Political Women, Vol. 2 (of 2)
by Sutherland Menzies
1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse

Transcriber's note. The original punctuation, language and spelling have been retained, except where noted at the end of the text. Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note. The [oe] ligature has been rendered as oe. Alternative spellings: chateau: chateau camerara: camarera Fenelon: Fenelon Ferte-Senneterre: Ferte-Senneterre Hotel: Hotel Leganez: Leganez Orleans: Orleans Querouialle: Querouialle Saint-Megrin: Saint-Megrin Sevigne: Sevigne, Sevigne Tremouille: Tremouille Tarent: Tarente










[All rights reserved.]


BOOK V.—continued.


CHAP. III.—The struggle between Conde and Turenne—Noble conduct of Mademoiselle de Montpensier—Fall of the Fronde 3

IV.—The Duke de Nemours slain in a duel by his brother-in-law Beaufort 12

V.—Triumph of Mazarin 16


CHAP. I.—Closing scenes—Madame de Longueville 35

II.—Madame de Chevreuse 49

III.—The Princess Palatine 54

IV.—Madame de Montbazon 61

V.—Mademoiselle de Montpensier 69

VI.—The Wife of the Great Conde 80


The Duchess of Portsmouth 93




CHAP. I.—Two ladies of the Bedchamber during the war of the Spanish Succession—Lady Churchill and the Princess des Ursins—Political motives for their elevation in England and Spain 127

II.—The Princess des Ursins—The married life of Anne de la Tremouille—She becomes the centre of contemporary politics in Rome 131

III.—Madame des Ursins aspires to govern Spain—Her manoeuvres to secure the post of Camerara-Mayor 141

IV.—The Princess assumes the functions of Camerara-Mayor to the young Queen of Spain—An unpropitious royal wedding 148

V.—Onerous and incongruous duties of the Camerara-Mayor—She renders Marie Louise popular with the Spaniards—The policy adopted by the Princess for the regeneration of Spain—Character of Philip and Marie Louise—Two political systems combated by Madame des Ursins—She effects the ruin of her political rivals and reigns absolutely in the Councils of the Crown 161

VI.—The Princess makes a false step in her Statecraft—A blunder and an imbroglio 175

VII.—The Princess quits Madrid by command of Louis XIV.—After a short exile, she receives permission to visit Versailles 184

VIII.—The Princess triumphs at Versailles 192


CHAP. I.—Sarah Jennings and John Churchill 207

II.—State of parties in action on the accession of Queen Anne—Harley and Bolingbroke aim at overthrowing the sway of the female "Viceroy"—Abigail Hill becomes the instrument of the Duchess's downfall—Squabbles between the Queen and her Mistress of the Robes 215

III.—Success of the Cabal—The Queen emancipates herself from all obligations to the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough—The downfall of the Duchess and the Whigs resolved upon—The Duchess's stormy and final interview with the Queen 233

IV.—The disgrace of the Duchess involves the fall of the Whigs—Anne demands back the Duchess's gold keys of office—Extraordinary influence of Sarah and Abigail on the fortunes of Europe—The illustrious soldier and his disgraced wife driven from England 242


CHAP. I.—Delicate and perilous position of the Princess des Ursins after the Battle of Almanza—She effects an important reform by the centralisation of the different kingdoms of Spain—The Duke of Orleans heads a faction inimical to the Princess—She demands and obtains his recall—Her bold resolution to act in opposition to the timid policy of Versailles—The loftiness of her past conduct and character—The victory of Villaviciosa definitely seats the House of Bourbon on the throne of Spain 251

II.—The Princess's share in the Treaty of Utrecht—At the culminating point of her greatness, a humiliating catastrophe is impending—Philip negotiates for the erection of a territory into a sovereignty for Madame des Ursins—The sudden death of Queen Marie Louise causes a serious conjunction for the Princess—Her power begins to totter 264

III.—The Princess finds herself friendless in Spain—Suspicions and slanders rife with regard to the relations existing between her and the King—The projected creation of a sovereignty fails, through the abandonment of England—Philip, in consequence, refuses to sign the Treaty of Utrecht, but Louis XIV. compels the King and Princess to yield—Their tetes-a-tetes causing great scandal, the King suddenly orders the Princess to find him a wife 272

IV.—Among the Princesses eligible to become Philip's consort, he chooses the Princess of Parma—Alberoni deceives Madame des Ursins as to the character of Elizabeth Farnese—The Camerara-Mayor's prompt and cruel disgrace at the hands of the new Queen—She is arrested and carried to St. Jean de Luz—Her courage under adversity—She returns to Rome, and dies there 287


I.—Closing Scenes—The Princess des Ursins 301

II.—Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough 307






THE second-rate actors in this shifting drama presented no less diversity in the motives of their actions. Beaufort, who commanded the troops of Gaston, and Nemours those of Conde, although brothers-in-law, weakened by their dissentions an army which their concord would have rendered formidable. The necessity of military operations required their absence from Paris; but they preferred rather to there exhibit themselves to their mistresses, decked out in a general's uniform, and grasping the truncheon of command. No greater harmony existed between the Prince de Conti and Madame de Longueville than when La Rochefoucauld severed them. At Bordeaux they favoured opposite parties, and contributed to augment the discord prevailing, and to weaken the party of the Princes by dividing it. The Duchess de Longueville, when no longer guided by La Rochefoucauld, did not fail to lose herself in aimless projects, and to compromise herself in intrigues without result. On Nemours being wounded, his wife repaired to the army to tend him, and the Duchess de Chatillon, under pretext of visiting one of her chateaux, accompanied her as far as Montargis; thence she went to the convent of Filles de Sainte-Marie, where, believing herself quite incognita, she went, under various disguises, to see him whom she had never ceased to love. These mysterious visits soon became no longer a secret to any one; and then Conde and his sister could convince themselves how different are the sentiments which love inspires and those which self-interest and vanity simulate. The great Conde, by his intelligence and bearing, had all the means of pleasing women; but obtained small success notwithstanding. Mademoiselle Vigean excepted, he appears to have been incapable of inspiring the tender passion, in the truest acceptation of the phrase. He went further than his sister, it seems, in the neglect of his person. It was his habit of life to be almost always badly dressed, and only appeared radiant on the field of battle. So that the Duke de Nemours was not the only rival with whom Conde had to contend for the favours of that beauty for whom Louis XIV. in his boyish amusements had shown a preference, and which has furnished a theme for some agreeable trifling to the sparkling muse of Benserade. An abbe, named Cambiac, in the service of the house of Conde, balanced for some time the passion to which Nemours had given birth in the bosom of the Duchess de Chatillon, and the jealousy of Nemours failed to expel Cambiac. The Duchess kept fair with him as the man who had obtained the greatest sway over her relation, the Princess-dowager de Conde. The condescension of the Duchess de Chatillon towards this intriguing and licentious priest procured her, on the part of the Princess-dowager, a legacy of more than a hundred thousand crowns in Bavaria, and the usufruct of an estate worth twenty thousand livres in rent per annum. Cambiac, however, retired, when he knew that Conde was his rival. But the victor of Rocroy had more address in winning battles than in conducting a love intrigue. He was clumsy enough to employ as a go-between in his courtship of his new mistress a certain gentleman named Vineuil, who was, it is true, one of his most skilful and attached followers, but whose good looks, agreeable and satirical wit, and enterprising character rendered him a very dangerous emissary among women. He had even acquired some celebrity through his successes in that way. Madame de Montbazon, Madame de Mouy, and the Princess of Wurtemberg had successively experienced the effects of his seductions. Vineuil made himself very agreeable to Madame de Chatillon, and if Conde were wronged by him in that quarter, he never knew of it; for Vineuil was always in great favour with him. Nemours excited his jealousy, and Nemours only dreaded Conde. However, shortly before, in the month of March, 1652, the Marquis de la Boulay and Count de Choisy, both enamoured of this Queen of Hearts, were bent on fighting a duel about her. A rumour of their intention got wind. The Duchess de Chatillon heard of it, and appeared unexpectedly on the spot fixed by the two adversaries for a rendezvous; and at the very instant they were about to unsheath their swords, she flung herself between them, seized each by the hand, and led them into the presence of the Duke d'Orleans, who charged Marshals l'Hospital, Schomberg, and d'Etampes, then in Paris, to arrange that affair and prevent a duel. In this they succeeded, but these rivalries and gallant intrigues very sensibly weakened Conde's party, and hindered there being anything secret or combined in the execution of projects determined upon in the councils of its chief.

In the meantime, the siege of Etampes had been raised; and the army of Conde had issued forth, probably with the intention of attacking Turenne if he were found engaged with the Duke de Lorraine. On its approaching Paris, Conde took the command of it, and fixed his head-quarters at Saint-Cloud, in order to manoeuvre on both banks of the Seine. The proximity of his camp to Paris did him far greater harm than even a defeat would have done. With but a scanty commissariat, Conde was of course obliged to permit every sort of licence. All the crops were ruined in the neighbouring fields; the peasantry were plundered, injured, and their domestic peace destroyed; and the country-houses of the rich Parisians were pillaged and burned in all directions. The evils of civil war now came home to the hearts of the people of the capital, and, forgetting how great a part they themselves had taken in producing the results they lamented, they cast the whole blame upon Conde, and regarded him thenceforth with a malevolent eye.

That prince was distracted with different passions and different feelings. He was himself desirous of peace, and willing to make sacrifices to obtain it. His fair mistress, the Duchess de Chatillon, linked with La Rochefoucauld and the Duke de Nemours, confirmed him in seeking it; but, on the other hand, his sister, who sought to break off his connection with Madame de Chatillon, joined with the Spaniards, to whom he had bound himself by so many ties, to lead him away from Paris, and to protract the war. Gaston's daughter, too, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, mingled in all these intrigues, and took the same unwise means to force herself as a bride upon the young King, which De Retz took to force himself as minister upon his mother. But while these separate interests tore the capital, the peril of the army of Conde became imminent. Turenne having brought the Court to St. Denis, caused a number of boats to be drawn up from Pontoise, and commenced the construction of a bridge opposite Epinay.

