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.]
MEMOIRS OF JEAN FRANCOIS PAUL de GONDI, CARDINAL DE RETZ, v4
Written by Himself
Being Historic Court Memoirs of the Great Events during the Minority of Louis XIV. and the Administration of Cardinal Mazarin.
In December, 1651, the Parliament agreed to the following resolution: To send a deputation to the King to inform him of the rumours of Mazarin’s return, and to beseech him to confirm the royal promise which he had made to his people upon that head; to forbid all governors to give the Cardinal passage; to desire the King to acquaint the Pope and other Princes with the reasons that had obliged him to remove the Cardinal; and to send to all the Parliaments of the kingdom to make the like decree.
Somebody making a motion that a price might be set upon the Cardinal’s head, I and the rest of the spiritual councillors retired, because clergymen are forbidden by the canon law to give their vote in cases of life and death.
They agreed also to send deputies to the King to entreat him to write to the Elector of Cologne to send the Cardinal out of his country, and to forbid the magistrates of all cities to entertain any troops sent to favour his return or any of his kindred or domestics. A certain councillor who said, very judiciously, that the soldiers assembling for Mazarin upon the frontiers would laugh at all the decrees of Parliament unless they were proclaimed to them by good musketeers and pikemen, was run down as if he had talked nonsense, and all the clamour was that it belonged only to the King to disband soldiers.
The Duc d’Orleans acquainted the House, on the 29th, that Cardinal Mazarin had arrived at Sedan; that Marechals de Hoquincourt and de la Ferte were gone to join him with their army to bring him to Court; and that it was high time to oppose his designs. Upon this it was immediately resolved that deputies should be despatched forthwith to the King; that the Cardinal and all his adherents should be declared guilty of high treason; that the common people should be commanded to treat them as such wherever they met them; that his library and all his household goods should be sold, and that 150,000 livres premium should be given to any man who should deliver up the said Cardinal, either dead or alive. Upon this expression all the ecclesiastics retired, for the reason above mentioned.
A new decree was passed on the 2d of January, 1652, wherein it was decided that all the Parliaments of France should be invited to issue their decrees against Mazarin, conformable to the last; that two more councillors should be added to the four sent to guard the rivers and to arm the common people; and that the troops of the Duc d’Orleans should oppose the march of Mazarin.
On the 24th the deputies who had been to Poitiers to remonstrate with the King against the return of the Cardinal, made their report in Parliament, to the effect that his Majesty, after having consulted with the Queen and her Council, returned for answer, that without doubt, when the Parliament issued their late decrees, they did not know that Cardinal Mazarin had made no levy of soldiers but by his Majesty’s express orders; that it was he who commanded him to enter France with his troops, and that therefore the King did not resent what the company had done; but that, on the other hand, he did not doubt that when they had heard the circumstances he had just mentioned, and knew, moreover, that Cardinal Mazarin only desired an opportunity to justify himself, they would not fail to give all his subjects an exemplary proof of the obedience they owed to him. The Parliament was highly provoked, and next day resolved to admit no more dukes, peers, nor marshals of France till the Cardinal had left the kingdom.
Mazarin, arriving at Court again, persuaded the King to go to Saumur, though others advised him to march to Guienne against the Prince de Conde, with whom the Duc d’Orleans was now resolved to join forces. The King went from Saumur to Tours, where the Archbishop of Rouen carried complaints to the King, in the name of the bishops there, against the decrees of Parliament relating to the Cardinal.
The Duc d’Orleans complained in Parliament against the inconsistency of their proceedings, and said the King had sent him carte blanche in order to oblige him to consent to the restoration of the Cardinal, but that nothing would ever cause him to do it, nor to act apart from the Parliament. Yet their unaccountable proceedings perplexed him beyond expression, so that he commanded, or rather permitted, M. de Beaufort to put his troops in action. And because I told him that, considering the declarations he had so often repeated against Mazarin, I thought his conduct in setting his troops in motion against him did not add so much to the measure of the disgust he had already given to the Court that he need to apprehend much from it, he gave me for answer these memorable words which I have reflected upon a thousand times: “If you,” said he, “had been born a Son of France, an Infante of Spain, a King of Hungary, or a Prince of Pales, you would not talk as you do. You must know that, with us Princes, words go for nothing, but that we never forget actions. By to-morrow noon the Queen would not remember my declarations against the Cardinal if I would admit him tomorrow morning; but if my troops were to fire a musket she would not forgive me though we were to live two thousand years hence.”
In February, 1652, I was made a cardinal, and was to receive the hat, as all French cardinals do, from the King. My enemies, who thought to ruin my credit with the Duc d’Orleans, gave out that I had been obliged to the Court for my dignity, attacked me in form as a secret favourer of Mazarin, and, while their emissaries gained over such of the dregs of the people as they could corrupt by money, they were supported by all the intrigues of the Cabinet. But the Duke, who knew better, only laughed at them; so that they confirmed me in his good opinion, instead of supplanting me, because in cases of slander every reflection that does not hurt the person attacked does him service. I said to the Duke that I wondered he was not wearied out with the silly stories that were told him every day against me, since they all harped upon one string; but he said, “Do you take no account of the pleasure one takes every morning in hearing how wicked men are under the cloak of religious zeal, and every night how silly they are under the mask of politicians?”
The servants of the Prince de Conde gave out such stories against me among the populace as were likely to have done me much more mischief. They had a pack of brawling fellows in their pay who were more troublesome to me now than formerly, when they did not dare to appear before the numerous retinue of gentlemen and liverymen that accompanied me, for as I had not yet had the hat, I was obliged, wherever I went, to go incognito, according to the rules of the ceremonial. Those fellows said that I had betrayed the Duc d’Orleans, and that they would be the death of me. I told the Duke, who was afraid they would murder me, that he should soon see how little those hired mobs ought to be regarded. He offered me his guards, but though Marechal d’Estampes fell on his knees in my way to stop me, I went down-stairs with only two persons in company, and made directly towards the ruffians, demanding who was their leader. Upon which a beggarly fellow, with an old yellow feather in his hat, answered me, insolently, “I am.” Then I called out to the guards at the gate, saying, “Let me have this rascal hanged up at these grates.” Thereupon he made me a very low bow, and said that he did not mean to affront me; that he only came with his comrades to tell me of the report that I designed to carry the Duc d’Orleans to Court, and reconcile him with Mazarin; that they did not believe it; that they were at my service, and ready to venture their lives for me, provided I would but promise them to be always an honest Frondeur.
The Duc d’Orleans took such delight in conversing with me that, on De Goulas, one of his secretaries, telling him that all the foreign officers took mighty umbrage at it, he pulled him up very sharply, and said, “Go to the devil, you and your foreign officers. If they were as good Frondeurs as Cardinal de Retz, they would be at their posts, and not tippling in the taverns of Paris.” There was such a strong faction in the city of Orleans for the Court that his presence there was very necessary; but as it was much more so at Paris, the Duke was prevailed upon by his Duchess to let her go thither. M. Patru was pleased to say that as the gates of Jericho fell at the sound of trumpets, those of Orleans would open at the sound of fiddles, of which M. de Rohan was a very great admirer. But, in fact, though the King was just at hand with the troops, and though M. Mold, Keeper of the Seals, was at the gate demanding entrance for the King, the Duchess crossed the river in a barge, made the watermen break down a little postern, which had been walled up for a long time, and marched, with the acclamations of multitudes of the people, directly to the Hotel de Ville, where the magistrates were assembled to consider if they should admit the Keeper of the Seals. By this means she turned the scale, and MM. de Beaufort and de Nemours joined her.
