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compelled to retire, or rather to fly, into Normandy, I have remarked to my wife that, among the great obligations we owe to God, that of warning us when to retreat, is not among the least. Lastly, we have seen our house sacked, with a loss of more than two hundred thousand crowns; we have seen two of our people hanged before our faces, for having given a beating, as we ordered them, to that scoundrel of a shoemaker. What had we to wait for but the death of my daughter ? I had provided for a timely retreat by offering the pope six hundred thousand crowns for the usufruct of the Duchy of Ferrara during our lives, where we might have passed the remainder of our days in peace, and have left two millions in gold to our children, as I will make apparent to you. We have property at least to the amount of a million of livres in France, in the marquisate of Ancre, Lesigni, my house in the Faubourg, and this. I have redeemed our estate in Florence, which was mortgaged, and my share in it is worth a hundred thousand crowns; and I have, besides, two hundred thousand crowns at Florence, and as much at Rome; I have a million besides, even after the pillage of our house, in furniture, jewels, plate, and money. My wife and I have also places which would sell for a million of livres, at a fair valuation, exclusive of those of Normandy, of first lord of the bedchamber and steward of the household to the queen, and keeping my office of Marshal of France. I have six hundred thousand crowns on Faideau, and more than a hundred thousand pistoles in other concerns. Might we not, sir, be content with this? Have we any thing more to wish for? I have been all this afternoon conjuring my wife to retire. I have been on my knees before her, to endeavour to prevail upon her ; but she is more determined than ever, and reproaches me with cowardice and ingratitude in wishing to desert the queen.
If I were not under such great obligations to my wife, I would leave her and go where neither the nobles nor the people of France would come to seek me.' I said what I could to divert him from these thoughts, and retired. I wished to show, by this discourse, how men, and especially those elevated by fortune, have inspirations and forebodings of their fall, but not resolution to prevent or avoid it.”
This, we think, is a tolerable specimen of the extent to which France was plundered, not only by her own court and aristocracy, but by the very scum of other nations, who were recommended by the absence of all principle or dignity to the especial favour of the more weak or wicked of her monarchs. This remark, it will be believed, is not to be found in Bassompierre; it may be imagined, however, that the entity of the nobles was not a little enhanced by the large share of the common spoil which the crafty Concini, and his haughty and rapacious wife, had managed to appropriate to themselves. The kites and hawks did not choose the carrion crow to gorge himself at their banquet. That the people should hate him, is hardly matter of surprise ; what does surprise us is, to find Voltaire (Essai sur les Maurs) saying, “ The people treated the, remains of Marshal d'Ancre thus, only because he was a fo
reigner and powerful.” The ferocious character of the people did, indeed, shew itself then, as it has subsequently, in a light horrible and revolting enough ; but it is as absurd as it is unjust, to deny or palliate the causes of their exasperation. In less than a month after this conversation, the bloody tragedy of Marshal d'Ancre was completed. This was soon followed by the assumption of the supreme power by Louis XIII., or rather his instigators, and the queen’s separation from him. Bassompierre gives the following account of their parting.
“ The queen kept a good countenance till she saw the king coming; then she began to weep bitterly, and put her handkerchief to her eyes and her fan before her face ; and going towards the king, she led him to the window overlooking the garden, and then, taking away her handkerchief and her fan, she said to him, Sire, I am sorry that I have not governed your state, during my regency, more to your satisfaction and advantage; nevertheless, I assure you, it was from no want of care or endeavour; and I entreat you to consider me always as your very obedient mother and servant.' He answered, • Madam, i thank you very humbly for the care and pains you have taken in the administration of my kingdom, with which I am satisfied, and I hold myself obliged; and I beg you to believe that I shall always be your very humble son.' Having made a request to him in favour of one of her servants, to which he returned no answer, she added, "Perhaps it is the last favour I shall ever ask of you ;' now seeing, that he would not answer, she said, It is enough ;'-and she stooped down and kissed him. The king made her a bow, and turned his back. After he was gone, the queen leaned against the wall, between the two windows, and wept bitterly."