Conde, betrayed on all sides, could at length perceive what an error he had committed in quitting the army only to lose himself amidst a series of impotent intrigues, and in having preferred the counsels of such a fickle mistress as Madame de Chatillon to those of a courageous and devoted sister such as Madame de Longueville. Towards the end of June, he got on horseback with a small number of intrepid friends, and rode forth to try for the last time the fate of arms.

It was too late. Marshal de la Ferte-Senneterre had brought from Lorraine powerful reinforcements to the royal army, which thereby amounted to twelve thousand men. That of the Fronde had scarcely the half of that number, and it was discouraged, divided, incapable of giving battle, and could only carry on a few days' campaign around Paris, thanks to the manoeuvres and energy everywhere exhibited by its chief. It was evident that no other alternative remained to Conde but to treat with the Court at any price, or to throw himself into the arms of Spain, and the famous combat of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, seriously considered, was only an act of despair, an heroic but vain protest of courage against fortune. Success would have remedied nothing, and a defeat might have been expected, in which Conde might have lost his glory and his life. It was no slight error of Turenne to risk a combat against such an adversary without a disposition of his entire force, for at that moment La Ferte-Senneterre was still with the artillery before the barrier Saint-Denis. Reunited, the Queen's two generals might overwhelm Conde; separated, La Ferte-Senneterre remained useless, and Turenne left alone might purchase his victory very dearly. The latter therefore required that La Ferte should hasten to join him by forced marches, and that the attack should not be commenced before he arrived. But the orders of the Court admitted of no delay, and the Duke de Bouillon himself advised an immediate attack, in order to avoid having the appearance of manoeuvring with Conde. Hence the fatal combat of the 2nd of July, 1652, in which so many valiant officers, of whom the army was proud, perished uselessly.

Historians in relating the details of that deplorable day have dwelt upon the courage and talent displayed by Conde within that narrow arena, that small space of ground which extended from the barrier du Trone, by the main street of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in front of the Bastille. As usual, he had formed a picked squadron which he led on all points, himself leading the most desperate charges. He had posted himself in front of Turenne, disputing foot to foot with him the Grande Rue Saint Antoine, and during the intervals of relaxation of the enemy's attacks, he rode off towards Picpus to encourage Tavannes, who was repelling with his customary vigour every attack made by Saint-Megrin, or to hold in check, on the side of the Seine and Charenton Navailles, one of Turenne's best lieutenants. It was in the Grande Rue where the rudest shocks were delivered. Turenne and Conde there rivalled each other in boldness and obstinacy, both charging at the head of their troops, both covered with blood, and unceasingly exposed to the fire of musketry. Turenne, far superior in numbers, was rapidly gaining ground, when Conde suddenly, sword in hand, at the head of his squadron of fifty brave gentlemen, forced him to fall back, and the affair remained undecided until Navailles, who had just received a reinforcement with artillery, overthrew all the barricades in his path, and in advancing, threatened to surround Conde. The latter, throwing himself quickly in that direction, saw on reaching the last barricade his two friends, Nemours and La Rochefoucauld, the one wounded in several places and unable to stand, the other blinded by a ball which had passed through his face just below the eyes, and both in immediate danger of being made prisoners. All exhausted as he was—for the fighting lasted from morning till evening,—Conde had still heart and energy to make a last charge for their rescue, and to place them in safety within the city. He felt the old flame of Rocroy and Nordlingen firing his blood, and he fought like the boldest of his dragoons. The citizens on the ramparts beheld with emotion the Prince, covered with blood and dust, enter a garden, throw off his casque and cuirass, and roll himself half-naked upon the grass to wipe off the sweat in which he was bathed. Meanwhile, La Ferte-Senneterre had come up. From that moment all gave way, and the Prince, feebly seconded by his disheartened soldiers, with the greatest difficulty reached the Place de la Bastille. There he found the gates of Paris shut. In vain did Beaufort urge the city militia to go to the assistance of that handful of brave men on the point of succumbing: wearied with three years of discord and manipulated by Mazarin, it no longer responded to the summons of its old chief. Splendidly dressed ladies waved signals to their champions and lovers below, and the streets became alive with the shouting of armed citizens, who desired to be let out to the aid of their defenders, and could not see with cold blood the slaughter of their friends. Thousands went to the Luxembourg to beseech Gaston to open the gates of the city for the reception of the wounded and the protection of the over-matched. Long trains of wounded and dying young men began to be carried in; the groans and blood were horrible to hear and see; and the women of all ranks and ages were frantic with sympathy and grief. De Retz and terror had so chilled the Duke d'Orleans into inaction that he would have let Conde perish, had not Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who was at that time smitten with Conde, wrung indignantly from her father, by dint of tears and entreaties, an order to open the gates to the outnumbered Prince.

Mazarin, from the heights of Charonne, where he had stationed himself with the young King, might well have thought that it was all over with his worst enemy; and, when startled to hear that Mademoiselle herself had even ordered the cannon of the Bastille to be fired upon the royal army, exclaimed, "With that cannon-shot she has slain her husband," making allusion to the ambition which the Princess d'Orleans always had to espouse the youthful Louis XIV. True, on that same day, Mademoiselle destroyed with her own hand her dearest hopes; but that trait of generosity and greatness of soul has for ever honoured her memory, and shields it from many errors and much ridicule. After having solemnly pledged itself to Conde, it would have been the height of opprobrium for the House of Orleans to let Conde fall before their eyes: better to have perished with him, and at least saved its honour.

Mademoiselle has related in what condition she found Conde, when having placed herself at the window of a little dwelling near the Bastille, in order to see the troops pass as they entered the city, the Prince hurried for a moment from the gate to speak to her. He neither thought of himself, all covered with blood as he was, nor even of his cause, very nearly hopeless: he thought only of the friends he had lost. It did not occur to him that they were those who had embarked him in negotiations the results of which had proved so fatal: he thought only that they had died for him, and his anguish grew insupportable. "He was," says Mademoiselle, "in a most pitiable state; he was not wounded himself, yet he was covered from head to foot with dust and blood, his hair all disordered, his face flushed with exertion, his cuirass battered with blows, and having lost the scabbard of his sword in the fight, he held the blade naked in his hand." As he entered, the memory of all those he had seen fall around him seemed to rush suddenly upon Conde, and casting himself upon a seat, he burst into tears. "Forgive me," said the great soldier, "I have lost all my friends—the gallant young hearts that loved me." "No, they are only wounded," said his cousin, "and many of them not dangerously; they will recover and love you still." Conde sprang up at the good news, and rushed back into the fight. At the head of all his effective cavalry, he made one desperate, long-continued charge, and drove the enemy backward for a mile. In the meantime, the gates were opened wide, and, file after file, the weary soldiers marched into the city; and dashing homeward after his brilliant assault, Conde and his squadron galloped in the last: but when the ponderous bars were once more drawn across the portals, it was felt that the combatants indeed were saved, but that the Fronde was destroyed.



SOME few days after the fierce fight of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, Conde had an interview with the Duke d'Orleans, "who embraced him with an air as gay as though he had failed him in nothing."[1] Conde uttered no word of reproach out of respect to his daughter. He did not behave exactly in the same way towards Madame de Chatillon. She had addressed a note to him begging him to visit her. She showed this effusion to Mademoiselle, saying, "He will at least see from that the uneasiness which is felt for him." But Conde's mind was disabused, and when he met her who had been his ruin, "he cast upon her, we are told, the most terrible glances conceivable, showing by the expression of his countenance how much he despised her."[2] Well would it have been if soon afterwards the grand-nephew of Henry IV. had not lent anew his ear to the song of the syren and resumed the slavery of her dishonouring fetters!

[1] Mademoiselle de Montpensier, tom. ii. p. 148.

[2] The same.

It is not to our purpose to retrace the melancholy scenes of which, after the combat of Saint Antoine, and during the remainder of the month of July, 1652, Paris was the theatre. It would be only to dwell upon the sad spectacle of the agony and supreme convulsions of a beaten party, struggling in vain to escape its fate, and seeking safety in excesses which only served to precipitate its destruction.

Conde left no violent extreme untried to determine Paris to make further sacrifices for his cause. Dissatisfied with the deliberations of the Hotel de Ville, he caused it to be carried by assault by the populace, who killed several of the echevins. The Fronde, however, was approaching its last agony. Divided amongst themselves by selfish interests, and outwearied with endless intrigues, the majority of the Frondeurs only awaited a fitting opportunity of treating with Mazarin. An amnesty soon made its appearance, and the Cardinal took the step of quitting France once more in order to facilitate a reconciliation. But Conde, on his side, was very little disposed thereto, for he had gone very far indeed to retrace his steps. Furious at having failed to reach the object which he had thought to attain, exasperated by the abandonment of his partisans, by the sarcasms of pamphleteers, he demanded securities and large indemnifications; and proposed such hard conditions that all accord with him became impossible. Thereupon he collected some troops around his standard, a tolerably large number of gentlemen, and rejoined the Duke de Lorraine, who was advancing upon Paris. Their united forces amounted to eighty squadrons and eight thousand infantry. Turenne had scarcely half that strength; but he manoeuvred so skilfully round Paris, that they failed to get any advantage over him. Conde withdrew; and when the King, on his return to the Louvre, published a second amnesty (October, 1652), the Prince had crossed the frontier, after having taken several strongholds in his line of march. Shortly afterwards, he became generalissimo of the Spanish armies, whilst a decree of the parliament declared him guilty of high treason and a traitor to the State.

Previous to Conde's departure from Paris, intense indignation had been excited in every well-balanced mind by a shocking event—the Duke de Nemours having been slain by the hand of his brother-in-law, the Duke de Beaufort, in an abominable duel. From De Nemours the provocation had come, and all the wrong was on his part; but as the victim, he was deplored by all those who were ignorant of what had contributed to bring about the affair, and for some time the new governor of Paris (Beaufort) could not show himself in public.

