The Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz, Complete
Jean Francois Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz

Part 1 out of 5

Produced by David Widger


Written by Himself

Being Historic Court Memoirs of the Great Events
during the Minority of Louis XIV.
and the Administration of Cardinal Mazarin.







Cardinal de Retz----Photogravure from an Old Painting

Turenne----Photogravure from an Old Painting

Richelieu----Engraving by Lubin

Anne of Austria----Original Etching by Mercier

Louis XIII----Painting in the Louvre

Conde'----Painting in Versailles Gallery


Our Author, John Francis Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz, Sovereign of
Commercy, Prince of Euville, second Archbishop of Paris, Abbot of Saint
Denis in France, was born at Montmirail, in Brie, in October, 1614.

His father was Philippe Emanuel de Gondi, Comte, de Joigni, General of
the Galleys of France and Knight of the King's Orders; and his mother was
Frances Marguerite, daughter of the Comte de Rochepot, Knight of the
King's Orders, and of Marie de Lannoy, sovereign of Commercy and Euville.

Pierre de Gondi, Duc de Retz, was his brother, whose daughter was the
Duchesse de Lesdiguieres.

His grandfather was Albert de Gondi, Duc de Retz, Marquis de Belle Isle,
a Peer of France, Marshal and General of the Galleys, Colonel of the
French Horse, First Gentleman of the Bedchamber, and Great Chamberlain to
the Kings Charles IX. and Henri III.

This history was first printed in Paris in 1705, at the expense of the
Duchesse de Lesdiguieres, the last of this noble family, whose estate
fell after her decease to that of Villeroy.

His preceptor was the famous Vincent de Paul, Almoner to Queen Anne of

In 1627 he was made a Canon of the Cathedral of Paris by his uncle, Jean
Francois de Gondi, first archbishop of that city, and was not long after
created a Doctor of the Sorbonne.

In 1643 he was appointed Coadjutor of the archbishopric of Paris, with
the title of Archbishop of Corinth, during which, such was his pastoral
vigilance that the most important affairs of the Church were committed to
his care.

As to his general character, if we take it from his own Memoirs, he had
such presence of mind, and so dexterously improved all opportunities
which fortune presented to him, that it seemed as if he had foreseen or
desired them. He knew how to put a good gloss upon his failings, and
oftentimes verily believed he was really the man which he affected to be
only in appearance. He was a man of bright parts, but no conduct, being
violent and inconstant in his intrigues of love as well as those of
politics, and so indiscreet as to boast of his successful amours with
certain ladies whom he ought not to have named. He affected pomp and
splendour, though his profession demanded simplicity and humility. He
was continually shifting parties, being a loyal subject one day and the
next a rebel, one time a sworn enemy to the Prime Minister, and by and by
his zealous friend; always aiming to make himself formidable or
necessary. As a pastor he had engrossed the love and confidence of the
people, and as a statesman he artfully played them off against their
sovereign. He studied characters thoroughly, and no man painted them in
truer colours more to his own purpose. Sometimes he confesses his
weaknesses, and at other times betrays his self-flattery.

It being his fate to be imprisoned by Mazarin, first at Vincennes and
then at Nantes, he made his escape to Rome, and in 1656 retired to
Franche Comte, where Cardinal Mazarin gave orders for his being arrested;
upon which he posted to Switzerland, and thence to Constance, Strasburg,
Ulm, Augsburg, Frankfort, and Cologne, to which latter place Mazarin sent
men to take him dead or alive; whereupon he retired to Holland, and made
a trip from one town to another till 1661, when, Cardinal Mazarin dying,
our Cardinal went as far as Valenciennes on his way to Paris, but was not
suffered to come further; for the King and Queen-mother would not be
satisfied without his resignation of the archbishopric of Paris, to which
he at last submitted upon advantageous terms for himself and an amnesty
for all his adherents. But still the Court carried it so severely to the
Cardinal that they would not let him go and pay his last devoirs to his
father when on his dying bed. At length, however, after abundance of
solicitation, he had leave to go and wait upon the King and Queen, who,
on the death of Pope Alexander VII., sent him to Rome to assist at the
election of his successor.

No wonder that King Charles II. of England promised to intercede for the
Cardinal's reestablishment; for when the royal family were starving, as
it were, in their exile at Paris, De Retz did more for them than all the
French Court put together; and, upon the King's promise to take the Roman
Catholics of England under his protection after his restoration, he sent
an abbot to Rome to solicit the Pope to lend him money, and to dispose
the English Catholics in his favour.

He would fain have returned his hat to the new Pope, but his Holiness, at
the solicitation of Louis XIV., ordered him to keep it. After this he
chose a total retirement, lived with exemplary piety, considerably
retrenched his expenses, and hardly allowed himself common necessaries,
in order to save money to pay off a debt of three millions, which he had
the happiness to discharge, and to balance all accounts with the world
before his death, which happened at Paris on the 24th of August, 1679, in
the 65th year of his age.




MADAME:--Though I have a natural aversion to give you the history of my
own life, which has been chequered with such a variety of different
adventures, yet I had rather sacrifice my reputation to the commands of a
lady for whom I have so peculiar a regard than not disclose the most
secret springs of my actions and the inmost recesses of my soul.

By the caprice of fortune many mistakes of mine have turned to my credit,
and I very much doubt whether it would be prudent in me to remove the
veil with which some of them are covered. But as I am resolved to give
you a naked, impartial account of even the most minute passages of my
life ever since I have been capable of reflection, so I most humbly beg
you not to be surprised at the little art, or, rather, great disorder,
with which I write my narrative, but to consider that, though the
diversity of incidents may sometimes break the thread of the history, yet
I will tell you nothing but with all that sincerity which the regard I
have for you demands. And to convince you further that I will neither
add to nor diminish from the plain truth, I shall set my name in the
front of the work.

False glory and false modesty are the two rocks on which men who have
written their own lives have generally split, but which Thuanus among the
moderns and Caesar among the ancients happily escaped. I doubt not you
will do me the justice to believe that I do not pretend to compare myself
with those great writers in any respect but sincerity,--a virtue in which
we are not only permitted, but commanded, to rival the greatest heroes.

I am descended from a family illustrious in France and ancient in Italy,
and born upon a day remarkable for the taking of a monstrous sturgeon in
a small river that runs through the country of Montmirail, in Brie, the
place of my nativity.

I am not so vain as to be proud of having it thought that I was ushered
into the world with a prodigy or a miracle, and I should never have
mentioned this trifling circumstance had it not been for some libels
since published by my enemies, wherein they affect to make the said
sturgeon a presage of the future commotions in this kingdom, and me the
chief author of them.

I beg leave to make a short reflection on the nature of the mind of man.
I believe there never was a more honest soul in the world than my
father's; I might say his temper was the very essence of virtue. For
though he saw I was too much inclined to duels and gallantry ever to make
a figure as an ecclesiastic, yet his great love for his eldest son--not
the view of the archbishopric of Paris, which was then in his
family--made him resolve to devote me to the service of the Church. For
he was so conscious of his reasons, that I could even swear he would have
protested from the very bottom of his heart that he had no other motive
than the apprehension of the dangers to which a contrary profession might
expose my soul. So true it is that nothing is so subject to delusion as
piety: all sorts of errors creep in and hide themselves under that veil;
it gives a sanction to all the turns of imagination, and the honesty of
the intention is not sufficient to guard against it. In a word, after
all I have told you, I turned priest, though it would have been long
enough first had it not been for the following accident.

The Duc de Retz, head of our family, broke at that time, by the King's
order, the marriage treaty concluded some years before between the Duc de
Mercoeur--[Louis, Duc de Mercoeur, since Cardinal de Vendome, father of
the Duc de Vendome, and Grand Prior, died 1669.]--and his daughter, and
next day came to my father and agreeably surprised him by telling him he
was resolved to give her to his cousin to reunite the family.

As I knew she had a sister worth above 80,000 livres a year, I, that very
instant, thought of a double match. I had no hopes they would think of
me, knowing how things stood, so I was resolved to provide for myself.

Having got a hint that my father did not intend to carry me to the
wedding, as, foreseeing, it may be, what happened, I pretended to be
better pleased with my profession, to be touched by what my father had so
often laid before me on that subject, and I acted my part so well that
they believed I was quite another man.

My father resolved to carry me into Brittany, for the reason that I had
shown no inclination that way. We found Mademoiselle de Retz at
Beaupreau, in Anjou. I looked on the eldest only as my sister, but
immediately considered Mademoiselle de Scepaux (so the youngest was
called) as my mistress.

I thought her very handsome, her complexion the most charming in the
world, lilies and roses in abundance, admirable eyes, a very pretty
mouth, and what she wanted in stature was abundantly made up by the
prospect of 80,000 livres a year and of the Duchy of Beaupreau, and by a
thousand chimeras which I formed on these real foundations.

I played my game nicely from the beginning, and acted the ecclesiastic
and the devotee both in the journey and during my stay there;
nevertheless, I paid my sighs to the fair one,--she perceived it. I spoke
at last, and she heard me, but not with that complacency which I could
have wished.

But observing she had a great kindness for an old chambermaid, sister to
one of my monks of Buzai, I did all I could to gain her, and by the means
of a hundred pistoles down, and vast promises, I succeeded. She made her
mistress believe that she was designed for a nunnery, and I, for my part,
told her that I was doomed to nothing less than a monastery. She could
not endure her sister, because she was her father's darling, and I was
not overfond of my brother,--[Pierre de Gondi, Duc de Retz, who died in
1676.]--for the same reason. This resemblance in our fortunes
contributed much to the uniting of our affections, which I persuaded
myself were reciprocal, and I resolved to carry her to Holland.

Indeed, there was nothing more easy, for Machecoul, whither we were come
from Beaupreau, was no more than half a league from the sea. But money
was the only thing wanting, for my treasury, was so drained by the gift
of the hundred pistoles above mentioned that I had not a sou left. But I
found a supply by telling my father that, as the farming of my abbeys was
taxed with the utmost rigour of the law, so I thought myself obliged in
conscience to take the administration of them into my own hands. This
proposal, though not pleasing, could not be rejected, both because it was
regular and because it made him in some measure believe that I would not
fail to keep my benefices, since I was willing to take care of them. I
went the next day to let Buzai,--[One of his abbeys.]--which is but five
leagues from Machecoul. I treated with a Nantes merchant, whose name was
Jucatieres, who took advantage of my eagerness, and for 4,000 crowns
ready money got a bargain that made his fortune. I thought I had
4,000,000, and was just securing one of the Dutch pinks, which are always
in the road of Retz, when the following accident happened, which broke
all my measures.

Mademoiselle de Retz (for she had taken that name after her sister's
marriage) had the finest eyes in the world, and they never were so
beautiful as when she was languishing in love, the charms of which I
never yet saw equalled. We happened to dine at a lady's house, a league
from Machecoul, where Mademoiselle de Retz, looking in the glass at an
assembly of ladies, displayed all those tender, lively, moving airs which
the Italians call 'morbidezza', or the lover's languish. But
unfortunately she was not aware that Palluau, since Marechal de
Clerambaut, was behind her, who observed her airs, and being very much
attached to Madame de Retz, with whom he had in her tender years been
very familiar, told her faithfully what he had observed.

Madame de Retz, who mortally hated her sister, disclosed it that very
night to her father, who did not fail to impart it to mine. The next
morning, at the arrival of the post from Paris, all was in a hurry, my
father pretending to have received very pressing news; and, after our
taking a slight though public leave of the ladies, my father carried me
to sleep that night at Nantes. I was, as you may imagine, under very
great surprise and concern; for I could not guess the cause of this
sudden departure. I had nothing to reproach myself with upon the score
of my conduct; neither had I the least suspicion that Palluau had seen
anything more than ordinary till I arrived at Orleans, where the matter
was cleared up, for my brother, to prevent my escape, which I vainly
attempted several times on my journey, seized my strong box, in which was
my money, and then I understood that I was betrayed; in what grief, then,
I arrived at Paris, I leave you to imagine.

I found there Equilli, Vasse's uncle, and my first cousin, who, I
daresay, was one of the most honest men of his time, and loved me from
his very soul. I apprised him of my design to run away with Mademoiselle
de Retz. He heartily approved of my project, not only because it would
be a very advantageous match for me, but because he was persuaded that a
double alliance was necessary to secure the establishment of the family.

