"Said she nothing else?" interrupted De Thou, supporting Cinq-Mars, who grew visibly paler.
"Nothing more," said the old man.
"And no one else spoke of me?" inquired the master of the horse.
"No one," said the Abbe.
"If she had but written to me!" murmured Henri.
"Remember, my father, that you were sent here as a confessor," said De Thou.
Here old Grandchamp, who had been kneeling before Cinq-Mars, and dragging him by his clothes to the other side of the terrace, exclaimed in a broken voice:
"Monseigneur—my master—my good master—do you see them? Look there—'tis they! 'tis they—all of them!"
"Who, my old friend?" asked his master.
"Who? Great Heaven! look at that window! Do you not recognize them? Your mother, your sisters, and your brother."
And the day, now fairly broken, showed him in the distance several women waving their handkerchiefs; and there, dressed all in black, stretching out her arms toward the prison, sustained by those about her, Cinq-Mars recognized his mother, with his family, and his strength failed him for a moment. He leaned his head upon his friend's breast and wept.
"How many times must I, then, die?" he murmured; then, with a gesture, returning from the top of the tower the salutations of his family, "Let us descend quickly, my father!" he said to the old Abbe. "You will tell me at the tribunal of penitence, and before God, whether the remainder of my life is worth my shedding more blood to preserve it."
It was there that Cinq-Mars confessed to God what he alone and Marie de Mantua knew of their secret and unfortunate love. "He gave to his confessor," says Father Daniel, "a portrait of a noble lady, set in diamonds, which were to be sold, and the money employed in pious works."
M. de Thou, after having confessed, wrote a letter;—[See the copy of this letter to Madame la Princesse de Guemenee, in the notes at the end of the volume.]—after which (according to the account given by his confessor) he said, "This is the last thought I will bestow upon this world; let us depart for heaven!" and walking up and down the room with long strides, he recited aloud the psalm, 'Miserere mei, Deus', with an incredible ardor of spirit, his whole frame trembling so violently it seemed as if he did not touch the earth, and that the soul was about to make its exit from his body. The guards were mute at this spectacle, which made them all shudder with respect and horror.
Meanwhile, all was calm in the city of Lyons, when to the great astonishment of its inhabitants, they beheld the entrance through all its gates of troops of infantry and cavalry, which they knew were encamped at a great distance. The French and the Swiss guards, the regiment of Pompadours, the men-at-arms of Maurevert, and the carabineers of La Roque, all defiled in silence. The cavalry, with their muskets on the pommel of the saddle, silently drew up round the chateau of Pierre-Encise; the infantry formed a line upon the banks of the Saone from the gate of the fortress to the Place des Terreaux. It was the usual spot for execution.
"Four companies of the bourgeois of Lyons, called 'pennonage', of which about eleven or twelve hundred men, were ranged [says the journal of Montresor] in the midst of the Place des Terreaux, so as to enclose a space of about eighty paces each way, into which they admitted no one but those who were absolutely necessary.
"In the centre of this space was raised a scaffold about seven feet high and nine feet square, in the midst of which, somewhat forward, was placed a stake three feet in height, in front of which was a block half a foot high, so that the principal face of the scaffold looked toward the shambles of the Terreaux, by the side of the Saone. Against the scaffold was placed a short ladder of eight rounds, in the direction of the Dames de St. Pierre."
Nothing had transpired in the town as to the name of the prisoners. The inaccessible walls of the fortress let none enter or leave but at night, and the deep dungeons had sometimes confined father and son for years together, four feet apart from each other, without their even being aware of the vicinity. The surprise was extreme at these striking preparations, and the crowd collected, not knowing whether for a fete or for an execution.
This same secrecy which the agents of the minister had strictly preserved was also carefully adhered to by the conspirators, for their heads depended on it.
Montresor, Fontrailles, the Baron de Beauvau, Olivier d'Entraigues, Gondi, the Comte du Lude, and the Advocate Fournier, disguised as soldiers, workmen, and morris-dancers, armed with poniards under their clothes, had dispersed amid the crowd more than five hundred gentlemen and domestics, disguised like themselves. Horses were ready on the road to Italy, and boats upon the Rhone had been previously engaged. The young Marquis d'Effiat, elder brother of Cinq-Mars, dressed as a Carthusian, traversed the crowd, without ceasing, between the Place des Terreaux and the little house in which his mother and sister were concealed with the Presidente de Pontac, the sister of the unfortunate De Thou. He reassured them, gave them from time to time a ray of hope, and returned to the conspirators to satisfy himself that each was prepared for action.
Each soldier forming the line had at his side a man ready to poniard him.
The vast crowd, heaped together behind the line of guards, pushed them forward, passed their lines, and made them lose ground. Ambrosio, the Spanish servant whom Cinq-Mars had saved, had taken charge of the captain of the pikemen, and, disguised as a Catalonian musician, had commenced a dispute with him, pretending to be determined not to cease playing the hurdy-gurdy.
Every one was at his post.
The Abbe de Gondi, Olivier d'Entraigues, and the Marquis d'Effiat were in the midst of a group of fish-women and oyster-wenches, who were disputing and bawling, abusing one of their number younger and more timid than her masculine companions. The brother of Cinq-Mars approached to listen to their quarrel.