In the Dukes de Nemours and La Rochefoucauld, Conde had lost his two pacific advisers. In vain had he offered to La Rochefoucauld the post of Nemours, the command under him, and thus to be the second authority in his army. La Rochefoucauld had excused himself on account of his wound, and Conde gave the vacant command to the Prince de Tarente. Henceforward, Madame de Chatillon quite alone was unable to counterbalance the counsels and influence of Madame de Longueville, and Conde plunged deeper than ever into the Spanish alliance and the war waged by that nation against France.

Whilst all these events were happening, Bordeaux had become the theatre of continued troubles. Madame de Longueville no longer agreed with her younger brother; the inhabitants of the city, who had only entered half-heartedly and been almost forced into rebellion, became impatient to extricate themselves from the constrained position in which they were held. As the sequel to negotiations which the city carried on with the Duke de Vendome, who blockaded it, there was a general amnesty.

When Conde retired to the Netherlands, it was not long before it became known, to the national humiliation, that the best soldier of France, a prince of the blood and protector of the people, had followed the recent example of his conqueror, and sold his services to Spain. The young King made his triumphal entry into Paris, accompanied by his mother and Turenne. He convoked the Courts, and received them into favour, "provided they returned within the limits of their duties, and abstained from interfering with the government." Gaston was sent into honourable exile, to his castle in the beautiful town of Blois, and the Cardinal-Archbishop, the evil spirit of the Fronde, was received with apparent cordiality, and began to entertain hopes of supplanting his rival; but when he had fallen into disrepute with the citizens, he was quietly carried off to Vincennes, and left to meditate on his plots and schemings within the bars of his solitary apartment. The Parisians were now so changed from what they had been, that they received their old enemy, the Cardinal Mazarin, with demonstrations of delight, when he made his solemn entry into the repentant city with young Louis as an attendant at his side.



MAZARIN might well have claimed the right of accompanying to Paris, on the 21st October, 1652, Louis the Fourteenth and Anne of Austria, and to share the joy of their victory over the Fronde, for he was the true achiever of it. It was he who, by retiring so opportunely, by leaving the Fronde to itself, had allowed it to exhibit at its entire ease its fury and impotence; it was he who, from the depth of his exile, disquieted by the success of Chateauneuf, had collected troops, rallied round him experienced generals, raised the banner of the monarchy, and from one vantage ground to another had carried it forwards even to Paris. But by reappearing there prematurely, Mazarin might have risked the rekindling of animosities scarcely yet extinguished. It was his own advice he followed—to second the effect of the amnesty, by a momentary absence, in order to leave no pretext to those who had so often promised to yield if he quitted the kingdom. Sure of the young King, surer still of his mother, leaving with them his instructions and approved advisers, Mazarin had disappeared, withdrawing at first to Bouillon, across the frontier; then, as by degrees the King's government became consolidated at Paris, he drew nearer and moved to Sedan; next, he went openly to join the royal army, taking with him powerful reinforcements, munitions, provisions, and money. Admirably commanded by Turenne and La Ferte-Senneterre, it had forced the little army of Conde and the Duke de Lorraine to slowly beat a retreat in the direction of the Netherlands. Active, resolute, indefatigable, he did not hesitate to prolong the campaign beyond its ordinary limits, until the end of December, and even up to January, 1653. He had only quitted the army on beholding the enemy abandon French territory, and after having made the frontier of Champagne and Picardy secure from any chance of a return of offensive operations. It was then that he put his troops into winter quarters, and that he himself, heralded and sustained by these solid successes, had taken the road to Paris.

On the 3rd of February, 1653, he therein made a truly triumphal entry. The young King, accompanied by his brother the Duke d'Anjou, went out for more than a league to meet him, received him with the greatest apparent affection, took him into his carriage, and two hours afterwards they entered by the Porte Saint-Denis, in great pomp, amidst the joyous shouts of that same populace which, two years previously, had pursued him with imprecations. The Cardinal was thus enthusiastically conducted to the Louvre, where Anne of Austria awaited him.

He there beheld once more that courageous Queen, whom history, misled by the impostors of the Fronde, has too much misconceived, that stanch friend, an example among all queens, and almost among all women, of a constancy equal to either fortune; who, in the early days of 1643, had discerned the great abilities of Mazarin, and seen in him the only man capable of properly conducting the affairs of France; who, after having owed to him five long years of glory, had in 1648 and 1649 defended him against the aristocracy, the parliament, and the people united; who later had only consented to his retirement because he himself had judged it necessary; who during his absence had alike resisted every species of seduction, every kind of menace, and had never ceased to be governed by his counsels; who, at Gien, learning the rout of her troops at Bleneau whilst at her toilet, went on with it calmly, when everyone else spoke of flight, rivalling Mazarin himself in courage and coolness. On finding themselves once more together under the roof of royalty after so many long and sorrowful separations, after seeing each other so often on the very verge of ruin, they might well be proud of their mutual constancy, which had deserved and brought about the halo of prosperity surrounding that auspicious day, and together look forward for the rest of their lives with the solid hope of sharing a glorious repose.

Around the Queen, the Cardinal was welcomed by a brilliant array of great nobles and fair ladies, formerly the bitter enemies Of Richelieu's successor, but who were there assembled to compliment him upon his happy return.

Amongst those ladies foremost in their congratulations was the Princess Palatine, with whom we have already made some acquaintance—Anne de Gonzagua, one of the most eminent personages of the seventeenth century. Of an admirable beauty, which served in some sort as a setting to an intellect the most solid, she was as capable of taking part in the deliberations of statesmen as in the assemblies of wits or in gallant intrigues, seeking, it is true, her advantages, but not by the betrayal of any one; who, without treason to royalty, had given advice the most judicious to the Fronde, and would have saved it, if the Fronde could have been saved. As she had never ceased to keep up the best understanding with Mazarin, she could very well associate herself with his triumph.

She was there also, that other famous female politician, of a grade still higher, as beautiful and as gallant, of a less gracious, perhaps, but yet stronger disposition, more capable still of grand enterprises, and never suffering herself to be stayed by any danger or any scruple—the widow of the Constable de Luynes, Marie de Rohan, Duchess de Chevreuse, who formerly had lent a hand to every plot concocted against Mazarin, and in concert with the Palatine had proposed, as we have seen, the sole measure which could bring together all the Cardinal's enemies, and form a great aristocratical party strong enough to make head against royalty:—the marriage of Conde's son with a daughter of the Duke d'Orleans, and that of her own daughter with the Prince de Conti. This latter match having been broken off in a manner the most outrageous to her feelings, Madame de Chevreuse had separated from Conde with eclat; and, too experienced to ally herself with the sort of tiers-parti which Retz had proposed, but allowing herself to be gently and skilfully guided by the Marquis de Laignes, whom Mazarin with his usual adroitness had known how to win over, she had returned to the side of her early friend, Anne of Austria, and became resigned to the power of a man who at any rate knew his own mind, and whose robust ambition never wavered at the breath of vanity or the gust of momentary passion. The fame and honour that she might expect from the Fronde had been offered to her by Mazarin, and in return Madame de Chevreuse had brought to royalty the declared support of the three illustrious families, the Rohans, De Luynes, and the Lorraines. It was she who, ever puissant over the Duke de Lorraine, had negotiated a secret treaty between him and the Cardinal, and who by turns had made him act in such contrary directions. Restored entirely to the Queen's favour, Madame de Chevreuse was at her side in the Louvre, to welcome warmly the return of the prosperous Cardinal.

After Madame de Chevreuse, Mazarin had had no adversaries more dangerous than the Vendomes and Bouillons. And yet on that memorable day of February 3rd, 1653, he could consider the heads of those two powerful families as the firmest supporters of his greatness.

Caesar, Duke de Vendome, natural son of Henry the Fourth, was much more formidable by his intelligence, his valour, and his craft than by his birth. There was nothing—even to the virtues of his wife, a reputed saint,—which was not put to the profit of his ambition. His daughter, the beautiful Mademoiselle de Vendome, had married that brilliant Duke de Nemours, who had come to such a miserable end. His eldest son, the Duke de Mercoeur, was a sagacious and estimable prince, and the Duke de Beaufort, his youngest, was the idol of the populace of Paris. It was Beaufort who, in 1643, urged by the two duchesses De Montbazon and De Chevreuse, had formed the design of assassinating Mazarin. The Duke de Vendome had been suspected of being implicated in that affair; he had at least given shelter in his chateau at Anet to all the accomplices of his son; and, forced to quit France to avoid the arrest with which he was threatened, he had wandered for several years through Italy and England, everywhere stirring up enemies against the Cardinal. The latter saw clearly that it was better to acquire a son of Henry the Fourth at a given price, than to prosecute him without the slightest advantage. After all, what did the Duke desire, and what were his demands when Mazarin became prime minister? Either that the government of Brittany, which his father, Henry the Fourth, had destined for him, and that his father-in-law, Philibert Emmanuel of Lorraine, held; or that the Admiralty, one of the highest posts in the state, should be given him. Mazarin had repulsed these pretensions in 1643, but looked upon them favourably in 1652; he therefore made the Duke High-Admiral, even conferred upon him the title of State Minister, with a seat at the council-board, after being assured that Vendome, having secured that which he had always sought to attain, would serve him as firmly as he had formerly opposed him. He had an infallible pledge for his fidelity. The Duke's eldest son, the loyal and pious Duke de Mercoeur, had married one of the Cardinal's nieces, the amiable and virtuous Laura Mancini, so that the house of Vendome was interested in and inseparably united to Mazarin's fortunes. Therefore, on the 3rd of February, 1653, the High-Admiral Caesar de Vendome, engaged in pursuing the Spanish fleet in the sea of Gascony, entered the Gironde, and threatened the relics of the Fronde at Bordeaux. On his part, the Duke de Mercoeur, named governor of Provence, watched over that important province for the King and Mazarin, whilst the Duke de Beaufort, who earlier had been desirous of laying violent hands on the Cardinal, and who yet quite recently had shown himself as his implacable enemy, covered and protected by the services of his father and brother, retired to Anet, without being the least in the world disquieted; satisfied with beholding Madame de Montbazon satisfied because plenty of money had been given her, and awaited quietly the moment at which he should succeed his father in the command of the fleet, and shed his blood in the service of his King.

