They argue no corrupted mind In him; the fault is in mankind. 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.
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They argue no corrupted mind In him; the fault is in mankind. 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.
To give but one example, the celebrated Maxim as to the misfortunes of our friends, was omitted in the last edition of the book, published in Rochefoucauld's life-time, yet in every English edition this Maxim appears in the body of the work. The Maxims are printed from the edition of , the last published during the author's life, and the last which received his corrections.
To this edition were added two Supplements; the first containing the Maxims which had appeared in the editions of , , and , and which were afterwards omitted; the second, some additional Maxims found among various of the author's manuscripts in the Royal Library at Paris. They were first published with the Maxims in an edition by Gabriel Brotier. These fifty form the third supplement to this book. The apology for the present edition of Rochefoucauld must therefore be twofold: firstly, that it is an attempt to give the public a complete English edition of Rochefoucauld's works as a moralist.
The body of the work comprises the Maxims as the author finally left them, the first supplement, those published in former editions, and rejected by the author in the later; the second, the unpublished Maxims taken from the author's correspondence and manuscripts, and the third, the Maxims first published in While the Reflections, in which the thoughts in the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 description of the "ancien regime" in France, "a despotism tempered by epigrams," like most epigrammatic sentences, contains some truth, with much fiction. 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. Of all the French epigrammatic writers La Rochefoucauld is at once the most widely known, and the most distinguished. Voltaire, whose opinion on the century of Louis XIV. This Francois, the second Duc de la Rochefoucauld, Prince de Marsillac, the author of the maxims, was one of the most illustrious members of the most illustrious families among the French noblesse.
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.
The third count, after serving with distinction under the Duke of Guise against the Spaniards, was made prisoner at St. 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.
In the same way that Herodotus calls each book of his history by the name of one of the muses, so each of these four periods of La Rochefoucauld's life may be associated with the name of a woman who was for the time his ruling passion. La Rochefoucauld's early education was neglected; his father, occupied in the affairs of state, either had not, or did not devote any time to his education.
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.
The Duke de la Rochefoucauld was strongly opposed to the Cardinal's party. 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. The result of the exile was Rochefoucauld's marriage. With the exception that his wife's name was 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. He was liberated after a week's imprisonment, but banished to his chateau at Verteuil. The reason for this clemency was that the Cardinal desired to win Rochefoucauld from the Queen's party.
A command in the army was offered to him, but by the Queen's orders refused. For some three years Rochefoucauld remained at Verteuil, waiting the time for his reckoning with Richelieu; speculating on the King's death, and the favours he would then receive from the Queen.
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. Sainte Beuve says, that unless we study this first part of Rochefoucauld's life, we shall never understand his maxims.
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.
The Queen's former friends flocked there in numbers, expecting that now their time of prosperity had come. They were bitterly disappointed. Mazarin relied on hope instead of gratitude, to keep the Queen's adherents on his side. The most that any received were promises that were never performed.
In after years, doubtless, Rochefoucauld's recollection of his disappointment led him to write the maxim: "We promise according to our hopes, we perform according to our fears. 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. Irritated and disgusted, Rochefoucauld went with the Duc d'Enghein, who was then joining the army, on a campaign, and here he found the one love of his life, the Duke's sister, Mdme.
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.
Follow us! We are so used to disguise ourselves to others, that at last we disguise ourselves even to ourselves. No people are more often wrong than those who will not allow themselves to be wrong. There is no disguise which can hide love for long where it exists, or simulate it where it does not. If we had no faults ourselves, we should not take such pleasure in observing those of others. We seldom find people ungrateful so long as we are in a condition to render them service.