Part 1 out of 2
This etext was produced by David Widger
[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]
By ALFRED DE VIGNY
'Blow, blow, thou winter wind;
Thou art not so unkind
As man's ingratitude.
Thy tooth is not so keen,
Because thou art not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.
Heigh-ho! sing, heigh-ho! unto the green holly.
Most friendship is feigning; most loving mere folly.'
Amid that long and superb chain of the Pyrenees which forms the embattled
isthmus of the peninsula, in the centre of those blue pyramids, covered
in gradation with snow, forests, and downs, there opens a narrow defile,
a path cut in the dried-up bed of a perpendicular torrent; it circulates
among rocks, glides under bridges of frozen snow, twines along the edges
of inundated precipices to scale the adjacent mountains of Urdoz and
Oleron, and at last rising over their unequal ridges, turns their
nebulous peak into a new country which has also its mountains and its
depths, and, quitting France, descends into Spain. Never has the hoof of
the mule left its trace in these windings; man himself can with
difficulty stand upright there, even with the hempen boots which can not
slip, and the hook of the pikestaff to force into the crevices of the
In the fine summer months the 'pastour', in his brown cape, and his black
long-bearded ram lead hither flocks, whose flowing wool sweeps the turf.
Nothing is heard in these rugged places but the sound of the large bells
which the sheep carry, and whose irregular tinklings produce unexpected
harmonies, casual gamuts, which astonish the traveller and delight the
savage and silent shepherd. But when the long month of September comes,
a shroud of snow spreads itself from the peak of the mountains down to
their base, respecting only this deeply excavated path, a few gorges open
by torrents, and some rocks of granite, which stretch out their
fantastical forms, like the bones of a buried world.
It is then that light troops of chamois make their appearance, with their
twisted horns extending over their backs, spring from rock to rock as if
driven before the wind, and take possession of their aerial desert.
Flights of ravens and crows incessantly wheel round and round in the
gulfs and natural wells which they transform into dark dovecots, while
the brown bear, followed by her shaggy family, who sport and tumble
around her in the snow, slowly descends from their retreat invaded by the
frost. But these are neither the most savage nor the most cruel
inhabitants that winter brings into these mountains; the daring smuggler
raises for himself a dwelling of wood on the very boundary of nature and
of politics. There unknown treaties, secret exchanges, are made between
the two Navarres, amid fogs and winds.
It was in this narrow path on the frontiers of France that, about two
months after the scenes we have witnessed in Paris, two travellers,
coming from Spain, stopped at midnight, fatigued and dismayed. They
heard musket-shots in the mountain.
"The scoundrels! how they have pursued us!" said one of them. "I can
go no farther; but for you I should have been taken."
"And you will be taken still, as well as that infernal paper, if you lose
your time in words; there is another volley on the rock of Saint Pierre-
de-L'Aigle. Up there, they suppose we have gone in the direction of the
Limacon; but, below, they will see the contrary. Descend; it is
doubtless a patrol hunting smugglers. Descend."
"But how? I can not see."
"Never mind, descend. Take my arm."
"Hold me; my boots slip," said the first traveller, stamping on the edge
of the rock to make sure of the solidity of the ground before trusting
himself upon it.
"Go on; go on!" said the other, pushing him. "There's one of the
rascals passing over our heads."
And, in fact, the shadow of a man, armed with a long gun, was reflected
on the snow. The two adventurers stood motionless. The man passed on.
They continued their descent.
"They will take us," said the one who was supporting the other. "They
have turned us. Give me your confounded parchment. I wear the dress of
a smuggler, and I can pass for one seeking an asylum among them; but you
would have no resource with your laced dress."
"You are right," said his companion; and, resting his foot against the
edge of the rock, and reclining on the slope, he gave him a roll of
A gun was fired, and a ball buried itself, hissing, in the snow at their
"Marked!" said the first. "Roll down. If you are not dead when you get
to the bottom, take the road you see before you. On the left of the
hollow is Santa Maria. But turn to the right; cross Oleron; and you are
on the road to Pau and are saved. Go; roll down."
As he spoke, he pushed his comrade, and without condescending to look
after him, and himself neither ascending nor descending, followed the
flank of the mountain horizontally, hanging on by rocks, branches, and
even by plants, with the strength and energy of a wild-cat, and soon
found himself on firm ground before a small wooden hut, through which a
light was visible. The adventurer went all around it, like a hungry wolf
round a sheepfold, and, applying his eye to one of the openings,
apparently saw what determined him, for without further hesitation he
pushed the tottering door, which was not even fastened by a latch. The
whole but shook with the blow he had given it. He then saw that it was
divided into two cabins by a partition. A large flambeau of yellow wax
lighted the first. There, a young girl, pale and fearfully thin, was
crouched in a corner on the damp floor, just where the melted snow ran
under the planks of the cottage. Very long black hair, entangled and
covered with dust, fell in disorder over her coarse brown dress; the red
hood of the Pyrenees covered her head and shoulders. Her eyes were cast
down; and she was spinning with a small distaff attached to her waist.
The entry of a man did not appear to move her in the least.
"Ha! La moza,--[girl]-- get up and give me something to drink. I am
tired and thirsty."
The young girl did not answer, and, without raising her eyes, continued
to spin assiduously.
"Dost hear?" said the stranger, thrusting her with his foot. "Go and
tell thy master that a friend wishes to see him; but first give me some
drink. I shall sleep here."
She answered, in a hoarse voice, still spinning:
"I drink the snow that melts on the rock, or the green scum that floats
on the water of the swamp. But when I have spun well, they give me water
from the iron spring. When I sleep, the cold lizards crawl over my face;
but when I have well cleaned a mule, they throw me hay. The hay is warm;
the hay is good and warm. I put it under my marble feet."
"What tale art thou telling me?" said Jacques. "I spoke not of thee."
"They make me hold a man while they kill him. Oh, what blood I have had
on my hands! God forgive them!--if that be possible. They make me hold
his head, and the bucket filled with crimson water. O Heaven!--I, who
was the bride of God! They throw their bodies into the abyss of snow;
but the vulture finds them; he lines his nest with their hair. I now see
thee full of life; I shall see thee bloody, pale, and dead."
The adventurer, shrugging his shoulders, began to whistle as he passed
the second door. Within he found the man he had seen through the chinks
of the cabin. He wore the blue berret cap of the Basques on one side,
and, enveloped in an ample cloak, seated on the pack-saddle of a mule,
and bending over a large brazier, smoked a cigar, and from time to time
drank from a leather bottle at his side. The light of the brazier showed
his full yellow face, as well as the chamber, in which mule-saddles were
ranged round the byasero as seats. He raised his head without altering
"Oh, oh! is it thou, Jacques?" he said. "Is it thou? Although 'tis
four years since I saw thee, I recognize thee. Thou art not changed,
brigand! There 'tis still, thy great knave's face. Sit down there, and
take a drink."
"Yes, here I am. But how the devil camest thou here? I thought thou
wert a judge, Houmain!"
"And I thought thou wert a Spanish captain, Jacques!"
"Ah! I was so for a time, and then a prisoner. But I got out of the
thing very snugly, and have taken again to the old trade, the free life,
the good smuggling work."
"Viva! viva! Jaleo!"--[A common Spanish oath.]-- cried Houmain. "We
brave fellows can turn our hands to everything. Thou camest by the other
passes, I suppose, for I have not seen thee since I returned to the
"Yes, yes; I have passed where thou wilt never pass," said Jacques.
"And what hast got?"
"A new merchandise. My mules will come tomorrow."
"Silk sashes, cigars, or linen?"
"Thou wilt know in time, amigo," said the ruffian. "Give me the skin.
"Here, drink. It's true Valdepenas! We're so jolly here, we bandoleros!
Ay! jaleo! jaleo! come, drink; our friends are coming."
"What friends?" said Jacques, dropping the horn.
"Don't be uneasy, but drink. I'll tell thee all about it presently, and
then we'll sing the Andalusian Tirana."--[A kind of ballad.]
The adventurer took the horn, and assumed an appearance of ease.
"And who's that great she-devil I saw out there?" he said. "She seems
"Oh, no! she's only mad. Drink; I'll tell thee all about her."
And taking from his red sash a long poniard denticulated on each side
like a saw, Houmain used it to stir up the fire, and said with vast
"Thou must know first, if thou dost not know it already, that down below
there [he pointed toward France] the old wolf Richelieu carries all
"Ah, ah!" said Jacques.
"Yes; they call him the king of the King. Thou knowest? There is,
however, a young man almost as strong as he, and whom they call Monsieur
le Grand. This young fellow commands almost the whole army of Perpignan
at this moment. He arrived there a month ago; but the old fox is still
at Narbonne--a very cunning fox, indeed. As to the King, he is sometimes
this, sometimes that [as he spoke, Houmain turned his hand outward and
inward], between zist and zest; but while he is determining, I am for
zist--that is to say, I'm a Cardinalist. I've been regularly doing
business for my lord since the first job he gave me, three years ago.
I'll tell thee about it. He wanted some men of firmness and spirit for a
little expedition, and sent for me to be judge-Advocate."
"Ah! a very pretty post, I've heard."
"Yes, 'tis a trade like ours, where they sell cord instead of thread; but
it is less honest, for they kill men oftener. But 'tis also more
profitable; everything has its price."
"Very properly so," said Jacques.
"Behold me, then, in a red robe. I helped to give a yellow one and
brimstone to a fine fellow, who was cure at Loudun, and who had got into
a convent of nuns, like a wolf in a fold; and a fine thing he made of
"Ha, ha, ha! That's very droll!" laughed Jacques. "Drink," said
Houmain. "Yes, Jago, I saw him after the affair, reduced to a little
black heap like this charcoal. See, this charcoal at the end of my
poniard. What things we are! That's just what we shall all come to when
we go to the Devil."
"Oh, none of these pleasantries!" said the other, very gravely. "You
know that I am religious."
"Well, I don't say no; it may be so," said Houmain, in the same tone.
"There's Richelieu, a Cardinal! But, no matter. Thou must know, then,
as I was Advocate-General, I advocated--"
"Ah, thou art quite a wit!"
