Cinq Mars, entire
Alfred de Vigny
Part 5 out of 8
deceived, Marie. Who would have dared this without the King's order?
It is an intrigue which I will know. I am sure that you have been misled
Marie hesitated a moment, and then said:
"Nothing is more simple, Madame, than our attachment. I inhabited, you
know, the old chateau of Chaumont, with the Marechale d'Effiat, the
mother of Monsieur de Cinq-Mars. I had retired there to mourn the death
of my father; and it soon happened that Monsieur de Cinq-Mars had to
deplore the loss of his. In this numerous afflicted family, I saw his
grief only, which was as profound as mine. All that he said, I had
already thought, and when we spoke of our afflictions we found them
wholly alike. As I had been the first to suffer, I was better acquainted
with sorrow than he; and I endeavored to console him by telling him all
that I had suffered, so that in pitying me he forgot himself. This was
the beginning of our love, which, as you see, had its birth, as it were,
between two tombs."
"God grant, my sweet, that it may have a happy termination!" said the
"I hope so, Madame, since you pray for me," continued Marie. "Besides,
everything now smiles upon me; but at that time I was very miserable.
The news arrived one day at the chateau that the Cardinal had called
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars to the army. It seemed to me that I was again
deprived of one of my relatives; and yet we were strangers. But Monsieur
de Bassompierre spoke without ceasing of battles and death. I retired
every evening in grief, and I wept during the night. I thought at first
that my tears flowed for the past, but I soon perceived that it was for
the future; and I felt that they could not be the same tears, since I
wished to conceal them. Some time passed in the expectation of his
departure. I saw him every day; and I pitied him for having to depart,
because he repeated to me every instant that he would have wished to live
eternally as he then did, in his own country and with us. He was thus
without ambition until the day of his departure, because he knew not
whether he was--whether he was--I dare not say it to your Majesty--"
Marie blushed, cast down her humid eyes, and smiled.
"Well!" said the Queen, "whether he was beloved,--is it not so?"
"And in the evening, Madame, he left, ambitious."
"That is evident, certainly. He left," said Anne of Austria, somewhat
relieved; "but he has been back two years, and you have seen him?"
"Seldom, Madame," said the young Duchess, proudly; "and always in the
presence of the priest, before whom I have promised to be the wife of no
other than Cinq-Mars."
"Is it really, then, a marriage? Have you dared to do it? I shall
inquire. But, Heaven, what faults! how many faults in the few words I
have heard! Let me reflect upon them."
And, speaking aloud to herself, the Queen continued, her eyes and head
bent in the attitude of reflection:
"Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done. The past is no
longer ours; let us think of the future. Cinq-Mars is brave, able, and
even profound in his ideas. I have observed that he has done much in two
years, and I now see that it was for Marie. He comports himself well;
he is worthy of her in my eyes, but not so in the eyes of Europe. He
must rise yet higher. The Princesse de Mantua can not, may not, marry
less than a prince. He must become one. By myself I can do nothing;
I am not the Queen, I am the neglected wife of the King. There is only
the Cardinal, the eternal Cardinal, and he is his enemy; and perhaps this
"Alas! it is the beginning of war between them. I saw it at once."
"He is lost then!" exclaimed the Queen, embracing Marie. "Pardon me,
my child, for thus afflicting you; but in times like these we must see
all and say all. Yes, he is lost if he does not himself overthrow this
wicked man--for the King will not renounce him; force alone--"
"He will overthrow him, Madame. He will do it, if you will assist him.
You are the divinity of France. Oh, I conjure you, protect the angel
against the demon! It is your cause, that of your royal family, that of
all your nation."
The Queen smiled.
"It is, above all, your cause, my child; and it is as such that I will
embrace it to the utmost extent of my power. That is not great, as I
have told you; but such as it is, I lend it to you entirely, provided,
however, that this angel does not stoop to commit mortal sins," added
she, with a meaning look." I heard his name pronounced this night by
voices most unworthy of him."
"Oh, Madame, I would swear that he knows nothing of it!"
"Ah, my child, do not speak of State affairs. You are not yet learned
enough in them. Let me sleep, if I can, before the hour of my toilette.
My eyes are burning, and yours also, perhaps."
Saying these words, the amiable Queen laid her head upon the pillow which
covered the casket, and soon Marie saw her fall asleep through sheer
fatigue. She then rose, and, seating herself in a great, tapestried,
square armchair, clasped her hands upon her knees, and began to reflect
upon her painful situation. Consoled by the aspect of her gentle
protectress, she often raised her eyes to watch her slumber, and sent her
in secret all the blessings which love showers upon those who protect it,
sometimes kissing the curls of her blond hair, as if by this kiss she
could convey to her soul all the ideas favorable to the thought ever
present to her mind.
The Queen's slumber was prolonged, while Marie thought and wept.
However, she remembered that at ten o'clock she must appear at the royal
toilette before all the court. She resolved to cast aside reflection,
to dry her tears, and she took a thick folio volume placed upon a table
inlaid with enamel and medallions; it was the 'Astree' of M. d'Urfe--
a work 'de belle galanterie' adored by the fair prudes of the court.
The unsophisticated and straightforward mind of Marie could not enter
into these pastoral loves. She was too simple to understand the
'bergeres du Lignon', too clever to be pleased at their discourse, and
too impassioned to feel their tenderness. However, the great popularity
of the romance so far influenced her that she sought to compel herself to
take an interest in it; and, accusing herself internally every time that
she felt the ennui which exhaled from the pages of the book, she ran
through it with impatience to find something to please and transport her.
An engraving arrested her attention. It represented the shepherdess
Astree with high-heeled shoes, a corset, and an immense farthingale,
standing on tiptoe to watch floating down the river the tender Celadon,
drowning himself in despair at having, been somewhat coldly received in
the morning. Without explaining to herself the reason of the taste and
accumulated fallacies of this picture, she sought, in turning over the
pages, something which could fix her attention; she saw the word "Druid."
"Ah! here is a great character," said she. "I shall no doubt read of
one of those mysterious sacrificers of whom Britain, I am told, still
preserves the monuments; but I shall see him sacrificing men. That would
be a spectacle of horror; however, let us read it."
Saying this, Marie read with repugnance, knitting her brows, and nearly
trembling, the following:
"The Druid Adamas delicately called the shepherds Pimandre,
Ligdamont, and Clidamant, newly arrived from Calais. 'This
adventure can not terminate,' said he, 'but by the extremity of
love. The soul, when it loves, transforms itself into the object
beloved; it is to represent this that my agreeable enchantments will
show you in this fountain the nymph Sylvia, whom you all three love.
The high-priest Amasis is about to come from Montbrison, and will
explain to you the delicacy of this idea. Go, then, gentle
shepherds! If your desires are well regulated, they will not cause
you any torments; and if they are not so, you will be punished by
swoonings similar to those of Celadon, and the shepherdess Galatea,
whom the inconstant Hercules abandoned in the mountains of Auvergne,
and who gave her name to the tender country of the Gauls; or you
will be stoned by the shepherdesses of Lignon, as was the ferocious
Amidor. The great nymph of this cave has made an enchantment.'"
The enchantment of the great nymph was complete on the Princess, who had
hardly sufficient strength to find out with a trembling hand, toward the
end of the book, that the Druid Adamas was an ingenious allegory,
representing the Lieutenant-General of Montbrison, of the family of the
Papons. Her weary eyes closed, and the great book slipped from her lap
to the cushion of velvet upon which her feet were placed, and where the
beautiful Astree and the gallant Celadon reposed luxuriously, less
immovable than Marie de Mantua, vanquished by them and by profound
This same morning, the various events of which we have seen in the
apartments of Gaston d'Orleans and of the Queen, the calm and silence of
study reigned in a modest cabinet of a large house near the Palais de
justice. A bronze lamp, of a gothic shape, struggling with the coming
day, threw its red light upon a mass of papers and books which covered a
large table; it lighted the bust of L'Hopital, that of Montaigne the
essayist, the President de Thou, and of King Louis XIII.
A fireplace sufficiently large for a man to enter and sit there was
occupied by a large fire burning upon enormous andirons. Upon one of
these was placed the foot of the studious De Thou, who, already risen,
examined with attention the new works of Descartes and Grotius. He was
writing upon his knee his notes upon these books of philosophy and
politics, which were then the general subjects of conversation; but at
this moment the 'Meditations Metaphysiques' absorbed all his attention.
The philosopher of Touraine enchanted the young counsellor. Often, in
his enthusiasm, he struck the book, uttering exclamations of admiration;
sometimes he took a sphere placed near him, and, turning it with his
fingers, abandoned himself to the most profound reveries of science;
then, led by them to a still greater elevation of mind, he would suddenly
throw himself upon his knees before a crucifix, placed upon the chimney-
piece, because at the limits of the human mind he had found God. At
other times he buried himself in his great armchair, so as to be nearly
sitting upon his shoulders, and, placing his two hands upon his eyes,
followed in his head the trace of the reasoning of Rene Descartes, from
this idea of the first meditation:
"Suppose that we are asleep, and that all these particularities--
that is, that we open our eyes, move our heads, spread our arms--are
nothing but false illusions."
to this sublime conclusion of the third:
"Only one thing remains to be said; it is that like the idea of
myself, that of God is born and produced with me from the time I was
created. And certainly it should not be thought strange that God,
in creating me, should have implanted in me this idea, to be, as it
were, the mark of the workman impressed upon his work."
These thoughts entirely occupied the mind of the young counsellor, when a
loud noise was heard under the windows. He thought that some house on
fire excited these prolonged cries, and hastened to look toward the wing
of the building occupied by his mother and sisters; but all appeared to
sleep there, and the chimneys did not even send forth any smoke, to
attest that its inhabitants were even awake. He blessed Heaven for it;
and, running to another window, he saw the people, whose exploits we have
witnessed, hastening toward the narrow streets which led to the quay.
After examining this rabble of women and children, the ridiculous flag
which led them, and the rude disguises of the men: "It is some popular
fete or some carnival comedy," said he; and again returning to the corner
of the fire, he placed a large almanac upon the table, and carefully
sought in it what saint was honored that day. He looked in the column of
the month of December; and, finding at the fourth day of this month the
name of Ste.-Barbe, he remembered that he had seen several small cannons
and barrels pass, and, perfectly satisfied with the explanation which he
had given himself, he hastened to drive away the interruption which had
called off his attention, and resumed his quiet studies, rising only to
take a book from the shelves of his library, and, after reading in it a
phrase, a line, or only a word, he threw it from him upon his table or on
the floor, covered in this way with books or papers which he would not
trouble himself to return to their places, lest he should break the
thread of his reveries.
Suddenly the door was hastily opened, and a name was announced which he
had distinguished among those at the bar--a man whom his connections with
the magistracy had made personally known to him.
