Foucquet, Charles Louis Augustus

, count of Belle-Isle, more known by the name of marechal Bellisle, grandson of the preceding, was born in 1684. Politics and history attracted his attention from his very infancy, to which studies he afterwards added that of mathematics. He had hardly finished his education when Louis XIV. gave him a regiment of dragoons. He signalized himself at the siege of Lisle, received other steps of promotion, and at the peace returned to court, where the king entirely forgot the faults of the grandfather in the merits of his descendant. When war again broke out, after the death of Louis XIV. he proceeded to distinguish himself, but a change of ministry put a check to his career. He shared the disgrace of the minister Le Blanc, was for a time im-prisoned in the Bastile, and then banished to his own estate. In this retreat he composed a complete justification of himself, was recalled to court, and from that time experienced only favour, fortune, and promotion. In the war of 1733, | he obtained a principal command in Flanders, distinguished himself before Philipsburg, and commanded during the rest of the campaign in Germany. In 1735 he was decorated with the order of the Holy Ghost, and was the confidential adviser of the minister, cardinal Fleury. About this time, taking advantage of an interval of peace, he wrote memoirs of all the countries in which he had served: but on the death of the emperor Charles VI. in 1740, he urged the cardinal to declare war. Ambition prompted this advice, and his ambition was not long without gratification. In 1741, he was created marechal of France. The witlings attacked him on his elevation, but he despised their efforts: “These rhymers,” said he, “would gain their ends, should I do them the honour to be angry.” At the election of the emperor in 1742, marechal Bellisle was plenipotentiary of France at the diet of Francfort, where his magnificence was no less extraordinary than the extent of his influence in the diet. He appeared rather as a principal elector than an ambassador, and secured the election of Charles VII. Soon after, by the desertion of the Prussians and Saxons, the marechal found himself shut up in Prague, and with great difficulty effected a retreat. He was obliged to march his army over the ice, and three thousand troops left in Prague were compelled to surrender, though with honour. On his return to Francfort, Charles VII. presented him with the order of the golden fleece, having already declared him a prince of the empire. In December 1743, as he was going again into Germany, he was taken prisoner at Elbingerode, a small town encircled by the territory of Hanover, and was carried into England, where he remained till August 1744. He then served against the Austrians in Provence; and, returning to Versailles to plan the campaign of 1748, was created a peer of France. He had enjoyed the title of duke of Gisors, from 1742. Afterthe peace in 1743, his influence at court continued to increase, and in 1757 he became prime minister; but in this situation he lived only four years; falling a victim, it is said, to his application to business, his sorrow for the misfortunes of France, and his anxious cares to extricate her from them. This patriotic character coincides with other anecdotes related of him. Having lost his brother, whom he tenderly loved, at a very critical period of public affairs, he suppressed his private grief as soon as possible, saying, “I have no brother; but I have | a country, let me exert myself to save her.” He died in January, 1761, at the age of 77.

Marechal Bellisle was a great character, equally formed for war and politics. He joined the politeness of a courtier to the frankness of a soldier, and persuaded without being eloquent, because he always seemed convinced of what he urged. He was haughty with the great, but affable to his inferiors; and protected merit, not through vanity, but real esteem. He had no vice, except too much inclination for women. He was twice married, but had only one son, by his second wife, who fell in battle in 1758. 1


Dict. Hist. Continuation of Rapin’s History.