"Yes, a little. But, as I was saying, I advocated into my own pocket
five hundred piastres, for Armand Duplessis pays his people well, and
there's nothing to be said against that, except that the money's not his
own; but that's the way with us all. I determined to invest this money
in our old trade; and I returned here. Business goes on well. There is
sentence of death out against us; and our goods, of course, sell for half
as much again as before."
"What's that?" exclaimed Jacques; "lightning at this time of year?"
"Yes, the storms are beginning; we've had two already. We are in the
clouds. Dost hear the roll of the thunder? But this is nothing; come,
drink. 'Tis almost one in the morning; we'll finish the skin and the
night together. As I was telling thee, I made acquaintance with our
president--a great scoundrel called Laubardemont. Dost know him?"
"Yes, a little," said Jacques; "he's a regular miser. But never mind
that; go on."
"Well, as we had nothing to conceal from one another, I told him of my
little commercial plans, and asked him, when any good jobs presented
themselves, to think of his judicial comrade; and I've had no cause to
complain of him."
"Ah!" said Jacques, "and what has he done?"
"Why, first, two years ago, he himself brought, me, on horseback behind
him, his niece that thou'st seen out there."
"His niece!" cried Jacques, rising; "and thou treat'st her like a slave!
"Drink," said Houmain, quietly stirring the brazier with his poniard; "he
himself desired it should be so. Sit down."
Jacques did so.
"I don't think," continued the smuggler, "that he'd even be sorry to know
that she was--dost understand?--to hear she was under the snow rather
than above it; but he would not put her there himself, because he's a
good relative, as he himself said."
"And as I know," said Jacques; "but go on."
"Thou mayst suppose that a man like him, who lives at court, does not
like to have a mad niece in his house. The thing is self-evident; if I'd
continued to play my part of the man of the robe, I should have done the
same in a similar case. But here, as you perceive, we don't care much
for appearances; and I've taken her for a servant. She has shown more
good sense than I expected, although she has rarely ever spoken more than
a single word, and at first came the delicate over us. Now she rubs down
a mule like a groom. She has had a slight fever for the last few days;
but 'twill pass off one way or the other. But, I say, don't tell
Laubardemont that she still lives; he'd think 'twas for the sake of
economy I've kept her for a servant."
"How! is he here?" cried Jacques.
"Drink!" replied the phlegmatic Houmain, who himself set the example
most assiduously, and began to half shut his eyes with a languishing air.
"'Tis the second transaction I've had with this Laubardemont--or demon,
or whatever the name is; but 'tis a good devil of a demon, at all events.
I love him as I do my eyes; and I will drink his health out of this
bottle of Jurangon here. 'Tis the wine of a jolly fellow, the late King
Henry. How happy we are here!--Spain on the right hand, France on the
left; the wine-skin on one side, the bottle on the other! The bottle!
I've left all for the bottle!"
As he spoke, he knocked off the neck of a bottle of white wine. After
taking a long draught, he continued, while the stranger closely watched
"Yes, he's here; and his feet must be rather cold, for he's been waiting
about the mountains ever since sunset, with his guards and our comrades.
Thou knowest our bandoleros, the true contrabandistas?"
"Ah! and what do they hunt?" said Jacques.
"Ah, that's the joke!" answered the drunkard. "'Tis to arrest two
rascals, who want to bring here sixty thousand Spanish soldiers in paper
in their pocket. You don't, perhaps, quite understand me, 'croquant'.
Well, 'tis as I tell thee--in their own pockets."
"Ay, ay! I understand," said Jacques, loosening his poniard in his sash,
and looking at the door.
"Very well, devil's-skin, let's sing the Tirana. Take the bottle, throw
away the cigar, and sing."
With these words the drunken host began to sing in Spanish, interrupting
his song with bumpers, which he threw down his throat, leaning back for
the greater ease, while Jacques, still seated, looked at him gloomily by
the light of the brazier, and meditated what he should do.
A flash of lightning entered the small window, and filled the room with a
sulphurous odor. A fearful clap immediately followed; the cabin shook;
and a beam fell outside.
"Hallo, the house!" cried the drunken man; "the Devil's among us; and
our friends are not come!"
"Sing!" said Jacques, drawing the pack upon which he was close to that
The latter drank to encourage himself, and then continued to sing.
As he ended, he felt his seat totter, and fell backward; Jacques, thus
freed from him, sprang toward the door, when it opened, and his head
struck against the cold, pale face of the mad-woman. He recoiled.
"The judge!" she said, as she entered; and she fell prostrate on the
Jacques had already passed one foot over her; but another face appeared,
livid and surprised-that of a very tall man, enveloped in a cloak covered
with snow. He again recoiled, and laughed a laugh of terror and rage.
It was Laubardemont, followed by armed men; they looked at one another.
"Ah, com-r-a-d-e, yo-a ra-a-scal!" hiccuped Houmain, rising with
difficulty; "thou'rt a Royalist."
But when he saw these two men, who seemed petrified by each other, he
became silent, as conscious of his intoxication; and he reeled forward to
raise up the madwoman, who was still lying between the judge and the
Captain. The former spoke first.
"Are you not he we have been pursuing?"
"It is he!" said the armed men, with one voice; "the other has escaped."
Jacques receded to the split planks that formed the tottering wall of the
hut; enveloping himself in his cloak, like a bear forced against a tree
by the hounds, and, wishing to gain a moment's respite for reflection, he
"The first who passes that brazier and the body of that girl is a dead
And he drew a long poniard from his cloak. At this moment Houmain,
kneeling, turned the head of the girl. Her eyes were closed; he drew her
toward the brazier, which lighted up her face.
"Ah, heavens!" cried Laubardemont, forgetting himself in his fright; "
"Be calm, my lo-lord," said Houmain, trying to open the eyelids, which
closed again, and to raise her head, which fell back again like wet
linen; "be, be--calm! Do-n't ex-cite yourself; she's dead, decidedly."
Jacques put his foot on the body as on a barrier, and, looking with a
ferocious laugh in the face of Laubardemont, said to him in a low voice:
"Let me pass, and I will not compromise thee, courtier; I will not tell
that she was thy niece, and that I am thy son."
Laubardemont collected himself, looked at his men, who pressed around him
with advanced carabines; and, signing them to retire a few steps, he
answered in a very low voice:
"Give me the treaty, and thou shalt pass."
"Here it is, in my girdle; touch it, and I will call you my father aloud.
What will thy master say?"
"Give it me, and I will spare thy life."
"Let me pass, and I will pardon thy having given me that life."
"Still the same, brigand?"
"What matters to thee that boy conspirator?" asked the judge.
"What matters to thee that old man who reigns?" answered the other.
"Give me that paper; I've sworn to have it."
"Leave it with me; I've sworn to carry it back."
"What can be thy oath and thy God?" demanded Laubardemont.
"And thine?" replied Jacques. "Is't the crucifix of red-hot iron?"
Here Houmain, rising between them, laughing and staggering, said to the
judge, slapping him on the shoulder.
"You are a long time coming to an understanding, friend; do-on't you know
him of old? He's a very good fellow."
"I? no!" cried Laubardemont, aloud; "I never saw him before."
At this moment, Jacques, who was protected by the drunkard and the
smallness of the crowded chamber, sprang violently against the weak
planks that formed the wall, and by a blow of his heel knocked two of
them out, and passed through the space thus created. The whole side of
the cabin was broken; it tottered, and the wind rushed in.
"Hallo! Demonio! Santo Demonio! where art going?" cried the smuggler;
"thou art breaking my house down, and on the side of the ravine, too."
All cautiously approached, tore away the planks that remained, and leaned
over the abyss. They contemplated a strange spectacle. The storm raged
in all its fury; and it was a storm of the Pyrenees. Enormous flashes of
lightning came all at once from all parts of the horizon, and their fires
succeeded so quickly that there seemed no interval; they appeared to be a
continuous flash. It was but rarely the flaming vault would suddenly
become obscure; and it then instantly resumed its glare. It was not the
light that seemed strange on this night, but the darkness.
The tall thin peaks and whitened rocks stood out from the red background
like blocks of marble on a cupola of burning brass, and resembled, amid
the snows, the wonders of a volcano; the waters gushed from them like
flames; the snow poured down like dazzling lava.
In this moving mass a man was seen struggling, whose efforts only
involved him deeper and deeper in the whirling and liquid gulf; his knees
were already buried. In vain he clasped his arms round an enormous
pyramidal and transparent icicle, which reflected the lightning like a
rock of crystal; the icicle itself was melting at its base, and slowly
bending over the declivity of the rock. Under the covering of snow,
masses of granite were heard striking against each other, as they
descended into the vast depths below. Yet they could still save him;
a space of scarcely four feet separated him from Laubardemont.
"I sink!" he cried; "hold out to me something, and thou shalt have the
"Give it me, and I will reach thee this musket," said the judge.
"There it is," replied the ruffian, "since the Devil is for Richelieu!"
and taking one hand from the hold of his slippery support, he threw a
roll of wood into the cabin. Laubardemont rushed back upon the treaty
like a wolf on his prey. Jacques in vain held out his arm; he slowly
glided away with the enormous thawing block turned upon him, and was
silently buried in the snow.
"Ah, villain," were his last words, "thou hast deceived me! but thou
didst not take the treaty from me. I gave it thee, Father!" and he
disappeared wholly under the thick white bed of snow. Nothing was seen
in his place but the glittering flakes which the lightning had ploughed
up, as it became extinguished in them; nothing was--heard but the rolling
of the thunder and the dash of the water against the rocks, for the men
in the half-ruined cabin, grouped round a corpse and a villain, were
silent, tongue-tied with horror, and fearing lest God himself should send
a thunderbolt upon them.
L'absence est le plus grand des maux,
Non pas pour vous, cruelle !
