Secret History of the French Court under Richelieu and Mazarin/Chapter II
Notwithstanding, whatever pleasure the declared favor of the king, the queen, and the prime minister may have given her in Spain, she did not remain long there. The war between the two countries rendered her position very delicate, her letters penetrated with difficulty into France, and her friends dared not write to her, so much did they dread the police of Richelieu, and so much did they fear being accused of corresponding with the enemy, and with Madame de Chevreuse. Even Boispille, her steward, on receiving a letter from her, said to the messenger, who asked for an answer: "We make no answers to Spain." To have more liberty, and to be nearer France, she resolved to go to a neutral and even friendly country, and in the commencement of the year 1638, she arrived in England.
Madame de Chevreuse was received and treated in London as she had been before in Madrid. She found there her earliest admirer, Count Holland, Lord Montagu, who was still enamoured with her. Craft, and many other noblemen, both English and French, who hastened to swell her train. She especially charmed the king and queen. She had always been a favorite with Charles I., and Henriette, on again beholding the chaperon who had escorted her to her royal husband, embraced her, and invited her to be seated in her presence, an unusual mark of distinction in the court of England.
The king and queen wrote in her behalf to Louis XIII., to Queen Anne, and to Cardinal de Richelieu. Madame de Chevreuse demanded the full and entire enjoyment of her property, which had once been granted her, and then withdrawn after her flight to Spain. In the spring of 1688, the
pregnancy of Queen Anne becoming public, filled the French court with joy, and inspired every heart with hope. Madame de Chevreuse profited by this event to address the following letter to the queen, which she could show without hesitation to Louis XIII., but which, notwithstanding its reserve and diplomatic circumspection, discloses the warm and reciprocal affection of the queen and the exile:
"To the queen, my sovereign lady:
"Madame, I should be unworthy of pardon if I had been able to render an account to your Majesty of the journey which my misfortunes obliged me to undertake, and had failed to do so. But necessity having constrained me to enter Spain, where respect for your Majesty caused me to be received and treated better than I merited, the duty which I owed you compelled me to keep silent until I should be in a kingdom whose alliance with France would not give me cause to apprehend that you would be displeased at receiving letters from it. This one will speak first of all of the great joy which I feel at the pregnancy of your Majesty. May God console and reward all who belong to her by this happiness, which I entreat him with all my heart to complete by the happy accouchement of a dauphin. Although my unhappy fortune hinders me from being among the first to witness it, believe that my devotion to the service of your Majesty will not let me be among the last to rejoice at it. The memory which your Majesty doubtless retains of what I owe to her, and my own remembrance of what I wish to render to her, is sufficient to convince her of the grief it has been to me to see myself obliged to quit her, in order to escape the troubles into which I feared that unjust suspicions might plunge me. It has been necessary for me to deprive myself of the consolation of assuaging my sDrrows by telling them to your Majesty, until the present hour, when I can complain to her of my unhappy fortune, hoping that her protection will shelter me from the anger of the king and the dislike of the cardinal. I dare not say this to his Majesty myself, and do not tell it to M. the cardinal, being assured that your generosity will do so, and thus make that agreeable which in me would be importunate. The knowledge of the kindness of your Majesty assures me that she will willingly exercise it on this occasion, and that she will employ her charity to prove to me what I already know, that she is still herself. Your Majesty will learn from the letters of the King and Queen of Great Britain the honor they do me. I do not know how better to express myself than by telling your Majesty that it merits her acknowledgment. I trust that she will approve of my residence in their court, that this will not render me deserving of any harsh treatment, and that I shall not be refused the property which the authority of your Majesty and the care of M. the cardinal had procured me before my departure, and which I demand of my husband. In which I supplicate your Majesty to protect me, so that I may soon be in possession of the just rights for which I am hoping."
At the same time that she claimed her property, Madame de Chevreuse thought of acquitting a debt which weighed heavily on her pride. At Tours she had really been forced to accept the money sent her by Richelieu, but, as we have already said, she accepted it simply as a loan; and under cover of the official letter to Queen Anne, which we have just given, she enclosed a little confidential note, designed for the queen alone, from which we see that the Queen of France had herself formerly borrowed money from her ex-superintendent. The note, in fact, besought her to pay the cardinal what was due to him, and, if she could, "to settle the balance of the debt."
These last words, with many others in subsequent letters, show us that since her departure from France, Madame de Chevreuse, being unwilling to receive any thing from a foreign power, had exhausted all her resources, and that, not having the disposal of her property, she had been compelled to contract debts in London, which were constantly increasing, and which she knew not how to satisfy. Meanwhile, M. de Chevreuse, who had reduced his affairs to the most deplorable state, and whose sole hope of retrieving them lay in his wife's good sense and influence, had been continually interceding with the king and prime minister to permit her to return to France. The cardinal renewed his offer of pardon and abolition, which, he said, President Vignier had already taken the trouble to carry to her to the frontiers of Spain. Besides the general reasons for wishing her return which he himself has adduced, he had a very particular one just at this moment: he was negotiating with the Duke of Lorraine, whose military talents and small but excellent army disquieted him not a little, and he was more than ever anxious to draw him into a peace which would leave him free to unite all the forces of France against Spain and Austria. He had the greatest interest, therefore, in gaining the friendship of Madame de Chevreuse, whose influence was all-powerful over the mind of the duke, and who, as he was firmly persuaded, had already foiled the desired arrangement in 1637, and had it in her power to prevent it again. On her part, Madame de Chevreuse was weary of exile; she sighed for her chateau of Dampierre, and for her children, especially her daughter, the amiable Charlotte, who was growing up far from her mother. She shuddered at the thought of the painful alternative which each day pressed her more strongly: either of being forced to have recourse to England and Spain, or to pledge the jewels that she had reclaimed from La Rochefoucauld. She clung to this rich parure, which is said to have come from Florence, from Marshal D'Ancre, as the brilliant souvenir of happier days; for Madame de Chevreuse was a woman with the weaknesses as well as the charms of her sex, and when passion and honor did not thrust her in the midst of perils, she delighted in all the elegancies of life. It was this mixture of womanly gentleness with masculine energy that formed the most striking trait of her character, and that rendered her fit for every position, as well for the endearments and confidence of love as for the excitement of
intrigue and adventure. It was under the influence of these varied feelings that she decided to resume a negotiation with Richelieu that had never wholly been broken off, and the successful termination of which appeared easy enough, since both parties equally wished for it.
This negotiation lasted for more than a year. The cardinal authorized Boispille, the steward of the family de Chevreuse, and Abbé du Dorat, to repair to England, the better to conduct this delicate affair. They bestowed much time and pains on it; more than once were they obliged to go from London to Paris, and from Paris to London, to smooth down the difficulties that were constantly arising. The oft-broken thread was knotted anew, but only to be again broken. The cardinal and the duchess sincerely desired to effect a reconciliation, but knowing each other well, each wished to exact from the other almost impossible pledges of fidelity. On studying the various documents to which this long negotiation gave rise, we recognize therein the genius and characteristics of Richelieu and of Madame de Chevreuse; the habitual artifice of the cardinal with his ill-dissembled firmness; and the suppleness of the beautiful duchess, her apparent submission, and her inflexible precautions. Richelieu gradually relaxed his habitual rigor, but his claims — always visible through the most studied courtesy — warned Madame de Chevreuse to be on her guard, and to make no mistakes with a man who forgot nothing, and who was powerful enough for every thing. It is a curious spectacle to see them employing all the manœuvres of the most refined diplomacy, and exhausting the resources of a consummate ability for more than a year, in order to persuade and attract each other towards the common end which both desired, without succeeding in it, and without being able to cure themselves of their mutual and incurable suspicions. Let us look at the principal features — the beginning, the progress, the details, and the inevitable end of this singular correspondence.
