Sivut kuvina

lieve that he was influenced by gratitude to Cardinal Richelieu, uncle of Armand.

“ It was impossible to treat death more lightly than he did. He died, making, apparently, very little account of the next world, and trying still to govern this, by the instructions he gave, and the people he left in office.

“ The king sincerely regretted the cardinal, and said, in the presence of four or five persons, that he was under such great obligation to him, for the care he had taken of his childhood, and of his education, and for his having quieted the troubles of his kingdom, that though he knew that the abandonment of his authority to another person, was injurious to him, at the age he had come to, he should have left it in the cardinal's hands for five or six years longer, if he had lived. And, in fact, the king soon shewed that it was only through gratitude that he permitted the cardinal to govern, for he displayed so much prudence, firmness, presence of mind, and intelligence, in the conduct of affairs, that however highly expectation was raised, he astonished every body.

“ Besides the principal heir the cardinal appointed, (to whom he bequeathed twelve hundred thousand livres a year, and several millions in splendid moveables,) he left great wealth to Mancini, his nephew, Duke of Nevers.”

During this campaign, he mentions one of those extraordinary instances of physical antipathy, which seem to be without the controul of the will, or the reason.

“On that day, the Marshales d’Albrêt and de Clérainbaut, Francis de Clermont, Marquess de Monglat, master of the king's wardrobe, and the commander de Loudrai, ambassador from Malta, afterwards Grand Prior of France, were all dining with me, when Marshal d'Albrêt began to tell a story, and just as he was in the middle of it, he suddenly turned pale, and his voice faltered. None of us attended to this, except the Marshal de Clérainbaut, because none of us knew the cause. He called to the maître d'hotel, who had just placed a young wild boar on the table, to cut off its head instantly, which being done, the Marshal d’Albrêt, who was on the point of fainting, recovered, and continued his story. This was one of those natural antipathies, which many men are subject to; some to hares, like Bernard de Noyuret, Duke d'Epernon, colonel-general of infantry; and others to pigs' heads, like the Marshal d'Albrêt. The Marshal de Clérainbaut reminded me of this afterwards, at a levée, and asked me if I thought it would be taking an unfair advantage, to fight the Marshal d'Albrêt with a pig's head in the left hand and a sword in the right. This question made the king laugh; and my answer (that knowing this weakness of the Marshal d'Albrêt, it would be as unfair a trick as to wear armour under one's clothes,) led him to carry on the discussion, which he did with that agreeable pleasantry natural to him."

From this period, to the conclusion of these Memoirs, we have an uninterrupted series of bitter complaints of the injustice he received at the hands of the king, so mingled with the most abject flattery, that his injuries and misfortunes, so far from exciting the sympathy they are well calculated to call forth, render him an object of painful pity and contempt.

Speaking of the king's coldness, he says, “ I never ceased to express to him, (the Count de St. Aignan, first gentleman of the bedchamber,) the zeal I felt, not only for the service, but for the person, of the king, and to tell him, that the coldness with which he treated me would never prevent my loving him a thousand times more than my life.” In this year, occurred a signal instance of the instability of the favour of princes, and of the baseness of courts, in the arrest and disgrace of the ambitious and magnificent Foquet; but we must not swell our already numerous extracts, with this subject. In the autumn of this year, having met with fresh mortifications, Bussy fell ill of vexation. We cannot refrain from recording one of the few actions, to be found in these volumes, that tend to give one an endurable notion of mankind. Marshal Fabret, who was the son of a bookseller at Metz, having risen to the rank of marshal, through his merits, and the favour of Cardinal Mazarin, was desired to repair to court on the first day of 1662, in order that he might receive the order of knigthood, and to bring with him the necessary certificates of nobility. He wrote word, that he felt all possible gratitude to the king, for the high honour he intended him, but that it was impossible for him to accept it, since he must swear that his certificates of nobility were true, and that no consideration in the world would induce him to take a false oath. Bussy had sense and feeling enough to admire this action, but, he says, most of the courtiers condemned it, some attributing it to vanity, and some to meanness of spirit. From those who call a sacrifice of external glitter to veracity, meanness, one may pretty well know what to expect.

Bussy's exclusion from this creation of knights was one of his bitterest mortifications, as he asserts his pretensions to have been, in every respect, superior to those of many who received that distinction.

On this occasion, he writes thus to the Count de St. Aignan :

“ My birth, my place, and my services, made me think that I might hope to be created a knight. But the king, who knows what is needful and fit for us better than we ourselves, not having thought fit to confer that honour upon me, I have received this exclusion, from his majesty, with profound respect and resignation to his will. I humbly entreat you, sir, to acquaint him with my sentiments on this matter, and to

assure him, that those whom he most highly favours, by making them knights, have no more zeal for his service, or person, than I.”

The next day, he says, the count came to tell him that he had shewed his letter to the king, and that his majesty appeared satisfied with it. “ We had a long conversation," says he, “ on the pertinacity of my ill fortune. He thought it strange, that, whereas I had every thing which could entitle me to the highest dignities of the state, fortune baulked me of even the slightest honors. I thanked him for his good opinion, and said, I had one quality which I prized more highly than all the rest put together, which was an ardent zeal for the king's person. Upon this the tears came into my eyes." He adds, “ let him treat me as he likes, I shall love him, with all my heart, as long as I live.” His next application is, for the governments of Estrades and Gravelines, which is also refused. “ I swallowed this cup,” says he, “ as I had so many others, and followed the king to Dunkirk.”

