Online Encyclopedia


Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V17, Page 916 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
Spread the word: it!
MAURITIUS, an island and British colony in the Indian Ocean (known whilst a French possession as the fle de France). It lies between 570 18' and 570 49' E., and 19° 58' and 20 32' S., 550 M. E. of Madagascar, 2300 M. from the Cape of Good Hope, and 9500 M. from England via Suez. The island is irregularly elliptical—somewhat triangular—in shape, and is 36 m. long from N.N.E. to S.S.W., and about 23 M. broad. It is 130 M. in circumference, and its total area is about 710 sq. m. (For map see MADAGASCAR.) The island is surrounded by coral reefs, so that the ports are difficult of access. From its mountainous character Mauritius is a most picturesque island, and its scenery is very varied and beautiful. It has been admirably described by Bernardin de St Pierre, who lived in the island towards the close of the 18th century, in Paul et Virginie. The most level portions of the coast districts are the north and north-east, all the rest being broken by hills, which vary from 500 to 2700 ft. in height. The principal mountain masses are the north-western or Pouce range, in the district of Port Louis; the south-western, in the districts of Riviere Noire and Savanne; and the south-eastern range, in the Grand Port district, In the first of these, which consists of one principal ridge with several lateral spurs, overlooking Port Louis, are the singular peak of the Pouce (2650 ft.), so called from its supposed resemblance to the human thumb; and the still loftier Pieter Botte (2685 ft.), a tall obelisk of bare rock, crowned with a globular mass of stone. The highest summit in the island is in the south-western mass of hills, the Piton de la Riviere Noire, which is 2711• ft. above the sea. The south-eastern group of hills consists of the Montagne du Bambou, with several spurs running down to the sea. In the interior are extensive fertile plains, some 1200 ft. in height, forming the districts of Moka, Vacois, and Plaines Wilhelms; and from nearly the centre of the island an abrupt peak, the Piton du Milieu de file rises to a height of 1932 ft. Other prominent summits are the Trois Mamelles, the Montagne du Corps de Garde, the Signal Mountain, near Port Louis, and the Morne Brabant, at the south-west corner of the island. The rivers are small, and none is navigable beyond a few hundred yards from the sea. In the dry season little more than brooks, they become raging torrents in the wet season. The principal stream is the Grande Riviere, with a course of about 10 m. There is a remarkable and very deep lake, called Spicilegium Veterae analecta Musaeum italicum Co!iectio nova patrum graecorum Thesaurus novus anecdotorurn Veterum scriptorum collectio De antiquis ritibus Martene and Durand Martene and Durand ecclesiae- Martene (Final form) d'Achery Mabillon Mabillon Montfaucon 1655-1677 13 In 4t° 1675-1685 4 in 8°O 1687-1689 2 in 4to 1706 2 1717 5 1724-1733 9 1690-1706 1736-1738 4 1668-1701 9 1703-1739 6 1729-1733 5 Grand Bassin, in the south of the island, it is probably the extinct crater of an ancient volcano; similar lakes are the Mare aux Vacois and the Mare aux Jones, and there are other deep hollows which have a like origin. Geology.—The island is of volcanic origin, but has ceased to show signs of volcanic activity. All the rocks are of basalt and greyish-tinted lavas, excepting some beds of upraised coral. Columnar basalt is seen in several places. The remains of ancient craters can be distinguished, but their outlines have been greatly destroyed by denudation. There are many caverns and steep ravines, and from the character of the rocks the ascents are rugged and precipitous. The island has few minerals, although iron, lead and copper in very small quantities have in former times been obtained. The greater part of the surface is composed of a volcanic breccia, with here and there lava-streams exposed in ravines, and sometimes on the surface. The commonest lavas are dolerites. In at least two places sedimentary rocks are found at considerable elevations. In the Black River Mountains, at a height of about 1200 ft., there is a clay-slate; and near Midlands, in the Grand Port group of mountains, a chloritic schist occurs about 1700 ft. above the sea, .forming the hill of La Selle. This schist is much contorted, but seems to have a general dip to the south or south-east. Evidence of recent elevation of the island is furnished by masses of coral reef and beach coral rock standing at heights of 40 It. above sea-level in the south, 12 ft. in the north and 7 ft. on the islands situated on the bank extending to the north-east.' Climate.