"And why," said she to the others, "would you have Jean le Roux, who is an honest man, cut off the heads of two Christians, because he is a butcher by trade? So long as I am his wife, I'll not allow it. I'd rather—"
"Well, you are wrong!" replied her companions. "What is't to thee whether the meat he cuts is eaten or not eaten? Why, thou'lt have a hundred crowns to dress thy three children all in new clothes. Thou'rt lucky to be the wife of a butcher. Profit, then, 'ma mignonne', by what God sends thee by the favor of his Eminence."
"Let me alone!" answered the first speaker. "I'll not accept it. I've seen these fine young gentlemen at the windows. They look as mild as lambs."
"Well! and are not thy lambs and calves killed?" said Femme le Bon. "What fortune falls to this little woman! What a pity! especially when it is from the reverend Capuchin!"
"How horrible is the gayety of the people!" said Olivier d'Entraigues, unguardedly. All the women heard him, and began to murmur against him.
"Of the people!" said they; "and whence comes this little bricklayer with his plastered clothes?"
"Ah!" interrupted another, "dost not see that 'tis some gentleman in disguise? Look at his white hands! He never worked a square; 'tis some little dandy conspirator. I've a great mind to go and fetch the captain of the watch to arrest him."
The Abbe de Gondi felt all the danger of this situation, and throwing himself with an air of anger upon Olivier, and assuming the manners of a joiner, whose costume and apron he had adopted, he exclaimed, seizing him by the collar:
"You're just right. 'Tis a little rascal that never works! These two years that my father's apprenticed him, he has done nothing but comb his hair to please the girls. Come, get home with you!"
And, striking him with his rule, he drove him through the crowd, and returned to place himself on another part of the line. After having well reprimanded the thoughtless page, he asked him for the letter which he said he had to give to M. de Cinq-Mars when he should have escaped. Olivier had carried it in his pocket for two months. He gave it him. "It is from one prisoner to another," said he, "for the Chevalier de jars, on leaving the Bastille, sent it me from one of his companions in captivity."
"Ma foi!" said Gondi, "there may be some important secret in it for our friends. I'll open it. You ought to have thought of it before. Ah, bah! it is from old Bassompierre. Let us read it.
MY DEAR CHILD: I learn from the depths of the Bastille, where I still remain, that you are conspiring against the tyrant Richelieu, who does not cease to humiliate our good old nobility and the parliaments, and to sap the foundations of the edifice upon which the State reposes. I hear that the nobles are taxed and condemned by petty judges, contrary to the privileges of their condition, forced to the arriere-ban, despite the ancient customs."
"Ah! the old dotard!" interrupted the page, laughing immoderately.
"Not so foolish as you imagine, only he is a little behindhand for our affair."
"I can not but approve this generous project, and I pray you give me to wot all your proceedings—"
"Ah! the old language of the last reign!" said Olivier. "He can't say 'Make me acquainted with your proceedings,' as we now say."
"Let me read, for Heaven's sake!" said the Abbe; "a hundred years hence they'll laugh at our phrases." He continued:
"I can counsel you, notwithstanding my great age, in relating to you what happened to me in 1560."
"Ah, faith! I've not time to waste in reading it all. Let us see the end.
"When I remember my dining at the house of Madame la Marechale d'Effiat, your mother, and ask myself what has become of all the guests, I am really afflicted. My poor Puy-Laurens has died at Vincennes, of grief at being forgotten by Monsieur in his prison; De Launay killed in a duel, and I am grieved at it, for although I was little satisfied with my arrest, he did it with courtesy, and I have always thought him a gentleman. As for me, I am under lock and key until the death of M. le Cardinal. Ah, my child! we were thirteen at table. We must not laugh at old superstitions. Thank God that you are the only one to whom evil has not arrived!"
"There again!" said Olivier, laughing heartily; and this time the Abbe de Gondi could not maintain his gravity, despite all his efforts.
They tore the useless letter to pieces, that it might not prolong the detention of the old marechal, should it be found, and drew near the Place des Terreaux and the line of guards, whom they were to attack when the signal of the hat should be given by the young prisoner.
They beheld with satisfaction all their friends at their posts, and ready "to play with their knives," to use their own expression. The people, pressing around them, favored them without being aware of it. There came near the Abbe a troop of young ladies dressed in white and veiled. They were going to church to communicate; and the nuns who conducted them, thinking, like most of the people, that the preparations were intended to do honor to some great personage, allowed them to mount upon some large hewn stones, collected behind the soldiers. There they grouped themselves with the grace natural to their age, like twenty beautiful statues upon a single pedestal. One would have taken them for those vestals whom antiquity invited to the sanguinary shows of the gladiators. They whispered to each other, looking around them, laughing and blushing together like children.
The Abbe de Gondi saw with impatience that Olivier was again forgetting his character of conspirator and his costume of a bricklayer in ogling these girls, and assuming a mien too elegant, an attitude too refined, for the position in life he was supposed to occupy. He already began to approach them, turning his hair with his fingers, when Fontrailles and Montresor fortunately arrived in the dress of Swiss soldiers. A group of gentlemen, disguised as sailors, followed them with iron-shod staves in their hands. There was a paleness on their faces which announced no good.
"Stop here!" said one of them to his suite; "this is the place."
The sombre air and the silence of these spectators contrasted with the gay and anxious looks of the girls, and their childish exclamations.
