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Title: Political Women, Vol. 2
Author: Menzies, Sutherland, fl. 1840-1883
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Political Women, Vol. 2" ***

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  |Transcriber's note.                                         |
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  |The original punctuation, language and spelling have been   |
  |retained, except where noted at the end of the text.        |
  |Minor typographical errors have been corrected without note.|
  |                                                            |
  |The [oe] ligature has been rendered as oe.                  |
  |                                                            |
  |Alternative spellings:                                      |
  |château: chateau                                            |
  |camerara: camarera                                          |
  |Fenelon: Fénelon                                            |
  |Ferté-Senneterre: Ferte-Senneterre                          |
  |Hôtel: Hotel                                                |
  |Leganez: Léganez                                            |
  |Orléans: Orleans                                            |
  |Querouialle: Quérouialle                                    |
  |Saint-Megrin: Saint-Mégrin                                  |
  |Sévigné: Sevigné, Sévigne                                   |
  |Tremouille: Trémouille                                      |
  |Tarent: Tarente                                             |

                             POLITICAL WOMEN.


                           SUTHERLAND MENZIES,

                   AUTHOR OF "ROYAL FAVOURITES," ETC.

                            IN TWO VOLUMES.

                                VOL. II.

                          HENRY S. KING & CO.,



                        [_All rights reserved._]


BOOK V.--_continued._


  CHAP.  III.--The struggle between Condé and Turenne--Noble
               conduct of Mademoiselle de Montpensier--Fall of
               the Fronde                                         3

          IV.--The Duke de Nemours slain in a duel by his
               brother-in-law Beaufort                           12

           V.--Triumph of Mazarin                                16


  CHAP.    I.--Closing scenes--Madame de Longueville             35

          II.--Madame de Chevreuse                               49

         III.--The Princess Palatine                             54

          IV.--Madame de Montbazon                               61

           V.--Mademoiselle de Montpensier                       69

          VI.--The Wife of the Great Condé                       80


  The Duchess of Portsmouth                                      93




  CHAP.    I.--Two ladies of the Bedchamber during _the war of
               the Spanish Succession_--Lady Churchill and the
               Princess des Ursins--Political motives for their
               elevation in England and Spain                   127

          II.--The Princess des Ursins--The married life of
               Anne de la Tremouille--She becomes the centre of
               contemporary politics in Rome                    131

         III.--Madame des Ursins aspires to govern Spain--Her
               manoeuvres to secure the post of Camerara-Mayor  141

          IV.--The Princess assumes the functions of
               Camerara-Mayor to the young Queen of Spain--An
               unpropitious royal wedding                       148

           V.--Onerous and incongruous duties of the
               Camerara-Mayor--She renders Marie Louise popular
               with the Spaniards--The policy adopted by the
               Princess for the regeneration of Spain--Character
               of Philip and Marie Louise--Two political systems
               combated by Madame des Ursins--She effects the
               ruin of her political rivals and reigns
               absolutely in the Councils of the Crown          161

          VI.--The Princess makes a false step in her
               Statecraft--A blunder and an imbroglio           175

         VII.--The Princess quits Madrid by command of Louis
               XIV.--After a short exile, she receives
               permission to visit Versailles                   184

        VIII.--The Princess triumphs at Versailles              192


  CHAP.    I.--Sarah Jennings and John Churchill                207

          II.--State of parties in action on the accession of
               Queen Anne--Harley and Bolingbroke aim at
               overthrowing the sway of the female
               "Viceroy"--Abigail Hill becomes the instrument
               of the Duchess's downfall--Squabbles between
               the Queen and her Mistress of the Robes          215

         III.--Success of the Cabal--The Queen emancipates
               herself from all obligations to the Duke and
               Duchess of Marlborough--The downfall of the
               Duchess and the Whigs resolved upon--The
               Duchess's stormy and final interview with
               the Queen                                        233

          IV.--The disgrace of the Duchess involves the fall
               of the Whigs--Anne demands back the Duchess's
               gold keys of office--Extraordinary influence of
               Sarah and Abigail on the fortunes of Europe--The
               illustrious soldier and his disgraced wife
               driven from England                              242


  CHAP.    I.--Delicate and perilous position of the Princess
               des Ursins after the Battle of Almanza--She
               effects an important reform by the centralisation
               of the different kingdoms of Spain--The Duke of
               Orleans heads a faction inimical to the
               Princess--She demands and obtains his recall--Her
               bold resolution to act in opposition to the timid
               policy of Versailles--The loftiness of her past
               conduct and character--The victory of Villaviciosa
               definitely seats the House of Bourbon on the
               throne of Spain                                  251

          II.--The Princess's share in the Treaty of Utrecht--At
               the culminating point of her greatness, a
               humiliating catastrophe is impending--Philip
               negotiates for the erection of a territory into
               a sovereignty for Madame des Ursins--The sudden
               death of Queen Marie Louise causes a serious
               conjunction for the Princess--Her power begins
               to totter                                        264

         III.--The Princess finds herself friendless in
               Spain--Suspicions and slanders rife with regard
               to the relations existing between her and the
               King--The projected creation of a sovereignty
               fails, through the abandonment of England--Philip,
               in consequence, refuses to sign the Treaty of
               Utrecht, but Louis XIV. compels the King and
               Princess to yield--Their _têtes-à-têtes_ causing
               great scandal, the King suddenly orders the
               Princess to find him a wife                      272

          IV.--Among the Princesses eligible to become Philip's
               consort, he chooses the Princess of Parma--Alberoni
               deceives Madame des Ursins as to the character of
               Elizabeth Farnese--The Camerara-Mayor's prompt and
               cruel disgrace at the hands of the new Queen--She
               is arrested and carried to St. Jean de Luz--Her
               courage under adversity--She returns to Rome, and
               dies there                                       287


          I.--_Closing Scenes_--The Princess des Ursins         301

         II.--Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough                     307






THE second-rate actors in this shifting drama presented no less
diversity in the motives of their actions. Beaufort, who commanded the
troops of Gaston, and Nemours those of Condé, although brothers-in-law,
weakened by their dissentions an army which their concord would have
rendered formidable. The necessity of military operations required their
absence from Paris; but they preferred rather to there exhibit
themselves to their mistresses, decked out in a general's uniform, and
grasping the truncheon of command. No greater harmony existed between
the Prince de Conti and Madame de Longueville than when La Rochefoucauld
severed them. At Bordeaux they favoured opposite parties, and
contributed to augment the discord prevailing, and to weaken the party
of the Princes by dividing it. The Duchess de Longueville, when no
longer guided by La Rochefoucauld, did not fail to lose herself in
aimless projects, and to compromise herself in intrigues without result.
On Nemours being wounded, his wife repaired to the army to tend him, and
the Duchess de Châtillon, under pretext of visiting one of her
châteaux, accompanied her as far as Montargis; thence she went to the
convent of Filles de Sainte-Marie, where, believing herself quite
incognita, she went, under various disguises, to see him whom she had
never ceased to love. These mysterious visits soon became no longer a
secret to any one; and then Condé and his sister could convince
themselves how different are the sentiments which love inspires and
those which self-interest and vanity simulate. The great Condé, by his
intelligence and bearing, had all the means of pleasing women; but
obtained small success notwithstanding. Mademoiselle Vigean excepted, he
appears to have been incapable of inspiring the tender passion, in the
truest acceptation of the phrase. He went further than his sister, it
seems, in the neglect of his person. It was his habit of life to be
almost always badly dressed, and only appeared radiant on the field of
battle. So that the Duke de Nemours was not the only rival with whom
Condé had to contend for the favours of that beauty for whom Louis XIV.
in his boyish amusements had shown a preference, and which has furnished
a theme for some agreeable trifling to the sparkling muse of Benserade.
An abbé, named Cambiac, in the service of the house of Condé, balanced
for some time the passion to which Nemours had given birth in the bosom
of the Duchess de Châtillon, and the jealousy of Nemours failed to expel
Cambiac. The Duchess kept fair with him as the man who had obtained the
greatest sway over her relation, the Princess-dowager de Condé. The
condescension of the Duchess de Châtillon towards this intriguing and
licentious priest procured her, on the part of the Princess-dowager, a
legacy of more than a hundred thousand crowns in Bavaria, and the
usufruct of an estate worth twenty thousand livres in rent per annum.
Cambiac, however, retired, when he knew that Condé was his rival. But
the victor of Rocroy had more address in winning battles than in
conducting a love intrigue. He was clumsy enough to employ as a
go-between in his courtship of his new mistress a certain gentleman
named Vineuil, who was, it is true, one of his most skilful and attached
followers, but whose good looks, agreeable and satirical wit, and
enterprising character rendered him a very dangerous emissary among
women. He had even acquired some celebrity through his successes in that
way. Madame de Montbazon, Madame de Mouy, and the Princess of Wurtemberg
had successively experienced the effects of his seductions. Vineuil made
himself very agreeable to Madame de Châtillon, and if Condé were wronged
by him in that quarter, he never knew of it; for Vineuil was always in
great favour with him. Nemours excited his jealousy, and Nemours only
dreaded Condé. However, shortly before, in the month of March, 1652, the
Marquis de la Boulay and Count de Choisy, both enamoured of this Queen
of Hearts, were bent on fighting a duel about her. A rumour of their
intention got wind. The Duchess de Châtillon heard of it, and appeared
unexpectedly on the spot fixed by the two adversaries for a rendezvous;
and at the very instant they were about to unsheath their swords, she
flung herself between them, seized each by the hand, and led them into
the presence of the Duke d'Orleans, who charged Marshals l'Hospital,
Schomberg, and d'Etampes, then in Paris, to arrange that affair and
prevent a duel. In this they succeeded, but these rivalries and gallant
intrigues very sensibly weakened Condé's party, and hindered there being
anything secret or combined in the execution of projects determined upon
in the councils of its chief.

