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S.A. Bent, comp. Familiar Short Sayings of Great Men. 1887.

Duke of Burgundy

  • [Grandson of Louis XIV., and father of Louis XV.; born at Versailles, 1682. Fénelon was appointed his tutor, and effected an entire change in his character, which, from being obstinate and passionate, became humble and gentle. The duke and duchess died of malignant small-pox in 1712, greatly regretted by the nation.]
  • What, do kings die? (Quoi, donc, les rois meurent-ils?)

  • To Fénelon, who spoke of a certain king as dead. The question illustrates the education of princes of that period. Thus the grandfather of Philip Égalité, Duc d’Orleans, started up in indignation, when his secretary stumbled, in reading, on the words, “the late king of Spain” (feu roi d’Espagne). “Monseigneur,” hastily answered the trembling but adroit man of business, “’tis a title they take!” (c’est un titre qu’ils prennent!)—CARLYLE: French Revolution, I. 1, 4.
  • A king is made for his subjects, and not his subjects for him.

  • These two sayings illustrate the two phases of the duke’s character. The latter has, however, a more illustrious parentage; for it translates almost literally Dante’s sentiment in his treatise “De Monarchia,” “Non enim gens propter regem, sed e converso rex propter gentem,” in which he anticipates the proposition of Calvin, “that it is possible to conceive a people without a prince, but not a prince without a people;” and again Dante declares that “citizens exist not for the sake of consuls, nor the people for the sake of the king; but, on the contrary, consuls for the sake of citizens, and the king for the sake of the people.”
  • It is related of the Duchess of Burgundy, that she asked Louis XIV. and Mme. de Maintenon, why in England queens governed better than kings, and answered the question herself: “Because under kings it is the women who govern, and men under queens.” A palpable hit at the state of things in France.