The Cardinal de Richelieu--[Armand Jean du Plesais, Cardinal de
Richelieu, was born in 1585, and died in 1642.]--(then Prime Minister)
mortally hated the Princesse de Guemenee, because he was persuaded she
had crossed his amours with the Queen,--[Anne of Austria, eldest daughter
of Philip II., King of Spain, and wife of Louis XIII., died 1666.]--and
had a hand in the trick played him by Madame du Fargis, one of the
Queen's dressing women, who showed her Majesty (Marie de Medicis) a
love-letter written by his Eminence to the Queen, her daughter-in-law.
The Cardinal pushed his resentment so far that he attempted to force the
Marechal de Breze, his brother-in-law, and captain of the King's
Life-guards, to expose Madame de Guemenee's letters, which were found in
M. de Montmorency's--[Henri de Montmorency was apprehended on the 1st of
September, 1632, and beheaded in Toulouse in November of the same
year.]--coffer when he was arrested at Chateau Naudari. But the Marechal
de Breze had so much honour and generosity as to return them to Madame de
Guemenee. He was, nevertheless, a very extravagant gentleman; but the
Cardinal de Richelieu, perceiving he had been formerly honoured by some
kind of relation to him, and dreading his angry excursions and
preachments before the King, who had some consideration for his person,
bore with him very patiently for the sake of settling peace in his own
family, which he passionately longed to unite and establish, but which
was the only thing out of his power, who could do whatever else he
pleased in France. For the Marechal de Breze had conceived so strong an
aversion to M. de La Meilleraye, who was then Grand Master of the
Artillery, and afterwards Marechal de La Meilleraye, that he could not
endure him. He did not imagine that the Cardinal would ever look upon a
man who, though his first cousin, was of a mean extraction, had a most
contemptible aspect, and, if fame says true, not one extraordinary good

The Cardinal was of another mind, and had a great opinion--indeed, with
abundance of reason--of M. de La Meilleraye's courage; but he esteemed
his military capacity infinitely too much, though in truth it was not
contemptible. In a word, he designed him for that post which we have
since seen so gloriously filled by M. de Turenne.

You may, by what has been said, judge of the divisions that were in
Cardinal de Richelieu's family, and how much he was concerned to appease
them. He laboured at them with great application, and for this end
thought he could not do better than to unite these two heads of the
faction in a close confidence with himself, exclusive of all others. To
this end he used them jointly and in common as the confidants of his
amours, which certainly were neither suitable to the lustre of his
actions nor the grandeur of his life; for Marion de Lorme, one of his
mistresses, was little better than a common prostitute. Another of his
concubines was Madame de Fruges, that old gentlewoman who was so often
seen sauntering in the enclosure. The first used to come to his
apartment in the daytime, and he went by night to visit the other, who
was but the pitiful cast-off of Buckingham and Epienne. The two
confidants introduced him there in coloured clothes; for they had made up
a hasty peace, to which Madame de Guemenee nearly fell a sacrifice.

M. de La Meilleraye, whom they called the Grand Master, was in love with
Madame de Guemenee, but she could not love him; and he being, both in his
own nature and by reason of his great favour with the Cardinal, the most
imperious man living, took it very ill that he was not beloved. He
complained, but the lady was insensible; he huffed and bounced, but was
laughed to scorn. He thought he had her in his power because the
Cardinal, to whom he had declared his rage against her, had given him her
letters, as above mentioned, which were written to M. de Montmorency,
and, therefore, in his menaces he let fall some hints with relation to
those letters to the disadvantage of Madame de Guemenee. She thereupon
ridiculed him no longer, but went almost raving mad, and fell into such
an inconceivable melancholy that you would not have known her, and
retired to Couperai, where she would let nobody see her.

As soon as I applied my mind to study I resolved at the same time to take
the Cardinal de Richelieu for my pattern, though my friends opposed it as
too pedantic; but I followed my first designs, and began my course with
good success. I was afterwards followed by all persons of quality of the
same profession; but, as I was the first, the Cardinal was pleased with
my fancy, which, together with the good offices done me by the Grand
Master with the Cardinal, made him speak well of me on several occasions,
wonder that I had never made my court to him, and at the same time he
ordered M. de Lingendes, since Bishop of Magon, to bring me to his house.

This was the source of my first disgrace, for, instead of complying with
these offers of the Cardinal and with the entreaties of the Grand Master,
urging me to go and make my court to him, I returned the most trifling
excuses and apologies; one time I pretended to be sick and went into the
country. In short, I did enough to let them see that I did not care to
be a dependent on the Cardinal de Richelieu, who was certainly a very
great man, but had this particular trait in his genius,--to take notice
of trifles. Of this he gave me the following instance: The history of
the conspiracy of Jean Louis de Fiesque,--[Author of "The Conspiracy of
Genoa." He was drowned on the 1st of January, 1557.]--which I had
written at eighteen years of age, being conveyed by Boisrobert into the
Cardinal's hands, he was heard to say, in the presence of Marechal
d'Estrees and M. de Senneterre, "This is a dangerous genius." This was
told my father that very night by M. de Senneterre, and I took it as
spoken to myself.

The success that I had in the acts of the Sorbonne made me fond of that
sort of reputation, which I had a mind to push further, and thought I
might succeed in sermons. Instead of preaching first, as I was advised,
in the little convents, I preached on Ascension, Corpus Christi Day,
etc., before the Queen and the whole Court, which assurance gained me a
good character from the Cardinal; for, when he was told how well I had
performed, he said, "There is no judging of things by the event; the man
is a coxcomb." Thus you see I had enough to do for one of two-and-twenty
years of age.

M. le Comte,--[Louis de Bourbon, Comte de soissons, killed in the battle
of Marfee, near Sedan, in 1641.]--who had a tender love for me, and to
whose service and person I was entirely devoted, left Paris in the night,
in order to get into Sedan, for fear of an arrest; and, in the meantime,
entrusted me with the care of Vanbrock, the greatest confidant he had in
the world. I took care, as I was ordered, that he should never stir out
but at night, for in the daytime I concealed him in a private place,
between the ceiling and the penthouse, where I thought it impossible for
anything but a cat or the devil to find him. But he was not careful
enough of himself, for one morning my door was burst open, and armed men
rushed into my chamber, with the provost at their head, who cried, with a
great oath, "Where is Vanbrock?" I replied, "At Sedan, monsieur, I
believe." He swore again most confoundedly, and searched the mattresses
of all the beds in the house, threatening to put my domestics to the rack
if they did not make a disclosure; but there was only one that knew
anything of the matter, and so they went away in a rage. You may easily
imagine that when this was reported the Court would highly resent it. And
so it happened, for the license of the Sorbonne being expired, and the
competitors striving for the best places, I had the ambition to put in
for the first place, and did not think myself obliged to yield to the
Abbe de La Mothe-Houdancourt, now Archbishop of Auch, over whom I had
certainly some advantage in the disputations. I carried myself in this
affair more wisely than might have been expected from my youth; for as
soon as I heard that my rival was supported by the Cardinal, who did him
the honour to own him for his kinsman, I sent the Cardinal word, by M. de
Raconis, Bishop of Lavaur, that I desisted from my pretension, out of the
respect I owed his Eminence, as soon as I heard that he concerned himself
in the affair. The Bishop of Lavaur told me the Cardinal pretended that
the Abby de La Mothe would not be obliged for the first place to my
cession, but to his own merit. This answer exasperated me. I gave a
smile and a low bow, pursued my point, and gained the first place by
eighty-four voices. The Cardinal, who was for domineering in all places
and in all affairs, fell into a passion much below his character, either
as a minister or a man, threatened the deputies of the Sorbonne to raze
the new buildings he had begun there, and assailed my character again
with incredible bitterness.

All my friends were alarmed at this, and were for sending me in all haste
to Italy. Accordingly, I went to Venice, stayed there till the middle of
August, and was very near being assassinated; for I amused myself by
making an intrigue with Signora Vendranina, a noble Venetian lady, and
one of the most handsome I ever saw. M. de Maille, the King's
ambassador, aware of the dangerous consequences of such adventures in
this country, ordered me to depart from Venice; upon which I went through
Lombardy, and towards the end of September arrived at Rome, where the
Marechal d'Estrees, who resided there as ambassador, gave me such
instructions for my behaviour as I followed to a tittle. Though I had no
design to be an ecclesiastic, yet since I wore a cassock I was resolved
to acquire some reputation at the Pope's Court. I compassed my design
very happily, avoiding any appearance of gallantry and lewdness, and my
dress being grave to the last degree; but for all this I was at a vast
expense, having fine liveries, a very splendid equipage, and a train of
seven or eight gentlemen, whereof four were Knights of Malta. I disputed
in the Colleges of Sapienza (not to be compared for learning with those
of the Sorbonne), and fortune continued still to raise me. For the
Prince de Schomberg, the Emperor's ambassador, sent me word one day,
while I was playing at 'balon' at the baths of Antoninus, to leave the
place clear for him. I answered that I could have refused his Excellency
nothing asked in a civil manner, but since it was commanded, I would have
him to know that I would obey the orders of no ambassador whatever, but
that of the King, my master. Being urged a second time by one of his
attendants to leave the place, I stood upon my own defence, and the
Germans, more, in my opinion, out of contempt of the few people I had
with me than out of any other consideration, let the affair drop. This
bold carriage of so modest an abbe, to an ambassador who never went
abroad without one hundred musketeers on horseback to attend him, made a
great noise in Rome, and was much taken notice of by Cardinal Mazarin.

The Cardinal de Richelieu's health declining, the archbishopric of Paris
was now almost within my ken, which, together with other prospects of
good benefices, made me resolve not to fling off the cassock but upon
honourable terms and valuable considerations; but having nothing yet
within my view that I could be sure of, I resolved to distinguish myself
in my own profession by all the methods I could. I retired from the
world, studied very hard, saw but very few men, and had no more
correspondence with any of the female sex, except Madame de -------.

The devil had appeared to the Princesse de Guemenee just a fortnight
before this adventure happened, and was often raised by the conjurations
of M. d'Andilly, to frighten his votary, I believe, into piety, for he
was even more in love with her person than I myself; but he loved her in
the Lord, purely and spiritually. I raised, in my turn, a demon that
appeared to her in a more kind and agreeable form. In six weeks I got
her away from Port Royal; I was very diligent in paying her my respects,
and the satisfaction I had in her company, with some other agreeable
diversions, qualified in a great measure the chagrin which attended my
profession, to which I was not yet heartily reconciled. This enchantment
had like to have raised such a storm as would have given a new face to
the affairs of Europe if fortune had been ever so little on my side.

M. the Cardinal de Richelieu loved rallying other people, but could not
bear a jest himself, and all men of this humour are always very crabbed
and churlish; of which the Cardinal gave an instance, in a public
assembly of ladies, to Madame de Guemenee, when he threw out a severe
jest, which everybody observed was pointed at me. She was sensibly
affronted, but I was enraged. For at last there was a sort of an
understanding between us, which was often ill-managed, yet our interests
were inseparable. At this time Madame de La Meilleraye, with whom,
though she was silly, I had fallen in love, pleased the Cardinal to that
degree that the Marshal perceived it before he set out for the army, and
rallied his wife in such a manner that she immediately found he was even
more jealous than ambitious. She was terribly afraid of him, and did not
love the Cardinal, who, by marrying her to his cousin, had lessened his
own family, of which he was extremely fond. Besides, the Cardinal's
infirmities made him look a great deal older than he was. And though all
his other actions had no tincture of pedantry, yet in his amorous
intrigues he had the most of it in the world. I had a detail of all the
steps he had made therein, which were extremely ridiculous. But
continuing his solicitation, and carrying her to his country seat at
Ruel,--[The Cardinal de Richelieu's seat, three leagues from
Paris.]--where he kept her a considerable time, I guessed that the lady
had not brains enough to resist the splendour of Court favour, and that
her husband's jealousy would soon give way to his interest, but, above
all, to his blind side, which was an attachment to the Court not to be
equalled. When I was in the hottest pursuit of this passion I proposed
to myself the most exquisite pleasures in triumphing over the Cardinal de
Richelieu in this fair field of battle; but on a sudden I had the
mortification to hear the whole family was changed. The husband allowed
his wife to go to Ruel as often as she pleased, and her behaviour towards
me I suspected to be false and treacherous. In short, Madame de
Guemenee's anger, for a reason I hinted before, my jealousy of Madame de
La Meilleraye, and an aversion to my own profession, all joined together
in a fatal moment and were near producing one of the greatest and most
famous events of our age.

La Rochepot, my first cousin and dear friend, was a domestic of the late
Duc d'Orleans,--[Gaston Jean Baptists de France, born 1608, and died at
Blois, 1660.]--and his great confidant. He mortally hated the Cardinal
de Richelieu, who had persecuted his mother, and had her hung up in
effigy, and kept his father still a prisoner in the Bastille, and now
refused the son a regiment, though Marechal de La Meilleraye, who very
highly esteemed him for his courage, interceded for the favour. You may
imagine that when we came together we did not forget the Cardinal.