"And by what chance, at five o'clock in the morning, do I see Monsieur
Fournier?" he cried. "Are there some unfortunates to defend, some
families to be supported by the fruits of his talent, some error to
dissipate in us, some virtue to awaken in our hearts? for these are of
his accustomed works. You come, perhaps, to inform me of some fresh
humiliation of our parliament. Alas! the secret chambers of the Arsenal
are more powerful than the ancient magistracy of Clovis. The parliament
is on its knees; all is lost, unless it is soon filled with men like
"Monsieur, I do not merit your praise," said the Advocate, entering,
accompanied by a grave and aged man, enveloped like himself in a large
cloak. "I deserve, on the contrary, your censure; and I am almost a
penitent, as is Monsieur le Comte du Lude, whom you see here. We come to
ask an asylum for the day."
"An asylum! and against whom?" said De Thou, making them sit down.
"Against the lowest people in Paris, who wish to have us for chiefs, and
from whom we fly. It is odious; the sight, the smell, the ear, and the
touch, above all, are too severely wounded by it," said M. du Lude, with
a comical gravity. "It is too much!"
"Ah! too much, you say?" said De Thou, very much astonished, but not
willing to show it.
"Yes," answered the Advocate; "really, between ourselves, Monsieur le
Grand goes too far."
"Yes, he pushes things too fast. He will render all our projects
abortive," added his companion.
"Ah! and you say he goes too far?" replied M. de Thou, rubbing his chin,
more and more surprised.
Three months had passed since his friend Cinq-Mars had been to see him;
and he, without feeling much disquieted about it--knowing that he was at
St.-Germain in high favor, and never quitting the King--was far removed
from the news of the court. Absorbed in his grave studies, he never
heard of public events till they were forced upon his attention. He knew
nothing of current life until the last moment, and often amused his
intimate friends by his naive astonishment--the more so that from a
little worldly vanity he desired to have it appear as if he were fully
acquainted with the course of events, and tried to conceal the surprise
he experienced at every fresh intelligence. He was now in this
situation, and to this vanity was added the feeling of friendship; he
would not have it supposed that Cinq-Mars had been negligent toward him,
and, for his friend's honor even, would appear to be aware of his
"You know very well how we stand now," continued the Advocate.
"Yes, of course. Well?"
"Intimate as you are with him, you can not be ignorant that all has been
organizing for a year past."
"Certainly, all has been organizing; but proceed."
"You will admit with us that Monsieur le Grand is wrong?"
"Ah, that is as it may be; but explain yourself. I shall see."
"Well, you know upon what we had agreed at the last conference of which
he informed you?"
"Ah! that is to say--pardon me, I perceive it almost; but set me a
little upon the track."
"It is useless; you no doubt remember what he himself recommended us to
do at Marion de Lorme's?"
"To add no one to our list," said M. du Lude.
"Ah, yes, yes! I understand," said De Thou; "that appears reasonable,
very reasonable, truly."
"Well," continued Fournier, "he himself has infringed this agreement; for
this morning, besides the ragamuffins whom that ferret the Abbe de Gondi
brought to us, there was some vagabond captain, who during the night
struck with sword and poniard gentlemen of both parties, crying out at
the top of his voice, 'A moi, D'Aubijoux! You gained three thousand
ducats from me; here are three sword-thrusts for you. 'A moi', La
Chapelle! I will have ten drops of your blood in exchange for my ten
pistoles!' and I myself saw him attack these gentlemen and many more of
both sides, loyally enough, it is true--for he struck them only in front
and on their guard--but with great success, and with a most revolting
"Yes, Monsieur, and I was about to tell him my opinion," interposed De
Lude, "when I saw him escape through the crowd like a squirrel, laughing
greatly with some suspicious looking men with dark, swarthy faces; I do
not doubt, however, that Monsieur de Cinq-Mars sent him, for he gave
orders to that Ambrosio whom you must know--that Spanish prisoner, that
rascal whom he has taken for a servant. In faith, I am disgusted with
all this; and I was not born to mingle with this canaille."
"This, Monsieur," replied Fournier, "is very different from the affair at
Loudun. There the people only rose, without actually revolting; it was
the sensible and estimable part of the populace, indignant at an
assassination, and not heated by wine and money. It was a cry raised
against an executioner--a cry of which one could honorably be the organ
--and not these howlings of factious hypocrisy, of a mass of unknown
people, the dregs of the mud and sewers of Paris. I confess that I am
very tired of what I see; and I have come to entreat you to speak about
it to Monsieur le Grand."
De Thou was very much embarrassed during this conversation, and sought in
vain to understand what Cinq-Mars could have to do with the people, who
appeared to him merely merrymaking; on the other hand, he persisted in
not owning his ignorance. It was, however, complete; for the last time
he had seen his friend, he had spoken only of the King's horses and
stables, of hawking, and of the importance of the King's huntsmen in the
affairs of the State, which did not seem to announce vast projects in
which the people could take a part. He at last timidly ventured to say:
"Messieurs, I promise to do your commission; meanwhile, I offer you my
table and beds as long as you please. But to give my advice in this
matter is very difficult. By the way, it was not the fete of Sainte-
Barbe I saw this morning?"
"The Sainte-Barbe!" said Fournier.
"The Sainte-Barbe!" echoed Du Lude. "They burned powder."
"Oh, yes, yes! that is what Monsieur de Thou means," said Fournier,
laughing; "very good, very good indeed! Yes, I think to-day is Sainte-
De Thou was now altogether confused and reduced to silence; as for the
others, seeing that they did not understand him, nor he them, they had
recourse to silence.
They were sitting thus mute, when the door opened to admit the old tutor
of Cinq-Mars, the Abbe Quillet, who entered, limping slightly. He looked
very gloomy, retaining none of his former gayety in his air or language;
but his look was still animated, and his speech energetic.
"Pardon me, my dear De Thou, that I so early disturb you in your
occupations; it is strange, is it not, in a gouty invalid? Ah, time
advances; two years ago I did not limp. I was, on the contrary, nimble
enough at the time of my journey to Italy; but then fear gives legs as
well as wings."
Then, retiring into the recess of a window, he signed De Thou to come to
"I need hardly remind you, my friend, who are in their secrets, that I
affianced them a fortnight ago, as they have told you."
"Ah, indeed! Whom?" exclaimed poor De Thou, fallen from the Charybdis
into the Scylla of astonishment.
"Come, come, don't affect surprise; you know very well whom," continued
the Abbe. "But, faith, I fear I have been too complaisant with them,
though these two children are really interesting in their love. I fear
for him more than for her; I doubt not he is acting very foolishly,
judging from the disturbance this morning. We must consult together
"But," said De Thou, very gravely, "upon my honor, I do not know what you
mean. Who is acting foolishly?"
"Now, my dear Monsieur, will you still play the mysterious with me? It
is really insulting," said the worthy man, beginning to be angry.
"No, indeed, I mean it not; whom have you affianced?"
"Again! fie, Monsieur!"
"And what was the disturbance this morning?"
"You are laughing at me! I take my leave," said the Abbe, rising.
"I vow that I understand not a word of all that has been told me to-day.
Do you mean Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?"
"Very well, Monsieur, very well! you treat me as a Cardinalist; very
well, we part," said the Abbe Quillet, now altogether furious. And he
snatched up his crutch and quitted the room hastily, without listening to
De Thou, who followed him to his carriage, seeking to pacify him, but
without effect, because he did not wish to name his friend upon the
stairs in the hearing of his servants, and could not explain the matter
otherwise. He had the annoyance of seeing the old Abbe depart, still in
a passion; he called out to him amicably, "Tomorrow," as the coachman
drove off, but got no answer.
It was, however, not uselessly that he had descended to the foot of the
stairs, for he saw thence hideous groups of the mob returning from the
Louvre, and was thus better able to judge of the importance of their
movements in the morning; he heard rude voices exclaiming, as in triumph:
"She showed herself, however, the little Queen!" "Long live the good Duc
de Bouillon, who is coming to us! He has a hundred thousand men with
him, all on rafts on the Seine. The old Cardinal de la Rochelle is dead!
Long live the King! Long live Monsieur le Grand!"
The cries redoubled at the arrival of a carriage and four, with the royal
livery, which stopped at the counsellor's door, and in which De Thou
recognized the equipage of Cinq-Mars; Ambrosio alighted to open the ample
curtains, which the carriages of that period had for doors. The people
threw themselves between the carriage-steps and the door of the house, so
that Cinq-Mars had an absolute struggle ere he could get out and
disengage himself from the market-women, who sought to embrace him,
"Here you are, then, my sweet, my dear! Here you are, my pet! Ah, how
handsome he is, the love, with his big collar! Isn't he worth more than
the other fellow with the white moustache? Come, my son, bring us out
some good wine this morning."
Henri d'Effiat pressed, blushing deeply the while, his friend's hand,--
who hastened to have his doors closed.
"This popular favor is a cup one must drink," said he, as they ascended
"It appears to me," replied De Thou, gravely, "that you drink it even to
the very dregs."
"I will explain all this clamorous affair to you," answered Cinq-Mars,
somewhat embarrassed. "At present, if you love me, dress yourself to
accompany me to the Queen's toilette."
"I promised you blind adherence," said the counsellor; "but truly I can
not keep my eyes shut much longer if--"
"Once again, I will give you a full explanation as we return from the
Queen. But make haste; it is nearly ten o'clock."
"Well, I will go with you," replied De Thou, conducting him into his
cabinet, where were the Comte du Lude and Fournier, while he himself
passed into his dressing-room.
The carriage of the Grand Equerry was rolling rapidly toward the Louvre,
when, closing the curtain, he took his friend's hand, and said to him
"Dear De Thou, I have kept great secrets in my heart, and, believe me,
they have weighed heavily there; but two fears impelled me to silence--
that of your danger, and--shall I say it?--that of your counsels."
"Yet well you know," replied De Thou, "that I despise the first; and I
deemed that you did not despise the second."
"No, but I feared, and still fear them. I would not be stopped. Do not
speak, my friend; not a word, I conjure you, before you have heard and
seen all that is about to take place. I will return with you to your
house on quitting the Louvre; there I will listen to you, and thence I
shall depart to continue my work, for nothing will shake my resolve, I
warn you. I have just said so to the gentlemen at your house."
In his accent Cinq-Mars had nothing of the brusqueness which clothed his
words. His voice was conciliatory, his look gentle, amiable,
affectionate, his air as tranquil as it was determined. There was no
indication of the slightest effort at control. De Thou remarked it, and
Alighting from the carriage with him, De Thou followed him up the great
staircase of the Louvre. When they entered the Queen's apartment,
announced by two ushers dressed in black and bearing ebony rods, she was
seated at her toilette. This was a table of black wood, inlaid with
tortoiseshell, mother-of-pearl, and brass, in an infinity of designs of
very bad taste, but which give to all furniture an air of grandeur which
we still admire in it. A mirror, rounded at the top, which the ladies of
our time would consider small and insignificant, stood in the middle of
the table, whereon were scattered jewels and necklaces.