In the meantime, the siege of Etampes had been raised; and the army of
Condé had issued forth, probably with the intention of attacking Turenne
if he were found engaged with the Duke de Lorraine. On its approaching
Paris, Condé took the command of it, and fixed his head-quarters at
Saint-Cloud, in order to manoeuvre on both banks of the Seine. The
proximity of his camp to Paris did him far greater harm than even a
defeat would have done. With but a scanty commissariat, Condé was of
course obliged to permit every sort of licence. All the crops were
ruined in the neighbouring fields; the peasantry were plundered,
injured, and their domestic peace destroyed; and the country-houses of
the rich Parisians were pillaged and burned in all directions. The evils
of civil war now came home to the hearts of the people of the capital,
and, forgetting how great a part they themselves had taken in producing
the results they lamented, they cast the whole blame upon Condé, and
regarded him thenceforth with a malevolent eye.

That prince was distracted with different passions and different
feelings. He was himself desirous of peace, and willing to make
sacrifices to obtain it. His fair mistress, the Duchess de Châtillon,
linked with La Rochefoucauld and the Duke de Nemours, confirmed him in
seeking it; but, on the other hand, his sister, who sought to break off
his connection with Madame de Châtillon, joined with the Spaniards, to
whom he had bound himself by so many ties, to lead him away from Paris,
and to protract the war. Gaston's daughter, too, Mademoiselle de
Montpensier, mingled in all these intrigues, and took the same unwise
means to force herself as a bride upon the young King, which De Retz
took to force himself as minister upon his mother. But while these
separate interests tore the capital, the peril of the army of Condé
became imminent. Turenne having brought the Court to St. Denis, caused a
number of boats to be drawn up from Pontoise, and commenced the
construction of a bridge opposite Epinay.

Condé, betrayed on all sides, could at length perceive what an error he
had committed in quitting the army only to lose himself amidst a series
of impotent intrigues, and in having preferred the counsels of such a
fickle mistress as Madame de Châtillon to those of a courageous and
devoted sister such as Madame de Longueville. Towards the end of June,
he got on horseback with a small number of intrepid friends, and rode
forth to try for the last time the fate of arms.

It was too late. Marshal de la Ferté-Senneterre had brought from
Lorraine powerful reinforcements to the royal army, which thereby
amounted to twelve thousand men. That of the Fronde had scarcely the
half of that number, and it was discouraged, divided, incapable of
giving battle, and could only carry on a few days' campaign around
Paris, thanks to the manoeuvres and energy everywhere exhibited by its
chief. It was evident that no other alternative remained to Condé but to
treat with the Court at any price, or to throw himself into the arms of
Spain, and the famous combat of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, seriously
considered, was only an act of despair, an heroic but vain protest of
courage against fortune. Success would have remedied nothing, and a
defeat might have been expected, in which Condé might have lost his
glory and his life. It was no slight error of Turenne to risk a combat
against such an adversary without a disposition of his entire force, for
at that moment La Ferté-Senneterre was still with the artillery before
the barrier Saint-Denis. Reunited, the Queen's two generals might
overwhelm Condé; separated, La Ferté-Senneterre remained useless, and
Turenne left alone might purchase his victory very dearly. The latter
therefore required that La Ferté should hasten to join him by forced
marches, and that the attack should not be commenced before he arrived.
But the orders of the Court admitted of no delay, and the Duke de
Bouillon himself advised an immediate attack, in order to avoid having
the appearance of manoeuvring with Condé. Hence the fatal combat of the
2nd of July, 1652, in which so many valiant officers, of whom the army
was proud, perished uselessly.

Historians in relating the details of that deplorable day have dwelt
upon the courage and talent displayed by Condé within that narrow arena,
that small space of ground which extended from the barrier du Trône, by
the main street of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine, in front of the Bastille.
As usual, he had formed a picked squadron which he led on all points,
himself leading the most desperate charges. He had posted himself in
front of Turenne, disputing foot to foot with him the _Grande Rue Saint
Antoine_, and during the intervals of relaxation of the enemy's attacks,
he rode off towards Picpus to encourage Tavannes, who was repelling with
his customary vigour every attack made by Saint-Mégrin, or to hold in
check, on the side of the Seine and Charenton Navailles, one of
Turenne's best lieutenants. It was in the _Grande Rue_ where the rudest
shocks were delivered. Turenne and Condé there rivalled each other in
boldness and obstinacy, both charging at the head of their troops, both
covered with blood, and unceasingly exposed to the fire of musketry.
Turenne, far superior in numbers, was rapidly gaining ground, when Condé
suddenly, sword in hand, at the head of his squadron of fifty brave
gentlemen, forced him to fall back, and the affair remained undecided
until Navailles, who had just received a reinforcement with artillery,
overthrew all the barricades in his path, and in advancing, threatened
to surround Condé. The latter, throwing himself quickly in that
direction, saw on reaching the last barricade his two friends, Nemours
and La Rochefoucauld, the one wounded in several places and unable to
stand, the other blinded by a ball which had passed through his face
just below the eyes, and both in immediate danger of being made
prisoners. All exhausted as he was--for the fighting lasted from morning
till evening,--Condé had still heart and energy to make a last charge
for their rescue, and to place them in safety within the city. He felt
the old flame of Rocroy and Nordlingen firing his blood, and he fought
like the boldest of his dragoons. The citizens on the ramparts beheld
with emotion the Prince, covered with blood and dust, enter a garden,
throw off his casque and cuirass, and roll himself half-naked upon the
grass to wipe off the sweat in which he was bathed. Meanwhile, La
Ferté-Senneterre had come up. From that moment all gave way, and the
Prince, feebly seconded by his disheartened soldiers, with the greatest
difficulty reached the Place de la Bastille. There he found the gates of
Paris shut. In vain did Beaufort urge the city militia to go to the
assistance of that handful of brave men on the point of succumbing:
wearied with three years of discord and manipulated by Mazarin, it no
longer responded to the summons of its old chief. Splendidly dressed
ladies waved signals to their champions and lovers below, and the
streets became alive with the shouting of armed citizens, who desired to
be let out to the aid of their defenders, and could not see with cold
blood the slaughter of their friends. Thousands went to the Luxembourg
to beseech Gaston to open the gates of the city for the reception of
the wounded and the protection of the over-matched. Long trains of
wounded and dying young men began to be carried in; the groans and blood
were horrible to hear and see; and the women of all ranks and ages were
frantic with sympathy and grief. De Retz and terror had so chilled the
Duke d'Orleans into inaction that he would have let Condé perish, had
not Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who was at that time smitten with
Condé, wrung indignantly from her father, by dint of tears and
entreaties, an order to open the gates to the outnumbered Prince.

Mazarin, from the heights of Charonne, where he had stationed himself
with the young King, might well have thought that it was all over with
his worst enemy; and, when startled to hear that Mademoiselle herself
had even ordered the cannon of the Bastille to be fired upon the royal
army, exclaimed, "With that cannon-shot she has slain her husband,"
making allusion to the ambition which the Princess d'Orleans always had
to espouse the youthful Louis XIV. True, on that same day, Mademoiselle
destroyed with her own hand her dearest hopes; but that trait of
generosity and greatness of soul has for ever honoured her memory, and
shields it from many errors and much ridicule. After having solemnly
pledged itself to Condé, it would have been the height of opprobrium for
the House of Orleans to let Condé fall before their eyes: better to have
perished with him, and at least saved its honour.

Mademoiselle has related in what condition she found Condé, when having
placed herself at the window of a little dwelling near the Bastille, in
order to see the troops pass as they entered the city, the Prince
hurried for a moment from the gate to speak to her. He neither thought
of himself, all covered with blood as he was, nor even of his cause,
very nearly hopeless: he thought only of the friends he had lost. It
did not occur to him that they were those who had embarked him in
negotiations the results of which had proved so fatal: he thought only
that they had died for him, and his anguish grew insupportable. "He
was," says Mademoiselle, "in a most pitiable state; he was not wounded
himself, yet he was covered from head to foot with dust and blood, his
hair all disordered, his face flushed with exertion, his cuirass
battered with blows, and having lost the scabbard of his sword in the
fight, he held the blade naked in his hand." As he entered, the memory
of all those he had seen fall around him seemed to rush suddenly upon
Condé, and casting himself upon a seat, he burst into tears. "Forgive
me," said the great soldier, "I have lost all my friends--the gallant
young hearts that loved me." "No, they are only wounded," said his
cousin, "and many of them not dangerously; they will recover and love
you still." Condé sprang up at the good news, and rushed back into the
fight. At the head of all his effective cavalry, he made one desperate,
long-continued charge, and drove the enemy backward for a mile. In the
meantime, the gates were opened wide, and, file after file, the weary
soldiers marched into the city; and dashing homeward after his brilliant
assault, Condé and his squadron galloped in the last: but when the
ponderous bars were once more drawn across the portals, it was felt that
the combatants indeed were saved, but that the Fronde was destroyed.