Who has not found a charm in watching the clouds of heaven as they float
along? Who has not envied them the freedom of their journeyings through
the air, whether rolled in great masses by the wind, and colored by the
sun, they advance peacefully, like fleets of dark ships with gilt prows,
or sprinkled in light groups, they glide quickly on, airy and elongated,
like birds of passage, transparent as vast opals detached from the
treasury of the heavens, or glittering with whiteness, like snows from
the mountains carried on the wings of the winds? Man is a slow traveller
who envies those rapid journeyers; less rapid than his imagination, they
have yet seen in a single day all the places he loves, in remembrance or
in hope,--those that have witnessed his happiness or his misery, and
those so beautiful countries unknown to us, where we expect to find
everything at once. Doubtless there is not a spot on the whole earth, a
wild rock, an arid plain, over which we pass with indifference, that has
not been consecrated in the life of some man, and is not painted in his
remembrance; for, like battered vessels, before meeting inevitable wreck,
we leave some fragment of ourselves on every rock.
Whither go the dark-blue clouds of that storm of the Pyrenees? It is the
wind of Africa which drives them before it with a fiery breath. They
fly; they roll over one another, growlingly throwing out lightning before
them, as their torches, and leaving suspended behind them a long train of
rain, like a vaporous robe. Freed by an effort from the rocky defiles
that for a moment had arrested their course, they irrigate, in Bearn, the
picturesque patrimony of Henri IV; in Guienne, the conquests of Charles
VII; in Saintogne, Poitou, and Touraine, those of Charles V and of Philip
Augustus; and at last, slackening their pace above the old domain of Hugh
Capet, halt murmuring on the towers of St. Germain.
"O Madame!" exclaimed Marie de Mantua to the Queen, "do you see this
storm coming up from the south?"
"You often look in that direction, 'ma chere'," answered Anne of Austria,
leaning on the balcony.
"It is the direction of the sun, Madame."
"And of tempests, you see," said the Queen. "Trust in my friendship, my
child; these clouds can bring no happiness to you. I would rather see
you turn your eyes toward Poland. See the fine people you might
At this moment, to avoid the rain, which began to fall, the Prince-
Palatine passed rapidly under the windows of the Queen, with a numerous
suite of young Poles on horseback. Their Turkish vests, with buttons of
diamonds, emeralds, and rubies; their green and gray cloaks; the lofty
plumes of their horses, and their adventurous air-gave them a singular
eclat to which the court had easily become accustomed. They paused for a
moment, and the Prince made two salutes, while the light animal he rode
passed gracefully sideways, keeping his front toward the princesses;
prancing and snorting, he shook his mane, and seemed to salute by putting
his head between his legs. The whole suite repeated the evolution as
they passed. The Princesse Marie had at first shrunk back, lest they
should see her tears; but the brilliant and flattering spectacle made her
return to the balcony, and she could not help exclaiming:
"How gracefully the Palatine rides that beautiful horse! he seems scarce
conscious of it."
The Queen smiled, and said:
"He is conscious about her who might be his queen tomorrow, if she would
but make a sign of the head, and let but one glance from her great black
almond-shaped eyes be turned on that throne, instead of always receiving
these poor foreigners with poutings, as now."
And Anne of Austria kissed the cheek of Marie, who could not refrain from
smiling also; but she instantly sunk her head, reproaching herself, and
resumed her sadness, which seemed gliding from her. She even needed once
more to contemplate the great clouds that hung over the chateau.
"Poor child," continued the Queen, "thou dost all thou canst to be very
faithful, and to keep thyself in the melancholy of thy romance. Thou art
making thyself ill with weeping when thou shouldst be asleep, and with
not eating. Thou passest the night in revery and in writing; but I warn
thee, thou wilt get nothing by it, except making thyself thin and less
beautiful, and the not being a queen. Thy Cinq-Mars is an ambitious
youth, who has lost himself."
Seeing Marie conceal her head in her handkerchief to weep, Anne of
Austria for a moment reentered her chamber, leaving Marie in the balcony,
and feigned to be looking for some jewels at her toilet-table; she soon
returned, slowly and gravely, to the window. Marie was more calm, and
was gazing sorrowfully at the landscape before her, the hills in the
distance, and the storm gradually spreading itself.
The Queen resumed in a more serious tone:
"God has been more merciful to you than your imprudence perhaps deserved,
Marie. He has saved you from great danger. You were willing to make
great sacrifices, but fortunately they have not been accomplished as you
expected. Innocence has saved you from love. You are as one who,
thinking she has swallowed a deadly poison, has in reality drunk only
pure and harmless water."
"Ah, Madame, what mean you? Am I not unhappy enough already?"
"Do not interrupt me," said the Queen; "you will, ere long, see your
present position with different eyes. I will not accuse you of
ingratitude toward the Cardinal; I have too many reasons for not liking
him. I myself witnessed the rise of the conspiracy. Still, you should
remember, 'ma chere', that he was the only person in France who, against
the opinion of the Queen-mother and of the court, insisted upon war with
the duchy of Mantua, which he recovered from the empire and from Spain,
and returned to the Duc de Nevers, your father. Here, in this very
chateau of Saint-Germain, was signed the treaty which deposed the Duke of
Guastalla.--[The 19th of May, 1632.]-- You were then very young; they
must, however, have told you of it. Yet here, through love alone (I am
willing to believe, with yourself, that it is so), a young man of two-
and-twenty is ready to get him assassinated."
"O Madame, he is incapable of such a deed. I swear to you that he has
refused to adopt it."
"I have begged you, Marie, to let me speak. I know that he is generous
and loyal. I am willing to believe that, contrary to the custom of our
times, he would not go so far as to kill an old man, as did the Chevalier
de Guise. But can he prevent his assassination, if his troops make him
prisoner? This we can not say, any more than he. God alone knows the
future. It is, at all events, certain that it is for you he attacks him,
and, to overthrow him, is preparing civil war, which perhaps is bursting
forth at the very moment that we speak--a war without success. Whichever
way it turns, it can only effect evil, for Monsieur is going to abandon
"Listen to me. I tell you I am certain of it; I need not explain myself
further. What will the grand ecuyer do? The King, as he rightly
anticipated, has gone to consult the Cardinal. To consult him is to
yield to him; but the treaty of Spain is signed. If it be discovered,
what can Monsieur de Cinq-Mars do? Do not tremble thus. We will save
him; we will save his life, I promise you. There is yet time, I hope."
"Ah, Madame, you hope! I am lost!" cried Marie, half fainting.
"Let us sit down," said the Queen; and, placing herself near Marie, at
the entrance to the chamber, she continued:
"Doubtless Monsieur will treat for all the conspirators in treating for
himself; but exile will be the least punishment, perpetual exile.
Behold, then, the Duchesse de Nevers and Mantua, the Princesse Marie de
Gonzaga, the wife of Monsieur Henri d'Effiat, Marquis de Cinq-Mars,
"Well, Madame, I will follow him into exile. It is my duty; I am his
wife!" exclaimed Marie, sobbing. "I would I knew he were already
banished and in safety."
"Dreams of eighteen!" said the Queen, supporting Marie. "Awake, child,
awake! you must. I deny not the good qualities of Monsieur de Cinq-
Mars. He has a lofty character, a vast mind, and great courage; but he
may no longer be aught for you, and, fortunately, you are not his wife,
or even his betrothed."
"I am his, Madame-his alone."
"But without the benediction," replied Anne of Austria; "in a word,
without marriage. No priest would have dared--not even your own; he told
me so. Be silent!" she added, putting her two beautiful hands on
Marie's lips. "Be silent! You would say that God heard your vow; that
you can not live without him; that your destinies are inseparable from
his; that death alone can break your union? The phrases of your age,
delicious chimeras of a moment, at which one day you will smile, happy at
not having to lament them all your life. Of the many and brilliant women
you see around me at court, there is not one but at your age had some
beautiful dream of love, like this of yours, who did not form those ties,
which they believed indissoluble, and who did not in secret take eternal
oaths. Well, these dreams are vanished, these knots broken, these oaths
forgotten; and yet you see them happy women and mothers. Surrounded by
the honors of their rank, they laugh and dance every night. I again
divine what you would say--they loved not as you love, eh? You deceive
yourself, my dear child; they loved as much, and wept no less.
"And here I must make you acquainted with that great mystery which
constitutes your despair, since you are ignorant of the malady that
devours you. We have a twofold existence, 'm'amie': our internal life,
that of our feelings powerfully works within us, while the external life
dominates despite ourselves. We are never independent of men, more
especially in an elevated condition. Alone, we think ourselves
mistresses of our destiny; but the entrance of two or three people
fastens on all our chains, by recalling our rank and our retinue. Nay;
shut yourself up and abandon yourself to all the daring and extraordinary
resolutions that the passions may raise up in you, to the marvellous
sacrifices they may suggest to you. A lackey coming and asking your
orders will at once break the charm and bring you back to your real life.
It is this contest between your projects and your position which destroys
you. You are invariably angry with yourself; you bitterly reproach
Marie turned away her head.
"Yes, you believe yourself criminal. Pardon yourself, Marie; all men are
beings so relative and so dependent one upon another that I know not
whether the great retreats of the world that we sometimes see are not
made for the world itself. Despair has its pursuits, and solitude its
coquetry. It is said that the gloomiest hermits can not refrain from
inquiring what men say of them. This need of public opinion is
beneficial, in that it combats, almost always victoriously, that which is
irregular in our imagination, and comes to the aid of duties which we too
easily forget. One experiences (you will feel it, I hope) in returning
to one's proper lot, after the sacrifice of that which had diverted the
reason, the satisfaction of an exile returning to his family, of a sick
person at sight of the sun after a night afflicted with frightful dreams.
"It is this feeling of a being returned, as it were, to its natural state
that creates the calm which you see in many eyes that have also had their
tears-for there are few women who have not known tears such as yours.
You would think yourself perjured if you renounced Cinq-Mars! But
nothing binds you; you have more than acquitted yourself toward him by
refusing for more than two years past the royal hands offered you. And,
after all, what has he done, this impassioned lover? He has elevated
himself to reach you; but may not the ambition which here seems to you to
have aided love have made use of that love? This young man seems to me
too profound, too calm in his political stratagems, too independent in
his vast resolutions, in his colossal enterprises, for me to believe him
solely occupied by his tenderness. If you have been but a means instead
of an end, what would you say?"
"I would still love him," answered Marie. "While he lives, I am his."
"And while I live," said the Queen, with firmness, "I will oppose the
At these last words the rain and hail fell violently on the balcony.
The Queen took advantage of the circumstance abruptly to leave the room
and pass into that where the Duchesse de Chevreuse, Mazarin, Madame de
Guemenee, and the Prince-Palatine had been awaiting her for a short time.