Anne of Austria, seated before it in a large armchair of crimson velvet,
with long gold fringe, was as motionless and grave as on her throne,
while Dona Stefania and Madame de Motteville, on either side, lightly
touched her beautiful blond hair with a comb, as if finishing the Queen's
coiffure, which, however, was already perfectly arranged and decorated
with pearls. Her long tresses, though light, were exquisitely glossy,
manifesting that to the touch they must be fine and soft as silk. The
daylight fell without a shade upon her forehead, which had no reason to
dread the test, itself reflecting an almost equal light from its
surpassing fairness, which the Queen was pleased thus to display. Her
blue eyes, blended with green, were large and regular, and her vermilion
mouth had that underlip of the princesses of Austria, somewhat prominent
and slightly cleft, in the form of a cherry, which may still be marked in
all the female portraits of this time, whose painters seemed to have
aimed at imitating the Queen's mouth, in order to please the women of her
suite, whose desire was, no doubt, to resemble her.
The black dress then adopted by the court, and of which the form was even
fixed by an edict, set off the ivory of her arms, bare to the elbow, and
ornamented with a profusion of lace, which flowed from her loose sleeves.
Large pearls hung in her ears and from her girdle. Such was the
appearance of the Queen at this moment. At her feet, upon two velvet
cushions, a boy of four years old was playing with a little cannon, which
he was assiduously breaking in pieces. This was the Dauphin, afterward
Louis XIV. The Duchesse Marie de Mantua was seated on her right hand
upon a stool. The Princesse de Guemenee, the Duchesse de Chevreuse, and
Mademoiselle de Montbazon, Mesdemoiselles de Guise, de Rohan, and de
Vendome, all beautiful and brilliant with youth, were behind her,
standing. In the recess of a window, Monsieur, his hat under his arm,
was talking in a low voice with a man, stout, with a red face and a
steady and daring eye. This was the Duc de Bouillon. An officer about
twenty-five years of age, well-formed, and of agreeable presence, had
just given several papers to the Prince, which the Duc de Bouillon
appeared to be explaining to him.
De Thou, after having saluted the Queen, who said a few words to him,
approached the Princesse de Guemenee, and conversed with her in an
undertone, with an air of affectionate intimacy, but all the while intent
upon his friend's interest. Secretly trembling lest he should have
confided his destiny to a being less worthy of him than he wished, he
examined the Princess Marie with the scrupulous attention, the
scrutinizing eye of a mother examining the woman whom her son has
selected for his bride--for he thought that Marie could not be altogether
a stranger to the enterprise of Cinq-Mars. He saw with dissatisfaction
that her dress, which was extremely elegant, appeared to inspire her with
more vanity than became her on such an occasion. She was incessantly
rearranging upon her forehead and her hair the rubies which ornamented
her head, and which scarcely equalled the brilliancy and animated color
of her complexion. She looked frequently at Cinq-Mars; but it was rather
the look of coquetry than that of love, and her eyes often glanced toward
the mirror on the toilette, in which she watched the symmetry of her
beauty. These observations of the counsellor began to persuade him that
he was mistaken in suspecting her to be the aim of Cinq-Mars, especially
when he saw that she seemed to have a pleasure in sitting at the Queen's
side, while the duchesses stood behind her, and that she often looked
haughtily at them.
"In that heart of nineteen," said he, "love, were there love, would reign
alone and above all to-day. It is not she!"
The Queen made an almost imperceptible movement of the head to Madame de
Guemenee. After the two friends had spoken a moment with each person
present, and at this sign, all the ladies, except Marie de Mantua, making
profound courtesies, quitted the apartment without speaking, as if by
previous arrangement. The Queen, then herself turning her chair, said to
"My brother, I beg you will come and sit down by me. We will consult
upon what I have already told you. The Princesse Marie will not be in
the way. I begged her to remain. We have no interruption to fear."
The Queen seemed more at ease in her manner and language; and no longer
preserving her severe and ceremonious immobility, she signed to the other
persons present to approach her.
Gaston d'Orleans, somewhat alarmed at this solemn opening, came
carelessly, sat down on her right hand, and said with a half-smile and a
negligent air, playing with his ruff and the chain of the Saint Esprit
which hung from his neck:
"I think, Madame, that we shall fatigue the ears of so young a personage
by a long conference. She would rather hear us speak of dances, and of
marriage, of an elector, or of the King of Poland, for example."
Marie assumed a disdainful air; Cinq-Mars frowned.
"Pardon me," replied the Queen, looking at her; "I assure you the
politics of the present time interest her much. Do not seek to escape
us, my brother," added she, smiling. "I have you to-day! It is the
least we can do to listen to Monsieur de Bouillon."
The latter approached, holding by the hand the young officer of whom we
"I must first," said he, "present to your Majesty the Baron de Beauvau,
who has just arrived from Spain."
"From Spain?" said the Queen, with emotion. "There is courage in that;
you have seen my family?"
"He will speak to you of them, and of the Count-Duke of Olivares. As to
courage, it is not the first time he has shown it. He commanded the
cuirassiers of the Comte de Soissons."
"How? so young, sir! You must be fond of political wars."
"On the contrary, your Majesty will pardon me," replied he, "for I served
with the princes of the peace."
Anne of Austria smiled at this jeu-de-mot. The Duc de Bouillon, seizing
the moment to bring forward the grand question he had in view, quitted
Cinq-Mars, to whom he had just given his hand with an air of the most
zealous friendship, and approaching the Queen with him, "It is
miraculous, Madame," said he, "that this period still contains in its
bosom some noble characters, such as these;" and he pointed to the master
of the horse, to young Beauvau, and to De Thou. "It is only in them that
we can place our hope for the future. Such men are indeed very rare now,
for the great leveller has swung a long scythe over France."
"Is it of Time you speak," said the Queen, "or of a real personage?"
"Too real, too living, too long living, Madame!" replied the Duke,
becoming more animated; "but his measureless ambition, his colossal
selfishness can no longer be endured. All those who have noble hearts
are indignant at this yoke; and at this moment, more than ever, we see
misfortunes threatening us in the future. It must be said, Madame--yes,
it is no longer time to blind ourselves to the truth, or to conceal it--
the King's illness is serious. The moment for thinking and resolving has
arrived, for the time to act is not far distant."
The severe and abrupt tone of M. de Bouillon did not surprise Anne of
Austria; but she had always seen him more calm, and was, therefore,
somewhat alarmed by the disquietude he betrayed. Quitting accordingly
the tone of pleasantry which she had at first adopted, she said:
"How! what fear you, and what would you do?"
"I fear nothing for myself, Madame, for the army of Italy or Sedan will
always secure my safety; but I fear for you, and perhaps for the princes,
"For my children, Monsieur le Duc, for the sons of France? Do you hear
him, my brother, and do you not appear astonished?"
The Queen was deeply agitated.
"No, Madame," said Gaston d'Orleans, calmly; "you know that I am
accustomed to persecution. I am prepared to expect anything from that
man. He is master; we must be resigned."
"He master!" exclaimed the Queen. "And from whom does he derive his
powers, if not from the King? And after the King, what hand will sustain
him? Can you tell me? Who will prevent him from again returning to
nothing? Will it be you or I?"
"It will be himself," interrupted M. de Bouillon, "for he seeks to be
named regent; and I know that at this moment he contemplates taking your
children from you, and requiring the King to confide them to his care."
"Take them from me!" cried the mother, involuntarily seizing the
Dauphin, and taking him in her arms.
The child, standing between the Queen's knees, looked at the men who
surrounded him with a gravity very singular for his age, and, seeing his
mother in tears, placed his hand upon the little sword he wore.
"Ah, Monseigneur," said the Duc de Bouillon, bending half down to address
to him what he intended for the Princess, "it is not against us that you
must draw your sword, but against him who is undermining your throne.
He prepares an empire for you, no doubt. You will have an absolute
sceptre; but he has scattered the fasces which indicated it. Those
fasces were your ancient nobility, whom he has decimated. When you are
king, you will be a great king. I foresee it; but you will have subjects
only, and no friends, for friendship exists only in independence and a
kind of equality which takes its rise in force. Your ancestors had their
peers; you will not have yours. May God aid you then, Monseigneur, for
man may not do it without institutions! Be great; but above all, around
you, a great man, let there be others as strong, so that if the one
stumbles, the whole monarchy may not fall."
The Duc de Bouillon had a warmth of expression and a confidence of manner
which captivated those who heard him. His valor, his keen perception in
the field, the profundity of his political views, his knowledge of the
affairs of Europe, his reflective and decided character, all rendered him
one of the most capable and imposing men of his time-the only one,
indeed, whom the Cardinal-Duc really feared. The Queen always listened
to him with confidence, and allowed him to acquire a sort of empire over
her. She was now more deeply moved than ever.
"Ah, would to God," she exclaimed, "that my son's mind was ripe for your
counsels, and his arm strong enough to profit by them! Until that time,
however, I will listen, I will act for him. It is I who should be, and
it is I who shall be, regent. I will not resign this right save with
life. If we must make war, we will make it; for I will do everything but
submit to the shame and terror of yielding up the future Louis XIV to
this crowned subject. Yes," she went on, coloring and closely pressing
the young Dauphin's arm, "yes, my brother, and you gentlemen, counsel me!
Speak! how do we stand? Must I depart? Speak openly. As a woman, as a
wife, I could have wept over so mournful a position; but now see, as a
mother, I do not weep. I am ready to give you orders if it is
Never had Anne of Austria looked so beautiful as at this moment; and the
enthusiasm she manifested electrified all those present, who needed but a
word from her mouth to speak. The Duc de Bouillon cast a glance at
Monsieur, which decided him.
"Ma foi!" said he, with deliberation, "if you give orders, my sister, I
will be the captain of your guards, on my honor, for I too am weary of
the vexations occasioned me by this knave. He continues to persecute me,
seeks to break off my marriage, and still keeps my friends in the
Bastille, or has them assassinated from time to time; and besides, I am
indignant," said he, recollecting himself and assuming a more solemn air,
"I am indignant at the misery of the people."
"My brother," returned the Princess, energetically, "I take you at your
word, for with you, one must do so; and I hope that together we shall be
strong enough for the purpose. Do only as Monsieur le Comte de Soissons
did, but survive your victory. Side with me, as you did with Monsieur de
Montmorency, but leap the ditch."
