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The Memoirs of Cardinal de Retz, v2 by Jean Francois Paul de Gondi, Cardinal de Retz

Part 3 out of 3

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present from his master of 10,000 pistoles; but I was resolved to let the
Spaniards see that I had not the intention of taking their money, though
at his request Madame de Bouillon did all she could to persuade me.
Accordingly, I declined it with all possible respect; nevertheless, this
denial cost me dear afterwards, because I contracted a habit of refusing
presents at other times when it would have been good policy to have
accepted them, even if I had thrown them into the river. It is sometimes
very dangerous to refuse presents from one's superiors.

While we were in conference at M. de Bouillon's the sad news was brought
to us that M. de Turenne's forces, all except two or three regiments, had
been bribed with money from Court to abandon him, and, finding himself
likely to be arrested, he had retired to the house of his friend and
kinswoman, the Landgravine of Hesse. M. de Bouillon, was, as it were,
thunderstruck; his lady burst out into tears, saying, "We are all
undone," and I was almost as much cast down as they were, because it
overturned our last scheme.

M. de Bouillon was now for pushing matters to extremes, but I convinced
him that there was nothing more dangerous.

Don Gabriel de Toledo, who was ordered to be very frank with me, was very
reserved when he saw how I was mortified about the news of M. de Turenne,
and caballed with the generals in such a manner as made me very uneasy.
Upon this sudden turn of affairs I made these remarks: That every company
has so much in it of the unstable temper of the vulgar that all depends
upon joining issue with opportunity; and that the best proposals prove
often fading flowers, which are fragrant to-day and offensive to-morrow.

I could not sleep that night for thinking about our circumstances. I saw
that the Parliament was less inclined than ever to engage in a war, by
reason of the desertion of the army of M. de Turenne; I saw the deputies
at Ruel emboldened by the success of their prevarication; I saw the
people of Paris as ready to admit the Archduke as ever they could be to
receive the Duc d'Orleans; I saw that in a week's time this Prince, with
beads in his hand, and Fuensaldagne with his money, would have greater
power than ourselves; that M. de Bouillon was relapsing into his former
proposal of using extremities, and that the other generals would be
precipitated into the same violent measures by the scornful behaviour of
the Court, who now despised all because they were sure of the Parliament.
I saw that all these circumstances paved the way for a popular sedition
to massacre the Parliament and put the Spaniards in possession of the
Louvre, which might overturn the State.

These gloomy thoughts I resolved to communicate to my father, who had for
the last twenty years retired to the Oratory, and who would never hear of
my State intrigues. My father told me of some advantageous offers made
to me indirectly by the Court, but advised me not to trust to them.

Next day, M. de Bouillon was for shutting the gates against the deputies
of Ruel, for expelling the Parliament, for making ourselves masters of
the Hotel de Ville, and for bringing the Spanish army without delay into
our suburbs. As for M. de Beaufort, Don Gabriel de Toledo told me that
he offered Madame de Montbazon 20,000 crowns down and 6,000 crowns a year
if she could persuade him into the Archduke's measures. He did not
forget the other generals. M. d'Elbeuf was gained at an easy rate, and
Marechal de La Mothe was buoyed up with the hopes of being accommodated
with the Duchy of Cardonne. I soon saw the Catholicon of Spain (Spanish
gold) was the chief ingredient. Everybody saw that our only remedy was
to make ourselves masters of the Hotel de Ville by means of the people,
but I opposed it with arguments too tedious to mention. M. de Bouillon
was for engaging entirely with Spain, but I convinced Marechal de La
Mothe and M. de Beaufort that such measures would in a fortnight reduce
them to a precarious dependence on the counsels of Spain.

Being pressed to give my opinion in brief, I delivered it thus: "We
cannot hinder the peace without ruining the Parliament by the help of the
people, and we cannot maintain the war by the means of the same people
without a dependence upon Spain. We cannot have any peace with Saint
Germain but by consenting to continue Mazarin in the Ministry."

M. de Bouillon, with the head of an ox, and the penetration of an eagle,
interrupted me thus: "I take it, monsieur," said he, "you are for
suffering the peace to come to a conclusion, but not for appearing in

I replied that I was willing to oppose it, but that it should be only
with my own voice and the voices of those who were ready to run the same
hazard with me.

"I understand you again," replied M. de Bouillon; "a very fine thought
indeed, suitable to yourself and to M. de Beaufort, but to nobody else."