The Queen walked up to them. Marie placed herself in the shade of a
curtain in order to conceal the redness of her eyes. She was at first
unwilling to take part in the sprightly conversation; but some words of
it attracted her attention. The Queen was showing to the Princesse de
Guemenee diamonds she had just received from Paris.
"As for this crown, it does not belong to me. The King had it prepared
for the future Queen of Poland. Who that is to be, we know not." Then
turning toward the Prince-Palatine, "We saw you pass, Prince. Whom were
you going to visit?"
"Mademoiselle la Duchesse de Rohan," answered the Pole.
The insinuating Mazarin, who availed himself of every opportunity to worm
out secrets, and to make himself necessary by forced confidences, said,
approaching the Queen:
"That comes very apropos, just as we were speaking of the crown of
Marie, who was listening, could not hear this, and said to Madame de
Guemenee, who was at her side:
"Is Monsieur de Chabot, then, King of Poland?"
The Queen heard that, and was delighted at this touch of pride. In order
to develop its germ, she affected an approving attention to the
conversation that ensued.
The Princesse de Guemenee exclaimed:
"Can you conceive such a marriage? We really can't get it out of our
heads. This same Mademoiselle de Rohan, whom we have seen so haughty,
after having refused the Comte de Soissons, the Duc de Weimar, and the
Duc de Nemours, to marry Monsieur de Chabot, a simple gentleman! 'Tis
really a sad pity! What are we coming to? 'Tis impossible to say what
it will all end in."
"What! can it be true? Love at court! a real love affair! Can it be
All this time the Queen continued opening and shutting and playing with
the new crown.
"Diamonds suit only black hair," she said. "Let us see. Let me put it
on you, Marie. Why, it suits her to admiration!"
"One would suppose it had been made for Madame la Princesse," said the
"I would give the last drop of my blood for it to remain on that brow,"
said the Prince-Palatine.
Marie, through the tears that were still on her cheek, gave an infantine
and involuntary smile, like a ray of sunshine through rain. Then,
suddenly blushing deeply, she hastily took refuge in her apartments.
All present laughed. The Queen followed her with her eyes, smiled,
presented her hand for the Polish ambassador to kiss, and retired to
write a letter.
One night, before Perpignan, a very unusual event took place. It was ten
o'clock; and all were asleep. The slow and almost suspended operations
of the siege had rendered the camp and the town inactive. The Spaniards
troubled themselves little about the French, all communication toward
Catalonia being open as in time of peace; and in the French army men's
minds were agitated with that secret anxiety which precedes great events.
Yet all was calm; no sound was heard but that of the measured tread of
the sentries. Nothing was seen in the dark night but the red light of
the matches of their guns, always smoking, when suddenly the trumpets of
the musketeers, of the light-horse, and of the men-at-arms sounded almost
simultaneously, "boot and saddle," and "to horse." All the sentinels
cried to arms; and the sergeants, with flambeaux, went from tent to tent,
along pike in their hands, to waken the soldiers, range them in lines,
and count them. Some files marched in gloomy silence along the streets
of the camp, and took their position in battle array. The sound of the
mounted squadrons announced that the heavy cavalry were making the same
dispositions. After half an hour of movement the noise ceased, the
torches were extinguished, and all again became calm, but the army was on
One of the last tents of the camp shone within as a star with flambeaux.
On approaching this little white and transparent pyramid, we might have
distinguished the shadows of two men reflected on the canvas as they
walked to and fro within. Outside several men on horseback were in
attendance; inside were De Thou and Cinq-Mars.
To see the pious and wise De Thou thus up and armed at this hour, you
might have taken him for one of the chiefs of the revolt. But a closer
examination of his serious countenance and mournful expression
immediately showed that he blamed it, and allowed himself to be led into
it and endangered by it from an extraordinary resolution which aided him
to surmount the horror he had of the enterprise itself. From the day
when Henri d'Effiat had opened his heart and confided to him its whole
secret, he had seen clearly that all remonstrance was vain with a young
man so powerfully resolved.
De Thou had even understood what M. de Cinq-Mars had not told him,
and had seen in the secret union of his friend with the Princesse Marie,
one of those ties of love whose mysterious and frequent faults,
voluptuous and involuntary derelictions, could not be too soon purified
by public benediction. He had comprehended that punishment, impossible
to be supported long by a lover, the adored master of that young girl,
and who was condemned daily to appear before her as a stranger, to
receive political disclosures of marriages they were preparing for her.
The day when he received his entire confession, he had done all in his
power to prevent Cinq-Mars going so far in his projects as the foreign
alliance. He had evoked the gravest recollections and the best feelings,
without any other result than rendering the invincible resolution of his
friend more rude toward him. Cinq-Mars, it will be recollected, had said
to him harshly, "Well, did I ask you to take part in this conspiracy?"
And he had desired only to promise not to denounce it; and he had
collected all his power against friendship to say, "Expect nothing
further from me if you sign this treaty." Yet Cinq-Mars had signed the
treaty; and De Thou was still there with him.
The habit of familiarly discussing the projects of his friend had perhaps
rendered them less odious to him. His contempt for the vices of the
Prime-Minister; his indignation at the servitude of the parliaments to
which his family belonged, and at the corruption of justice; the powerful
names, and more especially the noble characters of the men who directed
the enterprise--all had contributed to soften down his first painful
impression. Having once promised secrecy to M. de Cinq-Mars, he
considered himself as in a position to accept in detail all the secondary
disclosures; and since the fortuitous event which had compromised him
with the conspirators at the house of Marion de Lorme, he considered
himself united to them by honor, and engaged to an inviolable secrecy.
Since that time he had seen Monsieur, the Duc de Bouillon, and
Fontrailles; they had become accustomed to speak before him without
constraint, and he to hear them.
The dangers which threatened his friend now drew him into their vortex
like an invincible magnet. His conscience accused him; but he followed
Cinq-Mars wherever he went without even, from excess of delicacy,
hazarding a single expression which might resemble a personal fear. He
had tacitly given up his life, and would have deemed it unworthy of both
to manifest a desire to regain it.
The master of the horse was in his cuirass; he was armed, and wore large
boots. An enormous pistol, with a lighted match, was placed upon his
table between two flambeaux. A heavy watch in a brass case lay near the
pistol. De Thou, wrapped in a black cloak, sat motionless with folded
arms. Cinq-Mars paced backward and forward, his arms crossed behind his
back, from time to time looking at the hand of the watch, too sluggish in
his eyes. He opened the tent, looked up to the heavens, and returned.
"I do not see my star there," said he; "but no matter. She is here in my
"The night is dark," said De Thou.
"Say rather that the time draws nigh. It advances, my friend; it
advances. Twenty minutes more, and all will be accomplished. The army
only waits the report of this pistol to begin."
De Thou held in his hand an ivory crucifix, and looking first at the
cross, and then toward heaven, "Now," said he, "is the hour to complete
the sacrifice. I repent not; but oh, how bitter is the cup of sin to my
lips! I had vowed my days to innocence and to the works of the soul,
and here I am about to commit a crime, and to draw the sword."
But forcibly seizing the hand of Cinq-Mars, "It is for you, for you!"
he added with the enthusiasm of a blindly devoted heart. "I rejoice in
my errors if they turn to your glory. I see but your happiness in my
fault. Forgive me if I have returned for a moment to the habitual
thought of my whole life."
Cinq-Mars looked steadfastly at him; and a tear stole slowly down his
"Virtuous friend," said he, "may your fault fall only on my head! But
let us hope that God, who pardons those who love, will be for us; for we
are criminal--I through love, you through friendship."
Then suddenly looking at the watch, he took the long pistol in his hand,
and gazed at the smoking match with a fierce air. His long hair fell
over his face like the mane of a young lion.
"Do not consume," said he; "burn slowly. Thou art about to light a flame
which the waves of ocean can not extinguish. The flame will soon light
half Europe; it may perhaps reach the wood of thrones. Burn slowly,
precious flame! The winds which fan thee are violent and fearful; they
are love and hatred. Reserve thyself! Thy explosion will be heard afar,
and will find echoes in the peasant's but and the king's palace.
Burn, burn, poor flame! Thou art to me a sceptre and a thunderbolt!"
De Thou, still holding his ivory crucifix in his hand, said in a low
"Lord, pardon us the blood that will be shed! We combat the wicked and
the impious." Then, raising his voice, "My friend, the cause of virtue
will triumph," he said; "it alone will triumph. God has ordained that
the guilty treaty should not reach us; that which constituted the crime
is no doubt destroyed. We shall fight without the foreigners, and
perhaps we shall not fight at all. God will change the heart of the
"'Tis the hour! 'tis the hour!" exclaimed Cinq-Mars, his eyes fixed upon
the watch with a kind of savage joy; "four minutes more, and the
Cardinalists in the camp will be crushed! We shall march upon Narbonne!
He is there! Give me the pistol!"
At these words he hastily opened the tent, and took up the match.
"A courier from Paris! an express from court!" cried a voice outside,
as a man, heated with hard riding and overcome with fatigue, threw
himself from his horse, entered, and presented a letter to Cinq-Mars.
"From the Queen, Monseigneur," he said. Cinq-Mars turned pale, and read
M. DE CINQ-MARS: I write this letter to entreat and conjure you to
restore to her duties our well-beloved adopted daughter and friend,
the Princesse Marie de Gonzaga, whom your affection alone turns from
the throne of Poland, which has been offered to her. I have sounded
her heart. She is very young, and I have good reason to believe
that she would accept the crown with less effort and less grief than
you may perhaps imagine.
It is for her you have undertaken a war which will put to fire and
sword my beautiful and beloved France. I supplicate and implore you
to act as a gentleman, and nobly to release the Duchesse de Mantua
from the promises she may have made you. Thus restore repose to her
soul, and peace to our beloved country.
The Queen, who will throw herself at your feet if need be,
Cinq-Mars calmly replaced the pistol upon the table; his first impulse
had been to turn its muzzle upon himself. However, he laid it down, and
snatching a pencil, wrote on the back of the letter;
MADAME: Marie de Gonzaga, being my wife, can not be Queen of Poland
until after my death. I die.