The Prince de Conde arriving at Paris from Guienne on the 11th of April, the magistrates had a meeting in the Hotel de Ville, in which they resolved that the Governor should wait on his Royal Highness, and tell him that the company thought it contrary to order to receive him into the city before he had cleared himself from the King’s declaration, which had been verified in Parliament against him.
The Duc d’Orleans, who was overjoyed at this speech, said that the Prince had only come to discourse with him about private affairs, and that he would stay but twenty-four hours at Paris. M. de Chavigni informed the Duke that the Prince was able to stand his ground as long as he pleased, without being obliged to anybody; and he gathered together a mob of scoundrels upon the Pont-Neuf, whose fingers itched to be plundering the house of M. du Plessis Guenegaut, and by whom the Duke was frightened to a great degree.
The reflections I had leisure to make upon my new dignity obliged me to take great care of my hat, whose dazzling flame of colour turns the heads of many that are honoured with it. The most palpable of those delusions is the claiming precedence of Princes of the blood, who may become our masters the next moment, and who at the same time are generally the masters of all our kindred. I have a veneration for the cardinals of my family, who made me suck in humility after their example with my mother’s milk, and I found a very happy opportunity to practise it on the very day that I received the news of my promotion. Chateaubriant said to me, before a vast number of people at my levee, “Now we will pay our respects no more to the best of them,” which he said because, though I was upon ill terms with the Prince de Conde, and though I always went well attended, I yet saluted him wherever I met him with all the respect due to him on the score of so many titles. I said to him:
“Pray pardon me, monsieur; we shall pay our respects to the great men with greater complaisance than ever. God forbid that the red hat should turn my head to that degree as to make me dispute precedence with the Princes of the blood. It is honour enough for a gentleman to walk side by side with them.” This expression, I verily believe, afterwards secured the rank of precedence to the hat in the kingdom of France, by the courtesy of the Prince de Conde, and his friendship for me.
Mademoiselle de Chevreuse, the most fantastical lady upon earth, suspecting that I held a secret correspondence with the Queen, could not forbear murmuring and threatening what she would do. She said I had declared to her a thousand times that I could not imagine how it was possible for anybody to be in love with that Swiss woman. In short, she said this so often that the Queen had a notion from somebody or other that I had called her by that name. She never forgave me for it, as you will perceive in the sequel. You may easily conceive that this circumstance, which gave me no encouragement to hope for a very gracious reception at Court for the time to come, did not weaken those resolutions which I had already taken to retire from public business. The place of my retreat was agreeable enough: the shadow of the towers of Notre-Dame was a refreshment to it; and, moreover, the Cardinal’s hat sheltered it from bad weather. I had fine ideas of the sweetness of such a retirement, and I would gladly have laid hold of it, but my stars would not have it so. I return to my narrative.
On the 12th of April the Duc d’Orleans took the Prince de Conde with him to the Parliament, assuring them that he had not, nor ever would have, any other intention than to serve his King and country; that he would always follow the sentiments of the Parliament; and that he was willing to lay down his arms as soon as the decrees against Cardinal Mazarin were put into execution.
The President Bailleul said that the members always thought it an honour to see the Prince de Conde in his place, but that they could not dissemble their real concern to see his hands stained with the blood of the King’s soldiers who were killed at Bleneau. Upon this a storm arose from the benches, which fell with such fury upon the poor President that he had scarcely room to put in a word for himself, for fifty or sixty voices disowned him at one volley.
On the 13th the Parliament agreed that the declaration made by the Duc d’Orleans and the Prince should be carried to the King; that the remonstrances they had sent to the King should likewise be sent to all the sovereign companies of Paris, and to all the Parliaments of the kingdom, to invite them also to send a deputation on their own behalf; and that a general assembly should be immediately held at the Hotel de Ville, to which the Duc d’Orleans and the Prince should be invited to make the same declarations as they made to the Parliament; and that, in the meantime, the King’s declaration against Cardinal Mazarin, and all the decrees passed against him, should be put into execution.
On the 13th of May a councillor of Parliament and captain of his ward, having brought his company to the Palace to act as ordinary guard, was abandoned by all the burghers that composed it, who said they were not created to guard Mazarins.
The mob, who at the same time appeared ready enough to murder some of the magistrates in the streets, had nothing in their mouths but the names and services of the Princes, who next day disowned their humble servants in the assemblies of the several courts. Though this conduct gave occasion to severe decrees, which the Parliament issued at every turn against the seditious, it did not hinder the same Parliament from believing that those who disowned the sedition were the authors of it, and consequently did not lessen the hatred which many private men conceived against them. Such were the various and complicated views every one had concerning the then position of affairs, that I wrapped myself up, as one may say, in my great dignities, to which I abandoned the hopes of my fortune; and I remember one day the President Bellievre telling me that I ought not to be so indolent. I answered him: “We are in a great storm, where, methinks, we all row against the wind. I have two good oars in my hand, one of which is the Cardinal’s dignity, and the other the Archiepiscopal. I am not willing to break them; and all I have to do now is to support myself.”
At the same time I had other disquietings of a more private nature. Mademoiselle de Chevreuse fell in love with my rival, the Abbe Fouquet. Little De Roye, who was a very, pretty German lass at her house, informed me of it, and made me amends for the infidelity of the mistress, whose choice, to tell you the truth, did not mortify me much, because she had nothing but beauty, which cloys when it comes alone. She cared for nobody besides him she loved; but as she was never long in love, so neither was it long that she was in good temper. She used her cast-off lovers as she did her old clothes, which other women lay aside, but she burnt, so that her daughters had much ado to save a petticoat, head- dress, gloves, or Venice point. And I verily believe that if she could have committed her lovers to the flames when she left them off, she would have done it with all her heart. Madame her mother, who endeavoured to set her at variance with me when she was resolved to unite herself entirely with the Court, could not succeed, though she went so far that Madame de Guemenee caused a letter to be read to her in my handwriting, whereby I devoted myself body and soul to her, as witches give themselves to the devil.
It was at that time that Madame de Chevreuse, seeing herself neglected at Paris, resolved to retire to Dampierre, where, depending upon what had been told her from Court, she hoped to be well received. I gave vent to my passion, which, in truth, was not very great, to Mademoiselle de Chevreuse, and I took care to have both the mother and daughter accompanied out of Paris, quite to Dampierre, by all the nobility and gentlemen I had with me.
I cannot finish this slight sketch of the condition I was in at Paris without acknowledging the debt I owe to the generosity of the Prince de Conde, who, finding that a person was come from the Prince de Conti, at Bordeaux, with a design to attack me, told him that he would have him hanged if he did not go back to his master in two hours’ time.
Marigny told me, almost at the same time, that, observing the Prince de Conde to be very intent upon reading a book, he took the liberty to tell him that it must needs be a very choice one, because he took such delight in it; and that the Prince answered him, “It is true I am very fond of it, for it shows me my faults, which nobody has the courage to tell me.” This book was entitled “The Right and False Steps of the Prince de Conde and of the Cardinal de Retz.”