Gaston felt the point of this. He called to mind the well-known incident
when the unfortunate rebel of Castelnaudary leaped almost alone a large
ditch, and found on the other side seventeen wounds, a prison, and death
in the sight of Monsieur, who remained motionless with his army. In the
rapidity of the Queen's enunciation he had not time to examine whether
she had employed this expression proverbially or with a direct reference;
but at all events, he decided not to notice it, and was indeed prevented
from doing so by the Queen, who continued, looking at Cinq-Mars:
"But, above all, no panic-terror! Let us know exactly where we are,
Monsieur le Grand. You have just left the King. Is there fear with
D'Effiat had not ceased to observe Marie de Mantua, whose expressive
countenance exhibited to him all her ideas far more rapidly and more
surely than words. He read there the desire that he should speak--the
desire that he should confirm the Prince and the Queen. An impatient
movement of her foot conveyed to him her will that the thing should be
accomplished, the conspiracy arranged. His face became pale and more
pensive; he pondered for a moment, realizing that his destiny was
contained in that hour. De Thou looked at him and trembled, for he knew
him well. He would fain have said one word to him, only one word; but
Cinq-Mars had already raised his head. He spoke:
"I do not think, Madame, that the King is so ill as you suppose. God
will long preserve to us this Prince. I hope so; I am even sure of it.
He suffers, it is true, suffers much; but it is his soul more peculiarly
that is sick, and of an evil which nothing can cure--of an evil which one
would not wish to one's greatest enemy, and which would gain him the pity
of the whole world if it were known. The end of his misery--that is to
say, of his life--will not be granted him for a long time. His languor
is entirely moral. There is in his heart a great revolution going on;
he would accomplish it, and can not.
"The King has felt for many long years growing within him the seeds of a
just hatred against a man to whom he thinks he owes gratitude, and it is
this internal combat between his natural goodness and his anger that
devours him. Every year that has passed has deposited at his feet,
on one side, the great works of this man, and on the other, his crimes.
It is the last which now weigh down the balance. The King sees them and
is indignant; he would punish, but all at once he stops and weeps. If
you could witness him thus, Madame, you would pity him. I have seen him
seize the pen which was to sign his exile, dip it into the ink with a
bold hand, and use it--for what? --to congratulate him on some recent
success. He at once applauds himself for his goodness as a Christian,
curses himself for his weakness as a sovereign judge, despises himself as
a king. He seeks refuge in prayer, and plunges into meditation upon the
future; then he rises terrified because he has seen in thought the
tortures which this man merits, and how deeply no one knows better than
he. You should hear him in these moments accuse himself of criminal
weakness, and exclaim that he himself should be punished for not having
known how to punish. One would say that there are spirits which order
him to strike, for his arms are raised as he sleeps. In a word, Madame,
the storm murmurs in his heart, but burns none but himself. The
thunderbolts are chained."
"Well, then, let us loose them!" exclaimed the Duc de Bouillon.
"He who touches them may die of the contact," said Monsieur.
"But what a noble devotion!" cried the Queen.
"How I should admire the hero!" said Marie, in a half-whisper.
"I will do it," answered Cinq-Mars.
"We will do it," said M. de Thou, in his ear.
Young Beauvau had approached the Duc de Bouillon.
"Monsieur," said he, "do you forget what follows?"
"No, 'pardieu'! I do not forget it," replied the latter, in a low voice;
then, addressing the Queen, "Madame," said he, "accept the offer of
Monsieur le Grand. He is more in a position to sway the King than either
you or I; but hold yourself prepared, for the Cardinal is too wary to be
caught sleeping. I do not believe in his illness. I have no faith in
the silence and immobility of which he has sought to persuade us these
two years past. I would not believe in his death even, unless I had
myself thrown his head into the sea, like that of the giant in Ariosto.
Hold yourself ready to meet all contingencies, and let us, meanwhile,
hasten our operations. I have shown my plans to Monsieur just now; I
will give you a summary of them. I offer you Sedan, Madame, for
yourself, and for Messeigneurs, your sons. The army of Italy is mine; I
will recall it if necessary. Monsieur le Grand is master of half the
camp of Perpignan. All the old Huguenots of La Rochelle and the South
are ready to come to him at the first nod. All has been organized for a
year past, by my care, to meet events."
"I should not hesitate," said the Queen, "to place myself in your hands,
to save my children, if any misfortune should happen to the King. But in
this general plan you forget Paris."
"It is ours on every side; the people by the archbishop, without his
suspecting it, and by Monsieur de Beaufort, who is its king; the troops
by your guards and those of Monsieur, who shall be chief in command, if
"I! I! oh, that positively can not be! I have not enough people, and I
must have a retreat stronger than Sedan," said Gaston.
"It suffices for the Queen," replied M. de Bouillon.
"Ah, that may be! but my sister does not risk so much as a man who draws
the sword. Do you know that these are bold measures you propose?"
"What, even if we have the King on our side?" asked Anne of Austria.
"Yes, Madame, yes; we do not know how long that may last. We must make
ourselves sure; and I do nothing without the treaty with Spain."
"Do nothing, then," said the Queen, coloring deeply; "for certainly I
will never hear that spoken of."
"And yet, Madame, it were more prudent, and Monsieur is right," said the
Duc de Bouillon; "for the Count-Duke of San Lucra offers us seventeen
thousand men, tried troops, and five hundred thousand crowns in ready
"What!" exclaimed the Queen, with astonishment, "have you dared to
proceed so far without my consent? already treaties with foreigners!"
"Foreigners, my sister! could we imagine that a princess of Spain would
use that word?" said Gaston.
Anne of Austria rose, taking the Dauphin by the hand; and, leaning upon
Marie: "Yes, sir," she said, "I am a Spaniard; but I am the grand-
daughter of Charles V, and I know that a queen's country is where her
throne is. I leave you, gentlemen; proceed without me. I know nothing
of the matter for the future."
She advanced some steps, but seeing Marie pale and bathed in tears, she
"I will, however, solemnly promise you inviolable secrecy; but nothing
All were mentally disconcerted, except the Duc de Bouillon, who, not
willing to lose the advantages he had gained, said to the Queen, bowing
"We are grateful for this promise, Madame, and we ask no more, persuaded
that after the first success you will be entirely with us."
Not wishing to engage in a war of words, the Queen courtesied somewhat
less coldly, and quitted the apartment with Marie, who cast upon Cinq-
Mars one of those looks which comprehend at once all the emotions of the
soul. He seemed to read in her beautiful eyes the eternal and mournful
devotion of a woman who has given herself up forever; and he felt that if
he had once thought of withdrawing from his enterprise, he should now
have considered himself the basest of men.
As soon as the two princesses had disappeared, "There, there! I told you
so, Bouillon, you offended the Queen," said Monsieur; "you went too far.
You can not certainly accuse me of having been hesitating this morning.
I have, on the contrary, shown more resolution than I ought to have
"I am full of joy and gratitude toward her Majesty," said M. de Bouillon,
with a triumphant air; "we are sure of the future. What will you do now,
Monsieur de Cinq-Mars?"
"I have told you, Monsieur; I draw not back, whatever the consequences.
I will see the King; I will run every risk to obtain his assent."
"And the treaty with Spain?"
De Thou seized Cinq-Mars by the arm, and, advancing suddenly, said, with
a solemn air:
"We have decided that it shall be only signed after the interview with
the King; for should his Majesty's just severity toward the Cardinal
dispense with it, we have thought it better not to expose ourselves to
the discovery of so dangerous a treaty."
M. de Bouillon frowned.
"If I did not know Monsieur de Thou," said he, "I should have regarded
this as a defection; but from him--"
"Monsieur," replied the counsellor, "I think I may engage myself, on my
honor, to do all that Monsieur le Grand does; we are inseparable."
Cinq-Mars looked at his friend, and was astonished to see upon his mild
countenance the expression of sombre despair; he was so struck with it
that he had not the courage to gainsay him.
"He is right, gentlemen," he said with a cold but kindly smile; "the King
will perhaps spare us much trouble. We may do good things with him. For
the rest, Monseigneur, and you, Monsieur le Duc," he added with immovable
firmness, "fear not that I shall ever draw back. I have burned all the
bridges behind me. I must advance; the Cardinal's power shall fall, or
"It is strange, very strange!" said Monsieur; "I see that every one here
is farther advanced in the conspiracy than I imagined."
"Not so, Monsieur," said the Duc de Bouillon; "we prepared only that
which you might please to accept. Observe that there is nothing in
writing. You have but to speak, and nothing exists or ever has existed;
according to your order, the whole thing shall be a dream or a volcano."
"Well, well, I am content, if it must be so," said Gaston; "let us occupy
ourselves with more agreeable topics. Thank God, we have a little time
before us! I confess I wish that it were all over. I am not fitted for
violent emotions; they affect my health," he added, taking M. de
Beauvau's arm. "Tell us if the Spanish women are still pretty, young
man. It is said you are a great gallant among them. 'Tudieu'! I'm sure
you've got yourself talked of there. They tell me the women wear
enormous petticoats. Well, I am not at all against that; they make the
foot look smaller and prettier. I'm sure the wife of Don Louis de Haro
is not handsomer than Madame de Guemenee, is she? Come, be frank; I'm
told she looks like a nun. Ah! you do not answer; you are embarrassed.
She has then taken your fancy; or you fear to offend our friend Monsieur
de Thou in comparing her with the beautiful Guemenee. Well, let's talk
of the customs; the King has a charming dwarf I'm told, and they put him
in a pie. He is a fortunate man, that King of Spain! I don't know
another equally so. And the Queen, she is still served on bended knee,
is she not? Ah! that is a good custom; we have lost it. It is very
unfortunate--more unfortunate than may be supposed."
And Gaston d'Orleans had the confidence to speak in this tone nearly half
an hour, with a young man whose serious character was not at all adapted
to such conversation, and who, still occupied with the importance of the
scene he had just witnessed and the great interests which had been
discussed, made no answer to this torrent of idle words. He looked at
the Duc de Bouillon with an astonished air, as if to ask him whether this
was really the man whom they were going to place at the head of the most
audacious enterprise that had ever been launched; while the Prince,
without appearing to perceive that he remained unanswered, replied to
himself, speaking with volubility, as he drew him gradually out of the
room. He feared that one of the gentlemen present might recommence the
terrible conversation about the treaty; but none desired to do so, unless
it were the Duc de Bouillon, who, however, preserved an angry silence.
As for Cinq-Mars, he had been led away by De Thou, under cover of the
chattering of Monsieur, who took care not to appear to notice their
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A queen's country is where her throne is
All that he said, I had already thought
Always the first word which is the most difficult to say
Dare now to be silent when I have told you these things
Daylight is detrimental to them
Friendship exists only in independence and a kind of equality
I have burned all the bridges behind me
In pitying me he forgot himself
In times like these we must see all and say all
Reproaches are useless and cruel if the evil is done
Should be punished for not having known how to punish
Tears for the future
The great leveller has swung a long scythe over France
The most in favor will be the soonest abandoned by him
This popular favor is a cup one must drink
This was the Dauphin, afterward Louis XIV
By ALFRED DE VIGNY
De Thou had reached home with his friend; his doors were carefully shut,
and orders given to admit no one, and to excuse him to the refugees for
allowing them to depart without seeing them again; and as yet the two
friends had not spoken to each other.
The counsellor had thrown himself into his armchair in deep meditation.