Then, as if he would not allow himself time for a moment's reflection, he
forced the letter into the hands of the courier.
"To horse! to horse!" cried he, in a furious tone. "If you remain
another instant, you are a dead man!"
He saw him gallop off, and reentered the tent. Alone with his friend, he
remained an instant standing, but pale, his eyes fixed, and looking on
the ground like a madman. He felt himself totter.
"De Thou!" he cried.
"What would you, my friend, my dear friend? I am with you. You have
acted grandly, most grandly, sublimely!"
"De Thou!" he cried again, in a hollow voice, and fell with his face to
the ground, like an uprooted tree.
Violent tempests assume different aspects, according to the climates in
which they take place. Those which have spread over a terrible space in
northern countries assemble into one single cloud under the torrid zone--
the more formidable, that they leave the horizon in all its purity, and
that the furious waves still reflect the azure of heaven while tinged
with the blood of man. It is the same with great passions. They assume
strange aspects according to our characters; but how terrible are they in
vigorous hearts, which have preserved their force under the veil of
social forms? When youth and despair embrace, we know not to what fury
they may rise, or what may be their sudden resignation; we know not
whether the volcano will burst the mountain or become suddenly
extinguished within its entrails.
De Thou, in alarm, raised his friend. The blood gushed from his nostrils
and ears; he would have thought him dead, but .for the torrents of tears
which flowed from his eyes. They were the only sign of life. Suddenly
he opened his lids, looked around him, and by an extraordinary energy
resumed his senses and the power of his will.
"I am in the presence of men," said he; "I must finish with them. My
friend, it is half-past eleven; the hour for the signal has passed.
Give, in my name, the order to return to quarters. It was a false alarm,
which I will myself explain this evening."
De Thou had already perceived the importance of this order; he went out
and returned immediately.
He found Cinq-Mars seated, calm, and endeavoring to cleanse the blood
from his face.
"De Thou," said he, looking fixedly at him, "retire; you disturb me."
"I leave you not," answered the latter.
"Fly, I tell you! the Pyrenees are not far distant. I can not speak
much longer, even to you; but if you remain with me, you will die. I
give you warning."
"I remain," repeated De Thou.
"May God preserve you, then!" answered Cinq-Mars, "for I can do nothing
more; the moment has passed. I leave you here. Call Fontrailles and all
the confederates: distribute these passports among them. Let them fly
immediately; tell them all has failed, but that I thank them. For you,
once again I say, fly with them, I entreat you; but whatever you do,
follow me not--follow me not, for your life! I swear to you not to do
violence to myself!"
With these words, shaking his friend's hand without looking at him, he
rushed from the tent.
Meantime, some leagues thence another conversation was taking place. At
Narbonne, in the same cabinet in which we formerly beheld Richelieu
regulating with Joseph the interests of the State, were still seated the
same men, nearly as we have described them. The minister, however, had
grown much older in three years of suffering; and the Capuchin was as
much terrified with the result of his expedition as his master appeared
The Cardinal, seated in his armchair, his legs bound and encased with
furs and warm clothing, had upon his knees three kittens, which gambolled
upon his scarlet robe. Every now and then he took one of them and placed
it upon the others, to continue their sport. He smiled as he watched
them. On his feet lay their mother, looking like an enormous animated
Joseph, seated near him, was going over the account of all he had heard
in the confessional. Pale even now, at the danger he had run of being
discovered, or of being murdered by Jacques, he concluded thus:
"In short, your Eminence, I can not help feeling agitated to my heart's
core when I reflect upon the dangers which have, and still do, threaten
you. Assassins offer themselves to poniard you. I beheld in France the
whole court against you, one half of the army, and two provinces.
Abroad, Spain and Portugal are ready to furnish troops. Everywhere there
are snares or battles, poniards or cannon."
The Cardinal yawned three times, without discontinuing his amusement, and
"A cat is a very fine animal. It is a drawing-room tiger. What
suppleness, what extraordinary finesse! Here is this little yellow one
pretending to sleep, in order that the tortoise-shell one may not notice
it, but fall upon its brother; and this one, how it tears the other! See
how it sticks its claws into its side! It would kill and eat it, I fully
believe, if it were the stronger. It is very amusing. What pretty
He coughed and sneezed for some time; then he continued:
"Messire Joseph, I sent word to you not to speak to me of business until
after my supper. . . I have an appetite now, and it is not yet my hour.
Chicot, my doctor, recommends regularity, and I feel my usual pain in my
side. This is how I shall spend the evening," he added, looking at the
clock. "At nine, we will settle the affairs of Monsieur le Grand. At
ten, I shall be carried round the garden to take the air by moonlight.
Then I shall sleep for an hour or two. At midnight the King will be
here; and at four o'clock you may return to receive the various orders
for arrests, condemnations, or any others I may have to give you, for the
provinces, Paris, or the armies of his Majesty."
Richelieu said all this in the same tone of voice, with a uniform
enunciation, affected only by the weakness of his chest and the loss of
It was seven in the evening. The Capuchin withdrew. The Cardinal supped
with the greatest tranquillity; and when the clock struck half-past
eight, he sent for Joseph, and said to him, when he was seated:
"This, then, is all they have been able to do against me during more than
two years. They are poor creatures, truly! The Duc de Bouillon, whom I
thought possessed some ability, has forfeited all claim to my opinion.
I have watched him closely; and I ask you, has he taken one step worthy
of a true statesman? The King, Monsieur, and the rest, have only shown
their teeth against me, and without depriving me of one single man. The
young Cinq-Mars is the only man among them who has any consecutiveness of
ideas. All that he has done has been done surprisingly well. I must do
him justice; he had good qualities. I should have made him my pupil, had
it not been for his obstinate character. But he has here charged me
'a l'outrance, and must take the consequences. I am sorry for him.
I have left them to float about in open water for the last two years.
I shall now draw the net."
"It is time, Monseigneur," said Joseph, who often trembled involuntarily
as he spoke. "Do you bear in mind that from Perpignan to Narbonne the
way is short? Do you know that if your army here is powerful, your own
troops are weak and uncertain; that the young nobles are furious; and
that the King is not sure?"
The Cardinal looked at the clock.
"It is only half-past eight, Joseph. I have already told you that I will
not talk about this affair until nine. Meantime, as justice must be
done, you will write what I shall dictate, for my memory serves me well.
There are still some objectionable persons left, I see by my notes--four
of the judges of Urbain Grandier. He was a rare genius, that Urbain
Grandier," he added, with a malicious expression. Joseph bit his lips.
"All the other judges have died miserably. As to Houmain, he shall be
hanged as a smuggler by and by. We may leave him alone for the present.
But there is that horrible Lactantius, who lives peacefully, Barre, and
Mignon. Take a pen, and write to the Bishop of Poitiers,
"MONSEIGNEUR: It is his Majesty's pleasure that Fathers Mignon and
Barre be superseded in their cures, and sent with the shortest
possible delay to the town of Lyons, with Father Lactantius,
Capuchin, to be tried before a special tribunal, charged with
criminal intentions against the State."
Joseph wrote as coolly as a Turk strikes off a head at a sign from his
master. The Cardinal said to him, while signing the letter:
"I will let you know how I wish them to disappear, for it is important to
efface all traces of that affair. Providence has served me well. In
removing these men, I complete its work. That is all that posterity
shall know of the affair."
And he read to the Capuchin that page of his memoirs in which he recounts
the possession and sorceries of the magician.--[Collect. des Memoires
xxviii. 189.]--During this slow process, Joseph could not help looking
at the clock.
"You are anxious to come to Monsieur le Grand," said the Cardinal at
last. "Well, then, to please you, let us begin."
"Do you think I have not my reasons for being tranquil? You think that I
have allowed these poor conspirators to go too far. No, no! Here are
some little papers that would reassure you, did you know their contents.
First, in this hollow stick is the treaty with Spain, seized at Oleron.
I am well satisfied with Laubardemont; he is an able man."
The fire of ferocious jealousy sparkled under the thick eyebrows of the
"Ah, Monseigneur," said he, "you know not from whom he seized it. He
certainly suffered him to die, and in that respect we can not complain,
for he was the agent of the conspiracy; but it was his son."
"Say you the truth?" cried the Cardinal, in a severe tone. "Yes, for
you dare not lie to me. How knew you this?"
"From his attendants, Monsiegneur. Here are their reports. They will
testify to them."
The Cardinal having examined these papers, said:
"We will employ him once more to try our conspirators, and then you shall
do as you like with him. I give him to you."
Joseph joyfully pocketed his precious denunciations, and continued:
"Your Eminence speaks of trying men who are still armed and on
"They are not all so. Read this letter from Monsieur to Chavigny. He
asks for pardon. He dared not address me the first day, and his prayers
rose no higher than the knees of one of my servants.
To M. de Chavigny:
M. DE CHAVIGNY: Although I believe that you are little satisfied
with me (and in truth you have reason to be dissatisfied), I do not
the less entreat you to endeavor my reconciliation with his
Eminence, and rely for this upon the true love you bear me, and
which, I believe, is greater than your anger. You know how much I
require to be relieved from the danger I am in. You have already
twice stood my friend with his Eminence. I swear to you this shall
be the last time I give you such an employment.
"But the next day he took courage, and sent this to myself,
To his Excellency the Cardinal-Duc:
MY COUSIN: This ungrateful M. le Grand is the most guilty man in the
world to have displeased you. The favors he received from his
Majesty have always made me doubtful of him and his artifices. For
you, my cousin, I retain my whole esteem. I am truly repentant at
having again been wanting in the fidelity I owe to my Lord the King,
and I call God to witness the sincerity with which I shall be for
the rest of my life your most faithful friend, with the same
devotion that I am, my cousin, your affectionate cousin,
and the third to the King. His project choked him; he could not keep it
down. But I am not so easily satisfied. I must have a free and full
confession, or I will expel him from the kingdom. I have written to him
[MONSIEUR: Since God wills that men should have recourse to a frank
and entire confession to be absolved of their faults in this world,
I indicate to you the steps you must take to be delivered from this
danger. Your Highness has commenced well; you must continue. This
is all I can say to you.]