There were divers negotiations between the parties, during which Mazarin gave himself the pleasure of letting the public see MM. de Rohan, de Chavigni, and de Goulas conferring with him, before the King as well as in private, at that very instant when the Duc d’Orleans and the Prince de Conde said publicly, in the assembly of the Chambers, that it ought to be the preliminary of all treaties to have nothing to do with Mazarin. He acted a perfect comedy in their presence, pretending to be forcibly detained by the King, whom he begged with folded hands to let him return to Italy.
On the 30th of April there was so great a murmuring in Parliament that the Duc d’Orleans said they should never see him there again until the Cardinal was gone.
On the 6th of May the remonstrances of the Parliament and the Chamber of Accounts were carried to the King by a large deputation, as were, on the 7th, those of the Court of Aids and the city. The King’s answer to both was that he would cause his troops to retire when those of the Princes were gone.
On the 10th it was resolved that the King’s Council should be sent to Saint Germain for a further answer touching the removal of Cardinal Mazarin from the Court and kingdom, and the armies from the neighbourhood of Paris.
On the 14th there was a great uproar again in the Parliament, where there was a confused clamour for taking into consideration the best means for hindering the riots and disorders daily committed in the city and in the hall of the Palace; upon which the Duc d’Orleans, who was afraid that under this pretence the Mazarinists should make the House take some steps contrary to their interests, came to the Palace on a sudden, and proposed that they should grant him full power.
The 29th being the day that the deputies of the Court of Inquiry desired the Parliament to consider the ways and means for raising the 150,000 livres promised to him who should bring Cardinal Mazarin to justice, and the Archbishop’s Grand Vicar coming up at that moment to the bar of the King’s Council to confer about the descent of the shrine of Sainte Genevieve, a member said, very pleasantly, “We are this day engaged in devotion for a double festival: we are appointing processions, and contriving how to murder a Cardinal.”
On the 20th of June the King’s answer to the Parliament’s remonstrances was reported in substance as follows: That though his Majesty was sensible that the demand for the removal of Cardinal Mazarin was but a pretence, yet, he was willing to grant it after justice was done to the Cardinal’s honour by such reparations as were due to his innocence, provided the Princes would give him good security for the performance of their proposals upon the removal of the said Cardinal. That therefore his Majesty, desired to know: 1. Whether, in this case, they will renounce all leagues and associations with foreign princes? 2. Whether they will not form new pretensions? 3. Whether they will come to Court? 4. Whether they will dismiss all the foreigners that are in the kingdom? 5. Whether they will disband their forces? 6. Whether Bordeaux will return to its duty, as well as the Prince de Conti and Madame de Longueville? 7. Whether the places which the Prince de Conde has fortified shall be put into the condition they were in before the breach?
The Duc d’Orleans, provoked at these propositions, said that a Son of France and a Prince of the blood were never known to have been treated like common criminals, and that the declaration which both had made was more than sufficient to satisfy the Court.
On the 21st it was moved in Parliament that an inventory should be taken of what remained of Mazarin’s furniture. There having been in the morning a great commotion at the Palace, when the President and some others had run a risk of being killed by the mob, M. de Beaufort invited his friends to meet him in the afternoon in the Palais Royal, and having got together four or five thousand beggars, he harangued them as to the obedience which they owed to the Parliament. But two or three days after this fine sermon of his, the sedition was more violent than ever.
On the 25th the Princes declared in Parliament that, as soon as the Cardinal had departed the kingdom, they would faithfully execute all the articles contained in the King’s answer, and immediately send deputies to complete the rest.
On the 4th of July a mob assembled, who forced all that went by to put a handful of straw in their hats, upon which the Duc d’Orleans and the Prince de Conde went to the Hotel de Ville and convinced the assembly of the necessity they were under of defending themselves against Mazarin. Upon a trumpeter arriving from his Majesty with orders to adjourn the assembly for a week, the people were much incensed, and called out to the citizens to unite strictly with the Princes. They fell upon the first thing they met in their way, threw stones into the windows of the Hotel de Ville, set fire to its gates, and, entering with drawn swords, murdered M. Le Gras, the Master of Requests, and the Master of Accounts, and twenty or thirty citizens perished in the tumult. There was a general consternation all over the city; all the shops were shut in an instant, and in some parts they set up barricades to stop the rioters, who had almost overrun the whole town. It was observed that the appearance of the Duchesse de Beaufort prevailed more with the mob in causing them to disperse than the exposing of the Host by the cure of St. John’s.
The late riot had such an effect on the Parliament that the President Mortier and many of the councillors kept away from the public assemblies for fear, notwithstanding they were enjoined, by a special decree, to come and take their places. The magistrates, for the same reason, did not go to the Hotel de Ville.
On the 18th the deputies of Parliament being ordered to follow the King to Pontoise, the House passed a decree for their immediate return to Parliament, and the Prince de Conde and the Duke de Beaufort brought them into town with twelve hundred horse.
The Court in the meantime passed decrees of Council, annulling those of the Parliament and the transactions of the assembly at the Hotel de Ville.
On the 20th the Parliament declared by a decree that, the King being prisoner to Cardinal Mazarin, the Duc d’Orleans should be desired to take upon him the office of Lieutenant-General of his Majesty, and the Prince to take upon him the command of the army as long as Mazarin should continue in the kingdom, and that a copy of the said decree should be sent to all the Parliaments of the kingdom, who should be desired to publish the like; but not one complied, except that of Bordeaux. Nor was the Duke better obeyed by the several governors of the provinces, for but one vouchsafed him an answer when he acquainted them with his new dignity, the Court having put them in mind of their duty by an order of Council, published to annul that of the Parliament for establishing the said lieutenancy; and in Paris itself the Duke’s authority was despised, for two wretches having been condemned for setting fire to the Hotel de Ville, the citizens who were ordered to take charge of the execution refused to obey.
On the 24th it was ordered that a general assembly should be held at the Hotel de Ville, to consider the ways and means to raise money for supporting the troops, and that the statues at Mazarin’s palace should be sold to make up the sum set upon the Cardinal’s head.
On the 29th it was resolved in the Hotel de Ville to raise 800,000 livres for augmenting his Royal Highness’s troops, and to exhort all the great towns of the kingdom to unite with the metropolis.
On the 6th of August the King sent a declaration signifying the removal of the Parliament to Pontoise. There was a great commotion in the House, who agreed not to register it till the Cardinal had left the kingdom. As for the Parliament of Pontoise, which consisted of but fourteen officers, with three Presidents at their head, who had a little before retired in disguise from Paris, they made remonstrances likewise to the King for removing Cardinal Mazarin. The King granted what was desired of him, and that upon the solicitations of that honest, disinterested minister, who withdrew from Court to Bouillon. This comedy, so unworthy the dignity of a king, was accompanied with circumstances that rendered it still more ridiculous:–The two Parliaments fulminated severe decrees against one another, and that of Paris made an order that whosoever sat in the assembly at Pontoise should be struck off the register.