I being crossed in my designs, as I told you, and as full of resentment
as La Rochepot was for the affronts put upon his person and family, we
chimed in our thoughts and resolutions, which were, dexterously to manage
the weakness of the Duc d'Orleans and to put that in execution which the
boldness of his domestics had almost effected at Corbie.

The Duc d'Orleans was appointed General, and the Comte de Soissons
Lieutenant-General of the King's forces in Picardy, but neither of them
stood well with the Cardinal, who gave them those posts only because the
situation of affairs was such that he could not help it. L'Epinai,
Montresor, and La Rochepot made use of all the arguments they could think
of to raise jealousies and fears in the Duc d'Orleans, and to inspire him
with resolution and courage to rid himself of the Cardinal. Others
laboured to persuade the Comte de Soissons to relish the same proposal,
but though resolved upon, it was never put into execution. For they had
the Cardinal in their power at Amiens, but did him no harm. For this
every one blamed the Count's companion, but I could never yet learn the
true cause; only this is certain, that they were no sooner come to Paris
than they were all seized with a panic, and retired, some one way, some

The Comte de Guiche, since Marechal de Grammont, and M. de Chavigni,
Secretary of State and the Cardinal's most intimate favourite, were sent
by the King to Blois. Here they frightened the Duc d'Orleans and made
him return to Paris, where he was more afraid than ever; for such of his
domestics as were not gained by the Court made use of his pusillanimous
temper, and represented to him the necessity he was under to provide for
his own, or rather their, security. La Rochepot and myself endeavoured
to heighten his fears as much as possible, in order to precipitate him
into our measures. The term sounds odd, but it is the most expressive I
could find of a character like the Duke's. He weighed everything, but
fixed on nothing; and if by chance he was inclined to do one thing more
than another, he would never execute it without being pushed or forced
into it.

La Rochepot did all he could to fix him, but finding that the Duke was
always for delays, and for perplexing all expedients with groundless
fears of invincible difficulties, he fell upon an expedient very
dangerous to all appearance, but, as it usually happens in extraordinary
cases, much less so than at first view.

Cardinal de Richelieu having to stand godfather at the baptism of
Mademoiselle, La Rochepot's proposal was to continue to show the Duke the
necessity he lay under still to get rid of the Cardinal, without saying
much of the particulars, for fear of hazarding the secret, but only to
entertain him with the general proposal of that affair, thereby to make
him the better in love with the measures when proposed; and that they
might, at a proper time and place, tell him they had concealed the detail
to the execution from his Highness upon no other account but that they
had experienced on several occasions that there was no other way of
serving his Highness, as he himself had told La Rochepot several times;
that nothing, therefore, remained but to get some brave fellows fit for
such a resolute enterprise, and to hold post-horses ready upon the road
of Sedan under some other pretext, and to so execute the design in the
presence and in the name of his Royal Highness upon the day of the
intended solemnity, that his Highness should cheerfully own it when it
was done, and that then we would carry him off by those horses to Sedan.
Meanwhile the distraction of the inferior ministers and the joy of the
King to see himself delivered from a tyrant would dispose the Court
rather to invite than to pursue him. This was La Rochepot's scheme, and
it seemed exceedingly plausible.

La Rochepot and I had, it may be, blamed the inactivity of the Duc
d'Orleans and the Comte de Soissons in the affair of Amiens a hundred
times; yet, no sooner was the scheme sufficiently matured for execution,
the idea of which I had raised in the memory of La Rochepot, than my mind
was seized with I know not what fear; I took it then for a scruple of
conscience,--I cannot tell whether it was in truth so or not, but, in
short, the thought of killing a priest and a cardinal deeply affected my
mind. La Rochepot laughed at my scruples, and bantered me thus: "When
you are in the field of battle I warrant you will not beat up the enemy's
quarters for fear of assassinating men in their sleep." I was ashamed of
my scruples, and again hugged the crime, which I looked upon as
sanctified by the examples of great men, and justified and honoured by
the mighty danger that attended its execution. We renewed our
consultations, engaged some accomplices, took all the necessary
precautions, and resolved upon the execution. The danger was indeed very
great, but we might reasonably hope to come off well enough; for the
Duke's guard, which was within, would not have failed to come to our
assistance against that of the Cardinal's, which was without. But his
fortune, and not his guards, delivered him from the snare; for either
Mademoiselle or himself, I forget which, fell suddenly ill, and the
ceremony was put off to another time, so that we lost our opportunity.
The Duke returned to Blois, and the Marquis de Boissi protested he would
never betray us, but that he would be no longer concerned, because he had
just received some favour or other from the Cardinal's own hands.

I confess that this enterprise, which, had it succeeded, would have
crowned us with glory, never fully pleased me. I was not so scrupulous
in the committing of two other transgressions against the rules of
morality, as you may have before observed; but I wish, with all my heart,
I had never been concerned in this. Ancient Rome, indeed, would have
counted it honourable; but it is not in this respect that I honour the
memory of old Rome.

There is commonly a great deal of folly in conspiracies; but afterwards
there is nothing tends so, much to make men wise, at least for some time.
For, as the danger in things of this nature continues, even after the
opportunities for doing them are over, men are from that instant more
prudent and circumspect.

Having thus missed our blow, the Comte de La Rochepot and the rest of
them retired to their several seats in the country; but my engagements
detained me at Paris, where I was so retired that I spent all my time in
my study; and if ever I was seen abroad, it was with all the reserve of a
pious ecclesiastic; we were all so true to one another in keeping this
adventure secret, that it never got the least wind while the Cardinal
lived, who was a minister that had the best intelligence in the world;
but after his death it was discovered by the imprudence of Tret and
Etourville. I call it imprudence, for what greater weakness can men be
guilty of than to declare themselves to have been capable of what is
dangerous in the first instance?

To return to the history of the Comte de Soissons, I observed before that
he had retired to Sedan for safety, which he could not expect at Court.
He wrote to the King, assuring his Majesty of his fidelity, and that
while he stayed in that place he would undertake nothing prejudicial to
his service. He was most mindful of his promise; was not to be biassed
by all the offers of Spain or the Empire, but rejected with indignation
the overtures of Saint-Ibal and of Bardouville, who would have persuaded
him to take up arms. Campion, one of his domestics, whom he had left at
Paris to mind his affairs at Court, told me these particulars by the
Count's express orders, and I still remember this passage in one of his
letters to Campion: "The men you know are very urgent with me to treat
with the enemy, and accuse me of weakness because I fear the examples of
Charles de Bourbon and Robert d'Artois." He was ordered to show me this
letter and desire my opinion thereupon. I took my pen, and, at a little
distance from the answer he had already begun, I wrote these words:

"And I do accuse them of folly." The reasons upon which my opinion was
grounded were these: The Count was courageous in the highest degree of
what is commonly called valour, and had a more than ordinary share in
that boldness of mind which we call resolution. The first is common and
to be frequently met with among the vulgar, but the second is rarer than
can be imagined, and yet abundantly more necessary for great enterprises;
and is there a greater in the world than heading a party? The command of
an army is without comparison of less intricacy, for there are wheels
within wheels necessary for governing the State, but then they are not
near so brittle and delicate. In a word, I am of opinion there are
greater qualities necessary to make a good head of a party than to make
an emperor who is to govern the whole world, and that resolution ought to
run parallel with judgment,--I say, with heroic judgment, which is able
to distinguish the extraordinary from what we call the impossible.

The Count had not one grain of this discerning faculty, which is but
seldom to be met with in the sublimest genius. His character was mean to
a degree, and consequently susceptible of unreasonable jealousies and
distrusts, which of all characters is the most opposite to that of a good
partisan, who is indispensably obliged in many cases to suppress, and in
all to conceal, the best-grounded suspicions.

This was the reason I could not be of the opinion of those who were for
engaging the Count in a civil war; and Varicarville, who was the man of
the best sense and temper of all the persons of quality he had about him,
told me since that when he saw what I wrote in Campion's letter the day I
set out for Italy, he very well knew by what motives I was, against my
inclination, persuaded into this opinion.

The Count held out all this year and the next against every solicitation
of the Spaniards and the importunities of his own friends, much more by
the wise counsels of Varicarville than by the force of his own
resolution; but nothing could secure him from the teasings of the
Cardinal de Richelieu, who poured into his ears every day in the King's
name his many dismal discoveries and prognostications. For fear of being
tedious I shall only tell you in one word that the Cardinal, contrary to
his own interest, hurried the Count into a civil war, by such arts of
chicanery as those who are fortune's favourites never fail to play upon
the unfortunate.

The minds of people began now to be more embittered than ever. I was
sent for by the Count to Sedan to tell him the state of Paris. The
account I gave him could not but be very agreeable; for I told him the
very truth: that he was universally beloved, honoured, and adored in that
city, and his enemy dreaded and abhorred. The Duc de Bouillon, who was
urgent for war, be the consequence what it would, improved upon these
advantages, and made them look more plausible, but Varicarville strongly
opposed him.

I thought myself too young to declare my opinion; but, being pressed to
do so by his Highness, I took the liberty to tell him that a Prince of
the blood ought to engage himself in a civil war rather than suffer any
diminution of his reputation or dignity, yet that nothing but these two
cases could justly oblige him to it, because he hazards both by a
commotion whenever the one or the other consideration does not make it
necessary; that I thought his Highness far from being under any such
necessity; that his retreat to Sedan secured him from the indignity he
must have submitted to, among others, of taking the left hand, even in
the Cardinal's own house; that, in the meantime, the popular hatred of
the Cardinal gained his Highness the greater share of the public favour,
which is always much better secured by inaction than action, because the
glory of action depends upon success, for which no one can answer;
whereas inaction is sure to be commended as being founded upon the hatred
which the public will always bear to the minister. That, therefore, I
should think it would be more glorious for his Highness, in the view of
the world, to support himself by his own weight, that is, by the merit of
his virtue, against the artifices of so powerful a minister as the
Cardinal de Richelieu,--I say, more glorious to support himself by a wise
and regular conduct than to kindle the fire of war, the flagrant
consequences whereof no man is able to foresee; that it was true that the
minister was universally cursed, but that I could not yet see that the
people's minds were exasperated enough for any considerable revolution;
that the Cardinal was in a declining state of health, and if he should
not die this time, his Highness would have the opportunity of showing the
King and the public that though, by his own personal authority and his
important post at Sedan, he was in a capacity to do himself justice, he
sacrificed his own resentments to the welfare and quiet of the State; and
that if the Cardinal should recover his health, he would not fail, by
additional acts of tyranny and oppression, to draw upon himself the
redoubled execrations of the people, which would ripen, their murmurings
and discontents into a universal revolution.

This is the substance of what I said to the Count, and he seemed to be
somewhat affected by it. But the Duc de Bouillon was enraged, and told
me, by way of banter, "Your blood is very cold for a gentleman of your
age." To which I replied in these very words: "All the Count's servants
are so much obliged to you, monsieur, that they ought to bear everything
from you; but were it not for this consideration alone, I should think
that your bastions would not be always strong enough to protect you." The
Duke soon came to himself, and treated me with all the civilities
imaginable, such as laid a foundation for our future friendship. I stayed
two days longer at Sedan, during which the Count changed his mind five
different times, as I was told by M. Saint-Ibal, who said little was to
be expected from a man of his humour. At last, however, the Duc de
Bouillon won him over. I was charged to do all I could to convince the
people of Paris, had an order to take up money and to lay it out for this
purpose, and I returned from Sedan with letters more than enough to have
hanged two hundred men.

As I had faithfully set the Count's true interest before him, and
dissuaded him from undertaking an affair of which he was by no means
capable, I thought it high time to think of my own affairs. I hated my
profession now more than ever; I was at first hurried into it by the
infatuation of my kindred. My destiny had bound me down to it by the
chains both of duty and pleasure, so that I could see no possibility to
set myself free. I was upwards of twenty-five years of age, and I saw it
was now too late to begin to carry a musket; but that which tortured me
most of all was this fatal reflection, that I had spent so much of my
time in too eager a pursuit of pleasure, and thereby riveted my own
chains; so that it looked as if fate was resolved to fasten me to the
Church, whether I would or no. You may imagine with what satisfaction
such thoughts as these were accompanied, for this confusion of affairs
gave me hopes of getting loose from my profession with uncommon honour
and reputation. I thought of ways to distinguish myself, pursued them
very diligently, and you will allow that nothing but destiny broke my

The Marechaux de Vitri and Bassompierre, the Comte de Cremail, M. du
Fargis, and M. du Coudrai Montpensier were then prisoners in the Bastille
upon different counts. But, as length of time makes confinement less
irksome, they were treated very civilly, and indulged with a great share
of freedom. Their friends came to see them, and sometimes dined with
them. By means of M. du Fargis, who had married my aunt, I got
acquainted with the rest, and by conversing with them discovered very
remarkable emotions in some of them, upon which I could not help
reflecting. The Marechal de Vitri was a gentleman of mean parts, but
bold, even to rashness, and his having been formerly employed to kill the
Marechal d'Ancre had given him in the common vogue, though I think
unjustly, the air of a man of business and expedition. He appeared to me
enraged against the Cardinal, and I concluded he might do service in the
present juncture, but did not address myself directly to him, and thought
it the wisest way first to sift the Comte de Cremail, who was a man of
sound sense, and could influence the Marechal de Vitri as he pleased. He
apprehended me at half a word, and immediately asked me if I had made
myself known to any of the prisoners. I answered, readily:

"No, monsieur; and I will tell you my reasons in a very few words.
Bassompierre is a tattler; I expect to do nothing with the Marechal de
Vitri but by your means. I suspect the honesty of Du Coudrai, and as for
my uncle, Du Fargis, he is a gallant man, but has no headpiece."

"Whom, then, do you confide in at Paris?" said the Comte de Cremail.

"I dare trust no man living," said I, "but yourself."

"It is very well," said he, briskly; "you are the man for me. I am above
eighty years old, and you but twenty-five; I will qualify your heat, and
you my chilliness."

We went upon business, drew up our plan, and at parting he said these
very words: "Let me alone one week, and after that I will tell you more
of my mind, for I hope to convince the Cardinal that I am good for
something more than writing the 'Jeu de l'Inconnu.'"

You must know that the "Jeu de l'Inconnu" was a book, indeed, very ill
written, which the Comte de Cremail had formerly published, and which the
Cardinal had grossly ridiculed. You will be surprised, without doubt,
that I should think of prisoners for an affair of this importance, but
the nature of it was such that it could not be put into better hands, as
you will see by and by.

A week after, going to visit the prisoners, and Cremail and myself being
accidentally left alone, we took a walk upon the terrace, where, after a
thousand thanks for the confidence I had put in him, and as many
protestations of his readiness to serve the Comte de Soissons, he spoke
thus: "There is nothing but the thrust of a sword or the city of Paris
that can rid us of the Cardinal. Had I been at the enterprise of Amiens,
I think I should not have missed my blow, as those gentlemen did. I am
for that of Paris; it cannot miscarry; I have considered it well. See
here what additions I have made to our plan." And thereupon he put into
my hand a paper, in substance as follows: that he had conferred with the
Marechal de Vitri, who was as well disposed as anybody in the world to
serve the Count; that they would both answer for the Bastille, where all
the garrison was in their interest; that they were likewise sure of the
arsenal; and that they would also declare themselves as soon as the Count
had gained a battle, on condition that I made it appear beforehand, as I
had told him (the Comte de Cremail), that they should be supported by a
considerable number of officers, colonels of Paris, etc. For the rest,
this paper contained many particular observations on the conduct of the
undertaking, and many cautions relating to the behaviour to be observed
by the Count. That which surprised me most of all was to see how fully
persuaded these gentlemen were of carrying their point with ease.

Though it came into my head to propose this project to the persons in the
Bastille, yet nothing but the perfect knowledge I had of their
disposition and inclination could have persuaded me that it was
practicable. And I confess, upon perusal of the plan prepared by M. de
Cremail, a man of great experience and excellent sense, I was astonished
to find a few prisoners disposing of the Bastille with the same freedom
as the Governor, the greatest authority in the place.

As all extraordinary circumstances are of wonderful weight in popular
revolutions, I considered that this project, which was even ripe for
execution, would have an admirable effect in the city. And as nothing
animates and supports commotions more than the ridiculing of those
against whom they are raised, I knew it would be very easy for us to
expose the conduct of a minister who had tamely suffered prisoners to
hamper him, as one may say, with their chains. I lost no time;
afterwards I opened myself to M. d'Estampes, President of the Great
Council, and to M. l'Ecuyer, President of the Chamber of Accounts, both
colonels, and in great repute among the citizens, and I found them every
way answering the character I had of them from the Count; that is, very
zealous for his interest, and fully persuaded that the insurrection was
not only practicable, but very easy. Pray observe that these two
gentlemen, who made no great figure, even in their own profession, were,
perhaps, two of the most peaceable persons in the kingdom. But there are
some fires which burn all before them. The main thing is to know and
seize the critical moment.

The Count had charged me to disclose myself to none in Paris besides
these two, but I ventured to add two more: Parmentier, substitute to the
Attorney-General; and his brother-in-law, Epinai, auditor of the Chamber
of Accounts, who was the man of the greatest credit, though but a
lieutenant, and the other a captain. Parmentier, who, both by his wit
and courage, was as capable of a great action as any man I ever knew,
promised me that he would answer for Brigalier, councillor in the Court
of Aids, captain in his quarter, and very powerful among the people, but
told me at the same time that he must not know a word of the matter,
because he was a mere rattle, not to be trusted with a secret.

The Count made me a remittance of 12,000 crowns, which I carried to my
aunt De Maignelai, telling her that it was a restitution made by one of
my dying friends, who made me trustee of it upon condition that I should
distribute it among decayed families who were ashamed to make their
necessities known, and that I had taken an oath to distribute it myself,
persuant to the desire of the testator, but that I was at a loss to find
out fit objects for my charity; and therefore I desired her to take the
care of it upon her. The good woman was perfectly transported, and said
she would do it with all her heart; but because I had sworn to make the
distribution myself, she insisted upon it that I must be present, not
only for the sake of my promise, but to accustom myself to do acts of
charity. This was the very thing I aimed at,--an opportunity of knowing
all the poor of Paris. Therefore I suffered myself to be carried every
day by my aunt into the outskirts, to visit the poor in their garrets,
and I met very often in her house people who were very well clad, and
many whom I once knew, that came for private charity. My good aunt
charged them always to pray to God for her nephew, who was the hand that
God had been pleased to make use of for this good work. Judge you of the
influence this gave me over the populace, who are without comparison the
most considerable in all public disturbances. For the rich never come
into such measures unless they are forced, and beggars do more harm than
good, because it is known that they aim at plunder; those, therefore, who
are capable of doing most service are such as are not reduced to common
beggary, yet so straitened in their circumstances as to wish for nothing
more than a general change of affairs in order to repair their broken
fortunes. I made myself acquainted with people of this rank for the
course of four months with uncommon application, so that there was hardly
a child in the chimney-corner but I gratified with some small token. I
called them by their familiar names. My aunt, who always made it her
business to go from house to house to relieve the poor, was a cloak for
all. I also played the hypocrite, and frequented the conferences of
Saint Lazarus.

Varicarville and Beauregarde, my correspondents at Sedan, assured me that
the Comte de Soissons was as well inclined as one could wish, and that he
had not wavered since he had formed his last resolution. Varicarville
said that we had formerly done him horrible injustice, and that they were
now even obliged to restrain him, because he seemed to be too fond of the
counsels of Spain and the Empire. Please to observe that these two
Courts, which had made incredible solicitations to him while he wavered,
began, as soon as his purpose was fixed, to draw back,--a fatality due to
the phlegmatic temper of the Spaniard, dignified by the name of prudence,
joined to the astute politics of the house of Austria. You may observe
at the same time that the Count, who had continued firm and unshaken
three months together, changed his mind as soon as his enemies had
granted what he asked; which exactly comes up to the character of an
irresolute man, who is always most unsteady the nearer the work comes to
its conclusion. I heard of this convulsion, as one may call it, by an
express from Varicarville, and took post the same night for Sedan,
arriving there an hour after Aretonville, an agent despatched from the
Count's brother in-law, M. de Longueville.--[Henri d'Orleans, the second
of that name, died 1663.]--He came with some plausible but deceitful
terms of accommodation which we all agreed to oppose. Those who had been
always with the Count pressed him strongly with the remembrance of what
he himself thought or said was necessary to be done ever since the war
had been resolved on. Saint-Ibal, who had been negotiating for him at
Brussels, pressed him with his engagements, advances, and solicitations,
insisted on the steps I had, by his order, already taken in Paris, on the
promises made to De Vitri and Cremail, and on the secret committed to two
persons by his own command, and to four others for his service and with
his consent. Our arguments, considering his engagements, were very just
and clear. We carried our point with much ado after a conflict of four
days. Aretonville was sent back with a very smart answer. M. de Guise,
who had joined the Count, and was a well-wisher to a rupture, went to
Liege to order the levies, Varicarville and I returned to Paris, but I
did not care to tell my fellow conspirators of the irresolution of our
principal. Some symptoms of it appeared afterwards, but they very soon

Being assured that the Spaniards had everything in readiness, I went for
the last time to Sedan to take my final instructions. There I found
Meternic, colonel of one of the oldest regiments of the Empire,
despatched by General Lamboy, who had advanced with a gallant army under
his command, composed for the most part of veteran troops. The Colonel
assured the Count that he was ordered to obey his commands in everything,
and to give battle to the Marechal de Chatillon, who commanded the army
of France upon the Meuse. As the undertaking at Paris depended entirely
on the success of such a battle, the Count thought it fitting that I
should go along with Meternic to Givet, where I found the army in a very
good condition. Then I returned to Paris, and gave an account of every
particular to the Marechal de Pitri, who drew up the order for the
enterprise. The whole city of Paris seemed so disposed for an
insurrection that we thought ourselves sure of success. The secret was
kept even to a miracle. The Count gave the enemy battle and won it. You
now believe, without doubt, the day was our own. Far from it; for the
Count was killed in the very crisis of the victory, and in the midst of
his own men; but how and by whom no soul could ever tell.

You may guess what a condition I was in when I heard this news; M. de
Cremail, the wisest of us all, thought of nothing else now but how to
conceal the secret, which, though known to only six in all Paris, was
known to too great a number; but the greatest danger of discovery was
from the people of Sedan, who, being out of the kingdom, were not afraid
of punishment. Nevertheless, everybody privy to it religiously kept it
secret, and stood their ground, which, with another accident I shall
mention hereafter, has made me often think, and say too, that secrecy is
not so rare a thing as we imagine with men versed in matters of State.

The Count's death settled me in my profession, for I saw no great things
to be done, and I found myself too old to leave it for anything trifling.
Besides, Cardinal de Richelieu's health was declining, and I already
began to think myself Archbishop of Paris. I resolved that for the
future I would devote myself to my profession. Madame de Guemenee had
retired to Port Royal, her country-seat. M. d'Andilly had got her from
me. She neither powdered nor curled her hair any longer, and had
dismissed me solemnly with all the formalities required from a sincere
penitent. I discovered, by means of a valet de chambre, that, captain
---- of the Marshal's Guards, had as free access to Meilleraye's lady as
myself. See what it is to be a saint! The truth is, I grew much more
regular,--at least affected to be thought so,--led a retired life, stuck
to my profession, studied hard, and got acquainted with all who were
famous either for learning or piety. I converted my house almost into an
academy, but took care not to erect the academy into a rigid tribunal. I
began to be pretty free with the canons and curates, whom I found of
course at my uncle's house. I did not act the devotee, because I could
not be sure how long I should be able to play the counterfeit, but I had
a high esteem for devout people, which with such is the main article of
religion. I suited my pleasures to my practice, and, finding I could not
live without some amorous intrigue, I managed an amour with Madame de
Pommereux, a young coquette, who had so many sparks, not only in her
house but at her devotions, that the apparent business of others was a
cover for mine, which was, at least, some time afterwards, more to the
purpose. When I had succeeded, I became a man in such request among
those of my profession that the devotees themselves used to say of me
with M. Vincent, "Though I had not piety enough, yet I was not far from
the kingdom of heaven."