The Bouillons were of little less importance than the Vendomes. The Duke was a politician and a soldier of the first class, capable of conducting a government or leading an army, and who had only one sentiment or thought in heart and head—the aggrandisement of his house. Already sovereign prince of Sedan, urged by his wife, still more ambitious than himself, he had in 1641, in the hope of securing fresh territorial acquisitions, treated with Spain, taken part in the revolt of the Count de Soissons, and won the battle of La Marfee against the royal army. In 1642, he had entered into the conspiracy of the Duke d'Orleans and Cinq Mars, and, arrested, thrown into chains at Pierre-Encise, he had only saved his head from the scaffold by abandoning his principality. Ever since, he had not ceased to agitate for the recovery of that which by treason he had lost. He had again demanded Sedan from Mazarin in 1643, and not being able to obtain it at the hands of that great servant of the Crown, that, in order to satisfy a private interest, France should renounce one of its best strongholds on the frontier of the Netherlands, he had ranked himself among the Cardinal's enemies, and forced at first to flee, like the Duke de Vendome, had scarcely returned to France ere he embraced with ardour the Fronde, though without the slightest conviction, be it understood, and in the sole hope of easily obtaining from it what he could not snatch from royalty. He had enlisted with him in the Fronde his brother Turenne, of whom he disposed absolutely, and who was equally ambitious, and equally covetous of the grandeur of their family, but after his own fashion, and the mould of his frigid, reflective, and profoundly dissembling character. At the peace of Ruel, in 1649, the Duke de Bouillon had demanded "his re-establishment in Sedan, or if the Queen preferred to reimburse him for it at an estimated price, with the possessions promised and due to his house; for himself, the government of Auvergne; for his brother that of Haute and Basse Alsace, with that of Philipsbourg and the command of all the armies of Germany." Mazarin had then committed the error of not satisfying this ambitious and powerful house; hence, in 1650, the conduct of the Duke in Guienne and that of Turenne at Stenay and in Flanders. In 1651, the Queen treated seriously with the Duke, and on his return Mazarin succeeded in entirely gaining him over. Not desiring at any price to restore Sedan to him, he granted the equivalent demanded—a great domain at Chateau-Thierry, much richer than that of Sedan, and, without effective sovereignty, that title of Prince, so dear to the vanity of the Bouillons, which the head of the family could not only transmit to his children, but which could descend also to his brother Turenne. The Duke de Bouillon having once taken the part of abandoning Conde, in spite of all his engagements, and of serving royalty, did it with the same energy which he had displayed at Paris and Bordeaux. He never afterwards forsook Mazarin, but assisted him with his advice, and suffered even more than once in person, by acting with his customary vigour, and the obstinate ardour of his country and race. It was he who, on the night of the battle of Bleneau, brought reinforcements to Turenne, and enabled him to stop Conde. It was he, again, who, on the 2nd of July, 1652, to let Mazarin see that he had gained him for good and all, joined with the Cardinal in pressing Turenne, against all the rules of war, not to wait the coming up of the troops of La Ferte-Senneterre. A truthful witness, and one of the principal actors in that sanguinary drama, Navailles, even affirms that the Duke de Bouillon took part in the affair, and that he was at the attack in which Saint-Megrin perished. If Bouillon had lived, with his immeasurable ambition and his capacity equalling his ambition, would he have been contented with the second rank, and would he always have remained the devoted servant of the Cardinal?

None can say: for the Duke de Bouillon was cut short in his ambitious career; he died on the 9th of August, 1652, without having enjoyed those possessions and those honours which he had so greatly coveted; but ere closing his eyes he saw them pass to his children. Turenne, carefully conciliated and caressed, was made, on his brother's death, governor of Auvergne, and the viscounty of Turenne erected into a principalty. Very shortly afterwards he also received the post of minister of state. Mazarin went even still further: desirous of heaping up benefits upon the illustrious soldier whose honesty and ambition he had so long known, desirous at the same time to attach in his person all the Protestant party by decisive acts, which would show in a conspicuous manner that whosoever should serve him well would be faithfully recompensed, without distinction of religion, the skilful and politic Cardinal made the Duke de la Force, a Protestant and the father-in-law of Turenne, Marshal of France, as his father had been. Thus, on the 3rd of February, 1653, Turenne was likewise at the Louvre at Mazarin's side, as the representative of all his family, and already occupied with preparation for the campaign that was about to open in the spring in the Netherlands, and where he was to take command of the French army.

But if Mazarin had taken care to win over successively those chiefs of the Importants and the Frondeurs in whom his experienced eye had recognised as sincerely disposed to a loyal submission, he had this time taken care not to allow himself to be betrayed by false appearances, and did not fail to strike at, or at least banish from Paris, those whom he despaired of acquiring. He had lent himself with good grace to the reconciliation sought by the Duke d'Orleans; as it was not his wish to give to France and Europe the appearance of ill-treating the King's uncle, and constrain him perhaps once more to go in search of a foreign asylum; but by conciliating him in the most suitable way, he had taken surety of him, and being convinced that too much lenity would only embolden him to mix himself up in fresh intrigues, he did not permit him to remain in Paris, when the King returned thither, for fear lest in his palace of the Luxembourg, surrounded by perfidious advisers, whilst lavishing great marks of deference upon the Queen and the young King, he might cherish and rekindle on occasion the hopes of the Fronde. Therefore, it was arranged that the Duke d'Orleans should quit Paris on the day previous to that of the King's entry, and consequently he retired at first to Limours, then to Blois, the ordinary refuge of his treason and faint-heartedness, where, in nowise persecuted, but watched and kept within bounds, he passed amidst general indifference the remainder of his contemptible career. Mademoiselle remained also for some time in disgrace at St. Fargeau, and consoled herself by degrees for the ruin of her divers pretensions with her large fortune and small court. The Cardinal de Retz putting a good face upon a losing game, and especially desirous of receiving from the King's own hand the cardinal's hat granted him by the Pope, in order to claim the right of wearing the dress and of enjoying the honours and privileges attached to that high dignity, had been among the first to meet the King at Compiegne at the head of the clergy of Paris, and had addressed him in a bold and artful speech, in the style of that of Caesar in the affair of Cataline, skilfully covering the defeat of his party, recommending the policy of moderation, referring more than once to the conduct of Henry the Great towards the Leaguers, and through fear lest it should not be sufficiently understood that he was speaking about himself, citing the pacific words of Henry to his great uncle, the Cardinal de Gondi. In that oration he had also insinuated some high compliments to the Queen, as though he had resumed his former hopes. The next day, at mass, the King placed the red hat upon his head, and henceforward De Retz assumed and wore the dress of cardinal. After the King's return, he had carried his audacity so far as to present himself at the Louvre to pay, as a faithful subject, his homage to their Majesties. On the 1st of December, he preached with great effect at Notre Dame, and recommenced his old course of life of 1648, making pious sermons in the intervals of his gallant rendezvous, devoting the morning to preaching at church, the evening to bonnes fortunes, and reknitting in the dark the meshes of his old intrigues. But Mazarin knew him thoroughly: he was persuaded that De Retz was incapable of confining himself to his ecclesiastical functions, incompatible as they were with his dissipated and licentious habits, with his restless and factious disposition, and so under his minister's advice on some slight suspicion arising, the King had him arrested even in the very Louvre, on the 19th of December, 1652, and conducted to the donjon of Vincennes.

Mazarin was too cautious to treat La Rochefoucauld after the same fashion. He knew marvellously well that, separated from Conde and Madame de Longueville, who constituted all his importance, La Rochefoucauld was no longer to be dreaded, and that he was not of a humour to make himself the champion and martyr of a vanquished party. The serious wound which he had received in the combat of Saint Antoine turned him, so to speak, to advantage. Struck by a ball which had traversed both cheeks and temporarily deprived him of sight, it was impossible for him to continue in active service and to follow the army. He did not therefore play false to Conde in not accepting the command of such troops as remained to the Fronde—a command which, on his retirement, was offered to the Prince de Tarent. It was absolutely essential that he should be speedily cured of his wound; and that real motive covering his weariness and long-felt disgust, he did not, like Persan, Bouteville, and Vauban, join the Prince in Flanders. On the other hand, he had not objected to the amnesty, and therefore could not be included in the royal declaration issued on the 13th of November against Conde, Conti, Madame de Longueville, and their chief adherents. But Mazarin took good care not to pursue him, and La Rochefoucauld, after allowing the first outburst of the storm to pass over, retired to his estates to bury himself in obscurity for a few years, and to taste that repose of which he had so great need. Then he quitted his retreat and reappeared at Paris. It must have been necessary for him to go very far in conciliation to be received again into favour. He succeeded in it, however, by saving appearances, to use a modern phrase, and in skilfully managing the transition. He made his peace with the politic and gracious Cardinal, rode in his carriage, saying with as much reason as wit, "Everything happens in France!" He managed to get his son into intimacy with the young King, and, wonderful to relate, he obtained from Mazarin, in indemnification for the losses he had experienced in carrying on war against him, a thumping pension of eight thousand livres.

If space permitted us thus to run over successively the list of all the great nobles who had previously had a hand in the Fronde, it would be easy to show that on the 3rd of February, 1653, the most ardent and the most illustrious of those we have cited, and many others, such as the Duke d'Elbeuf and Marshal Houdancourt, both generals of the Fronde at Paris in 1648 and 1649, the Duke de Guise, so strongly bound to Conde, almost all, in short, were ranged round Mazarin, and fought with him and for him, and that for one sole but very sufficient reason—which was that the clever Cardinal knew how to make them understand wherein lay their true interests.

Self-interest, self-interest, such was, with very few exceptions, the unique mainspring of the aristocracy in the Fronde, and La Rochefoucauld has only erected into a maxim and even generalised into excess the principle which he had seen practised everywhere around him.

It may thus be judged whether, as some writers have asserted without the slightest knowledge of the facts, the Fronde was a great and generous cause which failed of obtaining success. On the contrary, it was simply a powerful coalition of individual interests, and if considered under the aspect of an abortive anticipation of the French revolution, and some general design sought for therein in one way or another, it would be rather that of stifling in its cradle the principles of that revolution.

