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of the Civil Wars. When Henry IV. effected his triumphant entry into Paris, Mathieu La Bruyère, an apothecary by profession, and his son, who had been an active lieutenant under the Provisional Government of the Seize, had to fly for their safety. They went first to Antwerp, then to Naples, and are supposed to have helped, at a distance, in preparing the murderous plot of Ravaillac. Under the Regency of Marie de Médicis, they returned to Paris.

Both were men of some literary talent. The younger had a son, Louis, who held a financial post in the capital, and was the father of four children, of whom Jean, the author of the Caractères, was either the eldest or the second. His early education was conducted at the Oratory. This fact, it seems, was first unearthed by M. St. Beuve, from a manuscript in the Imperial Library. It has important bearings on the interpretation of La Bruyère's personal history, and is in harmony with the known circumstances of his parentage. For the French congregation of the Oratory, founded in 1610 by the Cardinal de Bérulle, took up its position at once powerful rival of the Jesuits; and as these last, with all their sinister and subtle influence, aimed at direct ing the routine forces of society, and the court party, so the Oratorians identified themselves with a certain spirit of political contumacy and intellectual daring, which was the residue, in Parisian minds, of the great League ferment. Sénault, president of the congregation at the date of young La Bruyère's noviciate, was the son of one who had been conspicuous in the civil government of the Seize at the same time with La Bruyère's grandfather. The rival orders pursued different systems of classical training with their pupils; the Jesuits founding their instruction almost entirely on the Latin language and literature; the Oratorians, in this respect like the Jansenists,—to whom at one time, indeed, they made some approaches in theological matters, making Greek of at least equal importance. Thus Corneille and Bossuet, pupils of the Jesuit schools knew scarcely anything of Greek except what they aquired for themselves in their riper years; while Racine, the Port-Royalist, and La Bruyère, the Oratorian scholars, were both early proficients in it. In one of his few extant letters, La Bruyère speaks of himself as studying Thucydides, Strabo, and Polybius. In 1664 he took his degree of licentiate at the University of Orléans. He then seems to have been employed, as we have said, under Bossuet, in the historial education of the Dauphin; and it is conjectured that it was owing to Bossuet's influence, and in payment of his services as preceptor, that he was appointed, in 1673, to the sinecure office of Treasurer of France for the generality of Caen. In 1676, or, as some say, two years previously, he was made preceptor to the grandson of the Prince de Condé. This also, it is likely, was at the suggestion of Bossuet, whose opinion in matters of education was much consulted by the different branches of the royal family. To the household of the Condés he remained attached for the rest of his life. When his pupil, commonly known, after his grandfather's death, as M. le Duc, had outgrown his tuition, La Bruyère continued to occupy a position as literary hanger-on at the court of the parsimonions Henri-Jules, Prince de Condé, with the titular post and small pay of "gentleman to M. le Duc”, and the privilege of prefixing a “de” to his bourgeois patronymic. He had

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voluntarily resigned his office of Treasurer in Normandy in the year 1687; a few months after which resignation he published Les Caractères. In 1693 he obtained the honour of a seat in the Academy, but not without much opposition, and after he had twice offered himself unsuccessfully. In 1696 he died.

These are the bare outward facts of his life. The partial filling in of the framework, which we owe to the zeal of recent inquirers, is derived from scattered hints of contemporary record, as well as from casual indications in his own work. One thing seems clear, and it partly accounts for the obscurity which has so long hung over his personal history, that La Bruyère

man who shunned notoriety, expressly for the sake of being able to perform his self.chosen office of satirist with less embarrassment. He wrote very few letters, and those on casual subjects: he made no demonstrative friendships. The same spirit of reserve has been remarked in other social satirists; in La Rochefoucauld, in Molière, and in the ideal Spectator of Addison.

a matter of prudence. Those who throw stones do well not to live in houses of glass. But the scanty glimpses we have of his demeanour show that his moods were various, as must have been his intellectual sympathies. His conversation at times was rich and abundant; at other times rare and scanty. Boileau, writing to Racine, says of him, “He is a very worthy man, to whom nothing would be wanting if only nature had made him as agreeable as he wishes to be.” “In spite of his ugliness, the ladies seek his society,” said another chance commentator. With his masters, the Condé princes, who possessed eminently what he himself calls “the extreme

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tendency of the great to laugh at the expense of others," he appeared sometimes in the undignified character of a butt. Valincourt, in replying to an inquirer thirty years after La Bruyère's death, gives this description of him: “He was a good sort of man, essentially, but the fear of appearing pedantic had thrown him into an opposite absurdity which it is difficult to define; so that all the time he was in the household of M. le Duc, in whose service he died, people made game of him.” Yet, for his honesty, his disinterestedness, his pathos, his humour, his religious earnestness, his indulgent benevolence, we must accept the evidence of his eloquent words, his high-toned sentiments, and the sterling facts that have been recorded of him.

Passing from these indications of the manner of

our philosopher was, we turn to consider who where the patrons and what was the entourage with which circumstances had allied him. When the Duc d'Aumale gives to the world the continuation of his lives of the Condés, he will have to present us, in the contemporaries of Louis XIV., with a portrait-gallery of as whimsical potentates as ever wielded social authority in a showy and cultivated era. An hereditary spirit of opposition from the first Louis, the Huguenot chieftain, downwards, boundless self-will and caprice, an extravagant love of pleasure and of display, joined to the meanest parsimony, shameless habits of dissipation, combined with a certain restless energy and a genuine love of literature and science: such were the elements which mixed in the composition of these eccentric beings, whose sphere revolved in minor splendour round the central sun of the Grand Monarque. The


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"Grand Condé“—Prince Louis II.—was head of the house during the first ten years of La Bruyère's connection with it. The military fame of this hero gave him a consideration in the country second only to that of the king himself. He had retired from war's alarms after the Peace of Nimeguen Nymwegen, 1679] to rest on his laurels, a “César oisif,” as Fontenelle called him, and indulge the taste for intellectual pursuits which he had always carried withim him. He was dignified with honours, rewards, and with the applause of all the nation: but his cousin, the King, could never heartily forgive the contumacy of his early life, the daring disobedience of the Frondeur. Nor was the frondeur spirit by any means dead within Condé's breast. He loved to make his princely residence at Chantilly and his Paris hôtel rivals of Versailles and Marly in literary credit, in festive splendour, and in social resort. Condé was a great collector of books; and was fond of dabbling in physical science; but his striking abilities in war were not supplemented by any real superiority in social talent or statesmanship, and his mind decayed in vigour during the latter years of his life. Though arbitrary in temper, a cruel husband, and a capricious master, he was not without sensibility, which he manifested towards his son and grandson in an especial degree. His son, Henri-Jules, Duc d'Enghien, was the darling of his heart. He loved his society, trusted him in the business of his house, and was wretched when danger assailed him. Madame de Sévigné relates how the hero, who never trembled when the enemies' guns were pointed at his own breast, would be tormented with anxiety whenever his son took the field. His death was caused by a hurried journey

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