Cinq Mars, entire
Alfred de Vigny
Part 2 out of 8
hear. And what cries would not that conscience send forth, how fiercely
would it not rise upon you, did you contribute to the destruction of
innocence by invoking Heaven itself as a false witness against it?"
"Oh, my father! can such things be possible?" exclaimed Henri d'Effiat,
clasping his hands.
"It is but too true," continued the Abbe; "you saw a partial execution of
it this morning. God grant you may not witness still greater horrors!
But listen! whatever you may see, whatever crime they dare to commit,
I conjure you, in the name of your mother and of all that you hold dear,
say not a word; make not a gesture that may indicate any opinion
whatever. I know the impetuous character that you derive from the
Marechal, your father; curb it, or you are lost. These little
ebullitions of passion give but slight satisfaction, and bring about
great misfortunes. I have observed you give way to them too much.
Oh, did you but know the advantage that a calm temper gives one over men!
The ancients stamped it on the forehead of the divinity as his finest
attribute, since it shows that he is superior to our fears and to our
hopes, to our pleasures and to our pains. Therefore, my dear child,
remain passive in the scenes you are about to witness; but see them you
must. Be present at this sad trial; for me, I must suffer the
consequences of my schoolboy folly. I will relate it to you; it will
prove to you that with a bald head one may be as much a child as with
your fine chestnut curls."
And the excellent old Abbe, taking his pupil's head affectionately
between his hands, continued:
"Like other people, my dear son, I was curious to see the devils of the
Ursulines; and knowing that they professed to speak all languages, I was
so imprudent as to cease speaking Latin and to question them in Greek.
The Superior is very pretty, but she does not know Greek! Duncan, the
physician, observed aloud that it was surprising that the demon, who knew
everything, should commit barbarisms and solecisms in Latin, and not be
able to answer in Greek. The young Superior, who was then upon her bed,
turned toward the wall to weep, and said in an undertone to Father Barre,
'I can not go on with this, father.' I repeated her words aloud, and
infuriated all the exorcists; they cried out that I ought to know that
there are demons more ignorant than peasants, and said that as to their
power and physical strength, it could not be doubted, since the spirits
named Gresil des Trones, Aman des Puissance, and Asmodeus, had promised
to carry off the calotte of Monsieur de Laubardemont. They were
preparing for this, when the physician Duncan, a learned and upright man,
but somewhat of a scoffer, took it into his head to pull a cord he
discovered fastened to a column like a bell-rope, and which hung down
just close to the referendary's head; whereupon they called him a
Huguenot, and I am satisfied that if Marechal de Breze were not his
protector, it would have gone ill with him. The Comte du Lude then came
forward with his customary 'sang-froid', and begged the exorcists to
perform before him. Father Lactantius, the Capuchin with the dark visage
and hard look, proceeded with Sister Agnes and Sister Claire; he raised
both his hands, looking at them as a serpent would look at two dogs, and
cried in a terrible voice, 'Quis to misit, Diabole?' and the two sisters
answered, as with one voice, 'Urbanus.' He was about to continue, when
Monsieur du Lude, taking out of his pocket, with an air of veneration, a
small gold box, said that he had in it a relic left by his ancestors, and
that though not doubting the fact of the possession, he wished to test
it. Father Lactantius seized the box with delight, and hardly had he
touched the foreheads of the two sisters with it when they made great
leaps and twisted about their hands and feet. Lactantius shouted forth
his exorcisms; Barre threw himself upon his knees with all the old women;
and Mignon and the judges applauded. The impassible Laubardemont made
the sign of the cross, without being struck dead for it! When Monsieur
du Lude took back his box the nuns became still. 'I think,' said
Lactantius, insolently, 'that--you will not question your relics now.'
'No more than I do the possession,' answered Monsieur du Lude, opening
his box and showing that it was empty. 'Monsieur, you mock us,' said
Lactantius. I was indignant at these mummeries, and said to him, 'Yes,
Monsieur, as you mock God and men.' And this, my dear friend, is the
reason why you see me in my seven-league boots, so heavy that they hurt
my legs, and with pistols; for our friend Laubardemont has ordered my
person to be seized, and I don't choose it to be seized, old as it is."
"What, is he so powerful, then?" cried Cinq-Mars.
"More so than is supposed--more so than could be believed. I know that
the possessed Abbess is his niece, and that he is provided with an order
in council directing him to judge, without being deterred by any appeals
lodged in Parliament, the Cardinal having prohibited the latter from
taking cognizance of the matter of Urbain Grandier."
"And what are his offences?" asked the young man, already deeply
"Those of a strong mind and of a great genius, an inflexible will which
has irritated power against him, and a profound passion which has driven
his heart and him to commit the only mortal sin with which I believe he
can be reproached; and it was only by violating the sanctity of his
private papers, which they tore from Jeanne d'Estievre, his mother, an
old woman of eighty, that they discovered his love for the beautiful
Madeleine de Brou. This girl had refused to marry, and wished to take
the veil. May that veil have concealed from her the spectacle of this
day! The eloquence of Grandier and his angelic beauty drove the women
half mad; they came miles and miles to hear him. I have seen them swoon
during his sermons; they declared him an angel, and touched his garment
and kissed his hands when he descended from the pulpit. It is certain
that, unless it be his beauty, nothing could equal the sublimity of his
discourses, ever full of inspiration. The pure honey of the gospel
combined on his lips with the flashing flame of the prophecies; and one
recognized in the sound of his voice a heart overflowing with holy pity
for the evils to which mankind are subject, and filled with tears, ready
to flow for us."
The good priest paused, for his own voice and eyes were filled with
tears; his round and naturally Joyous face was more touching than a
graver one under the same circumstances, for it seemed as if it bade
defiance to sadness. Cinq-Mars, even more moved, pressed his hand
without speaking, fearful of interrupting him. The Abbe took out a red
handkerchief, wiped his eyes, and continued:
"This is the second attack upon Urbain by his combined enemies. He had
already been accused of bewitching the nuns; but, examined by holy
prelates, by enlightened magistrates, and learned physicians, he was
immediately acquitted, and the judges indignantly imposed silence upon
these devils in human form. The good and pious Archbishop of Bordeaux,
who had himself chosen the examiners of these pretended exorcists,
drove the prophets away and shut up their hell. But, humiliated by the
publicity of the result, annoyed at seeing Grandier kindly received by
our good King when he threw himself at his feet at Paris, they saw that
if he triumphed they were lost, and would be universally regarded as
impostors. Already the convent of the Ursulines was looked upon only as
a theatre for disgraceful comedies, and the nuns themselves as shameless
actresses. More than a hundred persons, furious against the Cure, had
compromised themselves in the hope of destroying him. Their plot,
instead of being abandoned, has gained strength by its first check; and
here are the means that have been set to work by his implacable enemies.
"Do you know a man called 'L'Eminence Grise', that formidable Capuchin
whom the Cardinal employs in all things, consults upon some, and always
despises? It was to him that the Capuchins of Loudun addressed
themselves. A woman of this place, of low birth, named Hamon, having
been so fortunate as to please the Queen when she passed through Loudun,
was taken into her service. You know the hatred that separates her court
from that of the Cardinal; you know that Anne of Austria and Monsieur de
Richelieu have for some time disputed for the King's favor, and that, of
her two suns, France never knew in the evening which would rise next
morning. During a temporary eclipse of the Cardinal, a satire appeared,
issuing from the planetary system of the Queen; it was called, 'La
cordonniere de la seine-mere'. Its tone and language were vulgar; but it
contained things so insulting about the birth and person of the Cardinal
that the enemies of the minister took it up and gave it a publicity which
irritated him. It revealed, it is said, many intrigues and mysteries
which he had deemed impenetrable. He read this anonymous work, and
desired to know its author. It was just at this time that the Capuchins
of this town wrote to Father Joseph that a constant correspondence
between Grandier and La Hamon left no doubt in their minds as to his
being the author of this diatribe. It was in vain that he had previously
published religious books, prayers, and meditations, the style of which
alone ought to have absolved him from having put his hand to a libel
written in the language of the marketplace; the Cardinal, long since
prejudiced against Urbain, was determined to fix upon him as the culprit.
He remembered that when he was only prior of Coussay, Grandier disputed
precedence with him and gained it; I fear this achievement of precedence
in life will make poor Grandier precede the Cardinal in death also."
A melancholy smile played upon the lips of the good Abbe as he uttered
this involuntary pun.
"What! do you think this matter will go so far as death?"
"Ay, my son, even to death; they have already taken away all the
documents connected with his former absolution that might have served for
his defence, despite the opposition of his poor mother, who preserved
them as her son's license to live. Even now they affect to regard a work
against the celibacy of priests, found among his papers, as destined to
propagate schism. It is a culpable production, doubtless, and the love
which dictated it, however pure it may be, is an enormous sin in a man
consecrated to God alone; but this poor priest was far from wishing to
encourage heresy, and it was simply, they say, to appease the remorse of
Mademoiselle de Brou that he composed the work. It was so evident that
his real faults would not suffice to condemn him to death that they have
revived the accusation of sorcery, long since disposed of; but, feigning
to believe this, the Cardinal has established a new tribunal in this
town, and has placed Laubardemont at its head, a sure sign of death.
Heaven grant that you never become acquainted with what the corruption of
governments call coups-d'etat!"
At this moment a terrible shriek sounded from beyond the wall of the
courtyard; the Abbe arose in terror, as did Cinq-Mars.
"It is the cry of a woman," said the old man.
"'Tis heartrending!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars. "What is it?" he asked his
people, who had all rushed out into the courtyard.
They answered that they heard nothing further.
"Well, well," said the Abbe, "make no noise." He then shut the window,
and put his hands before his eyes.
"Ah, what a cry was that, my son!" he said, with his face of an ashy
paleness--"what a cry! It pierced my very soul; some calamity has
happened. Ah, holy Virgin! it has so agitated me that I can talk with
you no more. Why did I hear it, just as I was speaking to you of your
future career? My dear child, may God bless you! Kneel!"
Cinq-Mars did as he was desired, and knew by a kiss upon his head that he
had been blessed by the old man, who then raised him, saying:
"Go, my son, the time is advancing; they might find you with me. Go,
leave your people and horses here; wrap yourself in a cloak, and go; I
have much to write ere the hour when darkness shall allow me to depart
They embraced once more, promising to write to each other, and Henri
quitted the house. The Abby, still following him with his eyes from the
"Be prudent, whatever may happen," and sent him with his hands one more
paternal blessing, saying, "Poor child! poor child!"
Oh, vendetta di Dio, quanto to dei
Esser temuta da ciascun che legge
Cio, che fu manifesto agli occhi miei.--DANTE.
Notwithstanding the custom of having secret trials, freely countenanced
by Richelieu, the judges of the Cure of Loudun had resolved that the
court should be open to the public; but they soon repented this measure.
