Secret History of the French Court under Richelieu and Mazarin/Chapter I
MADAME DE CHEVREUSE;
SECRET HISTORY OF THE FRENCH COURT UNDER
RICHELIEU AND MAZARIN.
Madame de Chevreuse and Richelieu
If our readers are not wearied with our portraits of the women of the seventeenth century, we should be glad to present to them two new figures equally, though differently remarkable—two persons whom the caprice of Fate cast in the same age, the same party, amidst the same events, but who far from resembling each other, expressed, as we may say, the two opposite sides of the character, and the destiny of woman—both endowed with resplendent beauty, marvellous talent, and indomitable courage; yet the one as pure as beautiful, uniting in herself grace and dignity, everywhere inspiring love and commanding respect, at one time the idol and the favorite of a king without even the shadow of an injurious suspicion daring to raise itself against her, proud, even to haughtiness, towards the prosperous and powerful, gentle and compassionate to the oppressed and miserable, loving greatness, placing naught but virtue above position, mingling together the sparkling wit of a precieuse, the fastidiousness of a fashionable beauty, the intrepidity of a heroine, the dignity of a high-born lady, above all a Christian without bigotry, yet devout, and even austere, leaving behind her an odor of sanctity; the other, perhaps more fascinating, of an irresistible grace and vivacity, full of talent, yet very ignorant, sharing in all the perils of the Catholic party, but scarcely thinking of religion, too proud to condescend to prudence, and curbed only by honor, devoted to gallantry, and counting all else as nothing, despising for the one whom she loved, danger, opinion and fortune, more restless than ambitious, and willingly staking her own life, as well as that of others; and after having passed her youth in intrigues of every sort, thwarting more than one plot, leaving on her path more than one victim, travelling over Europe as an exile, yet a conqueror, turning the heads of kings,—after having seen Chalais mount the scaffold, Châteauneuf expelled from the ministry, the Duke of Lorraine almost despoiled of his estates, Buckingham assassinated, the King of Spain engaged in an unsuccessful war, Queen Anne humiliated and vanquished, and Richelieu triumphant; sustaining the struggle to the end, always ready in this game of politics which had become her necessity and her passion, to descend to the darkest intrigues, and to make the rashest resolves; of an incomparable eye for recognizing the true position of affairs, and the enemy of the moment, and of a mind strong enough, and a heart bold enough to undertake to destroy him at any cost; a devoted friend, an implacable enemy almost without knowing hatred, in short, the most redoubtable enemy encountered in turn by Richelieu and by Mazarin. The reader will easily divine that we speak of Madame de Hautefort and of Madame de Chevreuse.
Need we add that we do not intend to trace here fancy portraits, and that if we sometimes seem to recount romantic adventures, it is in conformity with all the rigor of the laws of history. These sketches, though fanciful in appearance, are worthy of the fullest confidence, and will soon be acknowledged as resting upon the testimony of approved cotemporary witnesses, or upon authentic documents as reliable as new, which will bear the scrutiny of the most exacting critic.
We commence with Madame de Chevreuse. She dates further back in the seventeenth century than does Madame de Hautefort—she at least precedes if she does not excel her. It must also be said that she filled a more lofty station, and played a more conspicuous part, and that her name belongs as much to the history of the politics as of the society of her age.
Madame de Chevreuse in truth possessed almost all the qualities of a great politician, a single one was wanting, and it was the one precisely without which all the others ran to waste—she did not know how to propose to herself a just aim, or rather she never chose one for herself; it was another that chose for her. Madame de Chevreuse was a woman in the fullest sense—in this was her strength, and also her weakness. Her first impulse was love, or rather gallantry, and the interests of the one whom she loved became her chief aim. Here lies the solution of the prodigies of sagacity, adroitness and energy which she displayed in vain in the pursuit of a chimera, which constantly receded from her grasp, while it seemed to lure her on by the very prestige of difficulty and danger. Rochefoucauld accuses her of having brought misfortune on all whom she loved; it is also just to say that all who loved her precipitated her in turn into their own mad enterprises. It was not she, apparently, who made of Buckingham a sort of Paladin without genius, of Charles IV. a brilliant adventurer, of Chalais a madman insane enough to pledge himself against Richelieu on the faith of the Duke of Orleans, and of Châteauneuf a restless second-rate aspirant, without being capable of attaining to be first. One must not believe that he knows Madame de Chevreuse when he has read the celebrated portrait which Retz has drawn of her, for this is exaggerated and overdrawn like all those of Retz, and was designed solely to gratify the malignant curiosity of Madame de Caumartin—without being really false, it is severe almost to injustice. Did it belong, indeed, to the restless and intemperate accomplice to become the pitiless censor of a woman in whose errors he had shared? Was he not also as much deceived as she, and for a much longer time? Did he show in the combat more address and courage, and in the defeat, more intrepidity and constancy? But Madame de Chevreuse has written us no memoirs in the easy and piquant style in which she retrieved her fortunes at the expense of the world. For our own part, we recognize two judges of her whose testimony cannot be regarded with suspicion—Richelieu and Mazarin. Richelieu did his best to gain her, and failing to succeed, treated her as an enemy worthy of himself; he exiled her repeatedly, and even after his death, when the gates of France were opened to all the outlaws, his implacable resentment—surviving him in the mind of the dying Louis XIII., closed them still upon her. Read the carnets (note-books) and the confidential letters of Mazarin attentively, and you will detect there the deep and continual anxiety which she caused him in 1643. Later, during the Fronde, he is found to be reconciled to her, and following her counsels, as judicious as they are bold. Finally, in 1660, when Mazarin, victorious everywhere, adds the treaty of the Pyrenees to that of Westphalia, and when Don Luis de Haro congratulates him on the repose which he is about to taste after so many storms, the cardinal replies, that one never can promise himself repose in France, and that even the women there are greatly to be feared. "You Spaniards may well speak of your ease," said he; "your women trouble themselves about nothing but love; but it is not so in France; we have three there now who would be quite capable of governing or of overthrowing three great kingdoms—the Duchess de Longueville, the Princess Palatine and Madame de Chevreuse."
But first a word of the beauty of Madame de Chevreuse, for this beauty had a great share in her destiny. All her cotemporaries unite in celebrating it. A portrait nearly of life-size, which is in the possession of the Duke de Luynes, and which he has courteously shown to us, gives her an enchanting figure, a charming face, large blue eyes, fine and luxuriant chestnut-hair, a beautiful bust, and a piquant mingling of refinement and vivacity, grace and passion in her whole person. This indeed was the character of the beauty of Madame de Chevreuse; we find it again in the excellent engraving of Daret, which Harding has republished in England, and also in the picture of Ferdinand Elle, which represents her as a widow and aged. We feel in this last portrait that her dazzling beauty has passed away, but that acuteness, dignity, vivacity and grace are still surviving.
Marie de Rohan belonged to that ancient and illustrious family, the issue of the first sovereigns of Brittany, which, with its different branches, without counting its alliances, spread itself over, and long possessed, a considerable part of Brittany, dividing itself almost equally between the Catholic and the Protestant party in the sixteenth, and the commencement of the seventeenth centuries, zealously obeying royalty, and holding it in check by turns, and whose hereditary traits, strongly marked in both sexes, were loftiness of soul, bravery, and constancy. At the siege of Rochelle, two women, after enduring all the rigors of famine with the meanest of the soldiers, and subsisting like them upon horseflesh, chose rather to remain as prisoners in the hands of the enemy than to sign the articles of capitulation. These were the mother and the sister of the celebrated Duke de Rohan, one of our greatest warriors before Condé, and unquestionably our greatest military writer before Napoleon. The wife of this same Henri de Rohan defended Castres against the Marshal de Thémines. During the lapse of centuries, this noble house has not ceased to produce heroines of a resolute spirit, as well as beauties more brilliant than severe. In this respect, she whose history we are about to trace, showed no degeneracy from her race, she was truly of the blood of the Rohans.
She was daughter of Hercules de Rohan, Duke de Montbazon, a zealous servant of Henri IV., Peer and Master of the Hounds, and Governor of Paris and of the Isle of France, and of his first wife, Madeleine de Lenoncourt, sister of Urbain de Laval, Marshal de Bois-Dauphin. Born almost with the seventeenth century, in December, 1600, she lost her mother at a very early age, and in 1617 espoused that audacious favorite of Louis XIII., who, on the faith of the fickle friendship of a king, dared attempt to overthrow the authority of the queen-mother, Marie de Medicis, destroyed the Marshal d'Ancre, combated the Princes and the Protestants at the same time, and attempted against Richelieu himself the system of Richelieu. Let us ask in passing, Is it not unworthy of history to attribute the elevation of Luynes to the caprice of a king, who takes one of his pages, a petty gentleman, for his prime minister, solely because he finds him skilful in the art of training falcons? Such, perhaps, was the beginning of the fortunes of Luynes,—such was not the cause of it. This petty gentleman, son of Captain de Luynes, as he was called, one of the bravest and most intelligent of the officers of Henri IV., was himself a man of talent and courage, who, under the direct inspiration of Louis XIII., honorably restored and sustained while he lived the work of the great king which Richelieu had at first opposed in his character of the favorite of Marie de Medicis, and which he afterwards undertook with great zeal, gradually turning against his old friends and his first protectress, so far as to exile her precisely as De Luynes had done. The young and ambitious constable was well fitted to please the bold heart of the beautiful Marie, and she loved him faithfully. She had one daughter, a devotee, who died unmarried, and a son who played a rôle in the seventeenth century by his liaisons at Port Royal, translated into French the Meditations of Descartes, wrote estimable works of piety, under the name of M. de Laval, and continued the illustrious house.