At the same time that of Pontoise registered the King’s declaration, which contained an injunction to the Parliament of Paris, the Chamber of Accounts, and the Court of Aids, that, since Cardinal Mazarin was removed, they should now lay down their arms on condition that his Majesty would grant an amnesty, remove his troops from about Paris, withdraw those that were in Guienne, allow a free and safe passage to the Spanish troops, and give the Princes permission to send to his Majesty persons to confer with his ministers concerning what remained to be adjusted. This same Parliament resolved to return their thanks to his Majesty for removing Cardinal Mazarin, and most humbly to entreat the King to return to his good city of Paris.
On the 26th they also registered the King’s amnesty, or royal pardon, granted to all that had taken up arms against him, but with such restrictions that very few could think themselves safe by it.
The King acquainted the Duc d’Orleans that he wondered that, since Mazarin was removed, he should delay, according to his own declaration and promise, to lay down his arms, to renounce all associations and treaties, and to cause the foreign troops to withdraw; and that when this was done, those deputies that should come to his Majesty from him should be very welcome.
On the 3d of September the Parliament resolved that their deputies should wait upon the King with their thanks for removing Cardinal Mazarin, and to beseech his Majesty to return to Paris; that the Duc d’Orleans and the Prince de Conde should be desired to write to the King and assure him they would lay down their arms as soon as his Majesty would be pleased to send the passports for the safe retreat of the foreigners, together with an amnesty in due form, registered in all the Parliaments of the kingdom; and that his Majesty should be petitioned to receive the deputies of the Princes.
Pray indulge me with a short pause here to consider the scandalous arts which ministers palliate with the name and sacred word of a great King, and with which the most august Parliament of the kingdom–the Court of Peers–expose themselves to ridicule by such manifest inconsistencies as are more becoming the levity of a college than the majesty of a senate. In short, persons are not sensible of what they do in these State paroxysms, which savour somewhat of frenzy. I knew in those days some very honest men, who were so fully satisfied of the justice of the cause of the Princes that, upon occasion, they would have laid down their lives for it; and I also knew some eminently virtuous and disinterested men who would as gladly have been martyrs for the Court. The ambition of great men manages such dispositions just as it suits their own interests; they help to blind the rest of mankind, and they even become blinder themselves than other people.
Honest M. de Fontenay, who had been twice ambassador at Rome, a man of great experience and good sense and a hearty well-wisher to his country, daily condoled with me on the lethargy into which the intestine divisions had lulled the best citizens and patriots. We saw the Spanish colours and standards displayed upon the Pont-Neuf; the yellow sashes of Lorraine appeared at Paris with the same liberty as the Isabelles and blue ones. People were so accustomed to these spectacles and to the news of provinces, towns, and battles lost, that they were become insolent and stupid. Several of my friends blamed my inactivity, and desired me to bestir myself. They bid me save the kingdom, save the city, or else I should fall from the greatest love to the greatest hatred of the people. The Frondeurs suspected me of favouring Mazarin’s party, and the Mazarins thought I was too partial to the Frondeurs.
I was touched to the quick with a pathetic speech made to me by M. de Fontenay. “You see,” said he, “that Mazarin, like a Jack-in-the-bog, plays at Bo-peep; but you see that, whether he appears or disappears, the wire by which the puppet is drawn on or off the stage is the royal authority, which is not likely to be broken by the measures now on foot. Abundance of those that appear to be his greatest opponents would be very sorry to see him crushed; many others would be very glad to see him get off; not one endeavours to ruin him entirely. You may get clear of the difficulty that embarrasses you by a door which opens into a field of honour and liberty. Paris, whose archbishop you are, groans under a heavy load. The Parliament there is but a mere phantom, and the Hotel de Ville a desert. The Duc d’Orleans and the Prince have no more authority than what the rascally mob is pleased to allow them. The Spaniards, Germans, and Lorrainers are in the suburbs laying waste the very gardens. You that have rescued them more than once, and are their pastor, have been forced to keep guards in your own house for three weeks. And you know that at this day your friends are under great apprehension if they see you in the streets without arms. Do you count it a slight thing to put an end to all these miseries? And will you neglect the only opportunity Providence puts a into your hands to obtain the honour of it? Take your clergy with you to Compiegne, thank the King for removing Mazarin, and beg his Majesty to return to Paris. Keep up a good correspondence with those bodies who have no other design but the common good, who are already almost all your particular friends, and who look upon you as their head by reason of your dignity. And if the King actually returns to the city, the people of Paris will be obliged to you for it; if you meet with a refusal, you will have still their acknowledgments for your good intention. If you can get the Duc d’Orleans to join with you, you will save the realm; for I am persuaded that if he knew how to act his part in this juncture it would be in his power to bring the King back to Paris and to prevent Mazarin ever returning again. You are a cardinal; you are Archbishop of Paris; you have the good-will of the public, and are but thirty-seven years old: Save the city, save the kingdom.”
In short, the Duc d’Orleans approved of my scheme, and ordered me to convene a general assembly of the ecclesiastical communities, and to get deputies chosen out of them all, and go with them to Court, there to present the deputation, which should request the King to give peace to his people and return to his good city of Paris. I was also to endeavour by the aid of my friends to induce the other corporate bodies of the city to do likewise. I was to tell the Queen that she could not but be sensible that the Duke was in good earnest for peace, which the public engagements he was under to oppose Mazarin had not suffered him to conclude, or even to propose, while the Cardinal continued at Court; that he renounced all private views and interests with relation to himself or friends; that he desired nothing but the security of the public; and that after he had the satisfaction of seeing the King at the Louvre he would then with joy retire to Blois, fully resolved to live in peace and prepare for eternity.
I set out immediately with the deputies of all the ecclesiastical bodies of Paris, nearly two hundred gentlemen, accompanied by fifty men of the Duke’s Guards. The number of my attendants gave such umbrage at Court, where it was ridiculously exaggerated, that the Queen sent me word I should only have accommodation for eighty horses, whereas I had no less than one hundred and twelve for the coaches alone. If I had known as much when I went as I heard after I returned, I should have hesitated about going, for I was told that some moved for arresting me, and others for killing me. However, the Queen received me very well; the King gave me the cardinal’s hat and a public audience.
I told the Queen, in a private audience, that I was not come only as a deputy from the Church of Paris, but that I had another commission which I valued much more, because I took it to be more for her service than the other,–that of an envoy from the Duc d’Orleans, who had charged me to assure her Majesty that he was resolved to serve her effectually and without delay, as he had promised by a note under his own hand, which I then pulled out of my pocket. The Queen expressed a great deal of joy, and said, “I knew very well, M. le Cardinal, that you would at last give some particular marks of your affection for me.”
The Queen told me that she thanked the Duke, and was very much obliged to him; that she hoped and desired he would contribute towards making the necessary dispositions for the King’s return to Paris, and that she would not take one step but in concert with him. At the same time I heard that the Queen spoke disdainfully of me, whom she dreaded, to my enemies at Court; pretended that I had owned Mazarin was an honest man, and ridiculed me for the expense I had put myself to on the journey, which, indeed, was immense for so short a time, because I kept seven open tables, and spent 800 crowns a day.