—The climate is pleasant during the cool season of the year, but oppressively hot in summer (December to April), except in the elevated plains of the interior, where the thermometer ranges from 70° to 80° F., while in Port Louis and on the coast generally it ranges from 90° to 96°. The mean temperature for the year at Port Louis is 78.6°. There are two seasons, the cool and comparatively dry season, from April to November, and the hotter season, during the rest of the year. The climate is now less healthy than it was, severe epidemics of malarial fever having frequently occurred, so that malaria now appears to be endemic among the non-European population. The rainfall varies greatly in different parts of the island. Cluny in the Grand Port (south-eastern) district has a mean annual rainfall of 145 in.; Albion on the west coast is the driest station, with a mean annual rainfall of 31 in. The mean monthly rainfall for the whole island varies from 12 in. in March to 2.6 in. in September and October. The Royal Alfred Observatory is situated at Pamplemousses, on the north-west or dry side of the island. From January to the middle of April, Mauritius, in common with the neighbouring islands and the surrounding ocean from 8° to 30° of southern latitude is subject to severe cyclones, accompanied by torrents of rain, which often cause great destruction to houses and plantations. These hurricanes generally last about eight hours, but they appear to be less frequent and violent than in former times, owing, it is thought, to the destruction of the ancient forests and the consequent drier condition of the atmosphere. Fauna and Flora.—Mauritius being an oceanic island of small size, its present fauna is very limited in extent. When first seen by Europeans it contained no mammals except a large fruit-eating bat (Pteropus vulgaris), which is plentiful in the woods; but several mammals have been introduced, and are now numerous in the uncultivated region. Among these are two monkeys of the genera Macacus and Cercopithecus, a stag (Cervus hippelaphus), a small hare, a shrew-mouse, and the ubiquitous rat. A lemur and one of the curious hedgehog-like Insectivora of Madagascar (Centetes ecaudatus) have probably both been brought from the larger island. The avifauna resembles that of Madagascar; there are species of a peculiar genus of caterpillar shrikes (Campephagidae), as well as of the genera Pm/insole, Fly psipetes, Phedina, Tchitrea, Zosterops, Foudia, Colloculia and Coracopsis, and peculiar forms of doves and parakeets. The living reptiles are small and few in number. The surrounding seas contain great numbers of fish; the coral reefs abound with a great variety of molluscs; and there are numerous land-shells. The extinct fauna of Mauritius has considerable interest. In common with the other Mascarene islands, it was the home of the dodo (Didus inept us); there were also Aphanapteryx, a species of rail, and a short-winged heron (Ardea .megacephala), which probably seldom flew. The defenceless condition of these birds led to their extinction after the island was colonized. Considerable quantities of the bones of the dodo and other extinct birds—a rail (Aphanapteryx), and a short-winged heron—have been discovered in the beds of some of the ancient lakes (see Dono). Several species of large fossil tortoises have also been discovered; they are quite different from the living ones of Aldabra, in the same zoological region. Owing to the destruction of the primeval forests for the formation of sugar plantations, the indigenous flora is only seen in parts of the interior plains, in the river valleys and on the hills; and it is not now easy to distinguish between what is native and what has come from abroad. The principal timber tree is the ebony (Diospyros ebeneum), which grows to a considerable size. Besides this there are bois de cannelle, olive-tree, benzoin (Croton Benzoe), colophane (Colophonia), and iron-wood, all of which are useful in carpentry; ' See Geog. Journ. (June 1895), p. 597.the coco-nut palm, an importation, but a tree which has been so extensively planted during the last hundred years that it is extremely plentiful; the palmiste (Palma dactylifera latifolia), the latanier (Corypha umbraculifera) and the date-palm. The vacoa or vacois, (Pandanus utilis) is largely grown, the long tough leaves being manufactured into bags for the export of sugar, and the roots being also made of use; and in the few remnants of the original forests the traveller's tree (Urania speciosa), grows abundantly. A species of bamboo is very plentiful in the river valleys and in marshy situations. A large variety of fruit is produced, including the tamarind, mango, banana, pine-apple, guava, shaddock, fig, avocado-pear, litchi, custard-apple and the mabolo (Diospyros discolor), a fruit of exquisite flavour, but very disagreeable odour. Many of the roots and vegetables of Europe have been introduced, as well as some of those peculiar to the tropics, including maize, millet, yams, manioc, dhol, gram, &c. Small quantities of tea, rice and sago, have been grown, as well as many of the spices (cloves, nutmeg, ginger, pepper and allspice), and also cotton, indigo, betel, camphor, turmeric and vanilla. The Royal Botanical Gardens at Pamplemousses, which date from the French occupation of the island, contain a rich collection of tropical and extra-tropical species. Inhabitants.