Cinq-Mars, leaning against the lofty chimneypiece, awaited with a serious
and sorrowful air the termination of this silence. At length De Thou,
looking fixedly at him and crossing his arms, said in a hollow and
"This, then, is the goal you have reached! These, the consequences of
your ambition! You are are about to banish, perhaps slay, a man, and to
bring then, a foreign army into France; I am, then, to see you an
assassin and a traitor to your country! By what tortuous paths have you
arrived thus far? By what stages have you descended so low?"
"Any other than yourself would not speak thus to me twice," said Cinq-
Mars, coldly; "but I know you, and I like this explanation. I desired
it, and sought it. You shall see my entire soul. I had at first another
thought, a better one perhaps, more worthy of our friendship, more worthy
of friendship--friendship, the second thing upon earth."
He raised his eyes to heaven as he spoke, as if he there sought the
"Yes, it would have been better. I intended to have said nothing to you
on the subject. It was a painful task to keep silence; but hitherto I
have succeeded. I wished to have conducted the whole enterprise without
you; to show you only the finished work. I wished to keep you beyond the
circle of my danger; but shall I confess my weakness? I feared to die,
if I have to die, misjudged by you. I can well sustain the idea of the
world's malediction, but not of yours; but this has decided me upon
avowing all to you."
"What! and but for this thought, you would have had the courage to
conceal yourself forever from me? Ah, dear Henri, what have I done that
you should take this care of my life? By what fault have I deserved to
survive you, if you die? You have had the strength of mind to hoodwink
me for two whole years; you have never shown me aught of your life but
its flowers; you have never entered my solitude but with a joyous
countenance, and each time with a fresh favor. Ah, you must be very
guilty or very virtuous!"
"Do not seek in my soul more than therein lies. Yes, I have deceived
you; and that fact was the only peace and joy I had in the world.
Forgive me for having stolen these moments from my destiny, so brilliant,
alas! I was happy in the happiness you supposed me to enjoy; I made you
happy in that dream, and I am only guilty in that I am now about to
destroy it, and to show myself as I was and am. Listen: I shall not
detain you long; the story of an impassioned heart is ever simple. Once
before, I remember, in my tent when I was wounded, my secret nearly
escaped me; it would have been happy, perhaps, had it done so. Yet what
would counsel have availed me? I should not have followed it. In a
word, 'tis Marie de Mantua whom I love."
"How! she who is to be Queen of Poland?"
"If she is ever queen, it can only be after my death. But listen: for
her I became a courtier; for her I have almost reigned in France; for her
I am about to fall--perhaps to die."
"Die! fall! when I have been reproaching your triumph! when I have
wept over the sadness of your victory!"
"Ah! you know me but ill, if you suppose that I shall be the dupe of
Fortune, when she smiles upon me; if you suppose that I have not pierced
to the bottom of my destiny! I struggle against it, but 'tis the
stronger I feel it. I have undertaken a task beyond human power; and I
shall fail in it."
"Why, then, not stop? What is the use of intellect in the business of
"None; unless, indeed, it be to tell us the cause of our fall, and to
enable us to foresee the day on which we shall fall. I can not now
recede. When a man is confronted with such an enemy as Richelieu, he
must overcome him or be crushed by him. Tomorrow I shall strike the last
blow; did I not just now, in your presence, engage to do so?"
"And it is that very engagement that I would oppose. What confidence
have you in those to whom you thus abandon your life? Have you not read
their secret thoughts?"
"I know them all; I have read their hopes through their feigned rage;
I know that they tremble while they threaten. I know that even now they
are ready to make their peace by giving me up; but it is my part to
sustain them and to decide the King. I must do it, for Marie is my
betrothed, and my death is written at Narbonne. It is voluntarily, it is
with full knowledge of my fate, that I have thus placed myself between
the block and supreme happiness. That happiness I must tear from the
hands of Fortune, or die on that scaffold. At this instant I experience
the joy of having broken down all doubt. What! blush you not at having
thought me ambitious from a base egoism, like this Cardinal--ambitious
from a puerile desire for a power which is never satisfied? I am
ambitious, but it is because I love. Yes, I love; in that word all is
comprised. But I accuse you unjustly. You have embellished my secret
intentions; you have imparted to me noble designs (I remember them), high
political conceptions. They are brilliant, they are grand, doubtless;
but--shall I say it to you?--such vague projects for the perfecting of
corrupt societies seem to me to crawl far below the devotion of love.
When the whole soul vibrates with that one thought, it has no room for
the nice calculation of general interests; the topmost heights of earth
are far beneath heaven."
De Thou shook his head.
"What can I answer?" he said. "I do not understand you; your reasoning
unreasons you. You hunt a shadow."
"Nay," continued Cinq-Mars; "far from destroying my strength, this inward
fire has developed it. I have calculated everything. Slow steps have
led me to the end which I am about to attain. Marie drew me by the hand;
could I retreat? I would not have done it though a world faced me.
Hitherto, all has gone well; but an invisible barrier arrests me. This
barrier must be broken; it is Richelieu. But now in your presence I
undertook to do this; but perhaps I was too hasty. I now think I was so.
Let him rejoice; he expected me. Doubtless he foresaw that it would be
the youngest whose patience would first fail. If he played on this
calculation, he played well. Yet but for the love that has urged me on,
I should have been stronger than he, and by just means."
Then a sudden change came over the face of Cinq-Mars. He turned pale and
red twice; and the veins of his forehead rose like blue lines drawn by an
"Yes," he added, rising, and clasping together his hands with a force
which indicated the violent despair concentred in his heart, "all the
torments with which love can tear its victims I have felt in my breast.
This timid girl, for whom I would shake empires, for whom I have suffered
all, even the favor of a prince, who perhaps has not felt all I have done
for her, can not yet be mine. She is mine before God, yet I am estranged
from her; nay, I must hear daily discussed before me which of the thrones
of Europe will best suit her, in conversations wherein I may not even
raise my voice to give an opinion, and in which they scorn as mate for
her princes of the blood royal, who yet have precedence far before me.
I must conceal myself like a culprit to hear through a grating the voice
of her who is my wife; in public I must bow before her--her husband,
yet her servant! 'Tis too much; I can not live thus. I must take the
last step, whether it elevate me or hurl me down."
"And for your personal happiness you would overthrow a State?"
"The happiness of the State is one with mine. I secure that undoubtedly
in destroying the tyrant of the King. The horror with which this man
inspires me has passed into my very blood. When I was first on my way to
him, I encountered in my journey his greatest crime. He is the genius of
evil for the unhappy King! I will exorcise him. I might have become the
genius of good for Louis XIII. It was one of the thoughts of Marie, her
most cherished thought. But I do not think I shall triumph in the uneasy
soul of the Prince."
"Upon what do you rely, then?" said De Thou.
"Upon the cast of a die. If his will can but once last for a few hours,
I have gained. 'Tis a last calculation on which my destiny hangs."
"And that of your Marie!"
"Could you suppose it?" said Cinq-Mars, impetuously. "No, no! If he
abandons me, I sign the treaty with Spain, and then-war!"
"Ah, horror!" exclaimed the counsellor. "What, a war! a civil war, and
a foreign alliance!"
"Ay, 'tis a crime," said Cinq-Mars, coldly; "but have I asked you to
participate in it?"
"Cruel, ungrateful man!" replied his friend; "can you speak to me thus?
Know you not, have I not proved to you, that friendship holds the place
of every passion in my heart? Can I survive the least of your
misfortunes, far less your death. Still, let me influence you not to
strike France. Oh, my friend! my only friend! I implore you on my
knees, let us not thus be parricides; let us not assassinate our country!
I say us, because I will never separate myself from your actions.
Preserve to me my self-esteem, for which I have labored so long; sully
not my life and my death, which are both yours."
De Thou had fallen at the feet of his friend, who, unable to preserve his
affected coldness, threw himself into his arms, as he raised him, and,
pressing him to his heart, said in a stifled voice:
"Why love me thus? What have you done, friend? Why love me? You who
are wise, pure, and virtuous; you who are not led away by an insensate
passion and the desire for vengeance; you whose soul is nourished only by
religion and science--why love me? What has my friendship given you but
anxiety and pain? Must it now heap dangers on you? Separate yourself
from me; we are no longer of the same nature. You see courts have
corrupted me. I have no longer openness, no longer goodness. I meditate
the ruin of a man; I can deceive a friend. Forget me, scorn me. I am
not worthy of one of your thoughts; how should I be worthy of your
"By swearing to me not to betray the King and France," answered De Thou.
"Know you that the preservation of your country is at stake; that if you
yield to Spain our fortifications, she will never return them to us; that
your name will be a byword with posterity; that French mothers will curse
it when they shall be forced to teach their children a foreign language--
know you all this? Come."
And he drew him toward the bust of Louis XIII.
"Swear before him (he is your friend also), swear never to sign this
Cinq-Mars lowered his eyes, but with dogged tenacity answered, although
blushing as he did so:
"I have said it; if they force me to it, I will sign."
De Thou turned pale, and let fall his hand. He took two turns in his
room, his arms crossed, in inexpressible anguish. At last he advanced
solemnly toward the bust of his father, and opened a large book standing
at its foot; he turned to a page already marked, and read aloud:
"I think, therefore, that M. de Ligneboeuf was justly condemned to death
by the Parliament of Rouen, for not having revealed the conspiracy of
Catteville against the State."
Then keeping the book respectfully opened in his hand, and contemplating
the image of the President de Thou, whose Memoirs he held, he continued:
"Yes, my father, you thought well.... I shall be a criminal, I shall
merit death; but can I do otherwise? I will not denounce this traitor,
because that also would be treason; and he is my friend, and he is
Then, advancing toward Cinq-Mars, and again taking his hand, he said:
"I do much for you in acting thus; but expect nothing further from me,
Monsieur, if you sign this treaty."
Cinq-Mars was moved to the heart's core by this scene, for he felt all
that his friend must suffer in casting him off. Checking, however, the
tears which were rising to his smarting lids, and embracing De Thou
tenderly, he exclaimed:
"Ah, De Thou, I find you still perfect. Yes, you do me a service in
alienating yourself from me, for if your lot had been linked to mine,
I should not have dared to dispose of my life. I should have hesitated
to sacrifice it in case of need; but now I shall assuredly do so. And I
repeat to you, if they force me, I shall sign the treaty with Spain."
THE HUNTING PARTY
Meanwhile the illness of Louis XIII threw France into the apprehension
which unsettled States ever feel on the approach of the death of princes.