"As to the magnificent and powerful Due de Bouillon, sovereign lord of
Sedan and general-in-chief of the armies in Italy, he has just been
arrested by his officers in the midst of his soldiers, concealed in a
truss of straw. There remain, therefore, only our two young neighbors.
They imagine they have the camp wholly at their orders, while they really
have only the red troops. All the rest, being Monsieur's men, will not
act, and my troops will arrest them. However, I have permitted them to
appear to obey. If they give the signal at half-past eleven, they will
be arrested at the first step. If not, the King will give them up to me
this evening. Do not open your eyes so wide. He will give them up to
me, I repeat, this night, between midnight and one o'clock. You see that
all has been done without you, Joseph. We can dispense with you very
well; and truly, all this time, I do not see that we have received any
great service from you. You grow negligent."
"Ah, Monseigneur! did you but know the trouble I have had to discover
the route of the bearers of the treaty! I only learned it by risking my
life between these young people."
The Cardinal laughed contemptuously, leaning back in his chair.
"Thou must have been very ridiculous and very fearful in that box,
Joseph; I dare say it was the first time in thy life thou ever heardst
love spoken of. Dost thou like the language, Father Joseph? Tell me,
dost thou clearly understand it? I doubt whether thou hast formed a very
refined idea of it."
Richelieu, his arms crossed, looked at his discomfited Capuchin with
infinite delight, and continued in the scornfully familiar tone of a
grand seigneur, which he sometimes assumed, pleasing himself with putting
forth the noblest expressions through the most impure lips:
"Come, now, Joseph, give me a definition of love according to thy idea.
What can it be--for thou seest it exists out of romances. This worthy
youngster undertook these little conspiracies through love. Thou heardst
it thyself with throe unworthy ears. Come, what is love? For my part,
I know nothing about it."
The monk was astounded, and looked upon the ground with the stupid eye of
some base animal. After long consideration, he replied in a drawling and
"It must be a kind of malignant fever which leads the brain astray; but
in truth, Monseigneur, I have never reflected on it until this moment.
I have always been embarrassed in speaking to a woman. I wish women
could be omitted from society altogether; for I do not see what use they
are, unless it be to disclose secrets, like the little Duchess or Marion
de Lorme, whom I can not too strongly recommend to your Eminence. She
thought of everything, and herself threw our little prophecy among the
conspirators with great address. We have not been without the marvellous
this time. As in the siege of Hesdin, all we have to do is to find a
window through which you may pass on the day of the execution."
[In 1638, Prince Thomas having raised the siege of Hesdin, the
Cardinal was much vexed at it. A nun of the convent of Mount
Calvary had said that the victory would be to the King and Father
Joseph, thus wishing it to be believed that Heaven protected the
minister. --Memoires pour l'histoire du Cardinal de Richelieu.]
"This is another of your absurdities, sir," said the Cardinal; "you will
make me as ridiculous as yourself, if you go on so; I am too powerful to
need the assistance of Heaven. Do not let that happen again. Occupy
yourself only with the people I consign to you. I traced your part
before. When the master of the horse is taken, you will see him tried
and executed at Lyons. I will not be known in this. This affair is
beneath me; it is a stone under my feet, upon which I ought not to have
bestowed so much attention."
Joseph was silent; he could not understand this man, who, surrounded on
every side by armed enemies, spoke of the future as of a present over
which he had the entire control, and of the present as a past which he no
longer feared. He knew not whether to look upon him as a madman or a
prophet, above or below the standard of human nature.
His astonishment was redoubled when Chavigny hastily entered, and nearly
falling, in his heavy boots, over the Cardinal's footstool, exclaimed in
"Sir, one of your servants has just arrived from Perpignan; and he has
beheld the camp in an uproar, and your enemies in the saddle."
"They will soon dismount, sir," replied Richelieu, replacing his
footstool. "You appear to have lost your equanimity."
"But--but, Monseigneur, must we not warn Monsieur de Fabert?"
"Let him sleep, and go to bed yourself; and you also, Joseph."
"Monseigneur, another strange event has occurred--the King has arrived."
"Indeed, that is extraordinary," said the minister, looking at his watch.
"I did not expect him these two hours. Retire, both of you."
A heavy trampling and the clattering of arms announced the arrival of the
Prince; the folding-doors were thrown open; the guards in the Cardinal's
service struck the ground thrice with their pikes; and the King appeared.
He entered, supporting himself with a cane on one side, and on the other
leaning upon the shoulder of his confessor, Father Sirmond, who withdrew,
and left him with the Cardinal; the latter rose with difficulty, but
could not advance a step to meet the King, because his legs were bandaged
and enveloped. He made a sign that they should assist the King to a seat
near the fire, facing himself. Louis XIII fell into an armchair
furnished with pillows, asked for and drank a glass of cordial, prepared
to strengthen him against the frequent fainting-fits caused by his malady
of languor, signed to all to leave the room, and, alone with Richelieu,
he said in a languid voice:
"I am departing, my dear Cardinal; I feel that I shall soon return to
God. I become weaker from day to day; neither the summer nor the
southern air has restored my strength."
"I shall precede your Majesty," replied the minister. "You see that
death has already conquered my limbs; but while I have a head to think
and a hand to write, I shall be at the service of your Majesty."
"And I am sure it was your intention to add, 'a heart to love me.'"
"Can your Majesty doubt it?" answered the Cardinal, frowning, and biting
his lips impatiently at this speech.
"Sometimes I doubt it," replied the King. "Listen: I wish to speak
openly to you, and to complain of you to yourself. There are two things
which have been upon my conscience these three years. I have never
mentioned them to you; but I reproached you secretly; and could anything
have induced me to consent to any proposals contrary to your interest,
it would be this recollection."
There was in this speech that frankness natural to weak minds, who seek
by thus making their ruler uneasy, to compensate for the harm they dare
not do him, and revenge their subjection by a childish controversy.
Richelieu perceived by these words that he had run a great risk; but he
saw at the same time the necessity of venting all his spleen, and, to
facilitate the explosion of these important avowals, he accumulated all
the professions he thought most calculated to provoke the King.
"No, no!" his Majesty at length exclaimed, "I shall believe nothing
until you have explained those two things, which are always in my
thoughts, which were lately mentioned to me, and which I can justify by
no reasoning. I mean the trial of Urbain Grandier, of which I was never
well informed, and the reason for the hatred you bore to my unfortunate
mother, even to her very ashes."
"Is this all, Sire?" said Richelieu. "Are these my only faults?
They are easily explained. The first it was necessary to conceal from
your Majesty because of its horrible and disgusting details of scandal.
There was certainly an art employed, which can not be looked upon as
guilty, in concealing, under the title of 'magic,' crimes the very names
of which are revolting to modesty, the recital of which would have
revealed dangerous mysteries to the innocent; this was a holy deceit
practised to hide these impurities from the eyes of the people."
"Enough, enough, Cardinal," said Louis XIII, turning away his head, and
looking downward, while a blush covered his face; "I can not hear more.
I understand you; these explanations would disgust me. I approve your
motives; 'tis well. I had not been told that; they had concealed these
dreadful vices from me. Are you assured of the proofs of these crimes?"
"I have them all in my possession, Sire; and as to the glorious Queen,
Marie de Medicis, I am surprised that your Majesty can forget how much I
was attached to her. Yes, I do not fear to acknowledge it; it is to her
I owe my elevation. She was the first who deigned to notice the Bishop
of Luton, then only twenty-two years of age, to place me near her. What
have I not suffered when she compelled me to oppose her in your Majesty's
interest! But this sacrifice was made for you. I never had, and never
shall have, to regret it."
"'Tis well for you, but for me!" said the King, bitterly.
"Ah, Sire," exclaimed the Cardinal, "did not the Son of God himself set
you an example? It is by the model of every perfection that we regulate
our counsels; and if the monument due to the precious remains of your
mother is not yet raised, Heaven is my witness that the works were
retarded through the fear of afflicting your heart by bringing back the
recollection of her death. But blessed be the day in which I have been
permitted to speak to you on the subject! I myself shall say the first
mass at Saint-Denis, when we shall see her deposited there, if Providence
allows me the strength."
The countenance of the King assumed a more affable yet still cold
expression; and the Cardinal, thinking that he could go no farther that
evening in persuasion, suddenly resolved to make a more powerful move,
and to attack the enemy in front. Still keeping his eyes firmly fixed
upon the King, he said, coldly:
"And was it for this you consented to my death?"
"Me!" said the King. "You have been deceived; I have indeed heard of a
conspiracy, and I wished to speak to you about it; but I have commanded
nothing against you."
"'The conspirators do not say so, Sire; but I am bound to believe your
Majesty, and I am glad for your sake that men were deceived. But what
advice were you about to condescend to give me?"
"I--I wished to tell you frankly, and between ourselves, that you will do
well to beware of Monsieur--"
"Ah, Sire, I can not now heed it; for here is a letter which he has just
sent to me for you. He seems to have been guilty even toward your
The King read in astonishment:
MONSEIGNEUR: I am much grieved at having once more failed in the
fidelity which I owe to your Majesty. I humbly entreat you to allow
me to ask a thousand pardons, with the assurances of my submission
Your very humble servant,
"What does this mean?" cried Louis; "dare they arm against me also?"
"Also!" muttered the Cardinal, biting his lips; "yes, Sire, also; and
this makes me believe, to a certain degree, this little packet of
While speaking, he drew a roll of parchment from a piece of hollowed
elder, and opened it before the eyes of the King.
"This is simply a treaty with Spain, which I think does not bear the
signature of your Majesty. You may see the twenty articles all in due
form. Everything is here arranged--the place of safety, the number of
troops, the supplies of men and money."
"The traitors!" cried the King, in great agitation; "they must be
seized. My brother renounces them and repents; but do not fail to arrest
the Duc de Bouillon."
"It shall be done, Sire."
"That will be difficult, in the middle of the army in Italy."
"I will answer with my head for his arrest, Sire; but is there not
another name to be added?"
"Who--what--Cinq-Mars?" inquired the King, hesitating.
"Exactly so, Sire," answered the Cardinal.
"I see--but--I think--we might--"
"Hear me!" exclaimed Richelieu, in a voice of thunder; "all must be
settled to-day. Your favorite is mounted at the head of his party;
choose between him and me. Yield up the boy to the man, or the man to
the boy; there is no alternative."