—The inhabitants consist of two great divisions, those of European blood, chiefly French and British, together with numerous half-caste people, and those of Asiatic or African blood. The population of European blood, which calls itself Creole, is greater than that of any other tropical colony; many of the inhabitants trace their descent from ancient French families, and the higher and middle classes are distinguished for their intellectual culture. French is more commonly spoken than English. The Creole class is, however, diminishing, though slowly, and the most numerous section of the population is of Indian blood. The introduction of Indian coolies to work the sugar plantations dates from the period of the emancipation of the slaves in 1834–1839. At that time the negroes who showed great unwillingness to work on their late masters' estates, numbered about 66,000. Immigration from India began in 1834, and at a census taken in 1846, when the total population was 158,462, there were already 56,245 Indians in the island. In 1851 the total population had increased to 180,823, while in 1861 it was 310,050. This great increase was almost entirely due to Indian immigration, the Indian population, 77,996 in 1851, being 192,634 in 1861. From that year the increase in the Indian population has been more gradual but steady, while the non-Indian population has decreased. From 102,827 in 1851 it rose to 117,416 in 1861 to sink to 99,784 in 1871. The figures for the three following census years were: 1881. 1891. 1901. Indians 248,993 255,920 259,086 Others . i s o,881 114,668 111,937 Total . • 359,874 370,588 371,023 Including the military and crews of ships in harbour, the total population in 1901 was 373,3361 This total included 198,958 Indo-Mauritians, i.e. persons of Indian descent born in Mauritius, and 62,022 other Indians. There were 3,509 Chinese, while the remaining Io8,847 included persons of European, African or mixed descent, Malagasy, Malays and Sinhalese. The Indian female population increased from 51,019 in 1861 to 115,986 in 1901. In the same period the non-Indian female population but slightly varied, being 56,070 in 1861 and 55,485 in 1901. The Indo-Mauritians are now dominant in commercial, agricultural and domestic callings, and much town and agricultural land has been transferred from the Creole planters to Indians and Chinese. The tendency to an Indian peasant proprietorship is marked. Since 1864 real property to the value of over £1,250,000 has been acquired by Asiatics. Between 1881 and 1901 the number of sugar estates decreased from 171 to 115, those sold being held in small parcels by Indians. The average death-rate for the period 1873–1901 was 32.6 per 1000. The average birth-rate in the Indian community is 37 per too(); in the non-Indian community 34 per I000. Many Mauritian Creoles have emigrated to South Africa. The great increase in the population since 1851 has made Mauritius one of the most densely peopled regions of the world, having over 520 persons per square mile. Chief Towns.—The capital and seat of government, the city of Port Louis, is on the north-western side of the island, in 20° to' S., 57° 30' E. at the head of an excellent harbour, a deep inlet about a mile long, available for ships of the deepest draught. This is protected by Fort William and Fort George, as well as by the citadel (Fort Adelaide), and it has three graving-docks connected with the inner harbour, the depths alongside quays and berths being from 12 to 28 ft. The trade of the island passes almost entirely through the port. Government House is a three-storeyed structure with broad 2 The total population of the colony (including dependencies) on the 1st of January 1907 was estimated at 383,206. verandas, of no particular style of architecture, while the Protestant cathedral was formerly a powder magazine, to which a tower and spire have been added. The Roman Catholic cathedral is more pretentious in style, but is tawdry in its interior. There are, besides the town-hall, Royal College, public offices and theatre, large barracks and military stores. Port Louis, which is governed by an elective municipal council, is surrounded by lofty hills and its unhealthy situation is aggravated by the difficulty of effective drainage owing to the small amount of tide in the harbour. Though much has been done to make the town sanitary, including the provision of a good water-supply, the death-rate is generally over 44 per 1000. Consequently all those who can make their homes in the cooler up-lands of the interior. As a result the population of the city decreased from about 70,000 in 1891 to 53,000 in 1901. The favourite residential town is Curepipe, where the climate resembles that of the south of France. It is built on the central plateau about 20 M. distant from Port Louis by rail and 180o ft. above the sea. Curepipe was incorporated in 1888 and had a population (1901) of 13,000. On the railway between Port Louis and Curepipe are other residential towns—Beau Bassin, Rose Hill and Quatre Bornes. Mahebourg, pop. (1901), 4810, is a town on the shores of Grand Port on the south-east side of the island, Souillac a small town on the south coast. Industries.