Although Richelieu was the hub of the monarchy, he reigned only in the
name of Louis, though enveloped with the splendor of the name which he
had assumed. Absolute as he was over his master, Richelieu still feared
him; and this fear reassured the nation against his ambitious desires,
to which the King himself was the fixed barrier. But this prince dead,
what would the imperious minister do? Where would a man stop who had
already dared so much? Accustomed to wield the sceptre, who would prevent
him from still holding it, and from subscribing his name alone to laws
which he alone would dictate? These fears agitated all minds. The
people in vain looked throughout the kingdom for those pillars of the
nobility, at the feet of whom they had been wont to find shelter in
political storms. They now only saw their recent tombs. Parliament was
dumb; and men felt that nothing could be opposed to the monstrous growth
of the Cardinal's usurping power. No one was entirely deceived by the
affected sufferings of the minister. None was touched with that feigned
agony which had too often deceived the public hope; and distance nowhere
prevented the weight of the dreaded 'parvenu' from being felt.
The love of the people soon revived toward the son of Henri IV. They
hastened to the churches; they prayed, and even wept. Unfortunate
princes are always loved. The melancholy of Louis, and his mysterious
sorrow interested all France; still living, they already regretted him,
as if each man desired to be the depositary of his troubles ere he
carried away with him the grand mystery of what is suffered by men placed
so high that they can see nothing before them but their tomb.
The King, wishing to reassure the whole nation, announced the temporary
reestablishment of his health, and ordered the court to prepare for a
grand hunting party to be given at Chambord--a royal domain, whither his
brother, the Duc d'Orleans, prayed him to return.
This beautiful abode was the favorite retreat of Louis, doubtless
because, in harmony with his feelings, it combined grandeur with sadness.
He often passed whole months there, without seeing any one whatsoever,
incessantly reading and re-reading mysterious papers, writing unknown
documents, which he locked up in an iron coffer, of which he alone had
the key. He sometimes delighted in being served by a single domestic,
and thus so to forget himself by the absence of his suite as to live for
many days together like a poor man or an exiled citizen, loving to figure
to himself misery or persecution, in order the better to enjoy royalty
afterward. Another time he would be in a more entire solitude; and
having forbidden any human creature to approach him, clothed in the habit
of a monk, he would shut himself up in the vaulted chapel. There,
reading the life of Charles V, he would imagine himself at St. Just, and
chant over himself that mass for the dead which brought death upon the
head of the Spanish monarch.
But in the midst of these very chants and meditations his feeble mind was
pursued and distracted by contrary images. Never did life and the world
appear to him more fair than in such times of solitude among the tombs.
Between his eyes and the page which he endeavored to read passed
brilliant processions, victorious armies, or nations transported with
love. He saw himself powerful, combating, triumphant, adored; and if a
ray of the sun through the large windows fell upon him, suddenly rising
from the foot of the altar, he felt himself carried away by a thirst for
daylight and the open air, which led him from his gloomy retreat. But
returned to real life, he found there once more disgust and ennui, for
the first men he met recalled his power to his recollection by their
It was then that he believed in friendship, and summoned it to his side;
but scarcely was he certain of its possession than unconquerable scruples
suddenly seized upon his soul-scruples concerning a too powerful
attachment to the creature, turning him from the Creator, and frequently
inward reproaches for removing himself too much from the affairs of the
State. The object of his momentary affection then seemed to him a
despotic being, whose power drew him from his duties; but, unfortunately
for his favorites, he had not the strength of mind outwardly to manifest
toward them the resentment he felt, and thus to warn them of their
danger, but, continuing to caress them, he added by this constraint fuel
to the secret fire of his heart, and was impelled to an absolute hatred
of them. There were moments when he was capable of taking any measures
Cinq-Mars knew perfectly the weakness of that mind, which could not keep
firmly in any path, and the weakness of a heart which could neither
wholly love nor wholly hate. Thus, the position of favorite, the envy of
all France, the object of jealousy even on the part of the great
minister, was so precarious and so painful that, but for his love, he
would have burst his golden chains with greater joy than a galley-slave
feels when he sees the last ring that for two long years he has been
filing with a steel spring concealed in his mouth, fall to the earth.
This impatience to meet the fate he saw so near hastened the explosion of
that patiently prepared mine, as he had declared to his friend; but his
situation was that of a man who, placed by the side of the book of life,
should see hovering over it the hand which is to indite his damnation or
his salvation. He set out with Louis to Chambord, resolved to take the
first opportunity favorable to his design. It soon presented itself.
The very morning of the day appointed for the chase, the King sent word
to him that he was waiting for him on the Escalier du Lys. It may not,
perhaps, be out of place to speak of this astonishing construction.
Four leagues from Blois, and one league from the Loire, in a small and
deep valley, between marshy swamps and a forest of large holm-oaks,
far from any highroad, the traveller suddenly comes upon a royal, nay,
a magic castle. It might be said that, compelled by some wonderful lamp,
a genie of the East had carried it off during one of the "thousand and
one nights," and had brought it from the country of the sun to hide it in
the land of fogs and mist, for the dwelling of the mistress of a handsome
Hidden like a treasure; with its blue domes, its elegant minarets rising
from thick walls or shooting into the air, its long terraces overlooking
the wood, its light spires bending with the wind, its terraces everywhere
rising over its colonnades, one might there imagine one's self in the
kingdom of Bagdad or of Cashmir, did not the blackened walls, with their
covering of moss and ivy, and the pallid and melancholy hue of the sky,
denote a rainy climate. It was indeed a genius who raised this building;
but he came from Italy, and his name was Primaticcio. It was indeed a
handsome prince whose amours were concealed in it; but he was a king, and
he bore the name of Francois I. His salamander still spouts fire
everywhere about it. It sparkles in a thousand places on the arched
roofs, and multiplies the flames there like the stars of heaven; it
supports the capitals with burning crowns; it colors the windows with its
fires; it meanders up and down the secret staircases, and everywhere
seems to devour with its flaming glances the triple crescent of a
mysterious Diane--that Diane de Poitiers, twice a goddess and twice
adored in these voluptuous woods.
The base of this strange monument is like the monument itself, full of
elegance and mystery; there is a double staircase, which rises in two
interwoven spirals from the most remote foundations of the edifice up to
the highest points, and ends in a lantern or small lattice-work cabinet,
surmounted by a colossal fleur-de-lys, visible from a great distance.
Two men may ascend it at the same moment, without seeing each other.
This staircase alone seems like a little isolated temple. Like our
churches, it is sustained and protected by the arcades of its thin,
light, transparent, openwork wings. One would think the docile stone had
given itself to the finger of the architect; it seems, so to speak,
kneaded according to the slightest caprice of his imagination. One can
hardly conceive how the plans were traced, in what terms the orders were
explained to the workmen. The whole thing appears a transient thought,
a brilliant revery that at once assumed a durable form---the realization
of a dream.
Cinq-Mars was slowly ascending the broad stairs which led him to the
King's presence, and stopping longer at each step, in proportion as he
approached him, either from disgust at the idea of seeing the Prince
whose daily complaints he had to hear, or thinking of what he was about
to do, when the sound of a guitar struck his ear. He recognized the
beloved instrument of Louis and his sad, feeble, and trembling voice
faintly reechoing from the vaulted ceiling. Louis seemed trying one of
those romances which he was wont to compose, and several times repeated
an incomplete strain with a trembling hand. The words could scarcely be
distinguished; all that Cinq-Mars heard were a few such as 'Abandon,
ennui de monde, et belle flamme.
The young favorite shrugged his shoulders as he listened.
"What new chagrin moves thee?" he said. "Come, let me again attempt to
read that chilled heart which thinks it needs something."
He entered the narrow cabinet.
Clothed in black, half reclining on a couch, his elbows resting upon
pillows, the Prince was languidly touching the chords of his guitar; he
ceased this when he saw the grand ecuyer enter, and, raising his large
eyes to him with an air of reproach, swayed his head to and fro for a
long time without speaking. Then in a plaintive but emphatic tone, he
"What do I hear, Cinq-Mars? What do I hear of your conduct? How much
you do pain me by forgetting all my counsels! You have formed a guilty
intrigue; was it from you I was to expect such things--you whom I so
loved for your piety and virtue?"
Full of his political projects, Cinq-Mars thought himself discovered, and
could not help a momentary anxiety; but, perfectly master of himself, he
answered without hesitation:
"Yes, Sire; and I was about to declare it to you, for I am accustomed to
open my soul to you."
"Declare it to me!" exclaimed the King, turning red and white, as under
the shivering of a fever; "and you dare to contaminate my ears with these
horrible avowals, Monsieur, and to speak so calmly of your disorder! Go!
you deserve to be condemned to the galley, like Rondin; it is a crime of
high treason you have committed in your want of faith toward me. I had
rather you were a coiner, like the Marquis de Coucy, or at the head of
the Croquants, than do as you have done; you dishonor your family, and
the memory of the marechal your father."
Cinq-Mars, deeming himself wholly lost, put the best face he could upon
the matter, and said with an air of resignation:
"Well, then, Sire, send me to be judged and put to death; but spare me
"Do you insult me, you petty country-squire?" answered Louis. "I know
very well that you have not incurred the penalty of death in the eyes of
men; but it is at the tribunal of God, Monsieur, that you will be
"Heavens, Sire!" replied the impetuous young man, whom the insulting
phrase of the King had offended, "why do you not allow me to return to
the province you so much despise, as I have sought to do a hundred times?
I will go there. I can not support the life I lead with you; an angel
could not bear it. Once more, let me be judged if I am guilty, or allow
me to return to Touraine. It is you who have ruined me in attaching me
to your person. If you have caused me to conceive lofty hopes, which you
afterward overthrew, is that my fault? Wherefore have you made me grand
ecuyer, if I was not to rise higher? In a word, am I your friend or not?
and, if I am, why may I not be duke, peer, or even constable, as well as
Monsieur de Luynes, whom you loved so much because he trained falcons for
you? Why am I not admitted to the council? I could speak as well as any
of the old ruffs there; I have new ideas, and a better arm to serve you.
It is your Cardinal who has prevented you from summoning me there. And
it is because he keeps you from me that I detest him," continued Cinq-
Mars, clinching his fist, as if Richelieu stood before him; "yes, I would
kill him with my own hand, if need were."
D'Effiat's eyes were inflamed with anger; he stamped his foot as he
spoke, and turned his back to the King, like a sulky child, leaning
against one of the columns of the cupola.
Louis, who recoiled before all resolution, and who was always terrified
by the irreparable, took his hand.
O weakness of power! O caprices of the human heart! it was by this
childish impetuosity, these very defects of his age, that this young man
governed the King of France as effectually as did the first politician of
the time. This Prince believed, and with some show of reason, that a
character so hasty must be sincere; and even his fiery rage did not anger
him. It did not apply to the real subject of his reproaches, and he
could well pardon him for hating the Cardinal. The very idea of his
favorite's jealousy of the minister pleased him, because it indicated
attachment; and all he dreaded was his indifference. Cinq-Mars knew
this, and had desired to make it a means of escape, preparing the King to
regard all that he had done as child's play, as the consequence of his
friendship for him; but the danger was not so great, and he breathed
freely when the Prince said to him:
"The Cardinal is not in question here. I love him no more than you do;
but it is with your scandalous conduct I reproach you, and which I shall
have much difficulty to pardon in you. What, Monsieur! I learn that
instead of devoting yourself to the pious exercises to which I have
accustomed you, when I fancy you are at your Salut or your Angelus--you
are off from Saint Germain, and go to pass a portion of the night--with
whom? Dare I speak of it without sin? With a woman lost in reputation,
who can have no relations with you but such as are pernicious to the
safety of your soul, and who receives free-thinkers at her house--in a
word, Marion de Lorme. What have you to say? Speak."