The Duchess and Constabless de Luynes, left a widow in 1621, in 1622 espoused in a second marriage Claude de Lorraine, Duke de Chevreuse, one of the sons of Henri de Guise, Grand Chamberlain of France. His greatest merit lay in his name, and the good looks and valor which could never be wanting in a prince of the house of Lorraine; but he was disorderly in his business, and disagreeable in his manners, which may explain and extenuate the faults of his wife. Three daughters were born of this new marriage, two of whom died in convents, the third was the beautiful and celebrated Mademoiselle de Chevreuse, who was weak enough to listen to Retz, if we may believe his assertions, for which he repaid her by caricaturing her for the diversion of the one for whom he wrote.
The new Duchess de Chevreuse had been appointed superintendent of the queen's household during the life-time of her first husband, and had soon become the favorite of Anne of Austria as the constable was the favorite of Louis XIII. The court at that time was very brilliant, and gallantry the order of the day. Marie de Rohan was naturally gay and spirited. She yielded to the allurements of youth and pleasure. She had lovers, and these lovers forced her into politics. Retz himself admits this in the following passage, too famous to be omitted here, though we must first remark that even if it have a groundwork of truth, the coloring is greatly exaggerated:  "I never saw any one else," he says, "in whom intuition could supply the place of judgment. She often suggested expedients so brilliant that they seemed like flashes of lightning, and so wise that they would not have been disowned by the greatest men of any age. Yet these were only called forth by the occasion. If she had lived in an age in which there were no politics, she never would have invented any. If the prior of the Carthusians had pleased her, she would have become a recluse in good faith. M. de Lorraine first forced her into public affairs, the Duke of Buckingham and Count Holland sustained her in them, Châteauneuf interested her in them. She abandoned herself to them as she would unhesitatingly have abandoned herself to any thing that pleased the one whom she loved, without choice, and simply because it was necessary to her nature that she should love some one. She was easily persuaded to accept of any lover, but when she had once taken him, she loved him truly and faithfully, and she has confessed to Madame de Rhodes and myself that, by a strange caprice, those whom she had most esteemed she had never loved, with the exception of the unhappy Buckingham. Her devotion to a passion which may be called eternal, however often she may have changed its object, did not prevent a patch upon her face from abstracting her attention, but she always returned to her subject with a fascinating grace that made this little break absolutely enchanting. Never did person care less for perils, and never had woman more contempt for scruples and for duties,—she knew no duty but that of pleasing her lover." Of this sketch, which might have moved Tallemant to envy, retain at least these striking and faithful traits—the prompt and sure penetration of Madame de Chevreuse, her indomitable courage, and her loyalty and devotion in love. Besides, Retz is entirely mistaken as to the order of her adventures, he forgets some, and he invents others; he seems to regard the events in which the passions of Madame de Chevreuse caused her to take part as trifles, while in fact there were none greater or more tragical. Let us throw aside this trifling and frivolous style, and seek in its stead to establish the truth.
The young queen, Anne of Austria, and her youthful superintendent, who were nearly of the same age, only occupied themselves at first with frivolous pastimes. Anne, neglected by her husband, consoled herself with the society and the lively and happy humor of Madame de Chevreuse. They passed their time together, making of every thing "food for their wit and pleasantry: a giovine cuor tutto è giuoco." Lord Rich, afterwards the celebrated Count Holland, of the house of Warwick, came to the French court at the close of 1624, or the commencement of 1625, to demand the hand of the beautiful Henriette, sister of Louis XIII., for the Prince of Wales, who soon after became Charles I. During this negotiation, the Count became enamored with Madame de Chevreuse. He was young and singularly handsome; he pleased her, and won her over to the interests of England. This was, I believe, the true debut of Madame de Chevreuse, both in love and in politics. Holland, who was volatile, and a lover of pleasure and intrigue, persuaded her to entangle her royal friend in some love affair like their own. Anne of Austria was vain and coquettish, she loved to please, and with her country's taste for gallantry, aided by the freedom in which she was left by Louis XIII., she did not interdict herself from accepting homage; but here the game was not without danger, and the handsome and elegant Buckingham succeeded in seriously troubling the heart of the queen. It was not the fault of Madame de Chevreuse if Anne of Austria did not wholly yield. Buckingham was rash and the superintendent complaisant; and the queen only escaped at a perilous risk.
Whatever Retz may say of it, we doubt very much whether Buckingham was ever any thing more to Madame de Chevreuse than the intimate friend of her lover, and the chief of the party into which Holland had drawn her. She saw him for the first time in May, 1625, when he came to France to espouse Madame in behalf of Charles I., and, at that time, Buckingham was in the height of his infatuation for Queen Anne, while Madame de Chevreuse was in love with Count Holland, whom she soon rejoined in England, having had the art to cause herself to be appointed to escort the new Princess of Wales to her husband. Now, when Madame de Chevreuse loved, as Retz himself affirms, she loved faithfully and exclusively. At the age of twenty-four, one does not trifle with a first attachment to the extent of giving one's own lover to another, and the rôle which the poor woman already plays in this affair is not so honorable as to make us delight to vilify her still more. Madame de Chevreuse fell ill, it is true, on hearing the news of the assassination of Buckingham. Nothing was more natural; she lost in him a tried friend, the confidant of her first love, and the chief and the hope of the enemies of Richelieu. To the obscure insinuations of Retz, should be opposed the clear and connected account of La Rochefoucauld, and above all, the silence of Tallemant, who would not have failed to add this item to his scandalous chronicles, had he ever heard the story. Thus, without pretending to scan such things clearly, especially after the lapse of two centuries, but following our rule of admitting nothing except from sure testimony, we incline to the belief that the Duke of Buckingham should be struck from the list, still very numerous, of the lovers of Madame de Chevreuse, and that the handsome Chalais was the immediate successor of the elegant Count Holland in the heart of the beautiful duchess.
Without making of the conspiracy of Chalais, as Richelieu would have it, "the most frightful conspiracy of which history has ever made mention," we cannot refuse to admit that it was not so trifling an affair as Chalais asserted, trembling for his head. The court of Monsieur was already a focus of intrigues against Richelieu. Monsieur did not like his proposed marriage with Mademoiselle de Montpensier, and Anne of Austria, on her side, who had as yet no children, feared a marriage which might some day take the crown from her head, and transfer it to the house of Orleans. Henri de Talleyrand, Prince de Chalais, of the house of Perigord, came to the aid of Monsieur and the queen; he planned some dark intrigue  which Richelieu, perhaps, exaggerated, but which he succeeded in so firmly establishing in the mind of the king, that Louis XIII. not only abandoned Chalais as afterwards he abandoned Cinq-Mars, but remained persuaded during his whole life that the queen had been implicated in the affair, and that, he being dead or dethroned, she and Monsieur had entertained the thought of a union. Chalais mounted the first scaffold erected by Richelieu, despite the tears of his aged mother. Monsieur extricated himself from the affair by espousing Mademoiselle de Montpensier, the queen fell more deeply than ever into disgrace, and Madame de Chevreuse, perfidiously denounced by the Duke of Orleans, and also by Chalais himself, who, with his dying breath, vainly denied his first confessions, was condemned to depart from France. What part had she had in this conspiracy? That which both love and friendship had forced upon her. Chalais was her lover, and she was devoted to Anne of Austria. She was no more the originator of this plot than of any of the others which the Duke of Orleans so often commenced but never finished; but, on entering it, she brought into it all her ardor and her energy. Richelieu says, and we believe him, that "she did more harm than any one else." She dearly learned the cost of loving a queen too well. Anne of Austria escaped with a slight humiliation, but her courageous confidant saw the man whom she loved perish by the hand of the executioner, and herself torn from all the refinements of life, from the fêtes of the Louvre and from her beautiful château of Dampierre, and forced to seek an asylum in a foreign land. "Then," says Richelieu, "she was transported with rage." She even went so far as to say that they did not know her; that they thought that she only had mind enough for coquetry, but she would show them in time that she was capable of something else; that there was nothing that she would not do to avenge herself; and that she would abandon herself to a soldier of the guards rather than not obtain satisfaction from her enemies. She wished to go to England, where she was sure of the support of Holland, of Buckingham, and of Charles I. himself. This favor was not accorded her; her imprisonment was even talked of, and it was with difficulty that her husband obtained permission for her to retire into Lorraine.
It is well known that, instead of a refuge, she found there a most brilliant triumph. She dazzled, seduced and urged on the impetuous and adventurous Charles IV. She was not, as La Rochefoucauld has said, and as others have so often repeated, the primary cause of the misfortunes of this prince;—no, the true cause of the misfortunes of Charles IV. lay in his own character—in his presumptuous ambition, open to every wild fancy, which had to encounter such a politician as Richelieu. Let us not forget that these two personages were embroiled long before Madame de Chevreuse set foot in Nancy. Richelieu claimed several portions of the estates of the duke, who, being placed between Austria and France, began the warfare by declaring in favor of the former against the latter. He was the man the best fitted of all others to share the sentiments of Madame de Chevreuse, as she was admirably suited to second his designs. She found Charles IV. already pledged to Austria, she attached him to England, then ruled by Buckingham; she also established intelligence with Savoy, and thus formed a European league by which she secured to the interior the support of the Protestant party, controlled by her relatives, Rohan and Soubise. The plan was well laid; an English fleet, commanded by Buckingham himself, would disembark at the Isle of Ré and join the Protestants of La Rochelle; the Duke of Savoy would make a descent at the same time upon Dauphiny and Provence; and the Duke de Rohan, at the head of the Reformers, would stir up Languedoc, while the Duke of Lorraine should march towards Paris by the way of Champagne. The principal agent of this plan, charged with bearing messages to all the interested parties, was Lord Montagu, an intimate friend of Holland and of Buckingham, who, it is said, also suffered himself to be captivated by the charms of Madame de Chevreuse.