"If it suited us only," said I, "before I would propose it I would cut
out my tongue. The part we act would suit you as well as either of us,
because you may accommodate matters when you think it for your interest.
For my part, I am fully persuaded that they who insist upon the exclusion
of Mazarin as a condition of the intended arrangement will continue
masters of the affections of the people long enough to take their
advantage of an opportunity which fortune never fails to furnish in
cloudy and unsettled times. Pray, monsieur, considering your reputation
and capacity, who can pretend to act this part with more dignity, than
yourself? M. de Beaufort and I are already the favourites of the people,
and if you declare for the exclusion of the Cardinal, you will be
tomorrow as popular as either of us, and we shall be looked upon as the
only centre of their hopes. All the blunders of the ministers will turn
to our advantage, the Spaniards will caress us, and the Cardinal,
considering how fond he is of a treaty, will be under the necessity to
court us. I own this scheme may be attended with inconveniences, but,
on the other side of the question, we are sure of certain ruin if we have
a peace and an enraged minister at the helm, who cannot hope for
reestablishment but upon our destruction. Therefore, I cannot but think
the expedient is as proper for you to engage in as for me, but if, for
argument's sake, it were not, I am sure it is for your interest that I
should embrace it, for you will by that means have more time to make your
own terms with the Court before the peace is concluded, and after the
peace Mazarin will in such case be obliged to have more regard for all
those gentlemen whose reunion with me it will be to his interest to

M. de Bouillon was so convinced of the justice of my reasoning that he
told me, when we were by ourselves, that he had, as well as myself,
thought of my expedient as soon as he received the news of the army
deserting M. de Turenne, that he could still improve it, as the Spaniards
would not fail to relish it, and that he had been on the point several
times one day to confer about it with me; but that his wife had conjured
him with prayers and tears to speak no more of the matter, but to come to
terms with the Court, or else to engage himself with the Spaniards.
"I know," said he, "you are not for the second arrangement; pray lend me
your good offices to compass the first." I assured him that all my best
offices and interests were entirely at his service to facilitate his
agreement with the Court, and that he might freely make use of my name
and reputation for that purpose.

In fine, we agreed on every point. M. de Bouillon undertook to make the
proposition palatable to the Spaniards, provided we would promise never
to let them know that it was concerted among ourselves beforehand, and we
never questioned but that we could persuade M. de Longueville to accept
it, for men of irresolution are apt to catch at all overtures which lead
them two ways, and consequently press them to no choice.

I had almost forgotten to tell you what M. de Bouillon said to me in
private as we were going from the conference. "I am sure," said he,
"that you will not blame me for not exposing a wife whom I dearly love
and eight children whom she loves more than herself to the hazards which
you run, and which I could run with you were I a single man."

I was very much affected by the tender sentiments of M. de Bouillon and
the confidence he placed in me, and assured him I was so far from blaming
him that I esteemed him the more, and that his tenderness for his lady,
which he was pleased to call his weakness, was indeed what politics
condemned but ethics highly justified, because it betokened an honest
heart, which is much superior both to interest and politics. M. de
Bouillon communicated the proposal both to the Spanish envoys and to the
generals, who were easily persuaded to relish it.

Thus he made, as it were, a golden bridge for the Spaniards to withdraw
their troops with decency. I told him as soon as they were gone that he
was an excellent man to persuade people that a "quartan ague was good for

The Parliamentary deputies, repairing to Saint Germain on the 17th of
March, 1649, first took care to settle the interests of the generals,
upon which every officer of the army thought he had a right to exhibit
his pretensions. M. de Vendome sent his son a formal curse if he did not
procure for him at least the post of Superintendent of the Seas, which
was created first in favour of Cardinal de Richelieu in place of that of
High Admiral, but Louis XIV. abolished it, and restored that of High

Upon this we held a conference, the result of which was that on the 20th
the Prince de Conti told the Parliament that himself and the other
generals entered their claims solely for the purpose of providing for
their safety in case Mazarin should continue in the Ministry, and that he
protested, both for himself and for all the gentlemen engaged in the same
party, that they would immediately renounce all pretensions whatsoever
upon the exclusion of Cardinal Mazarin.

We also prevailed on the Prince de Conti, though almost against his will,
to move the Parliament to direct their deputies to join with the Comte de
Maure for the expulsion of Cardinal Mazarin. I had almost lost all my
credit with the people, because I hindered them on the 13th of March from
massacring the Parliament, and because on the 23d and 24th I opposed the
public sale of the Cardinal's library. But I reestablished my reputation
in the Great Hall among the crowd, in the opinion of the firebrands of
Parliament, by haranguing against the Comte de Grancei, who had the
insolence to pillage the house of M. Coulon; by insisting on the 24th
that the Prince d'Harcourt should be allowed to seize all the public
money in the province of Picardy; by insisting on the 25th against a
truce which it would have been ridiculous to refuse during a conference;
and by opposing on the 30th what was transacted there, though at the same
time I knew that peace was made.

I now return to the conference at Saint Germain.