"Ah, the fine procession!" they cried; "there are at least five hundred men with cuirasses and red uniforms, upon fine horses. They've got yellow feathers in their large hats."
"They are strangers—Catalonians," said a French guard.
"Whom are they conducting here? Ah, here is a fine gilt coach! but there's no one in it."
"Ah! I see three men on foot; where are they going?"
"To death!" said Fontrailles, in a deep, stern voice which silenced all around. Nothing was heard but the slow tramp of the horses, which suddenly stopped, from one of those delays that happen in all processions. They then beheld a painful and singular spectacle. An old man with a tonsured head walked with difficulty, sobbing violently, supported by two young men of interesting and engaging appearance, who held one of each other's hands behind his bent shoulders, while with the other each held one of his arms. The one on the left was dressed in black; he was grave, and his eyes were cast down. The other, much younger, was attired in a striking dress. A pourpoint of Holland cloth, adorned with broad gold lace, and with large embroidered sleeves, covered him from the neck to the waist, somewhat in the fashion of a woman's corset; the rest of his vestments were in black velvet, embroidered with silver palms. Gray boots with red heels, to which were attached golden spurs; a scarlet cloak with gold buttons—all set off to advantage his elegant and graceful figure. He bowed right and left with a melancholy smile.
An old servant, with white moustache, and beard, followed with his head bent down, leading two chargers, richly comparisoned. The young ladies were silent; but they could not restrain their sobs.
"It is, then, that poor old man whom they are leading to the scaffold," they exclaimed; "and his children are supporting him."
"Upon your knees, ladies," said a man, "and pray for him!"
"On your knees," cried Gondi, "and let us pray that God will deliver him!"
All the conspirators repeated, "On your knees! on your knees!" and set the example to the people, who imitated them in silence.
"We can see his movements better now," said Gondi, in a whisper to Montresor. "Stand up; what is he doing?"
"He has stopped, and is speaking on our side, saluting us; I think he has recognized us."
Every house, window, wall, roof, and raised platform that looked upon the place was filled with persons of every age and condition.
The most profound silence prevailed throughout the immense multitude. One might have heard the wings of a gnat, the breath of the slightest wind, the passage of the grains of dust which it raised; yet the air was calm, the sun brilliant, the sky blue. The people listened attentively. They were close to the Place des Terreaux; they heard the blows of the hammer upon the planks, then the voice of Cinq-Mars.
A young Carthusian thrust his pale face between two guards. All the conspirators rose above the kneeling people. Every one put his hand to his belt or in his bosom, approaching close to the soldier whom he was to poniard.
"What is he doing?" asked the Carthusian. "Has he his hat upon his head?"
"He throws his hat upon the ground far from him," calmly answered the arquebusier.
"Mon Dieu! quest-ce que ce monde!"
Dernieres paroles de M. Cinq-Mars
The same day that the melancholy procession took place at Lyons, and during the scenes we have just witnessed, a magnificent fete was given at Paris with all the luxury and bad taste of the time. The powerful Cardinal had determined to fill the first two towns in France with his pomp. The Cardinal's return was the occasion on which this fete was announced, as given to the King and all his court.
Master of the French empire by force, the Cardinal desired to be master of French opinion by seduction; and, weary of dominating, hoped to please. The tragedy of "Mirame" was to be represented in a hall constructed expressly for this great day, which raised the expenses of this entertainment, says Pelisson, to three hundred thousand crowns.
The entire guard of the Prime-Minister were under arms; his four companies of musketeers and gens d'armes were ranged in a line upon the vast staircases and at the entrance of the long galleries of the Palais-Cardinal. This brilliant pandemonium, where the mortal sins have a temple on each floor, belonged that day to pride alone, which occupied it from top to bottom. Upon each step was placed one of the arquebusiers of the Cardinal's guard, holding a torch in one hand and a long carbine in the other. The crowd of his gentlemen circulated between these living candelabra, while in the large garden, surrounded by huge chestnut-trees, now replaced by a range of archers, two companies of mounted light-horse, their muskets in their hands, were ready to obey the first order or the first fear of their master.
The Cardinal, carried and followed by his thirty-eight pages, took his seat in his box hung with purple, facing that in which the King was half reclining behind the green curtains which preserved him from the glare of the flambeaux. The whole court filled the boxes, and rose when the King appeared. The orchestra commenced a brilliant overture, and the pit was thrown open to all the men of the town and the army who presented themselves. Three impetuous waves of spectators rushed in and filled it in an instant. They were standing, and so thickly pressed together that the movement of a single arm sufficed to cause in the crowd a movement similar to the waving of a field of corn. There was one man whose head thus described a large circle, as that of a compass, without his feet quitting the spot to which they were fixed; and some young men were carried out fainting.
The minister, contrary to custom, advanced his skeleton head out of his box, and saluted the assembly with an air which was meant to be gracious. This grimace obtained an acknowledgment only from the boxes; the pit was silent. Richelieu had wished to show that he did not fear the public judgment upon his work, and had given orders to admit without distinction all who should present themselves. He began to repent of this, but too late. The impartial assembly was as cold at the tragedie-pastorale itself. In vain did the theatrical bergeres, covered with jewels, raised upon red heels, with crooks ornamented with ribbons and garlands of flowers upon their robes, which were stuck out with farthingale's, die of love in tirades of two hundred verses; in vain did the 'amants parfaits' starve themselves in solitary caves, deploring their death in emphatic tones, and fastening to their hair ribbons of the favorite color of their mistress; in vain did the ladies of the court exhibit signs of perfect ecstasy, leaning over the edges of their boxes, and even attempt a few fainting-fits—the silent pit gave no other sign of life than the perpetual shaking of black heads with long hair.