—The Sugar Plantations: The soil of the island is of considerable fertility; it is a ferruginous red clay, but so largely mingled with stones of all sizes that no plough can be used, and the hoe has to be employed to prepare the ground for cultivation. The greater portion of the plains is now a vast sugar plantation. The bright green of the sugar fields is a striking feature in a view of Mauritius from the sea, and gives a peculiar beauty and freshness to the prospect. The soil is suitable for the cultivation of almost all kinds of tropical produce, and it is to be regretted that the prosperity of the colony depends almost entirely on one article of production, for the consequences are serious when there is a failure, more or less, of the sugar crop. Guano is extensively imported as a manure, and by its use the natural fertility of the soil has been increased to a wonderful extent. Since the beginning of the loth century some attention has been paid to the cultivation of tea and cotton, with encouraging results. Of the exports, sugar amounts on an average to about. 95% of the total. The quantity of sugar exported rose from 102,000 tons in 1854 to 189,164 tons in 1877. The competition of beet-sugar and the effect of bounties granted by various countries then began to tell on the production in Mauritius, the average crop for the seven years ending 1900-1901 being only 150,449 tons. The Brussels Sugar Convention of 1902 led to an increase in production, the average annual weight of sugar exported for the three years 1904-1906 being 182,000 tons. The value of the crop was likewise seriously affected by the causes mentioned, and by various diseases which attacked the canes. Thus in 1878 the value of the sugar exported was £3,408,000; in 1888 it had sunk to £1,911,000, and in 1898 to £1,632,000. In 1900 the value was £1,922,000, and in 1905 it had risen to £2,172,000. India and the South African colonies between them take some two-thirds of the total produce. The remainder is taken chiefly by Great Britain, Canada and Hong-Kong. Next to sugar, aloe-fibre is the most important export, the average annual export for the five years ending 1906 being 184o tons. In addition, a considerable quantity of molasses and smaller quantities of rum, vanilla and coco-nut oil are exported. The imports are mainly rice, wheat, cotton goods, wine, coal, hardware and haberdashery, and guano. The rice comes principally from India and. Madagascar; cattle are imported from Madagascar, sheep from South Africa and Australia, and frozen meat from Australia. The average annual value of the exports for the ten years 1896-1905 was £2,153,159; the average annual value of the imports for the same period £1,453,089. These figures when compared with those in years before the beet and bounty-fed sugar had entered into severe competition with cane sugar, show how greatly the island had thereby suffered. In 1864 the exports were valued at £2,249,000; in 1868 at £2,339,000 in 1877 at £4,201,000 and in 188o at £3,634,000. And in each of the years named the imports exceeded £2,000,000 in value. Nearly all the aloe-fibre exported is taken by Great Britain. and France, while the molasses goes to India. Among the minor exports is that of bambara or sea-slugs, which are sent to Hong-Kong and Singapore. This industry is chiefly in Chinese hands. The great majority of the imports are from Great Britain or British possessions. The currency of Mauritius is rupees and cents of a rupee, the Indian rupee (=16d.) being the standard unit. The metric system of weights and measures has been in force since 1878. Communications.—There is a regular fortnightly steamship service between Marseilles and Port Louis by the Messageries Maritimes, a four-weekly service with Southampton via Cape Town by the Union Castle, and a four-weekly service with Colombo direct by the British India Co.'s boats. There is also frequent communication with Madagascar, Reunion and Natal. The average annual tonnage of ships entering Port Louis is about 750,000 of which five-sevenths is British. Cable communication with Europe, via the Seychelles, Zanzibar and Aden, was established in 1891, and the Mauritius section of the Cape-Australian cable, via Rodriguez, was completed in 1902. Railways connect all the principal places and sugar estates on the island, that known as the Midland line, 36 miles long, beginning at Port Louis crosses the island to Mahebourg, passing through Curepipe, where it is 1822 ft. above the sea. There are in all over 120 miles of railway, all owned and worked by the government. The first railway was opened in 1864. The roads are well kept and there is an extensive system of tramways for bringing produce from the sugar estates to the railway lines. Traction engines are also largely used. There is a complete telegraphic and telephonic service. Government and Revenue.