Leaving his hand in that of the King, but still leaning against the
column, Cinq-Mars answered:
"Is it then so culpable to leave grave occupations for others more
serious still? If I go to the house of Marion de Lorme, it is to hear
the conversation of the learned men who assemble there. Nothing is more
harmless than these meetings. Readings are given there which, it is
true, sometimes extend far into the night, but which commonly tend to
exalt the soul, so far from corrupting it. Besides, you have never
commanded me to account to you for all that I do; I should have informed
you of this long ago if you had desired it."
"Ah, Cinq-Mars, Cinq-Mars! where is your confidence? Do you feel no need
of it? It is the first condition of a perfect friendship, such as ours
ought to be, such as my heart requires."
The voice of Louis became more affectionate, and the favorite, looking at
him over his shoulder, assumed an air less angry, but still simply
ennuye, and resigned to listening to him.
"How often have you deceived me!" continued the King; "can I trust
myself to you? Are they not fops and gallants whom you meet at the house
of this woman? Do not courtesans go there?"
"Heavens! no, Sire; I often go there with one of my friends--a gentleman
of Touraine, named Rene Descartes."
"Descartes! I know that name! Yes, he is an officer who distinguished
himself at the siege of Rochelle, and who dabbles in writing; he has a
good reputation for piety, but he is connected with Desbarreaux, who is a
free-thinker. I am sure that you must mix with many persons who are not
fit company for you, many young men without family, without birth. Come,
tell me whom saw you last there?"
"Truly, I can scarcely remember their names," said Cinq-Mars, looking at
the ceiling; "sometimes I do not even ask them. There was, in the first
place, a certain Monsieur--Monsieur Groot, or Grotius, a Hollander."
"I know him, a friend of Barnevelt; I pay him a pension. I liked him
well enough; but the Card--but I was told that he was a high Calvinist."
"I also saw an Englishman, named John Milton; he is a young man just come
from Italy, and is returning to London. He scarcely speaks at all."
"I don't know him--not at all; but I'm sure he's some other Calvinist.
And the Frenchmen, who were they?"
"The young man who wrote Cinna, and who has been thrice rejected at the
Academie Francaise; he was angry that Du Royer occupied his place there.
He is called Corneille."
"Well," said the King, folding his arms, and looking at him with an air
of triumph and reproach, "I ask you who are these people? Is it in such
a circle that you ought to be seen?"
Cinq-Mars was confounded at this observation, which hurt his self-pride,
and, approaching the King, he said:
"You are right, Sire; but there can be no harm in passing an hour or two
in listening to good conversation. Besides, many courtiers go there,
such as the Duc de Bouillon, Monsieur d'Aubijoux, the Comte de Brion, the
Cardinal de la Vallette, Messieurs de Montresor, Fontrailles; men
illustrious in the sciences, as Mairet, Colletet, Desmarets, author of
Araine; Faret, Doujat, Charpentier, who wrote the Cyropedie; Giry,
Besons, and Baro, the continuer of Astree--all academicians."
"Ah! now, indeed, here are men of real merit," said Louis; "there is
nothing to be said against them. One can not but gain from their
society. Theirs are settled reputations; they're men of weight. Come,
let us make up; shake hands, child. I permit you to go there sometimes,
but do not deceive me any more; you see I know all. Look at this."
So saying, the King took from a great iron chest set against the wall
enormous packets of paper scribbled over with very fine writing.
Upon one was written, Baradas, upon another, D'Hautefort, upon a third,
La Fayette, and finally, Cinq-Mars. He stopped at the latter, and
"See how many times you have deceived me! These are the continual faults
of which I have myself kept a register during the two years I have known
you; I have written out our conversations day by day. Sit down."
Cinq-Mars obeyed with a sigh, and had the patience for two long hours to
listen to a summary of what his master had had the patience to write
during the course of two years. He yawned many times during the reading,
as no doubt we should all do, were it needful to report this dialogue,
which was found in perfect order, with his will, at the death of the
King. We shall only say that he finished thus:
"In fine, hear what you did on the seventh of December, three days ago.
I was speaking to you of the flight of the hawk, and of the knowledge of
hunting, in which you are deficient. I said to you, on the authority of
La Chasse Royale, a work of King Charles IX, that after the hunter has
accustomed his dog to follow a beast, he must consider him as of himself
desirous of returning to the wood, and the dog must not be rebuked or
struck in order to make him follow the track well; and that in order to
teach a dog to set well, creatures that are not game must not be allowed
to pass or run, nor must any scents be missed, without putting his nose
"Hear what you replied to me (and in a tone of ill-humor--mind that!) 'Ma
foi! Sire, give me rather regiments to conduct than birds and dogs. I
am sure that people would laugh at you and me if they knew how we occupy
ourselves.' And on the eighth--wait, yes, on the eighth--while we were
singing vespers together in my chambers, you threw your book angrily into
the fire, which was an impiety; and afterward you told me that you had
let it drop--a sin, a mortal sin. See, I have written below, lie,
underlined. People never deceive me, I assure you."
"Wait a moment! wait a moment! In the evening you told me the Cardinal
had burned a man unjustly, and out of personal hatred."
"And I repeat it, and maintain it, and will prove it, Sire. It is the
greatest crime of all of that man whom you hesitate to disgrace, and who
renders you unhappy. I myself saw all, heard, all, at Loudun. Urbain
Grandier was assassinated, rather than tried. Hold, Sire, since you have
there all those memoranda in your own hand, merely reperuse the proofs
which I then gave you of it."
Louis, seeking the page indicated, and going back to the journey from
Perpignan to Paris, read the whole narrative with attention, exclaiming:
"What horrors! How is it that I have forgotten all this? This man
fascinates me; that's certain. You are my true friend, Cinq-Mars. What
horrors! My reign will be stained by them. What! he prevented the
letters of all the nobility and notables of the district from reaching
me! Burn, burn alive! without proofs! for revenge! A man, a people
have invoked my name in vain; a family curses me! Oh, how unhappy are
And the Prince, as he concluded, threw aside his papers and wept.
"Ah, Sire, those are blessed tears that you weep!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars,
with sincere admiration. "Would that all France were here with me! She
would be astonished at this spectacle, and would scarcely believe it."
"Astonished! France, then, does not know me?"
"No, Sire," said D'Effiat, frankly; "no one knows you. And I myself,
with the rest of the world, at times accuse you of coldness and
"Of coldness, when I am dying with sorrow! Of coldness, when I have
immolated myself to their interests! Ungrateful nation! I have
sacrificed all to it, even pride, even the happiness of guiding it
myself, because I feared on its account for my fluctuating life. I have
given my sceptre to be borne by a man I hate, because I believed his hand
to be stronger than my own. I have endured the ill he has done to
myself, thinking that he did good to my people. I have hidden my own
tears to dry theirs; and I see that my sacrifice has been even greater
than I thought it, for they have not perceived it. They have believed me
incapable because I was kind, and without power because I mistrusted my
own. But, no matter! God sees and knows me!"
"Ah, Sire, show yourself to France such as you are; reassume your usurped
power. France will do for your love what she would never do from fear.
Return to life, and reascend the throne."
"No, no; my life is well-nigh finished, my dear friend. I am no longer
capable of the labor of supreme command.'"
"Ah, Sire, this persuasion alone destroys your vigor. It is time that
men should cease to confound power with crime, and call this union genius.
Let your voice be heard proclaiming to the world that the reign of virtue
is about to begin with your own; and hence forth those enemies whom vice
has so much difficulty in suppressing will fall before a word uttered from
your heart. No one has as yet calculated all that the good faith of a king
of France may do for his people--that people who are drawn so
instantaneously to ward all that is good and beautiful, by their
imagination and warmth of soul, and who are always ready with every kind
of devotion. The King, your father, led us with a smile. What would not
one of your tears do?"
During this address the King, very much surprised, frequently reddened,
hemmed, and gave signs of great embarrassment, as always happened when
any attempt was made to bring him to a decision. He also felt the
approach of a conversation of too high an order, which the timidity of
his soul forbade him to venture upon; and repeatedly putting his hand to
his chest, knitting his brows as if suffering violent pain, he endeavored
to relieve himself by the apparent attack of illness from the
embarrassment of answering. But, either from passion, or from a
resolution to strike the crowning blow, Cinq-Mars went on calmly and with
a solemnity that awed Louis, who, forced into his last intrenchments, at
"But, Cinq-Mars, how can I rid myself of a minister who for eighteen
years past has surrounded me with his creatures?"
"He is not so very powerful," replied the grand ecuyer; "and his friends
will be his most sure enemies if you but make a sign of your head. The
ancient league of the princes of peace still exists, Sire, and it is only
the respect due to the choice of your Majesty that prevents it from
"Ah, mon Dieu! thou mayst tell them not to stop on my account. I would
not restrain them; they surely do not accuse me of being a Cardinalist.
If my brother will give me the means of replacing Richelieu, I will adopt
them with all my heart."
"I believe, Sire, that he will to-day speak to you of Monsieur le Duc de
Bouillon. All the Royalists demand him."
"I don't dislike him," said the King, arranging his pillows; "I don't
dislike him at all, although he is somewhat factious. We are relatives.
Knowest thou, chez ami"--and he placed on this favorite expression more
emphasis than usual--"knowest thou that he is descended in direct line
from Saint Louis, by Charlotte de Bourbon, daughter of the Duc de
Montpensier? Knowest thou that seven princes of the blood royal have
been united to his house; and eight daughters of his family, one of whom
was a queen, have been married to princes of the blood royal? Oh, I
don't at all dislike him! I have never said so, never!"
"Well, Sire," said Cinq-Mars, with confidence, "Monsieur and he will
explain to you during the hunt how all is prepared, who are the men that
may be put in the place of his creatures, who the field-marshals and the
colonels who may be depended upon against Fabert and the Cardinalists of
Perpignan. You will see that the minister has very few for him.
"The Queen, Monsieur, the nobility, and the parliaments are on our side;
and the thing is done from the moment that your Majesty is not opposed to
it. It has been proposed to get rid of the Cardinal as the Marechal
d'Ancre was got rid of, who deserved it less than he."
"As Concini?" said the King. "Oh, no, it must not be. I positively
can not consent to it. He is a priest and a cardinal. We shall be
excommunicated. But if there be any other means, I am very willing.