Richelieu, forewarned by his own sagacity, and by his police, watched all the movements of Montagu, dared to cause his arrest on the Lorraine territory, seized his papers, discovered the whole conspiracy, and faced it with his accustomed vigor. The principal attack upon the Isle of Ré was foiled, and Buckingham forced to an ignominious retreat. La Rochelle soon after yielded to the perseverance and skill of the cardinal, the vanquished coalition was dissolved, and England sued for peace, placing, among its most urgent conditions, the return of the beautiful exile, now become a political power for whom peace or war was made. "She was a princess who was much loved in England, and one for whom the king entertained an especial regard, and he would assuredly have insisted on including her in the treaty of peace if he had not been ashamed of making mention of a woman in it; but he would be greatly obliged if his majesty would not displease him in this. She had a fine mind, a potent beauty which she knew how to use to advantage, was never disheartened by any misfortune, and always retained her evenness of temper;" a less brilliant, but far more just and faithful portrait than that of Retz, and which may have been drawn by Richelieu's own hand, as it is probable that the cardinal, according to his custom, has here recapitulated the propositions of Montagu in his own style, instead of copying them verbatim. Be this as it may, Richelieu, who ardently desired to disengage himself from the Rohans, the Protestants, and England, in order to direct all his forces against Spain, accepted the desired condition, and Madame de Chevreuse returned to Dampierre.
A few years of tranquillity followed this turbulent life. Marie de Rohan reappeared at court in all her beauty. She was not yet thirty years of age, and one could scarcely look at her with impunity. Richelieu himself was not insensible to her charms; he endeavored to please her, but his homage was not accepted. To the all-powerful cardinal, Madame de Chevreuse preferred one of his ministers; and the one upon whom he had the best reason to count; she conquered him with a glance, and won him over to the party of the queen and the malcontents.
Charles de l'Aubépine, Marquis de Châteauneuf, of an ancient family of counsellors and secretaries of state, had succeeded Michael Marillac in the office of Keeper of the Seals in 1630; this he owed to the favor of Richelieu, and to the attachment which he had shown him. He had carried this devotion very far, for he had presided at Toulouse over the commission which had sentenced the imprudent and unfortunate Montmorenci, and had thus drawn upon himself the eternal enmity of the Montmorencis and the Condés. Châteauneuf had therefore given bloody pledges of fidelity to Richelieu, and they seemed inseparable. The cardinal had loaded him with favors, as was his custom towards his friends. Châteauneuf had been appointed chancellor of the royal orders, and Governor of Touraine. He was a consummate man of business, laborious and active, and endowed with that quality which best pleased the cardinal, resolution; but he had an inordinate ambition which he retained through life, and which when joined with love, rendered him blind to all but his purpose. We cannot but smile when we recall the assertion of Retz, that Châteauneuf amused Madame Chevreuse with public affairs. This amusement must have been of a very peculiar nature indeed, since she staked in it her fortune, and sometimes her head, and the intrigue in which they both were engaged was so rash, that here, at least, it must be admitted that it was not Châteauneuf who forced Madame de Chevreuse into it, but rather she who urged on the keeper of the seals.
Châteauneuf was then fifty years of age, and the sentiment that he had conceived for Madame de Chevreuse must have been one of those fatal passions which precede and mark the final departure of youth. As to Madame de Chevreuse, she shared to the fullest extent in the dangers and misfortunes of Châteauneuf, and never afterwards consented to separate his fortunes from her own. In all her aberrations, she at least preserved this remnant of honor, that when she loved, she loved with unbounded fidelity, and after the passion had passed away, she still maintained for its object an inviolable friendship. For some time, Richelieu had perceived that his keeper of the seals was no longer the same. His suspicious nature, seconded by his penetration and his incomparable police, had put him on the track of the most secret manoeuvres of Châteauneuf, and he afterwards amused himself by collecting all the proofs of the treason of his former friend in papers which have hitherto remained unpublished, and which seem to us to be a stray chapter of his Memoires. It is said that, during an illness which threatened the life of the cardinal, Anne of Austria gave a ball, at which Châteauneuf appeared and danced; a signal act of folly which opened the eyes of Richelieu, and incensed him greatly. On the twenty-fifth of December, 1633, the keeper of the seals was arrested, and all his papers seized. Fifty-two letters in the handwriting of Madame de Chevreuse were found, in which, under an easily read cypher and through a transparent disguise, the designs of Châteauneuf and the duchess were discovered. There were also many letters from the Chevalier de Jars, Count Holland, Montagu, Puylaurens, Count de Brion, the Duke de Vendôme, and even from the Queen of England. These papers were carried to the cardinal, who preserved them; after his death, they were found in his casket, and thus fell into the hands of the Marshal de Richelieu, who transmitted them to Père Griffet for his Histoire du règne du Louis XIII. An ancient copy is now in the possession of the Duke de Luynes, whose spirit is too noble to seek to screen from history the well-known faults of his illustrious ancestress, especially since these faults bear the stamp of a noble heart and lofty character. We have carefully examined these curious manuscripts, particularly the letters of Madame de Chevreuse. They show that Richelieu was assiduously attentive to her, that he was jealous of M. de Châteauneuf, and that the latter was alarmed by the circumspection which she preserved towards the prime minister, the better to conceal from him their intercourse and plans. We cannot read without interest different passages of these letters, in which we perceive the sprightly yet audacious wit of the duchess, her power over the keeper of the seals, and her fearless enmity to the cardinal, despite the deference with which she treated him:—
"Madame de Chevreuse complains to M. de Châteauneuf of her servant, who has so little faith in the generosity and friendship of his master, and who does very wrong when he asks whether Madame de Chevreuse neglects him to pledge herself to the cardinal. You do wrong to have this thought; the mind of Madame de Chevreuse is too noble for treacherous sentiments ever to enter it. This is why I regard the favor of the cardinal no more than his power, and I shall never do any thing unworthy of myself, either for the good which I may gain from the one, or the evil which I may suffer from the other. Believe this if you would do me justice. I shall devote my whole life to you; and remember that you have the advantage here, for I shall take great pleasure in pleasing you, and shall suffer much in displeasing you. These, conscientiously, are my sentiments, and you have no share in them if ever you displease your master.
"Madame de Chevreuse has seen the cardinal, who remained two hours at the palace of the queen. He paid her extravagant compliments, and uttered the most extraordinary flatteries in the presence of Madame de Chevreuse, to whom he spoke very coldly, affecting great negligence and indifference, while she treated him in her usual manner, without seeming to notice his mood. Upon his attempting to taunt her, Madame de Chevreuse jested at him in open defiance of his power. This surprised rather than irritated him, for he then changed his tone, and attempted courtesies and the greatest humility. I do not know whether he acted thus to conceal his ill-humor in the presence of the queen, or whether he did not wish to embroil himself with Madame de Chevreuse. I shall see him to-morrow at two o'clock. I will send you word of all that passes. Rest assured that Madame de Chevreuse will only live for the world while she lives for you."
"I believe that I am destined to be the object of the folly of madmen. The cardinal is a good proof of this; but whatever trouble his ill-humor may give me, it does not afflict me so much as does that of 37, (probably Brion, or perhaps de Thou,) who, without listening to my entreaties, or to the reasons which I have given him, insists on visiting Madame de Chevreuse, and says that nothing shall prevent him, even though Madame de Chevreuse tells him that she does not wish it, for fear of offending the cardinal. Should he discover it, I confess to you that the language of 37 troubles me greatly, for I cannot suffer it. I am sorry that 37 should have given me so many causes of annoyance after having given me so many reasons to be pleased with him. I am resolved not to see him if he come against my wishes, and not to receive his letters if he does not repent of the manner in which he has addressed Madame de Chevreuse, who can suffer this language from none other than you."
"Madame de Chevreuse has had no news from the cardinal. If he is as satisfied with not hearing from me as I am with hearing no more from him, he is well pleased, and I am freed from that persecution from which may time and our good angel deliver us!
"The tyranny of the cardinal increases every moment. He storms and rages because Madame de Chevreuse does not go to see him. I have written to him twice with compliments of which he is unworthy, and which I should never have offered to him, had it not been for the persecution of M. de Chevreuse, who said that these would purchase my repose. I believe that the favors of the king have carried his presumption to its highest point. He fancies that he can terrify Madame de Chevreuse by his anger, and persuades himself, in my opinion, that she will leave nothing untried to appease it; but she is resolved to perish rather than to submit to the cardinal. His glory is odious to me. He has said to my husband that my caprices were insupportable to a man of his temper, and that he was resolved no longer to pay me any special attention, since I was incapable of giving my friendship and confidence to him alone. I tell you this in confidence. Feign not to know it to M. de Chevreuse. He has had a little quarrel with me, for he has been so intimidated by the insolence of the cardinal that he wishes to persecute me into a base endurance of him. I esteem your courage and affection so highly that I wish you to know all the interests of Madame de Chevreuse. She confides so entirely in you that she believes them to be as safe in your hands as in her own. Love your master faithfully, and however persecuted he may be, believe that in all his actions he will prove himself worthy of love.