—Mauritius is a crown colony. The governor is assisted by an executive council of five official and two elected members, and a legislative council of 27 members, 8 sitting ex officio, 9 being nominated by the governor and ro elected on a moderate franchise. Two of the elected members represent St Louis, the 8 rural districts into which the island is divided electing each one member. At least one-third of the nominated members must be persons not holding any public office. The number of registered electors in 1908 was 6186. The legislative session usually lasts from April to December. Members may speak either in French or English. The average annual revenue of the colony for the ten years 1896-1905, was £608,245, the average annual expenditure during the same period £663,606. Up to 1854 there was a surplus in hand, but sit ce that time expenditure has on many occasions exceeded income, and the public debt in 1908 was £1,305,000, mainly incurred however on reproductive works. The island has largely retained the old French laws, the codes civil, de procedure, du commerce, and d'instruction criminelle being still in force, except so far as altered by colonial ordinances. A supreme court of civil and criminal justice was established in 1831 under a chief judge and three puisne judges. Religion and Education.—The majority of the European inhabitants belong to the Roman Catholic faith. They numbered at the 1901 census 117,102, and the Protestants 6644. Anglicans, Roman Catholics and the Church of Scotland are helped by state grants. At the head of the Anglican community is the bishop of Mauritius; the chief Romanist dignitary is styled bishop of Port Louis. The Mahommedans number over 30,000, but the majority of the Indian coolies are Hindus. The educational system, as brought into force in 1900, is under a director of public instruction assisted by an advisory committee, and consists of two branches (1) superior or secondary instruction, (2) primary instruction. For primary instruction there are government schools and schools maintained by the Roman Catholics, Protestants and other faiths, to which the government gives grants in aid. In 1908 there were 67 government schools with 8400 scholars and 90 grant schools with 10,200 scholars, besides Hindu schools receiving no grant. The Roman Catholic scholars number 67.72 %; the Protestants 3.8o%; Mahommedans 8.37%; and Hindus and others 20.11 %. Secondary and higher education is given in the Royal College and associated schools at Port Louis and Curepipe. Defence.—Mauritius occupies an important strategic position on the route between South Africa and India and in relation to Madagascar and East Africa, while in Port Louis it possesses one of the finest harbours in the Indian Ocean. A permanent garrison of some 3000 men is maintained in the island at a cost of about £180,000 per annum. To the cost of the troops Mauritius contributes 5z % of its annual revenue—about £30,000. History.—Mauritius appears to have been unknown to European nations, if not to all other peoples, until the year 1505, when it was discovered by Mascarenhas, a Portuguese navigator. It had then no inhabitants, and there seem to be no traces of a previous occupation by any people. The island was retained for most of the 16th century by its discoverers, but they made no settlements in it. In 1598 the Dutch took possession, and named the island " Mauritius," in honour of their stadtholder, Count Maurice of Nassau. It had been previously called by the Portuguese " Ilha do Cerne," from the belief that it was the island so named by Pliny. But though the Dutch built a fort at Grand Port and introduced a number of slaves and convicts, they made no permanent settlement in Mauritius, finally abandoning the island in 1710. From 1715 to 1767 (when the French government assumed direct control) the island was held by agents of the French East India Company, by whom its name was again changed to " tie de France." The Company was fortunate in having several able men as governors of its colony, especially the celebrated Mahe de Labourdonnais (q.v.), who made sugar planting the main industry of the inhabitants., Under his extent of the Indian Ocean. Of these the chief is Rodriguez (q.v.), direction roads were made, forts built, and considerable portions of the forest were cleared, and the present capital, Port Louis, was founded. Labourdonnais also promoted the planting of cotton and indigo, and is remembered as the most enlightened and best of all the French governors. He also put down the maroons or runaway slaves who had long been the pest of the island. The colony continued to rise in value during the time it was held by the French crown, and to one of the intendants,2 Pierre Poivre, was due the introduction of the