In the beginning of 1663, he committed that act of imprudence, which put the last stroke to his misfortunes. After reading aloud his memorable and fatal satire, (afterwards published at Brussels, under the title of the Gaules Amoureuses,) to three or four persons, he had the imprudence to lend the manuscript to a lady, who was then in a convent, and whom he thought one of his best friends, for four and twenty hours. Contrary to express promise, she detained it for double that time. Some time afterwards, this lady had a quarrel with Madame de Sourdis, who, he says, “ thought she should make me her enemy, by telling me of her treachery towards me. She told me, that Madame de -- had got my manuscript copied, and had shewed her the copy.” Upon this he sends to desire the delinquent to meet him, at the house of another lady, where he accuses her of her breach of trust, which, after a moment's confusion, she, of course, denies. A few days after this discovery, he finds that his satire has been grossly interpolated, and, in that state, has been put into the hands of the king, who, believing it directed against some of his favourites, is in a state of great irritation against him. He professes his innocence to the minister, Tellier, and to Madame, who endeavour to remove the unfavourable impression from the king's mind, and for a while the storm appears to have blown over. At this time, he has an interview with the king, which is in the abject style of which we have already given examples. “ For three weeks,” says he, “ I have been in the deepest affliction. Your majesty has not deigned to look at me.

I had rather that you would put me to death, sire, if you do not look at me, and in sayı ing this, the tears came into my eyes.”

[ocr errors]

However, his adorations, his flattery, his crouching, his tears, availed him nothing. The affair of the manuscript was revived, and on the 17th of April, 1665, he was arrested, and taken to the Bastile. On his arrival, the lieutenant criminel preaches him a sort of sermon, on his past life, and on the duty of resignation. He thinks this impertinent enough, as well he may, but his answer is curious.

· I am not a devotee,” says he," but neither am I an infidel; and for more than twenty years I have worn this," shewing a rosary.

His impatient complaints and bewailings are what might be expected from a man in his situation, unsupported by public opinion, or by the consciousness of suffering in the service of mankind. He falls ill in six weeks, from vexation and ennui ; his wife, who appears to have been unwearied in her exertions to obtain his liberation, is forbidden to see him ; his mistress forsakes and forgets him, and his prayers that the accusations against him may be subjected to inquiry, are treated with total neglect. One ray of benevolence and kindness breaks through this gloom. A young nun, to whom he is unknown, save by his misfortunes, writes a petition to the king in his behalf

, which she sends to Bussy for his approbation, taking the utmost precaution to conceal her name. This singular act of enthusiasm is characteristic of her age, her sex, and secluded life. Bussy is, of course, surprised and touched at it, and resolves, as he says, “ to give her bis heart.” As, however, we hear no more of her, we may hope he left her to the more appropriate reward she would not fail to derive from her own.

We are tempted to quote some of his servile and imploring petitions to this most just, most merciful, and most adored of masters, who rewarded thirty-one years of service with a rigorous imprisonment of thirteen months, during which he steadily refused to hear any thing like evidence on the crime with which the unhappy culprit was charged,—but we forbear. If any of our readers are not yet satisfied, let them look into the book. They will not lay it down without thanking God, not only that they are exempt from the dread and the horrors of arbitrary imprisonment, but that France has, at length, delivered herself from them. Let them not forget beautiful and unhappy Italy, and her patriots, the young, the noble, and the disinterested, wasting away in the dungeons of inexorable Austria, nor the victims which crowd the prisons of Spain. But we must conclude our long article. On the 17th of May, 1666, after nearly dying in the Bastile, Bussy was suffered to leave it, on the plea of his health, not, however, without a considerable probability of being re-imprisoned, as soon as he was out of danger. He recovers, however, and departs for Bussy, and here the Memoirs terminate.

Art, IX.-Characteristic Notices of Charles II., and certain In

dividuals of his Court, from contemporary journals. 1660-1668.

The character and manners of Charles II., being of a kind rarely to be found in a person of his elevated rank, and offering a singular contrast to the pompous etiquette which always surrounds a throne, have attracted an unusual degree of curiosity. At a period when it was doubted whether kings actually eat, drank, and talked like ordinary men, this inquisitive turn was productive of useful effects. The discoveries to which it led dispelled the sublime notion which people were apt to form of persons raised so high above their own level. They were thus taught to regard their chief magistrate as nothing more than one of themselves, and subject to infirmities no fewer than their own.

This knowledge enabled them to conquer the delusion which had before prevailed, and which, investing the sovereign with something like divine attributes, either probibited public censure altogether, or rendered him invulnerable to its attacks. They are now perfectly aware, that the sovereign is not exempted from the lot of humanity; and being led to expect that a regard to his own pleasures will influence him in common with the rest of mankind, they can make suitable provisions against the operation of this sinister interest. It is at this period, however, when the intelligence is no longer wanted, that we have been furnished with the most copious stores of information relating to the practices of courts, and the privacy of kings. Individuals of their own spbere have turned informers, and exposed the vices and frivolities of the governors of men. Among these the Prussian Princess Wilhelmina, daughter of Frederick William, edified the world with the domestic history of her illustrious parents. The numerous memoirs that have lately issued from the French press, particularly those of the Duchess of Orleans, have admitted us as freely within the sanctuary of the Bourbons. Our own press has, within the last few years, supplied us, by the publication of sundry memoirs rescued from oblivion, with much authentic information, on the same subject; and though the information be now no longer wanted, yet, to the observers of human nature, these works may have a value above the gratification of a merely gossiping curiosity. They permit the reader to take a closer view of the subject they describe, than any means of access, which he formerly enjoyed, could have procured for bim. He may thus contemplate human nature, under the operation of circumstances singularly favourable to the development of its baser passions.

« EdellinenJatka »