Is it true that the Fronde, as has been asserted, was a counterpart, a sort of miserable imitation, of the revolution which was then convulsing England? Not the least in the world. That other error, still stranger than the preceding, rests upon a false and deceitful analogy—that common shoal of historical considerations and comparisons. At bottom, the earlier part of the English revolution was almost entirely of a religious character, whilst in the Fronde the religious element did not intervene at all, thanks to the enlightened protection enjoyed by the Protestants. It seemed, indeed, like a demoniacal caricature of our British troubles at that moment. No sternness, no reality; love-letters and witty verses supplying the place of the Biblical language and awful earnestness of the words and deeds of the Covenanters and Independents; the gentlemen of France utterly debased and frivolised; religion ridiculed; nothing left of the old landmarks; and no Cromwell possible. All sense of honour disappears when conduct is regulated by the shifting motives of party politics. The dissensions of the Fronde accordingly produced no champion to whom either side could look with unmingled respect. The great Conde and the famous Turenne showed military talent of the highest order, but a want of principle and a flighty frivolity of character counterbalanced all their virtues. The scenes of those five or six years are like a series of dissolving views, or the changing combinations of a kaleidoscope; Conde and Turenne always on opposite sides—for each changed his party as often as the other; battles prepared for by masquerades and theatricals, and celebrated on both sides with epigrams and songs; the wildest excesses of debauchery and vice practised by both sexes and all ranks in the State; archbishops fighting like gladiators, and intriguing like the vulgarest conspirators; princes imprisoned with a jest, and executions attended with cheers and laughter; the highest in the land caballing, cheating, and lying, but keeping a firm grasp of power:—no country was ever so split into faction, or so denuded of great men.

But, while all these elements of confusion were heaving and tumbling in what seemed an inextricable chaos, the monarchical principle, strange to say, still burned brightly in the hearts of all the French. Even in their fights and quarrelings there was a deep reverence entertained for the ideal of the throne. The King's name was a tower of strength; and when the nation, in the course of the miserable years from 1610 to 1661, saw the extinction of nobility, religion, law, and almost of civilised society, it caught the first sound that told it it still had a King, as an echo from the past assuring it of its future. It forgot Louis the Thirteenth, the Regency, and the Fronde, and only remembered that its monarch was the grandson of Henry the Fourth, when it witnessed in his reign the culmination of the French monarchy, and the splendid intellectual development with which it was simultaneous.

And that brilliant day of Mazarin's triumph was shadowed by no eclipse. It was not one of those lucky freaks of fate often followed by long disgrace: no, that Minister's triumph rested on solid foundations. Not only he saw at his feet, in the Louvre, all his former enemies vanquished, but not one of them able to rise again in enmity, for all their strength was exhausted. The wearied citizens wanted repose, and placed all their hopes in royalty. The parliaments, ashamed of having allowed their ancient loyalty to be surprised by the deceitful caresses of the discontented nobles, returned voluntarily within the prudent limits of their institution, satisfied with having seen the government recognise all their legitimate complaints, and bind itself to respect their just and necessary independence. The aristocracy thought itself still more fortunate at having thus been extricated from this last defeat. It left, it is true, upon the field of battle some few of its feudal pretensions, but in exchange, titles, honours, and wealth were lavished upon it, and its vanity could at any rate console its ambition. The good fortune of Mazarin opened the eyes of everyone to his merit. No one could refrain from applauding his firmness and his capacity. Had he proved unsuccessful, he would only have been looked upon as a second Concini; victorious, he was another Richelieu to whom it was necessary to succumb, but who might be served without loss of honour, because, after having shown that he was as firm in his principle of government as his imperious predecessor, he did not play the tyrant; and, far from making the weight of his power felt, he forced himself rather to disguise it under flattering words, did not show the least resentment for former injuries, extended a hand to everyone who came to him, listened to every complaint that had anything legitimate in it, entertained every pretension that was at all reasonable, and seemed disposed to base his government upon skilful concessions and not upon useless rigour. His star was believed in, his moderation inspired confidence, and people grew eager to participate in his triumph. Already at Vendome, a grandson of Henry the Great had espoused one of his nieces; the proudest among the French nobility were soon about to contend for the hands of the others; and the man whom the Fronde had so persecuted was about to place his family upon the steps of the throne. The solemn reception which the King and Queen gave Mazarin at the Louvre on the 3rd February, 1653, was not therefore an idle pageant or empty ceremony. That same day, Mazarin could understand that a new era had arisen for him, more brilliant and more secure than that of 1643, after the defeat of the Importants, and that that sterile and sanguinary halt upon the road of reform and the civilising march of monarchy known in history under the name of the Fronde was at last and for ever terminated.





HAVING rapidly summarised the fate and fortunes of the leading male actors who figured in the Fronde, we will now glance briefly at the closing scenes in the careers of the fair politicians whom we have seen playing such brilliant and prominent parts in that curious tragi-comedy.

To high-born French women—princesses and duchesses—the revolt of the Fronde especially belonged. They were at once its main-springs, its chief instruments, its most interested agents; and among them Madame de Longueville, who enacted the most conspicuous part, was by its events the most ill-treated of all.

We have seen her the heroine—or, perhaps the adventuress—of the civil war, rushing into dangers and mixing herself up in intrigues of every kind, in order to serve the interests of another. She was not a consummate politician like the Palatine, for she had no real business tact. Her true character and the unity of her life should be sought where they were really shown—in her devotion to him whom she loved. It is there—in that devotion wholly and always the same, at once consistent, yet absurd, and very touching even in its downright follies.

All her eccentric movements were attributable to the restless and fickle spirit of La Rochefoucauld. Solely occupied with his own interests, it was he who drew her into the vortex of party politics and civil war, with a view to his own self-aggrandisement. It was for love of him that she sacrificed domestic peace, repose, and reputation.

At Bordeaux Madame de Longueville had at first enjoyed the same popularity as that which she had acquired in Paris at the commencement of the first Fronde. Upon that section of the second Fronde which had its head-quarters in the South, the Duchess, after its chief, the Prince de Conti, was the most likely person to exercise a decisive influence alike by the clearness of her intellect, the firmness of her character, and the great confidence with which she had inspired the entire party. In 1650 she had covered herself with glory at Stenay, and the eyes of not only France, but the whole of Europe, were fixed upon her. She was unable to play the same part at Bordeaux. Invested at Stenay with supreme authority, she had been compelled, as it were, to display all the intelligence and energy she possessed: at Bordeaux she was only an adviser indifferently well listened to. And moreover, in 1650, her frame of mind was widely different. With a sincere attachment to the interests of her party and her house, another and more intimate sentiment animated and sustained her: she loved and was beloved. A reciprocal devotedness justified in some measure that passion which had already passed through three long and trying years, and found its aliment and its strength in common sacrifices. In fact, if Madame de Longueville had braved in Normandy all kinds of danger and even death to cross the sea in order to reach the Netherlands and unfurl at Stenay the banner of the Princes, La Rochefoucauld, too, it must be remembered, had been continually in arms. That interval was the golden era of their lives. They suffered and combated for each other. They had the same cause, the same faith, the same hopes. Their hearts were never more united than during that cruel year when, separated by civil war, they could scarcely, from the furthest extremities of France, address each other, amid risks innumerable, in a few apparently insignificant lines, but through which, nevertheless, there breathed a tenderness and confidence proof against everything. Now all was changed. As we have said, La Rochefoucauld had grown wearied of the Fronde, into which he had hopefully flung himself in 1648. In 1651 he became desirous of reconciling himself with the Court, and making a pact which would have infallibly separated them, since M. de Longueville, irritated with all that had at length reached his ears, had summoned his wife in a menacing tone to join him in Normandy. It was she who then, in her turn, was compelled to draw over La Rochefoucauld. He continued to follow in her footsteps through the sentiment of devotedness that still lingered in his heart, but without conviction, and with a lukewarmness which deeply wounded Conde's high-souled sister. She felt that she was no longer loved commensurately with the heroic and tender ideal of which she had dreamed, and that a struggle with fortune, too long continued, had cast down his inconstant and wavering spirit. Hence also arose that momentary error which we have neither disguised nor excused. Love enfeebled and discouraged had delivered her up once more to her natural coquetry, and coquetry stimulated by politics had made her brave the semblance of an infidelity towards La Rochefoucauld and herself. Without being hurried away in the slightest degree by the senses or the heart, in her endeavour to carry off the Duke de Nemours from Madame de Chatillon and the peace party, and engage him more deeply in that of the war and Conde, she had slightly compromised herself; and La Rochefoucauld, influenced by an implacable resentment, instead of breaking with her openly, had, at Paris, entered into a shameful league with Madame de Chatillon and his pretended rival, the Duke de Nemours, in order that they might rob the poor Duchess of her last consolation, the esteem and affection of Conde. Left in Guienne, without any great or engrossing occupation, with a vacant mind, discontented both with others and herself, Madame de Longueville was no longer the brilliant Bellona of Stenay, but her pride and dignity, which she could not lose, never failed to sustain her. She therefore resolved to remain even unto the end faithful to that brother whose heart was sought to be steeled against her by the whispers of calumny: to remain in Bordeaux as long as possible, without recoiling from any means which necessity might prescribe. Not for a single day, not for an hour, did she dream of separating her fate from that of Conde, and of bending the knee before his victorious enemies.