The Cardinal bit his lips and played the abstracted during the first and second acts; the silence in which the third and fourth passed off so wounded his paternal heart that he had himself raised half out of the balcony, and in this uncomfortable and ridiculous position signed to the court to remark the finest passages, and himself gave the signal for applause. It was acted upon from some of the boxes, but the impassible pit was more silent than ever; leaving the affair entirely between the stage and the upper regions, they obstinately remained neuter. The master of Europe and France then cast a furious look at this handful of men who dared not to admire his work, feeling in his heart the wish of Nero, and thought for a moment how happy he should be if all those men had but one head.
Suddenly this black and before silent mass became animated, and endless rounds of applause burst forth, to the great astonishment of the boxes, and above all, of the minister. He bent forward and bowed gratefully, but drew back on perceiving that the clapping of hands interrupted the actors every time they wished to proceed. The King had the curtains of his box, until then closed, opened, to see what excited so much enthusiasm. The whole court leaned forward from their boxes, and perceived among the spectators on the stage a young man, humbly dressed, who had just seated himself there with difficulty. Every look was fixed upon him. He appeared utterly embarrassed by this, and sought to cover himself with his little black cloak-far too short for the purpose. "Le Cid! le Cid!" cried the pit, incessantly applauding.
"Terrified, Corneille escaped behind the scenes, and all was again silent. The Cardinal, beside himself with fury, had his curtain closed, and was carried into his galleries, where was performed another scene, prepared long before by the care of Joseph, who had tutored the attendants upon the point before quitting Paris. Cardinal Mazarin exclaimed that it would be quicker to pass his Eminence through a long glazed window, which was only two feet from the ground, and led from his box to the apartments; and it opened and the page passed his armchair through it. Hereupon a hundred voices rose to proclaim the accomplishment of the grand prophecy of Nostradamus. They said:
"The bonnet rouge!-that's Monseigneur; 'quarante onces!'—that's Cinq-Mars; 'tout finira!'—that's De Thou. What a providential incident! His Eminence reigns over the future as over the present."
He advanced thus upon his ambulatory throne through the long and splendid galleries, listening to this delicious murmur of a new flattery; but insensible to the hum of voices which deified his genius, he would have given all their praises for one word, one single gesture of that immovable and inflexible public, even had that word been a cry of hatred; for clamor can be stifled, but how avenge one's self on silence? The people can be prevented from striking, but who can prevent their waiting? Pursued by the troublesome phantom of public opinion, the gloomy minister only thought himself in safety when he reached the interior of his palace amid his flattering courtiers, whose adorations soon made him forget that a miserable pit had dared not to admire him. He had himself placed like a king in the midst of his vast apartments, and, looking around him, attentively counted the powerful and submissive men who surrounded him.
Counting them, he admired himself. The chiefs of the great families, the princes of the Church, the presidents of all the parliaments, the governors of the provinces, the marshals and generals-in-chief of the armies, the nuncio, the ambassadors of all the kingdoms, the deputies and senators of the republics, were motionless, submissive, and ranged around him, as if awaiting his orders. There was no longer a look to brave his look, no longer a word to raise itself against his will, not a project that men dared to form in the most secret recesses of the heart, not a thought which did not proceed from his. Mute Europe listened to him by its representatives. From time to time he raise an imperious voice, and threw a self-satisfied word to this pompous circle, as a man who throws a copper coin among a crowd of beggars. Then might be distinguished, by the pride which lit up his looks and the joy visible in his countenance, the prince who had received such a favor.
Transformed into another man, he seemed to have made a step in the hierarchy of power, so surrounded with unlooked-for adorations and sudden caresses was the fortunate courtier, whose obscure happiness the Cardinal did not even perceive. The King's brother and the Duc de Bouillon stood in the crowd, whence the minister did not deign to withdraw them. Only he ostentatiously said that it would be well to dismantle a few fortresses, spoke at length of the necessity of pavements and quays at Paris, and said in two words to Turenne that he might perhaps be sent to the army in Italy, to seek his baton as marechal from Prince Thomas.
While Richelieu thus played with the great and small things of Europe, amid his noisy fete, the Queen was informed at the Louvre that the time was come for her to proceed to the Cardinal's palace, where the King awaited her after the tragedy. The serious Anne of Austria did not witness any play; but she could not refuse her presence at the fete of the Prime-Minister. She was in her oratory, ready to depart, and covered with pearls, her favorite ornament; standing opposite a large glass with Marie de Mantua, she was arranging more to her satisfaction one or two details of the young Duchess's toilette, who, dressed in a long pink robe, was herself contemplating with attention, though with somewhat of ennui and a little sullenness, the ensemble of her appearance.