It is opened on the 1st of June, 1638, by a letter from Madame de Chevreuse. The duchess thanks the cardinal for the friendly assurances which have been given her in his behalf; she confesses to him that, when, in the preceding year, she resolved to quit France, it was from apprehension of the suspicions which he seemed to entertain of her, and that she wished to leave to time the task of dissipating them. "I hope," she says, "that the evil fortune which constrained me to flee from France is weary of pursuing me... I should be very glad to be entirely cured of my fears by the discovery that my enemies are not more powerful than my innocence." This letter, while feigning frankness and confidence, is exceedingly artful and reserved. Madame de Chevreuse carefully guards against engaging in any discussion upon the past, though she slightly refers to it in order to sound Richelieu, not wishing to expose herself to an investigation concerning her previous conduct on her return to France; she is therefore careful to use the word innocence adroitly, yet without protestation. The part Madame de Chevreuse meant to play may be understood from this first letter — it consisted in quietly procuring a pledge of her safety. To cease from declaring her innocence would have been to deliver herself into the hands of Richelieu, who, at the first feigned or real symptom of discontent, could arm himself with her confessions and crush her. The answer of the cardinal also discloses, and, as we think, a little too clearly, his secret thought; like his usual policy, it is both captious and imperious. In the midst of somewhat affected demonstrations of politeness, he says to her, "That which you send me is couched in such terms that, being unable to consent to it without acting against your interests, I will make no reply to it for fear of displeasing you while wishing to serve you. In a word, madame, if you are innocent, your safety depends upon yourself, and if the frailty of human nature, to say nothing of that of your sex, has made you remiss in any thing of which his majesty may have reason to complain, you will find in his goodness all that you can expect from it." Madame de Chevreuse readily comprehended the artifice of the cardinal; but that she might leave no room for any equivocation, she addressed him a memorial in which she gave an account of all her actions, and of the reasons which had determined her to quit France. She had fled because, while lavishing fair words on her, they had endeavored to make her confess that she had written to the Duke of Lorraine in order to prevent him from breaking with Spain and entering into an arrangement with France, and being unable to confess a fault which she had never committed, and seeing that they were persuaded of it and that they even alleged intercepted letters, she had chosen to quit her country rather than remain suspected and in perpetual danger. Richelieu hastened to reassure her, but on the contrary he alarmed her, by seeming to be convinced of that which she was fully determined never to avow. Was it a judicious method of inspiring her with confidence to remind her of the affair of Châteauneuf, and plainly to intimate that he had proofs of it in his hands which would dispense with any avowal on her part? "When M. de Boispille went to seek you, I told him wherein I thought your interest and your safety lay: namely, in keeping nothing secret. I think you should the more readily assent to this, as experience has shown you by what passed in the affair of M. de Châteauneuf that, in whatever interests you, your friends are the most secret when they have the proofs in their hands. It is so difficult to induce you to confess these, where one is not sure, that when he is sure, he would almost prefer to be in ignorance, that he may not be obliged to insist upon confession."
Can we wonder after this that Madame de Chevreuse drew back, or that she was at least much embarrassed? She wrote to the cardinal on the 8th of September to express to him her gratitude for the kindness he had shown her and, at the same time, the trouble which she felt at his settled conviction that she was really guilty. Her letter admirably depicts her perplexities.
"Consider the state in which I am; well-satisfied on one hand with the assurances which you give me of the continuation of your friendship, and deeply grieved on the other by your suspicion, or rather by your alleged certainty, of a fault which I never committed, and which, I confess, would be attended with another if, having committed it, I should deny it after the pardon of the king, which you would procure me upon confession. I confess that this so embarrasses me that I see no rest for myself in this position. If you were not so certainly persuaded of knowing my fault, or if I could possibly confess it, there would be means of accommodation; but as you suffer yourself to be carried away by so strong a belief against me as to admit of no justification, and as I am unable to make myself guilty without being so, I have recourse to yourself, supplicating you in the character of friend which your generosity promises me, to propose an expedient whereby to satisfy his majesty and secure my safe return to France, being unable myself to conceive of any, and finding myself in the greatest perplexity."
Now see the expedient which Richelieu devised to free Madame de Chevreuse from the anxiety that tormented her. He sent her a royal declaration by which she was authorized
1Manuscrits de Colbert, letter of July 24, 1638. to return to France with a full pardon for her past conduct, especially for her negotiations with the Duke of Lorraine against the interests of the king. On receiving this unhoped-for favor, Madame de Chevreuse protested against the pardon of a crime which she would not acknowledge at any price; only confessing herself culpable in respect to her precipitate flight from the kingdom. The means taken to dissipate her suspicions only increased them; she set about examining all the terms of this declaration with a zealous care, and she soon found ambiguity enough in that which related to her return to Dampierre. It was not said explicitly that she might remain there at full liberty. The only prohibitions to which she would consent were those of never seeing the queen, and of holding no foreign correspondence. Aside from these, she demanded a full liberty;—above all, she demanded that under a pretence of pardon she should not be charged with a fault which she pretended never to have committed.
On the 23d of February, 1639, she refused therefore the indemnity which had been sent her, and demanded an explanation of the manner in which she would be permitted to reside in France. The cardinal, irritated at seeing all his schemes discovered and eluded, flew into a passion, and disclosed the drift of his designs in a letter to the Abbé du Dorat, dated March 14th, in which he complained that Madame de Chevreuse would not acknowledge her negotiations with foreign powers, "as if," said he, "any one ever saw a sick man cured of a disease which he would not allow that he had." He did not intend to permit Madame de Chevreuse to remain longer than eight or ten days at Dampierre, after which she must retire to some one of her estates at a distance from Paris. He consented, however, to modify the royal indemnity which had so much displeased Madame de Chevreuse, and sent her another which was a little more lenient as a proof of his condescension and of the goodness of the king.
This new declaration was still very far from being what Madame de Chevreuse desired; she was not only absolved in it from her flight from France, but "from the other faults and crimes which she might have committed against the fidelity which she owed to the king;" and Richelieu thus evasively returned to his original purpose of imposing upon the unhappy exile, indirectly at least, a confession of crimes which she maintained that she had never committed — a confession at once humiliating and dangerous, and placing her wholly at his mercy. Yet such was the desire of the poor woman to behold her country and her family that, after having a second time vainly protested against it, she resigned herself to this doubtful grace. She did more; Richelieu having hastened to remit to the Abbé du Dorat and to Boispille the money necessary to acquit the debts which she had contracted in England, and to enable her to quit that court in a style befitting her rank and dignity, she consented to permit two intermediate agents to sign in her name a writing designed to satisfy Richelieu without too deeply compromising herself, in which she humbly spoke of her past misconduct in very general terms, and pledged herself never to come in secret to Paris, provided she were allowed to live in perfect freedom at Dampierre. The entreaties of the Abbé du Dorat and of Boispille, and the solemn promise which Richelieu renewed to her in a final letter of April 13th, 1639, might well have conquered her scruples, stifled her suspicions, and caused her to yield her secret instincts to the solicitations of her family.
Affairs stood in this wise; the proud duchess had bowed her head beneath the weight of exile and misfortune; she was about to depart; her adieus were already made to the Queen of England, and a vessel was ready to conduct her to Dieppe where a carriage awaited her; when suddenly, at the end of the month of April, she received the following letter, without date or signature, which we faithfully transcribe:
"I should not be the friend to you that I am, if I failed to tell you that if you love Madame de Chevreuse, you will prevent her ruin, which is inevitable in France, where they only wish her for her destruction. This is not merely an opinion; there is no other remedy than that of following this advice whereby to save Madame de Chevreuse, of whose connections with Spain and M. de Lorraine, the cardinal has already spoken too ill to permit him to be silent in the future. In short, at this moment, there is nothing but patience for Madame de Chevreuse, or sure destruction to her and eternal regret to the writer."