"And what will you do if I consent?" said the King.
"I will have his head and that of his friend."
"Never! it is impossible!" replied the King, with horror, as he
relapsed into the same state of irresolution he evinced when with Cinq-
Mars against Richelieu. "He is my friend as well as you; my heart bleeds
at the idea of his death. Why can you not both agree? Why this
division? It is that which has led him to this. You have between you
brought me to the brink of despair; you have made me the most miserable
Louis hid his head in his hands while speaking, and perhaps he shed
tears; but the inflexible minister kept his eyes upon him as if watching
his prey, and without remorse, without giving the King time for
reflection--on the contrary, profiting by this emotion to speak yet
"And is it thus," he continued, in a harsh and cold voice, "that you
remember the commandments of God communicated to you by the mouth of your
confessor? You told me one day that the Church expressly commanded you
to reveal to your prime minister all that you might hear against him;
yet I have never heard from you of my intended death! It was necessary
that more faithful friends should apprise me of this conspiracy; that the
guilty themselves through the mercy of Providence should themselves make
the avowal of their fault. One only, the most guilty, yet the least of
all, still resists, and it is he who has conducted the whole; it is he
who would deliver France into the power of the foreigner, who would
overthrow in one single day my labors of twenty years. He would call up
the Huguenots of the south, invite to arms all orders of the State,
revive crushed pretensions, and, in fact, renew the League which was put
down by your father. It is that--do not deceive yourself--it is that
which raises so many heads against you. Are you prepared for the combat?
If so, where are your arms?"
The King, quite overwhelmed, made no reply; he still covered his face
with his hands. The stony-hearted Cardinal crossed his arms and
"I fear that you imagine it is for myself I speak. Do you really think
that I do not know my own powers, and that I fear such an adversary?
Really, I know not what prevents me from letting you act for yourself--
from transferring the immense burden of State affairs to the shoulders of
this youth. You may imagine that during the twenty years I have been
acquainted with your court, I have not forgotten to assure myself a
retreat where, in spite of you, I could now go to live the six months
which perhaps remain to me of life. It would be a curious employment for
me to watch the progress of such a reign. What answer would you return,
for instance, when all the inferior potentates, regaining their station,
no longer kept in subjection by me, shall come in your brother's name to
say to you, as they dared to say to Henri IV on his throne: 'Divide with
us all the hereditary governments and sovereignties, and we shall be
content.'--[Memoires de Sully, 1595.]-- You will doubtless accede to
their request; and it is the least you can do for those who will have
delivered you from Richelieu. It will, perhaps, be fortunate, for to
govern the Ile-de-France, which they will no doubt allow you as the
original domain, your new minister will not require many secretaries."
While speaking thus, he furiously pushed the huge table, which nearly
filled the room, and was laden with papers and numerous portfolios.
Louis was aroused from his apathetic meditation by the excessive audacity
of this discourse. He raised his head, and seemed to have instantly
formed one resolution for fear he should adopt another.
"Well, sir," said he, "my answer is that I will reign alone."
"Be it so!" replied Richelieu. "But I ought to give you notice that
affairs are at present somewhat complicated. This is the hour when I
generally commence my ordinary avocations."
"I will act in your place," said Louis. "I will open the portfolios and
issue my commands."
"Try, then," said Richelieu. "I shall retire; and if anything causes you
to hesitate, you can send for me."
He rang a bell. In the same instant, and as if they had awaited the
signal, four vigorous footmen entered, and carried him and his chair into
another apartment, for we have before remarked that he was unable to
walk. While passing through the chambers where the secretaries were at
work, he called out in a loud voice:
"You will receive his Majesty's commands."
The King remained alone, strong in his new resolution, and, proud in
having once resisted, he became anxious immediately to plunge into
political business. He walked around the immense table, and beheld as
many portfolios as they then counted empires, kingdoms, and States in
Europe. He opened one and found it divided into sections equalling in
number the subdivisions of the country to which it related. All was in
order, but in alarming order for him, because each note only referred to
the very essence of the business it alluded to, and related only to the
exact point of its then relations with France. These laconic notes
proved as enigmatic to Louis, as did the letters in cipher which covered
the table. Here all was confusion. An edict of banishment and
expropriation of the Huguenots of La Rochelle was mingled with treaties
with Gustavus Adolphus and the Huguenots of the north against the empire.
Notes on General Bannier and Wallenstein, the Duc de Weimar, and Jean de
Witt were mingled with extracts from letters taken from the casket of the
Queen, the list of the necklaces and jewels they contained, and the
double interpretation which might be put upon every phrase of her notes.
Upon the margin of one of these letters was written: "For four lines in a
man's handwriting he might be criminally tried." Farther on were
scattered denunciations against the Huguenots; the republican plans they
had drawn up; the division of France into departments under the annual
dictatorship of a chief. The seal of this projected State was affixed to
it, representing an angel leaning upon a cross, and holding in his hand a
Bible, which he raised to his forehead. By the side was a document which
contained a list of those cardinals the pope had selected the same day as
the Bishop of Lurgon (Richelieu). Among them was to be found the Marquis
de Bedemar, ambassador and conspirator at Venice.
Louis XIII exhausted his powers in vain over the details of another
period, seeking unsuccessfully for any documents which might allude to
the present conspiracy, to enable him to perceive its true meaning, and
all that had been attempted against him, when a diminutive man, of an
olive complexion, who stooped much, entered the cabinet with a measured
step. This was a Secretary of State named Desnoyers. He advanced,
"May I be permitted to address your Majesty on the affairs of Portugal?"
"And consequently of Spain?" said Louis. "Portugal is a province of
"Of Portugal," reiterated Desnoyers. "Here is the manifesto we have this
moment received." And he read, "Don John, by the grace of God, King of
Portugal and of Algarves, kingdoms on this side of Africa, lord over
Guinea, by conquest, navigation, and trade with Arabia, Persia, and the
"What is all that?" said the King. "Who talks in this manner?"
"The Duke of Braganza, King of Portugal, crowned already some time by a
man whom they call Pinto. Scarcely has he ascended the throne than he
offers assistance to the revolted Catalonians."
"Has Catalonia also revolted? The King, Philip IV, no longer has the
Count-Duke for his Prime-Minister?"
"Just the contrary, Sire. It is on this very account. Here is the
declaration of the States-General of Catalonia to his Catholic Majesty,
signifying that the whole country will take up arms against his
sacrilegious and excommunicated troops. The King of Portugal--"
"Say the Duke of Braganza!" replied Louis. "I recognize no rebels."
"The Duke of Braganza, then," coldly repeated the Secretary of State,
"sends his nephew, Don Ignacio de Mascarenas, to the principality of
Catalonia, to seize the protection (and it may be the sovereignty) of
that country, which he would add to that he has just reconquered. Your
Majesty's troops are before Perpignan--"
"Well, and what of that?" said Louis.
"The Catalonians are more disposed toward France than toward Portugal,
and there is still time to deprive the King of-the Duke of Portugal, I
should say--of this protectorship."
"What! I assist rebels! You dare--"
"Such was the intention of his Eminence," continued the Secretary of
State. "Spain and France are nearly at open war, and Monsieur d'Olivares
has not hesitated to offer the assistance of his Catholic Majesty to the
"Very good. I will consider it," said the King. "Leave me."
"Sire, the States-General of Catalonia are in a dilemma. The troops from
Aragon march against them."
"We shall see. I will come to a decision in a quarter of an hour,"
answered Louis XIII.
The little Secretary of State left the apartment discontented and
discouraged. In his place Chavigny immediately appeared, holding a
portfolio, on which were emblazoned the arms of England. "Sire," said
he, "I have to request your Majesty's commands upon the affairs of
England. The Parliamentarians, commanded by the Earl of Essex, have
raised the siege of Gloucester. Prince Rupert has at Newbury fought a
disastrous battle, and of little profit to his Britannic Majesty. The
Parliament is prolonged. All the principal cities take part with it,
together with all the seaports and the Presbyterian population. King
Charles I implores assistance, which the Queen can no longer obtain from
"Troops must be sent to my brother of England," said Louis; but he wanted
to look over the preceding papers, and casting his eyes over the notes of
the Cardinal, he found that under a former request of the King of England
he had written with his own hand:
"We must consider some time and wait. The Commons are strong. King
Charles reckons upon the Scots; they will sell him.
"We must be cautious. A warlike man has been over to see Vincennes, and
he has said that 'princes ought never to be struck, except on the head.'"
The Cardinal had added "remarkable," but he had erased this word and
substituted "formidable." Again, beneath:
"This man rules Fairfax. He plays an inspired part. He will be a great
man--assistance refused--money lost."
The King then said, "No, no! do nothing hastily. I shall wait."
"But, Sire," said Chavigny, "events pass rapidly. If the courier be
delayed, the King's destruction may happen a year sooner."
"Have they advanced so far?" asked Louis.
"In the camp of the Independents they preach up the republic with the
Bible in their hands. In that of the Royalists, they dispute for
precedency, and amuse themselves."
"But one turn of good fortune may save everything?"
"The Stuarts are not fortunate, Sire," answered Chavigny, respectfully,
but in a tone which left ample room for consideration.
"Leave me," said the King, with some displeasure.
The State-Secretary slowly retired.
It was then that Louis XIII beheld himself as he really was, and was
terrified at the nothingness he found in himself. He at first stared at
the mass of papers which surrounded him, passing from one to the other,
finding dangers on every side, and finding them still greater with the
remedies he invented. He rose; and changing his place, he bent over, or
rather threw himself upon, a geographical map of Europe. There he found
all his fears concentrated. In the north, the south, the very centre of
the kingdom, revolutions appeared to him like so many Eumenides. In
every country he thought he saw a volcano ready to burst forth. He
imagined he heard cries of distress from kings, who appealed to him for
help, and the furious shouts of the populace. He fancied he felt the
territory of France trembling and crumbling beneath his feet. His feeble
and fatigued sight failed him. His weak head was attacked by vertigo,
which threw all his blood back upon his heart.
"Richelieu!" he cried, in a stifled voice, while he rang a bell; "summon
the Cardinal immediately."