Fortune favoured me more than usual at this time. I was at the house of
Madame de Rambure, a notable and learned Huguenot, where I met with
Mestrezat, the famous minister of Charento. To satisfy her curiosity she
engaged us in a dispute; we had nine different disputations. The
Marechal de la Forde and M. de Turenne were present at some of them, and
a gentleman of Poitou, who was at all of them, became my proselyte. As I
was then but twenty-six years of age, this made a great deal of noise,
and among other effects, was productive of one that had not the least
connection with its cause, which I shall mention after I have done
justice to a civility I received from my antagonist in one of the
conferences. I had the advantage of him in the fifth meeting, relating
to the spiritual vocation; but in the sixth, treating of the Pope's
authority, I was confounded, because, to avoid embroiling myself with the
Court of Rome, I answered him on principles which are not so easy to be
maintained as those of the Sorbonne. My opponent perceived the concern I
was under, and generously forebore to urge such passages as would have
obliged me to explain myself in a manner disagreeable to the Pope's
Nuncio. I thought it extremely obliging, and as we were going out
thanked him in the presence of M. de Turenne; to which he answered, very
civilly, that it would have been a piece of injustice to hinder the Abbe
de Retz from being made a cardinal. This was such complaisance as you
are not to expect from every Geneva pedant. I told you before that this
conference produced one effect very different from its cause, and it is
this: Madame de Vendome, of whom you have heard, without doubt, took such
a fancy to me ever after, that a mother could not have been more tender.
She had been at the conference too, though I am very well assured she
understood nothing of the matter; but the favourable opinion she had of
me was owing to the Bishop of Lisieux, her spiritual director, who,
finding I was disposed to follow my profession, which out of his great
love to me he most passionately desired, made it his business to magnify
the few good qualities I was master of; and I am thoroughly persuaded
that what applause I had then in the world was chiefly owing to his
encouragement, for there was not a man in France whose approbation could
give so much honour. His sermons had advanced him from a very mean and
foreign extraction (which was Flemish) to the episcopal dignity, which he
adorned with solid and unaffected piety. His disinterestedness was far
beyond that of the hermits or anchorites. He had the courage of Saint
Ambrose, and at Court and in the presence of the King he so maintained
his usual freedom that the Cardinal de Richelieu, who had been his
scholar in divinity, both reverenced and feared him. This good man had
that abundant kindness for me that he read me lectures thrice a week upon
Saint Paul's Epistles, and he designed also the conversion of M. de
Turenne and to give me the honour of it.

M. de Turenne had a great respect for him, whereof he gave him very,
distinguishing marks. The Comte de Brion, whom, I believe, you may
remember under the title of Duc d'Amville, was deeply in love with
Mademoiselle de Vendome, since Madame de Nemours; and, besides, he was a
great favourite of M. de Turenne, who, to do him a pleasure and to give
him the more opportunities to see Mademoiselle de Vendome, affected to be
a great admirer of the Bishop of Lisieux and to hear his exhortations
with a world of attention. The Comte de Brion, who had twice been a
Capuchin, and whose life was a continual medley of sin and devotion,
pretended likewise to be much interested in M. de Turenne's conversion,
and was present at all the conferences held at Mademoiselle de Vendome's
apartment. De Brion had very little wit, but was a clever talker, and
had a great deal of assurance, which not very seldom supplies the room of
good sense. This and the behaviour of M. de Turenne, together with the
indolence of Mademoiselle de Vendome, made me think all was fair, so that
I never suspected an amour at the bottom.

The Bishop of Lisieux being a great admirer of Corneille's writings, and
making no scruple to see a good comedy, provided it was in the country
among a few friends, the late Madame de Choisy proposed to entertain him
with one at Saint Cloud. Accordingly Madame took with her Madame and
Mademoiselle de Vendome, M. de Turenne, M. de Brion, Voiture, and myself.
De Brion took care of the comedy and violins, and I looked after a good
collation. We went to the Archbishop's house at Saint Cloud, where the
comedians did not arrive till very late at night. M. de Lisieux admired
the violins, and Madame de Vendome was hugely diverted to see her
daughter dance alone. In short, we did not set out till peep of day (it
being summer-time), and the days at the longest, and were got no further
than the bottom of the Descent of Bonshommes, when all on a sudden the
coach stopped. I, being next the door opposite to Mademoiselle de
Vendome, bade the coachman drive on. He answered, as plain as he could
speak for his fright, "What! would you have me drive over all these
devils here?" I put my head out of the coach, but, being short-sighted
from my youth, saw nothing at all. Madame de Choisy, who was at the
other door with M. de Turenne, was the first in the coach who found out
the cause of the coachman's fright. I say in the coach, for five or six
lackeys behind it were already crying "Jesu Maria" and quaking with fear.

Madame de Choisy cried out, upon which M. de Turenne threw himself out of
the coach, and I, thinking we were beset by highwaymen, leaped out on the
other side, took one of the footmen's hangers, drew it, and went to the
other aide to join M. de Turenne, whom I found with his eyes fixed on
something, but what I could not see. I asked him what it was, upon which
he pulled me by the sleeve, and said, with a low voice, "I will tell you,
but we must not frighten the ladies," who, by this time, screamed most
fearfully. Voiture began his Oremus, and prayed heartily. You, I
suppose, knew Madame de Choisy's shrill tone; Mademoiselle de Vendome was
counting her beads; Madame de Vendome would fain have confessed her sins
to the Bishop of Lisieux, who said to her, "Daughter, be of good cheer;
you are in the hands of God." At the same instant, the Comte do Brion
and all the lackeys were upon their knees very devoutly singing the
Litany of the Virgin Mary.

M. de Turenne drew his sword, and said to me, with the calm and
undisturbed air he commonly puts on when he calls for his dinner, or
gives battle, "Come, let us go and see who they are."

"Whom should we see?" said I, for I believed we had all lost our senses.

He answered, "I verily think they are devils."

When we had advanced five or six steps I began to see something which I
thought looked like a long procession of black phantoms. I was
frightened at first, because of the sudden reflection that I had often
wished to see a spirit, and that now, perhaps, I should pay for my
incredulity, or rather curiosity. M. de Turenne was all the while calm
and resolute. I made two or three leaps towards the procession, upon
which the company in the coach, thinking we were fighting with all the
devils, cried out most terribly; yet it is a question whether our company
was in a greater fright than the imaginary devils that put us into it,
who, it seems, were a parcel of barefooted reformed Augustine friars,
otherwise called the Black Capuchins, who, seeing two men advancing
towards them with drawn swords, one of them, detached from the
fraternity, cried out, "Gentlemen, we are poor, harmless friars, only
come to bathe in this river for our healths." M. de Turenne and I went
back to the coach ready to die with laughing at this adventure.

Upon the whole we could not help making this reflection, that what we
read in the lives of most people is false. We were both grossly
mistaken, I, for supposing him to be frightened; he, for thinking me calm
and undisturbed. Who, therefore, can write truth better than the man who
has experienced it? The President de Thou is very just in his remark
when he says that "There is no true history extant, nor can be ever
expected unless written by honest men who are not afraid or ashamed to
tell the truth of themselves." I do not pretend to make any merit of my
sincerity in this case, for I feel so great a satisfaction in unfolding
my very heart and soul to you, that the pleasure is even more prevalent
than reason with me in the religious regard I have to the exactness of my

Mademoiselle de Vendome had ever after an inconceivable contempt for the
poor Comte de Brion, who in this ridiculous adventure had disclosed a
weakness never before imagined; and as soon as we were got into the coach
she bantered him, and said, particularly to me:

"I fancy I must be Henri IV.'s granddaughter by the esteem I have for
valour. There's nothing can frighten you, since you were so undaunted on
this extraordinary occasion."

I told her I was afraid, but being not so devout as M. de Brion, my fears
did not turn to litanies.

"You feared not," said she, "and I fancy you do not believe there are
devils, for M. de Turenne, who is very brave, was much surprised, and did
not march on so briskly as you."

I confess the distinction pleased me mightily and made me think of
venturing some compliments. I then said to her, "One may believe there
is a devil and yet not fear him; there are things in the world more

"And what are they?" said she.

"They are so strong," said I, "that one dare not so much as name them."

She interpreted my meaning rightly, as she told me since, though she
seemed at that time not to understand me.

Mademoiselle was not what they call a great beauty, yet she was very
handsome, and I was complimented for saying of her and of Mademoiselle de
Guise that they were beauties of quality who convinced the beholders at
first sight that they were born Princesses. Mademoiselle de Vendome had
no great share of wit, but her folly lay as yet concealed; her air was
grave, tinctured with stateliness, not the effect of good sense, but the
consequence of a languid constitution, which sort of gravity often covers
a multitude of defects. In the main, take her altogether, she was really

Let me beseech you, madame, with all submission, to call now to mind the
commands you were pleased to honour me with a little before your
departure from Paris, that I should give you a precise account of every
circumstance and accident of my life, and conceal nothing. You see, by
what I have already related, that my ecclesiastical occupations were
diversified and relieved, though not disfigured, by other employments of
a more diverting nature. I observed a decorum in all my actions, and
where I happened to make a false step some good fortune or other always
retrieved it. All the ecclesiastics of the diocese wished to see me
succeed my uncle in the archbishopric of Paris, but Cardinal de Richelieu
was of another mind; he hated my family, and most of all my person, for
the reasons already mentioned, and was still more exasperated for these
two which follow.

I once told the late President de Mesmes what seems now to me very
probable, though it is the reverse of what I told you some time ago, that
I knew a person who had few or no failings but what were either the
effect or cause of some good qualities. I then said, on the contrary, to
M. de Mesmes, that Cardinal de Richelieu had not one great quality but
what was the effect or cause of some greater imperfection. This, which
was only 'inter nos', was carried to the Cardinal, I do not know by whom,
under my name. You may judge of the consequences. Another thing that
angered him was because I visited the President Barillon, then prisoner
at Amboise, concerning remonstrances made to the Parliament, and that I
should do it at a juncture which made my journey the more noticeable. Two
miserable hermits and false coiners, who had some secret correspondence
with M. de Vendome, did, upon some discontent or other, accuse him very
falsely of having proposed to them to assassinate the Cardinal, and to
give the more weight to their depositions they named all those they
thought notorious in that country; Montresor and M. Barillon were of the
number. Early notice of this being given me, the great love I had for
the President Barillon made me take post that night to acquaint him with
his danger and get him away from Amboise, which was very feasible; but
he, insisting upon his innocence, rejected my proposals, defied both the
accusers and their accusations, and was resolved to continue in prison.
This journey of mine gave a handle to the Cardinal to tell the Bishop of
Lisieux that I was a cordial friend to all his enemies.

"True enough," said the Bishop; "nevertheless you ought to esteem him;
you have no reason to complain of him, because those men whom you mean
were all his true friends before they became your enemies."

"If it be so," replied the Cardinal, "then I am very much misinformed."

The Bishop at this juncture did me all the kind offices imaginable, and
if the Cardinal had lived he would undoubtedly have restored me to his
favour; for his Eminence was very well disposed, especially when the
Bishop assured him that, though I knew myself ruined at Court to all
intents and purposes, yet I would never come into the measures of M. le
Grand.--[M. de Cinq-Mars, Henri Coeffier, otherwise called Ruze d'Effial,
Master of the Horse of France; he was beheaded September 12, 1642.]--I
was indeed importuned by my friend M. de Thou to join in that enterprise,
but I saw the weakness of their foundation, as the event has shown, and
therefore rejected their proposals.

The Cardinal de Richelieu died in 1642, before the good Bishop had made
my peace with him, and so I remained among those who had rendered
themselves obnoxious to the Ministry. At first this character was very
prejudicial to my interest. Although the King was overjoyed at his
death, yet he carefully observed all the appearances of respect for his
deceased minister, confirmed all his legacies, cared for his family, kept
all his creatures in the Ministry, and affected to frown upon all who had
not stood well with the Cardinal; but I was the only exception to this
general rule. When the Archbishop of Paris presented me to the King, I
was treated with such distinguishing marks of royal favour as surprised
all the Court. His Majesty talked of my studies and sermons, rallied me
with an obliging freedom, and bade me come to Court once every week. The
reasons of these extraordinary civilities were utterly unknown to us
until the night before his death, when he told them to the Queen. I
passed them by in silence before as having no bearing on my history, but
I am obliged to insert them here because they have been, in their
consequences, more fortunate than I seemed to have any just claim to

A short time after I left the college, my governor's valet de chambre
found, at a poor pin-maker's house, a niece of hers but fourteen years
old, who was surprisingly beautiful. After I had seen her he bought her
for me for 150 pistoles, hired a little house for her, and placed her
sister with her; when I went to see her I found her in great heaviness of
mind, which I attributed to her modesty. I next day found what was yet
more surprising and extraordinary than her beauty; she talked wisely and
religiously to me, and yet without passion. She cried only when she
could not help it. She feared her aunt to a degree that made me pity
her. I admired her wit first, and then her virtue, for trial of which I
pressed her as far as was necessary, until I was even ashamed of myself.
I waited till night to get her into my coach, and then carried her to my
aunt De Maignelai, who put her into a convent, where she died eight or
ten years after, in great reputation for piety. My aunt, to whom this
young creature confessed that the menaces of the pin-maker had terrified
her so much that she would have done whatsoever I wished, was so affected
with my behaviour that she went to tell it to the Bishop of Lisieux, who
told it to the King.