She saw her own work in Marie, and, more troubled, thought with deep apprehension of the moment when this transient calm would cease, despite the profound knowledge she had of the feeling but frivolous character of Marie. Since the conversation at St.-Germain (the fatal letter), she had not quitted the young Princess, and had bestowed all her care to lead her mind to the path which she had traced out for her, for the most decided feature in the character of Anne of Austria was an invincible obstinacy in her calculations, to which she would fain have subjected all events and all passions with a geometrical exactitude. There is no doubt that to this positive and immovable mind we must attribute all the misfortunes of her regency. The sombre reply of Cinq-Mars; his arrest; his trial—all had been concealed from the Princesse Marie, whose first fault, it is true, had been a movement of self-love and a momentary forgetfulness.
However, the Queen by nature was good-hearted, and had bitterly repented her precipitation in writing words so decisive, and whose consequences had been so serious; and all her endeavors had been applied to mitigate the results. In reflecting upon her conduct in reference to the happiness of France, she applauded herself for having thus, at one stroke, stifled the germ of a civil war which would have shaken the State to its very foundations. But when she approached her young friend and gazed on that charming being whose happiness she was thus destroying in its bloom, and reflected that an old man upon a throne, even, would not recompense her for the eternal loss she was about to sustain; when she thought of the entire devotion, the total abnegation of himself, she had witnessed in a young man of twenty-two, of so lofty a character, and almost master of the kingdom—she pitied Marie, and admired from her very soul the man whom she had judged so ill.
She would at least have desired to explain his worth to her whom he had loved so deeply, and who as yet knew him not; but she still hoped that the conspirators assembled at Lyons would be able to save him, and once knowing him to be in a foreign land she could tell all to her dear Marie.
As to the latter, she had at first feared war. But surrounded by the Queen's people, who had let nothing reach her ear but news dictated by this Princess, she knew, or thought she knew, that the conspiracy had not taken place; that the King and the Cardinal had returned to Paris nearly at the same time; that Monsieur, relapsed for a while, had reappeared at court; that the Duc de Bouillon, on ceding Sedan, had also been restored to favor; and that if the 'grand ecuyer' had not yet appeared, the reason was the more decided animosity of the Cardinal toward him, and the greater part he had taken in the conspiracy. But common sense and natural justice clearly said that having acted under the order of the King's brother, his pardon ought to follow that of this Prince.
All then, had calmed the first uneasiness of her heart, while nothing had softened the kind of proud resentment she felt against Cinq-Mars, so indifferent as not to inform her of the place of his retreat, known to the Queen and the whole court, while, she said to herself, she had thought but of him. Besides, for two months the balls and fetes had so rapidly succeeded each other, and so many mysterious duties had commanded her presence, that she had for reflection and regret scarce more than the time of her toilette, at which she was generally almost alone. Every evening she regularly commenced the general reflection upon the ingratitude and inconstancy of men—a profound and novel thought, which never fails to occupy the head of a young person in the time of first love—but sleep never permitted her to finish the reflection; and the fatigue of dancing closed her large black eyes ere her ideas had found time to classify themselves in her memory, or to present her with any distinct images of the past.
In the morning she was always surrounded by the young princesses of the court, and ere she well had time to dress had to present herself in the Queen's apartment, where awaited her the eternal, but now less disagreeable homage of the Prince-Palatine. The Poles had had time to learn at the court of France that mysterious reserve, that eloquent silence which so pleases the women, because it enhances the importance of things always secret, and elevates those whom they respect, so as to preclude the idea of exhibiting suffering in their presence. Marie was regarded as promised to King Uladislas; and she herself—we must confess it—had so well accustomed herself to this idea that the throne of Poland occupied by another queen would have appeared to her a monstrous thing. She did not look forward with pleasure to the period of ascending it, but had, however, taken possession of the homage which was rendered her beforehand. Thus, without avowing it even to herself, she greatly exaggerated the supposed offences of Cinq-Mars, which the Queen had expounded to her at St. Germain.
"You are as fresh as the roses in this bouquet," said the Queen. "Come, 'ma chere', are you ready? What means this pouting air? Come, let me fasten this earring. Do you not like these toys, eh? Will you have another set of ornaments?"
"Oh, no, Madame. I think that I ought not to decorate myself at all, for no one knows better than yourself how unhappy I am. Men are very cruel toward us!
"I have reflected on what you said, and all is now clear to me. Yes, it is quite true that he did not love me, for had he loved me he would have renounced an enterprise that gave me so much uneasiness. I told him, I remember, indeed, which was very decided," she added, with an important and even solemn air, "that he would be a rebel—yes, Madame, a rebel. I told him so at Saint-Eustache. But I see that your Majesty was right. I am very unfortunate! He had more ambition than love." Here a tear of pique escaped from her eyes, and rolled quickly down her cheek, as a pearl upon a rose.
"Yes, it is certain," she continued, fastening her bracelets; "and the greatest proof is that in the two months he has renounced his enterprise—you told me that you had saved him—he has not let me know the place of his retreat, while I during that time have been weeping, have been imploring all your power in his favor; have sought but a word that might inform me of his proceedings. I have thought but of him; and even now I refuse every day the throne of Poland, because I wish to prove to the end that I am constant, that you yourself can not make me disloyal to my attachment, far more serious than his, and that we are of higher worth than the men. But, however, I think I may attend this fete, since it is not a ball."
"Yes, yes, my dear child! come, come!" said the Queen, desirous of putting an end to this childish talk, which afflicted her all the more that it was herself who had encouraged it. "Come, you will see the union that prevails between the princes and the Cardinal, and we shall perhaps hear some good news." They departed.