When I returned to Paris I was received with incredible applause. The King also came thither on the 21st of October, and was welcomed by the acclamations of the people. The Queen received me with wonderful respect, and bade the King embrace me, as one to whom he chiefly owed his return to Paris; but orders were sent to the Duc d’Orleans to retire next morning to Limours.
When I went to see him, he was panic-struck, and imagined it was only a feint to try his temper. He was in an inconceivable agony, and fancied that every musket which was let off by way of rejoicing for his Majesty’s return was fired by the soldiers coming to invest his palace. Every messenger that he sent out brought him word that all was quiet, but he would believe nobody, and looked continually out of the window to hear if the drums were beating the march. At last he took courage to ask me if I was firm to him, and after I had assured him of my fidelity he desired that, as a proof of my attachment and affection for him, I would be reconciled to M. de Beaufort. “With all my heart,” said I. Whereupon he embraced me, then opened the gallery door by his bedchamber, and out came M. de Beaufort, who threw himself about my neck, and said, “Pray ask his Royal Highness what I have been saying to him concerning you. I know who are honest men. Come on, monsieur, let us drive all the Mazarins away for good and all.” He endeavoured to show both the necessity and the possibility of it, and advised the raising of barricades next morning, by break of day, in the market-places.
The Duc d’Orleans turned to me and said, as they do in Parliament, “Your opinion, M. Dean.” I replied: “If I must give it as Dean, there never was more occasion for the forty hours’ prayers than now. I myself stand in need of them more than anybody, because I can give no advice but what must appear very cruel and be attended with horrid inconveniences. If I should advise you to put up with the injurious treatment you undergo, will not the public, who always make the worst of everything, have a handle to say I betray your interest, and that my advice was but a necessary consequence of all those obstacles I threw in the Princes’ way? And if I give it as my opinion that your Royal Highness should follow the measures which M. de Beaufort proposes, shall I not be accounted one who blows hot and cold in a breath?–who is for peace when he thinks to gain his advantages by the treaty, but for war when he is not permitted to negotiate?–one who is for destroying Paris with fire and sword, and for carrying the flames to the gates of the Louvre by attacking the very person of the King? If you obey, you will be responsible to the public for all it may suffer afterwards. I am no competent judge of what it may suffer in particular; for who can foresee events depending on the caprices of a cardinal, on the stormings of Ondedei, the impertinence of the Abbe Fouquet, and the violence of Servien? But you will have to answer for all, because the public will be persuaded that you might have prevented it. If you do not obey, you may go near to overturn the realm.”
Here the Duke interrupted me eagerly, and said, “This is not to the purpose; the question is whether I am in a condition, that is, if it is in my power, to disobey.”
“I believe so,” I said; “for I do not see how the Court can oblige you to obey, unless the King himself should march to Luxembourg, which would be a matter of great importance.”
“Nay,” said M. de Beaufort, “it would be impossible.”
I then perceived that the Duke began to think so too, for it fitted his humour, as he could not endure taking any pains, and, upon this supposition, resolved to stay at home with his arms folded. I said:
“You are able to do anything to-night and tomorrow morning, but I cannot answer how it may be in the evening.”
M. de Beaufort, who thought that I was going to argue for the offensive, fell in roundly with me to second me; but I stopped him short by telling him he mistook my meaning.
“I shall never presume,” said I, “to give advice in the condition things are now in. The Duke himself must decide, and even propose, too, and it is our business to perform his commands.”
Then he said, “If I should resolve to brave it out, will you declare for me?”
“Yes,” I said, “it is what I ought in duty to do. I am attached to your service, in which I shall certainly not be wanting, and you need only to command me. But I am very much grieved that, considering the present state of affairs, an honest man cannot act the honest part, do what he may.”
The Duke, who was by nature good, but not very tender, could not help being moved at what I said; the tears came into his eyes, he embraced me, and asked me if I thought he could secure the King’s person. I told him that nothing was more impossible. I found at length that he was inclined to obey, but he bade us keep our friends together in readiness, and to be with him at break of day. However, he set out for Limours an hour sooner than he had told us, and left word that he had his reasons for so doing, which we should know another day, advising us, if possible, to make our peace with the Court.
On the 22d the King held his Bed of Justice, at the Louvre, where he published the amnesty, as also an order for reestablishing the Parliament at Paris, in which there was a clause forbidding them to meddle with State affairs. At the same time he caused a declaration to be published ordering MM. de Beaufort, Rohan, Viole, de Thou, Broussel, Portail, Bitaud, Croissi, Machaut, Fleury, Martineau, and Perraut to depart the city.
The Court now began to offer me terms of reconciliation. I was desirous that as many of my friends as possible should be included; but Caumartin, who was in the secret of affairs, told me there were no hopes of procuring any advantages for particular persons; that all that could be done was to save the ship for another voyage, and that this ship, which was myself, could be saved in no other way, in the condition into which our affairs were fallen by the Duc d’Orleans’s want of resolution, but by launching out into the main, and steering towards Rome. “You stand,” said he, “as it were, on the point of a needle, and if the Court knew their strength they would rout you as they do the rest; your courage gives you an air that both deceives and disquiets them. Make use of the present opportunity for obtaining what may be serviceable to you in your employ at Rome, for the Court will deny you nothing.”
Montresor, hearing of it, said to me afterwards, with an oath, “He is a villain who says your Eminence can make your peace honourably without making terms for your friends; he who affirms the contrary does it for his own private ends.” Therefore I refused the offers made me by Servien, which were that the King would resign his affairs in Italy to my care, and allow me a pension of 50,000 crowns; that I should have 100,000 crowns towards paying off my debts, and 50,000 in hand towards furniture; that I should continue three years at Rome, and then return to resume my functions at Paris.
The Princess Palatine told me I ought either to accept or else treat with the Cardinal, since all the subalterns were against me. Madame de Lesdiguieres advised me to preserve my equanimity and keep within doors, adding that the Cardinal, who was impatient to return to Paris, but durst not as long as I stayed, would make me a bridge of gold to go out and agree to whatever I demanded. Accordingly, I sent my proposals to the Cardinal, who was then lurking in Turenne’s army upon the frontiers, and desired such and such posts for my friends. Meantime Servien and the Abbe Fouquet endeavoured to exasperate the Queen by telling her that I was continually caballing with the annuitants and officers of the militia; and because I refused to go to Parliament, in obedience to the King’s orders, when he held his Court of Justice there to register the declaration of high treason against the Prince de Conde, the Queen was made to believe that I was intriguing for the Prince, and therefore resolved to ruin me, cost what it would. One officer posted men in a house near Madame de Pommereux’s, to attack me; another was employed to get intelligence at what time of night I was in the habit of visiting her; a third had an order, signed by the King, to attack me in the street and bring me off dead or alive. An unknown person advised me not to go that day to Rambouillet; but I went with two hundred gentlemen, and found a great many officers of the Guards, who, whatever were their orders, were in no condition to attack me, and received me with reverence; but I blamed myself for it afterwards, because it only tended to incense the Court the more against me.