This second adventure was not of the same nature, but it made as great an
impression on the King's mind. It was a duel I had with Coutenau,
captain of a company of the King's Light-horse, brave, but wild, who,
riding post from Paris as I was going there, made the ostler take off my
saddle and put on his. Upon my telling him I had hired the horse, he
gave me a swinging box on the ear, which fetched blood. I instantly drew
my sword, and so did he. While making our first thrusts his foot
slipped, and his sword dropped out of his hand as he fell to the ground.
I retired a little and bade him pick it up, which he did, but it was by
the point, for he presented me the handle and begged a thousand pardons.
He told this little story afterwards to the King, with whom he had great
freedom. His Majesty was pleased with it, and remembered both time and
place, as you will see hereafter.

The good reception I found at Court gave my relatives some grounds to
hope that I might have the coadjutorship of Paris. At first they found a
great deal of difficulty in my uncle's narrowness of spirit, which is
always attended with fears and jealousies; but at length they prevailed
upon him, and would have then carried our point, if my friends had not
given it out, much against my judgment, that it was done by the consent
of the Archbishop of Paris, and if they had not suffered the Sorbonne,
the cures, and chapter to return him their thanks. This affair made too
much noise in the world for my interest. For Cardinal Mazarin, De
Noyers, and De Chavigni thwarted me, and told his Majesty that the
chapter should not be entrusted with the power of nominating their own
archbishop. And the King was heard to say that I was yet too young.

But we met with a worse obstacle than all from M. de Noyers, Secretary of
State, one of the three favourite ministers, who passed for a religious
man, and was suspected by some to be a Jesuit in disguise. He had a
secret longing for the archbishopric of Paris, which would shortly be
vacant, and therefore thought it expedient to remove me from that city,
where he saw I was extremely beloved, and provide me with some post
suitable to my years. He proposed to the King by his confessor to
nominate me Bishop of Agde. The King readily granted the request, which
confounded me beyond all expression. I had no mind to go to Languedoc,
and yet so great are the inconveniences of a refusal that not a man had
courage to advise me to it. I became, therefore, my own counsellor, and
having resolved with myself what course to take, I waited upon his
Majesty, and thanked him for his gracious offer, but said I dreaded the
weight of so remote a see, and that my years wanted advice, which it is
difficult to obtain in provinces so distant. I added to this other
arguments, which you may guess at. I was in this adventure also more
happy than wise. The King continued to treat me very kindly. This
circumstance, and the retreat of M. de Noyers, who fell into the snare
that Chavigni had laid for him, renewed my hopes of the coadjutorship of
Paris. The King died about this time, in 1643. M. de Beaufort, who had
been always devoted to the Queen's interest, and even passed for her
gallant, pretended now to govern the kingdom, of which he was not so
capable as his valet de chambre. The Bishop of Beauvais, the greatest
idiot you ever knew, took upon himself the character of Prime Minister,
and on the first day of his administration required the Dutch to embrace
the Roman Catholic religion if they desired to continue in alliance with
France. The Queen was ashamed of this ridiculous minister, and sent for
me to offer my father--[Philippe Emmanuel de Gondi, Comte de Joigni; he
retired to the: Fathers of the Oratory, and became priest; died 1662,
aged eighty-one.]--the place of Prime Minister; but he refusing
peremptorily to leave his cell and the Fathers of the Oratory, the place
was conferred upon Cardinal Mazarin.

You may now imagine that it was no great task for me to obtain what I
desired at a time that nothing was refused, which made Feuillade say that
the only words in the French tongue were "La Reine est si bonne."

Madame de Maignelai and the Bishop of Lisieux desired the Queen to grant
me the coadjutorship of Paris, but they were repulsed, the Queen assuring
them that none should have it but my father, who kept from Court; and
would never be seen at the Louvre, except once, when the Queen told him
publicly that the King, the very night before he died, had ordered her
expressly to have it solicited for me, and that he said in the presence
of the Bishop of Lisieux that he had me always in his thoughts since the
adventures of the pinmaker and Captain Coutenau. What relation had these
trifling stories to the archbishopric of Paris? Thus we see that affairs
of the greatest moment often owe their rise and success to insignificant
trifles and accidents. All the companies went to thank the Queen. I
sent 16,000 crowns to Rome for my bull, with orders not to desire any
favour, lest it should delay the despatch and give the ministers time to
oppose it. I received my bull accordingly; and now you will see me
ascending the theatre of action, where you will find scenes not indeed
worthy of yourself, but not altogether unworthy of your attention.


MADAME:--I lay it down as a maxim, that men who enter the service of the
State should make it their chief study to set out in the world with some
notable act which may strike the imagination of the people, and cause
themselves to be discussed. Thus I preached first upon All Saints' Day,
before an audience which could not but be numerous in a populous city,
where it is a wonder to see the Archbishop in the pulpit. I began now to
think seriously upon my future conduct. I found the archbishopric sunk
both in its temporals and spirituals by the sordidness, negligence, and
incapacity of my uncle. I foresaw infinite obstacles to its
reestablishment, but perceived that the greatest and most insuperable
difficulty lay in myself. I considered that the strictest morals are
necessarily required in a bishop. I felt myself the more obliged to be
strictly circumspect as my uncle had been very disorderly and scandalous.
I knew likewise that my own corrupt inclinations would bear down all
before them, and that all the considerations drawn from honour and
conscience would prove very weak defences. At last I came to a
resolution to go on in my sins, and that designedly, which without doubt
is the more sinful in the eyes of God, but with regard to the world is
certainly the best policy, because he that acts thus always takes care
beforehand to cover part of his failings, and thereby to avoid the
jumbling together of sin and devotion, than which nothing can be more
dangerous and ridiculous in a clergyman. This was my disposition, which
was not the most pious in the world nor yet the wickedest, for I was
fully determined to discharge all the duties of my profession faithfully,
and exert my utmost to save other souls, though I took no care of my own.

The Archbishop, who was the weakest of mortals, was, nevertheless, by a
common fatality attending such men, the most vainglorious; he yielded
precedence to every petty officer of the Crown, and yet in his own house
would not give the right-hand to any person of quality that came to him
about business. My behaviour was the reverse of his in almost
everything; I gave the right-hand to all strangers in my own house, and
attended them even to their coach, for which I was commended by some for
my civility and by others for my humility. I avoided appearing in public
assemblies among people of quality till I had established a reputation.
When I thought I had done so, I took the opportunity of the sealing of a
marriage contract to dispute my rank with M. de Guise. I had carefully
studied the laws of my diocese and got others to do it for me, and my
right was indisputable in my own province. The precedence was adjudged
in my favour by a decree of the Council, and I found, by the great number
of gentlemen who then appeared for me, that to condescend to men of low
degree is the surest way to equal those of the highest.

I dined almost every day with Cardinal Mazarin, who liked me the better
because I refused to engage myself in the cabal called "The Importants,"
though many of the members were my dearest friends. M. de Beaufort, a
man of very mean parts, was so much out of temper because the Queen had
put her confidence in Cardinal Mazarin, that, though her Majesty offered
him favours with profusion, he would accept none, and affected to give
himself the airs of an angry lover. He held aloof from the Duc
d'Orleans, insulted the late Prince, and, in order to support himself
against the Queen-regent, the chief minister, and all the Princes of the
blood, formed a cabal of men who all died mad, and whom I never took for
conjurers from the first time I knew them. Such were Beaupre,
Fontrailles, Fiesque, Montresor, who had the austerity of Cato, but not
his sagacity, and M. de Bethune, who obliged M. de Beaufort to make me
great overtures, which I received very respectfully, but entered into
none. I told Montresor that I was indebted to the Queen for the
coadjutorship of Paris, and that that was enough to keep me from entering
into any engagement that might be disagreeable to her Majesty. Montresor
said I was not obliged for it to the Queen, it having been ordered before
by the late King, and given me at a crisis when she was not in a
condition to refuse it. I replied, "Permit me, monsieur, to forget
everything that may diminish my gratitude, and to remember that only
which may increase it." These words were afterwards repeated to Cardinal
Mazarin, who was so pleased with me that he repeated them to the Queen.

The families of Orleans and Conde, being united by interest, made a jest
of that surly look from which Beaufort's cabal were termed "The
Importants," and at the same time artfully made use of the grand
appearance which Beaufort (like those who carry more sail than ballast)
never failed to assume upon the most trifling occasions. His counsels
were unseasonable, his meetings to no purpose, and even his hunting
matches became mysterious. In short, Beaufort was arrested at the Louvre
by a captain of the Queen's Guards, and carried on the 2d of September,
1643, to Vincennes. The cabal of "The Importants" was put to flight and
dispersed, and it was reported over all the kingdom that they had made an
attempt against the Cardinal's life, which I do not believe, because I
never saw anything in confirmation of it, though many of the domestics of
the family of Vendome were a long time in prison upon this account.

The Marquis de Nangis, who was enraged both against the Queen and
Cardinal, for reasons which I shall tell you afterwards, was strongly
tempted to come into this cabal a few days before Beaufort was arrested,
but I dissuaded him by telling him that fashion is powerful in all the
affairs of life, but more remarkably so as to a man's being in favour or
disgrace at Court. There are certain junctures when disgrace, like fire,
purifies all the bad qualities, and sets a lustre on all the good ones,
and also there are times when it does not become an honest man to be out
of favour at Court. I applied this to the gentlemen of the aforesaid

I must confess, to the praise of Cardinal de Richelieu, that he had
formed two vast designs worthy of a Caesar or an Alexander: that of
suppressing the Protestants had been projected before by Cardinal de
Retz, my uncle; but that of attacking the formidable house of Austria was
never thought of by any before the Cardinal. He completed the first
design, and had made great progress in the latter.

That the King's death made no alteration in affairs was owing to the
bravery of the Prince de Conde and the famous battle of Rocroi, in 1643,
which contributed both to the peace and glory of the kingdom, and covered
the cradle of the present King with laurels. Louis XIV.'s father, who
neither loved nor esteemed his Queen, provided him a Council, upon his
death-bed, for limiting the authority of the Regency, and named the
Cardinal Mazarin, M. Seguier, M. Bouthillier, and M. de Chavigni; but
being all Richelieu's creatures, they were so hated by the public that
when the King was dead they were hissed at by all the footmen at Saint
Germain, and if De Beaufort had had a grain of sense, or if De Beauvais
had not been a disgraceful bishop, or if my father had but entered into
the administration, these collateral Regents would have been undoubtedly
expelled with ignominy, and the memory of Cardinal de Richelieu been
branded by the Parliament with shouts of joy.

The Queen was adored much more for her troubles than for her merit. Her
admirers had never seen her but under persecution; and in persons of her
rank, suffering is one of the greatest virtues. People were apt to fancy
that she was patient to a degree of indolence. In a word, they expected
wonders from her; and Bautru used to say she had already worked a miracle
because the most devout had forgotten her coquetry. The Duc d'Orleans,
who made a show as if he would have disputed the Regency with the Queen,
was contented to be Lieutenant-General of the Kingdom. The Prince de
Conde was declared President of the Council, and the Parliament confirmed
the Regency to the Queen without limitation. The exiles were called
home, prisoners set at liberty, and criminals pardoned. They who had
been turned out were replaced in their respective employments, and
nothing that was asked was refused. The happiness of private families
seemed to be fully secured in the prosperity of the State. The perfect
union of the royal family settled the peace within doors; and the battle
of Rocroi was such a blow to the Spanish infantry that they could not
recover in an age. They saw at the foot of the throne, where the fierce
and terrible Richelieu used to thunder rather than govern, a mild and
gentle successor,--[Cardinal Julius Mazarin, Minister of State, who died
at Vincennes in 1661.]--who was perfectly complacent and extremely
troubled that his dignity of Cardinal did not permit him to be as humble
to all men as he desired; and who, when he went abroad, had no other
attendants than two footmen behind his coach. Had not I, then, reason
for saying that it did not become an honest man to be on bad terms with
the Court at that time of day?