They were all interested in the destruction of Urbain Grandier; but they
desired that the indignation of the country should in some degree
sanction the sentence of death they had received orders to pass and to
carry into effect.
Laubardemont was a kind of bird of prey, whom the Cardinal always let
loose when he required a prompt and sure agent for his vengeance; and on
this occasion he fully justified the choice that had been made of him.
He committed but one error--that of allowing a public trial, contrary to
the usual custom; his object had been to intimidate and to dismay. He
dismayed, indeed, but he created also a feeling of indignant horror.
The throng without the gates had waited there two hours, during which
time the sound of hammers indicated that within the great hall they were
hastily completing their mysterious preparations. At length the archers
laboriously turned upon their hinges the heavy gates opening into the
street, and the crowd eagerly rushed in. The young Cinq-Mars was carried
along with the second enormous wave, and, placed behind a thick column,
stood there, so as to be able to see without being seen. He observed
with vexation that the group of dark-clad citizens was near him; but the
great gates, closing, left the part of the court where the people stood
in such darkness that there was no likelihood of his being recognized.
Although it was only midday, the hall was lighted with torches; but they
were nearly all placed at the farther end, where rose the judges' bench
behind a long table. The chairs, tables, and steps were all covered with
black cloth, and cast a livid hue over the faces of those near them. A
seat reserved for the prisoner was placed upon the left, and on the crape
robe which covered him flames were represented in gold embroidery to
indicate the nature of the offence. Here sat the accused, surrounded by
archers, with his hands still bound in chains, held by two monks, who,
with simulated terror, affected to start from him at his slightest
motion, as if they held a tiger or enraged wolf, or as if the flames
depicted on his robe could communicate themselves to their clothing.
They also carefully kept his face from being seen in the least degree by
The impassible countenance of M. de Laubardemont was there to dominate
the judges of his choice; almost a head taller than any of them, he sat
upon a seat higher than theirs, and each of his glassy and uneasy glances
seemed to convey a command. He wore a long, full scarlet robe, and a
black cap covered his head; he seemed occupied in arranging papers, which
he then passed to the judges. The accusers, all ecclesiastics, sat upon
the right hand of the judges; they wore their albs and stoles. Father
Lactantius was distinguishable among them by his simple Capuchin habit,
his tonsure, and the extreme hardness of his features. In a side gallery
sat the Bishop of Poitiers, hidden from view; other galleries were filled
with veiled women. Below the bench of judges a group of men and women,
the dregs of the populace, stood behind six young Ursuline nuns, who
seemed full of disgust at their proximity; these were the witnesses.
The rest of the hall was filled with an enormous crowd, gloomy and
silent, clinging to the arches, the gates, and the beams, and full of a
terror which communicated itself to the judges, for it arose from an
interest in the accused. Numerous archers, armed with long pikes, formed
an appropriate frame for this lugubrious picture.
At a sign from the President, the witnesses withdrew through a narrow
door opened for them by an usher. As the Superior of the Ursulines
passed M. de Laubardemont she was heard to say to him, "You have deceived
me, Monsieur." He remained immovable, and she went on. A profound
silence reigned throughout the whole assembly.
Rising with all the gravity he could assume, but still with visible
agitation, one of the judges, named Houmain, judge-Advocate of Orleans,
read a sort of indictment in a voice so low and hoarse that it was
impossible to follow it. He made himself heard only when what he had to
say was intended to impose upon the minds of the people. He divided the
evidence into two classes: one, the depositions of seventy-two witnesses;
the other, more convincing, that resulting from "the exorcisms of the
reverend fathers here present," said he, crossing himself.
Fathers Lactantius, Barre, and Mignon bowed low, repeating the sacred
"Yes, my lords," said Houmain, addressing the judges, "this bouquet of
white roses and this manuscript, signed with the blood of the magician,
a counterpart of the contract he has made with Lucifer, and which he was
obliged to carry about him in order to preserve his power, have been
recognized and brought before you. We read with horror these words
written at the bottom of the parchment: 'The original is in hell, in
Lucifer's private cabinet.'"
A roar of laughter, which seemed to come from stentorian lungs, was heard
in the throng. The president reddened, and made a sign to the archers,
who in vain endeavored to discover the disturber. The judge-Advocate
"The demons have been forced to declare their names by the mouths of
their victims. Their names and deeds are deposited upon this table.
They are called Astaroth, of the order of Seraphim; Eazas, Celsus, Acaos,
Cedron, Asmodeus, of the order of Thrones; Alex, Zebulon, Cham, Uriel,
and Achas, of the order of Principalities, and so on, for their number is
infinite. For their actions, who among us has not been a witness of
A prolonged murmur arose from the gathering, but, upon some halberdiers
advancing, all became silent.
"We have seen, with grief, the young and respectable Superior of the
Ursulines tear her bosom with her own hands and grovel in the dust; we
have seen the sisters, Agnes, Claire, and others, deviate from the
modesty of their sex by impassioned gestures and unseemly laughter.
When impious men have inclined to doubt the presence of the demons,
and we ourselves felt our convictions shaken, because they refused to
answer to unknown questions in Greek or Arabic, the reverend fathers
have, to establish our belief, deigned to explain to us that the
malignity of evil spirits being extreme, it was not surprising that they
should feign this ignorance in order that they might be less pressed with
questions; and that in their answers they had committed various solecisms
and other grammatical faults in order to bring contempt upon themselves,
so that out of this disdain the holy doctors might leave them in quiet.
Their hatred is so inveterate that just before performing one of their
miraculous feats, they suspended a rope from a beam in order to involve
the reverend personages in a suspicion of fraud, whereas it has been
deposed on oath by credible people that there never had been a cord in
"But, my lords, while Heaven was thus miraculously explaining itself by
the mouths of its holy interpreters, another light has just been thrown
upon us. At the very time the judges were absorbed in profound
meditation, a loud cry was heard near the hall of council; and upon going
to the spot, we found the body of a young lady of high birth. She had
just exhaled her last breath in the public street, in the arms of the
reverend Father Mignon, Canon; and we learned from the said father here
present, and from several other grave personages, that, suspecting the
young lady to be possessed, by reason of the current rumor for some time
past of the admiration Urbain Grandier had for her, an idea of testing it
happily occurred to the Canon, who suddenly said, approaching her,
'Grandier has just been put to death,' whereat she uttered one loud
scream and fell dead, deprived by the demon of the time necessary for
giving her the assistance of our holy Mother, the Catholic Church."
A murmur of indignation arose from the crowd, among whom the word
"Assassin" was loudly reechoed; the halberdiers commanded silence with a
loud voice, but it was obtained rather by the judge resuming his address,
the general curiosity triumphing.
"Oh, infamy!" he continued, seeking to fortify himself by exclamations;
"upon her person was found this work, written by the hand of Urbain
Grandier," and he took from among his papers a book bound in parchment.
"Heavens!" cried Urbain from his seat.
"Look to your prisoner!" cried the judge to the archers who surrounded
"No doubt the demon is about to manifest himself," said Father
Lactantius, in a sombre voice; "tighten his bonds." He was obeyed.
The judge-Advocate continued, "Her name was Madeleine de Brou, aged
"O God! this is too much!" cried the accused, as he fell fainting on
The assembly was deeply agitated; for a moment there was an absolute
"Poor fellow! he loved her," said some.
"So good a lady!" cried the women.
Pity began to predominate. Cold water was thrown upon Grandier, without
his being taken from the court, and he was tied to his seat. The Judge-
Advocate went on:
"We are directed to read the beginning of this book to the court," and he
read as follows:
"'It is for thee, dear and gentle Madeleine, in order to set at rest
thy troubled conscience, that I have described in this book one
thought of my soul. All those thoughts tend to thee, celestial
creature, because in thee they return to the aim and object of my
whole existence; but the thought I send thee, as 'twere a flower,
comes from thee, exists only in thee, and returns to thee alone.
"'Be not sad because thou lovest me; be not afflicted because I
adore thee. The angels of heaven, what is it that they do? The
souls of the blessed, what is it that is promised them? Are we less
pure than the angels? Are our souls less separated from the earth
than they will be after death? Oh, Madeleine, what is there in us
wherewith the Lord can be displeased? Can it be that we pray
together, that with faces prostrate in the dust before His altars,
we ask for early death to take us while yet youth and love are ours?
Or that, musing together beneath the funereal trees of the
churchyard, we yearned for one grave, smiling at the idea of death,
and weeping at life? Or that, when thou kneelest before me at the
tribunal of penitence, and, speaking in the presence of God, canst
find naught of evil to reveal to me, so wholly have I kept thy soul
in the pure regions of heaven? What, then, could offend our
Creator? Perhaps--yes! perhaps some spirit of heaven may have
envied me my happiness when on Easter morn I saw thee kneeling
before me, purified by long austerities from the slight stain which
original sin had left in thee! Beautiful, indeed, wert thou! Thy
glance sought thy God in heaven, and my trembling hand held His
image to thy pure lips, which human lip had never dared to breathe
upon. Angelic being! I alone participated in the secret of the
Lord, in the one secret of the entire purity of thy soul; I it was
that united thee to thy Creator, who at that moment descended also
into my bosom. Ineffable espousals, of which the Eternal himself
was the priest, you alone were permitted between the virgin and her
pastor! the sole joy of each was to see eternal happiness beginning
for the other, to inhale together the perfumes of heaven, to drink
in already the harmony of the spheres, and to feel assured that our
souls, unveiled to God and to ourselves alone, were worthy together
to adore Him.
"'What scruple still weighs upon thy soul, O my sister? Dost thou
think I have offered too high a worship to thy virtue? Fearest thou
so pure an admiration should deter me from that of the Lord?'"
Houmain had reached this point when the door through which the witnesses
had withdrawn suddenly opened. The judges anxiously whispered together.
Laubardemont, uncertain as to the meaning of this, signed to the fathers
to let him know whether this was some scene executed by their orders;
but, seated at some distance from him, and themselves taken by surprise,
they could not make him understand that they had not prepared this
interruption. Besides, ere they could exchange looks, to the amazement
of the assembly, three women, 'en chemise', with naked feet, each with a
cord round her neck and a wax taper in her hand, came through the door
and advanced to the middle of the platform. It was the Superior of the
Ursulines, followed by Sisters Agnes and Claire. Both the latter were
weeping; the Superior was very pale, but her bearing was firm, and her
eyes were fixed and tearless. She knelt; her companions followed her
example. Everything was in such confusion that no one thought of
checking them; and in a clear, firm voice she pronounced these words,
which resounded in every corner of the hall:
"In the name of the Holy Trinity, I, Jeanne de Belfiel, daughter of the
Baron de Cose, I, the unworthy Superior of the Convent of the Ursulines
of Loudun, ask pardon of God and man for the crime I have committed in
accusing the innocent Urbain Grandier. My possession was feigned, my
words were dictated; remorse overwhelms me."
"Bravo!" cried the spectators, clapping their hands. The judges arose;
the archers, in doubt, looked at the president; he shook in every limb,
but did not change countenance.