Upon All Saints’ Day I preached at Saint Germain, which is the King’s parish, where their Majesties did me the honour to be present, for which I went next day to return them thanks; but finding that the cautions sent me from all quarters multiplied very fast, I did not go to the Louvre till the 19th of December, when I was arrested in the Queen’s antechamber by the captain of the Guards then in waiting, who carried me into an apartment where the officers of the kitchen brought me dinner, of which I ate heartily, to the mortification of the base courtiers, though I did not take it kindly to see my pockets turned inside out as if I had been a cutpurse. This ceremony, which is not common, was performed by the captain; but he found nothing except a letter from the King of England, desiring me to try if the Court of Rome would assist him with money. When this letter came to be talked of, it was maliciously reported that it came from the Protector. I was carried in one of the King’s coaches, under guard, to Vincennes. As we passed we found at several of the gates a battalion of Swiss with their pikes presented towards the city, where everybody was quiet, though their sorrow and consternation were visible enough. I was afterwards informed, however, that all the butchers in the veal market were going to take up arms, and that they might have made barricades there with all the ease in the world, only they were restrained for fear that I should have paid for their tumult with the loss of my life; so that the women remained in tears, and the men stood stock-still in a fright. I was confined at Vincennes for a fortnight together, in a room as big as a church, without any firing. My guards pilfered my, linen, apparel, shoes, etc., so that sometimes I was forced to lie in bed for a week or ten days together for want of clothes to dress myself. I could not but think that such treatment had been ordered by the higher powers on purpose to break my heart; but I resolved not to die that way, and though my guard said all he could to vex me, I affected to take no notice.
The influence of the clergy of Paris obliged the Court to explain itself concerning the causes of my imprisonment, by the mouth of the Chancellor, who, in the presence of the King and Queen, acquainted them that his Majesty had caused me to be arrested for my own good, and to prevent me from putting something that I designed into execution. The chapter of Notre-Dame had an anthem sung every day for my deliverance. The Sorbonne and many of the a religious orders distinguished themselves by declaring for me. This general stir obliged the Court to treat me somewhat better than at first. They let me have a limited number of books, but no ink and paper, and they allowed me a ‘valet de chambre’ and a physician.
During my confinement at Vincennes, which lasted fifteen months, I studied both day and night, especially the Latin tongue, on which I perceive one cannot bestow too much pains, since it takes in all other studies. I dived into the Greek also, and read again the ninth decade of Livy, which I had formerly delighted in, and found as pleasant as ever. I composed, in imitation of Boetius, a treatise, which I entitled “Consolation de la Theologie,” in which I proved that every prisoner ought to endeavour to be ‘vinctus in Christo’ (in the bonds of Christ), mentioned by Saint Paul. I also compiled “Partus Vincennarum,” which was a collection of the Acts of the Church of Milan for the use of the Church of Paris.
My guard omitted nothing he could invent to make my life uneasy and disturb my studies. One day he came and told me that he had received orders from the King to give me an airing on the top of the donjon; and when he perceived that I took a pleasure in walking there, he informed me, with joy in his looks, that he had orders to the contrary. I told him that they were come in good time, for the air, which was too sharp there, had made my head ache. Afterwards he offered to take me down into the tennis-court to see my guards at play. I desired him to excuse me, because I thought the air would be too piercing for me; but he made me go, telling me that the King, who took more care of my health than I fancied, had ordered that he should give me some exercise. Soon after he desired me to excuse him for not bringing me down again, “for reasons,” said he, “which I must not tell.” The truth was, I was so much above these chicaneries that I despised them; but I must own that I used to think within myself that, in the main, to be a prisoner of State was of all others the most afflicting. All the relaxation I had from my studies was to divert myself with some rabbits on the top of the donjon, and some pigeons in the turrets, for which I was indebted to the continual solicitations of the Church of Paris. I had not been a prisoner above nine days when one of my guards, while his comrade who watched me was asleep, came and slipped a note into my hand from Madame de Pommereux, in which were only these words: “Let me have your answer; you may safely trust the bearer.” The bearer gave me a pencil and a piece of paper, on which I wrote that I had received her letter.
Notwithstanding that three sergeants and twenty-four Life-guards relieved one another every day, our correspondence was not interrupted. Madame de Pommereux, M. de Caumartin, and M. de Raqueville wrote me letters twice a week constantly about the means to effect my escape, which I attempted twice, but in vain.
The Abbe Charier, who set out for Rome the day after I was arrested, found Pope Innocent incensed to the highest degree, and ready to throw his thunder upon the heads of the authors of it. He spoke of it to the French Ambassador with great resentment, and sent the Archbishop of Avignon, with the title of Nuncio Extraordinary, on purpose to solicit my release. The King was in a fury, and forebade the Nuncio to pass Lyons. The Pope told the Abbe Charier that he was afraid to expose his and the Church’s authority to the fury of a madman, and said, “Give me but an army, and I will furnish you with a legate.” It was a difficult matter indeed to get him that army, but not impossible, if those that should have stood my friends had not left me in the lurch.
In the meantime Noirmoutier and Bussi Lamet wrote a letter to Mazarin, declaring they could not help proceeding to extremities if I were detained any longer in prison. The Prince de Conde declared he would do anything, without exception, which my friends desired, for my liberty, and offered to march all the Spanish forces to their assistance; but the misfortune was that there was nobody to form the proper schemes; and Noirmoutier, who was the most enterprising man of them all, was hindered from action by Madame de Chevreuse and De Laigues, who, the Cardinal said, would be accountable for the actions of their friends, and that if they fired one pistol-shot they must expect what would follow. Therefore Noirmoutier was glad to elude all the propositions of the Prince de Conde, and to be content with only writing and speaking in my favour, and firing the cannon at the drinking of my health.
M. de Pradello, who commanded the French and Swiss Guards in the castle, came one day to tell me of the happy return of Cardinal Mazarin to Paris, and of his magnificent reception at the Hotel de Ville; and he informed me that the Cardinal had sent him to assure me of his most humble services, and to beg of me to be persuaded that he would forget nothing that might be for my service. I made as if I did not heed the compliment, and was for talking of something else; but as he pressed me for a direct answer, I told him that I should have been ready at the first word to show him my acknowledgments were I not persuaded that the duty of a prisoner to the King did not permit him to explain himself in anything relating to his release, till his Majesty had been graciously pleased to grant it him. He understood my meaning, and endeavoured to persuade me to return a more civil answer to the Cardinal, which I declined to do.
The Cardinal was so pestered with complaints from Rome, and so disturbed with the discontent which prevailed in Poitou and Paris, on account of my imprisonment, that he sent me an offer of my liberty and great advantages, on condition that I would resign the coadjutorship of Paris.
The solicitations of the chapter of Notre-Dame prevailed on the Court to consent that one of their body might be always with me, who, though he came gladly for my sake, fell into a deep melancholy. He could not, however, be prevailed upon to go out; and being soon after seized with a fever, he cut his own throat. My uncle dying soon after, possession was taken of the archbishopric in my name by my proxy, and Tellier, who was sent to Notre-Dame Church to oppose it on the part of the King, was mortified with the thunder of my bulls from Rome. The people were surprised to see all the formalities observed to a nicety, at a juncture when they thought there was no possibility of observing one. The cures waxed warmer than ever, and my friends fanned the flame. The Nuncio, thinking himself slighted by the Court, spoke in dignified terms, and threatened his censures. A little book was published, showing the necessity of shutting up the churches, which aroused the Cardinal’s apprehensions, and his apprehensions naturally led him into negotiation. He amused me with hundreds of fine prospects of church livings, governments, etc., and of being restored to the good graces of the King and to the strictest friendship with his Prime Minister.