SOME few days after the fierce fight of the Faubourg Saint-Antoine,
Condé had an interview with the Duke d'Orleans, "who embraced him with
an air as gay as though he had failed him in nothing."[1] Condé uttered
no word of reproach out of respect to his daughter. He did not behave
exactly in the same way towards Madame de Châtillon. She had addressed a
note to him begging him to visit her. She showed this effusion to
Mademoiselle, saying, "He will at least see from that the uneasiness
which is felt for him." But Condé's mind was disabused, and when he met
her who had been his ruin, "he cast upon her, we are told, the most
terrible glances conceivable, showing by the expression of his
countenance how much he despised her."[2] Well would it have been if
soon afterwards the grand-nephew of Henry IV. had not lent anew his ear
to the song of the syren and resumed the slavery of her dishonouring

    [1] Mademoiselle de Montpensier, tom. ii. p. 148.

    [2] The same.

It is not to our purpose to retrace the melancholy scenes of which,
after the combat of Saint Antoine, and during the remainder of the month
of July, 1652, Paris was the theatre. It would be only to dwell upon the
sad spectacle of the agony and supreme convulsions of a beaten party,
struggling in vain to escape its fate, and seeking safety in excesses
which only served to precipitate its destruction.

Condé left no violent extreme untried to determine Paris to make further
sacrifices for his cause. Dissatisfied with the deliberations of the
Hôtel de Ville, he caused it to be carried by assault by the populace,
who killed several of the _échevins_. The Fronde, however, was
approaching its last agony. Divided amongst themselves by selfish
interests, and outwearied with endless intrigues, the majority of the
Frondeurs only awaited a fitting opportunity of treating with Mazarin.
An amnesty soon made its appearance, and the Cardinal took the step of
quitting France once more in order to facilitate a reconciliation. But
Condé, on his side, was very little disposed thereto, for he had gone
very far indeed to retrace his steps. Furious at having failed to reach
the object which he had thought to attain, exasperated by the
abandonment of his partisans, by the sarcasms of pamphleteers, he
demanded securities and large indemnifications; and proposed such hard
conditions that all accord with him became impossible. Thereupon he
collected some troops around his standard, a tolerably large number of
gentlemen, and rejoined the Duke de Lorraine, who was advancing upon
Paris. Their united forces amounted to eighty squadrons and eight
thousand infantry. Turenne had scarcely half that strength; but he
manoeuvred so skilfully round Paris, that they failed to get any
advantage over him. Condé withdrew; and when the King, on his return to
the Louvre, published a second amnesty (October, 1652), the Prince had
crossed the frontier, after having taken several strongholds in his line
of march. Shortly afterwards, he became generalissimo of the Spanish
armies, whilst a decree of the parliament declared him guilty of high
treason and a traitor to the State.

Previous to Condé's departure from Paris, intense indignation had been
excited in every well-balanced mind by a shocking event--the Duke de
Nemours having been slain by the hand of his brother-in-law, the Duke de
Beaufort, in an abominable duel. From De Nemours the provocation had
come, and all the wrong was on his part; but as the victim, he was
deplored by all those who were ignorant of what had contributed to bring
about the affair, and for some time the new governor of Paris (Beaufort)
could not show himself in public.

In the Dukes de Nemours and La Rochefoucauld, Condé had lost his two
pacific advisers. In vain had he offered to La Rochefoucauld the post of
Nemours, the command under him, and thus to be the second authority in
his army. La Rochefoucauld had excused himself on account of his wound,
and Condé gave the vacant command to the Prince de Tarente.
Henceforward, Madame de Châtillon quite alone was unable to
counterbalance the counsels and influence of Madame de Longueville, and
Condé plunged deeper than ever into the Spanish alliance and the war
waged by that nation against France.

Whilst all these events were happening, Bordeaux had become the theatre
of continued troubles. Madame de Longueville no longer agreed with her
younger brother; the inhabitants of the city, who had only entered
half-heartedly and been almost forced into rebellion, became impatient
to extricate themselves from the constrained position in which they were
held. As the sequel to negotiations which the city carried on with the
Duke de Vendôme, who blockaded it, there was a general amnesty.

When Condé retired to the Netherlands, it was not long before it became
known, to the national humiliation, that the best soldier of France, a
prince of the blood and protector of the people, had followed the recent
example of his conqueror, and sold his services to Spain. The young King
made his triumphal entry into Paris, accompanied by his mother and
Turenne. He convoked the Courts, and received them into favour,
"provided they returned within the limits of their duties, and abstained
from interfering with the government." Gaston was sent into honourable
exile, to his castle in the beautiful town of Blois, and the
Cardinal-Archbishop, the evil spirit of the Fronde, was received with
apparent cordiality, and began to entertain hopes of supplanting his
rival; but when he had fallen into disrepute with the citizens, he was
quietly carried off to Vincennes, and left to meditate on his plots and
schemings within the bars of his solitary apartment. The Parisians were
now so changed from what they had been, that they received their old
enemy, the Cardinal Mazarin, with demonstrations of delight, when he
made his solemn entry into the repentant city with young Louis as an
attendant at his side.



MAZARIN might well have claimed the right of accompanying to Paris, on
the 21st October, 1652, Louis the Fourteenth and Anne of Austria, and to
share the joy of their victory over the Fronde, for he was the true
achiever of it. It was he who, by retiring so opportunely, by leaving
the Fronde to itself, had allowed it to exhibit at its entire ease its
fury and impotence; it was he who, from the depth of his exile,
disquieted by the success of Châteauneuf, had collected troops, rallied
round him experienced generals, raised the banner of the monarchy, and
from one vantage ground to another had carried it forwards even to
Paris. But by reappearing there prematurely, Mazarin might have risked
the rekindling of animosities scarcely yet extinguished. It was his own
advice he followed--to second the effect of the amnesty, by a momentary
absence, in order to leave no pretext to those who had so often promised
to yield if he quitted the kingdom. Sure of the young King, surer still
of his mother, leaving with them his instructions and approved advisers,
Mazarin had disappeared, withdrawing at first to Bouillon, across the
frontier; then, as by degrees the King's government became consolidated
at Paris, he drew nearer and moved to Sedan; next, he went openly to
join the royal army, taking with him powerful reinforcements, munitions,
provisions, and money. Admirably commanded by Turenne and La
Ferté-Senneterre, it had forced the little army of Condé and the Duke de
Lorraine to slowly beat a retreat in the direction of the Netherlands.
Active, resolute, indefatigable, he did not hesitate to prolong the
campaign beyond its ordinary limits, until the end of December, and even
up to January, 1653. He had only quitted the army on beholding the enemy
abandon French territory, and after having made the frontier of
Champagne and Picardy secure from any chance of a return of offensive
operations. It was then that he put his troops into winter quarters, and
that he himself, heralded and sustained by these solid successes, had
taken the road to Paris.

On the 3rd of February, 1653, he therein made a truly triumphal entry.
The young King, accompanied by his brother the Duke d'Anjou, went out
for more than a league to meet him, received him with the greatest
apparent affection, took him into his carriage, and two hours afterwards
they entered by the Porte Saint-Denis, in great pomp, amidst the joyous
shouts of that same populace which, two years previously, had pursued
him with imprecations. The Cardinal was thus enthusiastically conducted
to the Louvre, where Anne of Austria awaited him.

He there beheld once more that courageous Queen, whom history, misled by
the impostors of the Fronde, has too much misconceived, that stanch
friend, an example among all queens, and almost among all women, of a
constancy equal to either fortune; who, in the early days of 1643, had
discerned the great abilities of Mazarin, and seen in him the only man
capable of properly conducting the affairs of France; who, after having
owed to him five long years of glory, had in 1648 and 1649 defended him
against the aristocracy, the parliament, and the people united; who
later had only consented to his retirement because he himself had judged
it necessary; who during his absence had alike resisted every species of
seduction, every kind of menace, and had never ceased to be governed by
his counsels; who, at Gien, learning the rout of her troops at Bleneau
whilst at her toilet, went on with it calmly, when everyone else spoke
of flight, rivalling Mazarin himself in courage and coolness. On finding
themselves once more together under the roof of royalty after so many
long and sorrowful separations, after seeing each other so often on the
very verge of ruin, they might well be proud of their mutual constancy,
which had deserved and brought about the halo of prosperity surrounding
that auspicious day, and together look forward for the rest of their
lives with the solid hope of sharing a glorious repose.

Around the Queen, the Cardinal was welcomed by a brilliant array of
great nobles and fair ladies, formerly the bitter enemies Of Richelieu's
successor, but who were there assembled to compliment him upon his happy

Amongst those ladies foremost in their congratulations was the Princess
Palatine, with whom we have already made some acquaintance--Anne de
Gonzagua, one of the most eminent personages of the seventeenth century.
Of an admirable beauty, which served in some sort as a setting to an
intellect the most solid, she was as capable of taking part in the
deliberations of statesmen as in the assemblies of wits or in gallant
intrigues, seeking, it is true, her advantages, but not by the betrayal
of any one; who, without treason to royalty, had given advice the most
judicious to the Fronde, and would have saved it, if the Fronde could
have been saved. As she had never ceased to keep up the best
understanding with Mazarin, she could very well associate herself with
his triumph.

