simple and literary bent of mind.
Happy it was for Daguesseau to have been removed from the troublesome
scene of public life during the two years of Law’s triumph and the
disgrace of the magistracy. When Law’s scheme exploded, amidst the ruin
and execration of thousands, the Regent, not knowing whither to turn for
counsel and support, resolved at least to give some indication of
returning honesty by the recall of Daguesseau, who resumed the seals
with a facility that was censured by many. Law was deprived of the place
of Comptroller-General of Finance, though continued in the management of
the Bank and the India Company. In his place certain of the Parliament
were admitted to the Councils of Finance, so that Daguesseau seemed to
have had full security against the continuance of that infamous jobbing
by which the public credit had been destroyed. He was disappointed. The
Place Vendôme, in front of his abode, being the exchange of the day, was
crowded by purchasers and venders of stock; until the Chancellor, unable
to suppress the nuisance, caused it to be removed elsewhere.

The reconciliation between the government and Parliament, produced by
Daguesseau’s return, did not last long; and Law having sent an edict
respecting the India Company for that body to register, a tumult
occurred while they were debating on it, in which the obnoxious
financier was torn to pieces. Elated by the news, the Parliament
rejected the edict, and hurried from the hall to assure themselves of
the fate of Law, who was the great object of their odium. The Regent
took fire at this mark of their contempt for his authority, and resolved
to exile the Parliament to Blois. Daguesseau himself could not excuse
their precipitancy; he obtained, however, that the place of exile should
not be Blois, but Pontoise, within a few leagues of Paris.

In addition to these causes of quarrel, another matter occurred to widen
the breach between the court and the Parliament, and to place
Daguesseau, who stood between them, in a position of still greater
difficulty. This was the old question of the bull _Unigenitus_, the
acceptance of which the prime minister Dubois was labouring to procure,
as the condition on which he was to receive a Cardinal’s hat from the
court of Rome. The Regent, who had at first supported the Jansenists, or
Parliamentary party, was now disgusted at not finding in them the
gratitude which he had hoped. “Hitherto,” said he, “I have given every
thing to _grace_, and nothing to _good works_.” He leaned, in
consequence, to the other party; and it was resolved to obtain the
acceptance of the bull, or _Constitution_, as it was called, in the
Great Council. The Great Council was a court of magistrates acting
somewhat like the English Privy Council, or present French Conseil
d’Etat, and pronouncing judgment on points where the crown or government
was concerned. It was the rival of the Parliament, in the place of which
Dubois proposed to substitute it as a high court of judicature; an idea
acted upon at a later period of French history. The Regent, attended by
his court and officers, went to the Great Council, and enforced the
acceptance of the bull. Daguesseau attended as Chancellor, and by his
presence seemed to countenance this act, which forms the great reproach,
or blot of his life. He is reported, on this occasion, to have asked a
young councillor, who was loud in opposition, “Where he had found these
objections?” “In the pleadings of the late Chancellor Daguesseau,” was
the keen retort. The conduct of Daguesseau admits, however, of excuse.
The bull had been already registered, _under conditions_, by the
Parliament in the reign of Louis XIV.; and the present agitation of the
question being rather to satisfy the Pope than make any real alteration
in the law. Daguesseau was for making every concession of form, and some
real sacrifices, to avoid further extremities or hostilities against the
Parliament. He hoped, indeed, that registration by the Great Council
might spare the Parliament further trouble on the subject. But the
Cardinal de Noailles, the head of the Jansenist party, continued to
protest; and the Regent, concluding that he was incited by the
Parliament, re-determined to extend the exile of that body from Pontoise
to Blois. Daguesseau learning this, seeing his concessions of no effect,
and that extreme measures were intended against the Parliament, came
instantly to offer his resignation. The Regent, in answer, bade him wait
a few days; and the Cardinal having desisted from his extreme
opposition, at length he was satisfied. The Parliament was recalled, and
Law finally disgraced, a point gained from Dubois, no doubt, as the
price of moderation in the affair of this bull.

The Regent and Dubois had now both made all the use they required of
Daguesseau’s presence in the ministry; and both were anxious to get rid
of a personage so little in harmony with their politics or morals.
Nevertheless, the Regent felt his obligations as well as the respect due
to the Chancellor, and evinced them in a manner peculiar to himself. A
person of some rank and influence had proposed for the daughter of
Daguesseau, allured perhaps by the hope of being allied to a minister.
The Regent learning this, determined to defer the Chancellor’s disgrace,
lest it might prevent the match. When Daguesseau’s future son-in-law
went to ask the Regent, as is customary in France, for his sanction to
the marriage, the latter, while granting it, turned to those near him,
and remarked, in a style usual with him, “Here is a gentleman about to
turn fishmonger at the end of Lent,” thus intimating the Chancellor’s
approaching downfall. Daguesseau had irritated Dubois by joining the
Dukes and Marshals, who retired from the council table rather than yield
precedence to the minister who, in his new rank of Cardinal, pretended
to this honour. The seals were again taken from him in February, 1722,
and he returned to his estate at Fresnes.