"Let all be silent," he said, in a sharp voice; "archers, do your duty."
This man felt himself supported by so strong a hand that nothing could
affright him--for no thought of Heaven ever visited him.
"What think you, my fathers?" said he, making a sign to the monks.
"That the demon seeks to save his friend. Obmutesce, Satanas!" cried
Father Lactantius, in a terrible voice, affecting to exorcise the
Never did fire applied to gunpowder produce an effect more instantaneous
than did these two words. Jeanne de Belfiel started up in all the beauty
of twenty, which her awful nudity served to augment; she seemed a soul
escaped from hell appearing to, her seducer. With her dark eyes she cast
fierce glances upon the monks; Lactantius lowered his beneath that look.
She took two steps toward him with her bare feet, beneath which the
scaffolding rung, so energetic was her movement; the taper seemed, in her
hand, the sword of the avenging angel.
"Silence, impostor!" she cried, with warmth; "the demon who possessed me
was yourself. You deceived me; you said he was not to be tried. To-day,
for the first time, I know that he is to be tried; to-day, for the first
time, I know that he is to be murdered. And I will speak!"
"Woman, the demon bewilders thee."
"Say, rather, that repentance enlightens me. Daughters, miserable as
myself, arise; is he not innocent?"
"We swear he is," said the two young lay sisters, still kneeling and
weeping, for they were not animated with so strong a resolution as that
of the Superior.
Agnes, indeed, had hardly uttered these words when turning toward the
people, she cried, "Help me! they will punish me; they will kill me!"
And hurrying away her companion, she drew her into the crowd, who
affectionately received them. A thousand voices swore to protect them.
Imprecations arose; the men struck their staves against the floor; the
officials dared not prevent the people from passing the sisters on from
one to another into the street.
During this strange scene the amazed and panic-struck judges whispered;
M. Laubardemont looked at the archers, indicating to them the points they
were especially to watch, among which, more particularly, was that
occupied by the group in black. The accusers looked toward the gallery
of the Bishop of Poitiers, but discovered no expression in his dull
countenance. He was one of those old men of whom death appears to take
possession ten years before all motion entirely ceases in them. His eyes
seemed veiled by a half sleep; his gaping mouth mumbled a few vague and
habitual words of prayer without meaning or application; the entire
amount of intelligence he retained was the ability to distinguish the man
who had most power, and him he obeyed, regardless at what price. He had
accordingly signed the sentence of the doctors of the Sorbonne which
declared the nuns possessed, without even deducing thence the consequence
of the death of Urbain; the rest seemed to him one of those more or less
lengthy ceremonies, to which he paid not the slightest attention--
accustomed as he was to see and live among them, himself an indispensable
part and parcel of them. He therefore gave no sign of life on this
occasion, merely preserving an air at once perfectly noble and
Meanwhile, Father Lactantius, having had a moment to recover from the
sudden attack made upon him, turned toward the president and said:
"Here is a clear proof, sent us by Heaven, of the possession, for the
Superior never before has forgotten the modesty and severity of her
"Would that all the world were here to see me!" said Jeanne de Belfiel,
firm as ever. "I can not be sufficiently humiliated upon earth,
and Heaven will reject me, for I have been your accomplice."
Perspiration appeared upon the forehead of Laubardemont, but he tried to
recover his composure. "What absurd tale is this, Sister; what has
influenced you herein?"
The voice of the girl became sepulchral; she collected all her strength,
pressed her hand upon her heart as if she desired to stay its throbbing,
and, looking at Urbain Grandier, answered, "Love."
A shudder ran through the assembly. Urbain, who since he had fainted had
remained with his head hanging down as if dead, slowly raised his eyes
toward her, and returned entirely to life only to undergo a fresh sorrow.
The young penitent continued:
"Yes, the love which he rejected, which he never fully knew, which I have
breathed in his discourses, which my eyes drew in from his celestial
countenance, which his very counsels against it have increased.
"Yes, Urbain is pure as an angel, but good as a man who has loved. I knew
not that he had loved! It is you," she said more energetically, pointing
to Lactantius, Barre, and Mignon, and changing her passionate accents for
those of indignation--"it is you who told me that he loved; you, who this
morning have too cruelly avenged me by killing my rival with a word.
Alas, I only sought to separate them! It was a crime; but, by my mother,
I am an Italian! I burned with love, with jealousy; you allowed me to
see Urbain, to have him as a friend, to see him daily." She was silent
for a moment, then exclaimed, "People, he is innocent! Martyr, pardon
me, I embrace thy feet!"
She prostrated herself before Urbain and burst into a torrent of tears.
Urbain raised his closely bound hands, and giving her his benediction,
"Go, Sister; I pardon thee in the name of Him whom I shall soon see.
I have before said to you, and you now see, that the passions work much
evil, unless we seek to turn them toward heaven."
The blood rose a second time to Laubardemont's forehead. "Miscreant!"
he exclaimed, "darest thou pronounce the words of the Church?"
"I have not quitted her bosom," said Urbain.
"Remove the girl," said the President.
When the archers went to obey, they found that she had tightened the cord
round her neck with such force that she was of a livid hue and almost
lifeless. Fear had driven all the women from the assembly; many had been
carried out fainting, but the hall was no less crowded. The ranks
thickened, for the men out of the streets poured in.
The judges arose in terror, and the president attempted to have the hall
cleared; but the people, putting on their hats, stood in alarming
immobility. The archers were not numerous enough to repel them. It
became necessary to yield; and accordingly Laubardemont in an agitated
voice announced that the council would retire for half an hour. He broke
up the sitting; the people remained gloomily, each man fixed firmly to
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Adopted fact is always better composed than the real one
Advantage that a calm temper gives one over men
Art is the chosen truth
Artificialities of style of that period
Artistic Truth, more lofty than the True
As Homer says, "smiling under tears"
Difference which I find between Truth in art and the True in fac
Happy is he who does not outlive his youth
He did not blush to be a man, and he spoke to men with force
History too was a work of art
In every age we laugh at the costume of our fathers
It is not now what it used to be
It is too true that virtue also has its blush
Lofty ideal of woman and of love
Money is not a common thing between gentlemen like you and me
Monsieur, I know that I have lived too long
Neither idealist nor realist
No writer had more dislike of mere pedantry
Offices will end by rendering great names vile
Princesses ceded like a town, and must not even weep
Principle that art implied selection
Recommended a scrupulous observance of nature
Remedy infallible against the plague and against reserve
True talent paints life rather than the living
Truth, I here venture to distinguish from that of the True
What use is the memory of facts, if not to serve as an example
Woman is more bitter than death, and her arms are like chains
Yes, we are in the way here
By ALFRED DE VIGNY
'La torture interroge, et la douleur repond.'
RAYNOURARD, Les Templiers.
The continuous interest of this half-trial, its preparations, its
interruptions, all had held the minds of the people in such attention
that no private conversations had taken place. Some irrepressible cries
had been uttered, but simultaneously, so that no man could accuse his
neighbor. But when the people were left to themselves, there was an
explosion of clamorous sentences.
There was at this period enough of primitive simplicity among the lower
classes for them to be persuaded by the mysterious tales of the political
agents who were deluding them; so that a large portion of the throng in
the hall of trial, not venturing to change their judgment, though upon
the manifest evidence just given them, awaited in painful suspense the
return of the judges, interchanging with an air of mystery and inane
importance the usual remarks prompted by imbecility on such occasions.
"One does not know what to think, Monsieur?"
"Truly, Madame, most extraordinary things have happened."
"We live in strange times!"
"I suspected this; but, i' faith, it is not wise to say what one thinks."
"We shall see what we shall see," and so on--the unmeaning chatter of the
crowd, which merely serves to show that it is at the command of the first
who chooses to sway it. Stronger words were heard from the group in
"What! shall we let them do as they please, in this manner? What! dare
to burn our letter to the King!"
"If the King knew it!"
"The barbarian impostors! how skilfully is their plot contrived! What!
shall murder be committed under our very eyes? Shall we be afraid of
"No, no, no!" rang out in trumpet-like tones.
Attention was turned toward the young advocate, who, standing on a
branch, began tearing to pieces a roll of paper; then he cried:
"Yes, I tear and scatter to the winds the defence I had prepared for the
accused. They have suppressed discussion; I am not allowed to speak for
him. I can only speak to you, people; I rejoice that I can do so. You
heard these infamous judges. Which of them can hear the truth? Which of
them is worthy to listen to an honest man? Which of them will dare to
meet his gaze? But what do I say? They all know the truth. They carry
it in their guilty breasts; it stings their hearts like a serpent. They
tremble in their lair, where doubtless they are devouring their victim;
they tremble because they have heard the cries of three deluded women.
What was I about to do? I was about to speak in behalf of Urbain
Grandier! But what eloquence could equal that of those unfortunates?
What words could better have shown you his innocence? Heaven has taken
up arms for him in bringing them to repentance and to devotion; Heaven
will finish its work--"
"Vade retro, Satanas," was heard through a high window in the hall.
Fournier stopped for a moment, then said:
"You hear these voices parodying the divine language? If I mistake not,
these instruments of an infernal power are, by this song, preparing some
"But," cried those who surrounded him, "what shall we do? What have they
done with him?"
"Remain here; be immovable, be silent," replied the young advocate.
"The inertia of a people is all-powerful; that is its true wisdom, that
its strength. Observe them closely, and in silence; and you will make
"They surely will not dare to appear here again," said the Comte du Lude.
"I should like to look once more at the tall scoundrel in red," said
Grand-Ferre, who had lost nothing of what had occurred.
"And that good gentleman, the Cure," murmured old Father Guillaume
Leroux, looking at all his indignant parishioners, who were talking
together in a low tone, measuring and counting the archers, ridiculing
their dress, and beginning to point them out to the observation of the
Cinq-Mars, still leaning against the pillar behind which he had first
placed himself, still wrapped in his black cloak, eagerly watched all
that passed, lost not a word of what was said, and filled his heart with
hate and bitterness. Violent desires for slaughter and revenge, a vague
desire to strike, took possession of him, despite himself; this is the
first impression which evil produces on the soul of a young man. Later,
sadness takes the place of fury, then indifference and scorn, later
still, a calculating admiration for great villains who have been
successful; but this is only when, of the two elements which constitute
man, earth triumphs over spirit.
Meanwhile, on the right of the hall near the judges' platform, a group of
women were watching attentively a child about eight years old, who had
taken it into his head to climb up to a cornice by the aid of his sister
Martine, whom we have seen the subject of jest with the young soldier,
Grand-Ferre. The child, having nothing to look at after the court had
left the hall, had climbed to a small window which admitted a faint
light, and which he imagined to contain a swallow's nest or some other
treasure for a boy; but after he was well established on the cornice, his
hands grasping the bars of an old shrine of Jerome, he wished himself
anywhere else, and cried out:
"Oh, sister, sister, lend me your hand to get down!"