From whatever source this note may have come, we can readily imagine that it troubled Madame de Chevreuse. It responded to all the secret instincts of her heart, and to the knowledge which she had had of old of the implacable resentment of the cardinal. She suspended or prolonged her preparations for departure; and acting as frankly as prudently, she showed the letter which she had received to Boispille, and authorized him to transmit it to the cardinal. A month had scarcely passed, ere she received another letter of the same stamp, no longer anonymous, but signed by the man of all others the most devoted to her.
"I am certain that it is the design of the cardinal to offer you every possible inducement to persuade you to return to France, — then immediately to destroy you. The Marquis de Ville, who has talked with him and with M. de Chavigny, can give you further explanations, having heard it himself. I expect him every moment, but if I thought that I had influence enough over your mind to persuade you from taking this resolution, I would hasten to throw myself at your feet to convince you of the certainty of your utter ruin, and to conjure you by all that is most dear to you to shun this calamity, too cruel to the whole world, but most of all insupportable to me; protesting that if my destruction could procure your repose, I should esteem the occasion happy which enabled me to do so; and my only motive in serving you is regard for your interest, being for ever, Madame, your most devoted servant,
"Charles de Lorraine.
Cirk, May 26, 1639."
This new counsel heightened the anxiety of Madame de Chevreuse. She transmitted this second letter to Richelieu as she had done the first, to show him that she was not detained by trivial causes, and to explain to him her uncertainty. She also declared that she would not depart till she had seen and heard the Marquis de Ville whom the Duke of Lorraine had announced to her.
Henri de Livron, Marquis de Ville, was a Lorraine nobleman, full of wit and courage, and devoted to his country and his prince, who having been made prisoner, thrown into the Bastille, and afterwards released by Richelieu, had rejoined the Duke Charles in the Netherlands. He came to London in the first part of the month of August, 1639, and used every effort to persuade Madame de Chevreuse to break with the cardinal. The duchess wished that he should explain himself in the presence of Boispille, and that the latter should render an account of the interview to Richelieu. The Marquis de Ville continued inflexible in his assertions, and asked nothing better than to draw up and sign the following deposition: — "A person named Lange, having accompanied me last winter from Paris as far as Charenton, said to me that his knowledge of the interest which I had for the service of Madame de Chevreuse forced him to tell me that she was lost if she returned to France at present. Pressing him to tell me what he knew positively on the subject, after having first extracted a promise from me that I would not speak of it to any one but his Highness of Lorraine or Madame de Chevreuse, he said that it was but two days since the cardinal, in speaking of Madame de Chevreuse to M. de Chavigny, showed much dissatisfaction because she persisted in denying that she had counselled M. de Lorraine not to make terms with France. At this, M. de Chavigny also seemed very greatly surprised, and both said that the matter now was very clear, and that Madame de Chevreuse being once in France, they could make her speak plain French with the letters they possessed; that she did not believe it, but if she thought to deceive them she deceived herself. This the deponent affirms, having heard it himself. At London, this eighth day of August.
"Henri de Livron, Marquis de Ville."
This writing, as well as the preceding ones, was punctually sent to Richelieu.
We ask whether all this should not naturally have made the strongest impression on the mind of Madame de Chevreuse? Could she recall without terror the obstinate endeavors of the cardinal to draw from her by direct and indirect means a confession which could be of little importance to him, if he had no intention of using it against her? Did she not know his imperious temper, and his passion for holding the whole world at his feet, and for always having wherewith to crush his enemies? Whoever has felt the bitterness and miseries of exile will not be surprised that the unhappy duchess should have descended so far as to submit to hard and insecure conditions in her ardent desire of regaining her country and her home. But who can blame her upon such counsels as those which we have just quoted, for hesitating to take a step, which, should it prove a false one, would leave her nothing but eternal regret and useless despair.
Ere long another counsel, which was to her an order, enchained her to a foreign land. She for whom she had suffered every thing and braved every thing for the last ten years, her royal accomplice, Anne of Austria, warned her not to trust to appearances. The queen, meeting M. de Chevreuse one day at St. Germain, inquired after the duchess. He replied that he had reason to complain of her majesty, who alone hindered his wife from returning. The queen told him that he was very wrong in reproaching her; that she loved Madame de Chevreuse and wished much to see her, but that she should never counsel her to return to France. It seemed to Madame de Chevreuse that Anne of Austria ought to be well informed; and she resolved to follow advice that came from so high a quarter. She would not accept the money of Richelieu, and wrote to him for the last time on the 16th of September, representing to him her uncertainty and embarrassment, and asking time to calm her fears. On the same day she announced her definitive resolution to her husband, to Dorat, and to Boispille: "I ardently desire," said she to her husband, "to see myself again in France in a position to retrieve our fortunes, and to live tranquilly with you and my children, but I see so much danger in going there, as I understand affairs, that I cannot now risk it, knowing that I can neither work to your advantage nor theirs, if I am in trouble. I must therefore patiently seek some safe road which will finally carry me there with that repose of mind which I cannot now find. ... I have heard of very important charges against me, of which I am positively innocent, — as perhaps they know at this moment, — and of which appearances indicate that they wish to accuse me. I cannot explain myself more clearly on this point." To the Abbé du Dorat, she said: "I am astonished that any one can accuse me of feigning imaginary apprehensions as an excuse for staying from the enjoyment of my lawful property, instead of pitying me for the perplexity to which my unhappy fortune reduces me." To Boispille, she said: "Since your departure, I have had so many new proofs of the continuance of my misfortunes in the suspicions which he entertains of me, that it is impossible for me to resolve to return and expose myself to the consequences which may result from them. ... Believe that I desire so ardently to return, that I would overlook many things to do so; but there are some that stop me with so much reason, that it is absolutely necessary that I should still remain where I am. I feel the inconveniences of this exile too deeply to refrain from ending them as soon as I can see light. Meanwhile, it is better to suffer than to perish."
Thus vanished the last hopes of a sincere reconciliation between two persons who were at the same time attracted towards and repelled from each other by insurmountable instincts; who knew each other too well not to fear each other, or to confide in the promises of which neither was sparing without exacting binding pledges which neither could nor would be given. At Tours, two years before, Madame de Chevreuse had chosen rather to take for the second time the road to exile than to risk her liberty; at London, too, she preferred to endure the miseries of exile, and to consume the last days of her beauty in privation and fatigue if she might but remain free, with the hope of wearying fortune by the force of courage, and of making the author of her sufferings pay dearly for them.
In the middle of the year 1639, Marie de Medicis, weary of the wandering life that she was leading in the Netherlands at the mercy of the Spanish government, which had lavished promises on her in the hope of gaining her over to their party, and, on seeing her impotence, had then forsaken her, resolved to go to ask an asylum of her daughter, the Queen of England. Could the latter have refused this to her mother, aged, sick, and reduced to the last extremity? The pitiless Richelieu accuses Madame de Chevreuse of having supported and seconded the resolution of Queen Henriette. We should blame her if she had not done so, or if, herself exiled and unhappy, she had not mingled her respectful homage with that paid by the English Court to the widow of Henri IV., the mother of Louis XIII. and of three great queens, who had just braved a seven days' tempest on the ocean, and had arrived at last, destitute, despairing, and dying — a sad object for universal pity. Richelieu, who can see nothing but politics everywhere, pretends to find intrigues and plots in this homage as well as in the visits of Madame de Chevreuse to Marie de Medicis. These are probably the accusations of which Madame de Chevreuse complains in ambiguous language in her last letters. She repels them, and with reason — she remained tranquil, and was even very circumspect as long as she preserved the hope of a sincere reconciliation with Richelieu; but when sure that he sought to deceive her, to lure her to France to have her in his power, and, in case of need, to imprison her, having broken with him, she considered herself bound by no scruple, and only thought of giving him back war for war.
