Page:Dictionary of National Biography volume 50.djvu/135

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attack on Mazarin and his policy, but it was kept secret at the time. Early in 1661 he formed a member of the embassage sent to England to congratulate Charles II on his accession. In the August of that year Saint-Évremond, before proceeding with the court into Brittany, confided some of his more important papers, and among them the manuscript of his report for the Marquis de Créqui on the peace, to Madame de Plessis-Bellière, his friend, and the friend of Fouquet. After Fouquet's fall Madame de Plessis-Bellière's house was searched, and the letter on the peace came to light. Mazarin had died on the previous 9 March, but Colbert and Le Tellier, making a show of respect for his memory, placed the letter in the king's hands, and the arrest of the writer was decreed. Saint-Évremond had already had a taste of the Bastille, and did not care to renew the experience. He lay hid for some time in Normandy, and towards the end of 1661 took refuge in Holland, bidding a final farewell to France.

The letter on the peace was the ostensible cause of Saint-Évremond's downfall; but Voltaire says expressly, ‘The Marquis de Miremond, his friend, told me in London that there was another reason for his disgrace, and that Saint-Évremond never would explain what it was.’ The secret has been well kept. Possibly his satiric gifts of pen and tongue had rendered him obnoxious to Colbert and Colbert's master.

Saint-Évremond, according to Des Maizeaux, ‘had too many friends in England to remain long in Holland.’ At the English court, then at its gayest, he found a society differing little from the society of Paris, and no more outwardly decorous. The Dukes of Buckingham and Ormonde, the Earls of St. Albans and Arlington, were among his best friends. Almost at the same time with himself, Grammont, also in disgrace, came over from France. With the latter Saint-Évremond was on the best possible terms, Grammont being, according to Hamilton, Grammont's biographer, Saint-Évremond's hero, whom he nevertheless constantly exhorted to greater sobriety. Saint-Évremond was a constant guest at Grammont's supper parties. Saint-Évremond was also on excellent terms with Cowley, with Hobbes, and with Waller, for whom he entertained a great admiration. English he seems never to have learned.

In 1664 Saint-Évremond fell ill, and went to Holland for change of air. He remained in the Low Countries till 1670, not without hopes of being allowed to return to France, mixing with the best Dutch society, and making acquaintance with Spinoza. In April 1670 it was intimated to him by Lord Arlington, through Sir William Temple, then ambassador at The Hague, that his return to London would be favourably regarded. On his acceding to this request Charles II gave him a pension of 300l. a year, which he enjoyed till the king's death. He afterwards stood well with James II and with William III, who showed him marked favour.

Towards the end of 1675 the Duchess of Mazarin, niece of the cardinal, came to England with designs on the king's affections, and, to counteract the influence of the Duchess of Portsmouth, Saint-Évremond at once attached himself to her service. He had previously exhorted Mlle. de Keroualle not to turn a deaf ear to the royal addresses. He now urged Mme. de Mazarin, whose heart was fickle, not to neglect her golden opportunities. Until her death on 2 July 1699 he remained in almost daily attendance upon her, whether at St. James's or Windsor, or at her house in Chelsea. Much of his later prose and verse was composed for her edification.

During the earlier years of Saint-Évremond's exile he made more than one fruitless effort to obtain permission to return to France. In 1689 an intimation was sent to him that he might do so; but the old man answered that it was then too late, and that he was happy where he was. ‘In the country in which I now am,’ he wrote in 1693, ‘I see Mme. Mazarin every day; I live among people who are sociable and friendly, who have great cleverness and much wit.’ Nor when the duchess died in 1699 could he be induced to stir. After her death he frequented the society of a dubious Marquise de la Perrine, to whom he left a legacy of 50l. He himself died on 20 Sept. 1703, and was buried in Westminster Abbey. ‘Mr. Saint-Évremond,’ wrote Atterbury (Correspondence, iii. 117), ‘died renouncing the Christian religion, yet the church of Westminster thought fit, in honour of his memory, to give his body room in the abbey, and to allow him to be buried there gratis, as far as the chapter was concerned, though he left 800l. sterling behind him, which is thought every way an unaccountable piece of management. … Dr. Birch proffered to be at the charge of the funeral on the account of the old acquaintance between Saint-Évremond and his patron Waller, but that proffer not being accepted, is resolved to have the honour of laying a marble stone upon his grave.’ His monument is in Poets' Corner, within a few feet of that of Chaucer.

Saint-Évremond's literary reputation has undergone some vicissitudes. In his own