La Chaise or La Chaize Daix, Francois De
La Chaise Or La Chaize D'aix, Francois De,
Pere, a celebrated French Jesuit and noted confessor of Louis XIV, was born of a noble family at the castle of Aix Aug. 25, 1624. He was educated at the College of Roanne, became a Jesuit, and afterwards went to complete his studies at Lyons, where he subsequently taught philosophy with great success. Having been appointed professor of theology, he was soon called away from Lyons to direct the establishment of his order at Grenoble, but almost immediately returned with the office of provincial. Finally, on the death of father Ferrier, he succeeded him as confessor of the king in 1675. Madame de Montespan was then at the height of her favor, and all the efforts of father Ferrier, Bourdaloue, Bossuet, and Mascaron had proved ineffective against her. La Chaise proceeded more cautiously than his predecessors, and proved more successful. Never directly contradicting his royal penitent, he knew how to gain him to his views by slow but steady advances. Whenever he saw the king disposed to throw off his easy yoke, he would feign sickness and send some priest of strict and uncompromising principles to the king, who, being positively refused absolution once by father Deschamps, would, after such experiments, submit the more readily to the wily Jesuit. The latter, moreover, was an agreeable companion as well as an easy confessor. Madame de Montespan, weary of the contest with La Chaise and Madame de Maintenon, retired finally into a convent. The queen dying a few years afterwards, La Chaise is said to have given the king the idea of a morganatic marriage, and even to have performed the ceremony. Yet, in spite of all he had done for her, Madame de Maintenon (q.v.) does not appear to have ever been very friendly towards the Jesuit; perhaps because he prevented a public recognition of' her marriage; perhaps also because she knew that in helping her he had worked only for himself. When Madame de Maintenon founded the institution of St. Cyr, La Chaise, Racine, and Boileau were commissioned to revise its rules. The former opposed the rule that teachers should be required to take anything more than the simple vows, and carried his point, though subsequently this was changed, and they became subject to the rule of St. Augustine. After the death of the queen and of Colbert, the actions of the king were entirely governed by La Chaise and Madame de Maintenon. Both agreed against the Protestants, and their joint efforts brought on the revocation of the Edict of Nantes. The Jesuit, indeed, tried to conciliate the king and the pope when the difficulties arose about the declaration of the clergy in 1682, and the famous four propositions, and even appeared more inclined to side with the temporal than with the spiritual monarch; but he again balanced the account by advocating the dragonnades as a sure means of reclaiming erring consciences. He died Jan.
20, 1709. In the famous quarrel between Fenelon and Bossuet, La Chaise sided with the former, as far, at least, as he dared without offending the king. He even affected great regard for Quesnel, though, when it is remembered that he caused the works of that writer to be condemned, the sincerity of his regard may be doubted; but it was his principle to attack individuals, not parties, and he therefore found it convenient, as a true Jesuit, to praise men whom, on account of their very principles, he secretly sought to destroy. SEE JANSENISM; SEE JESUITS. He was a shrewd, persevering politician, and did much good to his order, but pere La Chaise cannot be lauded either as a great man or as a good priest. The kindest comment ever made on his character is that by Voltaire, who speaks of him as " a mild person, with whom the ways of conciliation were always open." He obtained the king's protection for the College of Clermont, since called College Louis-le-Grand, and received for his order a fine estate to which his name was given, and which is now the cemetery of " Pere la Chaise" at Paris. He wrote Peripateticae quadruplicis philosophie Placita rationalis, etc. (Lyons, 1661, 2 vols. fol.) : — Humane sapientic Propositiones propugnatce Lugduni in collegqio Soc. Jesu (Lyons, 1662, fol.): — Reponse a quelques dificultes proposees a un theologien, etc. (Lyons, 1666, 4to); etc. See Saint Simon, Memoires; Madame de Maintenon, Correspondance; Voltaire, Siecle de Louis XlV; Benoist, Hist. de l'Edit de Nantes; Jurieu, Politique du Clerge de France; Sismondi, Hist. des Frangais, vol. 25, 26, and 27; Regis de Chantelauze, Le Pere de la Chaise (Lyons, 1859, 8vo); Hoefer, Nouv. Biogr. Generale, 28:483. See Louis XIV.