A little while after the arrival of Marie de Medicis, another victim of the cardinal, another exile, interesting at least for the incredible iniquity of the judgment rendered against him, came to London to seek a refuge. This was the Duke de La Valette, eldest son of the aged Duke d'Epernon and own brother of the Cardinal de La Valette, a general and confidant of Richelieu, whose daily counsels had often saved him from impostors, and whose sword had done good service for him in the Netherlands and in Italy. The Duke de La Valette had doubtless been guilty of a great fault. When placed under the command of M. le Prince at the siege of Fontarabie, he had caused the failure of this important enterprise by not seconding his general as he ought. He had not betrayed him, neither had he any understanding with the enemy, but a fatal jealousy of the Prince de Condé had made him fail in his duty. A just punishment would have satisfied the army; the injustice of the trial and the excessive severity of the sentence aroused the indignation of all honorable men. Instead of being arraigned before the parliament in his quality of duke and peer, according to the laws of the time, Bernard de La Valette was delivered over to a commission as the Marshal de Marillac had formerly been, The duke fled, perceiving that they only sought his life, and they adjudged him guilty of contumacy in an unheard-of manner. The king assembled in his chamber a certain number of the members of parliament, the chief justice, the presidents à mortier, a few counsellors of State, and several picked dukes and peers; of these he formed a sort of tribunal, placed himself at its head, presided himself, and, despite the generous resistance of the most of the members of parliament, who demanded that the affair should be referred to them in conformity with every ordinance, he forced these spurious judges to deliberate upon and to adopt the harsh conclusions of the attorney-general; and the Duke de La Valette was declared criminal of leze-majesty, and guilty of perfidy, treason, cowardice, and disobedience. He was condemned to be decapitated, his property confiscated, and his lands transferred from the united crown to the demesne of the king. The attorney-general, Mathieu Molé, extricated himself with difficulty from the duty of carrying this odious sentence into execution, and the illustrious criminal was beheaded in effigy upon the Place de Grève on the 8th of June, 1639. Such a method of procedure in a criminal case was a subversion of all the laws of the kingdom. If it dismayed magistrates attached to the king, and certainly not factious, like the presidents Lejay, Novion, Bailleul, De Mesmes, and Bellièvre, is it surprising that it should have been revolting to the soul of a woman, and that Madame de Chevreuse should have entreated Charles I. to receive the noble fugitive into his kingdom? Mark well that the Duke de La Valette did not arrive in England until the end of October, 1639, when Madame de Chevreuse had no reason longer to preserve circumspection towards Richelieu. She interceded so earnestly with Charles I., that, despite the contrary opinion of the council of ministers, and thanks to the intervention of the queen, she obtained permission for the duke to reside in London, and even to be presented to the king, but secretly and private, so as not to offend France too greatly — a vain precaution which did not save King Charles from the vindictive rancor of Richelieu. The cardinal, seeing that Madame de Chevreuse's influence with the King of England prevailed over his own, and that she urged him on to aid his enemies, more than ever endeavored to excite domestic troubles about the unhappy king which would put it out of his power to injure France, and covertly carried on his artful intrigues with the Parliamentarians, and most especially with the Scotch Puritans. On her side, Madame de Chevreuse did not slumber. The ancient duel with Richelieu being once renewed, she formed at London, with the Duke de Vendôme, La Vieuville, and La Valette, a faction of active and able exiles, who, supported by Count Holland, then one of the chiefs of the royalist party and of the army of Charles I., by Lord Montagu, a zealous Catholic and the confidential counsellor of Queen Henriette, by the Chevalier Digby and by other powerful lords of the English Court, and also maintaining direct correspondence with the Court of Rome through its English envoy, Rosetti, as well as with the Cabinet of Madrid, encouraged and inflamed the hopes of the exiles and the malcontents, planted obstacles in the path of Richelieu, and gathered dangers everywhere about him.
In 1641, we find Madame de Chevreuse at Brussels serving as a bond between England, Spain, and Lorraine. The fact is not generally known, but we can demonstrate that she took an active part in the affair of the Count de Soissons; that is to say, in the most formidable conspiracy that had ever been plotted against Richelieu.
The Count de Soissons, prince of the blood royal, was, however, of far more consequence than Henri de Montmorenci had been: he possessed his bravery and his military talents; his plan was better conceived, and the occasion more favorable in every respect. The prime minister, by straining all the springs of government, by perpetuating the war, by increasing the public taxes, and by oppressing both public and private individuals, had excited much hatred, and governed only by the force of terror. His genius was imposing, and the grandeur of his designs excited the admiration of a few choice spirits; but this continued harshness, joined with the sacrifices that were springing up unceasingly, wearied the greater number, and the king first of all. The favorite of the day, the Grand-Equerry Cinq-Mars, aspersed and undermined the cardinal as much as possible in the mind of Louis XIII. He knew of the conspiracy of the Count de Soissons, and favored, without taking part in it. They could count on him for the next day. Queen Anne, still in disgrace, despite the two sons which she had just given to France, would at least offer prayers for the end of a power which oppressed her. Monsieur had pledged his word — not very reliable, it is true; but the Duke de Bouillon, a warrior and an eminent politician, had openly declared himself; and his fortified town of Sedan, situated on the frontiers of France and Belgium, was an asylum in which they could brave for a long time all the forces of the cardinal. They had carefully arranged an extensive correspondence with every part of the kingdom, as well as with the clergy and the parliament. They even conspired in the Bastille, where the Marshal de Vitry and the Count de Cramail, prisoners as they were, had prepared a surprise with admirably guarded secrecy. The Abbé de Retz, then twenty-five years of age, preluded his adventurous career by this essay at civil war. The Duke de Guise, who had escaped from the Archbishop of Rheims and taken shelter in the Netherlands, had promised to come to Sedan to share in the perils of the conspirators. But the greatest, the most solid hope of the Count de Soissons, rested on Spain; she alone could enable him to depart from Sedan, to march against Paris, and to break the power of Richelieu; he therefore despatched one of the bravest and most intelligent of his followers to Brussels, to negotiate with the Spanish ministers, and to obtain from them money and troops. This gentleman was named Alexandre de Campion. He met Madame de Chevreuse at Brussels, and confided to her the mission with which he was charged. She eagerly hastened to second it with all her influence. As we shall see this personage reappear more than once in the midst of the most tragic adventures in the life of Madame de Chevreuse, we must pause for a few moments to introduce him to our readers.
