without a friend in its coming contest with
chap. XVII.} 1761.
was, like Pitt
, a statesman of consummate ability; but while Pitt
overawed by the authoritative grandeur of his designs, the lively and indiscreet Choiseul
had the genius of intrigue.
He was by nature an agitator, and carried into the cabinet restless activity and the arts of cabal.
treated all subjects with stateliness; Choiseul
discussed the most weighty in jest.
Of high rank and great wealth, he was the first person at court, and virtually the sole minister.
Did the king's mistress, who had ruled his predecessor, interfere with affairs?
He would reply, that she was handsome as an angel, but throw her memorial into the fire; and with railleries and sarcasms, he maintained his exclusive power by a clear superiority of spirit and resolution.1
For personal intrepidity he was distinguished even among the French
gentry, so remarkable for courage; and as he carried the cabinet by his decided character, so he brought into the foreign politics of his country as daring a mind as animated any man in France
It was the judgment of Pitt
, that he was the greatest minister France
had seen since the days of Richelieu
In depth, refinement, and quick perceptions, he had no superior; and his freedom from prejudice opened his mind and affections to the philosophic movement of his age. No motive of bigotry or antipathy could lead him to crush the power of Frederic, or to subject France
to the influence of a state still overshadowed, like Austria
, by the cumbrous forms and superstitions of the Middle Age