She was there also, that other famous female politician, of a grade
still higher, as beautiful and as gallant, of a less gracious, perhaps,
but yet stronger disposition, more capable still of grand enterprises,
and never suffering herself to be stayed by any danger or any
scruple--the widow of the Constable de Luynes, Marie de Rohan, Duchess
de Chevreuse, who formerly had lent a hand to every plot concocted
against Mazarin, and in concert with the Palatine had proposed, as we
have seen, the sole measure which could bring together all the
Cardinal's enemies, and form a great aristocratical party strong enough
to make head against royalty:--the marriage of Condé's son with a
daughter of the Duke d'Orleans, and that of her own daughter with the
Prince de Conti. This latter match having been broken off in a manner
the most outrageous to her feelings, Madame de Chevreuse had separated
from Condé with éclat; and, too experienced to ally herself with the
sort of _tiers-parti_ which Retz had proposed, but allowing herself to
be gently and skilfully guided by the Marquis de Laignes, whom Mazarin
with his usual adroitness had known how to win over, she had returned to
the side of her early friend, Anne of Austria, and became resigned to
the power of a man who at any rate knew his own mind, and whose robust
ambition never wavered at the breath of vanity or the gust of momentary
passion. The fame and honour that she might expect from the Fronde had
been offered to her by Mazarin, and in return Madame de Chevreuse had
brought to royalty the declared support of the three illustrious
families, the Rohans, De Luynes, and the Lorraines. It was she who, ever
puissant over the Duke de Lorraine, had negotiated a secret treaty
between him and the Cardinal, and who by turns had made him act in such
contrary directions. Restored entirely to the Queen's favour, Madame de
Chevreuse was at her side in the Louvre, to welcome warmly the return of
the prosperous Cardinal.

After Madame de Chevreuse, Mazarin had had no adversaries more dangerous
than the Vendômes and Bouillons. And yet on that memorable day of
February 3rd, 1653, he could consider the heads of those two powerful
families as the firmest supporters of his greatness.

Cæsar, Duke de Vendôme, natural son of Henry the Fourth, was much more
formidable by his intelligence, his valour, and his craft than by his
birth. There was nothing--even to the virtues of his wife, a reputed
saint,--which was not put to the profit of his ambition. His daughter,
the beautiful Mademoiselle de Vendôme, had married that brilliant Duke
de Nemours, who had come to such a miserable end. His eldest son, the
Duke de Mercoeur, was a sagacious and estimable prince, and the Duke de
Beaufort, his youngest, was the idol of the populace of Paris. It was
Beaufort who, in 1643, urged by the two duchesses De Montbazon and De
Chevreuse, had formed the design of assassinating Mazarin. The Duke de
Vendôme had been suspected of being implicated in that affair; he had at
least given shelter in his château at Anet to all the accomplices of his
son; and, forced to quit France to avoid the arrest with which he was
threatened, he had wandered for several years through Italy and England,
everywhere stirring up enemies against the Cardinal. The latter saw
clearly that it was better to acquire a son of Henry the Fourth at a
given price, than to prosecute him without the slightest advantage.
After all, what did the Duke desire, and what were his demands when
Mazarin became prime minister? Either that the government of Brittany,
which his father, Henry the Fourth, had destined for him, and that his
father-in-law, Philibert Emmanuel of Lorraine, held; or that the
Admiralty, one of the highest posts in the state, should be given him.
Mazarin had repulsed these pretensions in 1643, but looked upon them
favourably in 1652; he therefore made the Duke High-Admiral, even
conferred upon him the title of State Minister, with a seat at the
council-board, after being assured that Vendôme, having secured that
which he had always sought to attain, would serve him as firmly as he
had formerly opposed him. He had an infallible pledge for his fidelity.
The Duke's eldest son, the loyal and pious Duke de Mercoeur, had
married one of the Cardinal's nieces, the amiable and virtuous Laura
Mancini, so that the house of Vendôme was interested in and inseparably
united to Mazarin's fortunes. Therefore, on the 3rd of February, 1653,
the High-Admiral Cæsar de Vendôme, engaged in pursuing the Spanish fleet
in the sea of Gascony, entered the Gironde, and threatened the relics of
the Fronde at Bordeaux. On his part, the Duke de Mercoeur, named
governor of Provence, watched over that important province for the King
and Mazarin, whilst the Duke de Beaufort, who earlier had been desirous
of laying violent hands on the Cardinal, and who yet quite recently had
shown himself as his implacable enemy, covered and protected by the
services of his father and brother, retired to Anet, without being the
least in the world disquieted; satisfied with beholding Madame de
Montbazon satisfied because plenty of money had been given her, and
awaited quietly the moment at which he should succeed his father in the
command of the fleet, and shed his blood in the service of his King.

The Bouillons were of little less importance than the Vendômes. The
Duke was a politician and a soldier of the first class, capable of
conducting a government or leading an army, and who had only one
sentiment or thought in heart and head--the aggrandisement of his house.
Already sovereign prince of Sedan, urged by his wife, still more
ambitious than himself, he had in 1641, in the hope of securing fresh
territorial acquisitions, treated with Spain, taken part in the revolt
of the Count de Soissons, and won the battle of La Marfée against the
royal army. In 1642, he had entered into the conspiracy of the Duke
d'Orleans and Cinq Mars, and, arrested, thrown into chains at
Pierre-Encise, he had only saved his head from the scaffold by
abandoning his principality. Ever since, he had not ceased to agitate
for the recovery of that which by treason he had lost. He had again
demanded Sedan from Mazarin in 1643, and not being able to obtain it at
the hands of that great servant of the Crown, that, in order to satisfy
a private interest, France should renounce one of its best strongholds
on the frontier of the Netherlands, he had ranked himself among the
Cardinal's enemies, and forced at first to flee, like the Duke de
Vendôme, had scarcely returned to France ere he embraced with ardour the
Fronde, though without the slightest conviction, be it understood, and
in the sole hope of easily obtaining from it what he could not snatch
from royalty. He had enlisted with him in the Fronde his brother
Turenne, of whom he disposed absolutely, and who was equally ambitious,
and equally covetous of the grandeur of their family, but after his own
fashion, and the mould of his frigid, reflective, and profoundly
dissembling character. At the peace of Ruel, in 1649, the Duke de
Bouillon had demanded "his re-establishment in Sedan, or if the Queen
preferred to reimburse him for it at an estimated price, with the
possessions promised and due to his house; for himself, the government
of Auvergne; for his brother that of Haute and Basse Alsace, with that
of Philipsbourg and the command of all the armies of Germany." Mazarin
had then committed the error of not satisfying this ambitious and
powerful house; hence, in 1650, the conduct of the Duke in Guienne and
that of Turenne at Stenay and in Flanders. In 1651, the Queen treated
seriously with the Duke, and on his return Mazarin succeeded in entirely
gaining him over. Not desiring at any price to restore Sedan to him, he
granted the equivalent demanded--a great domain at Château-Thierry, much
richer than that of Sedan, and, without effective sovereignty, that
title of _Prince_, so dear to the vanity of the Bouillons, which the
head of the family could not only transmit to his children, but which
could descend also to his brother Turenne. The Duke de Bouillon having
once taken the part of abandoning Condé, in spite of all his
engagements, and of serving royalty, did it with the same energy which
he had displayed at Paris and Bordeaux. He never afterwards forsook
Mazarin, but assisted him with his advice, and suffered even more than
once in person, by acting with his customary vigour, and the obstinate
ardour of his country and race. It was he who, on the night of the
battle of Bleneau, brought reinforcements to Turenne, and enabled him to
stop Condé. It was he, again, who, on the 2nd of July, 1652, to let
Mazarin see that he had gained him for good and all, joined with the
Cardinal in pressing Turenne, against all the rules of war, not to wait
the coming up of the troops of La Ferte-Senneterre. A truthful witness,
and one of the principal actors in that sanguinary drama, Navailles,
even affirms that the Duke de Bouillon took part in the affair, and
that he was at the attack in which Saint-Megrin perished. If Bouillon
had lived, with his immeasurable ambition and his capacity equalling his
ambition, would he have been contented with the second rank, and would
he always have remained the devoted servant of the Cardinal?

None can say: for the Duke de Bouillon was cut short in his ambitious
career; he died on the 9th of August, 1652, without having enjoyed those
possessions and those honours which he had so greatly coveted; but ere
closing his eyes he saw them pass to his children. Turenne, carefully
conciliated and caressed, was made, on his brother's death, governor of
Auvergne, and the viscounty of Turenne erected into a principalty. Very
shortly afterwards he also received the post of minister of state.
Mazarin went even still further: desirous of heaping up benefits upon
the illustrious soldier whose honesty and ambition he had so long known,
desirous at the same time to attach in his person all the Protestant
party by decisive acts, which would show in a conspicuous manner that
whosoever should serve him well would be faithfully recompensed, without
distinction of religion, the skilful and politic Cardinal made the Duke
de la Force, a Protestant and the father-in-law of Turenne, Marshal of
France, as his father had been. Thus, on the 3rd of February, 1653,
Turenne was likewise at the Louvre at Mazarin's side, as the
representative of all his family, and already occupied with preparation
for the campaign that was about to open in the spring in the
Netherlands, and where he was to take command of the French army.