"I shall make no excuses to-day for not having written to you, but I wish you to believe that I have not ceased to think of you, although my letters have not expressed it to you. I can only describe the interview between the cardinal and Madame de Chevreuse by saying that he showed as much passion for your master as Madame de Chevreuse formerly thought existed in the heart of 33; but that Madame de Chevreuse always regarded as a true passion, whereas she believes this of the cardinal to be a feigned one. He told her that he had now no secrets from her, and that he would positively do all that she commanded him, provided that she would live in such a manner with him as to assure him that he stood higher in her esteem and confidence than any other on earth.… The one who promised to bring me news was here yesterday, but was very much cast down; two or three times he seemed to wish to tell me something, and I gave him sufficient opportunity, but he remained silent, and I know nothing of his sentiments except what I surmise. As soon as I know the truth, you shall be informed of it, and I will avail myself of it with him and with all the rest as I have promised you; be sure of this, and also that the promises of the cardinal will not shake me. Need I assure you of this? Can it be possible that you would even suspect it? I should be in despair if I believed so, but I have too good an opinion of you not to live in the certainty that you have not a bad one of me.
"I am driven to despair by what the cardinal has demanded of Madame de Chevreuse this evening. He has despatched a messenger to her to entreat of her two things: first, that she would not speak to Brion, (François Christophe de Levis, Count de Brion, one of the favorites of the Duke of Orleans, the future Duke de Damville,) and second, that she would not see M. de Châteauneuf. It is only the last that troubles me. However, my resolution of testifying my affection to M. de Châteauneuf is stronger than all considerations of the cardinal. I have therefore sent word to the cardinal that I cannot refuse the entreaties of M. de Chevreuse that I should see M. de Châteauneuf respecting several of his business affairs. My own chief business is to acquit myself of the obligations which I owe to M. de Châteauneuf, to whom I am more indebted than to any other person.
"There is no pleasure or fatigue which can prevent me from thinking of you, and from giving you tokens of it. These three lines are a proof of this truth, and I wish them to serve as the assurance of another, namely, that if M. de Châteauneuf is as devoted a servant in deeds as in words, Madame de Chevreuse will be a more grateful master in actions than in language.
"I do not doubt the trouble which you are in, and you protest that Madame de Chevreuse shares it, believing her the cause. Send me word how I can see you without the knowledge of the cardinal; for I will do any thing you may deem proper for this, wishing ardently to converse with you, and having many things to say to you which cannot well be explained in writing, especially concerning 37 and the cardinal, but the latter more particularly, having seen him this evening, and found him more than ever resolved to persecute Madame de Chevreuse. He parted on good terms with her, but she never found him in such a mood as to-day; so restless and so variable in his manner, now carried away by anger, then pacified in a moment into extreme humility. He cannot endure that Madame de Chevreuse should esteem M. de Châteauneuf, but he cannot prevent her; this I promise you, my faithful servant, whom I so call, because I believe him to be such. Adieu, I must see you at any cost. Send me an answer, and beware of the cardinal, who watches Madame de Chevreuse and M. de Châteauneuf, in whom Madame de Chevreuse confides as in herself.
"I would truly have given my life to have seen you yesterday. I went out in the evening, and was near going for this purpose to your sister's house, (Elisabeth de L'Aubéspine, who had married André de Cochefilet, Count de Vaucellas.) If the cardinal speaks to you of the visit of Madame de Chevreuse, tell him that it was respecting the affair of the Princess de Guymené, (sister-in-law of Madame de Chevreuse;) but I wish you to seem to be displeased with your master, and to despise him. I know that this will be painful to you, nevertheless you must obey me, because it is absolutely necessary. It is for this reason that I recommend it to you. Choose a favorable occasion for this. Do not send to my house. You shall often have news from me, and during my whole life, proofs of my affection. I shall be to-day where you are going.
"Although I am ill, I will not refrain from telling you the result of the visit of Madame de Chevreuse to the cardinal. He spoke of his passion, which, he said, was so great as to have caused his illness by reason of his displeasure at Madame de Chevreuse's conduct towards him. He expatiated in a long and querulous harangue upon the actions of Madame de Chevreuse, particularly respecting M. de Châteauneuf, and concluded by saying that he could no longer entertain his present sentiments for Madame de Chevreuse if she did not express her friendship for him differently from her past manner; to which Madame de Chevreuse replied that she had always endeavored to give the cardinal reason to be satisfied with her, and that she was now more anxious to please him than ever. The cardinal pressed Madame de Chevreuse in the strongest manner to discover how M. de Châteauneuf stood with her, saying that every one believed them to be extremely intimate, which I positively denied. I will say no more to you now, but believe that I esteem you as much as I despise him, and that I shall never have any secrets from M. de Châteauneuf, nor any confidence for the cardinal.
"I sacredly confirm the promise that I made you. If I have seemed to hesitate, it was not because I had since changed my mind, but merely to see if you were firm in yours. It is true that on this occasion you ask of me that which I desire to grant in order to make you more culpable if you fail in it, and me more excusable in what I shall have done.
"Should your affection be as perfect as is the ring you have sent me, you will never have cause to blush for having made an unworthy gift to your master, nor he for having received one from you.
"I share in the regret of departing without seeing you. My hatred of the cardinal's tyranny exceeds your own, but I wish to surmount rather than complain of it, since that would be the result of courage, and this of weakness. Never have I wished to converse with you so much as at this moment. The cardinal declares that Madame de Chevreuse will soon be on ill terms with you, and that M. de Châteauneuf does not love Madame de Chevreuse, and ridicules her with 47, (some unknown lady, perhaps Madame de Puisieux, whom Châteauneuf had long loved.) About her, I am in no concern; I believe M. de Châteauneuf faithful and affectionate to me, and shall be so to him through my whole life, provided that, as he has merited the good opinion which I have formed of him, he does not hereafter give me cause to lose it. I am in despair at not being able to send you to-day the picture of Madame de Chevreuse which I promised you.
"You have pledged yourself to many things, but it is necessary that you should know that the slightest failure will displease me exceedingly. Beware, therefore, of what you promise. It would be dishonorable to you if your actions did not conform to your words, and shameful to me if I suffered it. I say to you once more that you should not pledge yourself to so much if you are not well assured that you will never fail in it. I require but little where I do not expect all; but when you have promised this to me, and I have accepted the promise, I shall not be satisfied if there is the least reserve.
"I counsel you, being as yet unable to command and wishing no longer to advise you, to wear the diamond which I send you, so that on seeing the stone which has two peculiarities, one, of being firm, the other, so brilliant that it shows the slightest defects from afar, you may remember that you must be unshaken in your promises in order to please me, and must be guilty of no faults that I may not remark any.
"The cardinal is in a better humor towards Madame de Chevreuse than he has been since his return. He wrote to me this evening that he was extremely troubled about my illness, that all the favors of the king failed to give him pleasure while I remained in my present condition, and that the gayety of M. de Châteauneuf had convinced him that he bore no love to Madame de Chevreuse; that he had heard of her illness without concern; and that if Madame de Chevreuse had seen his air, she would have thought him the most dissembling, or the most unfeeling man in the world, and could never have loved him, or believed in him again. As to this, Madame de Chevreuse promises M. de Châteauneuf that, instead of being governed by the cardinal's advice, she will both love him and believe in him forever.
"I believe that M. de Châteauneuf fully belongs to Madame de Chevreuse, and I promise you that Madame de Chevreuse will ever regard M. de Châteauneuf as her own. Though all the world should neglect M. de Châteauneuf, Madame de Chevreuse will continue to esteem him so highly through her whole life that, if he loves her as truly as he has said, he will have reason to be content with his fortune, for all the powers of earth could not make me change my resolution. I swear this to you, and command you to believe it, and to love me faithfully.
"Last evening the cardinal sent to inquire after the health of Madame de Chevreuse, and wrote to her that he was dying to see her, and that he had many things to say to her, being more than ever devoted to Madame de Chevreuse, who sets little value on this protestation, but much on that which M. de Châteauneuf has made of being wholly hers. To-morrow I will tell you more. Love your master always; he is ill, and has only gone out when obliged for the last two days, but in whatever state he may be, and whatever may happen to him, he will die rather than fail in any thing he has promised you.
"At six o'clock last evening, the Cardinal de La Valette came to see Madame de Chevreuse on the part of the Cardinal de Richelieu. He addressed her sadly and submissively in behalf of his master. After this, he paid a forced admiration to Madame de Chevreuse, and offered a thousand gallantries which seemed insults to me. I answered him civilly and coldly. 37 is in despair; he says that he will destroy himself since Madame de Chevreuse will not see him; that the life which he has only cherished in the belief that it would one day be acceptable and useful to Madame de Chevreuse will henceforth be a burden to him; that having lost all hope he has lost the wish to live, and that this will be the last importunity that I shall receive from him. I hope that your affection is proof against every thing. I ask this favor of you, that it may be so, and promise you that as long as Madame de Chevreuse shall live, you shall receive the same love from her. This letter was commenced yesterday. The Cardinal de La Valette has since sent me a thousand compliments in behalf of the Cardinal de Richelieu.