When the two princesses entered the long galleries of the Palais-Cardinal, they were received and coldly saluted by the King and the minister, who, closely surrounded by silent courtiers, were playing at chess upon a small low table. All the ladies who entered with the Queen or followed her, spread through the apartments; and soon soft music sounded in one of the saloons—a gentle accompaniment to the thousand private conversations carried on round the play tables.
Near the Queen passed, saluting her, a young newly married couple—the happy Chabot and the beautiful Duchesse de Rohan. They seemed to shun the crowd, and to seek apart a moment to speak to each other of themselves. Every one received them with a smile and looked after them with envy. Their happiness was expressed as strongly in the countenances of others as in their own.
Marie followed them with her eyes. "Still they are happy," she whispered to the Queen, remembering the censure which in her hearing had been thrown upon the match.
But without answering, Anne of Austria, fearful that in the crowd some inconsiderate expression might inform her young friend of the mournful event so interesting to her, placed herself with Marie behind the King. Monsieur, the Prince-Palatine, and the Duc de Bouillon came to speak to her with a gay and lively air. The second, however, casting upon Marie a severe and scrutinizing glance, said to her:
"Madame la Princesse, you are most surprisingly beautiful and gay this evening."
She was confused at these words, and at seeing the speaker walk away with a sombre air. She addressed herself to the Duc d'Orleans, who did not answer, and seemed not to hear her. Marie looked at the Queen, and thought she remarked paleness and disquiet on her features. Meantime, no one ventured to approach the minister, who was deliberately meditating his moves. Mazarin alone, leaning over his chair, followed all the strokes with a servile attention, giving gestures of admiration every time that the Cardinal played. Application to the game seemed to have dissipated for a moment the cloud that usually shaded the minister's brow. He had just advanced a tower, which placed Louis's king in that false position which is called "stalemate,"—a situation in which the ebony king, without being personally attacked, can neither advance nor retire in any direction. The Cardinal, raising his eyes, looked at his adversary and smiled with one corner of his mouth, not being able to avoid a secret analogy. Then, observing the dim eyes and dying countenance of the Prince, he whispered to Mazarin:
"Faith, I think he'll go before me. He is greatly changed."
At the same time he himself was seized with a long and violent cough, accompanied internally with the sharp, deep pain he so often felt in the side. At the sinister warning he put a handkerchief to his mouth, which he withdrew covered with blood. To hide it, he threw it under the table, and looked around him with a stern smile, as if to forbid observation. Louis XIII, perfectly insensible, did not make the least movement, beyond arranging his men for another game with a skeleton and trembling hand. There two dying men seemed to be throwing lots which should depart first.
At this moment a clock struck the hour of midnight. The King raised his head.
"Ah, ah!" he said; "this morning at twelve Monsieur le Grand had a disagreeable time of it."
A piercing shriek was uttered behind him. He shuddered, and threw himself forward, upsetting the table. Marie de Mantua lay senseless in the arms of the Queen, who, weeping bitterly, said in the King's ear:
"Ah, Sire, your axe has a double edge."
She then bestowed all her cares and maternal kisses upon the young Princess, who, surrounded by all the ladies of the court, only came to herself to burst into a torrent of tears. As soon as she opened her eyes, "Alas! yes, my child," said Anne of Austria. "My poor girl, you are Queen of Poland."
It has often happened that the same event which causes tears to flow in the palace of kings has spread joy without, for the people ever suppose that happiness reigns at festivals. There were five days' rejoicings for the return of the minister, and every evening under the windows of the Palais-Cardinal and those of the Louvre pressed the people of Paris. The late disturbances had given them a taste for public movements. They rushed from one street to another with a curiosity at times insulting and hostile, sometimes walking in silent procession, sometimes sending forth loud peals of laughter or prolonged yells, of which no one understood the meaning. Bands of young men fought in the streets and danced in rounds in the squares, as if manifesting some secret hope of pleasure and some insensate joy, grievous to the upright heart.
It was remarkable that profound silence prevailed exactly in those places where the minister had ordered rejoicings, and that the people passed disdainfully before the illuminated facade of his palace. If some voices were raised, it was to read aloud in a sneering tone the legends and inscriptions with which the idiot flattery of some obscure writers had surrounded the portraits of the minister. One of these pictures was guarded by arquebusiers, who, however, could not preserve it from the stones which were thrown at it from a distance by unseen hands. It represented the Cardinal-Generalissimo wearing a casque surrounded by laurels. Above it was inscribed:
"Grand Duc: c'est justement que la France t'honore; Ainsi que le dieu Mars dans Paris on t'adore."
These fine phrases did not persuade the people that they were happy. They no more adored the Cardinal than they did the god Mars, but they accepted his fetes because they served as a covering for disorder. All Paris was in an uproar. Men with long beards, carrying torches, measures of wine, and two drinking-cups, which they knocked together with a great noise, went along, arm in arm, shouting in chorus with rude voices an old round of the League:
"Reprenons la danse; Allons, c'est assez. Le printemps commence; Les rois sont passes.
"Prenons quelque treve; Nous sommes lasses. Les rois de la feve Nous ont harasses.
"Allons, Jean du Mayne, Les rois sont passes.