And he swooned in an armchair.
When the King opened his eyes, revived by salts and potent essences which
had been applied to his lips and temples, he for one instant beheld
himself surrounded by pages, who withdrew as soon as he opened his eyes,
and he was once more left alone with the Cardinal. The impassible
minister had had his chair placed by that of the King, as a physician
would seat himself by the bedside of his patient, and fixed his sparkling
and scrutinizing eyes upon the pale countenance of Louis. As soon as his
victim could hear him, he renewed his fearful discourse in a hollow
"You have recalled me. What would you with me?"
Louis, who was reclining on the pillow, half opened his eyes, fixed them
upon Richelieu, and hastily closed them again. That bony head, armed
with two flaming eyes, and terminating in a pointed and grizzly beard,
the cap and vestments of the color of blood and flames,--all appeared
to him like an infernal spirit.
"You must reign," he said, in a languid voice.
"But will you give me up Cinq-Mars and De Thou?" again urged the
implacable minister, bending forward to read in the dull eyes of the
Prince, as an avaricious heir follows up, even to the tomb, the last
glimpses of the will of a dying relative.
"You must reign," repeated the King, turning away his head.
"Sign then," said Richelieu; "the contents of this are, 'This is my
command--to take them, dead or alive.'"
Louis, whose head still reclined on the raised back of the chair,
suffered his hand to fall upon the fatal paper, and signed it. "For
pity's sake, leave me; I am dying!" he said.
"That is not yet all," continued he whom men call the great politician.
"I place no reliance on you; I must first have some guarantee and
assurance. Sign this paper, and I will leave you:
"When the King shall go to visit the Cardinal, the guards of the
latter shall remain under arms; and when the Cardinal shall visit
the King, the guards of the Cardinal shall share the same post with
those of his Majesty.
"His Majesty undertakes to place the two princes, his sons, in the
Cardinal's hands, as hostages of the good faith of his attachment."
"My children!" exclaimed Louis, raising his head, "dare you?"
"Would you rather that I should retire?" said Richelieu.
The King again signed.
"Is all finished now?" he inquired, with a deep sigh.
All was not finished; one other grief was still in reserve for him. The
door was suddenly opened, and Cinq-Mars entered. It was the Cardinal who
"What would you here, sir?" said he, seizing the bell to ring for
The master of the horse was as pale as the King, and without
condescending to answer Richelieu, he advanced steadily toward Louis
XIII, who looked at him with the air of a man who has just received a
sentence of death.
"You would, Sire, find it difficult to have me arrested, for I have
twenty thousand men under my command," said Henri d'Effiat, in a sweet
and subdued voice.
"Alas, Cinq-Mars!" replied the King, sadly; "is it thou who hast been
guilty of these crimes?"
"Yes, Sire; and I also bring you my sword, for no doubt you came here to
surrender me," said he, unbuckling his sword, and laying it at the feet
of the King, who fixed his eyes upon the floor without making any reply.
Cinq-Mars smiled sadly, but not bitterly, for he no longer belonged to
this earth. Then, looking contemptuously at Richelieu, "I surrender
because I wish to die, but I am not conquered."
The Cardinal clenched his fist with passion; but he restrained his fury.
"Who are your accomplices?" he demanded. Cinq-Mars looked steadfastly
at Louis, and half opened his lips to speak. The King bent down his
head, and felt at that moment a torture unknown to all other men.
"I have none," said Cinq-Mars, pitying the King; and he slowly left the
apartment. He stopped in the first gallery. Fabert and all the
gentlemen rose on seeing him. He walked up to the commander, and said:
"Sir, order these gentlemen to arrest me!"
They looked at each other, without daring to approach him.
"Yes, sir, I am your prisoner; yes, gentlemen, I am without my sword, and
I repeat to you that I am the King's prisoner."
"I do not understand what I see," said the General; "there are two of you
who surrender, and I have no instruction to arrest any one."
"Two!" said Cinq-Mars; "the other is doubtless De Thou. Alas! I
recognize him by this devotion."
"And had I not also guessed your intention?" exclaimed the latter,
coming forward, and throwing himself into his arms.
Amoung those old chateaux of which France is every year deprived
regretfully, as of flowers from her, crown, there was one of a grim and
savage appearance upon the left bank of the Saline. It looked like a
formidable sentinel placed at one of the gates of Lyons, and derived its
name from an enormous rock, known as Pierre-Encise, which terminates in a
peak--a sort of natural pyramid, the summit of which overhanging the
river in former times, they say, joined the rocks which may still be seen
on the opposite bank, forming the natural arch of a bridge; but time, the
waters, and the hand of man have left nothing standing but the ancient
mass of granite which formed the pedestal of the now destroyed fortress.
The archbishops of Lyons, as the temporal lords of the city, had built
and formerly resided in this castle. It afterward became a fortress,
and during the reign of Louis XIII a State prison. One colossal tower,
where the daylight could only penetrate through three long loopholes,
commanded the edifice, and some irregular buildings surrounded it with
their massive walls, whose lines and angles followed the form of the
immense and perpendicular rock.
It was here that the Cardinal, jealous of his prey, determined to
imprison his young enemies, and to conduct them himself.
Allowing Louis to precede him to Paris, he removed his captives from
Narbonne, dragging them in his train to ornament his last triumph, and
embarking on the Rhone at Tarascon, nearly, at the mouth of the river, as
if to prolong the pleasure of revenge which men have dared to call that
of the gods, displayed to the eyes of the spectators on both sides of the
river the luxury of his hatred; he slowly proceeded on his course up the
river in barges with gilded oars and emblazoned with his armorial
bearings, reclining in the first and followed by his two victims in the
second, which was fastened to his own by a long chain.
Often in the evening, when the heat of the day was passed, the awnings of
the two boats were removed, and in the one Richelieu might be seen, pale,
and seated in the stern; in that which followed, the two young prisoners,
calm and collected, supported each other, watching the passage of the
rapid stream. Formerly the soldiers of Caesar, who encamped on the same
shores, would have thought they beheld the inflexible boatman of the
infernal regions conducting the friendly shades of Castor and Pollux.
Christians dared not even reflect, or see a priest leading his two
enemies to the scaffold; it was the first minister who passed.
Thus he went on his way until he left his victims under guard at the
identical city in which the late conspirators had doomed him to perish.
Thus he loved to defy Fate herself, and to plant a trophy on the very
spot which had been selected for his tomb.
"He was borne," says an ancient manuscript journal of this year,
"along the river Rhone in a boat in which a wooden chamber had been
constructed, lined with crimson fluted velvet, the flooring of which
was of gold. The same boat contained an antechamber decorated in
the same manner. The prow and stern of the boat were occupied by
soldiers and guards, wearing scarlet coats embroidered with gold,
silver, and silk; and many lords of note. His Eminence occupied a
bed hung with purple taffetas. Monseigneur the Cardinal Bigni, and
Messeigneurs the Bishops of Nantes and Chartres, were there, with
many abbes and gentlemen in other boats. Preceding his vessel, a
boat sounded the passages, and another boat followed, filled with
arquebusiers and officers to command them. When they approached any
isle, they sent soldiers to inspect it, to discover whether it was
occupied by any suspicious persons; and, not meeting any, they
guarded the shore until two boats which followed had passed. They
were filled with the nobility and well-armed soldiers.
"Afterward came the boat of his Eminence, to the stern of which was
attached a little boat, which conveyed MM. de Thou and Cinq-Mars,
guarded by an officer of the King's guard and twelve guards from the
regiment of his Eminence. Three vessels, containing the clothes and
plate of his Eminence, with several gentlemen and soldiers, followed
"Two companies of light-horsemen followed the banks of the Rhone in
Dauphin, and as many on the Languedoc and Vivarais side, and a noble
regiment of foot, who preceded his Eminence in the towns which he
was to enter, or in which he was to sleep. It was pleasant to
listen to the trumpets, which, played in Dauphine, were answered by
those in Vivarais, and repeated by the echoes of our rocks. It
seemed as if all were trying which could play best."--[See Notes.]
In the middle of a night of the month of September, while everything
appeared to slumber in the impregnable tower which contained the
prisoners, the door of their outer chamber turned noiselessly on its
hinges, and a man appeared on the threshold, clad in a brown robe
confined round his waist by a cord. His feet were encased in sandals,
and his hand grasped a large bunch of keys; it was Joseph. He looked
cautiously round without advancing, and contemplated in silence the
apartment occupied by the master of the horse. Thick carpets covered the
floor, and large and splendid hangings concealed the walls of the prison;
a bed hung with red damask was prepared, but it was unoccupied. Seated
near a high chimney in a large armchair, attired in a long gray robe,
similar in form to that of a priest, his head bent down, and his eyes
fixed upon a little cross of gold by the flickering light of a lamp, he
was absorbed in so deep a meditation that the Capuchin had leisure to
approach him closely, and confront the prisoner before he perceived him.
Suddenly, however, Cinq-Mars raised his head and exclaimed, "Wretch, what
do you here?"
"Young man, you are violent," answered the mysterious intruder, in a low
voice. "Two months' imprisonment ought to have been enough to calm you.
I come to tell you things of great importance. Listen to me! I have
thought much of you; and I do not hate you so much as you imagine. The
moments are precious. I will tell you all in a few words: in two hours
you will be interrogated, tried, and condemned to death with your friend.
It can not be otherwise, for all will be finished the same day."
"I know it," answered Cinq-Mars; "and I am prepared."
"Well, then, I can still release you from this affair. I have reflected
deeply, as I told you; and I am here to make a proposal which can but
give you satisfaction. The Cardinal has but six months to live. Let us
not be mysterious; we must speak openly. You see where I have brought
you to serve him; and you can judge by that the point to which I would
conduct him to serve you. If you wish it, we can cut short the six
months of his life which still remain. The King loves you, and will
recall you with joy when he finds you still live. You may long live,
and be powerful and happy, if you will protect me, and make me cardinal."
Astonishment deprived the young prisoner of speech. He could not
understand such language, and seemed to be unable to descend to it from
his higher meditations. All that he could say was:
"Your benefactor, Richelieu?"
The Capuchin smiled, and, drawing nearer, continued in an undertone: