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predicament as Machiavelli with regard to political morality. J. J. Rousseau, who was certainly not free from selfishness, has abused La Rochefoucauld's maxims, and yet, in his “ Emile," he observes that “ selfishness is the mainspring of all our actions ;” and that “authors, while they are ever talking of truth, which they care little about, think chiefly of their own interest, of which they do not talk.” La Fontaine, in his fable, (b. i. 11,)“ L'Homme et son Image,” has made an ingenious defence of La Rochefoucauld's book. The “ Maxims” receive a portion of their peculiar point from the very courtly scene of contemplation, and from the delicacy and finesse with which the veil is penetrated that is spread over the surface of refined society. It is well known that Swift was a decided admirer of Rochefoucauld, and his celebrated poem on his own death commences with an avowal of the fact.* The misanthropy of that great man renders his suffrage any thing but popular; but possibly, as in the doctrine of the invariable predominance of the stronger motive, that of self-love simply bespeaks more strict attention to early cultivation and discipline, to render it not only compatible with virtue, but strictly and philosophically connected with the highest, the noblest, and, in common language, the most disinterested fulfillment of all our duties.
* Dr. Swift wrote a poem of near five hundred lines upon
the Maxims of Rochefoucauld, and was a long time about it. They were committed to the care of the celebrated author of “ The Test ;" an edition was printed in 1738, in which more than one hundred lines were omitted. Dr. King assigned many judicious reasons—though some of them were merely temporary aud prudential—for the mutilations ;
but they were so far from satisfying Dr. Swift, that a complete edition was immediately printed by Faulkner, with the dean's express permission.-Swift's Warks, Sheridan's Edition, 19 vols., London, 1801.
La Rochefoucauld's “Maximes” have gone through many editions. The “Euvres de la Rochefoucauld," 1818, contain, besides his already published works, several inedited letters and a biographical notice.
The family of La Rochefoucauld is one of the most ancient and illustrious in France. Its founder, according to Andrew Du Chesne, was one Foucauld, or Fulk, a cadet, as is supposed, of the house of Lusignan, or Lezignem, and connected with the ancient Dukes of Guienne, who appears, about the period A. D. 1000, as Seigneur, or Lord, of the Town of La Roche in the Angoumois. He is described in contemporary charters as Vir nobilissimus Fulcaldus, and his renown seems to have been sufficiently extensive to confer his name on La Roche, which has ever since borne, and bestowed on his descendants, the distinctive appellation of La Roche Foucauld. Guy, the eighth Seigneur de la Roche Foucauld, is mentioned by Froissart as having performed, in the year 1380, a celebrated tilt in the lists at Bordeaux, whither he came, attended by 200 of his kinsmen and connections.
Francis, the sixteenth seigneur, had the honor of being sponsor to, and bestowing his name on, King Francis I., and was shortly afterwards advanced to the dignity of Count de la Rochefoucauld. The widow of his son and successor, in the year 1539, entertained, at the family seat of Vertueil, the Emperor Charles V., and some of the Royal Family of France. The Emperor is reported by a contemporary historian to have said on his departure, that he had never entered a house which possessed such an air of virtue, courtesy, and nobility as that. Francis, the fifth count, was created the Duke de la Rochefoucauld in 1622, and was father to Francis, the second duke, the celebrated author of the Maxims, who was born on the 15th December, 1613. The principal events of his life are matter of history rather than biography, as he was a leading actor in the numerous and complicated state intrigues which took place in France after the death of Louis XIII., and during the minority of his successor. It is extremely difficult at this period, and would hardly be worth while, to attempt to trace the course of these cabals and the wars to which they gave rise. Beyond the gratification of an absurd ambition, it is almost impossible to discover any object that the contending parties had in view ; and the motives of individuals are still more difficult to penetrate, from the conflicting accounts given by the various actors themselves, of the transactions in which they were engaged. The impression left on the mind by a perusal of the histories of the times, is a painful sensation of the corruption of the government, the sad want of public, or even private, principle on the part of the higher classes, and the frivolity and folly generally prevalent in the society of the period. La Rochefoucauld was early engaged on the side of the Fronde, the party opposed to Mazarin, which was also espoused by the Duchesse de Longueville, (whose lover La Rochefoucauld then was,) by the Prince de Conti, and afterwards by the celebrated Condé. To these princes La Rochefoucauld appears to have remained faithful during all the subsequent mutations of the party. He took part in most of the military proceedings that resulted from the troubles of the times; and though he does not appear much in the character of a general, is universally allowed to have displayed the greatest bravery on all occasions. At the battle of St. An
toine, near Paris, he received a severe wound in the head, which for a time deprived him of sight, and was the occasion of terminating his military career. Before he had recovered, the Fronde had fallen before the gold of Mazarin and the arms of Turenne. Condé was driven from France; and as the proclamation of the King's majority appeared likely to put an end to the miserable dissensions which had so long existed, La Rochefoucauld, with the consent of Condé, reconciled himself to the court, and returned to Paris, where he continued to live in the midst of the literary and fasnionable society of the time until his death in 1680.
His most attached friend was Madame de Lafayette, authoress of the Princesse de Cleves ; but he was also intimately acquainted with Madame de Sevigné, (in whose letters repeated mention is made of him,) La Fontaine, Racine, Boileau, and most of the celebrated men of his age. La Rochefoucauld appears to have been a man of most amiable character and of high personal probity; for, amid the various party feelings of the writers of that period, scarcely any thing can be discovered in the accounts they have left which would throw discredit on him. He possessed brilliant powers of mind, but without any regular education; and an easiness of temper, combined, as it generally is, with fickleness and indecision, which is supposed to have led him to engage so constantly in the various intrigues of the time. He has left us an entertaining sketch of himself, which is subjoined, together with another character of him by Cardinal de Retz, his great enemy, and also a character of De Retz, by La Rochefoucauld.
In the leisure which succeeded to the stir of his early life, La Rochefoucauld composed the “Memoirs of his own Times,” and the work on which his fame is founded, “ Maxims and Moral Reflections.” Voltaire's remark on the two