But if Mazarin had taken care to win over successively those chiefs of
the Importants and the Frondeurs in whom his experienced eye had
recognised as sincerely disposed to a loyal submission, he had this time
taken care not to allow himself to be betrayed by false appearances,
and did not fail to strike at, or at least banish from Paris, those whom
he despaired of acquiring. He had lent himself with good grace to the
reconciliation sought by the Duke d'Orleans; as it was not his wish to
give to France and Europe the appearance of ill-treating the King's
uncle, and constrain him perhaps once more to go in search of a foreign
asylum; but by conciliating him in the most suitable way, he had taken
surety of him, and being convinced that too much lenity would only
embolden him to mix himself up in fresh intrigues, he did not permit him
to remain in Paris, when the King returned thither, for fear lest in his
palace of the Luxembourg, surrounded by perfidious advisers, whilst
lavishing great marks of deference upon the Queen and the young King, he
might cherish and rekindle on occasion the hopes of the Fronde.
Therefore, it was arranged that the Duke d'Orleans should quit Paris on
the day previous to that of the King's entry, and consequently he
retired at first to Limours, then to Blois, the ordinary refuge of his
treason and faint-heartedness, where, in nowise persecuted, but watched
and kept within bounds, he passed amidst general indifference the
remainder of his contemptible career. Mademoiselle remained also for
some time in disgrace at St. Fargeau, and consoled herself by degrees
for the ruin of her divers pretensions with her large fortune and small
court. The Cardinal de Retz putting a good face upon a losing game, and
especially desirous of receiving from the King's own hand the cardinal's
hat granted him by the Pope, in order to claim the right of wearing the
dress and of enjoying the honours and privileges attached to that high
dignity, had been among the first to meet the King at Compiègne at the
head of the clergy of Paris, and had addressed him in a bold and artful
speech, in the style of that of Cæsar in the affair of Cataline,
skilfully covering the defeat of his party, recommending the policy of
moderation, referring more than once to the conduct of Henry the Great
towards the Leaguers, and through fear lest it should not be
sufficiently understood that he was speaking about himself, citing the
pacific words of Henry to his great uncle, the Cardinal de Gondi. In
that oration he had also insinuated some high compliments to the Queen,
as though he had resumed his former hopes. The next day, at mass, the
King placed the red hat upon his head, and henceforward De Retz assumed
and wore the dress of cardinal. After the King's return, he had carried
his audacity so far as to present himself at the Louvre to pay, as a
faithful subject, his homage to their Majesties. On the 1st of December,
he preached with great effect at Notre Dame, and recommenced his old
course of life of 1648, making pious sermons in the intervals of his
gallant rendezvous, devoting the morning to preaching at church, the
evening to _bonnes fortunes_, and reknitting in the dark the meshes of
his old intrigues. But Mazarin knew him thoroughly: he was persuaded
that De Retz was incapable of confining himself to his ecclesiastical
functions, incompatible as they were with his dissipated and licentious
habits, with his restless and factious disposition, and so under his
minister's advice on some slight suspicion arising, the King had him
arrested even in the very Louvre, on the 19th of December, 1652, and
conducted to the donjon of Vincennes.

Mazarin was too cautious to treat La Rochefoucauld after the same
fashion. He knew marvellously well that, separated from Condé and Madame
de Longueville, who constituted all his importance, La Rochefoucauld was
no longer to be dreaded, and that he was not of a humour to make
himself the champion and martyr of a vanquished party. The serious wound
which he had received in the combat of Saint Antoine turned him, so to
speak, to advantage. Struck by a ball which had traversed both cheeks
and temporarily deprived him of sight, it was impossible for him to
continue in active service and to follow the army. He did not therefore
play false to Condé in not accepting the command of such troops as
remained to the Fronde--a command which, on his retirement, was offered
to the Prince de Tarent. It was absolutely essential that he should be
speedily cured of his wound; and that real motive covering his weariness
and long-felt disgust, he did not, like Persan, Bouteville, and Vauban,
join the Prince in Flanders. On the other hand, he had not objected to
the amnesty, and therefore could not be included in the royal
declaration issued on the 13th of November against Condé, Conti, Madame
de Longueville, and their chief adherents. But Mazarin took good care
not to pursue him, and La Rochefoucauld, after allowing the first
outburst of the storm to pass over, retired to his estates to bury
himself in obscurity for a few years, and to taste that repose of which
he had so great need. Then he quitted his retreat and reappeared at
Paris. It must have been necessary for him to go very far in
conciliation to be received again into favour. He succeeded in it,
however, by saving appearances, to use a modern phrase, and in skilfully
managing the transition. He made his peace with the politic and gracious
Cardinal, rode in his carriage, saying with as much reason as wit,
"Everything happens in France!" He managed to get his son into intimacy
with the young King, and, wonderful to relate, he obtained from Mazarin,
in indemnification for the losses he had experienced in carrying on war
against him, a thumping pension of eight thousand livres.

If space permitted us thus to run over successively the list of all the
great nobles who had previously had a hand in the Fronde, it would be
easy to show that on the 3rd of February, 1653, the most ardent and the
most illustrious of those we have cited, and many others, such as the
Duke d'Elbeuf and Marshal Houdancourt, both generals of the Fronde at
Paris in 1648 and 1649, the Duke de Guise, so strongly bound to Condé,
almost all, in short, were ranged round Mazarin, and fought with him and
for him, and that for one sole but very sufficient reason--which was
that the clever Cardinal knew how to make them understand wherein lay
their true interests.

Self-interest, self-interest, such was, with very few exceptions, the
unique mainspring of the aristocracy in the Fronde, and La Rochefoucauld
has only erected into a maxim and even generalised into excess the
principle which he had seen practised everywhere around him.

It may thus be judged whether, as some writers have asserted without the
slightest knowledge of the facts, the Fronde was a great and generous
cause which failed of obtaining success. On the contrary, it was simply
a powerful coalition of individual interests, and if considered under
the aspect of an abortive anticipation of the French revolution, and
some general design sought for therein in one way or another, it would
be rather that of stifling in its cradle the principles of that

Is it true that the Fronde, as has been asserted, was a counterpart, a
sort of miserable imitation, of the revolution which was then convulsing
England? Not the least in the world. That other error, still stranger
than the preceding, rests upon a false and deceitful analogy--that
common shoal of historical considerations and comparisons. At bottom,
the earlier part of the English revolution was almost entirely of a
religious character, whilst in the Fronde the religious element did not
intervene at all, thanks to the enlightened protection enjoyed by the
Protestants. It seemed, indeed, like a demoniacal caricature of our
British troubles at that moment. No sternness, no reality; love-letters
and witty verses supplying the place of the Biblical language and awful
earnestness of the words and deeds of the Covenanters and Independents;
the gentlemen of France utterly debased and frivolised; religion
ridiculed; nothing left of the old landmarks; and no Cromwell possible.
All sense of honour disappears when conduct is regulated by the shifting
motives of party politics. The dissensions of the Fronde accordingly
produced no champion to whom either side could look with unmingled
respect. The great Condé and the famous Turenne showed military talent
of the highest order, but a want of principle and a flighty frivolity of
character counterbalanced all their virtues. The scenes of those five or
six years are like a series of dissolving views, or the changing
combinations of a kaleidoscope; Condé and Turenne always on opposite
sides--for each changed his party as often as the other; battles
prepared for by masquerades and theatricals, and celebrated on both
sides with epigrams and songs; the wildest excesses of debauchery and
vice practised by both sexes and all ranks in the State; archbishops
fighting like gladiators, and intriguing like the vulgarest
conspirators; princes imprisoned with a jest, and executions attended
with cheers and laughter; the highest in the land caballing, cheating,
and lying, but keeping a firm grasp of power:--no country was ever so
split into faction, or so denuded of great men.

But, while all these elements of confusion were heaving and tumbling in
what seemed an inextricable chaos, the monarchical principle, strange to
say, still burned brightly in the hearts of all the French. Even in
their fights and quarrelings there was a deep reverence entertained for
the ideal of the throne. The King's name was a tower of strength; and
when the nation, in the course of the miserable years from 1610 to 1661,
saw the extinction of nobility, religion, law, and almost of civilised
society, it caught the first sound that told it it still had a King, as
an echo from the past assuring it of its future. It forgot Louis the
Thirteenth, the Regency, and the Fronde, and only remembered that its
monarch was the grandson of Henry the Fourth, when it witnessed in his
reign the culmination of the French monarchy, and the splendid
intellectual development with which it was simultaneous.