Indeed, he has taken care to draw his own portrait in a work entitled Recueil de Lettres qui peuvent servir a l'histoire, et divers Poésies, à Rouen, aux dépens de l'auteur, 1657. This work, designed but for a few persons and very little noticed at the time, and as little known since as though it had never existed, is, nevertheless, as the title asserts, very valuable to history. It is dedicated to the celebrated Gillonne d'Harcourt, Countess de Fiesque, one of the aides-de-camp of Mademoiselle during the war of the Fronde, a witty, intriguing, and brilliant woman. The book is pleasing. Alexandre de Campion there shows himself full of pretensions to wit and gallantry; he carefully collects all the little verses which he addressed in his youth to the belles of the time, and gives, without ceremony, the letters which he had formerly written under the most delicate circumstances, to the Count de Soissons, the Duke de Vendôme, the Duke de Beaufort, the Count de Beaupuis, De Thou, the Duke de Bouillon, the Duke de Guise, Madame de Montbazon, and Madame de Chevreuse. We see in these letters that Alexandre de Campion, born in 1610, of a noble family of Normandy, in 1634 entered, at the age of twenty-four, into the service of the young Count de Soissons in the quality of gentleman, followed him in his different campaigns, distinguished himself therein, and gradually shared his confidence with Beauregard, Saint Ibar, and Varicarville — brave officers and men of honor, but restless and somewhat turbulent, who flattered the ambition of their master and urged him on in concert to play a conspicuous rôle in France by overthrowing the Cardinal de Richelieu. Campion informs us that, in the year 1636, the Count de Soissons began to meditate on what he afterwards executed, that he had a perfect understanding with the Duke de Bouillon, and that both exerted themselves to draw the Duke d'Orleans to Sedan, in order to raise there the standard of revolt, and constrain the king to sacrifice his minister. Campion went to Blois in order to secure the Duke d'Orleans and to point out to him the surest means of repairing to Sedan. At the same time, he was negotiating with Richelieu through Father Joseph. The close of the year 1636 and the whole of the year 1637 passed in these intrigues, which failed at last through the fear of trusting the conspirators to embark in the enterprise at the moment of action. The Count de Soissons ended by becoming reconciled with Richelieu through the medium of his brother-in-law, the Duke de Longueville, all the while preserving the intention of separating from the cardinal and of destroying him as soon as he should find a good opportunity. During this peace of short duration, the confidant of the Count de Soissons labored to procure himself partisans by every means. He connected himself with Cinq-Mars, and though the count was secretly engaged to a person whom he loved, and who is not named in the letters, Alexandre de Campion did not scruple to give several princesses and their families reason to hope for his hand. In 1640, the plot, which had never been entirely abandoned, was revived by the Duke de Bouillon and the Count de Soissons. The Grand-Equerry, without directly joining in it, promised his support. Emanuel de Gondi, formerly general of the galleys, and now priest of the Oratory, father of the Duke de Retz and the future cardinal, and the Presidents de Mesmes and Bailleul were consulted, not as accomplices, but as friends. The penetrating Richelieu divined their purpose and removed them from the court and from Paris. After remaining for some time on this perilous stage, where he often encountered the Abbé de Retz, Campion was himself compelled to fly to Sedan, he was sent to Brussels to negotiate with Spain, and it was then that he became acquainted with Madame de Chevreuse. Did politics alone contribute to this liaison? We know not, but when Alexandre de Campion recounts to the Count de Soissons all that he owes to Madame de Chevreuse, the gay young count rallies his young and chivalrous follower a little on his success with the beautiful duchess; to which the latter replies with apparent modesty, mingled with considerable self-conceit: "June 3, 1641. M. de Chatillon (who commanded the army sent by Richelieu against the rebels) causes you but little fear, since you think of rallying me in your letter; and this is thanking me but little for the services which I render you in gaining an illustrious adherent to your party, and in procuring you a friend who otherwise would never have been such. She is persuaded of your friendship by the compliments which you offer her in your letters; but if she had seen what you have written to me, perhaps she would not act with so much zeal; your railleries not being over agreeable. She has written to the count-duke, so that you will have his assistance; and as she has entire power over Don Antonio Sarmiento, she has written to him also in the same strain; indeed, she is very zealous for you. I do not know that you would pay the debt as cheaply as you imagine if the state of your affairs should oblige you to make a tour hither, or if her own should compel her to take the road to Sedan; but if you will believe me, you will not have so flattering an opinion of me, since I constantly regard these superior deities with respect and veneration; and as they take care never to descend to me, I am careful never to raise my pretensions to them. Having spoken to you frankly, I venture to hope that you will both spare me for the future, and her who charges herself with advancing your affairs as if they were her own." But without ascribing to her more private reasons, Madame de Chevreuse was ready to serve with zeal in an enterprise directed against the common enemy. She wrote to the Count-Duke Olivares, and strongly enforced on him the demands of the Count de Soissons, and the Duke de Bouillon. At Brussels, she won over Don Antonio Sarmiento, and she gave to Campion, as well as to the Abbé de Merci, the intriguing agent in the service of Spain, letters to the Duke of Lorraine, in which she urged him not to lose this excellent occasion for repairing his past misfortunes, and for striking Richelieu a mortal blow. Charles IV., urged on at once by Madame de Chevreuse, by his relative, the Duke de Guise, by the Spanish minister, and, most of all, by his own restless and adventurous ambition, broke the solemn alliance which he had but recently contracted with France, entered into a treaty with Spain and with the Count de Soissons, and made haste to go to the aid of Sedan. General Lamboy and Colonel Metternich hastened from Flanders with six thousand imperialists, while, at the same time, Madame de Chevreuse and the exiles moved all the springs which were in their hands. France and Europe were in anxious expectation. Never had Richelieu been in greater danger; and the loss of the battle of the Marfée would have been fatal to him, had not the Count de Soissons met death in his triumph.
Did Madame de Chevreuse remain a stranger in 1642 to the new conspiracy of Monsieur, Cinq-Mars, and the Duke de Bouillon? If so, it was the only one in which she was not concerned. It is very doubtful whether she was not in the secret, as well as Queen Anne, whose correspondence with Cinq-Mars and Monsieur cannot be contested. While conducting herself guardedly towards Louis XIII. and his minister, Anne of Austria had not abandoned her former sentiments nor even her designs, and she may even have been compromised in the affair of the Count de Soissons, if we may believe these notable words from Alexandre de Campion to Madame de Chevreuse, dated the 15th of August, 1641: "Have no fear of the letters which speak of that person for whom of all others you have the greatest devotion; M. de Bouillon and I have burned all which were in the count's casket." The queen certainly knew of the plot of Cinq-Mars and consented to it. Perhaps she was ignorant of the treaty with Spain, but in all else she acted in concert with the conspirators against the cardinal. La Rochefoucauld affirms this several times as a thing in which he had been concerned. "The eclat of the influence of M. le Grand," says he, "awakened the hopes of the malcontents: the queen and Monsieur joined themselves to him, and the Duke de Bouillon and several persons of rank followed their example. M. de Thou came to me on behalf of the queen to inform me of her alliance with M. le Grand, and to tell me that she had promised him that I would be among her friends." The Duke de Bouillon declares that the queen was firmly leagued with Monsieur and with the Grand-Equerry, and that she herself demanded his aid: "The queen, who had been persecuted by the cardinal in so many ways, doubted not that if the king should die, he would seek to take her children from her in order to procure for himself the regency." She sought the Duke de Bouillon secretly through De Thou, and asked him whether, if the king should die, he would promise to receive her in Sedan, with her two children, believing that there would be no place of safety for them in all France, so much was she persuaded of the evil intentions of the cardinal and fearful of his power. De Thou said further to the Duke de Bouillon that, since the illness of the king, the queen and Monsieur, the Duke d'Orleans, were closely leagued together, and that it was through Cinq-Mars that this alliance had been made. Two days after, De Thou wished the queen to express to the Duke de Bouillon the satisfaction which she felt at the manner in which he had replied to what had been said to him in her behalf; this she could only do in a few words in passing, when going to the mass, committing the rest to De Thou as having entire confidence in him. Turenne, writing later to his sister, Mademoiselle de Bouillon, says to her: "You can judge how much it must affect my brother to see the queen and Monsieur still in power, while he has lost Sedan for the love of her." Now, where Queen Anne was so deeply engaged, Madame de Chevreuse would scarcely have remained idle. Let us add that she had long been very intimate with De Thou, who had been compromised on her account in some affair, the particulars of which it is impossible for us now to discover, but for which we know that he had great difficulty in obtaining his pardon from the cardinal, as he himself acknowledged in the fatal trial that brought him to the scaffold. A friend of Richelieu, who does not reveal his name, but who seems to be well informed concerning the matter, does not hesitate to place Madame de Chevreuse as well as the queen among those who at that time sought to overthrow him. "M. le Grand," writes he to the cardinal, "has been urged on to his evil design by the queen-mother, her daughter, the queen of France, Madame de Chevreuse, and Lord Montagu, with other of the English papists." Lastly, the cardinal himself, who doubtless for his health, but also for his safety, had withdrawn to Tarascon in the beginning of June, 1642, with his two confidants, Mazarin and Chavigny, and his faithful regiments of guards, feeling himself surrounded by perils, on representing to Louis XIII. the danger of his position, quotes what has been written him concerning Madame de Chevreuse as among its most striking indications. Indeed, what party was it that was conspiring against Richelieu? Was it not the party of former times, the party of the League of Austria and of Spain? And was not Madame de Chevreuse by her engagements with the Duke of Lorraine, the Queen of England, the Chevalier de Jars at Rome, and the Count-Duke Olivares at Madrid, made one of the chief powers of this party? When, therefore, it was seen to be in motion, it was very natural to suspect the hand of Madame de Chevreuse in all its movements.