Again resuming the volume of his private letters, as the only history of
his years of retirement, we find Daguesseau occupied with the progress
of his son at the bar, and in the functions of Advocate-General. At the
epoch of the Duke of Orleans’ death, and the accession of the Duke of
Bourbon to the ministry, there were evident intentions of recalling
Daguesseau. Recourse was had to his advice in some affairs, but he
refused to take cognizance of them in a position where his word might be
misrepresented. In short, he refused to take any part in political
affairs without, at the same time, “having the ear of the prince,” thus
positively refusing to act any subordinate part. These overtures were
made at the commencement of 1725. “What you must avoid of all things,”
he writes to his son, “is to do any thing that might afford cause of
imagining that conditions are asked of me as the price of my return, or
that I engage myself in any party.” The son was, nevertheless, anxious
for the return of his father to power, and, on one occasion, entreats
him to open his mansion to Mademoiselle de Clermont, sister of the Duke
of Bourbon, who was travelling near Fresnes; but Daguesseau refused to
pay any such expensive compliments, even to the sister of the minister.

At length, in August, 1727, not very long after the installation of
Cardinal Fleury in the office of Prime Minister, Daguesseau was
recalled. At the same time the seals were not given back to him, but
intrusted to Chauvelin as Lord Keeper. The Parliament wished to make
some resistance on this point, but Daguesseau, who, as he grew in years,
seems to have grown also in reverence for the royal authority, dissuaded
and silenced them. Even before his restoration to power, his advice to
his son marks strongly the moderation of his views. “Never push the
government to extremes,” writes he (_Lettres Inédites_, p. 254). “We
should all feel the great distance that exists between a king and his
subjects. Moderation is the most efficacious. If the Parliament take too
strong a resolution, it will but justify the rigour of the government.”
We no longer recognize here the bold man who withstood the threats of
Louis XIV.

His character for consistency and principle suffered in consequence. In
1732, the old quarrel of ultra-montanism and Jesuits was renewed with
great animosity. Some bishops and ecclesiastics resisted the Papal Bull.
Those who suffered for their opposition appealed to the Parliament, who,
as of old, upheld liberty of conscience, and, in connexion with it,
personal freedom. Daguesseau sought to act as moderator, to calm at once
the resistance of the Parliament and the rigour of the court. He was
obliged, in consequence, to make himself party to some of the complaints
of the one, and to some acts of persecution on the part of the other.
Four of the more violent young counsellors were exiled. The high
personal character of the Chancellor alone enabled him to bear up
against the obloquy and reproach that were directed against him from
both sides; but fortunately the storm was of short duration, for the
menaces of foreign war drowned the voices of ecclesiastical and legal
disputants. On the disgrace of Chauvelin, in 1737, the seals were
returned to Daguesseau, who thus once more reunited in his person all
the functions and honours of his place. He kept them until the year
1750, when, feeling that his infirmities rendered him incapable of
performing his duty, he resigned. At the King’s request, he retained the
titular dignity of Chancellor until his death, February 9, 1751.

It is hard, in a brief and popular memoir, to assign reasons for the
high reputation enjoyed by Daguesseau. His celebrity is rather
traditional than historical; it can be appreciated only by those skilled
in the science and history of French law, by those who are acquainted
with the great and innumerable ameliorations wrought in the system of
law and legal proceeding by his assiduity and talents. Indeed that part
of his career, which is necessarily most prominent in history, the share
which he took in politics and administration, was by far the least
honourable. Renowned as a pleader, his very talents in this respect are
said to have unfitted him for judicial functions. “Long habits of the
_parquet_ (the office of the Attorney-General) had perverted his
talents. The practice is there to collect, to examine, to weigh, and
compare the reasons of two different parties; to display, in different
balances, their various arguments, with all the grace and flowers of
eloquence, omitting nothing on either side, so that no one could
perceive to which side the Advocate-General leaned. The continual habit
of this during twenty-four years, joined to the natural scruples of a
conscientious man, and the ever-starting points and objections of the
learned one, had moulded him into a character of incertitude, out of
which he could never escape. To decide was an _accouchement_ with him,
so painful was it.” From this account by St. Simon, we learn how
honourable and impartial was the office of the public accuser in the old
French courts; and that he blended with his functions the high
impartiality of the judge; a characteristic that the office has since

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