And that brilliant day of Mazarin's triumph was shadowed by no eclipse.
It was not one of those lucky freaks of fate often followed by long
disgrace: no, that Minister's triumph rested on solid foundations. Not
only he saw at his feet, in the Louvre, all his former enemies
vanquished, but not one of them able to rise again in enmity, for all
their strength was exhausted. The wearied citizens wanted repose, and
placed all their hopes in royalty. The parliaments, ashamed of having
allowed their ancient loyalty to be surprised by the deceitful caresses
of the discontented nobles, returned voluntarily within the prudent
limits of their institution, satisfied with having seen the government
recognise all their legitimate complaints, and bind itself to respect
their just and necessary independence. The aristocracy thought itself
still more fortunate at having thus been extricated from this last
defeat. It left, it is true, upon the field of battle some few of its
feudal pretensions, but in exchange, titles, honours, and wealth were
lavished upon it, and its vanity could at any rate console its ambition.
The good fortune of Mazarin opened the eyes of everyone to his merit. No
one could refrain from applauding his firmness and his capacity. Had he
proved unsuccessful, he would only have been looked upon as a second
Concini; victorious, he was another Richelieu to whom it was necessary
to succumb, but who might be served without loss of honour, because,
after having shown that he was as firm in his principle of government as
his imperious predecessor, he did not play the tyrant; and, far from
making the weight of his power felt, he forced himself rather to
disguise it under flattering words, did not show the least resentment
for former injuries, extended a hand to everyone who came to him,
listened to every complaint that had anything legitimate in it,
entertained every pretension that was at all reasonable, and seemed
disposed to base his government upon skilful concessions and not upon
useless rigour. His star was believed in, his moderation inspired
confidence, and people grew eager to participate in his triumph. Already
at Vendôme, a grandson of Henry the Great had espoused one of his
nieces; the proudest among the French nobility were soon about to
contend for the hands of the others; and the man whom the Fronde had so
persecuted was about to place his family upon the steps of the throne.
The solemn reception which the King and Queen gave Mazarin at the Louvre
on the 3rd February, 1653, was not therefore an idle pageant or empty
ceremony. That same day, Mazarin could understand that a new era had
arisen for him, more brilliant and more secure than that of 1643, after
the defeat of the _Importants_, and that that sterile and sanguinary
halt upon the road of reform and the civilising march of monarchy known
in history under the name of the Fronde was at last and for ever





HAVING rapidly summarised the fate and fortunes of the leading male
actors who figured in the Fronde, we will now glance briefly at the
closing scenes in the careers of the fair politicians whom we have seen
playing such brilliant and prominent parts in that curious tragi-comedy.

To high-born French women--princesses and duchesses--the revolt of the
Fronde especially belonged. They were at once its main-springs, its
chief instruments, its most interested agents; and among them Madame de
Longueville, who enacted the most conspicuous part, was by its events
the most ill-treated of all.

We have seen her the heroine--or, perhaps the adventuress--of the civil
war, rushing into dangers and mixing herself up in intrigues of every
kind, in order to serve the interests of another. She was not a
consummate politician like the Palatine, for she had no real business
tact. Her true character and the unity of her life should be sought
where they were really shown--in her devotion to him whom she loved. It
is there--in that devotion wholly and always the same, at once
consistent, yet absurd, and very touching even in its downright follies.

All her eccentric movements were attributable to the restless and fickle
spirit of La Rochefoucauld. Solely occupied with his own interests, it
was he who drew her into the vortex of party politics and civil war,
with a view to his own self-aggrandisement. It was for love of him that
she sacrificed domestic peace, repose, and reputation.

At Bordeaux Madame de Longueville had at first enjoyed the same
popularity as that which she had acquired in Paris at the commencement
of the first Fronde. Upon that section of the second Fronde which had
its head-quarters in the South, the Duchess, after its chief, the Prince
de Conti, was the most likely person to exercise a decisive influence
alike by the clearness of her intellect, the firmness of her character,
and the great confidence with which she had inspired the entire party.
In 1650 she had covered herself with glory at Stenay, and the eyes of
not only France, but the whole of Europe, were fixed upon her. She was
unable to play the same part at Bordeaux. Invested at Stenay with
supreme authority, she had been compelled, as it were, to display all
the intelligence and energy she possessed: at Bordeaux she was only an
adviser indifferently well listened to. And moreover, in 1650, her frame
of mind was widely different. With a sincere attachment to the interests
of her party and her house, another and more intimate sentiment animated
and sustained her: she loved and was beloved. A reciprocal devotedness
justified in some measure that passion which had already passed through
three long and trying years, and found its aliment and its strength in
common sacrifices. In fact, if Madame de Longueville had braved in
Normandy all kinds of danger and even death to cross the sea in order to
reach the Netherlands and unfurl at Stenay the banner of the Princes, La
Rochefoucauld, too, it must be remembered, had been continually in arms.
That interval was the golden era of their lives. They suffered and
combated for each other. They had the same cause, the same faith, the
same hopes. Their hearts were never more united than during that cruel
year when, separated by civil war, they could scarcely, from the
furthest extremities of France, address each other, amid risks
innumerable, in a few apparently insignificant lines, but through which,
nevertheless, there breathed a tenderness and confidence proof against
everything. Now all was changed. As we have said, La Rochefoucauld had
grown wearied of the Fronde, into which he had hopefully flung himself
in 1648. In 1651 he became desirous of reconciling himself with the
Court, and making a pact which would have infallibly separated them,
since M. de Longueville, irritated with all that had at length reached
his ears, had summoned his wife in a menacing tone to join him in
Normandy. It was she who then, in her turn, was compelled to draw over
La Rochefoucauld. He continued to follow in her footsteps through the
sentiment of devotedness that still lingered in his heart, but without
conviction, and with a lukewarmness which deeply wounded Condé's
high-souled sister. She felt that she was no longer loved commensurately
with the heroic and tender ideal of which she had dreamed, and that a
struggle with fortune, too long continued, had cast down his inconstant
and wavering spirit. Hence also arose that momentary error which we have
neither disguised nor excused. Love enfeebled and discouraged had
delivered her up once more to her natural coquetry, and coquetry
stimulated by politics had made her brave the semblance of an infidelity
towards La Rochefoucauld and herself. Without being hurried away in the
slightest degree by the senses or the heart, in her endeavour to carry
off the Duke de Nemours from Madame de Châtillon and the peace party,
and engage him more deeply in that of the war and Condé, she had
slightly compromised herself; and La Rochefoucauld, influenced by an
implacable resentment, instead of breaking with her openly, had, at
Paris, entered into a shameful league with Madame de Châtillon and his
pretended rival, the Duke de Nemours, in order that they might rob the
poor Duchess of her last consolation, the esteem and affection of Condé.
Left in Guienne, without any great or engrossing occupation, with a
vacant mind, discontented both with others and herself, Madame de
Longueville was no longer the brilliant Bellona of Stenay, but her pride
and dignity, which she could not lose, never failed to sustain her. She
therefore resolved to remain even unto the end faithful to that brother
whose heart was sought to be steeled against her by the whispers of
calumny: to remain in Bordeaux as long as possible, without recoiling
from any means which necessity might prescribe. Not for a single day,
not for an hour, did she dream of separating her fate from that of
Condé, and of bending the knee before his victorious enemies.

At length, however, it was her inevitable fate to yield to the star of
Mazarin and Louis XIV., who having obtained the mastery over the South
as elsewhere, she was compelled to quit the factious city, and repair,
by command of the Court, to Montreuil-Bellay, a domain belonging to her
husband in Anjou. Shortly afterwards she obtained permission to go to
Moulins, where her aunt, the inconsolable widow De Montmorency, was
superior of the convent (_Filles de Sainte-Marie_). From that visit to
Moulins may be dated the conversion of the beautiful and adventurous
princess. On emerging from such a chaos of turmoil and commotion, in
that calm and holy retreat, her thoughts reverted to the pure and
innocent period of her youth, to the brilliant and tumultuous past, to
the sorrowful and disenchanted present. Embroiled with the Court and
her brothers, abandoned by La Rochefoucauld, in the decline of her
beauty, upon the eve of maturity, she saw in Heaven alone a refuge
against others and herself. But the Divine grace had to be awaited as
well as prayed for, the prickings of conscience were succeeded by
relapses--the ties to be broken were still so strong! At length, one day
when engaged in reading, "a veil, as it were, was drawn from before the
eyes of my mind," she wrote, in that somewhat hyperbolical style of
which she was fond; "all the charms of truth, concentrated upon one sole
object, presented themselves before me. Faith, which had remained dead
and buried beneath my passions, became renewed. I felt like a person
who, after a long sleep in which he has dreamed of being great, happy,
esteemed, and honoured by everybody, awakens all on a sudden to find
himself loaded with chains, pierced with wounds, weighed down with
heaviness, and pent up in some dark prison." To that conviction she
remained faithful until death, and expiated her six years of deviation
by a penitence which lasted for five-and-twenty, and continued ever on
the increase.