But the eye of Richelieu soon pierced the darkness which enveloped it; he saw clearly into the intrigues of the Grand-Equerry whom he had long suspected, and a treason, the secret of which has remained impenetrable to all investigation for two centuries, threw into his hands the treaty that had been concluded with Spain, through the medium of Fontrailles, in the name of Monsieur, of Cinq-Mars, and of the Duke de Bouillon. Thenceforth the cardinal felt assured of victory. He understood Louis XIII.; he knew that he might, in a burst of his fitful and capricious temper, have complained to his favorite of his minister, and even have wished to be delivered from him, and thus have paved the way to dangerous conversation; but he also knew to what degree he was a king and a Frenchman, and devoted to their common system of policy. He hastened, therefore, to send Chavigny to Narbonne with the authentic proofs of the Spanish treaty. At the sight of these proofs, Louis was troubled; he could scarcely believe his own eyes, and he fell into a deep melancholy, from which he recovered with bursts of indignation against him who could thus abuse his confidence and conspire with a foreign power. There was no need of inflaming him, he was the first to demand an exemplary punishment; not a day, not an hour would he be moved by the youth of a culprit who had been so dear to him; he thought only of his crime, and signed his death-warrant without hesitation. If he spared the Duke de Bouillon, it was but in order to gain Sedan. He pardoned his brother, the Duke d'Orleans, but dishonored him and deprived him of all power in the State. Owing to a rumor proceeding from a servant of Fontrailles, and which the memoirs of Fontrailles fully confirm, his suspicions rested on the queen, and he could never be persuaded from the opinion that in this, as in the affair of Chalais, Anne of Austria was allied with Monsieur. What would he have said if he
had read the relation of Fontrailles, the memoirs of the Duke de Bouillon, the note of Turenne, and the declaration of La Rochefoucauld? To our eyes, the accordance of these witnesses is decisive. The assertions of the Duke de Bouillon and of La Rochefoucauld are such that their authority can only be revoked by imputing to both, not an error merely, but a falsehood — and a falsehood at once gratuitous and odious. The queen used every effort to calm this new storm, and to persuade the king and Richelieu of her innocence. We have seen that in 1637 she did not hesitate to use the most solemn protestations and the most sacred oaths in the denial of that which she had afterwards been forced to confess. In 1642 she had recourse to the same means. She descended to humiliations as incompatible with a clear conscience as with her dignity and her rank. She lavished marks of attachment and interest on Richelieu; she affected a great horror of the ingratitude of the Grand-Equerry ; she declared that she committed herself without reserve into the hands of the cardinal; that she only wished in future to be governed by his counsels, and that she would henceforth seek all her happiness in her children, whose education she abandoned to Richelieu. She wrote to him herself to inquire anxiously concerning his health, as she had formerly asked his hand and offered her own in token of eternal friendship, adding very humbly that he need not give himself the trouble of replying to her.
Anne went still further; she set no limits to her dissimulation and falsehood; in this extreme peril, she went so far as to turn against the courageous friend who had devoted herself for her. She would have embraced her as a liberator, had fortune declared itself in her favor; vanquished and disarmed, she abandoned her. As she had protested her horror of the conspiracy which had failed, and of her two imprudent and unfortunate accomplices, who mounted the scaffold without naming her, so, seeing the king and Richelieu incensed against Madame de Chevreuse, and determined to repulse the new attempts made by her family to obtain her recall, the queen, far from interceding for her former favorite, zealously joined with her enemies; and in order to mask her real sentiments, and to seem to applaud what she could not prevent, she asked as a special favor that the duchess should be kept far from herself and even from France. "The queen," writes Chavigny, the minister of foreign affairs to Richelieu, "the queen asked me if it were true that Madame de Chevreuse would return; then, without waiting for an answer, she said that she would be sorry to see her again in France, for she now understood her true character; and she commanded me to entreat his Eminence in her behalf, that, if he wished to do any thing for Madame de Chevreuse, it should be done without permitting her return to France. I assured her Majesty that she should be satisfied on this point." — "I have never seen a truer or more sincere satisfaction than that which the queen felt on hearing what I said to her from Monseigneur. She protests that she not only does not wish Madame de Chevreuse to approach her, but that she is resolved, for her own safety, to suffer no person to advise her to the neglect of the most trifling part of her duty."
Behold Madame de Chevreuse, then, fallen, as it seems, to the lowest depth of misfortune. Her situation was deplorable; she suffered in every chord of her heart; no hope remained to her of again seeing her country, her beautiful chateau, her children, her daughter Charlotte. Drawing almost nothing from France, she was at the end of resources, of loans, and of debts. She learned how hard it is to mount and to descend the staircase of the stranger; to endure, by turns, the vanity of his promises and the haughtiness of his disdain. And that no bitterness might be spared her, the one who at least owed to her a silent fidelity, had openly ranged herself on the side of fortune and of Richelieu. She thus passed several most unhappy months, with no other support than her courage. Suddenly, on the 4th of December, 1642, the redoubted cardinal, victorious over all his enemies without and within, and absolute master of the king and the queen, succumbed while at the zenith of power. Louis XIII. was not long in following him; but, forced in spite of himself to confide the regency to the queen, and to appoint his brother lieutenant-general of the kingdom, he imposed on them a council, without whose consent they could do nothing, and in which should rule, in the capacity of prime minister, the man of all others the most devoted to the system of Richelieu, his particular friend, his confidant and his creature, the Cardinal Jules Mazarin. Even this capricious measure, which, through distrust of the future regent, placed royalty in some sort in commission, was not sufficient. Louis XIII. believed that he could only insure the tranquillity of his kingdom, after his death, by confirming and perpetuating, as far as was in his power, the exile of Madame de Chevreuse. In his pious aversion toward the active and enterprising duchess, he was accustomed to call her le Dialle. He scarcely loved more, and he feared almost as much, the former keeper of the seals, Châteauneuf, who was imprisoned in the citadel of Angoulême. As if the shade of the cardinal still governed him on his deathbed, before expiring, he inscribed in his last will and testament, in the royal declaration of April 21, this extraordinary clause concerning Châteauneuf and Madame de Chevreuse: "Inasmuch, says the king, as for grave reasons, important to the good of our service, we have been obliged to deprive the Sieur de Châteauneuf of the office of Keeper of the Seals of France, and to cause him to be conducted to the citadel of Angoulême, where he has since remained by our orders, we will and require that the said Sieur de Châteauneuf shall remain in the same state in which he is at the present time in the said citadel of Angoulême, until after the peace shall be concluded and executed; with the proviso, however, that he shall not then be liberated except by the order of the Dame-Regent, together with the advice of the council, which shall prescribe a plan for his retreat either in the kingdom or out of the kingdom, as it shall deem best. And, as it is our design to provide against all the subjects who may in any manner disturb the judicious arrangement which we have made in order to preserve the repose and tranquillity of our state, the knowledge which we possess of the rebellious conduct of Madame de Chevreuse, of the artifices which she has used to excite dissension in our kingdom, and of the factions and the correspondence which she maintains abroad with our enemies, causes us to deem it proper to forbid her, as we do forbid her, the entrance to our kingdom during the war; willing, also, that after the peace shall be concluded and executed, she shall not return to our kingdom, except by the orders of the said Dame Queen Regent, together with the advice of the said council; with the additional proviso that she shall neither reside nor remain in any place near the court and the same Dame-Queen." These solemn words designated Madame de Chevreuse and Châteauneuf not only as the two most illustrious victims of the closing reign, but also as the chiefs of the new policy which seemed about to replace that of Richelieu. Louis XIII. breathed his last on the 14th of May, 1643. A few days after, the same parliament which had registered his testament amended it; the new regent was freed from all fetters and put in possession of the absolute sovereignty; Châteauneuf left his prison, and Madame de Chevreuse quitted Brussels in triumph to return to the court and to France.