"There is no means of saying any thing more about the diamond; but though the cardinal suspects Madame de Chevreuse, she will either remove his suspicions, or replace them by the conviction that all his prosperity cannot influence Madame de Chevreuse so far as to make her submit to the caprices of his whimsical humor. Do not disquiet yourself about this affair, but rather think of the health of your master who is ill and confined to his bed, for if you lose him, you will never find his like in fidelity and affection.
"I wish to see you as much as you do to converse with me, but I am troubled to find the means of doing so, because the cardinal must not know that we have met if we would not completely unhinge him. Send me word then how I must manage to see you without the knowledge of the cardinal.
"I shall always command you except this once, when I ask a favor of you, which is the greatest that you can grant me; it is that M. de Châteauneuf shall never suspect Madame de Chevreuse, but shall rest assured that he will never lose the good graces of his master until Madame de Chevreuse shall lose her life, which she hopes will not happen until she has first proved to M. de Châteauneuf how much he is esteemed by Madame de Chevreuse, though this may be more than she has promised him. But a good master never fears to err in obliging his servant, when he has proved himself full of fidelity and affection. The cardinal wishes to persuade Madame de Chevreuse that his heart is filled with both for her who will not believe his words. I would give my life to talk with you, but I know not how to manage this, for the cardinal must not know it. Consult with the bearer respecting the means for it, and believe that nothing but death can take away the sentiments that I feel for you.
"Never has there been any thing like the extravagance of the cardinal. He has written and sent the strangest complaints to Madame de Chevreuse. He says that she has constantly ridiculed him to Germain, (Lord Jermyn, the agent and particular friend of the Queen of England,) that he might tell in his own country of the contempt in which she holds him; that he knows for a certainty that Madame de Chevreuse and M. de Châteauneuf are in correspondence, and that your servants are constantly in my house; that I receive Brion because he is his enemy, in order to displease him; that everybody says that he is in love with me, and that he will no longer endure such conduct. Such is the state of the cardinal's mind. Send me word what you think of all this, but feign to know nothing of it. I shall see the cardinal here, and will inform you of all that passes. Believe that whatever may happen to your master, he will do nothing that is unworthy of himself, or which shall cause you to blush for belonging to him. I am a little better in health, and more than ever resolved to esteem M. de Châteauneuf till death, as I have promised you."
What was not the rage of the proud and imperious cardinal when he acquired certain proof that he had thus been deceived by a woman and betrayed by a friend! His vengeance fell heavily upon the two guilty ones. The only one of their accomplices whom he could reach, the Chevalier de Jars, was thrown into the Bastille and condemned to lose his head; he ascended the scaffold and there received his pardon. The Marquis de Hauterive, brother of the keeper of the seals, escaped with difficulty under cover of the night and took refuge in Holland. His nephew, the Marquis de Leuville, was arrested and confined for a long time in prison, and he himself was conducted to the citadel of Angoulême, where he remained ten years, while Madame de Chevreuse, treated more gently by the cardinal, who had still a remnant of hope, received for her sole punishment an order to retire to Dampierre. But the queen could not dispense with her society, and the two friends often wished to meet to console each other by talking about their troubles, and probably, also, to devise the means of ending them. Often, under cover of the evening twilight, Madame de Chevreuse came in disguise to Paris, was secretly introduced into the Louvre or the Val-de-Grâce, saw the queen, and returned at midnight to Dampierre. But these clandestine visits were soon discovered, or at least suspected, and the faithful and daring confidant of Anne of Austria was banished to Touraine to an estate of her first husband.
One can easily imagine the mortal ennui which overwhelmed the beautiful duchess, thus buried at thirty-three in the heart of a province, far from the noise and the splendor of Paris, far from all the emotions which were so dear to her, far from all intrigues both of politics and of love. It was but a dull amusement to her to turn the head of the old Archbishop of Tours, and to sustain herself she had great need of the visits of the young and amiable La Rochefoucauld, who lived in her neighborhood, and of the letters of Queen Anne. She remained at Tours four long years, from 1633 to the middle of 1637, employing her leisure and activity in concocting a mysterious correspondence between the queen, Charles IV., the Queen of England, and the King of Spain.
What was the real nature of this correspondence? Hitherto, all that we have known with certainty has been that it furnished food for the gravest accusations against the queen and Madame de Chevreuse. In this correspondence, the queen availed herself of the services of one of her valets de chambre, named La Porte. Sometimes, too, she retired to the Val-de-Grâce under the pretence of offering prayers, and there wrote letters which the superior, Louise de Milley, Mother de Saint Etienne, doubly devoted to Anne of Austria both as a Catholic and a Spaniard, undertook to forward to their address. The queen and her friends believed themselves acting under an impenetrable disguise; but the police of the suspicious cardinal were on the alert. A note of Anne to Madame de Chevreuse, which had been confided by La Porte to a man of whom he believed himself sure, but who betrayed him, was intercepted; and La Porte was arrested, thrown into a dungeon of the Bastille, and examined in turn by the most skilful agents of the cardinal, Laffemas and La Poterie, by the chancellor, Pierre Séguier, and by Richelieu himself. At the same time, the chancellor, accompanied by the Archbishop of Paris, ordered the gates of the Val-de-Grâce to be opened, searched the cell of the queen, seized all her papers, and examined the superior, the Mother de Saint Etienne, after having commanded her through the archbishop to speak the truth in the name of the obedience which she owed to him, and under penalty of excommunication. The queen also had much to endure, and was in great danger. Let us hear La Rochefoucauld, who ought to be correctly informed, since he was at that time, with Madame de Hautefort and Madame de Chevreuse, the most intimate confidant of Anne of Austria: "The queen was accused of having had a correspondence with the Marquis de Mirabel, Minister of Spain. This was construed into an offence against the state. Several of her domestics were arrested, and her caskets were seized. The chancellor examined her as a criminal; it was proposed to imprison her at Havre, to dissolve her marriage, and to repudiate her. In this extremity, abandoned by every one, destitute of all aid, and daring to confide in no one but Madame de Hautefort and me, she proposed to me to fly with them to Brussels. Whatever were the difficulties and dangers involved in such a project, I can truly say that it gave me the greatest joy of my life. I was then at the age in which one has a passion for brilliant and adventurous deeds, and I could conceive of none more daring than to carry away the queen from her husband and from the Cardinal de Richelieu, who was jealous of her, and at the same time to take away Madame de Hautefort from the king, who was enamored with her. Happily, affairs changed, the queen was found not guilty, the examination of the chancellor justified her, and Madame D'Aiguillon pacified the Cardinal de Richelieu."
All this story seems to us very suspicious. We do not for a moment believe that the queen ever entertained the insane idea which La Rochefoucauld attributes to her; he mistook a pleasantry of Madame de Hautefort for a serious proposition, and relates it here according to his custom to give himself an air of importance. Besides, whatever he may say, he was not daring enough to undertake so rash an enterprise; and we shall see that he was exceedingly circumspect on much less perilous occasions. The chancellor never required the queen to submit to an examination; the royal dignity positively forbade this; besides, the queen was not then in Paris, neither was she at the Val de Grâce when the chancellor visited it; she was with the king at Chantilly, and every thing was arranged by confidential explanations between the king, the queen, and Richelieu, without the intervention of the chief justice. The examination of the chancellor did not, therefore, justify the queen, nor was she acquitted; far from that, she was proved, and even acknowledged herself to be guilty, and it was to this confession that she owed the pardon which was granted her. Madame de Motteville explicitly declares this, when vindicating the innocence of her mistress, according to her usual custom. "The queen," says she, "could only obtain her pardon by signing with her own hand an acknowledgment that she had been guilty of all the things of which she had been accused, and she asked it of the king in the most humble and submissive terms.… Every one believed her to be innocent. She was so, in truth, as far as the king was concerned; but she was guilty if it were a crime to have written to her brother and to Madame de Chevreuse. La Porte, the servant of the queen, has himself related to me the particulars of this story. He recounted it to me at a time when he was in disgrace, and therefore dissatisfied with this princess, and what he told me is worthy of credence. He was arrested on the charge of being the bearer of letters of the queen, both to Spain and to Madame de Chevreuse. He was examined three times in the Bastille by La Poterie. The Cardinal de Richelieu wished to question him himself in the presence of the chancellor. He ordered him to be brought to his house into his own chamber, where he was questioned and cross-questioned upon all the points upon which they desired to confound the queen. He remained firm and avowed nothing…refusing the gifts and rewards which they proffered him, and choosing rather to die than to accuse the queen of crimes of which he said she was innocent. The Cardinal de Richelieu admiring his fidelity, yet persuaded that he did not speak truly, wished that he might be happy enough to have as faithful a servant as this man. A letter of the queen, written in cypher, was also discovered, and was shown her. She could not but acknowledge it; and, in order to prevent any discrepancy, it was necessary to report to La Porte this avowal of the queen that he might confirm it. It was on this occasion that Madame de Hautefort, who was still in the court, generously resolving to sacrifice herself to save the queen, disguised herself as a waiting maid, and went to the Bastille to convey a letter to La Porte, which she succeeded in doing at much risk and danger to herself, through the adroitness of the Commander de Jars, then a prisoner there. He was an adherent of the queen, and had gained over many of the people of the place, who conveyed the letter to the hands of La Porte. It apprised him of what the queen had confessed, so that being again examined by Laffemas and menaced with the question ordinary and extraordinary, he feigned to be terrified, and said that if they would send him some officer of the queen, who was a trustworthy man, he would confess all that he knew. Laffemas, believing that he had gained him, told him that he might name any one whom he chose, who would, doubtless, be sent to him. La Porte asked for one named Larivière, an officer of the queen, whom he knew to be a friend of Laffemas, and whom he really distrusted; this offer Laffemas accepted with joy. The king and the cardinal immediately sent for Larivière, and commanded him to go to La Porte without seeing the queen, and persuaded by their promises, he agreed to do all that they wished. He was taken to the Bastille, where he commanded La Porte, in the name of the queen, to reveal all that he knew concerning her affairs. La Porte feigned to believe that the queen had sent him, and told him with much hesitation all that the queen had before confessed, protesting that this was all he knew. The Cardinal de Richelieu was confounded and the king satisfied. La Porte, who is a worthy and honest man, has assured me that, having seen the letters in question, and knowing their contents, he was astonished that accusations could be formed from them against the queen, as they simply consisted of sarcasms against the Cardinal de Richelieu, and certainly said nothing against the king or the state." La Porte, in his Memoires, confirms this recital of Madame de Motteville; he declares that there was no "finesse" in the correspondence of the queen and Madame de Chevreuse, and that the whole affair was concerted, in order "to entangle Madame de Chevreuse in it, and to make the public believe it was a dangerous cabal against the state; for it was the custom of his eminence to make trifling matters pass for great conspiracies."