The first act of the Duchess, after her conversion, was to implore
pardon of her husband. M. de Longueville behaved generously, and went to
meet her at Moulins, and took her back with him to Rouen with every mark
of delicacy and distinction. Reverting to the aspirations of her youth,
Madame de Longueville placed herself in active communication with the
good Carmelites, whom she had never entirely forgotten. She was
constantly writing to Mademoiselle du Vigean, the _sous-prieure_, for
guidance in her new way of life; for she had need of spiritual advice,
and cried out for help, and help came through the good offices of the
Marquise de Sablé, who had herself withdrawn from the world to
Port-Royal, and supplied the want felt by her illustrious friend by
placing her in the hands of one of the great spiritual guides of that
day, M. Singlin. Between the ghostly adviser and the fair penitent there
ensued frequent conversations curiously flavoured with a spice of
romance. Persecution had already attacked Port-Royal, and M. Singlin, in
order not to be recognised, went to the Hôtel de Longueville disguised
as a doctor, his features being concealed by an ample wig. M. Singlin
strove to fix limits to the ardour by which Madame de Longueville was
carried away, he counselled her to remain in the outer world, to which
her husband and children bound her, and in which her salvation, he said,
might be as surely accomplished by exacting more vigilance than it would
be found necessary to exercise in the retirement of the cloister.

Madame de Longueville's piety had been generally subordinated to the
vicissitudes of a very agitated existence. Her primitive tendency to
devotion was rekindled on every occasion that she experienced a trouble,
a disenchantment, or any failure of courage. In 1651, when she had been
somewhat compromised by the homage of the Duke de Nemours, she had
retired to the Carmelite convent at Bourges; then towards the end of her
sojourn in Guienne she had sought refuge among the Benedictines at
Bordeaux. But all these gleams of repentance vanished so soon as some
caprice of fortune came to reawaken, by the hope of fresh success, her
natural inclination for political intrigue and pleasure. On accompanying
her husband to Normandy she appeared wholly resolved not to allow
herself to be engrossed by anything save her eternal welfare. However,
it appears that her desire to abstain henceforward from all political
intrigue was looked upon incredulously for several years; since, in
1659, at the time of the Treaty of the Pyrenees being signed, Mazarin,
replying to Don Louis de Haro, who required that the French Minister
should restore Condé "to all his birthrights," still placed, as we have
noticed, Madame de Longueville among the feminine trio, who, said he,
"would be capable of governing or of overturning three great kingdoms."
Yet Mazarin yielded, and Condé returned to France.

The long and rigid penitence which she imposed upon herself, and which
Madame de Motteville characterised by the expressive term--"very
august," restored to her somewhat of that importance which she was
desirous of renouncing through humility. But the world is ever
distrustful on the score of a repentance which has some tinge of
ostentation about it. One historian remarks that "the Duchess de
Longueville being unable to dispense with intrigues, after she had
renounced those of love and politics, found sufficient to satisfy her in
devotion." This sentence, read aright, would mean that the schisms of
Catholicism gave her an opportunity of playing a considerable part in
taking under her protection the persecuted party of the Jansenists.
Madame de Longueville, on whom was bestowed the designation of "Mother
of the Church," and who in that quality recovered some reputation at the
Court of France, and acquired a very great one at the Court of Rome,
rendered an eminent service to the Jansenists by obtaining for them from
the Pope, in 1668, that theological transaction which was called "The
Peace of Clement the Ninth." It would, however, be unjust to tax her
with hypocrisy. All that was extreme in the pious practices to which she
devoted herself must be attributed to her exalted nature, which mingled
passion with every sentiment of her soul.

When the Duke de Longueville died in 1663, the Duchess availed herself
of the state of independence in which her widowhood placed her to give
herself up wholly to exercises of piety and penitence, and the education
and care of her children. The latter occupation caused her much
grief--the Count de Dunois, by his bad conduct and imbecility, and the
Count de Saint Paul himself, the son so dearly beloved, by his
precocious debaucheries and fiery impatience of character. Then, as by
degrees they had less need of her care, she devoted herself deeper and
deeper to expiation, lavishing her fortune to repair in the provinces
ruined by civil war the evils she had helped to inflict, weeping and
humbling herself in her efforts to subdue that pride which was the
characteristic of her race, receiving outrages and insults
uncomplainingly, accepting them as the just chastisement of her sins,
and forgiving those who dealt her the most cruel wounds. And so, in
austerities and self-mortification she ended her days, sharing them
between the Carmelites, in whose convent she had an apartment, and
Port-Royal des Champs, where she had built a wing--having a preference
for Port-Royal. She was always naturally disposed to favour the
rebellious, and these rebels, it must be remembered, were the persecuted
for conscience' sake. Madame de Longueville's protection was extended to
the principal Jansenists, whom she sheltered in her chateau, and her
influence at length brought about that peace in the Church, which, so
long as she lived, gave calm and security to the sacred community.
Notwithstanding her predilection for Port-Royal, she continued to
inhabit her hôtel, which she did not quit until after the death of the
Count de Saint-Paul (1672), killed so unfortunately by the side of the
Great Condé at the passage of the Rhine.

That blow was the last of Madame de Longueville's earthly troubles--it
overwhelmed her. Madame de Sevigné has depicted in a few touching
sentences the scene which was witnessed when the fatal tidings reached
the wretched mother: "Mademoiselle des Vertus returned two days since to
Port-Royal, where she is constantly staying. They sent M. Arnauld to
fetch her, that she might break the terrible news. Mademoiselle des
Vertus had only to show herself; her hurried return was the certain
signal that something sad had happened. In fact, as soon as she
appeared, she was greeted with: 'Ah! mademoiselle, how is my brother?'
Her thoughts dare not venture further question. 'Madame, his wound is
going on favourably.' 'There has been a battle! and my son?' No answer.
'Ah! mademoiselle, my son, my dear boy, answer me, is he dead?' 'Madame,
I cannot find words to reply to you.' 'Ah! my dear son! did he die upon
the spot? Was not one single moment given him? Ah! _Mon Dieu!_ what a
sacrifice!' And thereupon she sank down in bed, and of all that the most
poignant anguish could exhibit in convulsions and swooning, and in dead
silence and stifled groans, by bitter tears and appeals to Heaven, and
by tender and pitiful plaints, she went through them all. She sees
certain persons, she takes broths, because it is the will of God; but
she gets no rest; and her health, already very bad, is visibly shaken.
For myself, I wish she may die, not believing that she can survive such
a loss." Some few days afterwards Madame de Sevigné writes: "There
exists in the world one man not less touched by this blow: it has
occurred to me that if they had both met each other in the first burst
of grief and no one else had been present, all other feelings would
have given place to tears and moans re-echoed from the depths of both
their hearts."

With this young Duke de Longueville disappeared the last witness to
bygone errors. The last link was broken, and, from that day, Madame de
Longueville belonged no more to this world. She died on the 15th April,
1679, at the Carmelites, where her remains were interred; her heart
being taken to Port-Royal. A year afterwards, in the same convent of
Carmelites, the Bishop of Autun, Roquette, whom Molière had in view when
drawing the character of Tartuffe, pronounced her funeral oration.
Madame de Sevigné, who was present at the ceremony, says of the orator:
"It was not a _Tartuffe_, it was not a _Pantaloon_: it was a prelate of
distinction, preaching with dignity, and going over the entire life of
that Princess with an incredible address; passing by all the delicate
passages, mentioning, or leaving unmentioned, all the points that he
ought to speak or be silent upon. His text was "Fallax pulchritudo,
mulier timens Deum laudabitur." Assuredly many delicate points must have
presented themselves in the life of a princess who had been a politician
and a Frondeuse, a gallant woman, and a Jansenist. Yet Father Talon, a
Jesuit, who was present at her death, was fond of repeating on fitting
occasions: "Jansenist as much as you will, she died the death of a

There were three well-defined periods in the agitated life of the
Duchess de Longueville--and happily the end was conformable to the
beginning, to neutralise, as it were, the censurable middle part. But
admitting such condonation, does not that same _mezza camin_ constitute
the seduction which that brilliant period exercises over almost every
writer who seeks to portray it, over those even who indulge in ecstacies
on the score of her penitence? So the prestige of beauty and the charms
of mind traverse centuries to win unceasingly posthumous admiration!
These are the qualities which give a more undying interest to the career
of Madame de Longueville even than the grandeur of her soul; for that is
an incontestable feature which all must recognise, whether partisans or
adversaries:--in spite of her errors and deviations, she certainly
possessed greatness of soul. If a terse judgment then were summed up of
her character, it might be said without flattery that, take her all in
all, she was not unworthy of being the sister of the great Condé.

With the opinions of such astute statesmen as Cardinal Mazarin and Don
Louis de Haro upon the mischievous tendencies of political women, it may
be well, in the instance of Madame de Longueville to couple the
sentiments of an acute and highly intellectual writer of our own day,
who showed herself a subtle analyst of character. Mrs. Jameson,
discoursing upon the characteristics of Shakespere's women (in the form
of a dialogue between Alda and Medon) calls them "affectionate, thinking
beings, and moral agents; and then witty, as if by accident, or as the
Duchess de Chaulnes said of herself 'Par la grace de Dieu.'

"Or," retorts _Medon_, the male interlocutor, "politicians to vary the
excitement! How I hate political women!

"_Alda._ Why do you hate them?

"_Medon._ Because they are mischievous.

"_Alda._ But why are they mischievous?

"_Medon._ Why?--why are they mischievous? Nay, ask them, or ask the
father of all mischief, who has not a more efficient instrument to
further his designs in this world than a woman run mad with politics.
The number of political, intriguing women of this time, whose boudoirs
and drawing-rooms are the _foyers_ of party spirit, is another trait of
resemblance between the state of society now and that which existed at
Paris before the Revolution."

