Duke of Saint-Simon

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He also allied himself with Louis, Duke of Burgundy , the Dauphin's son and next heir to the French throne. Saint-Simon loathed "the bastards," Louis XIV's illegitimate children, and not, apparently, entirely because they were accorded ceremonial precedence above France's peers. However, it should be remembered that these reminiscences were written 30 years after the facts, by a disappointed man, and that Saint-Simon had maintained congenial or at least courteous relations with the majority of his fellow courtiers.

He was somewhat gratified by the degradation of "the bastards" in and, in , he was appointed ambassador extraordinary to Spain so as to facilitate the marriage of Louis XV and Infanta Mariana Victoria of Spain which, however, never took place. Saint-Simon was not eager, unlike most other nobility, to acquire profitable functions, and he did not use his influence to repair his finances, which were even further diminished by the extravagance of his embassy.

After his return to France he had little to do with public affairs. He survived for more than thirty years; but little is known of the rest of his life. His wife died in , his eldest son a little later; he had other family troubles, and he was loaded with debt; the dukedom in which he took such pride ended with him, and his only granddaughter was childless. He died in Paris on 2 March , having almost entirely outlived his own generation and exhausted his family's wealth, though not its notoriety: a distant relative, Claude Henri de Rouvroy, comte de Saint-Simon , born five years after the Duke's death, [1] is remembered as an intellectual forerunner of socialism.

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All his possessions, including his writings, were seized by the Crown on his death. It can be said that the actual events of Saint-Simon's life, long as it was and exalted as was his position, are neither numerous nor noteworthy. Yet he posthumously acquired great literary fame.

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He was an indefatigable writer, and he began very early to record all the gossip he collected, all his interminable legal disputes over precedence, and a vast mass of unclassified material. Most of his manuscripts were retrieved by the Crown and it was long before their contents were fully published: partly in the form of notes in the marquis de Dangeau 's Journal , partly in both original and independent memoirs, partly in scattered and multifarious extracts, he had committed to paper an immense amount of material.

On the one hand, he is petty, unjust to private enemies and to those who espoused public views contrary to his as well as being an incessant gossip. Yet he shows a great skill for narrative and for character-drawing; he has been compared to Tacitus , and to historians such as Livy. He is at the same time not a writer who can be "sampled" easily, [1] inasmuch as his most characteristic passages sometimes occur in the midst of long stretches of quite uninteresting diatribe.

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    He was conscious that the substantial favours he had to bestow were not nearly sufficient to produce a continual effect; he had therefore to invent imaginary ones, and no one was so clever in devising petty distinctions and preferences which aroused jealousy and emulation. The visits to Marly later on were very useful to him in this way; also those to Trianon, where certain ladies, chosen beforehand, were admitted to his table. It was another distinction to hold his candlestick at his coucher; as soon as he had finished his prayers he used to name the courtier to whom it was to be handed, always choosing one of the highest rank among those present Not only did he expect all persons of distinction to be in continual attendance at Court, but he was quick to notice the absence of those of inferior degree; at his lever, his coucher, his meals, in the gardens of Versailles the only place where the courtiers in general were allowed to follow him , he used to cast his eyes to right and left; nothing escaped him, he saw everybody.



    If any one habitually living at Court absented himself he insisted on knowing the reason; those who came there only for flying visits had also to give a satisfactory explanation; any one who seldom or never appeared there was certain to incur his displeasure. If asked to bestow a favour on such persons he would reply haughtily: "I do not know him"; of such as rarely presented themselves he would say, "He is a man I never see"; and from these judgements there was no appeal. He always took great pains to find out what was going on in public places, in society, in private houses, even family secrets, and maintained an immense number of spies and tale-bearers.

    These were of all sorts; some did not know that their reports were carried to him; others did know it; there were others, again, who used to write to him directly, through channels which he prescribed; others who were admitted by the backstairs and saw him in his private room. Many a man in all ranks of life was ruined by these methods, often very unjustly, without ever being able to discover the reason; and when the King had once taken a prejudice against a man, he hardly ever got over it No one understood better than Louis XIV the art of enhancing the value of a favour by his manner of bestowing it; he knew how to make the most of a word, a smile, even of a glance.

    If he addressed any one, were it but to ask a trifling question or make some commonplace remark, all eyes were turned on the person so honored; it was a mark of favour which always gave rise to comment He loved splendour, magnificence, and profusion in all things, and encouraged similar tastes in his Court; to spend money freely on equipages and buildings, on feasting and at cards, was a sure way to gain his favour, perhaps to obtain the honour of a word from him.

    Motives of policy had something to do with this; by making expensive habits the fashion, and, for people in a certain position, a necessity, he compelled his courtiers to live beyond their income, and gradually reduced them to depend on his bounty for the means of subsistence.

    This was a plague which, once introduced, became a scourge to the whole country, for it did not take long to spread to Paris, and thence to the armies and the provinces; so that a man of any position is now estimated entirely according to his expenditure on his table and other luxuries. This folly, sustained by pride and ostentation, has already produced widespread confusion; it threatens to end in nothing short of ruin and a general overthrow.

    Memoirs of the Duke de Saint-Simon by Louis De Rouvroy Duc De Saint-Simon 1 - ciitankdotorim.cf

    Arkwright New York Brentano's, n. V, pp. This text is part of the Internet Modern History Sourcebook. The Sourcebook is a collection of public domain and copy-permitted texts for introductory level classes in modern European and World history. Unless otherwise indicated the specific electronic form of the document is copyright.

    Saint Simon, Padre de la Sociología

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