It remains to be discovered whether these were, in truth, "but trifling matters," as La Porte asserts. We have listened to the testimony of friends of the queen and of Madame de Chevreuse, but we must also hear Richelieu; above all, we must hear those witnesses which are more reliable than all the "Memoirs;" namely, the original and authentic documents of which Richelieu has written, and which have escaped all the historians except Père Griffet, who, in this affair as in that of Châteauneuf, gathered every thing, sifted every thing, and then, with the documents in his hand, justified the cardinal. Thanks to these documents, which we too have studied, every disguise is removed; we read clearly the conduct of Anne of Austria; we see, with all deference to La Rochefoucauld, Madame de Motteville, and La Porte, that she was certainly guilty, and that Madame de Chevreuse was probably her principal accomplice, since she had continued to be as firmly leagued with her during her exile in Touraine as at the time that she was superintendent of her household.
Against Madame de Chevreuse, neither whose person nor papers were seized, there were merely presumptions—but these were very strong presumptions. La Porte, the valet de chambre of the queen, and the avowed bearer of the most of her letters, belonged to Madame de Chevreuse as much as to the queen herself; and even had a room at the Hotel de Chevreuse, which served him as a retreat. The duchess, before her departure to Tours in 1633, went twice, privately, from Dampierre to the Val de Grâce, where she had an interview with Anne of Austria. Lord Montagu, the well-known agent of the Queen of England and the intimate friend of Madame de Chevreuse, had also seen the queen once at the Val de Grâce. The courageous exile had proposed to her royal friend to break her ban and to come in disguise to meet her in Paris. She constantly corresponded with the Duke of Lorraine, and had but lately received an envoy from him. It is difficult to believe that so many intrigues had no other end in view than to learn news of the health of the queen. Upon this point the proofs are direct; we have her own avowals, signed by her own hand. It is very probable that she has not told all, but what she has told proves that she had written several times to Spain and to Flanders, that is to say, to hostile countries, not only to complain of her situation, but also to impart and reveal the most important secrets of the French government. 1st. She had informed the court at Madrid of the journey of a monk who had been sent to Spain on a secret mission. 2d. She had given notice that France was endeavoring to make terms with the Duke of Lorraine, in order that the cabinet at Madrid might take measures to hinder this adjustment. 3d. She had also informed them that there was reason to fear that England, instead of remaining allied to Spain, would break the league and enter into a treaty with France.
It seems to us either that crimes of state have ceased to exist in the world, or else that they are manifest in this affair. We see that it was with infinite pains that Anne of Austria had been brought to make these avowals. At first she denied every thing, and said that if she had written several times to Madame de Chevreuse, it had always been on indifferent matters. On Assumption day, after receiving the sacrament, she sent for her secretary, Le Gras, and swore to him by the Holy Communion, which she had just received, that it was false that she had had a correspondence with a foreign country, and commanded him to go tell the cardinal the oath she had just made. She also sent for Father Caussin, a Jesuit and confessor to the king, and renewed the same oath to him. Two days afterwards, finding that it was impossible to maintain so absolute a denial, she commenced by confessing to Richelieu that she had really written to Flanders to her brother, the Infant Cardinal, but merely to inquire after his health, and to ask about other matters of little importance. Richelieu having convinced her that he knew more than this, she ordered her maid of honor, Madame de Sénecé, Chavigny, and de Noyers, who were present, to withdraw, and, being left alone with the cardinal, upon the assurance that he would obtain a full and unconditional pardon from the king if she confessed the truth, she acknowledged all, exhibiting extreme confusion in respect to her false oaths. During this humiliating confession, calling to her aid the graces and arts of her sex, and concealing her real feelings beneath feigned demonstrations, she repeatedly exclaimed, "What goodness you must possess, M. le Cardinal!" Then, protesting an eternal gratitude, she said to him, "Give me your hand," at the same time presenting her own as a pledge of her sincerity; but the cardinal respectfully refused it, drawing back instead of approaching her. The Abbess of Val de Grâce followed the example of the queen; after having denied all, she confessed every thing. The king and Richelieu pardoned them, but forced the queen to sign a sort of schedule of conduct to which she should scrupulously conform. They provisionally interdicted her entrance to the Val de Grâce, as well as to every other convent, until the king should again give her permission to visit them; they forbade her to write except in the presence of her first maid of honor and first waiting maid, who should render an account of it to the king; or to address a single letter to a foreign country, by any direct or indirect means, under penalty of the forfeiture of the pardon which they had accorded her. Both the first and the last of these prohibitions related to the duchess. The king ordered his wife never to write to Madame de Chevreuse, "because this pretext," said he, "has been the cover of all the letters which the queen has written beside." He also commanded her neither to see Craft, an English gentleman and a friend of Montagu and the duchess, who was strongly suspected of being mixed up in all their intrigues, nor "any of the other agents of Madame de Chevreuse." We see, then, that it is always Madame de Chevreuse whom Louis XIII. and Richelieu regard as the root of all evil, and that they do not believe themselves sure of the queen until after having first separated her from her dangerous friend.
But how must this be done? Should they leave her at Tours? or arrest her? or banish her from France? It is curious to see what were the deliberations of the cardinal on this question, both with himself and with the king. He involuntarily renders striking homage to the power of Madame de Chevrense by proving by a series of reasons, somewhat scholastically deducted after his usual manner, that the worst course of all would be to suffer her to quit France. "This spirit is so dangerous, that, being abroad, she may bring affairs into new disorder which it is impossible to foresee. It is she, who, having absolute disposal of the Duke of Lorraine, has persuaded him to give an asylum in his territory to Monsieur, the Duke of Orleans; and it is also she who has urged on England to war; if she is thrust from the kingdom, she will hinder the Duke of Lorraine from coming to terms; she will incite the English towards the point to which she wishes to carry them; she will agitate new schemes in favor of the Chevalier de Jars and Châteauneuf; she will stir up a thousand troubles within and without;" and the cardinal concluded to retain her in France.
For this there were two courses open, violence and gentleness. The cardinal showed many objections to violence, which would certainly be followed by importunate solicitations on the part of all the family of Madame de Chevreuse, together with all the powers of Europe, which it would be difficult long to resist. He proposed, therefore, to win her over by kindness, and to treat her as they had treated the queen, but on condition that she should be as frank as Anne had been, and should answer all the questions that might be addressed to her; but, knowing Madame de Chevreuse, he must have foreseen that she would make no confession, and he forgets to tell us what he should then have done. They had pardoned the humbled and repentant queen, but what course would they have pursued with the proud and artful duchess, persisting in an absolute denial? Satisfied with having separated her from Anne of Austria, would Richelieu have left her free and tranquil in Touraine? Is he really sincere when he affirms it, or is the old charm still acting, and is this iron heart, this inexorable soul, which beauty, however, more than once found impressible, unable to shield itself from a reluctant tenderness for a woman who joined in her person in the highest degree, those two gifts so rarely found united—beauty and courage?
He spoke to her as if he were still her friend; he reminded her of the leniency which he had shown her in the affair of Châteauneuf; and, knowing her to be at that time almost destitute, he sent her money. The duchess made much ceremony about receiving it; she would not take it as a gift, but as a loan; and the only favor which she asked of the cardinal was that of assistance in the just suit which she was prosecuting in order to separate her property from that of her husband—a suit which she gained some time afterward. The questions which were addressed to her, she answered without embarrassment and with her usual firmness. Unable to deny that she had proposed to the queen to return in disguise to Paris, since they had seized the letter in which the queen had declined the proposition, she declared that she had had no other desire in this than to have the honor of saluting her sovereign; that the urgency of her affairs had also called her to Paris; and that, far from thinking to animate the queen against the cardinal, her intention had been to employ all the influence which she might have possessed over her in disposing her favorably towards the prime minister; and, paying Richelieu in his own coin, she gave him back his professions of friendship with interest; but, in her heart, she distrusted him. It was in vain that the envoys of Richelieu, the Marshal La Meilleraie, the Bishop of Auxerre, and above all the Abbé du Dorat, treasurer of Sainte-Chapelle, with whom she was on friendly terms, said every thing that they could imagine to persuade her of the sincerity of the cardinal; she only saw in this assiduous friendliness a skilful plan designed to lull her vigilance, and to inspire her with a false security. She thought of her friends, the Chevalier de Jars and Châteauneuf, both languishing in the dungeons of Richelieu, and resolved to brave all dangers rather than share their fate.