- Madame de Motteville, vol. i., p. 93.
- Bibliothèque Nationale, Manuscrits de Colbert, affaires de France, in folio. Vol, ii., fol, 9. Mêmoire de ce que Madame de Chevreuse a donné charge au sieur de Boispille de dire a monseigneur le cardinal. "She incurred no obligations in Spain, and would not accept a tester with the exception of good cheer and treatment..... She spoke as befitted her in Spain, and believed that this was one thing that made the count-duke esteem her."
- Memoirs of Richelieu, vol. x., p. 488.
- Manuscrits de Colbert, ibid.
- It is hardly necessary to remind the reader that, in all French letters addressed to sovereigns, the feminine pronoun her is used instead of the pronoun you, of course referring to your Majesty."—Tr.
- Manuscrits de Colbert, ibid.
- One can well imagine it, on seeing this beautiful residence, still decorated by a cultivated and refined taste. The descendant of Marie de Rohan, the Constabless de Luynes, has converted the ancient Chateau de Guise into a tasteful and splendid residence, which rivals the most celebrated palaces of the English aristocracy. Where else can we find such grandeur and simplicity, such exquisite appreciation of Nature and of Art, as is shown in these beautiful fountains, these magnificent promenades, and this vast library, these admirable family portraits, these paintings, or, rather, splendid sketches of M. Ingres, and this statue in massive silver of Louis XIII., the token of a generous gratitude? And when we reflect that he who has collected all these beautiful things, has devoted his fortune to the public good in every way, that he has given us the steel of Damascus, the ruins of Sélinonte, the history of the house of Anjou à Naples, and the Minerva of the Parthenon; that, during thirty years, he has planted asylums, schools, and hospitals everywhere about him, and encouraged and sustained scholars and artists, being himself one of the first connoisseurs and archæologists of Europe, the friend of a judicious liberty, and favorable to every good, popular cause, we may exclaim, There is one great nobleman, then, still in France!
- See, in respect to this, La Jeunesse de Madame de Longueville, third edition, chap, iv., p. 280.
- Madame de Chevreuse, like her grandson, loved the arts and encouraged them. She was the patroness of the excellent engraver, Pierre Daret, who dedicated to her his collection of the "Illustres Français et estrangers de l'un et de l'autre sexe," in quarto, 1654. This dedication acquaints us with facts that are not to be found in any of the biographies of this artist.
- In the Bibliothèque Nationale are two manuscripts which contain it entire: one, which the Père Griffet knew and profited by, is volume ii. of the Manuscrits de Colbert, affaires de France; these are but copies, and are often defective. The other, Supplement Français, No. 4067, contains fewer documents, but original ones, among which are several autograph letters of Richelieu and of Madame de Chevreuse.
- Manuscripts of Colbert, ibid.
- Letter of the Abbé du Dorat to Richelieu, Manuscrits de Colbert fol. 47.
- Manuscrits de Colbert, fol. 53, etc.
- Memoires, vol. x., p. 484.
- For this unheard-of scene, one should not only see the detailed and suspicious relation published by the friends of La Valette, which is found among the articles printed in the sequel of the Memoires of Montrésor, but also the Memoires of Omer Talon, collection Petitot, ii. series, vol. lx., pp. 186-197.
- Memoires of Richelieu, vol. ii., pp. 498 and 499.
- See the letter of Richelieu to the Count d'Estrade of the 2d December, 1637; see also letters of Boispille to the cardinal of 1639, in which he gives the news of the slow progress of the army in Scotland with an ill-disguised satisfaction that betrays the sentiments of the writer. Richelieu caused the manifesto to England, which the Scotch published in 1641, to be printed in the Gazette of that year, No. 34, p. 161. "We cannot doubt," says the exact and learned Père Griffet, "that Richelieu was one of the prime movers of the revolution which finally led Charles I. to the scaffold and Oliver Cromwell to the throne. M. de Brienne seems to assent to this, but he takes care to remark that things were carried much farther than the cardinal had foreseen or wished."
- When afterwards, in 1643, the pope appointed the Cardinal Rosetti to represent him in the Congress at Munster, the successor of Richelieu unhesitatingly excluded him, founding this especially on the ground that, during his mission in England, Rosetti had been very intimate with Madame de Chevreuse, and that she had wholly gained him. Letter of the Queen to M. de Fontenay, September 25, 1643. Bibliothèque Nationale, fonds Gaignieres, vol. 510, in fol., under the title: Dépêsches importantes sur la paix d'Italie, des anneés 1643 et 1644.
- See the whole account of this affair in the first volume of the Memoires, p. 28—41. The author of the Conjuration de Fiesque attributes to himself on this occasion, some political discourses imitated from Sallust, in which maxims of state abound, according to that masculine style of the times of which Richelieu was the author and Corneille the interpreter. The discourses might have been added afterwards to give the reader an exalted idea of the precocious genius of Retz, but they are truthful, always expecting the usual charge, and accord perfectly with the most authentic documents.
- We read in the Gazette of Renaudot, for the year 1641, No. 61, p. 314: "The twentieth of this month of May, the Duke de Guise arrived at Brussels from Sedan, where he supped with the Duchess de Chevreuse and lodged at the house of Don Antonio Sarmiento." And in No. 64, p. 327, under the date of May 28: "The Secretary of the Duke de Bouillon has left here (Brussels) for Sedan, where the Duke de Guise has also returned."
- "August 20, 1640. M. le Grand is much pleased that I have added the compliments of M. de Bouillon to your own. He has charged me to offer you many in return, and especially to assure you that, at the proper time and place, you will see evidence that he was sincere in protesting to you, through me, that he was your most humble servant. He is certain that the cardinal designs to destroy him; from this you can judge of his intentions. He is on good terms with the queen, Monsieur, and yourself, and acts adroitly. No one knows that I see him, and if prosperity does not blind him, he is capable of undertaking something of importance. In any case, should you be pressed, and forced to take up arms to shield yourself from oppression, it is well to have for a protector near the king, an injured man, who, for his own interest, will not lose the occasion of destroying the one who wishes to ruin him. I know well that those who do not like him will chide his ingratitude because the Cardinal is his benefactor, but this does not concern you." Let us also transcribe this letter to De Thou of March 3, 1641, one year before the affair which led him to the scaffold: "I protest that neither the reasons which you alleged to me ten days since, in the Carmes-Déchaussés, nor those which you write me, persuade me in any manner, and that I have nothing to add to the answer I made you. A scheme like that in which you and your friend wish to embark me, which will at once be suspected by * * * who has no love for me, exposes me to his vengeance, and will end in nothing. I know the men, and their design of ruining him through the cabinet is a chimera which will destroy them and, perhaps, you also." There is another letter in the Recueil to De Thou, in which Alexandre de Campion informs him that he sends back a portrait, letters, and jewels, which his friend had confided to him, in order that he may return them "to that illustrious person for whom you are accused of sighing." Madame de Guymené is probably the person alluded to.
