Friday, November 28, 2014

_The Splendid Century: Life in the France of Louis XIV__ by WH Lewis

_The Splendid Century_ by Warren Hamilton Lewis [brother of CS Lewis]
Garden City, NY:  Doubleday Anchor Books, 1953

(15)  She [Henriette Anne, sister of  Charles II of England and wife of Philippe, brother of Louis XIV] had indeed learnt in the expressive phrase of the time, how steep are the stairs of the charitable.

(33)  cunctations - from cunctari to hesitate, delaying actions

(43)  kibes - A chapped or inflamed area on the skin, especially on the heel, resulting from exposure to cold; an ulcerated chillblain. [Middle English kybe.

(51)  pantler - The servant or officer, in a great family, who has charge of the bread and the pantry. 

(111)  delations - (Law) (formerly) to bring a charge against; denounce; impeach. 2. (Law) to report (an offence, etc). 3. (Broadcasting) to make known or public.  
Chiefly Scot. to inform against; denounce or accuse. 2. Archaic. to relate; report: to delate an offense. Origin Expand. Latin. 1505-1515. 1505-15; < Latin dēlātus

(126)  peculator - to steal or take dishonestly (money, especially public funds, or property entrusted to one's care); embezzle
pecūlātor (“embezzler”), from Latin pecūlor (“I embezzle”), from Latin pecūlium (“private property”). 

(136)  And again [Louis XIV] to Beaufort in the same year:  “I want to know if Captain Laurier leaves a wife and children, so that I may do something for them, being anxious that people shall see that those who die in my service continue to live in my memory.”

(137)  But the radical unsoundness of the [military field] hospital organization engendered constant abuses, which could be checked, but not eradicated;  for the hospitals were let out to contractors at a fixed rate per patient, and a dishonest contractor had therefore every inducement to spend as little as possible on the unfortunates in his charge.  But with Louvois as Secretary of War, he did so at considerable risk;  in 1683 the Secretary detects frauds being perpetrated by the hospital contractor of Alsace, and gives judgement in  letter to the Intendant.  The offending contractor is to be led by the common hangman through every hospital ward in the province, wearing sandwich boards with the legend _fripon public_ [public knave/rogue/fraud], after which he is to be banished for life.

If Louvois did not entirely succeed in his struggle to stamp out indiscipline, he at any rate never relaxed his efforts to do so;  but circumstances, the whole tone of society, were against him.  And, oddly enough, it was Louvois who was responsible for much of the indiscipline against which he himself strove.  With a naiveté  remarkable in so able a man, he imagined that it was feasible to incite French armies to commit murder, rape, robbery, and arson for so long as it suited his strategical objective, and that then, on the word “halt,” the troops would once more become models of soldierly discipline.  It is some little consolation for the atrocities committed by Louvois’ orders in Holland in 1672 and in Germany in 1689 to know that the damage thereby done to French morale was a major factor in bringing about the ultimate ruin of his master’s plans.

(162)  Fire brigades did not exist before 1699, and, somehow or other, the Capuchins had become expert firefighters;  in emergencies, in which the modern Londoner dials “fire,” the seventeenth-century householder sent for the Capuchins.

(182)  …whilst St. Ambrose watched over the bees.

(216)  [Evelyn in 1644 on the galley convicts/slaves]  Their rising and falling back at their oare is a miserable spectacle, and the noise of their chains with the roaring of the beaten waters has something of strange and fearful to one unaccustomed to it.  They are rul’d and chastiz’d by strokes on their backs and soles of their feete on the least disorder and without the least humanity;  yet they are cherefull and full of knavery.

(277)  Boileau was much given to dining out, and set much store by the virtue of punctuality - “A man’s faults, sir, are always brought up when he keeps the company waiting."

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