The Court declared they would never consent to the removal of the
Cardinal; and that as to the pretensions of the generals, which were
either to justice or favour, those of justice should be confirmed, and
those of favour left to his Majesty's disposal to reward merit. They
declared their willingness to accept the Archduke's proposal for a
general peace.

An amnesty was granted in the most ample manner, comprehending expressly
the Prince de Conti, MM. de Longueville, de Beaufort, d'Harcourt, de
Rieug, de Lillebonne, de Bouillon, de Turenne, de Brissac, de Duras, de
Matignon, de Beuron, de Noirmoutier, de Sdvigny, de Tremouille, de La
Rochefoucault, de Retz, d'Estissac, de Montresor, de Matta, de Saint
Germain, d'Apchon, de Sauvebeuf, de Saint Ibal, de Lauretat, de Laigues,
de Chavagnac, de Chaumont, de Caumesnil, de Cugnac, de Creci, d'Allici,
and de Barriere; but I was left out, which contributed to preserve my
reputation with the public more than you would expect from such a trifle.

On the 31st the deputies, being returned, made their report to the
Parliament, who on the 1st of April verified the declaration of peace.

As I went to the House I found the streets crowded with people crying "No
peace! no Mazarin!" but I dispersed them by saying that it was one of
Mazarin's stratagems to separate the people from the Parliament, who
without doubt had reasons for what they had done; that they should be
cautious of falling into the snare; that they had no cause to fear
Mazarin; and that they might depend on it that I would never agree with
him. When I reached the House I found the guards as excited as the
people, and bent on murdering every one they knew to be of Mazarin's
party; but I pacified them as I had done the others. The First
President, seeing me coming in, said that "I had been consecrating oil
mixed, undoubtedly, with saltpetre." I heard the words, but made as if I
did not, for had I taken them up, and had the people known it in the
Great Hall, it would not have been in my power to have saved the life of
one single member.

Soon after the peace the Prince de Conti, Madame de Longueville and M. de
Bouillon went to Saint Germain to the Court, which had by some means or
other gained M. d'Elbeuf. But MM. de Brissac, de Retz, de Vitri, de
Fiesque, de Fontrailles, de Montresor, de Noirmoutier, de Matta, de la
Boulaie, de Caumesnil, de Moreul, de Laigues, and d'Annery remained in a
body with us, which was not contemptible, considering the people were on
our side; but the Cardinal despised us to that degree that when MM. de
Beaufort, de Brissac, de La Mothe, and myself desired one of our friends
to assure the Queen of our most humble obedience, she answered that she
should not regard our assurances till we had paid our devoirs to the

Madame de Chevreuse having come from Brussels without the Queen's leave,
her Majesty sent her orders to quit Paris in twenty-four hours upon which
I went to her house and found the lovely creature at her toilet bathed in
tears. My heart yearned towards her, but I bid her not obey till I had
the honour of seeing her again. I consulted with M. de Beaufort to get
the order revoked, upon which he said, "I see you are against her going;
she shall stay. She has very fine eyes!"

I returned to the Palace de Chevreuse, where I was made very welcome, and
found the lovely Mademoiselle de Chevreuse. I got a very intimate
acquaintance with Madame de Rhodes, natural daughter of Cardinal de
Guise, who was her great confidant. I entirely demolished the good
opinion she had of the Duke of Brunswick-Zell, with whom she had almost
struck a bargain. De Laigues hindered me at first, but the forwardness
of the daughter and the good-nature of the mother soon removed all
obstacles. I saw her every day at her own house and very often at Madame
de Rhodes's, who allowed us all the liberty we could wish for, and we did
not fail to make good use of our time. I did love her, or rather I
thought I loved her, for I still had to do with Madame de Pommereux.

Fronde (sling) being the name given to the faction, I will give you the
etymology of it, which I omitted in the first book.

When Parliament met upon State affairs, the Duc d'Orleans and the Prince
de Conde came very frequently, and tempered the heat of the contending
parties; but the coolness was not lasting, for every other day their fury
returned upon them.

Bachoumont once said, in jest, that the Parliament acted like the
schoolboys in the Paris ditches, who fling stones, and run away when they
see the constable, but meet again as soon as he turns his back. This was
thought a very pretty comparison. It came to be a subject for ballads,
and, upon the peace between the King and Parliament, it was revived and
applied to those who were not agreed with the Court; and we studied to
give it all possible currency, because we observed that it excited the
wrath of the people. We therefore resolved that night to wear hatbands
made in the form of a sling, and had a great number of them made ready to
be distributed among a parcel of rough fellows, and we wore them
ourselves last of all, for it would have looked much like affectation and
have spoilt all had we been the first in the mode.