Thou mayest speak of it to thy friends; and I on my side will think of
The word once spoken, the King gave himself up to his resentment, as if
he had satisfied it, as if the blow were already struck. Cinq-Mars was
vexed to see this, for he feared that his anger thus vented might not be
of long duration. However, he put faith in his last words, especially
when, after numberless complaints, Louis added:
"And would you believe that though now for two years I have mourned my
mother, ever since that day when he so cruelly mocked me before my whole
court by asking for her recall when he knew she was dead--ever since that
day I have been trying in vain to get them to bury her in France with my
fathers? He has exiled even her ashes."
At this moment Cinq-Mars thought he heard a sound on the staircase; the
"Go," he said; "go! Make haste and prepare for the hunt! Thou wilt ride
next to my carriage. Go quickly! I desire it; go!"
And he himself pushed Cinq-Mars toward the entrance by which he had come.
The favorite went out; but his master's anxiety had not escaped him.
He slowly descended, and tried to divine the cause of it in his mind,
when he thought he heard the sound of feet ascending the other staircase.
He stopped; they stopped. He re-ascended; they seemed to him to descend.
He knew that nothing could be seen between the interstices of the
architecture; and he quitted the place, impatient and very uneasy, and
determined to remain at the door of the entrance to see who should come
out. But he had scarcely raised the tapestry which veiled the entrance
to the guardroom than he was surrounded by a crowd of courtiers who had
been awaiting him, and was fain to proceed to the work of issuing the
orders connected with his post, or to receive respects, communications,
solicitations, presentations, recommendations, embraces--to observe that
infinitude of relations which surround a favorite, and which require
constant and sustained attention, for any absence of mind might cause
great misfortunes. He thus almost forgot the trifling circumstance which
had made him uneasy, and which he thought might after all have only been
a freak of the imagination. Giving himself up to the sweets of a kind of
continual apotheosis, he mounted his horse in the great courtyard,
attended by noble pages, and surrounded by brilliant gentlemen.
Monsieur soon arrived, followed by his people; and in an hour the King
appeared, pale, languishing, and supported by four men. Cinq-Mars,
dismounting, assisted him into a kind of small and very low carriage,
called a brouette, and the horses of which, very docile and quiet ones,
the King himself drove. The prickers on foot at the doors held the dogs
in leash; and at the sound of the horn scores of young nobles mounted,
and all set out to the place of meeting.
It was a farm called L'Ormage that the King had fixed upon; and the
court, accustomed to his ways, followed the many roads of the park, while
the King slowly followed an isolated path, having at his side the grand
ecuyer and four persons whom he had signed to approach him.
The aspect of this pleasure party was sinister. The approach of winter
had stripped well-nigh all the leaves from the great oaks in the park,
whose dark branches now stood up against a gray sky, like branches of
funereal candelabra. A light fog seemed to indicate rain; through the
melancholy boughs of the thinned wood the heavy carriages of the court
were seen slowly passing on, filled with women, uniformly dressed in
black, and obliged to await the result of a chase which they did not
witness. The distant hounds gave tongue, and the horn was sometimes
faintly heard like a sigh. A cold, cutting wind compelled every man to
don cloaks, and some of the women, putting over their faces a veil or
mask of black velvet to keep themselves from the air which the curtains
of their carriages did not intercept (for there were no glasses at that
time), seemed to wear what is called a domino. All was languishing and
sad. The only relief was that ever and anon groups of young men in the
excitement of the chase flew down the avenue like the wind, cheering on
the dogs or sounding their horns. Then all again became silent, as after
the discharge of fireworks the sky appears darker than before.
In a path, parallel with that followed by the King, were several
courtiers enveloped in their cloaks. Appearing little intent upon the
stag, they rode step for step with the King's brouette, and never lost
sight of him. They conversed in low tones.
"Excellent! Fontrailles, excellent! victory! The King takes his arm
every moment. See how he smiles upon him! See! Monsieur le Grand
dismounts and gets into the brouette by his side. Come, come, the old
fox is done at last!"
"Ah, that's nothing! Did you not see how the King shook hands with
Monsieur? He's made a sign to you, Montresor. Look, Gondi!"
"Look, indeed! That's very easy to say; but I don't see with my own
eyes. I have only those of faith, and yours. Well, what are they doing
now? I wish to Heaven I were not so near-sighted! Tell me, what are
Montresor answered, "The King bends his ear toward the Duc de Bouillon,
who is speaking to him; he speaks again! he gesticulates! he does not
cease! Oh, he'll be minister!"
"He will be minister!" said Fontrailles.
"He will be minister!" echoed the Comte du Lude.
"Oh, no doubt of it!" said Montresor.
"I hope he'll give me a regiment, and I'll marry my cousin," cried
Olivier d'Entraigues, with boyish vivacity.
The Abbe de Gondi sneered, and, looking up at the sky, began to sing to a
"Les etourneaux ont le vent bon,
Ton ton, ton ton, ton taine, ton ton--"
"I think, gentlemen, you are more short-sighted than I, or else miracles
will come to pass in the year of grace 1642; for Monsieur de Bouillon is
no nearer being Prime-Minister, though the King do embrace him, than I.
He has good qualities, but he will not do; his qualities are not various
enough. However, I have much respect for his great and singularly
foolish town of Sedan, which is a fine shelter in case of need."
Montresor and the rest were too attentive to every gesture of the Prince
to answer him; and they continued:
"See, Monsieur le Grand takes the reins, and is driving."
The Abbe replied with the same air:
"Si vous conduisez ma brouette,
Ne versez pas, beau postillon,
Ton ton, ton ton, ton taine, ton ton."
"Ah, Abbe, your songs will drive me mad!" said Fontrailles. "You've
got airs ready for every event in life."
"I will also find you events which shall go to all the airs," answered
"Faith, the air of these pleases me!" said Fontrailles, in an under
voice. "I shall not be obliged by Monsieur to carry his confounded
treaty to Madrid, and I am not sorry for it; it is a somewhat touchy
commission. The Pyrenees are not so easily passed as may be supposed;
the Cardinal is on the road."
"Ha! Ha!" cried Montresor.
"Ha! Ha!" said Olivier.
"Well, what is the matter with you? ah, ah!" asked Gondi. "What have
you discovered that is so great?"
"Why, the King has again shaken hands with Monsieur. Thank Heaven,
gentlemen, we're rid of the Cardinal! The old boar is hunted down. Who
will stick the knife into him? He must be thrown into the sea."
"That's too good for him," said Olivier; "he must be tried."
"Certainly," said the Abbe; "and we sha'n't want for charges against an
insolent fellow who has dared to discharge a page, shall we?" Then,
curbing his horse, and letting Olivier and Montresor pass on, he leaned
toward M. du Lude, who was talking with two other serious personages, and
"In truth, I am tempted to let my valet-de-chambre into the secret; never
was a conspiracy treated so lightly. Great enterprises require mystery.
This would be an admirable one if some trouble were taken with it. 'Tis
in itself a finer one than I have ever read of in history. There is
stuff enough in it to upset three kingdoms, if necessary, and the
blockheads will spoil all. It is really a pity. I should be very sorry.
I've a taste for affairs of this kind; and in this one in particular I
feel a special interest. There is grandeur about it, as can not be
denied. Do you not think so, D'Aubijoux, Montmort?"
While he was speaking, several large and heavy carriages, with six and
four horses, followed the same path at two hundred paces behind these
gentlemen; the curtains were open on the left side through which to see
the King. In the first was the Queen; she was alone at the back, clothed
in black and veiled. On the box was the Marechale d'Effiat; and at the
feet of the Queen was the Princesse Marie. Seated on one side on a
stool, her robe and her feet hung out of the carriage, and were supported
by a gilt step--for, as we have already observed, there were then no
doors to the coaches. She also tried to see through the trees the
movements of the King, and often leaned back, annoyed by the passing of
the Prince-Palatine and his suite.
This northern Prince was sent by the King of Poland, apparently on a
political negotiation, but in reality, to induce the Duchesse de Mantua
to espouse the old King Uladislas VI; and he displayed at the court of
France all the luxury of his own, then called at Paris "barbarian and
Scythian," and so far justified these names by strange eastern costumes.
The Palatine of Posnania was very handsome, and wore, in common with the
people of his suite, a long, thick beard. His head, shaved like that of
a Turk, was covered with a furred cap. He had a short vest, enriched
with diamonds and rubies; his horse was painted red, and amply plumed.
He was attended by a company of Polish guards in red and yellow uniforms,
wearing large cloaks with long sleeves, which hung negligently from the
shoulder. The Polish lords who escorted him were dressed in gold and
silver brocade; and behind their shaved heads floated a single lock of
hair, which gave them an Asiatic and Tartar aspect, as unknown at the
court of Louis XIII as that of the Moscovites. The women thought all
this rather savage and alarming.
Marie de Mantua was importuned with the profound salutations and Oriental
elegancies of this foreigner and his suite. Whenever he passed before
her, he thought himself called upon to address a compliment to her in
broken French, awkwardly made up of a few words about hope and royalty.
She found no other means to rid herself of him than by repeatedly putting
her handkerchief to her nose, and saying aloud to the Queen:
"In truth, Madame, these gentlemen have an odor about them that makes one
"It will be desirable to strengthen your nerves and accustom yourself to
it," answered Anne of Austria, somewhat dryly.
Then, fearing she had hurt her feelings, she continued gayly:
"You will become used to them, as we have done; and you know that in
respect to odors I am rather fastidious. Monsieur Mazarin told me, the
other day, that my punishment in purgatory will consist in breathing ill
scents and sleeping in Russian cloth."
Yet the Queen was very grave, and soon subsided into silence. Burying
herself in her carriage, enveloped in her mantle, and apparently taking
no interest in what was passing around her, she yielded to the motion of
the carriage. Marie, still occupied with the King, talked in a low voice
with the Marechale d'Effiat; each sought to give the other hopes which
neither felt, and sought to deceive each other out of love.
"Madame, I congratulate you; Monsieur le Grand is seated with the King.
Never has he been so highly distinguished," said Marie.
Then she was silent for a long time, and the carriage rolled mournfully
over the dead, dry leaves.
"Yes, I see it with joy; the King is so good!" answered the Marechale.
And she sighed deeply.
A long and sad silence again followed; each looked at the other and
mutually found their eyes full of tears. They dared not speak again; and
Marie, drooping her head, saw nothing but the brown, damp earth scattered
by the wheels. A melancholy revery occupied her mind; and although she
had before her the spectacle of the first court of Europe at the feet of
him she loved, everything inspired her with fear, and dark presentiments
involuntarily agitated her.
Suddenly a horse passed by her like the wind; she raised her eyes, and
had just time to see the features of Cinq-Mars. He did not look at her;
he was pale as a corpse, and his eyes were hidden under his knitted brows
and the shadows of his lowered hat. She followed him with trembling
eyes; she saw him stop in the midst of the group of cavaliers who
preceded the carriages, and who received him with their hats off.
A moment after he went into the wood with one of them, looking at her
Back to Full Books