"What do you see there?" asked Martine.
"Oh, I dare not tell; but I want to get down," and he began to cry.
"Stay there, my child; stay there!" said all the women. "Don't be
afraid; tell us all that you see."
"Well, then, they've put the Cure between two great boards that squeeze
his legs, and there are cords round the boards."
"Ah! that is the rack," said one of the townsmen. "Look again, my
little friend, what do you see now?"
The child, more confident, looked again through the window, and then,
withdrawing his head, said:
"I can not see the Cure now, because all the judges stand round him, and
are looking at him, and their great robes prevent me from seeing. There
are also some Capuchins, stooping down to whisper to him."
Curiosity attracted more people to the boy's perch; every one was silent,
waiting anxiously to catch his words, as if their lives depended on them.
"I see," he went on, "the executioner driving four little pieces of wood
between the cords, after the Capuchins have blessed the hammer and nails.
Ah, heavens! Sister, how enraged they seem with him, because he will not
speak. Mother! mother! give me your hand, I want to come down!"
Instead of his mother, the child, upon turning round, saw only men's
faces, looking up at him with a mournful eagerness, and signing him to go
on. He dared not descend, and looked again through the window,
"Oh! I see Father Lactantius and Father Barre themselves forcing in more
pieces of wood, which squeeze his legs. Oh, how pale he is! he seems
praying. There, his head falls back, as if he were dying! Oh, take me
And he fell into the arms of the young Advocate, of M. du Lude, and of
Cinq-Mars, who had come to support him.
"Deus stetit in synagoga deorum: in medio autem Deus dijudicat--" chanted
strong, nasal voices, issuing from the small window, which continued in
full chorus one of the psalms, interrupted by blows of the hammer--an
infernal deed beating time to celestial songs. One might have supposed
himself near a smithy, except that the blows were dull, and manifested to
the ear that the anvil was a man's body.
"Silence!" said Fournier, "He speaks. The chanting and the blows stop."
A weak voice within said, with difficulty, "Oh, my fathers, mitigate the
rigor of your torments, for you will reduce my soul to despair, and I
might seek to destroy myself!"
At this the fury of the people burst forth like an explosion, echoing
along the vaulted roofs; the men sprang fiercely upon the platform,
thrust aside the surprised and hesitating archers; the unarmed crowd
drove them back, pressed them, almost suffocated them against the walls,
and held them fast, then dashed against the doors which led to the
torture chamber, and, making them shake beneath their blows, threatened
to drive them in; imprecations resounded from a thousand menacing voices
and terrified the judges within.
"They are gone; they have taken him away!" cried a man who had climbed
to the little window.
The multitude at once stopped short, and changing the direction of their
steps, fled from this detestable place and spread rapidly through the
streets, where an extraordinary confusion prevailed.
Night had come on during the long sitting, and the rain was pouring in
torrents. The darkness was terrifying. The cries of women slipping on
the pavement or driven back by the horses of the guards; the shouts of
the furious men; the ceaseless tolling of the bells which had been
keeping time with the strokes of the question;
[Torture ('Question') was regulated in scrupulous detail by Holy
Mother The Church: The ordinary question was regulated for minor
infractions and used for interrogating women and children. For more
serious crimes the suspect (and sometimes the witnesses) were put to
the extraordinary question by the officiating priests. D.W.]
the roll of distant thunder--all combined to increase the disorder. If
the ear was astonished, the eyes were no less so. A few dismal torches
lighted up the corners of the streets; their flickering gleams showed
soldiers, armed and mounted, dashing along, regardless of the crowd, to
assemble in the Place de St. Pierre; tiles were sometimes thrown at them
on their way, but, missing the distant culprit, fell upon some
unoffending neighbor. The confusion was bewildering, and became still
more so, when, hurrying through all the streets toward the Place de St.
Pierre, the people found it barricaded on all sides, and filled with
mounted guards and archers. Carts, fastened to the posts at each corner,
closed each entrance, and sentinels, armed with arquebuses, were
stationed close to the carts. In the centre of the Place rose a pile
composed of enormous beams placed crosswise upon one another, so as to
form a perfect square; these were covered with a whiter and lighter wood;
an enormous stake arose from the centre of the scaffold. A man clothed
in red and holding a lowered torch stood near this sort of mast, which
was visible from a long distance. A huge chafing-dish, covered on
account of the rain, was at his feet.
At this spectacle, terror inspired everywhere a profound silence; for an
instant nothing was heard but the sound of the rain, which fell in
floods, and of the thunder, which came nearer and nearer.
Meanwhile, Cinq-Mars, accompanied by MM. du Lude and Fournier and all the
more important personages of the town, had sought refuge from the storm
under the peristyle of the church of Ste.-Croix, raised upon twenty stone
steps. The pile was in front, and from this height they could see the
whole of the square. The centre was entirely clear, large streams of
water alone traversed it; but all the windows of the houses were
gradually lighted up, and showed the heads of the men and women who
The young D'Effiat sorrowfully contemplated this menacing preparation.
Brought up in sentiments of honor, and far removed from the black
thoughts which hatred and ambition arouse in the heart of man, he could
not conceive that such wrong could be done without some powerful and
secret motive. The audacity of such a condemnation seemed to him so
enormous that its very cruelty began to justify it in his eyes; a secret
horror crept into his soul, the same that silenced the people. He almost
forgot the interest with which the unhappy Urbain had inspired him, in
thinking whether it were not possible that some secret correspondence
with the infernal powers had justly provoked such excessive severity;
and the public revelations of the nuns, and the statement of his
respected tutor, faded from his memory, so powerful is success, even in
the eyes of superior men! so strongly does force impose upon men,
despite the voice of conscience!
The young traveller was asking himself whether it were not probable that
the torture had forced some monstrous confession from the accused, when
the obscurity which surrounded the church suddenly ceased. Its two great
doors were thrown open; and by the light of an infinite number of
flambeaux, appeared all the judges and ecclesiastics, surrounded by
guards. Among them was Urbain, supported, or rather carried, by six men
clothed as Black Penitents--for his limbs, bound with bandages saturated
with blood, seemed broken and incapable of supporting him. It was at
most two hours since Cinq-Mars had seen him, and yet he could hardly
recognize the face he had so closely observed at the trial. All color,
all roundness of form had disappeared from it; a livid pallor covered a
skin yellow and shining like ivory; the blood seemed to have left his
veins; all the life that remained within him shone from his dark eyes,
which appeared to have grown twice as large as before, as he looked
languidly around him; his long, chestnut hair hung loosely down his neck
and over a white shirt, which entirely covered him--or rather a sort of
robe with large sleeves, and of a yellowish tint, with an odor of sulphur
about it; a long, thick cord encircled his neck and fell upon his breast.
He looked like an apparition; but it was the apparition of a martyr.
Urbain stopped, or, rather, was set down upon the peristyle of the
church; the Capuchin Lactantius placed a lighted torch in his right hand,
and held it there, as he said to him, with his hard inflexibility:
"Do penance, and ask pardon of God for thy crime of magic."
The unhappy man raised his voice with great difficulty, and with his eyes
to heaven said:
"In the name of the living God, I cite thee, Laubardemont, false judge,
to appear before Him in three years. They have taken away my confessor,
and I have been fain to pour out my sins into the bosom of God Himself,
for my enemies surround me. I call that God of mercy to witness I never
have dealt in magic. I have known no mysteries but those of the Catholic
religion, apostolic and Roman, in which I die; I have sinned much against
myself, but never against God and our Lord--"
"Cease!" cried the Capuchin, affecting to close his mouth ere he could
pronounce the name of the Saviour. "Obdurate wretch, return to the demon
who sent thee!"
He signed to four priests, who, approaching with sprinklers in their
hands, exorcised with holy water the air the magician breathed, the earth
he touched, the wood that was to burn him. During this ceremony, the
judge-Advocate hastily read the decree, dated the 18th of August, 1639,
declaring Urbain Grandier duly attainted and convicted of the crime of
sorcery, witchcraft, and possession, in the persons of sundry Ursuline
nuns of Loudun, and others, laymen, etc.
The reader, dazzled by a flash of lightning, stopped for an instant,
and, turning to M. de Laubardemont, asked whether, considering the awful
weather, the execution could not be deferred till the next day.
"The decree," coldly answered Laubardemont, "commands execution within
twenty-four hours. Fear not the incredulous people; they will soon be
All the most important persons of the town and many strangers were under
the peristyle, and now advanced, Cinq-Mars among them.
"The magician never has been able to pronounce the name of the Saviour,
and repels his image."
Lactantius at this moment issued from the midst of the Penitents, with an
enormous iron crucifix in his hand, which he seemed to hold with
precaution and respect; he extended it to the lips of the sufferer, who
indeed threw back his head, and collecting all his strength, made a
gesture with his arm, which threw the cross from the hands of the
"You see," cried the latter, "he has thrown down the cross!"
A murmur arose, the meaning of which was doubtful.
"Profanation!" cried the priests.
The procession moved toward the pile.
Meanwhile, Cinq-Mars, gliding behind a pillar, had eagerly watched all
that passed; he saw with astonishment that the cross, in falling upon the
steps, which were more exposed to the rain than the platform, smoked and
made a noise like molten lead when thrown into water. While the public
attention was elsewhere engaged, he advanced and touched it lightly with
his bare hand, which was immediately scorched. Seized with indignation,
with all the fury of a true heart, he took up the cross with the folds of
his cloak, stepped up to Laubardemont, and, striking him with it on the
"Villain, I brand thee with the mark of this red-hot iron!"
The crowd heard these words and rushed forward.
"Arrest this madman!" cried the unworthy magistrate.
He was himself seized by the hands of men who cried, "Justice! justice,
in the name of the King!"
"We are lost!" said Lactantius; "to the pile, to the pile!"
The Penitents dragged Urbain toward the Place, while the judges and
archers reentered the church, struggling with the furious citizens; the
executioner, having no time to tie up the victim, hastened to lay him on
the wood, and to set fire to it. But the rain still fell in torrents,
and each piece of wood had no sooner caught the flame than it became
extinguished. In vain did Lactantius and the other canons themselves
seek to stir up the fire; nothing could overcome the water which fell
Meanwhile, the tumult which had begun in the peristyle of the church
extended throughout the square. The cry of "Justice!" was repeated and
circulated, with the information of what had been discovered; two
barricades were forced, and despite three volleys of musketry, the
archers were gradually driven back toward the centre of the square. In
vain they spurred their horses against the crowd; it overwhelmed them
with its swelling waves. Half an hour passed in this struggle, the
guards still receding toward the pile, which they concealed as they
pressed closer upon it.
"On! on!" cried a man; "we will deliver him; do not strike the soldiers,
but let them fall back. See, Heaven will not permit him to die! The
fire is out; now, friend, one effort more! That is well! Throw down
that horse! Forward! On!"