At length, however, it was her inevitable fate to yield to the star of Mazarin and Louis XIV., who having obtained the mastery over the South as elsewhere, she was compelled to quit the factious city, and repair, by command of the Court, to Montreuil-Bellay, a domain belonging to her husband in Anjou. Shortly afterwards she obtained permission to go to Moulins, where her aunt, the inconsolable widow De Montmorency, was superior of the convent (Filles de Sainte-Marie). From that visit to Moulins may be dated the conversion of the beautiful and adventurous princess. On emerging from such a chaos of turmoil and commotion, in that calm and holy retreat, her thoughts reverted to the pure and innocent period of her youth, to the brilliant and tumultuous past, to the sorrowful and disenchanted present. Embroiled with the Court and her brothers, abandoned by La Rochefoucauld, in the decline of her beauty, upon the eve of maturity, she saw in Heaven alone a refuge against others and herself. But the Divine grace had to be awaited as well as prayed for, the prickings of conscience were succeeded by relapses—the ties to be broken were still so strong! At length, one day when engaged in reading, "a veil, as it were, was drawn from before the eyes of my mind," she wrote, in that somewhat hyperbolical style of which she was fond; "all the charms of truth, concentrated upon one sole object, presented themselves before me. Faith, which had remained dead and buried beneath my passions, became renewed. I felt like a person who, after a long sleep in which he has dreamed of being great, happy, esteemed, and honoured by everybody, awakens all on a sudden to find himself loaded with chains, pierced with wounds, weighed down with heaviness, and pent up in some dark prison." To that conviction she remained faithful until death, and expiated her six years of deviation by a penitence which lasted for five-and-twenty, and continued ever on the increase.

The first act of the Duchess, after her conversion, was to implore pardon of her husband. M. de Longueville behaved generously, and went to meet her at Moulins, and took her back with him to Rouen with every mark of delicacy and distinction. Reverting to the aspirations of her youth, Madame de Longueville placed herself in active communication with the good Carmelites, whom she had never entirely forgotten. She was constantly writing to Mademoiselle du Vigean, the sous-prieure, for guidance in her new way of life; for she had need of spiritual advice, and cried out for help, and help came through the good offices of the Marquise de Sable, who had herself withdrawn from the world to Port-Royal, and supplied the want felt by her illustrious friend by placing her in the hands of one of the great spiritual guides of that day, M. Singlin. Between the ghostly adviser and the fair penitent there ensued frequent conversations curiously flavoured with a spice of romance. Persecution had already attacked Port-Royal, and M. Singlin, in order not to be recognised, went to the Hotel de Longueville disguised as a doctor, his features being concealed by an ample wig. M. Singlin strove to fix limits to the ardour by which Madame de Longueville was carried away, he counselled her to remain in the outer world, to which her husband and children bound her, and in which her salvation, he said, might be as surely accomplished by exacting more vigilance than it would be found necessary to exercise in the retirement of the cloister.

Madame de Longueville's piety had been generally subordinated to the vicissitudes of a very agitated existence. Her primitive tendency to devotion was rekindled on every occasion that she experienced a trouble, a disenchantment, or any failure of courage. In 1651, when she had been somewhat compromised by the homage of the Duke de Nemours, she had retired to the Carmelite convent at Bourges; then towards the end of her sojourn in Guienne she had sought refuge among the Benedictines at Bordeaux. But all these gleams of repentance vanished so soon as some caprice of fortune came to reawaken, by the hope of fresh success, her natural inclination for political intrigue and pleasure. On accompanying her husband to Normandy she appeared wholly resolved not to allow herself to be engrossed by anything save her eternal welfare. However, it appears that her desire to abstain henceforward from all political intrigue was looked upon incredulously for several years; since, in 1659, at the time of the Treaty of the Pyrenees being signed, Mazarin, replying to Don Louis de Haro, who required that the French Minister should restore Conde "to all his birthrights," still placed, as we have noticed, Madame de Longueville among the feminine trio, who, said he, "would be capable of governing or of overturning three great kingdoms." Yet Mazarin yielded, and Conde returned to France.

The long and rigid penitence which she imposed upon herself, and which Madame de Motteville characterised by the expressive term—"very august," restored to her somewhat of that importance which she was desirous of renouncing through humility. But the world is ever distrustful on the score of a repentance which has some tinge of ostentation about it. One historian remarks that "the Duchess de Longueville being unable to dispense with intrigues, after she had renounced those of love and politics, found sufficient to satisfy her in devotion." This sentence, read aright, would mean that the schisms of Catholicism gave her an opportunity of playing a considerable part in taking under her protection the persecuted party of the Jansenists. Madame de Longueville, on whom was bestowed the designation of "Mother of the Church," and who in that quality recovered some reputation at the Court of France, and acquired a very great one at the Court of Rome, rendered an eminent service to the Jansenists by obtaining for them from the Pope, in 1668, that theological transaction which was called "The Peace of Clement the Ninth." It would, however, be unjust to tax her with hypocrisy. All that was extreme in the pious practices to which she devoted herself must be attributed to her exalted nature, which mingled passion with every sentiment of her soul.

When the Duke de Longueville died in 1663, the Duchess availed herself of the state of independence in which her widowhood placed her to give herself up wholly to exercises of piety and penitence, and the education and care of her children. The latter occupation caused her much grief—the Count de Dunois, by his bad conduct and imbecility, and the Count de Saint Paul himself, the son so dearly beloved, by his precocious debaucheries and fiery impatience of character. Then, as by degrees they had less need of her care, she devoted herself deeper and deeper to expiation, lavishing her fortune to repair in the provinces ruined by civil war the evils she had helped to inflict, weeping and humbling herself in her efforts to subdue that pride which was the characteristic of her race, receiving outrages and insults uncomplainingly, accepting them as the just chastisement of her sins, and forgiving those who dealt her the most cruel wounds. And so, in austerities and self-mortification she ended her days, sharing them between the Carmelites, in whose convent she had an apartment, and Port-Royal des Champs, where she had built a wing—having a preference for Port-Royal. She was always naturally disposed to favour the rebellious, and these rebels, it must be remembered, were the persecuted for conscience' sake. Madame de Longueville's protection was extended to the principal Jansenists, whom she sheltered in her chateau, and her influence at length brought about that peace in the Church, which, so long as she lived, gave calm and security to the sacred community. Notwithstanding her predilection for Port-Royal, she continued to inhabit her hotel, which she did not quit until after the death of the Count de Saint-Paul (1672), killed so unfortunately by the side of the Great Conde at the passage of the Rhine.

That blow was the last of Madame de Longueville's earthly troubles—it overwhelmed her. Madame de Sevigne has depicted in a few touching sentences the scene which was witnessed when the fatal tidings reached the wretched mother: "Mademoiselle des Vertus returned two days since to Port-Royal, where she is constantly staying. They sent M. Arnauld to fetch her, that she might break the terrible news. Mademoiselle des Vertus had only to show herself; her hurried return was the certain signal that something sad had happened. In fact, as soon as she appeared, she was greeted with: 'Ah! mademoiselle, how is my brother?' Her thoughts dare not venture further question. 'Madame, his wound is going on favourably.' 'There has been a battle! and my son?' No answer. 'Ah! mademoiselle, my son, my dear boy, answer me, is he dead?' 'Madame, I cannot find words to reply to you.' 'Ah! my dear son! did he die upon the spot? Was not one single moment given him? Ah! Mon Dieu! what a sacrifice!' And thereupon she sank down in bed, and of all that the most poignant anguish could exhibit in convulsions and swooning, and in dead silence and stifled groans, by bitter tears and appeals to Heaven, and by tender and pitiful plaints, she went through them all. She sees certain persons, she takes broths, because it is the will of God; but she gets no rest; and her health, already very bad, is visibly shaken. For myself, I wish she may die, not believing that she can survive such a loss." Some few days afterwards Madame de Sevigne writes: "There exists in the world one man not less touched by this blow: it has occurred to me that if they had both met each other in the first burst of grief and no one else had been present, all other feelings would have given place to tears and moans re-echoed from the depths of both their hearts."

With this young Duke de Longueville disappeared the last witness to bygone errors. The last link was broken, and, from that day, Madame de Longueville belonged no more to this world. She died on the 15th April, 1679, at the Carmelites, where her remains were interred; her heart being taken to Port-Royal. A year afterwards, in the same convent of Carmelites, the Bishop of Autun, Roquette, whom Moliere had in view when drawing the character of Tartuffe, pronounced her funeral oration. Madame de Sevigne, who was present at the ceremony, says of the orator: "It was not a Tartuffe, it was not a Pantaloon: it was a prelate of distinction, preaching with dignity, and going over the entire life of that Princess with an incredible address; passing by all the delicate passages, mentioning, or leaving unmentioned, all the points that he ought to speak or be silent upon. His text was "Fallax pulchritudo, mulier timens Deum laudabitur." Assuredly many delicate points must have presented themselves in the life of a princess who had been a politician and a Frondeuse, a gallant woman, and a Jansenist. Yet Father Talon, a Jesuit, who was present at her death, was fond of repeating on fitting occasions: "Jansenist as much as you will, she died the death of a saint."

There were three well-defined periods in the agitated life of the Duchess de Longueville—and happily the end was conformable to the beginning, to neutralise, as it were, the censurable middle part. But admitting such condonation, does not that same mezza camin constitute the seduction which that brilliant period exercises over almost every writer who seeks to portray it, over those even who indulge in ecstacies on the score of her penitence? So the prestige of beauty and the charms of mind traverse centuries to win unceasingly posthumous admiration! These are the qualities which give a more undying interest to the career of Madame de Longueville even than the grandeur of her soul; for that is an incontestable feature which all must recognise, whether partisans or adversaries:—in spite of her errors and deviations, she certainly possessed greatness of soul. If a terse judgment then were summed up of her character, it might be said without flattery that, take her all in all, she was not unworthy of being the sister of the great Conde.

With the opinions of such astute statesmen as Cardinal Mazarin and Don Louis de Haro upon the mischievous tendencies of political women, it may be well, in the instance of Madame de Longueville to couple the sentiments of an acute and highly intellectual writer of our own day, who showed herself a subtle analyst of character. Mrs. Jameson, discoursing upon the characteristics of Shakespere's women (in the form of a dialogue between Alda and Medon) calls them "affectionate, thinking beings, and moral agents; and then witty, as if by accident, or as the Duchess de Chaulnes said of herself 'Par la grace de Dieu.'

"Or," retorts Medon, the male interlocutor, "politicians to vary the excitement! How I hate political women!

"Alda. Why do you hate them?

"Medon. Because they are mischievous.

"Alda. But why are they mischievous?