I had more liberty than before. They always carried me up to the top of the donjon whenever it was fair overhead; but my friends, who did not doubt that all the Court wanted was to get some expression from me of my inclination to resign, in order to discredit me with the public, charged me to guard warily my words, which advice I followed; so that when a captain of the Guards came from the King to discourse with me upon this head, who, by Mazarin’s direction, talked to me more like a captain of the Janissaries than like an officer of the most Christian King, I desired leave to give him my answer in writing, expressing my contempt for all threats and promises, and an inviolable resolution not to give up the archbishopric of Paris.
Next day President Bellievre came to me on the part of the King, with an offer of seven abbeys, provided I would quit my archbishopric; but he opened his mind to me with entire freedom, and said he could not but think what a fool the Sicilian was to send him on such an errand. “Most of your friends,” said Bellievre, “think that you need only to stand out resolutely, and that the Court will be glad to set you at liberty and send you to Rome; but it is a horrid mistake, for the Court will be satisfied with nothing but your resignation. When I say the Court, I mean Mazarin; for the Queen will not bear the thought of giving you your liberty. The chief thing that determines Mazarin to think of your liberty is his fear of the Nuncio, the chapter, the cures, and the people. But I dare affirm that the Nuncio will threaten mightily, but do nothing; the chapter may perhaps make remonstrances, but to no purpose; the cures will preach, and that is all; the people will clamour, but take up no arms. The consequence will be your removal to Brest or Havre-de- Grace, and leaving you in the hands of your enemies, who will use you as they please. I know that Mazarin is not bloodthirsty, but I tremble to think of what Noailles has told you, that they are resolved to make haste and take such methods as other States have furnished examples of. You may, perhaps, infer from my remarks that I would have you resign. By no means. I have come to tell you that if you resign you will do a dishonourable thing, and that it behooves you on this occasion to answer the great expectation the world is now in on your account, even to the hazarding of your life, and of your liberty, which I am persuaded you value more than life itself. Now is the time for you to put forward more than ever those maxims for which we have so much combated you: ‘I dread no poison nor sword! Nothing can hurt me but what is within me! It matters not where one dies!’ Thus you ought to answer those who speak to you about your resignation.”
I was carried from Vincennes, under guard, to Nantes, where I had numerous visits and diversions, and was entertained with a comedy almost every night, and the company of the ladies, particularly the charming Mademoiselle de La Vergne, who in good truth did not approve of me, either because she had no inclination for me, or else because her friends had set her against me by telling her of my inconstancy and different amours. I endured her cruelty with my natural indifference, and the full liberty Marechal de La Meilleraye allowed me with the city ladies gave me abundance of comfort; nevertheless I was kept under a very strict guard. As I had stipulated with Mazarin that I should have my liberty on condition that I would resign my archbishopric at Vincennes, which I knew would not be valid, I was surprised to hear that the Pope refused to ratify it; because, though it would not have made my resignation a jot more binding, yet it would have procured my liberty. I proposed expedients to the Holy See by which the Court might do it with honour, but the Pope was inflexible. He thought it would damage his reputation to consent to a violence so injurious to the whole Church, and said to my friends, who begged his consent with tears in their eyes, that he could never consent to a resignation extorted from a prisoner by force.
After several consultations with my friends how to make my escape, I effected it on August the 8th, at five o’clock in the evening. I let myself down to the bottom of the bastion, which was forty feet high, with a rope, while my valet de chambre treated the guards with as much liquor as they could drink. Their attention, was, moreover, taken up with looking at a Jacobin friar who happened to be drowned as he was bathing. A sentinel, seeing me, was taking up his musket to fire, but dropped it upon my threatening to have him hanged; and he said, upon examination, that he believed Marechal de La Meilleraye was in concert with me. Two pages who were washing themselves, saw me also, and called out, but were not heard. My four gentlemen waited for me at the bottom of the ravelin, on pretence of watering their horses, so that I was on horseback before the least notice was taken; and, having forty fresh horses planted on the road, I might have reached Paris very soon if my horse had not fallen and caused me to break my shoulder bone, the pain of which was so extreme that I nearly fainted several times. Not being able to continue my journey, I was lodged, with only one of my gentlemen, in a great haystack, while MM. de Brissac and Joly went straight to Beaupreau, to assemble the nobility, there, in order to rescue me. I lay hid there for over seven hours in inexpressible misery, for the pain from my injury threw me into a fever, during which my thirst was much augmented by the smell of the new hay; but, though we were by a riverside, we durst not venture out for water, because there was nobody to put the stack in order again, which would very probably have occasioned suspicion and a search in consequence. We heard nothing but horsemen riding by, who, we were afterwards informed, were Marechal de La Meilleraye’s scouts. About two o’clock in the morning I was fetched out of the stack by a Parisian of quality sent by my friend De Brissac, and carried on a hand-barrow to a barn, where I was again buried alive, as it were, in hay for seven or eight hours, when M. de Brisac and his lady came, with fifteen or twenty horse, and carried me to Beaupreau. From thence we proceeded, almost in eight of Nantes, to Machecoul, in the country of Retz, after having had an encounter with some of Marechal de La Meilleraye’s guards, when we repulsed them to the very barrier.
Marechal de La Meilleraye was so amazed at my escape that he threatened to destroy the whole country with fire and sword, for which reason I was an unwelcome guest to Madame de Retz and her father, who rallied me very uncharitably on my disobedience to the King. We therefore thought fit to leave the country, and went aboard a ship for Belle Isle, whence, after a very short stay there, we escaped to San Sebastian.
Upon my arrival there I sent a letter to the King of Spain requesting leave to pass through his dominions to Rome. The messenger was received at Court with civilities beyond expression, and sent back next day with the present of a gold chain worth 800 crowns. I had also one of the King’s litters sent me, and an invitation to go to Madrid, but I desired to be excused; and though I also refused immense offers if I would but go to Flanders and treat with the Prince de Conde, etc., for the service of Spain, yet I had a velvet coffer sent me with 40,000 crowns in it, which I likewise thought fit to refuse. As I had neither linen nor apparel, either for myself or servants, and as the 400 crowns which we got by the sale of pilchards on board the barque in which we came from Belle Isle were almost all spent, I borrowed 400 crowns of the Baron de Vateville, who commanded for the King of Spain in Guipuzcoa, and faithfully repaid him.