The guard was broken and dispersed on all sides. The crowd rushed to the
pile, but no more light was there: all had disappeared, even the
executioner. They tore up and threw aside the beams; one of them was
still burning, and its light showed under a mass of ashes and ensanguined
mire a blackened hand, preserved from the fire by a large iron bracelet
and chain. A woman had the courage to open it; the fingers clasped a
small ivory cross and an image of St. Magdalen.
"These are his remains," she said, weeping.
"Say, the relics of a martyr!" exclaimed a citizen, baring his head.
Meanwhile, Cinq-Mars, amid the excitement which his outbreak had
provoked, felt his left arm seized by a hand as hard as iron, which,
drawing him from the crowd to the foot of the steps, pushed him behind
the wall of the church, and he then saw the dark face of old Grandchamp,
who said to him in a sharp voice:
"Sir, your attack upon thirty musketeers in a wood at Chaumont was
nothing, because we were near you, though you knew it not, and, moreover,
you had to do with men of honor; but here 'tis different. Your horses
and people are at the end of the street; I request you to mount and leave
the town, or to send me back to Madame la Marechale, for I am responsible
for your limbs, which you expose so freely."
Cinq-Mars was somewhat astonished at this rough mode of having a service
done him, was not sorry to extricate himself thus from the affair, having
had time to reflect how very awkward it might be for him to be
recognized, after striking the head of the judicial authority, the agent
of the very Cardinal who was to present him to the King. He observed
also that around him was assembled a crowd of the lowest class of people,
among whom he blushed to find himself. He therefore followed his old
domestic without argument, and found the other three servants waiting for
him. Despite the rain and wind he mounted, and was soon upon the
highroad with his escort, having put his horse to a gallop to avoid
He had, however, hardly left Loudun when the sandy road, furrowed by deep
ruts completely filled with water, obliged him to slacken his pace. The
rain continued to fall heavily, and his cloak was almost saturated. He
felt a thicker one thrown over his shoulders; it was his old valet, who
had approached him, and thus exhibited toward him a maternal solicitude.
"Well, Grandchamp," said Cinq-Mars, "now that we are clear of the riot,
tell me how you came to be there when I had ordered you to remain at the
"Parbleu, Monsieur!" answered the old servant, in a grumbling tone,
"do you suppose that I should obey you any more than I did Monsieur le
Marechal? When my late master, after telling me to remain in his tent,
found me behind him in the cannon's smoke, he made no complaint, because
he had a fresh horse ready when his own was killed, and he only scolded
me for a moment in his thoughts; but, truly, during the forty years I
served him, I never saw him act as you have in the fortnight I have been
with you. Ah!" he added with a sigh, "things are going strangely; and
if we continue thus, there's no knowing what will be the end of it."
"But knowest thou, Grandchamp, that these scoundrels had made the
crucifix red hot?--a thing at which no honest man would have been less
enraged than I."
"Except Monsieur le Marechal, your father, who would not have done at all
what you have done, Monsieur."
"What, then, would he have done?"
"He would very quietly have let this cure be burned by the other cures,
and would have said to me, 'Grandchamp, see that my horses have oats, and
let no one steal them'; or, 'Grandchamp, take care that the rain does not
rust my sword or wet the priming of my pistols'; for Monsieur le Marechal
thought of everything, and never interfered in what did not concern him.
That was his great principle; and as he was, thank Heaven, alike good
soldier and good general, he was always as careful of his arms as a
recruit, and would not have stood up against thirty young gallants with a
Cinq-Mars felt the force of the worthy servitor's epigrammatic scolding,
and feared that he had followed him beyond the wood of Chaumont; but he
would not ask, lest he should have to give explanations or to tell a
falsehood or to command silence, which would at once have been taking him
into confidence on the subject. As the only alternative, he spurred his
horse and rode ahead of his old domestic; but the latter had not yet had
his say, and instead of keeping behind his master, he rode up to his left
and continued the conversation.
"Do you suppose, Monsieur, that I should allow you to go where you
please? No, Monsieur, I am too deeply impressed with the respect I owe
to Madame la Marquise, to give her an opportunity of saying to me:
'Grandchamp, my son has been killed with a shot or with a sword; why were
you not before him?' Or, 'He has received a stab from the stiletto of an
Italian, because he went at night beneath the window of a great princess;
why did you not seize the assassin?' This would be very disagreeable to
me, Monsieur, for I never have been reproached with anything of the kind.
Once Monsieur le Marechal lent me to his nephew, Monsieur le Comte, to
make a campaign in the Netherlands, because I know Spanish. I fulfilled
the duty with honor, as I always do. When Monsieur le Comte received a
bullet in his heart, I myself brought back his horses, his mules, his
tent, and all his equipment, without so much as a pocket-handkerchief
being missed; and I can assure you that the horses were as well dressed
and harnessed when we reentered Chaumont as if Monsieur le Comte had been
about to go a-hunting. And, accordingly, I received nothing but
compliments and agreeable things from the whole family, just in the way
"Well, well, my friend," said Henri d'Effiat, "I may some day, perhaps,
have these horses to take back; but in the mean time take this great
purse of gold, which I have well-nigh lost two or three times, and thou
shalt pay for me everywhere. The money wearies me."
"Monsieur le Marechal did not so, Monsieur. He had been superintendent
of finances, and he counted every farthing he paid out of his own hand.
I do not think your estates would have been in such good condition, or
that you would have had so much money to count yourself, had he done
otherwise; have the goodness, therefore, to keep your purse, whose
contents, I dare swear, you do not know."
"Faith, not I."
Grandchamp sent forth a profound sigh at his master's disdainful
"Ah, Monsieur le Marquis! Monsieur le Marquis! When I think that the
great King Henri, before my eyes, put his chamois gloves into his pocket
to keep the rain from spoiling them; when I think that Monsieur de Rosni
refused him money when he had spent too much; when I think--"
"When thou dost think, thou art egregiously tedious, my old friend,"
interrupted his master; "and thou wilt do better in telling me what that
black figure is that I think I see walking in the mire behind us."
"It looks like some poor peasant woman who, perhaps, wants alms of us.
She can easily follow us, for we do not go at much of a pace in this
sand, wherein our horses sink up to the hams. We shall go to the Landes
perhaps some day, Monsieur, and you will see a country all the same as
this sandy road, and great, black firs all the way along. It looks like
a churchyard; this is an exact specimen of it. Look, the rain has
ceased, and we can see a little ahead; there is nothing but furze-bushes
on this great plain, without a village or a house. I don't know where we
can pass the night; but if you will take my advice, you will let us cut
some boughs and bivouac where we are. You shall see how, with a little
earth, I can make a hut as warm as a bed."
"I would rather go on to the light I see in the horizon," said Cinq-Mars;
"for I fancy I feel rather feverish, and I am thirsty. But fall back, I
would ride alone; rejoin the others and follow."
Grandchamp obeyed; he consoled himself by giving Germain, Louis, and
Etienne lessons in the art of reconnoitring a country by night.
Meanwhile, his young master was overcome with fatigue. The violent
emotions of the day had profoundly affected his mind; and the long
journey on horseback, the last two days passed almost without
nourishment, owing to the hurried pressure of events, the heat of the sun
by day, the icy coldness of the night, all contributed to increase his
indisposition and to weary his delicate frame. For three hours he rode
in silence before his people, yet the light he had seen in the horizon
seemed no nearer; at last he ceased to follow it with his eyes, and his
head, feeling heavier and heavier, sank upon his breast. He gave the
reins to his tired horse, which of its own accord followed the high-road,
and, crossing his arms, allowed himself to be rocked by the monotonous
motion of his fellow-traveller, which frequently stumbled against the
large stones that strewed the road. The rain had ceased, as had the
voices of his domestics, whose horses followed in the track of their
master's. The young man abandoned himself to the bitterness of his
thoughts; he asked himself whether the bright object of his hopes would
not flee from him day by day, as that phosphoric light fled from him in
the horizon, step by step. Was it probable that the young Princess,
almost forcibly recalled to the gallant court of Anne of Austria, would
always refuse the hands, perhaps royal ones, that would be offered to
her? What chance that she would resign herself to renounce a present
throne, in order to wait till some caprice of fortune should realize
romantic hopes, or take a youth almost in the lowest rank of the army and
lift him to the elevation she spoke of, till the age of love should be
passed? How could he be certain that even the vows of Marie de Gonzaga
"Alas!" he said, "perhaps she has blinded herself as to her own
sentiments; the solitude of the country had prepared her soul to receive
deep impressions. I came; she thought I was he of whom she had dreamed.
Our age and my love did the rest. But when at court, she, the companion
of the Queen, has learned to contemplate from an exalted position the
greatness to which I aspire, and which I as yet see only from a very
humble distance; when she shall suddenly find herself in actual
possession of the future she aims at, and measures with a more correct
eye the long road I have to travel; when she shall hear around her vows
like mine, pronounced by lips which could undo me with a word, with a
word destroy him whom she awaits as her husband, her lord--oh, madman
that I have been!--she will see all her folly, and will be incensed at
Thus did doubt, the greatest misery of love, begin to torture his unhappy
heart; he felt his hot blood rush to his head and oppress it. Ever and
anon he fell forward upon the neck of his horse, and a half sleep weighed
down his eyes; the dark firs that bordered the road seemed to him
gigantic corpses travelling beside him. He saw, or thought he saw, the
same woman clothed in black, whom he had pointed out to Grandchamp,
approach so near as to touch his horse's mane, pull his cloak, and then
run off with a jeering laugh; the sand of the road seemed to him a river
running beneath him, with opposing current, back toward its source. This
strange sight dazzled his worn eyes; he closed them and fell asleep on
Presently, he felt himself stopped, but he was numbed with cold and could
not move. He saw peasants, lights, a house, a great room into which they
carried him, a wide bed, whose heavy curtains were closed by Grandchamp;
and he fell asleep again, stunned by the fever that whirred in his ears.
Dreams that followed one another more rapidly than grains of sand before
the wind rushed through his brain; he could not catch them, and moved
restlessly on his bed. Urbain Grandier on the rack, his mother in tears,
his tutor armed, Bassompierre loaded with chains, passed before him,
making signs of farewell; at last, as he slept, he instinctively put his
hand to his head to stay the passing dream, which then seemed to unfold
itself before his eyes like pictures in shifting sands.