"Medon. Why?—why are they mischievous? Nay, ask them, or ask the father of all mischief, who has not a more efficient instrument to further his designs in this world than a woman run mad with politics. The number of political, intriguing women of this time, whose boudoirs and drawing-rooms are the foyers of party spirit, is another trait of resemblance between the state of society now and that which existed at Paris before the Revolution."

In another place, however, the same judicious and usually discriminating writer is betrayed into giving—more from conjecture, it would seem, than close acquaintance with the facts of her life—an historically false and singularly unjust estimate of Madame de Longueville's character.

"Alda. Women are illustrious in history, not from what they have been in themselves, but generally in proportion to the mischief they have done or caused. * * * Of those which have been handed down to us by many different authorities under different aspects, we cannot judge without prejudice; in others there occur certain chasms which it is difficult to supply; and hence inconsistencies we have no means of reconciling, though doubtless they might be reconciled if we knew the whole, instead of a part.

"Medon. But instance—instance!

"Alda. Do you remember that Duchess de Longueville, whose beautiful picture we were looking at yesterday?—the heroine of the Fronde?—think of that woman—bold, intriguing, profligate, vain, ambitious, factious!—who made rebels with a smile; or if that were not enough, the lady was not scrupulous,—apparently without principle as without shame, nothing was too much! And then think of the same woman protecting the virtuous philosopher Arnauld,[3] when he was denounced and condemned, and from motives which her worst enemies could not malign, secreting him in her house, unknown even to her servants—preparing his food herself, watching for his safety, and at length saving him. Her tenderness, her patience, her discretion, her disinterested benevolence not only defied danger (that were little to a woman of her temper), but endured a lengthened trial, all the ennui caused by the necessity of keeping her house, continued self-control, and the thousand small daily sacrifices which, to a vain, dissipated, proud, impatient woman, must have been hard to bear. Now, if Shakespere had drawn the character of the Duchess de Longueville, he would have shown us the same individual woman in both situations:—for the same being, with the same faculties and passions and powers, it surely was: whereas in history, we see in one case a fury of discord, a woman without modesty or pity; and in the other an angel of benevolence, and a worshipper of goodness; and nothing to connect the two extremes in our fancy.

[3] The Jansenist.

"Medon. But these are contradictions which we meet on every page of history, which make us giddy with doubt or sick with belief; and are the proper objects of inquiry for the moralist and the philosopher."

* * * * *

With a true eye for the refined and the beautiful, and that honestly sympathetic nature without which it is impossible to discriminate between what is noble and what is mediocre, still Mrs. Jameson, in the above reflections upon the character of Madame de Longueville, was obviously led to draw hasty and erroneous conclusions either from a superficial glance at detached passages in the Duchess's extraordinary career with regard to the dates of which she is widely in error, or others during which her conduct and actions were but too easily susceptible of misrepresention and distortion at the hands of partisan writers. Such unjust judgment would most probably be formed by accepting anecdotes, like those contained in Tallemant's scandalous chronicle or Bussy Rabutin's "Letters," as historic truths; or by placing implicit faith in every statement made by De Retz or La Rochefoucauld, given as both were to exaggeration and over-colouring, and whose object, moreover, was not so much to tell the truth as always to exalt themselves, sometimes by its suppression, at others by downright falsification.

Without attempting to extenuate the errors of Madame de Longueville, moral or political, it has been the author's endeavour to reconcile the apparent contradictions in her character, imputed in the passage above cited, by assigning the different incidents, which have doubtless caused an intelligent woman to falter in her judgment, to their proper place in the order of time. For as, during the Olympian contests, swift-footed Spartan boys, to typify the transmission of Truth, ran with a lighted torch, and, as each fell breathless, another took up the flambeau and bore it on, bright and rapid, to the goal, so should the light of History be passed steadily and carefully from hand to hand, and its sacred flame—the Truth—be kept ever burning clearly onward in the course of time.



SIDE by side with the two great statesmen, Richelieu and Mazarin, the clever, daring, vivacious, charming Marie de Rohan occupied a more elevated position, and certainly played a more extended part, than any other of the political women who were her contemporaries during the stirring times of the first half of the seventeenth century.

Seductive, with irresistible fascination of manner, singular grace and animation; of pregnant wit, though quite uneducated; devoted to gallantry, and too high-spirited to heed propriety; obeying no control save that of honour; despising, for those she loved, danger, fortune, and opinion; rather restless than ambitious; risking willingly her own life as well as that of others; and after having passed the best part of her existence in intrigue of every kind—thwarted more than one plot—left more than one victim on her path—traversed nearly the whole of Europe, by turns an exile and a conqueress who not unfrequently dazzled even crowned heads; after having seen Chalais lay his head on the block, Chateauneuf turned out of the ministry and imprisoned, the Duke de Lorraine well-nigh despoiled of his territories, Buckingham assassinated, the King of Spain embroiled in a war of ever-recurring disasters, Anne of Austria humiliated and overcome, and Richelieu triumphant; sustaining the struggle, nevertheless, even to its bitter end; ever ready, in that desperate game of politics—become to her a craving and a passion—to descend to the darkest cabals or adopt the rashest resolves; with an incomparable faculty of discerning the actual state of affairs or the predominant evil of the moment, and of strength of mind and boldness of heart enough to grapple with and destroy it at any cost; a devoted friend and an implacable enemy; and, finally, the most formidable foe that Richelieu and Mazarin, in their turn, encountered:—such was the celebrated Duchess de Chevreuse whom we have seen alternately courted and dreaded by the two great political master-spirits of her time, the founders of monarchical unity in France.

When the Fronde broke out, that ardent factionist rushed once more to Brussels, and there brought over to her party the support of Spain, together with her own long experience. She was then nearly fifty years old. Age and sorrow, it is true, had dimmed the lustre of her beauty; but she was still abounding in attraction, and her firm glance, her decision, her quick and accurate perception, her dauntless courage and genius, were yet entire. She had there also found a last friend in the Marquis de Laigues, captain of the Duke d'Orleans' guards, a man of sense and resolution, whom she loved to the end, and whom, after the decease of the Duke de Chevreuse in 1657, she linked probably with her own destiny by one of those "marriages of conscience"[4] then somewhat fashionable. It was not our purpose to follow her step by step through the last civil war, and so plunge the reader into the labyrinth of the Fronde intrigues. Suffice it to say, therefore, that she played therein one of the most prominent parts. Attached, heart and soul, to that faction and its essential interests, she steered it through all the shoals and quicksands which encircled it with incomparable skill and vigour. After having so long enlisted the support of Spain, she knew the proper moment to effect a timely separation from it. She always preserved her great influence over the Duke de Lorraine, and it is not difficult to recognize her hidden hand behind the different and often contrary movements of Charles IV. She had a principal share in the three great movements which mark and link together the entire history of the Fronde between the war in Paris and the peace of Ruel. In 1650 she was inclined to prefer Mazarin to Conde, and she ventured to advise laying hands on the victor of Rocroy and Lens. In 1651—an interval of incertitude for Mazarin, who very nearly ensnared himself in the meshes of his own craftiness and a too-complicated line of conduct—a great interest, the well-founded hope of marrying her daughter Charlotte to the Prince de Conti, brought her back once more to the Conde party, and hence the deliverance of the imprisoned Princes. In 1652, the accumulated blunders of Conde brought her back again and for ever to Anne of Austria and Mazarin. She did not endorse De Retz's foolish idea of constructing a third party during the revolt, nor dream of a government shared between Conde and Mazarin, with a worn-out parliament and the fickle Duke d'Orleans. Her politic instinct told her that, after an intestine struggle so long sustained, a solid and durable power was the greatest necessity of France. Mazarin, who, like Richelieu, had never opposed her but with regret, sought for, and was very glad to follow her advice. She passed over, therefore, with flying colours to the side of royalty, served it, and in return received its services. After Mazarin, she predicted the talent in Colbert, before he was appointed to office; she laboured at his elevation and the ruin of Fouquet: and the proud but judicious Marie de Rohan gave her grandson, the Duke de Chevreuse, the friend of Beauvilliers and Fenelon, to the daughter of a talented burgess—the greatest financial administrator France ever had. Thenceforward she readily obtained all she could desire for herself and for her family; and thus having reached the summit of renown and consideration, like her two illustrious sister-politicians, Madame de Longueville and the Princess Palatine, she finished in profound peace one of the most agitated careers of that stormiest of epochs—the seventeenth century.

[4] See "Memoirs of Brienne the Younger," tom. ii. chap. xix., p. 178. "Le Marquis de Laigues qui certainement etoit mari de conscience de la Duchesse."

It is said that the Duchess also, towards the close of her earthly pilgrimage, felt the influence of divine grace, and turned heavenwards her gaze, wearied with the changefulness of all sublunary things. She had seen successively fall around her all whom she had either loved or hated—Richelieu and Mazarin, Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria, the Queen of England, Henrietta Maria, and her amiable daughter the Duchess d'Orleans, Chateauneuf, and the Duke of Lorraine. Her fondly loved daughter had expired in her arms, of fever, during the miserable war of the Fronde. He who had been the first to lure her from the path of duty—the handsome but frivolous Holland—had ascended the scaffold with Charles I.; and her last friend, much younger than herself, the Marquis de Laigues, had preceded her to the tomb.

Arrived at length but too clearly at the conviction that she had given up her mind to chimeras and illusions, and seeking self-mortification through the same sentiment which had brought about her ruin, the once-haughty Duchess became the humblest of women. Renouncing all worldly grandeur, she quitted her splendid mansion in the Faubourg St. Germain, built by Le Muet, and retired into the country—not to Dampierre, which would have only too vividly recalled to her remembrance the brilliant days of her past existence—but to a modest dwelling at Gagny, near Chelles. There she awaited her last hour, far from the world's observation, and ere long expired in tranquillity at the age of seventy-nine, the same year as Cardinal de Retz and Madame de Longueville. She desired to have neither solemn obsequies nor funeral oration, and forbade that any of those lofty titles which she had borne through life and had learned to despise should accompany her to the grave. It was her wish to be buried obscurely in the small and ancient church of Gagny; and there, in the southern aisle, near the chapel of the Virgin, some faithful but unknown hand has placed upon a slab of black marble the following epitaph:—

"Here lies Marie de Rohan, Duchess de Chevreuse, daughter of Hercule de Rohan, Duke de Montbazon. She espoused, first, Charles d'Albert, Duke de Luynes, peer and constable of France, and secondly, Claude de Lorraine, Duke de Chevreuse."