"Les rois de la feve Nous ont harasses. Allons, Jean du Mayne, Les rois sont passes."
The frightful bands who howled forth these words traversed the Quais and the Pont-Neuf, squeezing against the high houses, which then covered the latter, the peaceful citizens who were led there by simple curiosity. Two young men, wrapped in cloaks, thus thrown one against the other, recognized each other by the light of a torch placed at the foot of the statue of Henri IV, which had been lately raised.
"What! still at Paris?" said Corneille to Milton. "I thought you were in London."
"Hear you the people, Monsieur? Do you hear them? What is this ominous chorus,
'Les rois sont passes'?"
"That is nothing, Monsieur. Listen to their conversation."
"The parliament is dead," said one of the men; "the nobles are dead. Let us dance; we are the masters. The old Cardinal is dying. There is no longer any but the King and ourselves."
"Do you hear that drunken wretch, Monsieur?" asked Corneille. "All our epoch is in those words of his."
"What! is this the work of the minister who is called great among you, and even by other nations? I do not understand him."
"I will explain the matter to you presently," answered Corneille. "But first listen to the concluding part of this letter, which I received to-day. Draw near this light under the statue of the late King. We are alone. The crowd has passed. Listen!
"It was by one of those unforeseen circumstances which prevent the accomplishment of the noblest enterprises that we were not able to save MM. de Cinq-Mars and De Thou. We might have foreseen that, prepared for death by long meditation, they would themselves refuse our aid; but this idea did not occur to any of us. In the precipitation of our measures, we also committed the fault of dispersing ourselves too much in the crowd, so that we could not take a sudden resolution. I was unfortunately stationed near the scaffold; and I saw our unfortunate friends advance to the foot of it, supporting the poor Abbe Quillet, who was destined to behold the death of the pupil whose birth he had witnessed. He sobbed aloud, and had strength enough only to kiss the hands of the two friends. We all advanced, ready to throw ourselves upon the guards at the announced signal; but I saw with grief M. de Cinq-Mars cast his hat from him with an air of disdain. Our movement had been observed, and the Catalonian guard was doubled round the scaffold. I could see no more; but I heard much weeping around me. After the three usual blasts of the trumpet, the recorder of Lyons, on horseback at a little distance from the scaffold, read the sentence of death, to which neither of the prisoners listened. M. de Thou said to M. de Cinq-Mars:
"'Well, dear friend, which shall die first? Do you remember Saint- Gervais and Saint-Protais?'
"'Which you think best,' answered Cinq-Mars.
"The second confessor, addressing M. de Thou, said, 'You are the elder.'
"'True,' said M. de Thou; and, turning to M. le Grand, 'You are the most generous; you will show me the way to the glory of heaven.'
"'Alas!' said Cinq-Mars; 'I have opened to you that of the precipice; but let us meet death nobly, and we shall revel in the glory and happiness of heaven!'
"Hereupon he embraced him, and ascended the scaffold with surprising address and agility. He walked round the scaffold, and contemplated the whole of the great assembly with a calm countenance, which betrayed no sign of fear, and a serious and graceful manner. He then went round once more, saluting the people on every side, without appearing to recognize any of us, with a majestic and charming expression of face; he then knelt down, raising his eyes to heaven, adoring God, and recommending himself to Him. As he embraced the crucifix, the father confessor called to the people to pray for him; and M. le Grand, opening his arms, still holding his crucifix, made the same request to the people. Then he readily knelt before the block, holding the stake, placed his neck upon it, and asked the confessor, 'Father, is this right?' Then, while they were cutting off his hair, he raised his eyes to heaven, and said, sighing:
"'My God, what is this world? My God, I offer thee my death as a satisfaction for my sins!'
"'What are you waiting for? What are you doing there?' he said to the executioner, who had not yet taken his axe from an old bag he had brought with him. His confessor, approaching, gave him a medallion; and he, with an incredible tranquillity of mind, begged the father to hold the crucifix before his eyes, which he would not allow to be bound. I saw the two trembling hands of the Abbe Quillet, who raised the crucifix. At this moment a voice, as clear and pure as that of an angel, commenced the 'Ave, maris stella'. In the universal silence I recognized the voice of M. de Thou, who was at the foot of the scaffold; the people repeated the sacred strain. M. de Cinq-Mars clung more tightly to the stake; and I saw a raised axe, made like the English axes. A terrible cry of the people from the Place, the windows, and the towers told me that it had fallen, and that the head had rolled to the ground. I had happily strength enough left to think of his soul, and to commence a prayer for him.
"I mingled it with that which I heard pronounced aloud by our unfortunate and pious friend De Thou. I rose and saw him spring upon the scaffold with such promptitude that he might almost have been said to fly. The father and he recited a psalm; he uttered it with the ardor of a seraphim, as if his soul had borne his body to heaven. Then, kneeling down, he kissed the blood of Cinq-Mars as that of a martyr, and became himself a greater martyr. I do not know whether God was pleased to grant him this last favor; but I saw with horror that the executioner, terrified no doubt at the first blow he had given, struck him upon the top of his head, whither the unfortunate young man raised his hand; the people sent forth a long groan, and advanced against the executioner. The poor wretch, terrified still more, struck him another blow, which only cut the skin and threw him upon the scaffold, where the executioner rolled upon him to despatch him. A strange event terrified the people as much as the horrible spectacle. M. de Cinq-Mars' old servant held his horse as at a military funeral; he had stopped at the foot of the scaffold, and like a man paralyzed, watched his master to the end, then suddenly, as if struck by the same axe, fell dead under the blow which had taken off his master's head.