He saw a public square crowded with a foreign people, a northern people,
who uttered cries of joy, but they were savage cries; there was a line of
guards, ferocious soldiers--these were Frenchmen. "Come with me," said
the soft voice of Marie de Gonzaga, who took his hand. "See, I wear a
diadem; here is thy throne, come with me." And she hurried him on, the
people still shouting. He went on, a long way. "Why are you sad, if
you are a queen?" he said, trembling. But she was pale, and smiled and
spoke not. She ascended, step after step, up to a throne, and seated
herself. "Mount!" said she, forcibly pulling his hand. But, at every
movement, the massive stairs crumbled beneath his feet, so that he could
not ascend. "Give thanks to love," she continued; and her hand, now more
powerful, raised him to the throne. The people still shouted. He bowed
low to kiss that helping hand, that adored hand; it was the hand of the
"Oh, heavens!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars, as, heaving a deep sigh, he opened
his eyes. A flickering lamp lighted the ruinous chamber of the inn; he
again closed his eyes, for he had seen, seated on his bed, a woman, a
nun, young and beautiful! He thought he was still dreaming, but she
grasped his hand firmly. He opened his burning eyes, and fixed them upon
"Is it you, Jeannede Belfiel? The rain has drenched your veil and your
black hair! Why are you here, unhappy woman?"
"Hark! awake not my Urbain; he sleeps there in the next room. Ay, my
hair is indeed wet, and my feet--see, my feet that were once so white,
see how the mud has soiled them. But I have made a vow--I will not wash
them till I have seen the King, and until he has granted me Urbain's
pardon. I am going to the army to find him; I will speak to him as
Grandier taught me to speak, and he will pardon him. And listen, I will
also ask thy pardon, for I read it in thy face that thou, too, art
condemned to death. Poor youth! thou art too young to die, thy curling
hair is beautiful; but yet thou art condemned, for thou hast on thy brow
a line that never deceives. The man thou hast struck will kill thee.
Thou hast made too much use of the cross; it is that which will bring
evil upon thee. Thou hast struck with it, and thou wearest it round thy
neck by a hair chain. Nay, hide not thy face; have I said aught to
afflict thee, or is it that thou lovest, young man? Ah, reassure
thyself, I will not tell all this to thy love. I am mad, but I am
gentle, very gentle; and three days ago I was beautiful. Is she also
beautiful? Ah! she will weep some day! Yet, if she can weep, she will
And then suddenly Jeanne began to recite the service for the dead in a
monotonous voice, but with incredible rapidity, still seated on the bed,
and turning the beads of a long rosary.
Suddenly the door opened; she looked up, and fled through another door in
"What the devil's that-an imp or an angel, saying the funeral service
over you, and you under the clothes, as if you were in a shroud?"
This abrupt exclamation came from the rough voice of Grandchamp, who was
so astonished at what he had seen that he dropped the glass of lemonade
he was bringing in. Finding that his master did not answer, he became
still more alarmed, and raised the bedclothes. Cinq-Mars's face was
crimson, and he seemed asleep, but his old domestic saw that the blood
rushing to his head had almost suffocated him; and, seizing a jug full of
cold water, he dashed the whole of it in his face. This military remedy
rarely fails to effect its purpose, and Cinq-Mars returned to himself
with a start.
"Ah! it is thou, Grandchamp; what frightful dreams I have had!"
"Peste! Monsieur le Marquis, your dreams, on the contrary, are very
pretty ones. I saw the tail of the last as I came in; your choice is not
"What dost mean, blockhead?"
"Nay, not a blockhead, Monsieur; I have good eyes, and I have seen what I
have seen. But, really ill as you are, Monsieur le Marechal would
"Thou art utterly doting, my friend; give me some drink, I am parched
with thirst. Oh, heavens! what a night! I still see all those women."
"All those women, Monsieur? Why, how many are here?"
"I am speaking to thee of a dream, blockhead. Why standest there like a
post, instead of giving me some drink?"
"Enough, Monsieur; I will get more lemonade." And going to the door, he
called over the staircase, "Germain! Etienne! Louis!"
The innkeeper answered from below: "Coming, Monsieur, coming; they have
been helping me to catch the madwoman."
"What mad-woman?" said Cinq-Mars, rising in bed.
The host entered, and, taking off his cotton cap, said, respectfully:
"Oh, nothing, Monsieur le Marquis, only a madwoman that came here last
night on foot, and whom we put in the next room; but she has escaped, and
we have not been able to catch her."
"Ah!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars, returning to himself and putting his hand to
his eyes, "it was not a dream, then. And my mother, where is she? and
the Marechal, and--Ah! and yet it is but a fearful dream! Leave me."
As he said this, he turned toward the wall, and again pulled the clothes
over his head.
The innkeeper, in amazement, touched his forehead three times with his
finger, looking at Grandchamp as if to ask him whether his master were
Grandchamp motioned him away in silence, and in order to watch the rest
of the night by the side of Cinq-Mars, who was in a deep sleep, he seated
himself in a large armchair, covered with tapestry, and began to squeeze
lemons into a glass of water with an air as grave and severe as
Archimedes calculating the condensing power of his mirrors.
Men have rarely the courage to be wholly good or wholly bad.
Let us leave our young traveller sleeping; he will soon pursue a long and
beautiful route. Since we are at liberty to turn to all points of the
map, we will fix our eyes upon the city of Narbonne.
Behold the Mediterranean, not far distant, washing with its blue waters
the sandy shores. Penetrate into that city resembling Athens; and to
find him who reigns there, follow that dark and irregular street, mount
the steps of the old archiepiscopal palace, and enter the first and
largest of its apartments.
This was a very long salon, lighted by a series of high lancet windows,
of which the upper part only retained the blue, yellow, and red panes
that shed a mysterious light through the apartment. A large round table
occupied its entire breadth, near the great fireplace; around this table,
covered with a colored cloth and scattered with papers and portfolios,
were seated, bending over their pens, eight secretaries copying letters
which were handed to them from a smaller table. Other men quietly
arranged the completed papers in the shelves of a bookcase, partly filled
with books bound in black.
Notwithstanding the number of persons assembled in the room, one might
have heard the movements of the wings of a fly. The only interruption to
the silence was the sound of pens rapidly gliding over paper, and a
shrill voice dictating, stopping every now and then to cough. This voice
proceeded from a great armchair placed beside the fire, which was
blazing, notwithstanding the heat of the season and of the country.
It was one of those armchairs that you still see in old castles, and
which seem made to read one's self to sleep in, so easy is every part of
it. The sitter sinks into a circular cushion of down; if the head leans
back, the cheeks rest upon pillows covered with silk, and the seat juts
out so far beyond the elbows that one may believe the provident
upholsterers of our forefathers sought to provide that the book should
make no noise in falling so as to awaken the sleeper.
But we will quit this digression, and speak of the man who occupied the
chair, and who was very far from sleeping. He had a broad forehead,
bordered with thin white hair, large, mild eyes, a wan face, to which a
small, pointed, white beard gave that air of subtlety and finesse
noticeable in all the portraits of the period of Louis XIII. His mouth
was almost without lips, which Lavater deems an indubitable sign of an
evil mind, and it was framed in a pair of slight gray moustaches and a
'royale'--an ornament then in fashion, which somewhat resembled a comma
in form. The old man wore a close red cap, a large 'robe-dechambre',
and purple silk stockings; he was no less a personage than Armand
Duplessis, Cardinal de Richelieu.
Near him, around the small table, sat four youths from fifteen to twenty
years of age; these were pages, or domestics, according to the term then
in use, which signified familiars, friends of the house. This custom was
a relic of feudal patronage, which still existed in our manners.
The younger members of high families received wages from the great lords,
and were devoted to their service in all things, challenging the first
comer at the wish of their patron. The pages wrote letters from the
outline previously given them by the Cardinal, and after their master had
glanced at them, passed them to the secretaries, who made fair copies.
The Duke, for his part, wrote on his knee private notes upon small slips
of paper, inserting them in almost all the packets before sealing them,
which he did with his own hand.
He had been writing a short time, when, in a mirror before him, he saw
the youngest of his pages writing something on a sheet of paper much
smaller than the official sheet. He hastily wrote a few words, and then
slipped the paper under the large sheet which, much against his
inclination, he had to fill; but, seated behind the Cardinal, he hoped
that the difficulty with which the latter turned would prevent him from
seeing the little manoeuvre he had tried to exercise with much dexterity.
Suddenly Richelieu said to him, dryly, "Come here, Monsieur Olivier."
These words came like a thunder-clap on the poor boy, who seemed about
sixteen. He rose at once, however, and stood before the minister, his
arms hanging at his side and his head lowered.
The other pages and the secretaries stirred no more than soldiers when a
comrade is struck down by a ball, so accustomed were they to this kind of
summons. The present one, however, was more energetic than usual.
"What were you writing?"
"My lord, what your Eminence dictated."
"My lord, the letter to Don Juan de Braganza."
"No evasions, Monsieur; you were writing something else."
"My lord," said the page, with tears in his eyes, "it was a letter to one
of my cousins."
"Let me see it."
The page trembled in every limb and was obliged to lean against the
chimney-piece, as he said, in a hardly audible tone, "It is impossible."
"Monsieur le Vicomte Olivier d'Entraigues," said the minister, without
showing the least emotion, "you are no longer in my service." The page
withdrew. He knew that there was no reply; so, slipping his letter into
his pocket, and opening the folding-doors just wide enough to allow his
exit, he glided out like a bird escaped from the cage.
The minister went on writing the note upon his knee.
The secretaries redoubled their silent zeal, when suddenly the two wings
of the door were thrown back and showed, standing in the opening, a
Capuchin, who, bowing, with his arms crossed over his breast, seemed
waiting for alms or for an order to retire. He had a dark complexion,
and was deeply pitted with smallpox; his eyes, mild, but somewhat
squinting, were almost hidden by his thick eyebrows, which met in the
middle of his forehead; on his mouth played a crafty, mischievous, and
sinister smile; his beard was straight and red, and his costume was that
of the order of St. Francis in all its repulsiveness, with sandals on his
bare feet, that looked altogether unfit to tread upon carpet.
Such as he was, however, this personage appeared to create a great
sensation throughout the room; for, without finishing the phrase, the
line, or even the word begun, every person rose and went out by the door
where he was still standing--some saluting him as they passed, others
turning away their heads, and the young pages holding their fingers to
their noses, but not till they were behind him, for they seemed to have a
secret fear of him. When they had all passed out, he entered, making a
profound reverence, because the door was still open; but, as soon as it
was shut, unceremoniously advancing, he seated himself near the Cardinal,
who, having recognized him by the general movement he created, saluted
him with a dry and silent inclination of the head, regarding him fixedly,
as if awaiting some news and unable to avoid knitting his brows, as at
the aspect of a spider or some other disagreeable creature.
The Cardinal could not resist this movement of displeasure, because he
felt himself obliged, by the presence of his agent, to resume those
profound and painful conversations from which he had for some days been
free, in a country whose pure air, favorable to him, had somewhat soothed
the pain of his malady; that malady had changed to a slow fever, but its
intervals were long enough to enable him to forget during its absence
that it must return. Giving, therefore, a little rest to his hitherto
indefatigable mind, he had been awaiting, for the first time in his life
perhaps, without impatience, the return of the couriers he had sent in
all directions, like the rays of a sun which alone gave life and movement
to France. He had not expected the visit he now received, and the sight
of one of those men, whom, to use his own expression, he "steeped in
crime," rendered all the habitual disquietudes of his life more present
to him, without entirely dissipating the cloud of melancholy which at
that time obscured his thoughts.