From San Sebastian I travelled incognito to Tudela, where I was met by the King’s mule drivers and waited on by the alcade, who left his wand at my chamber door and at his, entrance knelt and kissed the hem of my garment. From thence I was conducted to Comes by fifty musketeers riding upon asses, who were sent me by the Governor of Navarre. At Saragossa I was taken for the King of England, and a large number of ladies, in over two hundred carriages, came to pay me their respects. Thence I proceeded to Vivaros, where I had rich presents from the Governor of Valencia. And thence I sailed to Majorca, whose Governor met me with above one hundred coaches of the Spanish nobility, and carried me to mass at the Cathedral, where I saw thirty or forty ladies of quality of more than common charms; and, to speak the truth, the women there in general are of rare beauty, having a graceful tincture both of the lily and the rose, and wear a head-dress which is exceedingly pretty. The Governor, after having treated me with a magnificent dinner under a tent of gold brocade near the seaside, carried me to a concert of music in a convent, where I found the nuns not inferior in beauty to the ladies of the town. The Governor carried me to see his lady, who was as ugly as a witch, and was seated under a great canopy sparkling with precious stones, which gave a wonderful lustre to about sixty ladies with her, who were the handsomest in the whole town. I was reconducted on board my galley with music and a discharge of the artillery, and sailed to Port Mahon, and thence through the Gulf of Lyons to the canal between Corsica and Sardinia, where our ship was very nearly cast away upon a sandbank; but with great difficulty we got her off and reached Porto Longone. There we quitted the galley, and went by land to Piombino.
I travelled from Piombino to Florence, where I had great honours and vast offers from the Grand Duke, though Mazarin had threatened him, in the King’s name, with a rupture if he granted me passage through his dominions; but the Grand Duke sent to desire the Cardinal to let him know whether there was any possibility of refusing it without disobliging the Pope and the Sacred College. As I was travelling through the Duke’s country, my mules, being frightened by a clap of thunder, ran with my litter into a brook, where I narrowly escaped being drowned.
As soon as I arrived at Rome the Pope sent me 4,000 crowns in gold. I was immediately informed that a strong faction was formed there against me by the Court of France; that the Cardinal d’Est, representative of that nation, had terrible orders from the King; and that they were resolved to send me packing from Rome, cost what it would. I had my old scruples upon me, and said I would die a thousand deaths rather than make resistance; but I thought it would be too disrespectful in a cardinal to come so near the Pope and to go away without kissing his feet, and I resolved to leave the rest to the providence of God.
The Pope having ordered his guards to be ready, in case the French faction should offer to rise, the Cardinal d’Est was so good as to let me alone. His Holiness gave me an audience of four hours, condescended to beg my forgiveness for not having acted with more vigour for my liberty; and said, with tears in his eyes: “God forgive those who delayed to give me timely notice of your imprisonment, and who made us believe that you had been guilty, of an attempt upon the King’s person. The Sacred College took fire at the news; but the French Ambassador being at liberty, to give out what he chose, because nobody, appeared here on your part to contradict him, Mazarin extinguished it, and half the Sacred College thought you were abandoned by the whole kingdom.” In short, the Pope was so well disposed to me that he thought of adopting me as his nephew, but he sickened soon after and died.
The conclave chose Cardinal Chigi (who was called Alexander VIII.) for his successor, in whose election I had such a share that when it came to my turn, at the adoration of the cardinals, to kiss his feet, he embraced me, saying, “Signor Cardinal de Retz, ‘ecce opus manuum tuarum'” (“Behold the work of your own hands”). I went home accompanied with one hundred and twenty coaches of gentlemen, who did not doubt that I should govern the Pontificate.
My friends in France, who commonly judge of other nations by their own, imagined that a persecuted cardinal might, nay, ought to live like a private man even at Rome, and advised me not to spend much money, because my revenues in France were all seized, and said that such exemplary modesty would have an admirable effect upon the clergy of Paris. But Cardinal Chigi talked after another manner: “When you are reestablished in your see you may live as you please, because you will be in a country where everybody will know what you are or are not able to do. You are now at Rome, where your enemies say every day that you have lost your credit in France, and you are under a necessity to make it appear that what they say is false. You are not a hermit, but a cardinal, and a cardinal, too, of the better rank. At Rome there are many people who love to tread upon men when they are down. Dear sir, take care you do not fall, and do but consider what a figure you will make in the streets with six vergers attending you; otherwise every pitiful citizen of Paris that meets you will be apt to jostle you, in order to make his court to the Cardinal d’Est. You ought not to have come to Rome if you had not had resolution and the means to support your dignity. I presume you do not make it a point of Christian humility to debase yourself. And let me tell you that I, the poor Cardinal Chigi, who have but 5,000 crowns revenue, and am one of the poorest in the College, and though I am sure to meet nobody in the streets who will be wanting in the respect due to the purple, yet I cannot go to my functions without four coaches in livery to attend me.”
Therefore I hired a palace, kept a great table, and entertained fourscore persons in liveries. The Cardinal d’Est, the very day after the creation of the new Pope, forbade all Frenchmen to give me the way in the streets, and charged the superiors of the French churches not to admit me. M. de Lionne, who resided here as a sort of private secretary to Mazarin, was so nettled because the new Pope had granted me the pallium for my archbishopric that he told him the King would never own me, insinuated that there would be a schism among the clergy of France, and that the Pope must expect to be excluded from the congress for a general peace. This so frightened his Holiness that he made a million of mean excuses, and said, with tears in his eyes, that I had imposed upon him, and that he would take the first opportunity to do the King justice. Upon this M. de Lionne sent word to the Cardinal that he hoped very shortly to acquaint him of my being prisoner in the Castle of Saint Angelo, and that the Cardinal would be no better off for his Majesty’s amnesty, because the Pope said none but he could absolve or condemn cardinals. Meantime all my domestics who were subjects of the King of France were ordered to quit my service, on pain of being treated as rebels and traitors. I could have little hope of protection from the Pope, for he was become quite another man, never spoke one word of truth, and continually amused himself with mere trifles, insomuch that one day he proposed a reward for whoever found out a Latin word for “calash,” and spent seven or eight days in examining whether “mosco” came from “muses,” or “musts” from “mosco.” All his piety consisted in assuming a serious air at church, in which, nevertheless, there was a great mixture of pride, for he was vain to the last degree, and envious of everybody. The work entitled “Sindicato di Alexandro VII.” gives an account of his luxury and of several pasquinades against the said Pope, particularly that one day Marforio asking Pasquin what he had said to the cardinals upon his death- bed, Pasquin answered, “Maxima de aeipso, plurima de parentibus, parva de principibus, turpia de cardinalibus, pauca de Ecclesia, de Deo nihil.” (“He said fine things of himself, a great many things of his kindred, some things of princes, nothing good of the cardinals, but little of the Church, and nothing at all of God”). His Holiness, in a consistory, laid claim to the merit of the conversion of Christina, Queen of Sweden, though everybody knew to the contrary, and that she had abjured heresy a year and a half before she came to Rome.
Having heard that Bussiere, who is Chamberlain to the Ambassadors at Rome, had declared I should not have a place in Saint Louis’s church on the festival of that saint, I was not discouraged from going thither. At my entrance he snatched the holy water stick from the cure just as he was going to sprinkle me; nevertheless, I took my place, and was resolved to keep up the status and dignity of a French cardinal. This was my condition at Rome, where it was my fate to be a refugee, persecuted by my King and abused by the Pope. All my revenues were seized, and the French bankers forbidden to serve me; nay, those who had an inclination to assist me were forced to promise they would not. Two of the Abbe Fouquet’s bastards were publicly maintained out of my revenues, and no means were left untried to hinder the farmers from relieving me, or my creditors from harassing me with vexatious and expensive lawsuits.
ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:
Help to blind the rest of mankind, and they even become blinder She had nothing but beauty, which cloys when it comes alone You must know that, with us Princes, words go for nothing