At the commencement of the year 1618, Bassompierre gives the following picture of the king, and of his tastes and pursuits.
“ At that time the king, who was very young, amused himself with many of the little exercises of the age, as painting, singing, making little fountains, in imitation of those at St. Germain's, with pipes of quill, little inventions of hunting, playing on the drum, &c., in which he succeeded very well. One day, I told him he was clever at every thing he undertook, and that though he had never been taught to beat the drum he did it as well as any body. He said, 'I must begin to play the hunting-horn again; which I do very well, and I will blow it for a whole day.” “Sire,' said I, I do not advise you to blow it too often, for it is very injurious to the lungs : I have even heard that the late King Charles broke a blood vessel in his lungs with blowing the horn, and that this caused his death.' mistaken,' said he; it was not blowing the horn which killed him, it was because he quarrelled with the queen, Catherine, his mother, at Monceaux, and left her, and went to Meaux; but if he had not returned to Monceaux, at the persuasion of Marshal de Retz, who
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made him go back to the queen, he would not have died so soon.' As I answered nothing on this subject, Montpouillon, who was there, said, 'You did not think, Sir, that the king knew so much about these matters; but he does, and about many others besides.' This convinced me that he had been inspired with great apprehension of the queen, his mother, whom I never afterwards mentioned to him, not even in common discourse."
Indeed, how dangerous it was to have the slightest appearance of favouring her cause, is sufficiently shewn in the next page. Shortly after," says be, incidentally, “ Siti and Durant were broken on the wheel, for writing something in favour of the queen-mother.” In the midst of all these vicissitudes and divisions, Bassompierre's influence and credit seem to have remained unimpaired, or rather to have increased. When the Duke of Maine dissuaded Louis XIII. from going to reduce to subjection the Huguenots of Béarn, he answered his arguments thus :
" I do not trouble myself about the weather nor the roads; I am not afraid of the protestants; and as for the passage of the river, which you say will take my army twelve days, I have a way of having it accomplished in eight, for I shall send Bassompierre to conduct it; he has already raised me an army, with which I have just defeated a powerful party in less than half the time I hoped.' I confess, that I felt elated by this praise, and by the good opinion the king had of me.”
In the beginning of the following year, (1620) Bassompierre was sent ambassador extraordinary to the king of Spain, (Philip III.) to demand the restitution of the Valtoline, which had been seized by the Duke of Feria, governor of the duchy of Milan. The character of the Spanish court and people seems, even then, powerful as the nation still was, marked by that striking dissimilarity, and we may add inferiority, to their neighbours of France, which time and events have rendered more inveterate and obvious. The same stupid and pertinacious adherence to every thing, however trivial, or however pernicious, which custom or nationality had consecrated; the same gloomy, ferocious, and intolerant superstition. Copious as our extracts have already been, we cannot refuse, after giving such ample details concerning one court, to afford some insight into the state of the other. The following portrait of one of the most powerful men who figured in Spain, at that time, is curious. It is preceded by a long list of the nobles, ladies, and dignitaries of church and state, who came to pay their respects to Bassompierre on his arrival at Madrid.
“ Lastly, the Duke d'Ossuna came to visit me in an extraordinary equipage, for he was carried in a chair; he wore a Hungarian robe furred with sable, and a quantity of jewels of great value; more than
twenty carriages followed him, filled with Spanish nobles, his relations, and friends, or with Neapolitan nobles. Around his chair were above fifty captains, tenientes, or Alferes reformados, Spaniards, or Neapolitans. He embraced me with great affection and cordiality; and, after calling me Excellency three or four times, 'he made me promise that I would call him father, and that he should call me son, so that we afterwards treated each other without any ceremony. After this, he would salute all who came with me, speaking to them in French, and saying so many absurd and extravagant things, that I was not surprised at the disgrace he afterwards fell into."
Bassompierre found he should have some difficulty in obtaining an audience, on account of the king's illness. We do not recollect to have seen so amusing an example of the nice and delicate scrupulosity of court etiquette. "The king, it is true, the object and centre of this whole system, was killed ; but what of that? no noble functionary stepped out of his department, or did any thing unprofessional.
