Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

little pleasure in any society but that of old officers, whom he incessantly questioned about military facts and theories. Thus five or six years passed away, until Anne of Austria, after twenty years of sterility, produced a dauphin-afterwards Louis XIV.; and the Prince of Condé carried his son with him to participate in the rejoicings of the court. He was now in his eighteenth summer, and the court hailed him as the prime ornament of those great festivities. In stature he hardly passed the middle height, but his figure was perfect-a model of strength, agility, and youthful grace and though he made no pretensions to regular beauty of lineaments, his countenance was in the highest degree striking and majestic-the true eagle eye-large, dark, and bold,-the only serious defect being in the mouth, which, more than any other feature, expresses moral qualities. His moustachios were not yet grown enough to conceal the coarseness of a sensual lip, and teeth long and projecting, in which physiognomists of Albertus' school would have recognised the type of the wolf. the court ladies were very willing to overlook these blemishes. Even his cousin, the famous daughter of Gaston of Orleans, though she abhorred the whole race of Condé, is lavish in her praises of his royal mien. He has,' she writes, the grandest head in the court, and entirely the air of a great prince.' Women seldom care much about a man who seems to think much of his own person. The young duke was, as he always continued to be, somewhat slovenly in his dress. He had not the least turn for any sort of finery, and, unless on occasions of ceremony, adhered to the plain black garb which he had become accustomed to at the Jesuits' College. His dancing, however, was inimitable; and his ready wit gave him the lead equally in all the petits jeux of the Palais Royal. It was on the same occasion also that Paris saw for the first time his too celebrated sister Anne-Geneviève, styled till her marriage Mademoiselle de Bourbon. A more consummate beauty never blazed upon the world. She was a year older than her brother, and seems to have greatly resembled him in character. Though her eye was soft, and her smile and blush angelic, she had inherited the pride, audacity, cruelty, and lasciviousness of the old Bourbons, as well as the captivating grace of the Montmorencies.†

"

After a few weeks of festivity, the court sank back into the dulness which had for many years characterized it. Louis XIII., whether or not he suspected his queen of having given him an heir but not a son,* withdrew from her society, and re

The King was jealous of his brother. See Bayle's article on Louis XIII.

The epithet angelic is constantly applied to her by the memoir-writers. 'Whoever,' says the Spanish adage, 'would make a devil, must begin by catching an angel.'

sumed

sumed his solitary existence at St. Germain. His health was already feeble, and he seemed to have no pleasure left but in the noble chace of badgers. He had ceased to interfere with his imperious minister; and Anne of Austria, disheartened and all but disgraced, presumed no longer to dream of intriguing against Richelieu. The Cardinal was king in all but the name, and exacted even from God's anointed the honours of royalty. The Prince of Condé, like Gaston of Orleans, was a supple courtier to the true monarch, who usually held his state at Ruel, guarded by his own guards, taking precedence of the princes of the blood, receiving the queen without rising from his chair, and only half rising when Louis himself entered his chamber. The Cardinal had hardly condescended to mix in the recent festivities-but what he had heard of the young D'Enghien excited his curiosity. He sent for and had a long conversation with him, and is said to have told Chavigné, the same evening, that he had spent two hours with a boy who could not fail to turn out the greatest man in France. The prophecy is not well authenticated-but when the Prince of Condé went in the following spring to command the army in Spain, Richelieu allowed him to make D'Enghien his deputy in the government of Burgundy. The youth would rather have accompanied his father to the camp, but submitted, as usual, to his wishes; and, though of course he had counsel and assistance, 'so conducted himself in this employment as to acquire esteem and respect in that great province.'

Next year (1640) 'D'Enghien was gratified by permission to make the campaign in Flanders under the Maréchal de la Meilleraie, and during the siege and capture of Arras distinguished himself by brilliant gallantry. On his return he had another private interview with Richelieu, who remained confirmed in his favourable opinion; and condescended to listen to the Prince his father's humble suit for a family alliance. As to this matter, the young man's own inclinations were not consulted. Allpowerful as Richelieu was, the heir of the Condés saw in him only a successful parvenu. To mix his royal blood with that of any but the very highest of the old noble houses in France seemed to him an inconceivable degradation. The father, however, was resolved, and the son submitted. He was married in February, 1641, to Clémence, the daughter of Richelieu's sister, the Duchess of Maillé-Brezé.

The bride was only entering her fourteenth year-and so mere a child, that two years afterwards she is said to have been found playing with a doll. She was treated from her wedding-hour with utter contempt, and when D'Enghien fell ill of a fever shortly after, the court agreed, nem. con., that it was a fever of

vexation

vexation and disgust. Yet Clémence deserved other usage. Her person was small, but her complexion was fine, and her eyes very beautiful, and Madame de Motteville, no prejudiced chronicler, adds, that whenever she was pleased to speak, she acquitted herself spirituellement. The rare excellences of her character only emerged into notice after she had spent many miserable years in her new position.

The duke, on shaking off his fever, immediately rejoined the army of La Meilleraie, and served out the rest of a not very distinguished campaign. Next year Louis XIII., though almost dying, insisted on taking the field in person, and D'Enghien accompanied him to the Spanish frontier. The operations ended in the entire conquest of Roussillon. The duke had again covered himself with honour, especially at the siege of Perpignan.

On his way back from Roussillon, he passed through Lyons, but neglected to visit its archbishop, the Cardinal Alphonse de Richelieu. On reaching Paris he waited on the minister, who asked him how he had found his brother at Lyons. Lyons. He was obliged to confess that he had not seen the archbishop. The minister made no observation at the time, but explained himself an hour after to the Prince of Condé, who ordered his son instantly to retrace his way to Lyons. He obeyed, and after a journey of 200 leagues over bad roads in bad weather again reached Lyons: but Alphonse had been informed of his compulsory travels, and, no doubt on his brother's suggestion, removed to Marseilles. The duke followed him thither, and then made the best of his way back to Ruel; Richelieu repeated his question about his brother's health, and having received an answer, appeared satisfied.