clove, nutmeg and other spices. Another governor was D'Entrecasteaux, whose name is kept in remembrance by a group of islands east of New Guinea. During the long war between France and England, at the commencement of the 19th century, Mauritius was a continual source of much mischief to English Indiamen and other merchant vessels; and at length the British government determined upon an expedition for its capture. This was effected in 181o; and upon the restoration of peace in 1814 the possession of the island was confirmed to Britain by the Treaty of Paris. By the eighth article of capitulation it was agreed that the inhabitants should retain their own laws, customs, and religion; and thus the island is still largely French in language, habits, and predilections; but its name has again been changed to that given by the Dutch. One of the most distinguished of the British governors was Sir Robert Farquhar (1810-1823), who did much to abolish the Malagasy slave trade and to establish friendly relations with the rising power of the Hova sovereign of Madagascar. Later governors of note were Sir Henry Barkly (1863–1871), and Sir J. Pope Hennessy (1883–1886 and 1888). The history of the colony since its acquisition by Great Britain has been one of social and political evolution. At first all power was concentrated in the hands of the governor, but in 1832 a legislative council was constituted on which non-official nominated members served. In 1884–1885 this council was transformed into a partly elected body. Of more importance than the constitutional changes were the economic results which followed the freeing of the slaves (1834–1839)—for the loss of whose labour the planters received over £2,000,000 compensation. Coolies were introduced to supply the place of the negroes, immigration being definitely sanctioned by the government of India in 1842. Though under government control the system of coolie labour led to many abuses. A royal commission investigated the matter in 1871 and since that time the evils which were attendant on the system have been gradually remedied. One result of the introduction of free labour has been to reduce the descendants of the slave population to a small and unimportant class—Mauritius in this respect offering a striking contrast to the British colonies in the West Indies. The last half of the 19th century was, however, chiefly notable in Mauritius for the number of calamities which overtook the island. In 1854 cholera caused the death of 17,000 persons; in 1867 over 30,000 people died of malarial fever; in 1892 a hurricane of terrific violence caused immense destruction of property and serious loss of life; in 1893 great part of Port Louis was destroyed by fire. There were in addition several epidemics of small-pox and plague, and from about 188o onward the continual decline in the price of sugar seriously affected the islanders, especially the Creole population. During 1902–1905 an outbreak of surra, which caused great mortality among draught animals, further tried the sugar planters and necessitated government help. Notwithstanding all these calamities the Mauritians, especially the Indo-Mauritians, have succeeded in maintaining the position of the colony as an important sugar- producing country. Dependencies.—Dependent upon Mauritius and forming part of the colony are a number of small islands scattered over a large 375 M. east of Mauritius. Considerably north-east of Rodriguez lie the Oil Islands or Chagos archipelago, of which the chief is Diego Garcia (see CHAGOS). The Cargados, Carayos or St Brandon islets, deeps and shoals, lie at the south end of the Nazareth Bank about 250 M. N.N.E. of Mauritius. Until 1903 the Seychelles, Amirantes, Aldabra and other islands lying north of Madagascar were also part of the colony of Mauritius. In the year named they were formed into a separate colony (see SEYCHELLES). Two islands, Farquhar and Coetivy, though geographically within the Seychelles area, remained dependent on Mauritius, being owned by residents in that island. In 1908, however, Coetivy was transferred to the Seychelles administration. Amsterdam and St Paul, uninhabited Islands in the South Indian Ocean, included in an official list of the dependencies of Mauritius drawn up in 188o, were in 1893 annexed by France. The total population of the dependencies of Mauritius was estimated in 1905 at 5400. *MAURY, JEAN SIFFREIN (1746-1817), French cardinal and Labourdonnais is credited by several writers with the introduction of the sugar cane into the island. Leguat, however, mentions it as being cultivated during the Dutch occupation. 