Retz, John Francis Paul De Gondi

, ar celebrated cardinal, was born in 1613. He was a doctor of the Sorbonne, and afterwards coadjutor to his uncle the archbishop of Paris; and at length, after many intrigues, in which his restless and unbounded ambition engaged him, became a cardinal. This extraordinary man has drawn his own character in his Memoirs,- which are written in a very unequal manner, but are generally bold, free, animating, and pleasing, and give us a very lively representation of his conduct. He was a man who, from the greatest degree of debauchery, and still languishing under its consequences, preached to the people, and made himself adored by them. He | breathed nothing but the spirit of faction and sedition. At the age of twenty-three, he had been at the head of a conspiracy against the life of cardinal Richelieu, It has been said that he was the first bishop who carried on a war without the mask of religion; but his schemes were so unsuccessful, that he was obliged to quit France. He then went into Spain and Italy, and assisted at the conclave at Rome, which raised Alexander VII. to the pontificate; but this pontiff not making good his promises to the cardinal, he left Italy, and went into Germany, Holland, and England. After having spent the life of an exile for five or six years, he obtained leave upon certain terms to return to his own country; which was the more safe, as his friend cardinal Mazarine died in 1661. He was afterwards at Rome, and assisted in the conclave which chose Clement IX.; but, upon his return to France, gave up all thoughts of public affairs, and died at Paris, Aug. 24, 1679. The latter part of his life is said to have been tranquil and exemplary. At this period he wrote his Memoirs, in which there is a considerable air of impartiality. In order to judge of this, however, the reader is advised to compare them with those of Claude Joli, his private secretary. Both works have been published in English, the former in 1774, 4 vols. the latter in 1775, 3 vols., 12fno. Some friends, nith whom the cardinal entrusted the original ms. fixed a mark on those passages, where they thought he had dishonoured himself, in order to have them omitted, as they were in the first edition; but they have since been restored. The best French editions of these Memoirs are those of Amsterdam, 1719, 7 vols. 12mo, and 1731, 4 vols. small 8vo. This cardinal was the author of other pieces; but these, being of a temporary kind, written as party pamphlets to serve particular purposes, are forgotten. 1


Moreri. —Dict. Hist. Voltaire’s Siecle da Louis XIV.