The beginning of his conversation was tinged with the gloomy hue of his
late reveries; but he soon became more animated and vigorous than ever,
when his powerful mind had reentered the real world.
His confidant, seeing that he was expected to break the silence, did so
in this abrupt fashion:
"Well, my lord, of what are you thinking?"
"Alas, Joseph, of what should we all think, but of our future happiness
in a better life? For many days I have been reflecting that human
interests have too much diverted me from this great thought; and I repent
me of having spent some moments of my leisure in profane works, such as
my tragedies, 'Europe' and 'Mirame,' despite the glory they have already
gained me among our brightest minds--a glory which will extend unto
Father Joseph, full of what he had to say, was at first surprised at this
opening; but he knew his master too well to betray his feelings, and,
well skilled in changing the course of his ideas, replied:
"Yes, their merit is very great, and France will regret that these
immortal works are not followed by similar productions."
"Yes, my dear Joseph; but it is in vain that such men as Boisrobert,
Claveret, Colletet, Corneille, and, above all, the celebrated Mairet,
have proclaimed these tragedies the finest that the present or any past
age has produced. I reproach myself for them, I swear to you, as for a
mortal sin, and I now, in my hours of repose, occupy myself only with my
'Methode des Controverses', and my book on the 'Perfection du Chretien.'
I remember that I am fifty-six years old, and that I have an incurable
"These are calculations which your enemies make as precisely as your
Eminence," said the priest, who began to be annoyed with this
conversation, and was eager to talk of other matters.
The blood mounted to the Cardinal's face.
"I know it! I know it well!" he said; "I know all their black villainy,
and I am prepared for it. But what news is there?"
"According to our arrangement, my lord, we have removed Mademoiselle
d'Hautefort, as we removed Mademoiselle de la Fayette before her. So far
it is well; but her place is not filled, and the King--"
"The King has ideas which he never had before."
"Ha! and which come not from me? 'Tis well, truly," said the minister,
with an ironic sneer.
"What, my lord, leave the place of the favorite vacant for six whole
days? It is not prudent; pardon me for saying so."
"He has ideas--ideas!" repeated Richelieu, with a kind of terror; "and
what are they?"
"He talks of recalling the Queen-mother," said the Capuchin, in a low
voice; "of recalling her from Cologne."
"Marie de Medicis!" cried the Cardinal, striking the arms of his chair
with his hands. "No, by Heaven, she shall not again set her foot upon
the soil of France, whence I drove her, step by step! England has not
dared to receive her, exiled by me; Holland fears to be crushed by her;
and my kingdom to receive her! No, no, such an idea could not have
originated with himself! To recall my enemy! to recall his mother!
What perfidy! He would not have dared to think of it."
Then, having mused for a moment, he added, fixing a penetrating look
still full of burning anger upon Father Joseph:
"But in what terms did he express this desire? Tell me his precise
"He said publicly; and in the presence of Monsieur: 'I feel that one of
the first duties of a Christian is to be a good son, and I will resist no
longer the murmurs of my conscience.'"
"Christian! conscience! these are not his expressions. It is Father
Caussin--it is his confessor who is betraying me," cried the Cardinal.
"Perfidious Jesuit! I pardoned thee thy intrigue with La Fayette; but I
will not pass over thy secret counsels. I will have this confessor
dismissed, Joseph; he is an enemy to the State, I see it clearly.
But I myself have acted with negligence for some days past; I have not
sufficiently hastened the arrival of the young d'Effiat, who will
doubtless succeed. He is handsome and intellectual, they say. What a
blunder! I myself merit disgrace. To leave that fox of a Jesuit with
the King, without having given him my secret instructions, without a
hostage, a pledge, or his fidelity to my orders! What neglect! Joseph,
take a pen, and write what I shall dictate for the other confessor, whom
we will choose better. I think of Father Sirmond."
Father Joseph sat down at the large table, ready to write, and the
Cardinal dictated to him those duties, of a new kind, which shortly
afterward he dared to have given to the King, who received them,
respected them, and learned them by heart as the commandments of the
Church. They have come down to us, a terrible monument of the empire
that a man may seize upon by means of circumstances, intrigues, and
"I. A prince should have a prime minister, and that minister three
qualities: (1) He should have no passion but for his prince; (2) He
should be able and faithful; (3) He should be an ecclesiastic.
"II. A prince ought perfectly to love his prime minister.
"III. Ought never to change his prime minister.
"IV. Ought to tell him all things.
"V. To give him free access to his person.
"VI. To give him sovereign authority over his people.
"VII. Great honors and large possessions.
"VIII. A prince has no treasure more precious than his prime
"IX. A prince should not put faith in what people say against his
prime minister, nor listen to any such slanders.
"X. A prince should reveal to his prime minister all that is said
against him, even though he has been bound to keep it secret.
"XI. A prince should prefer not only the well-being of the State,
but also his prime minister, to all his relations."
Such were the commandments of the god of France, less astonishing in
themselves than the terrible naivete which made him bequeath them to
posterity, as if posterity also must believe in him.
While he dictated his instructions, reading them from a small piece of
paper, written with his own hand, a deep melancholy seemed to possess him
more and more at each word; and when he had ended, he fell back in his
chair, his arms crossed, and his head sunk on his breast.
Father Joseph, dropping his pen, arose and was inquiring whether he were
ill, when he heard issue from the depths of his chest these mournful and
"What utter weariness! what endless trouble! If the ambitious man could
see me, he would flee to a desert. What is my power? A miserable
reflection of the royal power; and what labors to fix upon my star that
incessantly wavering ray! For twenty years I have been in vain
attempting it. I can not comprehend that man. He dare not flee me;
but they take him from me--he glides through my fingers. What things
could I not have done with his hereditary rights, had I possessed them?
But, employing such infinite calculation in merely keeping one's balance,
what of genius remains for high enterprises? I hold Europe in my hand,
yet I myself am suspended by a trembling hair. What is it to me that I
can cast my eyes confidently over the map of Europe, when all my
interests are concentrated in his narrow cabinet, and its few feet of
space give me more trouble to govern than the whole country besides?
See, then, what it is to be a prime minister! Envy me, my guards, if you
His features were so distorted as to give reason to fear some accident;
and at the same moment he was seized with a long and violent fit of
coughing, which ended in a slight hemorrhage. He saw that Father Joseph,
alarmed, was about to seize a gold bell that stood on the table, and,
suddenly rising with all the vivacity of a young man, he stopped him,
"'Tis nothing, Joseph; I sometimes yield to these fits of depression; but
they do not last long, and I leave them stronger than before. As for my
health, I know my condition perfectly; but that is not the business in
hand. What have you done at Paris? I am glad to know the King has
arrived in Bearn, as I wished; we shall be able to keep a closer watch
upon him. How did you induce him to come away?"
"A battle at Perpignan."
"That is not bad. Well, we can arrange it for him; that occupation will
do as well as another just now. But the young Queen, what says she?"
"She is still furious against you; her correspondence discovered, the
questioning to which you had subjected her--"
"Bah! a madrigal and a momentary submission on my part will make her
forget that I have separated her from her house of Austria and from the
country of her Buckingham. But how does she occupy herself?"
"In machinations with Monsieur. But as we have his entire confidence,
here are the daily accounts of their interviews."
"I shall not trouble myself to read them; while the Duc de Bouillon
remains in Italy I have nothing to fear in that quarter. She may have as
many petty plots with Gaston in the chimney-corner as she pleases; he
never got beyond his excellent intentions, forsooth! He carries nothing
into effect but his withdrawal from the kingdom. He has had his third
dismissal; I will manage a fourth for him whenever he pleases; he is not
worth the pistol-shot you had the Comte de Soissons settled with, and yet
the poor Comte had scarce more energy than he."
And the Cardinal, reseating himself in his chair, began to laugh gayly
enough for a statesman.
"I always laugh when I think of their expedition to Amiens. They had me
between them, Each had fully five hundred gentlemen with him, armed to
the teeth, and all going to despatch me, like Concini; but the great
Vitry was not there. They very quietly let me talk for an hour with them
about the hunt and the Fete Dieu, and neither of them dared make a sign
to their cut-throats. I have since learned from Chavigny that for two
long months they had been waiting that happy moment. For myself, indeed,
I observed nothing, except that little villain, the Abbe de Gondi,--
[Afterward Cardinal de Retz.]--who prowled near me, and seemed to have
something hidden under his sleeve; it was he that made me get into the
"Apropos of the Abbe, my lord, the Queen insists upon making him
"She is mad! he will ruin her if she connects herself with him; he's a
musketeer in canonicals, the devil in a cassock. Read his 'Histoire de
Fiesque'; you may see himself in it. He will be nothing while I live."
"How is it that with a judgment like yours you bring another ambitious
man of his age to court?"
"That is an entirely different matter. This young Cinq-Mars, my friend,
will be a mere puppet. He will think of nothing but his ruff and his
shoulder-knots; his handsome figure assures me of this. I know that he
is gentle and weak; it was for this reason I preferred him to his elder
brother. He will do whatever we wish."
"Ah, my lord," said the monk, with an expression of doubt, "I never place
much reliance on people whose exterior is so calm; the hidden flame is
often all the more dangerous. Recollect the Marechal d'Effiat, his
"But I tell you he is a boy, and I shall bring him up; while Gondi is
already an accomplished conspirator, an ambitious knave who sticks at
nothing. He has dared to dispute Madame de la Meilleraie with me. Can
you conceive it? He dispute with me! A petty priestling, who has no
other merit than a little lively small-talk and a cavalier air.
Fortunately, the husband himself took care to get rid of him."
Father Joseph, who listened with equal impatience to his master when he
spoke of his 'bonnes fortunes' or of his verses, made, however, a grimace
which he meant to be very sly and insinuating, but which was simply ugly
and awkward; he fancied that the expression of his mouth, twisted about
like a monkey's, conveyed, "Ah! who can resist your Eminence?" But his
Eminence only read there, "I am a clown who knows nothing of the great
world"; and, without changing his voice, he suddenly said, taking up a
despatch from the table:
"The Duc de Rohan is dead, that is good news; the Huguenots are ruined.
He is a lucky man. I had him condemned by the Parliament of Toulouse to
be torn in pieces by four horses, and here he dies quietly on the
battlefield of Rheinfeld. But what matters? The result is the same.
Another great head is laid low! How they have fallen since that of
Montmorency! I now see hardly any that do not bow before me. We have
already punished almost all our dupes of Versailles; assuredly they have
nothing with which to reproach me. I simply exercise against them the
law of retaliation, treating them as they would have treated me in the
council of the Queen-mother. The old dotard Bassompierre shall be doomed
for perpetual imprisonment, and so shall the assassin Marechal de Vitry,
for that was the punishment they voted me. As for Marillac, who
counselled death, I reserve death for him at the first false step he
makes, and I beg thee, Joseph, to remind me of him; we must be just to
all. The Duc de Bouillon still keeps up his head proudly on account of
his Sedan, but I shall make him yield. Their blindness is truly
marvellous! They think themselves all free to conspire, not perceiving
that they are merely fluttering at the ends of the threads that I hold in
my hand, and which I lengthen now and then to give them air and space.