You will wonder, no doubt, that nobody was then aware of the consequence
of imprisoning M. de Beaufort, when the prison doors were set open to all
others. This bold stroke--at a time when the Government was so mild that
its authority was hardly felt--had a very great effect. Though nothing
was more easy, as you have seen, yet it looked grand; and all acts of
this nature are very successful because they are attended with dignity
without any odium. That which generally draws an unaccountable odium
upon even the most necessary actions of statesmen, is that, in order to
compass them, they are commonly obliged to struggle with very great
difficulties, which, when they are surmounted, are certain to render them
objects both of envy and hatred. When a considerable occasion offers,
where there is no victory to be gained because there is no difficulty to
encounter, which is very rare, it gives a lustre to the authority of
ministers which is pure, innocent, and without a shadow, and not only
establishes it, but casts upon their administration the merit of actions
which they have no hand in, as well as those of which they have.

When the world saw that the Cardinal had apprehended the man who had
lately brought the King back to Paris with inconceivable pride, men's
imaginations were seized with an astonishing veneration. People thought
themselves much obliged to the Minister that some were not sent to the
Bastille every week; and the sweetness of his temper was sure to be
commended whenever he had not an opportunity of doing them harm. It must
be owned that he had the art of improving his good luck to the best
advantage. He made use of all the outward appearances necessary to
create a belief that he had been forced to take violent measures, and
that the counsels of the Duc d'Orleans and the Prince de Conde had
determined the Queen to reject his advice; the day following he seemed to
be more moderate, civil, and frank than before; he gave free access to
all; audiences were easily had, it was no more to dine with him than with
a private gentleman. He had none of that grand air so common to the
meaner cardinals. In short, though he was at the head of everybody, yet
he managed as if he were only their companion. That which astonishes me
most is that the princes and grandees of the kingdom, who, one might
expect, would be more quick-sighted than the common people, were the most

The Duc d'Orleans and the Prince de Conde--the latter attached to the
Court by his covetous temper--thought themselves above being rivalled;
the Duke--[Henri de Bourbon, Duc d'Enghien, born 1646, died 1686. We
shall often speak of him in this history.]--was old enough to take his
repose under the shadow of his laurels; M. de Nemours--[Charles Amadeus
of Savoy, killed in a duel by M. de Beaufort, 1650.]--was but a child; M.
de Guise, lately returned from Brussels, was governed by Madame de Pons,
and thought to govern the whole Court; M. de Schomberg complied all his
life long with the humour of those who were at the helm; M. de Grammont
was a slave to them. The Parliament, being delivered from the tyranny of
Richelieu, imagined the golden age was returning, being daily assured by
the Prime Minister that the Queen would not take one step without them.
The clergy, who are always great examples of slavish servitude
themselves, preached it to others under the plausible title of passive
obedience. Thus both clergy and laity were, in an instant, become the
devotees of Mazarin.

Being ordered by my Lord Archbishop of Paris to take care of his diocese
in his absence, my first business was, by the Queen's express command, to
visit the Nuns of the Conception, where, knowing that there were above
fourscore virgins, many of whom were very pretty and some coquettes, I
was very loth to go for fear, of exposing my virtue to temptation; but I
could not be excused, so I went, and preserved my virtue, to my
neighbour's edification, because for six weeks together I did not see the
face of any one of the nuns, nor talked to any of them but when their
veils were down, which gave me a vast reputation for chastity. I
continued to perform all the necessary functions in the diocese as far as
the jealousy of my uncle would give me leave, and, forasmuch as he was
generally so peevish that it was a very hard matter to please him, I at
length chose to sit still and do nothing. Thus I made the best use
imaginable of my uncle's ill-nature, being sure to convince him of my
honest intentions upon all occasions; whereas had I been my own master,
the rules of good conduct would have obliged me to confine myself to
things in their own nature practicable.

The Cardinal Mazarin confessed to me, many years afterwards, that this
conduct of mine in managing the affairs of the diocese, though it did him
no injury, was the first thing that made him jealous of my growing
greatness in Paris. Another thing alarmed him with as little reason, and
that was my undertaking to examine the capacity of all the priests of my
diocese, a thing of inconceivable use and importance. For this end I
erected three tribunals, composed of canons, curates, and men of
religious orders, who were to reduce all the priests under three
different classes, whereof the first was to consist of men well
qualified, who were therefore to be left in the exercise of their
functions; the second was to comprehend those who were not at present,
but might in time prove able men; and the third of such men as were
neither now nor ever likely to become so. The two last classes, being
separated from the first, were not to exercise their functions, but were
lodged in separate houses; those of the second class were instructed in
the doctrine, but the third only in the practice of piety. As this could
not but be very expensive, the good people opened their purses and
contributed liberally. The Cardinal was so disturbed when he heard of it
that he got the Queen to send for my uncle upon a frivolous occasion,
who, for reasons as frivolous, ordered me to desist. Though I was very
well informed, by my good friend the Almoner, that the blow came from
Court, I bore it with a great deal more patience than was consistent with
a man of my spirit, for I did not seem to take the least notice of it,
but was as gracious to the Cardinal as ever. But I was not so wary in
another case which happened some time after, for honest Morangis telling
me I was too extravagant, which was but too true, I answered him rashly,
"I have made a calculation that Caesar, when at my age, owed six times as
much." This remark was carried, unluckily, by a doctor then present, to
M. Servien, who told it maliciously to the Cardinal, who made a jest of
it, as he had reason to do, but he took notice of it, for which I cannot
blame him.

In 1645 I was invited, as a diocesan, to the assembly of the clergy,
which, I may truly say, was the rock whereon the little share of favour I
had at Court was cast away. Cardinal de Richelieu had given a cruel blow
to the dignity and liberty of the clergy in the assembly of Mantes, and,
with very barbarous circumstances, had banished six of his most
considerable prelates. It was resolved in this assembly of 1645 to make
them some amends for their firmness on that occasion by inviting them to
come and take their places--though they were not deputed--among their
brethren. When this was first, proposed in the assembly, nobody dreamt
that the Court would take offence at it, and it falling to my turn to
speak first, I proposed the said resolution, as it had been concerted
betwixt us before in private conversation, and it was unanimously
approved of by the assembly.

At my return home the Queen's purse-bearer came to me with an order to
attend her Majesty forthwith, which I accordingly obeyed. When I came
into her presence she said she could not have believed I would ever have
been wanting in my duty to that degree as to wound the memory of the late
King, her lord. I had such reasons to offer as she could not herself
confute, and therefore referred me to the Cardinal, but I found he
understood those things no better than her Majesty. He spoke to me with
the haughtiest air in the world, refused to hear my justification, and
commanded me in the King's name to retract publicly the next day in full
assembly. You may imagine how difficult it was for me to resolve what to
do. However, I did not break out beyond the bounds of modest respect,
and, finding that my submission made no impression upon the Cardinal, I
got the Bishop of Arles, a wise and moderate gentleman, to go to him
along with me, and to join with me in offering our reasons. But we found
his Eminence a very ignoramus in ecclesiastical polity. I only mention
this to let you see that in my first misunderstanding with the Court I
was not to blame, and that my respect for the Cardinal upon the Queen's
account was carried to an excess of patience.

Some months after, his profound ignorance and envenomed malice furnished
me with a fresh occasion to exercise patience. The Bishop of Warmia, one
of the ambassadors that came to fetch the Queen of Poland, was very
desirous to celebrate the marriage in the Church of Notre-Dame. Though
the archbishops of Paris never suffered solemnities of this kind to be
celebrated in their churches by any but cardinals of the royal family,
and though my uncle had been highly blamed by all his clergy for
permitting the Cardinal de La Rochefoucault to marry the Queen of
England,--[Henriette Marie of France, daughter of Henri IV., died
1669.]--nevertheless I was ordered by a 'lettre de cachet' to prepare the
said Church of Notre Dame for the Bishop of Warmia, which order ran in
the same style as that given to the 'prevot des marchands' when he is to
prepare the Hotel de Ville for a public ball. I showed the letter to the
deans and canons, and said I did not doubt but it was a stratagem of one
or other of the Secretary of State's clerks to get a gift of money.

I thereupon went to the Cardinal, pressed him with both reasons and
precedents, and said that, as I was his particular humble servant, I
hoped he would be pleased to lay them before her Majesty, making use of
all other persuasion--which I thought would dispose him to a compliance.
It was then that I learned that he only wanted an opportunity to embroil
me with the Queen, for though I saw plainly that he was sorry he had
given such orders before he knew their consequence, yet, after some
pause, he reassumed his former obstinacy to the very last degree; and,
because I spoke in the name of the Archbishop and of the whole Church of
Paris, he stormed as much as if a private person upon his own authority
had presumed to make a speech to him at the head of fifty malcontents. I
endeavoured with all respect to show him that our case was quite
different; but he was so ignorant of our manners and customs that he took
everything by the wrong handle. He ended the conversation very abruptly
and rudely, and referred me to the Queen. I found her Majesty in a
fretful mood, and all I could get out of her was a promise to hear the
chapter upon this affair, without whose consent--I had declared I could
not conclude anything.

I sent for them accordingly, and having introduced them to the Queen,
they spoke very discreetly and to the purpose. The Queen sent us back to
the Cardinal, who entertained us only with impertinences, and as he had
but a superficial knowledge of the French language, he concluded by
telling me that I had talked very insolently to him the night before. You
may imagine that that word was enough to vex me, but having resolved
beforehand to keep my temper, I smiled, and said to the deputies,
"Gentlemen, this is fine language." He was nettled at my smile, and said
to me in aloud tone, "Do you know whom you talk to? I will teach you how
to behave." Now, I confess, my blood began to boil. I told him that the
Coadjutor of Paris was talking to Cardinal Mazarin, but that perhaps he
thought himself the Cardinal de Lorraine, and me the Bishop of Metz, his

Then we went away and met the Marechal d'Estrees coming up to us, who
came to advise me not to break with the Court, and to tell me that things
might be arranged; and when he found I was of another opinion, he told me
in plain terms that he had orders from the Queen to oblige me to come to
her. I went without more ado, accompanied by the deputies, and found her
more gracious and better humoured than I am able to express. She told me
that she had a mind to see me, not so much in relation to our affair,
which might be easily accommodated, as to reprimand me for using such
language to the poor Cardinal, who was as meek as a lamb, and loved me as
his own son. She added all the kind things possible, and ordered the
dean and deputies to go along with me to the Cardinal's house, that we
might consult together what course to take. This was so much against my
inclination that I gave the Queen to understand that no person in the
world but her Majesty could have persuaded me to it.

We found the Minister even milder than his mistress. He made a world of
excuses for the word "insolent," by which he said, and perhaps it may be
true, that he meant no more than 'insolito', a word signifying "somewhat
uncommon." He showed me all the civility imaginable, but, instead of
coming to any determination, put us off to another opportunity. A few
days after, a letter was brought me at midnight from the Archbishop,
commanding me to let the Bishop of Warmia perform the marriage without
any more opposition.

Had I been wise I should have stopped there, because a man ought in
prudence to make his peace with the Court upon any terms consistent with
honour. But I was young, and the more provoked because I perceived that
all the fair words given me at Fontainebleau were but a feint to gain
time to write about the affair to my uncle, then at Angers. However, I
said nothing to the messenger, more than that I was glad my uncle had so
well brought me off. The chapter being likewise served with the same
order, we sent the Court this answer: That the Archbishop might do what
he listed in the nave of the church, but that the choir belonged to the
chapter, and they would yield it to no man but himself or his coadjutor.
The Cardinal knew the meaning of this, and thereupon resolved to have the
marriage solemnised in the Chapel Royal, whereof he said the Great
Almoner was bishop. But this being a yet more important question than
the other, I laid the inconveniences of it before him in a letter. This
nettled him, and he made a mere jest of my letter. I gave the Queen of
Poland to understand that, if she were married in that manner, I should
be forced, even against my will, to declare the marriage void; but that
there remained one expedient which would effectually remove all
difficulties,--that the marriage might be performed in the King's Chapel,
and should stand good provided that the Bishop of Warmia came to me for a

The Queen, resolving to lose no more time by awaiting new orders from
Angers, and fearing the least flaw in her marriage, the Court was obliged
to comply with my proposal, and the ceremony was performed accordingly.