"I write these sad details in haste, on board a Genoese galley, into which Fontrailles, Gondi, Entraigues, Beauvau, Du Lude, myself, and others of the chief conspirators have retired. We are going to England to await until time shall deliver France from the tyrant whom we could not destroy. I abandon forever the service of the base Prince who betrayed us.
"Such," continued Corneille, "has been the fate of these two young men whom you lately saw so powerful. Their last sigh was that of the ancient monarchy. Nothing more than a court can reign here henceforth; the nobles and the senates are destroyed."
"And this is your pretended great man!" said Milton. "What has he sought to do? He would, then, create republics for future ages, since he destroys the basis of your monarchy?"
"Look not so far," answered Corneille; "he only seeks to reign until the end of his life. He has worked for the present and not for the future; he has continued the work of Louis XI; and neither one nor the other knew what they were doing."
The Englishman smiled.
"I thought," he said, "that true genius followed another path. This man has shaken all that he ought to have supported, and they admire him! I pity your nation."
"Pity it not!" exclaimed Corneille, warmly; "a man passes away, but a people is renewed. This people, Monsieur, is gifted with an immortal energy, which nothing can destroy; its imagination often leads it astray, but superior reason will ever ultimately master its disorders."
The two young and already great men walked, as they conversed, upon the space which separates the statue of Henri IV from the Place Dauphine; they stopped a moment in the centre of this Place.
"Yes, Monsieur," continued Corneille, "I see every evening with what rapidity a noble thought finds its echo in French hearts; and every evening I retire happy at the sight. Gratitude prostrates the poor people before this statue of a good king! Who knows what other monument another passion may raise near this? Who can say how far the love of glory will lead our people? Who knows that in the place where we now are, there may not be raised a pyramid taken from the East?"
"These are the secrets of the future," said Milton. "I, like yourself, admire your impassioned nation; but I fear them for themselves. I do not well understand them; and I do not recognize their wisdom when I see them lavishing their admiration upon men such as he who now rules you. The love of power is very puerile; and this man is devoured by it, without having force enough to seize it wholly. By an utter absurdity, he is a tyrant under a master. Thus has this colossus, never firmly balanced, been all but overthrown by the finger of a boy. Does that indicate genius? No, no! when genius condescends to quit the lofty regions of its true home for a human passion, at least, it should grasp that passion in its entirety. Since Richelieu only aimed at power, why did he not, if he was a genius, make himself absolute master of power? I am going to see a man who is not yet known, and whom I see swayed by this miserable ambition; but I think that he will go farther. His name is Cromwell!"
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A cat is a very fine animal. It is a drawing-room tiger But how avenge one's self on silence? Deny the spirit of self-sacrifice Hatred of everything which is superior to myself Hermits can not refrain from inquiring what men say of them Princes ought never to be struck, except on the head These ideas may serve as opium to produce a calm They loved not as you love, eh?
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE CINQ MARS:
A cat is a very fine animal. It is a drawing-room tiger A queen's country is where her throne is Adopted fact is always better composed than the real one Advantage that a calm temper gives one over men All that he said, I had already thought Always the first word which is the most difficult to say Ambition is the saddest of all hopes Art is the chosen truth Artificialities of style of that period Artistic Truth, more lofty than the True As Homer says, "smiling under tears" Assume with others the mien they wore toward him But how avenge one's self on silence? Dare now to be silent when I have told you these things Daylight is detrimental to them Deny the spirit of self-sacrifice Difference which I find between Truth in art and the True in fac Doubt, the greatest misery of love Friendship exists only in independence and a kind of equality Happy is he who does not outlive his youth Hatred of everything which is superior to myself He did not blush to be a man, and he spoke to men with force Hermits can not refrain from inquiring what men say of them History too was a work of art I have burned all the bridges behind me In pitying me he forgot himself In every age we laugh at the costume of our fathers In times like these we must see all and say all It is not now what it used to be It is too true that virtue also has its blush Lofty ideal of woman and of love Men are weak, and there are things which women must accomplish Money is not a common thing between gentlemen like you and me Monsieur, I know that I have lived too long Neither idealist nor realist Never interfered in what did not concern him No writer had more dislike of mere pedantry Offices will end by rendering great names vile Princes ought never to be struck, except on the head Princesses ceded like a town, and must not even weep Principle that art implied selection Recommended a scrupulous observance of nature Remedy infallible against the plague and against reserve Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done Should be punished for not having known how to punish So strongly does force impose upon men Tears for the future The great leveller has swung a long scythe over France The most in favor will be the soonest abandoned by him The usual remarks prompted by imbecility on such occasions These ideas may serve as opium to produce a calm They tremble while they threaten They have believed me incapable because I was kind They loved not as you love, eh? This popular favor is a cup one must drink This was the Dauphin, afterward Louis XIV True talent paints life rather than the living Truth, I here venture to distinguish from that of the True Urbain Grandier What use is the memory of facts, if not to serve as an example Woman is more bitter than death, and her arms are like chains Yes, we are in the way here