Did the Huguenots cry out as one man at the death of their dear duke?"
"Less so than at the affair of Loudun, which is happily concluded."
"What! Happily? I hope that Grandier is dead?"
"Yes; that is what I meant. Your Eminence may be fully satisfied. All
was settled in twenty-four hours. He is no longer thought of. Only
Laubardemont committed a slight blunder in making the trial public. This
caused a little tumult; but we have a description of the rioters, and
measures have been taken to seek them out."
"This is well, very well. Urbain was too superior a man to be left
there; he was turning Protestant. I would wager that he would have ended
by abjuring. His work against the celibacy of priests made me conjecture
this; and in cases of doubt, remember, Joseph, it is always best to cut
the tree before the fruit is gathered. These Huguenots, you see, form a
regular republic in the State. If once they had a majority in France,
the monarchy would be lost, and they would establish some popular
government which might be durable."
"And what deep pain do they daily cause our holy Father the Pope!" said
"Ah," interrupted the Cardinal, "I see; thou wouldst remind me of his
obstinacy in not giving thee the hat. Be tranquil; I will speak to-day
on the subject to the new ambassador we are sending, the Marechal
d'Estrees, and he will, on his arrival, doubtless obtain that which
has been in train these two years--thy nomination to the cardinalate.
I myself begin to think that the purple would become thee well, for it
does not show blood-stains."
And both burst into laughter--the one as a master, overwhelming the
assassin whom he pays with his utter scorn; the other as a slave,
resigned to all the humiliation by which he rises.
The laughter which the ferocious pleasantry of the old minister had
excited had hardly subsided, when the door opened, and a page announced
several couriers who had arrived simultaneously from different points.
Father Joseph arose, and, leaning against the wall like an Egyptian
mummy, allowed nothing to appear upon his face but an expression of
stolid contemplation. Twelve messengers entered successively, attired in
various disguises; one appeared to be a Swiss soldier, another a sutler,
a third a master-mason. They had been introduced into the palace by a
secret stairway and corridor, and left the cabinet by a door opposite
that at which they had entered, without any opportunity of meeting one
another or communicating the contents of their despatches. Each laid a
rolled or folded packet of papers on the large table, spoke for a moment
with the Cardinal in the embrasure of a window and withdrew. Richelieu
had risen on the entrance of the first messenger, and, careful to do all
himself, had received them all, listened to all, and with his own hand
had closed the door upon all. When the last was gone, he signed to
Father Joseph, and, without speaking, both proceeded to unfold, or,
rather, to tear open, the packets of despatches, and in a few words
communicated to each other the substance of the letters.
"The Due de Weimar pursues his advantage; the Duc Charles is defeated.
Our General is in good spirits; here are some of his lively remarks at
"Monseigneur le Vicomte de Turenne has retaken the towns of Lorraine; and
here are his private conversations--"
"Oh! pass over them; they can not be dangerous. He is ever a good and
honest man, in no way mixing himself up with politics; so that some one
gives him a little army to play at chess with, no matter against whom,
he is content. We shall always be good friends."
"The Long Parliament still endures in England. The Commons pursue their
project; there are massacres in Ireland. The Earl of Strafford is
condemned to death."
"To death! Horrible!"
"I will read: 'His Majesty Charles I has not had the courage to sign the
sentence, but he has appointed four commissioners.'"
"Weak king, I abandon thee! Thou shalt have no more of our money. Fall,
since thou art ungrateful! Unhappy Wentworth!"
A tear rose in the eyes of Richelieu as he said this; the man who had but
now played with the lives of so many others wept for a minister abandoned
by his prince. The similarity between that position and his own affected
him, and it was his own case he deplored in the person of the foreign
minister. He ceased to read aloud the despatches that he opened, and his
confidant followed his example. He examined with scrupulous attention
the detailed accounts of the most minute and secret actions of each
person of any importance-accounts which he always required to be added to
the official despatches made by his able spies. All the despatches to
the King passed through his hands, and were carefully revised so as to
reach the King amended to the state in which he wished him to read them.
The private notes were all carefully burned by the monk after the
Cardinal had ascertained their contents. The latter, however, seemed by
no means satisfied, and he was walking quickly to and fro with gestures
expressive of anxiety, when the door opened, and a thirteenth courier
entered. This one seemed a boy hardly fourteen years old; he held under
his arm a packet sealed with black for the King, and gave to the Cardinal
only a small letter, of which a stolen glance from Joseph could collect
but four words. The Cardinal started, tore the billet into a thousand
pieces, and, bending down to the ear of the boy, spoke to him for a long
time; all that Joseph heard was, as the messenger went out:
"Take good heed to this; not until twelve hours from this time."
During this aside of the Cardinal, Joseph was occupied in concealing an
infinite number of libels from Flanders and Germany, which the minister
always insisted upon seeing, however bitter they might be to him. In
this respect, he affected a philosophy which he was far from possessing,
and to deceive those around him he would sometimes pretend that his
enemies were not wholly wrong, and would outwardly laugh at their
pleasantries; but those who knew his character better detected bitter
rage lurking under this apparent moderation, and knew that he was never
satisfied until he had got the hostile book condemned by the parliament
to be burned in the Place de Greve, as "injurious to the King, in the
person of his minister, the most illustrious Cardinal," as we read in the
decrees of the time, and that his only regret was that the author was not
in the place of his book--a satisfaction he gave himself whenever he
could, as in the case of Urbain Grandier.
It was his colossal pride which he thus avenged, without avowing it even
to himself--nay, laboring for a length of time, sometimes for a whole
twelvemonth together, to persuade himself that the interest of the State
was concerned in the matter. Ingenious in connecting his private affairs
with the affairs of France, he had convinced himself that she bled from
the wounds which he received. Joseph, careful not to irritate his ill-
temper at this moment, put aside and concealed a book entitled 'Mystres
Politiques du Cardinal de la Rochelle'; also another, attributed to a
monk of Munich, entitled 'Questions quolibetiques, ajustees au temps
present, et Impiete Sanglante du dieu Mars'. The worthy advocate Aubery,
who has given us one of the most faithful histories of the most eminent
Cardinal, is transported with rage at the mere title of the first of
these books, and exclaims that "the great minister had good reason to
glorify himself that his enemies, inspired against their will with the
same enthusiasm which conferred the gift of rendering oracles upon the
ass of Balaam, upon Caiaphas and others, who seemed most unworthy of the
gift of prophecy, called him with good reason Cardinal de la Rochelle,
since three years after their writing he reduced that town; thus Scipio
was called Africanus for having subjugated that PROVINCE!" Very little
was wanting to make Father Joseph, who had necessarily the same feelings,
express his indignation in the same terms; for he remembered with
bitterness the ridiculous part he had played in the siege of Rochelle,
which, though not a province like Africa, had ventured to resist the most
eminent Cardinal, and into which Father Joseph, piquing himself on his
military skill, had proposed to introduce the troops through a sewer.
However, he restrained himself, and had time to conceal the libel in the
pocket of his brown robe ere the minister had dismissed his young courier
and returned to the table.
"And now to depart, Joseph," he said. "Open the doors to all that court
which besieges me, and let us go to the King, who awaits me at Perpignan;
this time I have him for good."
The Capuchin drew back, and immediately the pages, throwing open the
gilded doors, announced in succession the greatest lords of the period,
who had obtained permission from the King to come and salute the
minister. Some, even, under the pretext of illness or business, had
departed secretly, in order not to be among the last at Richelieu's
reception; and the unhappy monarch found himself almost as alone as other
kings find themselves on their deathbeds. But with him, the throne
seemed, in the eyes of the court, his dying couch, his reign a continual
last agony, and his minister a threatening successor.
Two pages, of the first families of France, stood at the door, where the
ushers announced each of the persons whom Father Joseph had found in the
ante room. The Cardinal, still seated in his great arm chair, remained
motionless as the common couriers entered, inclined his head to the more
distinguished, and to princes alone put his hands on the elbows of his
chair and slightly rose; each person, having profoundly saluted him,
stood before him near the fireplace, waited till he had spoken to him,
and then, at a wave of his hand, completed the circuit of the room, and
went out by the same door at which he had entered, paused for a moment to
salute Father Joseph, who aped his master, and who for that reason had
been named "his Gray Eminence," and at last quitted the palace, unless,
indeed, he remained standing behind the chair, if the minister had
signified that he should, which was considered a token of very great
He allowed to pass several insignificant persons, and many whose merits
were useless to him; the first whom he stopped in the procession was the
Marechal d'Estrees, who, about to set out on an embassy to Rome, came to
make his adieux; those behind him stopped short. This circumstance
warned the courtiers in the anteroom that a longer conversation than
usual was on foot, and Father Joseph, advancing to the threshold,
exchanged with the Cardinal a glance which seemed to say, on the one
side, "Remember the promise you have just made me," on the other, "Set
your mind at rest." At the same time, the expert Capuchin let his master
see that he held upon his arm one of his victims, whom he was forming
into a docile instrument; this was a young gentleman who wore a very
short green cloak, a pourpoint of the same color, close-fitting red
breeches, with glittering gold garters below the knee-the costume of the
pages of Monsieur. Father Joseph, indeed, spoke to him secretly, but not
in the way the Cardinal imagined; for he contemplated being his equal,
and was preparing other connections, in case of defection on the part of
the prime minister.
"Tell Monsieur not to trust in appearances, and that he has no servant
more faithful than I. The Cardinal is on the decline, and my conscience
tells me to warn against his faults him who may inherit the royal power
during the minority. To give your great Prince a proof of my faith, tell
him that it is intended to arrest his friend, Puy-Laurens, and that he
had better be kept out of the way, or the Cardinal will put him in the
While the servant was thus betraying his master, the master, not to be
behindhand with him, betrayed his servant. His self-love, and some
remnant of respect to the Church, made him shudder at the idea of seeing
a contemptible agent invested with the same hat which he himself wore as
a crown, and seated as high as himself, except as to the precarious
position of minister. Speaking, therefore, in an undertone to the
Marechal d'Estrees, he said:
"It is not necessary to importune Urbain VIII any further in favor of the
Capuchin you see yonder; it is enough that his Majesty has deigned to
name him for the cardinalate. One can readily conceive the repugnance of
his Holiness to clothe this mendicant in the Roman purple."
Then, passing on to general matters, he continued:
"Truly, I know not what can have cooled the Holy Father toward us; what
have we done that was not for the glory of our Holy Mother, the Catholic
"I myself said the first mass at Rochelle, and you see for yourself,
Monsieur le Marechal, that our habit is everywhere; and even in your
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