In the mean time, Anne of Austria had early felt the need, for her own safety, of acquainting Madame de Chevreuse with all that had passed; and, having promised to hold no intercourse with her, she charged La Rochefoucauld, who was going to Poitou, to tell her what she dared not write to her herself. La Rochefoucauld had just made the same promise to his father and Chavigny, a confidant of the cardinal, and he who pretends that he would gladly have carried off the queen and Madame de Hautefort, paused with admirable scrupulousness before the pledge he had just given, and begged Craft, the English gentleman who was so much suspected by the king and by Richelieu, to execute the queen's commission. On her part, Madame de Hautefort had despatched one of her relatives, M. de Montalais, to Tours, when affairs were at their crisis, to inform Madame de Chevreuse of the real state of things, and to tell her that she would send her a prayer-book bound in green if affairs took a favorable turn, while a prayerbook bound in red should be a token that she must hasten to provide for her safety. A fatal contempt of the sign agreed on, together with a profound distrust of the designs of Richelieu and the king, hurried Madame de Chevreuse into a desperate resolve. She chose rather to condemn herself to a new exile than to run the risk of falling into the hands of her enemies, and fled from Touraine, determining to reach Spain by journeying through the whole of the South of France.
Her sole confidant was her old admirer, the Archbishop of Tours. As he was from Bearn and had relatives on the frontier, he gave her letters of introduction with all necessary information respecting the different roads which she should take. But in her haste to fly, she forgot them all, and set out on the 6th of September, 1637, in a carriage, as if to take an airing; then, at nine in the evening, she mounted on horseback disguised as a man, and, when five or six leagues from home, found herself without letters, without itinerary, without waiting-maid, and followed only by two servants. She was unable to change her horse during the night, and she arrived the next morning at Ruffec, one league from Verteuil, where La Rochefoucauld resided, without having taken a single hour of repose. Instead of claiming his hospitality, she wrote him the following note: "Sir, I am a French gentleman who asks your aid to preserve his liberty, and perhaps his life. I have fought an unhappy duel, and have killed a nobleman of distinction. This forces me to leave France in haste, as I am pursued. I believe you to be generous enough to serve me without knowing me. I need a carriage and a valet to attend me." La Rochefoucauld sent her what she wished. The carriage was a great relief to her, for she was worn out with fatigue. Her new guide conducted her to another house of Rochefoucauld, where she arrived at midnight; there she left the carriage and the two domestics who had hitherto accompanied her, and again set out on horseback towards the frontier of Spain. The saddle of her horse was covered with blood; this she said was from a sword thrust she had received in the thigh. She slept in a barn on the hay, and scarcely tasted food. But as beautiful and as fascinating in the black costume of a cavalier as in the brilliant attire of a court lady, her gallant mien won the admiration of all the women, and during this adventurous journey, she made, despite herself, as many conquests as when in the halls of the Louvre, and, according to La Rochefoucauld, "she showed more modesty and more cruelty than men like her usually possess." At one time she met ten or twelve cavaliers commanded by the Marquis D'Antin, and was obliged to turn aside from her route to avoid being recognized by them. Another time, in a valley of the Pyrenees, a gentleman who had seen her in Paris, told her that he should take her for Madame de Chevreuse if she were dressed in a different manner, but the fair unknown extricated herself from this difficulty by replying that, being a relative of that lady, she might well resemble her. Her courage and gayety did not abandon her for a moment, and, to portray the valiant Amazon, a song was made in which she says to her squire:
La Boissière, dis-moi
Vais-je pas bien en homme?
Vous chevauchez, ma foi,
Mieux que tant que nous sommes, etc.
Her attendant urging her to acquaint him with her name, she told him in a mysterious manner that she was the Duke D'Enghien, who was forced by especial business in the service of the king to quit France in this manner; which may give us an idea of her appearance on horseback, as well as of her resolute and decided air. Afterwards, gaining confidence in her guide, and disliking long to wear a mask, she confessed to him that she was the Duchess de Chevreuse. She only reached Spain after enduring unheard-of fatigue, and passing through a thousand perils. Just before crossing the frontier, she wrote to the gentleman who had fancied that he recognized her in the Pyrenees, and who had shown her every attention and civility, that he had not been mistaken, but that she was really the lady whom he had believed her to be, and that, "having found him unusually courteous, she took the liberty of entreating him to procure her stuffs to clothe herself conformably to her sex and condition. Having at last reached Spain, with her accustomed resolution she threw herself for a second time into the hardships of exile, taking nothing with her but her beauty, her talent, and her courage. She had sent one of her servants to La Rochefoucauld with all her jewels—valued at 200,000 crowns—entreating him to accept them as a legacy if she should die, or else to restore them to her at some future day.
At the news of the flight of Madame de Chevreuse, Richelieu was greatly disturbed, and he used every effort to hinder her departure from France. The strictest orders were instantly issued, not to arrest, but to detain her. M. de Chevreuse sent his steward, M. de Boispille in search of his wife with the assurance that she had nothing to fear. The cardinal also despatched President Vignier, one of his trusty friends, with a full permission to reside in perfect liberty at Tours, together with the hope of a speedy return to Dampièrre. At the same time, Vignier was ordered to question the old archbishop as well as La Rochefoucauld and his people, and to extract from them all the information that could be of use to the minister. But neither Boispille nor Vignier could overtake the beautiful fugitive, and she had just touched the soil of Spain when the president reached the frontier. He wished, however, to execute his commission as fully as he could, and sent a herald on the Spanish territory to convey to Madame de Chevreuse a pardon for the past and an invitation to return to France. She did not learn of all these proceedings until she was already in Madrid.
- The author alludes here to his life of Madame de Hautefort, which followed that of Madame de Chevreuse. Each biography, however, is complete in itself; this being the only allusion in the present volume to the subsequent memoir of Madame de Hautefort.—Translator's Note.
- Madame de Motteville, vol. i., Amsterdam edition of 1750, page 198:—"I heard her say to herself one day when I was complimenting her on having taken part in all the great events of Europe, that ambition had never touched her heart, but that affection had guided it, that is, that she had interested herself in the affairs of the world solely through sympathy with those whom she had loved." The passages of Retz, which we shall quote presently, may be reduced to the same interpretation.
- Memoirs of Madame de Motteville, Coll. Petitot, second series, vol. ii., p. 339.
- Vie de Madame de Longueville, by Villefore, edition of 1739, second part, p. 33. Madame de Motteville, vol. i., Ibid:—"I have heard him say to those who were well acquainted with him, that no one had ever understood the interests of princes so well, or talked so well about them, and I have even heard him praise her capacity."
- This portrait is not an original, but a very ancient copy.
- See the collection in quarto of Daret, dedicated to Madame de Chevreuse herself. There is another engraved portrait of Madame de Chevreuse, which is very rare, in the collection of Leblond, in folio. She is younger than in that of Daret, with an oval countenance, large eyes, a fine bust, and with hair curled and craped in the style of the beginning of the reign of Louis XIII. As to the ugly little portraits of Moncornet, they have no resemblance to Madame de Chevreuse at any age.
- The original of Ferdinand Elle is at the house of the Duke de Luynes. Balechou has engraved it for L'Europe Illustre.
- The reader should not be duped by the memoirs of Richelieu, which are designed, like all memoirs, to deceive posterity in favor of the author. Richelieu did not begin his career as he finished it. He commenced as a partisan of the Spanish Alliance to please the queen-mother. There is a production of Richelieu, now very rare, entitled, Harangue prononcée en la salle du Petit Bourbon, le 23 fevrier, 1615, a la clôture des états tenus a Pàris, par révèrend père en Dieu, messire Armand Jean du Plessis de Richelieu, évesque de Luçon. In this, Richelieu congratulates the king, who was of age, on having "restored the reins of this great empire to the hands of the queen, his mother, so that she might have for some time the guidance of his estates." Spain and France "being united, have nothing to fear; while separated, they can only receive injury from each other." Let us add that Luynes, struck with the talents of Richelieu, ended by extricating him from disgrace; that he proposed to restore him to public life, and, to attach him to himself, caused the niece of Richelieu, Mademoiselle du Pont de Courlay, afterwards Duchess de Aiguillon, to espouse his own nephew, Combalet. Richelieu therefore was at that time regarded as serving Luynes in an underhand way, and it is principally to efface and contradict this well-founded rumor, that, uniting all the foibles and weaknesses of vanity to the aspirations and ambition of pride, he attempts in his memoirs to decry the constable, reproaching him with that of which he himself was afterwards guilty. Luynes resolutely attacked and promptly subdued the rebellious princes, and by means of the treaty of Angoulême secured the queen-mother in a necessary exile without useless rigor. When Rohan and Soubise dared to draw the sword, the new Duke de Luynes gained the title of constable by opposing the Protestants, and he undertook the siege of Montauban, the precursor of that of La Rochelle. In 1620, Bearn was definitively incorporated with the crown. This is an abstract of the whole of Richelieu's career.