- "December 24, 1640. According to your order, I shall show your letters to your mother, to the Père de Gondi, and to the Presidents de Mesmes and de Bailleul. ... But I shall take the liberty of telling you that I should be very glad to see them in private, lest the cardinal should know that they are your friends; it may ruin them if he discovers it." "January 1641. I do not doubt the displeasure which you have felt at the removal of the Père de Gondi and of the two presidents. I strongly suspect that their visits to the Hôtel de Soissons were known."
- Memoires, vol. i., p. 26.
- Memoires, ibid., pp. 362 and 363.
- Memoires of the Life of Fred. Maurice de la Tour d'Auvergne, Duke de Bouillon (by his secretary, Langlade), Paris, 1692, in 12mo.
- This fear was not without foundation, for Richelieu endeavored to induce the king to grant him the guardianship of his children. He almost succeeded, as we see in this precious document, which we extract from the archives of foreign affairs, France, vol ci., letter of Chavigny to Richelieu of the 28th of July, 1642: "The king told me that several days since, at the time of his dangerous illness at the camp of Perpignan, M. le Grand endeavored in conversation to persuade him to give the guardianship of his children after his death to himself, without however saying it openly. Upon this, I took occasion to exaggerate the effrontery and horrible ambition of this profligate, and to show to his majesty that a person must have all the qualities which he had not in order to be capable of such guardianship, when he said to me, 'If God leaves me reason to direct what shall happen after my death, I can only leave them to Monseigneur the cardinal. To which I only replied by protestations on the part of his Eminence of affection and tenderness for so good a master.'"
- Lettres et Memoires, etc., published by General Grimoard in folio, vol. i., p. 40.
- Nouveaux Mémoires d'histoire, de critique et de littérature, by the Abbé d'Artigny, vol. iv. Pièces originales concernant le procès de MM. de Bouillon, Cinq-Mars et de Thou. Examination of July 6, 1642, and more particularly the second examination of July 24. "Being questioned in respect to the affair of Madame de Chevreuse, he said that, having the word of the cardinal, he felt himself secure, well knowing that he would not grant pardon by halves."
- Archives of foreign affairs, France, vol. ci., letter of July 4.
- Archives of foreign affairs, France, vol. cii., inedited memoir of Richelieu. "It is necessary that MM. de Chavigny and De Noyers speak to the king and tell him that the cardinal, wishing to depart for Narbonne as he had advised for change of air, and not knowing what effect this might produce on his disease, wishes to express the entire confidence which he has in his majesty by informing him of the indications on every side. The letters of the Prince of Orange, the Gazette of Brussels, and that of Cologne, the preparations of the queen-mother for leaving England, the litters and mules that have been purchased, all that has been written in genuine letters of Madame de Chevreuse, all that we hear from the courts of France, the rumors which are in the armies, the advices which come from the courts of Italy, the hopes of the Spaniards both on the side of Spain and Flanders, the resolution which Monsieur has taken of not coming as he had promised, — waiting, perhaps, for the result of the storm, — all these things oblige him to warn the king, in order that he may take such measures as he may please in respect to these rumors which disturb the public peace."
- See the Memoires of Monglat, Coll. Petitot, vol. i., p. 375.
- The details of this affair are not even given by the Père Griffet; they are only to be found in the archives of foreign affairs, France, vol. cii. During the first days of June, the domestic troubles of the king, the intrigues of Cinq-Mars, who was still at Narbonne, near him, and the dangers of the cardinal, were the subjects of Richelieu's inquiry, but not a word of the treaty of Spain. On the 12th of June all was made clear by the following billet of De Chavigny and De Noyers to Richelieu: "Narbonne, this 12th of June, at 10 A. M. — M. de Chavigny arrived this morning an hour before the king awakened. M. de Noyers and he, after having conferred together, sought his majesty, to whom they recounted in detail all the affairs of which he had been notified. All the measures have been taken in conformity with the views of his Eminence, and the despatches will be made this day without fail. The king approves of the journey of M. Castelan in Piedmont. — Chavigny, de Noyers." Here all is clear. On the 11th of June Richeheu received the decisive news. He instantly sent Chavigny to the king with the proofs, and also with the measures he proposed to take. Chavigny travelled all night, and at twelve in the morning, in company with De Noyers, he saw the king, who read the despatches sent him by Richelieu, listened to the explanations of the ministers, and immediately approved and adopted the necessary measures, among which was the sending of Castelan to the Italian army to arrest the Duke de Bouillon. On the 12th Louis did not hesitate; but afterwards he fell a prey to gloomy reflections. Letter of De Noyers to Chavigny, who had returned to Taraseon, dated the 15th of June, says: "I think that it will be necessary to find means to enable M. de M.(azarin) to speak to the king, for strange thoughts trouble his mind. He said to me yesterday that he doubted whether one name had not been substituted for another. I thereupon said all that you can imagine to divert him from this idea, but he is still in a profound reverie. He was taken ill in the night, and at two took medicine, after which he slept for two hours. I saw him this morning, and gave him news of his Eminence, of whose improvement he was glad to hear. At the same time I showed him the extract from the letter of M. de Courbonne, and through this the arrangement of his Eminence with Savoy, and the advice concerning the islands. Upon this he made no comment, but said to me, 'What a leap M. le Grand has made,' which he repeated two or three times." Another letter of the same date says: "I think that the sooner the Cardinal Mazarin comes here, the better it will be, for I perceive in truth that his majesty has need of consolation, and that his heart is very full." Letter of July 17th, De Noyers to Richelieu, concerning the arrangements of the king: "The king has said to us privately that Sedan is well worth an indemnity, but that he will never pardon M. le Grand, and that he will abandon him to the judges to act towards him according to their conscience." Letter of July 19th: "The king has entertained the thought of saving the life of M. de Bouillon in order to gain Sedan, but of leaving M. le Grand to his fate."
- Relation de Fontrailles, Coll. Petitot, vol. liv., p. 438: "When I was alone with M. de Thou (at Carcassonne, after the Spanish voyage) he suddenly spoke to me of the journey which I had just made, which surprised me greatly, as I thought it had been concealed from him. When I asked him how he had learned it, he frankly told me in confidence that he knew it from the queen, who had it from Monsieur. I admit that I did not think her so well informed, although I was not ignorant that her majesty had earnestly wished that a cabal might be formed in the court, and that she had contributed all in her power to it, as she could not but profit by it."
- Archives of foreign affairs, France, vol. cii. Chavigny to Richelieu, October 24: "The king gave the queen a bad reception yesterday. He is still greatly incensed against her, and constantly talks about it."
- Archives of foreign affairs, ibid., vol. ci., letter of Le Gras, secretary of the queen's orders, to Chavigny. Saint Germain, July 2, 1642: "This extreme ingratitude is so shocking to her that she expresses her sentiments regarding it to the king in this letter, which she prays you to transmit to him." Ibid., vol. cii., letter of the Count de Brassac, superintendent of the queen's household, to Chavigny, dated July 20: "The queen cannot refrain from expressing the satisfaction which has driven away her indisposition, and which makes her seem so gay that every one sees plainly all that is in her heart." Ibid., vol. ci., another letter to Chavigny from Le Gras, in which he reminds him of his first letter and that of M. de Brassac, etc. Ibid, Chavigny to Richelieu, July 28: "The queen is so grateful for the obligations that she owes to Monseigneur, that it would be difficult to change the resolutions which she has formed of acting in future only by the counsels of his Eminence, and of placing herself wholly in his hands. She commands me to give him this assurance on her part." Ibid., from the same to the same, Aug. 12: "I am persuaded that the friendship which the queen expresses for Monseigneur is without dissimulation, and that she will certainly continue it, asking no other favor than to be near her children, yet without pretending to govern them or to meddle with their education, which she earnestly desires Monseigneur to superintend. She has commanded me to assure his Eminence of this, and that she is extremely impatient to see him."
- Archives of foreign affairs, ibid. Letter of the 25th of July.
- Ibid. Letter of August 12.