2 The regime introduced in 1767 divided the administration between a governor, primarily charged with military matters, and an intendant. archbishop of Paris, the son of a poor cobbler, was born on the 26th of June 1746 at Valreas in the Comtat-Venaissin, the district in France which belonged to the pope. His acuteness was observed by the priests of the seminary at Avignon, where he was educated and took orders. He tried his fortune by writing doges of famous persons, then a favourite practice; and in 1771 his doge on Fenelon was pronounced next best to Laharpe's by the Academy. The real foundation of his fortunes was the success of a panegyric on St Louis delivered before the Academy in 1772, which caused him to be recommended for an abbacy. In 1777 he published under the title of Discours choisis his panegyrics on Saint Louis, Saint Augustine and Fenelon, his remarks on Bossuet and his Essai sur ,'eloquence de la chaire, a volume which contains much good criticism, and remains a French classic. The book was often reprinted as Principes de l'eloquence.' He became a favourite preacher in Paris, and was Lent preacher at court in 1781, when King Louis XVI. said of his sermon: " If the abbe had only said a few words on religion he would have discussed every possible subject." In 1781 he obtained the rich priory of Lyons, near Peronne, and in 1785 he was elected to the Academy, as successor of Lefranc de Pompignan. His morals were as loose as those of his great rival Mirabeau, but he was famed in Paris for his wit and gaiety. In 1789 he was elected a member of the states-general by the clergy of the bailliage of Peronne, and from the first proved to be the most able and persevering defender of the ancien regime, although he had drawn up the greater part of the cahier of the clergy of Peronne, which contained a considerable programme of reform. It is said that he attempted to emigrate both in July and in October 1789; but after that time he held firmly to his place, when almost universally deserted by his friends. In the Constituent Assembly he took an active part in every important debate, combating with especial vigour the alienation of the property of the clergy. His life was often in danger, but his ready wit always saved it, and it was said that one bon mot would preserve him for a month. When he did emigrate in 1792 he found himself regarded as a martyr to the church and the king, and was at once named archbishop in partibus, and extra nuncio to the diet at Frankfort, and in 1794 cardinal. He was finally made bishop of Montefiascone, and settled down in that little Italian town—but not for long, for in 1798 the French drove him from his retreat, and he sought refuge in Venice and St Petersburg. Next year he returned to Rome as ambassador of the exiled Louis XVIII. at the papal court. In 1804 he began to prepare his return to France by a well-turned letter to Napoleon, congratulating him on restoring religion to France once more. In 18o6 he did return; in 1807 he was again received into the Academy; and in 181o, on the refusal of Cardinal Fesch, was made archbishop of Paris. He was presently ordered by the pope to surrender his functions. as archbishop of Paris. This he refused to do. On the restoration of the Bourbons he was summarily expelled from the Academy and from the archiepiscopal palace. He retired to Rome, where he was imprisoned in the castle of St Angelo for six months for his disobedience to the papal orders, and died in 1817, a year or two after his release, of disease contracted in prison and of chagrin. As a critic he was a very able writer, and Sainte-Beuve gives him the credit of discovering Father Jacques Bridayne, and of giving Bossuet his rightful place as a preacher above Massillon; as a politician, his wit and eloquence make him a worthy rival of Mirabeau. He sacrificed too much to personal ambition, yet it would have been a graceful act if Louis XVIII. had remembered the courageous supporter of Louis XVI., and the pope the one intrepid defender of the Church in the states-general. The 1Euvres choisies du Cardinal Maury (5 vols., 1827) contain what is worth preserving. Mgr Ricard has published Maury's Correspondance diplomatique (2 vols., Lille, 1891). For his life and character see Vie du Cardinal Maury, by Louis Siffrcin Maury, his nephew (1828) ; J. J. F. Poujoulat, Cardinal Maury, sa vie et ses auvres (1855); Sainte-Beuve, Causeries du lundi (vol. iv.); Mgr Ricard, L'Abbe Maury (1746-1791), L'Abbe Maury avant 1789, L'Abbe Maury et Mirabeau (1887); G. Bonet-Maury, Le Cardinal Maury d'apres ses memoires et sa correspondance inedits (Paris, 1892); A. Aulard, Les Orateurs de la constituante (Paris, 1882). Of the many libels written against him during the Revolution the most noteworthy are the Petit carpeeme de ?abbe Maury, with a supplement called the Seconde annee (179o), and the Vie privee de l'abbe Maury (179o), claimed by J. R. Hebert, but attributed by some writers to Restif de la Bretonne. For further bibliographical details see J. M. Querard, La France litteraire, vol. v. (1833).
End of Article: MAURITIUS

Additional information and Comments

There are no comments yet for this article.
» Add information or comments to this article.
Please link directly to this article:
Highlight the code below, right click and select "copy." Paste it into a website, email, or other HTML document.