THE political importance of the Princess Palatine dates from 1650, when the arrest of Conde, Conti, and the Duke de Longueville urged her, as we have seen, to take part in the struggles of the Fronde. The Duchesses de Chevreuse, De Montbazon, De Guemene, and other famous feminine factionists of that time, became, in the hands of Anne de Gonzagua, as so many wires with which she moved at her will the men whom these women governed; for the Princess exercised alike over all those men and women that superiority which disinterestedness, good faith, and firmness of decision confer. De Retz, when he discovered her characteristics, was immediately struck with the above-named qualities, especially the two latter. "To have stability of purpose," said he, when speaking of his first interview with Anne, "is a rare quality, which indicates an enlightened mind far above the ordinary class." And further on, "I do not think," he remarks, "that Queen Elizabeth had more capacity to govern a state." Mazarin, too, somewhat later, in alluding to the dread in which he held the famous trio of political women for their capacity to work mischief, remarked to Don Louis de Haro:—"The most turbulent of the male politicians do not give us half so much trouble to keep them within bounds as the intrigues of a Duchess de Chevreuse or a Princess Palatine."

Anne de Gonzagua, the Princess Palatine, lived long after the Fronde in the midst of all sorts of political troubles and diplomatic intrigues: conferences innumerable were held beneath her roof, and in that tortuous labyrinth she wandered and manoeuvred to her heart's delight. Sometimes she laboured to reconcile Conde with Anne of Austria, sometimes to reunite Gaston and Conde, or perhaps the Queen and Madame de Longueville. She often failed, it is true, in these attempts, and meanwhile Mazarin, with more address, setting in motion in his retreat beyond the frontier the most powerful machinery, and making magnificent promises, again appeared above the political horizon—winning over his enemies one after another through his secret agents; at one time it was Chateauneuf, at another Gondi, whom he made for good and all a cardinal; at another it was Madame de Chevreuse. He had passed his word to the Princess Palatine that he would some day give her the post of superintendent of the young Queen's household: he did so, in fact, but on condition that she should relinquish it two months later to the Countess de Soissons, which she did in all good faith. Then she withdrew from court, somewhat undeceived no doubt touching men and things therein, if it really were the case that she ever had indulged in great illusions concerning court life.

Years rolled away, however: Mazarin died. Court intrigue with her was at an end. The personages who had been mixed up in the Fronde hurly-burly, so menacing in reality, so puerile in aspect, so insignificant as an isolated fact, and so formidable as a symptom, appeared affected by that decay which change of circumstances more than lapse of time imposes upon men and ideas. All that sort of thing was out of fashion. The reign of the Grand Monarque was in all its heyday. Besides, the Palatine was no longer young; she had married her daughters, and dwelt in seclusion. And it was when living thus tranquilly that a rapid, unforeseen, enthusiastic conversion came upon her like a surprise. For all relating thereto, we must listen to Bossuet, who dwells upon it in his funeral oration upon the Princess. His eloquence revels in relating the miracles suddenly wrought in such a soul as hers. He expatiates on that sudden change with an apostolic joy and an incomparable majesty: it was a subject worthy of him, the brilliant narrator of solemn events. It was exoteric to that life upon which it was so difficult to pronounce an eulogium; he was not trammelled in the flow of his diction by those oratorical precautions which are so distressingly hampering to an impetuous genius like his. He celebrated a victory of grace, and that in accents the most touching and expressions the most powerful. It was the hymn of an illustrious conversion, chanted by the noblest mortal voice ever heard.

Bossuet relates with inimitable art the Princess's two dreams; the simple anecdotes are dramatised, poetised—one might almost say sanctified—in proceeding from his lips. But, in short, whether Anne de Gonzagua saw or thought that she saw that mystical mendicant, and those symbolical animals, in her slumbers, the truth is that in soul she was touched, agitated, shaken, overcome. An ardent faith, an invincible longing for prayer and penitence, had obtained the mastery over that rebellious soul. She felt once more the enthusiasm of her early youth; she felt beating once more, at the Divine Master's name, that heart which had too often throbbed for His creatures only. Her scepticism vanished; she had no other ambition left save that of gaining heaven, and holy tears were seen to dim those eyes wherein it once seemed as though the source of such emotion was dried up for ever. It was done. A great thing was accomplished, whatsoever had been the cause. A soul which incredulity had frozen into apathy became fervent before its Creator. Anne de Gonzagua did not fear to let her repentance be seen; she desired that the publicity of her penitence might obliterate, if it were possible, the scandal of her past life. Her conscience became tender, even scrupulous. "Plus elle etait clairvoyante," says Bossuet; "plus elle etait tourmentee." Henceforward she devoted herself wholly to charity and prayer. She became as humble as she had hitherto been proud. She cherished a life of seclusion as much as she had once loved mundane notoriety. She became as sincerely a Christian as she had formerly been an infidel. During the lapse of twelve years this startling confession of faith did not belie itself for a single day. "Everything became poor about her house and person," says her illustrious panegyrist. "She saw with sensible delight the relics of the pomps of this world disappear one after another, and alms-giving taught her to retrench daily something fresh.... A person so delicate and sensible had suffered for twelve entire years, and almost without an interval, either the most vivid anguish or languor exhausting alike to mind and body; and notwithstanding, during the whole of that time, and in the unheard-of torments of her last illness, in which her sufferings were increased to the utmost excess, she had not to repent of having once wished for an easier death. Again and again did she suppress that weak wish by uttering, so soon as she felt it arising, with the Saviour, the prayer of the Sacred Mystery of the Garden, 'Father, thy will, not mine, be done!'"

Such a sight must have moved the least susceptible—to have beheld the Palatine thus redeem her past errors. She was anxious to write with her own hand the account of her conversion, and addressed it to the celebrated Rance, the Abbe of La Trappe. It was from that narrative that Bossuet drew the source of his own. Some few years previously, with that polished and elegant vein which intercourse with so many superior minds tends to create, she had written, as though she had foreseen that she would not despair of her spiritual future, a short but charming panegyric upon Hope. Bussy-Rabutin has preserved this relic in one of his letters. "I have never in my life," he says, with no doubt a little too much enthusiasm, "seen anything better or more delicately written." There is to be found in it, it is true, a happy inspiration and a passage capable of pleasing minds struggling with difficulties. "It is permitted to us," she says, "to measure our hope by our courage, it is noble to sustain it amidst trials; but it is not less glorious to suffer the entire ruin of it with the same high-heartedness which had dared to conceive it." Those are noble sentiments, and revealing a vigorous mental power. The end of the Princess Palatine (1681) showed clearly that she had not, for the mere pleasure of expressing herself elegantly, vaunted the delights of a saint-like hope. "Ready to render up her soul," says Bossuet, "she was heard to utter in dying accents, 'I am about to see how God will treat me, but I hope for His mercy.'" Such was the close of that life, the piety of which illuminated its latter years; such was the death of that Princess who, after having been remarkable among the women of her time for her beauty, her errors, and, at last, by her penitence, had the rare good fortune to be praised by the most illustrious of historians, priests, and authors of the great century.

Our notice of this celebrated woman would be incomplete without a passing glance at the singular fortunes of Henri de Guise, subsequent to his desertion of his first love, Anne de Gonzagua.

The Duke de Guise, after playing a conspicuous part in the first dissensions of the Regency, and after having killed Coligny, had married at Brussels the widow of the Count de Bossut, with whom he became quickly disgusted, and whose fortune he squandered. A violent passion next possessed him for the charming and witty Mademoiselle de Pons, maid of honour to the Queen. He took it into his head to espouse her, and "the marriage was spoken of as though he had never been married before." That phantasy, however, did not hinder him from taking part, as a volunteer, in the campaigns of 1644 and 1645. Whilst at Rome in 1647, endeavouring to obtain a dispensation to enable him to secure the hand of Mademoiselle de Pons, the Neapolitans, having revolted against the Spaniards under Masaniello, elected him as their leader, and gave him the title of generalissimo of their army. Brave, enterprising, and born for adventure, able, moreover, to render available ancient pretensions to that kingdom, through Rene d'Anjou, who in 1420 had espoused Isabelle de Lorraine, encouraged in short, if not supported, by the French Court, where it was deemed politic to keep at a distance from it a man bearing the great name of Guise, so formidable some sixty years before, the young prince embarked in a simple felucca, sailed boldly through the naval armament of Don Juan, seized the reins of government, defeated the Spanish troops, and made himself master of the country. He won all hearts by his address, his gentleness, and his affability. But want of circumspection in his gallantries, the objects of which were not always of a rank equal to his own, caused jealousies and discontent among the nobles. His enemies, profiting by a sortie which he made for the purpose of getting a convoy into Naples, delivered up the city to the Spaniards. His repeated efforts to re-enter the place proved futile. After having defended himself like a lion, he was nevertheless carried prisoner to Madrid. The great Conde, who was then serving the enemies of his country, demanded that Guise should be set at liberty, in the hope that he might foment troubles in France. But the ill-treatment which the Duke had experienced at the hands of the Spaniards left impressions upon his mind which made him regardless of a promise that had been extorted from him. He attempted again in 1654 to reconquer the kingdom of Naples, with the aid of a French fleet, but failed of success. He then went back to Paris to seek indemnity for the loss of his crown. In 1655 he was appointed to the post of grand-chamberlain of France. He figured in the famous carrousel of 1663, at the head of a quadrille of American savages, whilst the great Conde appeared as chief of the Turks. On seeing those two personages so pitted, some wit observed, "There go the heroes of history and fable." The Duke de Guise might indeed be very aptly compared to a mythological entity, or to a knight errant of the age of chivalry. His duels, his romantic amours, his profusion, the varied adventures of his life, rendered him exceptionable in everything. He died in 1664, leaving no issue.

1  2  3  4  5  6  7     Next Part
Home - Random Browse