The great Cardinal was himself to the last-and he was now near his end. Most sick men who meet death in the possession of their faculties have sufficient internal indications of the approaching fate. On the 4th of December, 1642, Richelieu sent for the king to his bedside, and asked and received a solemn promise that his last arrangements should be punctually obeyed. He had disposed of every great office in France, as if France had been his patrimonial possession-and, among other appointments, named his secretary, Mazarin (originally a domestic), as his successor in the ministry. Dismissing the king, who was almost as ill as himself, he invited the attendance of his confessor; and various bishops and abbots then assembled about him to be edified with the calm piety of his last sacraments. He died in their presence without a groan. A murmur of devout admiration was echoed through the group of prelates. The Bishop of Nantes, who had more shrewdness than the

VOL. LXXI. NO. CXLI.

I

rest,

rest, or more candour, or perhaps only more malignity, ventured to whisper, Profecto nimium magna illa tranquillitas me terrebat.' Such was the parting of this haughty, bloody priest. The weak king, who had feared him living and dying, and who seemed to fear him even when dead, was not to survive his master-minister long: but he could not imitate the tranquillity that terrified Bishop Corpeau. When his agony seemed to be over, there was an eager whispering among the attendants at the foot of the royal bed. The little dauphin, now seven years old, understood their meaning, and exclaimed with childish exultation, 'Je suis Louis Quatorze!' Louis Treize gathered strength for one shriek of Pas encore!' and expired (May 14, 1643).

Richelieu's life had been spent in the endeavour to break down the ancient aristocracy of France, and convert the monarchy which he wielded into a pure despotism. The union of imperturbable courage and unfathomable perfidy had seemed towards the close entirely triumphant; but though Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria upheld his system to the utmost of their means and understanding after he was no more, the great nobility, headed by the princes of the blood, were not prepared to see that system continued under his Italian successor. The supple foreigner foresaw how easily a national prejudice might be nurtured to his embarrassment, and at once yielded on various points of formality and precedence which had given greater offence than weightier encroachments could do to the brother of Louis XIII. But the demand of the Condés was a serious one-it was no less than the immediate command of the army on the Flemish frontier for the Duke d'Enghien-now in the twenty-second year of his age. He had given abundant proofs of daring courage-but could not by possibility have exhibited possession of any other quality which such a post required. But the heir of Condé was also the husband of Richelieu's niece, and Mazarin shrunk from the risk of irritating at once two great interests in the state. Shortly before the king's death the young duke was appointed; and the indignation of the public had hardly been expressed before it was most effectually rebuked: for, however mean and profligate the act of the government had been, it was done for a warlike genius of the first order; and he who had only served two campaigns as a volunteer, was hardly a fortnight in the supreme command ere he had won a great battle against the best generals and troops of the Spanish monarchy-the battle that more than any other one on record (except Trafalgar) weakened and lowered that once haughtiest of powers-the greatest in which the French arms had been victorious for nearly 400 years.

We have heard that when the conqueror of Assaye was appointed to the Copenhagen expedition in 1808, there was great fear at

the

the Horse Guards, where the prejudice against Indian officers still lingered: so a most reputable veteran was joined as second in command, in hope and expectation that his advice would be relied on whenever difficulty occurred. It is said that the perfect composure with which this worthy man found his suggestions attended to during the voyage-though the subjects then in question must needs have been of the smallest importance-inspired him with full confidence that in the hour of conflict he was to be the real chief. But when that hour approached, says the story, the only reply he received to a well-set oration detailing a well-meditated plan of action, was a request that he would immediately place himself at the head of a particular division, and attend to certain orders comprised in half-a-dozen words. Whether this incident be or be not destined to find a place hereafter in the authentic history of the Duke of Wellington, it had an exact prototype in the first field of Condé. The Maréchal de l'Hôpital was attached to him as his Mentor; when the young general announced his intention of opening the campaign, not by a siege, but a battle, the senior remonstrated and all but rebelled. Take,' said D'Enghien, 'the command of the second line--I charge myself with the event.' The king is just dead,' rejoined the Maréchal'the queen-regent's government is hardly yet settled. The enemy are aware of the fatal consequences which a defeat must at this moment bring to France. It is no time to run the risk of such a calamity.' 'I shall never witness it,' answered the juvenile chief. 'I shall enter Paris a conqueror or a corpse-to the head of the second line!' and L'Hôpital covered his hoary head, and

6

6

obeyed.

The Spaniards were led by Melo and Fuentes, and their army, greatly superior in numbers to the French, included a large body of splendid cavalry, and the flower of the long unrivalled infantry -the famous Tercios. Lord Mahon's narrative of the day of Rocroy (19th May, 1643) is a masterly one-but we cannot afford to extract more than the beginning and the conclusion. Military readers are already familiar with the strategy of the action, and unmilitary readers would learn little from a brief

summary:

'La nuit qui devait être la dernière de tant de milliers d'hommes, fut froide et obscure, et les soldats des deux armées eurent recours à la forêt voisine. Ils allumèrent une si grande quantité de feux que toute la plaine en était éclairée; on voyait dans le lointain Rocroy, le prix promis à la victoire du lendemain, et les deux armées paraissaient n'en former qu'une, tant les corps de garde étaient rapprochés. On eut dit qu'une espèce de trève les unissait pendant quelques heures, et rien n'interrompait le calme de la nuit, hors à de longs intervalles quelques

I 2

coups

« ElőzőTovább »