Not long after this marriage I was unhappily embroiled with the Duc
d'Orleans, upon an occasion of no greater importance than my foot-cloth
in the Church of Notre-Dame, which was by mistake removed to his seat. I
complained of it to him, and he ordered it to be restored. Nevertheless
the Abby de la Riviere made him believe I had put an affront upon him
that was too public to be pardoned. The Duke was so simple as to believe
it, and, while the courtiers turned all into banter, he swore he would
receive incense before me at the said church for the future. In the
meantime the Queen sent for me, and told me that the Duke was in a
terrible passion, for which she was very sorry, but that nevertheless she
could not help being of his opinion, and therefore insisted upon it that
I ought to give him satisfaction in the Church of Notre-Dame the Sunday
following. Upon the whole she referred me to Cardinal Mazarin, who
declared to me at first that he was very sorry to see me in so much
trouble, blamed the Abby for having incensed the Duke to such a degree,
and used all the arguments he could to wheedle me to give my consent to
being degraded. And when he saw I was not to be led, he endeavoured to
drive me into the snare. He stormed with an air of authority, and would
fain have bullied me into compliance, telling me that hitherto he had
spoken as a friend, but that I had forced him henceforth to speak as a
minister. He also began to threaten, and the conversation growing warm,
he sought to pick a quarrel by insinuating that if I would do as Saint
Ambrose did, I ought to lead a life like him. As he spoke this loud
enough to be heard by some bishops at the other end of the room, I
likewise raised my voice, and told him I would endeavour to make the best
use of his advice, but he might assure himself I was fully resolved so to
imitate Saint Ambrose in this affair that I might, through his means,
obtain grace to be able to imitate him in all others.

I had not been long gone home when the Marechal d'Estrees and M.
Senneterre came, furnished with all the flowers of rhetoric, to persuade
me that degradation was honourable; and finding me immovable, they
insinuated that my obstinacy might oblige his Highness to use force, and
order his guards to carry me, in spite of myself, to Notre-Dame, and
place me there on a seat below his. I thought this suggestion too
ridiculous to mind it at first, but being forewarned of it that very
evening by the Duke's Chancellor, I put myself upon the defensive, which
I think is the most ridiculous piece of folly I was ever guilty of,
considering it was against a son of France, and when there was a profound
tranquillity in the State, without the least appearance of any commotion.
The Duke, to whom I had the honour of being related, was pleased with my
boldness. He remembered the Abby de la Riviere for his insolence in
complaining that the Prince de Conti was marked down for a cardinal
before him; besides, the Duke knew I was in the right, having made it
very evident in a statement I had published upon this head. He
acquainted the Cardinal with it, said he would not suffer the least
violence to be offered to me; that I was both his kinsman and devoted
servant, and that he would not set out for the army till he saw the
affair at an end.

All the Court was in consternation for fear of a rupture, especially when
the Prince de Conde had been informed by the Queen of what his son had
said; and when he came to my house and found there sixty or eighty
gentlemen, this made him believe that a league was already made with the
Duke, but there was nothing in it. He swore, he threatened, he begged,
he flattered, and in his transports he let fall some expressions which
showed that the Duke was much more concerned for my interest than he ever
yet owned to me. I submitted that very instant, and told the Prince that
I would do anything rather than the royal family should be divided on my
account. The Prince, who hitherto found me immovable, was so touched at
my sudden surrender in complaisance to his son, at the very time, too,
when he himself had just assured me I was to expect a powerful protection
from him, that he suddenly changed his temper, so that, instead of
thinking as he did at first, that there was no satisfaction great enough
for the Duc d'Orleans, he now determined plainly in favour of the
expedient I had so often proposed,--that I should go and declare to him,
in the presence of the whole Court, that I never designed to be wanting
in the respect I owed him, and that the orders of the Church had obliged
me to act as I did at Notre-Dame. The Cardinal and the Abby de la
Riviere were enraged to the last degree, but the Prince put them into
such fear of the Duke that they were fain to submit. The Prince took me
to the Duc d'Orleans's house, where I gave them satisfaction before the
whole Court, precisely in the words above mentioned. His Highness was
quite satisfied with my reasons, carried me to see his medals, and thus
ended the controversy.

As this affair and the marriage of the Queen of Poland had embroiled me
with the Court, you may easily conceive what turn the courtiers gave to
it. But here I found by experience that all the powers upon earth cannot
hurt the reputation of a man who preserves it established and unspotted
in the society whereof he is a member. All the learned clergy took my
part, and I soon perceived that many of those who had before blamed my
conduct now retracted. I made this observation upon a thousand other
occasions. I even obliged the Court, some time after, to commend my,
proceedings, and took an opportunity to convince the Queen that it was my
dignity, and not any want of respect and gratitude, that made me resist
the Court in the two former cases. The Cardinal was very well pleased
with me, and said in public that he found me as much concerned for the
King's service as I was before for the honour of my character.

It falling to my turn to make the speech at the breaking up of the
assembly of the clergy at Paris, I had the good luck to please both the
clergy and the Court. Cardinal Mazarin took me to supper with him alone,
seemed to be clear of all prejudices against me, and I verily believe was
fully persuaded that he had been imposed upon. But I was too much
beloved in Paris to continue long in favour at Court. This was a crime
that rendered me disagreeable in the eyes of a refined Italian statesman,
and which was the more dangerous from the fact that I lost no opportunity
of aggravating it by a natural and unaffected expense, to which my air of
negligence gave a lustre, and by my great alms and bounty, which, though
very often secret, had the louder echo; whereas, in truth, I had acted
thus at first only in compliance with inclination and out of a sense of
duty. But the necessity I was under of supporting myself against the
Court obliged me to be yet more liberal. I do but just mention it here
to show you that the Court was jealous of me, when I never thought myself
capable of giving them the least occasion, which made me reflect that a
man is oftener deceived by distrusting than by being overcredulous.

Cardinal Mazarin, who was born and bred in the Pope's dominions, where
papal authority has no limits, took the impetus given to the regal power
by his tutor, the Cardinal de Richelieu, to be natural to the body
politic, which mistake of his occasioned the civil war, though we must
look much higher for its prime cause.

It is above 1,200 years that France has been governed by kings, but they
were not as absolute at first as they are now. Indeed, their authority
was never limited by written laws as are the Kings of England and
Castile, but only moderated by received customs, deposited, as I may say,
at first in the hands of the States of the kingdom, and afterwards in
those of the Parliament. The registering of treaties with other Crowns
and the ratifications of edicts for raising money are almost obliterated
images of that wise medium between the exorbitant power of the Kings and
the licentiousness of the people instituted by our ancestors. Wise and
good Princes found that this medium was such a seasoning to their power
as made it delightful to their people. On the other hand, weak and
vicious Kings always hated it as an obstacle to all their extravagances.
The history of the Sire de Joinville makes it evident that Saint Louis
was an admirer of this scheme of government, and the writings of Oresme,
Bishop of Lisieux, and of the famous Juvenal des Ursins, convince us that
Charles V., who merited the surname of Wise, never thought his power to
be superior to the laws and to his duty. Louis XI., more cunning than
truly wise, broke his faith upon this head as well as all others. Louis
XII. would have restored this balance of power to its ancient lustre if
the ambition of Cardinal Amboise,--[George d'Amboise, the first of the
name, in 1498 Minister to Louis XII., deceased 1510.]--who governed him
absolutely, had not opposed it.

The insatiable avarice of Constable Montmorency--[Anne de Montmorency,
Constable of France in 1538, died 1567.]--tended rather to enlarge than
restrain the authority of Francois I. The extended views and vast
designs of M. de Guise would not permit them to think of placing bounds
to the prerogative under Francois II. In the reigns of Charles IX. and
Henri III. the Court was so fatigued with civil broils that they took
everything for rebellion which was not submission. Henri IV., who was
not afraid of the laws, because he trusted in himself, showed he had a
high esteem for them. The Duc de Rohan used to say that Louis XIII. was
jealous of his own authority because he was ignorant of its full extent,
for the Marechal d'Ancrel and M. de Luynes were mere dunces, incapable of
informing him. Cardinal de Richelieu, who succeeded them, collected all
the wicked designs and blunders of the two last centuries to serve his
grand purpose. He laid them down as proper maxims for establishing the
King's authority, and, fortune seconding his designs by the disarming of
the Protestants in France, by the victories of the Swedes, by the
weakness of the Empire and of Spain, he established the most scandalous
and dangerous tyranny that perhaps ever enslaved a State in the best
constituted monarchy under the sun.

Custom, which has in some countries inured men even to broil as it were
in the heat of the sun, has made things familiar to us which our
forefathers dreaded more than fire itself. We no longer feel the slavery
which they abhorred more for the interest of their King than for their
own. Cardinal de Richelieu counted those things crimes which before him
were looked upon as virtues. The Mirons, Harlays, Marillacs, Pibracs,
and the Fayes, those martyrs of the State who dispelled more factions by
their wholesome maxims than were raised in France by Spanish or British
gold, were defenders of the doctrine for which the Cardinal de Richelieu
confined President Barillon in the prison of Amboise. And the Cardinal
began to punish magistrates for advancing those truths which they were
obliged by their oaths to defend at the hazard of their lives.

Our wise Kings, who understood their true interest, made the Parliament
the depositary of their ordinances, to the end that they might exempt
themselves from part of the odium that sometimes attends the execution of
the most just and necessary decrees. They thought it no disparagement to
their royalty to be bound by them,--like unto God, who himself obeys the
laws he has preordained. ['A good government: where the people obey their
king and the king obeys the law'--Solon. D.W.] Ministers of State, who
are generally so blinded by the splendour of their fortune as never to be
content with what the laws allow, make it their business to overturn
them; and Cardinal de Richelieu laboured at it more constantly than any
other, and with equal application and imprudence.

God only is self-existent and independent; the most rightful monarchs and
established monarchies in the world cannot possibly be supported but by
the conjunction of arms and laws,--a union so necessary that the one
cannot subsist without the other. Laws without the protection of arms
sink into contempt, and arms which are not tempered by laws quickly turn
a State into anarchy. The Roman commonwealth being set aside by Julius
Caesar, the supreme power which was devolved upon his successors by force
of arms subsisted no longer than they were able to maintain the authority
of the laws; for as soon as the laws lost their force, the power of the
Roman Emperors vanished, and the very men that were their favourites,
having got possession of their seals and their arms, converted their
masters' substance into their own, and, as it were, sucked them dry under
the shelter of those repealed laws. The Roman Empire, formerly sold by
auction to the highest bidder, and the Turkish emperors, whose necks are
exposed every day to the bowstring, show us in very bloody characters the
blindness of those men that make authority to consist only in force.

But why need we go abroad for examples when we have so many at home?
Pepin, in dethroning the Merovingian family, and Capet, in dispossessing
the Carlovingians, made use of nothing else but the same power which the
ministers, their predecessors, had acquired under the authority of their
masters; and it is observable that the mayors of the Palace and the
counts of Paris placed themselves on the thrones of kings exactly by the
same methods that gained them their masters' favours,--that is, by
weakening and changing the laws of the land, which at first always
pleases weak princes, who fancy it aggrandises their power; but in its
consequence it gives a power to the great men and motives to the common
people to rebel against their authority. Cardinal de Richelieu was
cunning enough to have all these views, but he sacrificed everything to
his interest. He would govern according to his own fancy, which scorned
to be tied to rules, even in cases where it would have cost him nothing
to observe them. And he acted his part so well that, if his successor
had been a man of his abilities, I doubt not that the title of Prime
Minister, which he was the first to assume, would have been as odious in
France in a little time as were those of the Maire du Palais and the
Comte de Paris. But by the providence of God, Cardinal Mazarin, who
succeeded him, was not capable of giving the State any jealousy of his
usurpation. As these two ministers contributed chiefly, though in a
different way, to the civil war, I judge it highly necessary to give you
the particular character of each, and to draw a parallel between them.

Cardinal de Richelieu was well descended; his merit sparkled even in his
youth. He was taken notice of at the Sorbonne, and it was very soon
observed that he had a strong genius and a lively fancy. He was commonly
happy in the choice of his parties. He was a man of his word, unless
great interests swayed him to the contrary, and in such a case he was
very artful to preserve all the appearances of probity. He was not
liberal, yet he gave more than he promised, and knew admirably well how
to season all his favours. He was more ambitious than was consistent
with the rules of morality, although it must be owned that, whenever he
dispensed with them in favour of his extravagant ambition, his great
merit made it almost excusable. He neither feared dangers nor yet
despised them, and prevented more by his sagacity than he surmounted by
his resolution. He was a hearty friend, and even wished to be beloved by
the people; but though he had civility, a good aspect, and all the other
qualifications to gain that love, yet he still wanted something--I know
not what to call it--which is absolutely necessary in this case. By his
power and royal state he debased and swallowed up the personal majesty of
the King. He distinguished more judiciously than any man in the world
between bad and worse, good and better, which is a great qualification in
a minister. He was too apt to be impatient at mere trifles when they had
relation to things of moment; but those blemishes, owing to his lofty
spirit, were always accompanied with the necessary talent of knowledge to
make amends for those imperfections. He had religion enough for this
world. His own good sense, or else his inclination, always led him to


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