Chaise, Francis De La

, a Jesuit of uncommon abilities, and confessor to Lewis XIV. was born in the chateau of Aix, in 1624, of an ancient but reduced family. He gave early indications of talents when at school, and performed his philosophical exercises under father de Vaux, who was afterwards advanced to the highest employments in his order. When he was arrived at a proper age, he was ordained priest; and became afterwards professor of divinity in the province of Lyons, and rector and provincial of a college there. He spent at several seasons a good deal of time in Paris, where his great address, his wit, and love of letters, made him almost universally known: and in 1663, the bishop of Bayeux introduced him to cardinal Mazarine, who shewed him many marks of favour, and offered him his patronage. In 1665, he presented la Chaise to the king, as a person of whose great abilities and merit he was well convinced, and afterwards got him admitted into the council of conscience, which indeed was no less than to make him coadjutor to the confessor, and when the cardinal died, he was made, in 1675, confessor to the king; and about ten years after, was the principal adviser and director of his marriage with madame de Maintenon. The king was then arrived at an age when confessors have more than an ordinary influence: and la Chaise found himself a minister of state, without expecting, and almost before he perceived it. He did business regularly with the king, and immediately saw all the lords and all the prelates at his feet. He had made himself a master in the affairs of the church; which, by the disputes that often arose between the courts of France and Rome, were become affairs of state. | Yet, in spite of all his address and the influence which he had gained over the king, he was sometimes out of favour with his master, and in danger of being disgraced. Provoked at the ill success of the affair concerning the electorate of Cologn in 1689, the king shewed his displeasure to the confessor, by whose counsels he had been influenced. La Chaise excused himself, by laying the blame upon the marquis de Louvois; but the king told him with some indignation, “that an enterprise suggested by Jesuits had never succeeded; and that it would be better if they would confine themselves to teaching their scholars, and never presume to meddle in affairs of state.” La Chaise was very solicitous to establish an interest with madam e de Maintenon; but does not appear to have done it effectually, till that favourite found herself unable, by all her intrigues and contrivances, to remove him from the place of confessor. The Jesuit, it has been said, had not religion enough for this devout lady. He loved pleasures, had a taste for magnificence, and was thought too lukewarm in the care of his master’s conscience. The jealousy and dislike with which she regarded him were expressed in her letters; but her unfavourable representations of his temper and character were counteracted by those of the duke of St. Simon, who describes him as mild and moderate, humane and modest, possessed of honour and probity, and though much attached to his family, perfectly disinterested. La Chaise died Jan. 1709, and possessed to the very last so great a share of favour and esteem with the king, that his majesty consulted him upon his death-­bed about the choice of his successor. 1