" It was indeed true that he was ill, though every body thought he feigned it to delay my audience. His illness began in the first Friday in Lent, when, the day being cold, an excessively hot brasier had been put in the room where he was, the reflection of which fell so strongly on his face, that drops of sweat poured from it; but as he was of a character never to find fault or complain of any thing, he said nothing. The Marquess de Pobar, from whom I heard this, told me that, seeing how the brasier annoyed bim, he told the Duke of Alba, who was one of the gentlemen of the bedchamber, as well as himself, to have it taken away, as it inflamed the king's cheek; but as they are very punctilious about their functions, he replied, that it was the office of the sommeiller du corps, the Duke d'Usseda : upon which the Marquess de Pobar sent for him, but, unfortunately, he was gone to see a house he was building, so that before the Duke d'Usseda could be fetched, the king was so broiled, that on the following day he fell into a fever. This fever brought on an erysipelas; and this erysipelas sometimes subsiding, and sometimes increasing, at length ended in a scarlet fever, which killed him. On the 23d, the king had a great increase of fever, and some fear was entertained as to the result. He was very melancholy, from the persuasion that he should die. On the 27th, he told his physicians that they understood nothing about his complaint, and that he felt he was dying. He commanded processions and public prayers to be offered for him. On the following day, the image of Nuestra Senora de Attoches was carried in procession; all the councils attended, with a great number of penitents, who whipped themselves for the king's recovery. The body of St. Isidore was carried to the king's chamber, and the holy sacrament was laid on the altars of all the churches in Madrid. On the 29th, the physicians despaired of his life; upon which he sent for the president of Castille, for his confessor, and for the Infants, to whom he gave his benediction; and, having divided his relics, he communicated, received extreme unction, and recommended his soul. About noon, he had the
body of St. Isidore brought and placed upon his bed, and vowed to build a chapel to that saint. Āt nine o'clock in the morning of the 31st, he gave up his soul. The same day, the new king set off in a close carriage to go to St. Geronino: in the road he met the body of our Lord, which was carried to a sick man, and, according to the ancient custom of the house of Austria, he wished to alight to acompany it. The Count d'Alvares said to him, * Advierta vuestra magestad que habia de ser tapada ; to which he answered, +No hay que taparse delante de Dios, and alighted. This was thought a very good omen at Madrid.”
The account of the king's funeral, and of Bassompierre's . first audience of his successor, are curious : but we have no room for them. The following spectacle is a fresh exemplification, if any were wanting, of the disgusting character of the religion of Spain.
“ After dinner, I went into a house in the Calle Mayor, to see the procession of las cruces, which certainly is very fine. There were more than five hundred penitents, barefooted, and dragging two large crosses like those of our Lord; and, at intervals, there were moveable theatres, upon which divers representations of the Passion were exhibited to the life. After dinner, there was the great procession of penitents, in which there were more than two thousand men whipping themselves.
“On the 9th, the king made his solemn entry into Madrid. A balcony was prepared for me at the Puerta Guadalaxura. He set out from St. Geronino, and came by the Calle Mayor into his palace. All the streets were carpeted : before him marched the kettle-drums, then the gentlemen of the king's' table, then the titulados, after them marched the mace-bearers, then the four major-domos, then the grandees, then the Duke del Infantado, Cavalarizzo Mayor, bareheaded, carrying a drawn sword before the king, who followed in a canopy supported upon thirty-two poles, which were borne by the thirty-two regidores of Madrid, habited in cloth of silver and crimson; then followed the corregidor, surrounded by the king's equerries, then the captains of the guards, those of the council of state, and those of the bedchamber."
Immediately after this, he returned to France, where he says he was extremely well received, particularly by the ladies of the court; and no wonder, since he distributed twenty thousand crowns' worth of rarities from Spain among them. The remainder of the second volume contains nothing but the occurrences, equally tedious and melancholy, of the civil war which then desolated France; and among which we find little that can
or instruct. Bassompierre was
* Your majesty ought to reccollect that you ought to be covered, (literally hooded or veiled.)
† It is never right to be covered before God.