- One, Anne Marie de Lorraine, died in 1652, aged eighteen, the Abbess of the Port aux Dames; the other, Henriette de Lorraine, was Abbess de Jouarre. The latter must not be confounded with her niece, Madame Albert de Luynes, who, with one of her sisters, was also a devotee at Jouarre, and to whom Bossuet wrote so many touching letters. Henriette de Lorraine had some disputes with her bishop respecting the extent of the power of abbesses, and, after yielding, she retired to Port Royal, where she died in 1694.—Gallia Christiana, vol. viii., p. 1715; Vie de Bossuet, by M. de Beausset, vol. ii. Book vii.
- Vol. i. of the Amsterdam edition, 1731, p. 221.
- Ibid., p. 219.
- A ridiculous calumny, the sole pretext of which is last liaison of Madame de Chevreuse during the Fronde. See our last chapter.
- This accusation simply means that "Madame de Chevreuse was subject to fits of abstraction during her conversation," as Madame de Motteville informs us. Vol. i., p. 198.
- La Rochefoucauld, ibid., p. 340; La Porte, Memoires, Coll. Petitot, 2d series, vol. lix., p. 295: "One of the handsomest men in the world, but of an effeminate beauty."
- Vol. i., p. 241.
- Memoires of Richelieu in the Coll. Petitot, vol. iii., p. 64.
- La Rochefoucauld, ibid., p. 339: "Chalais was master of the wardrobe; his person and mind were attractive, and he was devotedly attached to Madame de Chevreuse. He was accused of having formed a design against the life of the king, and of having proposed to Monsieur to break off his marriage with a view of espousing the queen on his accession to the throne. Although this crime was not fully proved, Chalais was beheaded, and the cardinal had but little difficulty in persuading the king that the queen and Madame de Chevreuse had not been ignorant of the design of Chalais." Fontenay-Mareuil, Memoires, Coll. Petitot, vol. li., p. 23: "M. de Chalais was young, well formed, expert in all kinds of exercise, and above all, agreeable in society; which rendered him a great favorite among the women, who finally caused his ruin. Fontenay says that in the midst of the affair, and despite all his pledges, he became reconciled to Richelieu, but that Madame de Chevreuse reproached him so bitterly and urged him on so strongly, that, nothing being impossible to a woman of so much beauty and wit, he was unable to resist her, and chose rather to be unfaithful to the cardinal and himself than to her, so that he had no sooner caused Monsieur to change his opinion, than he rendered him again more rebellious than ever. Had he merely counselled Monsieur to leave the court to go to La Rochelle, no one could have saved him; but it is said, and many believed it, that he went much farther.
- Memoires, vol. iii., p. 105.
- Here, as well as in respect to the early part of the life of Madame de Chevreuse, we refer our readers to the work of Count d'Haussonville, Histoire de la réunion de la Lorraine à la France, with inedited notes, proofs and historical documents, of which excellent treatise we would give a more extended eulogy if competent critics had not anticipated us by diffusing the knowledge, wit and elegance which illuminate its pages.
- Queen Anne was so deeply involved in this intrigue, that she trembled for her own safety when news of the arrest of Montagu reached her, and she could not rest until she was well assured that she was not named in the papers of the prisoner, and would not be mentioned in his examination. La Porte, Memoires, p. 304: "The news of the arrest of Lord Montagu threw the queen into the greatest anxiety. She feared that she was named in his papers, and that when this came to the ears of the king, with whom she did not live on very good terms, he would treat her harshly and send her to Spain, as he assuredly would have done. So great was her disquietude, that she neither ate nor slept. In this embarrassment she recollected that I was in a company of gendarmes which belonged to the troops appointed to attend Lord Montagu. She therefore inquired for me of Lavau, who found me and conducted me after midnight to the chamber of the queen, whence all had withdrawn. She told me of her anxiety, and that, having no person in whom she could confide, she had sought me, believing that I would serve her from affection and with fidelity, and that her safety or destruction depended on the news which I should bring to her. She told me the whole affair, and said that I must endeavor in my attendance on Lord Montagu, to speak to him and to learn whether she was named in the papers which had been taken, and whether, in the event of his being examined while in the Bastille, and urged to reveal the confederates of this league, he would refrain from naming her.… I related the trouble of the queen to Lord Montagu, who replied that she was neither directly nor indirectly named in the papers, and assured me that, if he were questioned, he would die rather than say aught that might injure her. La Porte says that when he brought back this answer to the queen, she danced for joy.
- Memoires of Richelieu, Vol. iv., p. 14.
- Madame de Motteville, Vol. i., p. 62: "This minister, despite the rigor with which he had treated her, had never disliked her; her beauty had charmed him etc."
- Richelieu, Testament Politique, Chap. i.: "The important post to which your majesty had appointed him, the hundred thousand crowns which he received each year from your liberality, the government of one of your provinces, all extraordinary marks of favor to a man in his position, were not considerations weighty enough to deter him from becoming the author of his own ruin." Memoires, Vol. vii., p. 326: "M. de Châteauneuf was made Keeper of the Seals in the belief that he would be guided solely by the commandments of the king, and the interests of his service, as he had hitherto seemed to have no other design, and had been for many years attached to the cardinal, serving him with many tokens of affection and fidelity; but no sooner was he emancipated by the authority of his office and placed in an independent position, than the designs which before had been concealed by respect and fear, began to disclose themselves. He attached himself to the cabals of the court, particularly to that of factious women headed by the Duchess de Chevreuse, whose conduct had often displeased the king, inasmuch as she had not only belonged to all the troublesome factions that had been raised against him, but had formerly been herself the very dangerous leader of a party."
- He was born in 1580. An excellent crayon portrait of D. Demonstier, engraved by Ragot, represents him as keeper of the seals, with a firm and lofty bearing.
- We found this curious fragment in the archives of foreign affairs, France, vol. ci., being the last article of the volume, under the title: Memoire de M. le Cardinal de Richelieu, contre M. de Châteauneuf, consisting of twelve pages in the well-known handwriting of Charpentier, one of the secretaries of the cardinal.
- Memoires de Richelieu, vol. vii., p. 148; Editor's Note.
- See this excellent but unappreciated work, vol. ii., p. 392.
- The jealousy of Richelieu towards Châteauneuf appears in the following extract from the Memoires of La Porte, ibid., p. 322: "The cardinal questioned me closely about the queen, whether M. de Châteauneuf went often to her palace, if he was late there, and whether he did not generally go to the chateau of Madame de Chevreuse."
- The reader will note that these letters are translated almost verbatim from the original, and that the frequent changes which occur in person and tense are designed to throw a veil—transparent enough, it is true-over the correspondence.—Note by the Translator.
- In the original, Madame de Chevreuse is designated by number 28; Châteauneuf by 38; the cardinal by 22; Louis XIII. by 23; Queen Anne by 24; M. de Chevreuse by 57, etc.
- The Duke of Lorraine, or Count Holland.
- See a preceding reference to 37.
- Madame de Motteville, vol. i., pp. 62-69.
- La Rochefoucauld, Memoires, p. 355. He was called Bertrand de Chaux, or D'Eschaux. He must have been then more than eighty years old, for we read in the Gazette of the year 1641, No. 619, p. 315, "Sieur D'Eschaux, Archbishop of Tours, Commander of the Order of Saint Esprit, and first Almoner to the King, died on the 1st of May at his Archiepiscopal palace of Tours, aged eighty-six."
- La Rochefoucauld, ibid., p. 355: "Madame de Chevreuse was at that time an exile in Tours. The queen had spoken well of me to her; she wished to see me, and we soon formed a strong league of friendship. I was often charged by both with dangerous commissions when going or returning."
- Gallia Christiana, vol. viii., p. 584. The Mother de Saint Etienne was abbess from 1626 until the 13th of August, 1637, when she was forced to resign, and was succeeded by Marie de Burges, Mother de Saint Benoit. She was born in Franche-Compté, and her whole family were in the service of Spain; her brother was even governor of Besançon.
- Memoires, vol. i., p. 80.
- Memoires, p. 358, etc.
- Memoires, vol. x., p. 195, etc.
- These precious documents passed from the casket of the Cardinal de Richelieu into the library of the marshal of the same name, who transmitted them to Père Griffet, as he had formerly done the papers of Châteauneuf. The National Library has recently acquired them, Supplement Français, No. 4068, with the following title: Pièces relatives à l'affaire du Val de Grâce, 1637.
- Memoires of Richelieu, vol. x., p. 201.
- Memoires, p. 224, etc.
- Extract from the Information faite par le président Vignier de la sortie faite par Madame de Chevreuse hors de France, with various corroborative papers. Bibliothèque Nationale, Coll. Du Puy, Nos. 499, 500, and 501, collected in a single volume.
- La Rochefoucauld, p. 356. Tallemant, Vol. i., p. 250, relates the strangest imaginable anecdotes, but we shall only cite certain and authentic facts. Extrait de l'information, etc.: A citizen's wife passed by chance, and seeing her lying on the hay, exclaimed: "This is the handsomest youth I ever saw! Sir, come rest in my house, you excite my pity," etc.
- Tallemant, ibid.
- Extrait de l'information: Malbasty told her that she would lose her way, that she would meet a host of robbers, that she had but a single man with her, and that he feared some one would harm her. She offered a large rouleau of pistoles to the said Malbasty.
- La Rochefoucauld, Memoirès, ibid.
- These are the documents which Du Puy has collected or rather abridged, and of which we have availed ourselves to verify our narrative, using also the account of Richelieu and that of La Rochefoucauld. It was on this occasion that La Rochefoucauld was thrown for eight days into the Bastille. See his Memoires, together with La Jeunesse de Madame de Longueville, third edition, chap. iv., p. 279, etc.