It is inexpressible what influence this trifle had upon the people; their
bread, hats, gloves, handkerchiefs, fans, ornaments were all 'a la mode
de la Fronde', and we ourselves were more in the fashion by this trifle
than in reality. And the truth is we had need of all our shifts to
support us against the whole royal family. For although I had spoken to
the Prince de Conde at Madame de Longueville's, I could not suppose
myself thoroughly reconciled. He treated me, indeed, civilly, but with
an air of coldness, and I know that he was fully persuaded that I had
complained of his breach of a promise which he made by me to some members
of Parliament; but, as I had complained to nobody upon this head, I began
to suspect that some persona studied to set us at variance. I imagined
it came from the Prince de Conti, who was naturally very malicious, and
hated me, he knew not why. Madame de Longueville loved me no better.
I always suspected Madame de Montbazon, who had not nearly so much
influence over M. de Beaufort as I had, yet was very artful in robbing
him of all his secrets. She did not love me either, because I deprived
her of what might have made her a most considerable person at Court.

Count Fuensaldagne was not obliged to help me if he could. He was not
pleased with the conduct of M. de Bouillon, who, in truth, had neglected
the decisive point for a general peace, and he was much less satisfied
with his own ministers, whom he used to call his blind moles; but he was
pleased with me for insisting always on the peace between the two Crowns,
without any view to a separate one. He therefore sent me Don Antonio
Pimentel, to offer me anything that was in the power of the King his
master, and to tell me that, as I could not but want assistance,
considering how I stood with the Ministry, 100,000 crowns was at my
service, which was accordingly brought me in bills of exchange. He added
that he did not desire any engagement from me for it, nor did the King
his master propose any other advantage than the pleasure of protecting
me. But I thought fit to refuse the money, for the present, telling Don
Antonio that I should think myself unworthy, of the protection of his
Catholic Majesty if I took any, gratuity, while I was in no capacity,
of serving him; that I was born a Frenchman, and, by virtue of my, post,
more particularly, attached than another to the metropolis of the
kingdom; that it was my misfortune to be embroiled with the Prime
Minister of my King, but that my resentment should never carry me to
solicit assistance among his enemies till I was forced to do so for self-
preservation; that Divine Providence had cast my lot in Paris, where God,
who knew the purity of my intentions, would enable me in all probability
to maintain myself by my own interest. But in case I wanted protection I
was fully persuaded I could nowhere find any so powerful and glorious as
that of his Catholic Majesty, to whom I would always think it an honour
to have recourse. Fuensaldagne was satisfied with my answer, and sent
back Don Antonio Pimentel with a letter from the Archduke, assuring me
that upon a line from my hand he would march with all the forces of the
King his master to my assistance.


Always to sacrifice the little affairs to the greater
Always judged of actions by men, and never men by their actions
Arms which are not tempered by laws quickly become anarchy
Associating patience with activity
Blindness that make authority to consist only in force
Bounty, which, though very often secret, had the louder echo
Civil war is one of those complicated diseases
Clergy always great examples of slavish servitude
Confounded the most weighty with the most trifling
Contempt--the most dangerous disease of any State
Dangerous to refuse presents from one's superiors
Distinguished between bad and worse, good and better
Fading flowers, which are fragrant to-day and offensive tomorrow
Fool in adversity and a knave in prosperity
Fools yield only when they cannot help it
Good news should be employed in providing against bad
He had not a long view of what was beyond his reach
His wit was far inferior to his courage
His ideas were infinitely above his capacity
Impossible for her to live without being in love with somebody
Inconvenience of popularity
Kinds of fear only to be removed by higher degrees of terror
Laws without the protection of arms sink into contempt
Maxims showed not great regard for virtue
More ambitious than was consistent with morality
My utmost to save other souls, though I took no care of my own
Need of caution in what we say to our friends
Neither capable of governing nor being governed
Men of irresolution are apt to catch at all overtures
Never had woman more contempt for scruples and ceremonies
Oftener deceived by distrusting than by being overcredulous
One piece of bad news seldom comes singly
Only way to acquire them is to show that we do not value them
Poverty so well became him
Power commonly keeps above ridicule
Pretended to a great deal more wit than came to his share
Queen was adored much more for her troubles than for her merit
Strongest may safely promise to the weaker what he thinks fit
Those who carry more sail than ballast
Thought he always stood in need of apologies
Transitory honour is mere smoke
Treated him as she did her petticoat
Useful man in a faction because of his wonderful complacency
Vanity to love to be esteemed the first author of things
Virtue for a man to confess a fault than not to commit one
We are far more moved at the hearing of old stories
Weakening and changing the laws of the land
Whose vivacity supplied the want of judgment
Wisdom in affairs of moment is nothing without courage
With a design to do good, he did evil
Yet he gave more than he promised

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