In another place, however, the same judicious and usually discriminating
writer is betrayed into giving--more from conjecture, it would seem,
than close acquaintance with the facts of her life--an historically
false and singularly unjust estimate of Madame de Longueville's

"_Alda._ Women are illustrious in history, not from what they have been
in themselves, but generally in proportion to the mischief they have
done or caused. * * * Of those which have been handed down to us by many
different authorities under different aspects, we cannot judge without
prejudice; in others there occur certain chasms which it is difficult to
supply; and hence inconsistencies we have no means of reconciling,
though doubtless they might be reconciled if we knew the whole, instead
of a part.

"_Medon._ But instance--instance!

"_Alda._ Do you remember that Duchess de Longueville, whose beautiful
picture we were looking at yesterday?--the heroine of the Fronde?--think
of that woman--bold, intriguing, profligate, vain, ambitious,
factious!--who made rebels with a smile; or if that were not enough, the
lady was not scrupulous,--apparently without principle as without shame,
nothing was _too_ much! And then think of the same woman protecting the
virtuous philosopher Arnauld,[3] when he was denounced and condemned,
and from motives which her worst enemies could not malign, secreting him
in her house, unknown even to her servants--preparing his food herself,
watching for his safety, and at length saving him. Her tenderness, her
patience, her discretion, her disinterested benevolence not only defied
danger (that were little to a woman of her temper), but endured a
lengthened trial, all the ennui caused by the necessity of keeping her
house, continued self-control, and the thousand small daily sacrifices
which, to a vain, dissipated, proud, impatient woman, must have been
hard to bear. Now, if Shakespere had drawn the character of the Duchess
de Longueville, he would have shown us the same individual woman in both
situations:--for the same being, with the same faculties and passions
and powers, it surely was: whereas in history, we see in one case a fury
of discord, a woman without modesty or pity; and in the other an angel
of benevolence, and a worshipper of goodness; and nothing to connect the
two extremes in our fancy.

    [3] The Jansenist.

"_Medon._ But these are contradictions which we meet on every page of
history, which make us giddy with doubt or sick with belief; and are the
proper objects of inquiry for the moralist and the philosopher."

       *       *       *       *       *

With a true eye for the refined and the beautiful, and that honestly
sympathetic nature without which it is impossible to discriminate
between what is noble and what is mediocre, still Mrs. Jameson, in the
above reflections upon the character of Madame de Longueville, was
obviously led to draw hasty and erroneous conclusions either from a
superficial glance at detached passages in the Duchess's extraordinary
career with regard to the dates of which she is widely in error, or
others during which her conduct and actions were but too easily
susceptible of misrepresention and distortion at the hands of partisan
writers. Such unjust judgment would most probably be formed by accepting
anecdotes, like those contained in Tallemant's scandalous chronicle or
Bussy Rabutin's "Letters," as historic truths; or by placing implicit
faith in every statement made by De Retz or La Rochefoucauld, given as
both were to exaggeration and over-colouring, and whose object,
moreover, was not so much to tell the truth as always to exalt
themselves, sometimes by its suppression, at others by downright

Without attempting to extenuate the errors of Madame de Longueville,
moral or political, it has been the author's endeavour to reconcile the
apparent contradictions in her character, imputed in the passage above
cited, by assigning the different incidents, which have doubtless caused
an intelligent woman to falter in her judgment, to their proper place in
the order of time. For as, during the Olympian contests, swift-footed
Spartan boys, to typify the transmission of Truth, ran with a lighted
torch, and, as each fell breathless, another took up the flambeau and
bore it on, bright and rapid, to the goal, so should the light of
History be passed steadily and carefully from hand to hand, and its
sacred flame--the Truth--be kept ever burning clearly onward in the
course of time.



SIDE by side with the two great statesmen, Richelieu and Mazarin, the
clever, daring, vivacious, charming Marie de Rohan occupied a more
elevated position, and certainly played a more extended part, than any
other of the political women who were her contemporaries during the
stirring times of the first half of the seventeenth century.

Seductive, with irresistible fascination of manner, singular grace and
animation; of pregnant wit, though quite uneducated; devoted to
gallantry, and too high-spirited to heed propriety; obeying no control
save that of honour; despising, for those she loved, danger, fortune,
and opinion; rather restless than ambitious; risking willingly her own
life as well as that of others; and after having passed the best part of
her existence in intrigue of every kind--thwarted more than one
plot--left more than one victim on her path--traversed nearly the whole
of Europe, by turns an exile and a conqueress who not unfrequently
dazzled even crowned heads; after having seen Chalais lay his head on
the block, Châteauneuf turned out of the ministry and imprisoned, the
Duke de Lorraine well-nigh despoiled of his territories, Buckingham
assassinated, the King of Spain embroiled in a war of ever-recurring
disasters, Anne of Austria humiliated and overcome, and Richelieu
triumphant; sustaining the struggle, nevertheless, even to its bitter
end; ever ready, in that desperate game of politics--become to her a
craving and a passion--to descend to the darkest cabals or adopt the
rashest resolves; with an incomparable faculty of discerning the actual
state of affairs or the predominant evil of the moment, and of strength
of mind and boldness of heart enough to grapple with and destroy it at
any cost; a devoted friend and an implacable enemy; and, finally, the
most formidable foe that Richelieu and Mazarin, in their turn,
encountered:--such was the celebrated Duchess de Chevreuse whom we have
seen alternately courted and dreaded by the two great political
master-spirits of her time, the founders of monarchical unity in France.

When the Fronde broke out, that ardent factionist rushed once more to
Brussels, and there brought over to her party the support of Spain,
together with her own long experience. She was then nearly fifty years
old. Age and sorrow, it is true, had dimmed the lustre of her beauty;
but she was still abounding in attraction, and her firm glance, her
decision, her quick and accurate perception, her dauntless courage and
genius, were yet entire. She had there also found a last friend in the
Marquis de Laigues, captain of the Duke d'Orleans' guards, a man of
sense and resolution, whom she loved to the end, and whom, after the
decease of the Duke de Chevreuse in 1657, she linked probably with her
own destiny by one of those "marriages of conscience"[4] then somewhat
fashionable. It was not our purpose to follow her step by step through
the last civil war, and so plunge the reader into the labyrinth of the
Fronde intrigues. Suffice it to say, therefore, that she played therein
one of the most prominent parts. Attached, heart and soul, to that
faction and its essential interests, she steered it through all the
shoals and quicksands which encircled it with incomparable skill and
vigour. After having so long enlisted the support of Spain, she knew the
proper moment to effect a timely separation from it. She always
preserved her great influence over the Duke de Lorraine, and it is not
difficult to recognize her hidden hand behind the different and often
contrary movements of Charles IV. She had a principal share in the three
great movements which mark and link together the entire history of the
Fronde between the war in Paris and the peace of Ruel. In 1650 she was
inclined to prefer Mazarin to Condé, and she ventured to advise laying
hands on the victor of Rocroy and Lens. In 1651--an interval of
incertitude for Mazarin, who very nearly ensnared himself in the meshes
of his own craftiness and a too-complicated line of conduct--a great
interest, the well-founded hope of marrying her daughter Charlotte to
the Prince de Conti, brought her back once more to the Condé party, and
hence the deliverance of the imprisoned Princes. In 1652, the
accumulated blunders of Condé brought her back again and for ever to
Anne of Austria and Mazarin. She did not endorse De Retz's foolish idea
of constructing a third party during the revolt, nor dream of a
government shared between Condé and Mazarin, with a worn-out parliament
and the fickle Duke d'Orléans. Her politic instinct told her that, after
an intestine struggle so long sustained, a solid and durable power was
the greatest necessity of France. Mazarin, who, like Richelieu, had
never opposed her but with regret, sought for, and was very glad to
follow her advice. She passed over, therefore, with flying colours to
the side of royalty, served it, and in return received its services.
After Mazarin, she predicted the talent in Colbert, before he was
appointed to office; she laboured at his elevation and the ruin of
Fouquet: and the proud but judicious Marie de Rohan gave her grandson,
the Duke de Chevreuse, the friend of Beauvilliers and Fenelon, to the
daughter of a talented burgess--the greatest financial administrator
France ever had. Thenceforward she readily obtained all she could desire
for herself and for her family; and thus having reached the summit of
renown and consideration, like her two illustrious sister-politicians,
Madame de Longueville and the Princess Palatine, she finished in
profound peace one of the most agitated careers of that stormiest of
epochs--the seventeenth century.

    [4] See "Memoirs of Brienne the Younger," tom. ii. chap. xix., p.
    178. "Le Marquis de Laigues qui certainement étoit mari de
    conscience de la Duchesse."

It is said that the Duchess also, towards the close of her earthly
pilgrimage, felt the influence of divine grace, and turned heavenwards
her gaze, wearied with the changefulness of all sublunary things. She
had seen successively fall around her all whom she had either loved or
hated--Richelieu and Mazarin, Louis XIII. and Anne of Austria, the Queen
of England, Henrietta Maria, and her amiable daughter the Duchess
d'Orléans, Châteauneuf, and the Duke of Lorraine. Her fondly loved
daughter had expired in her arms, of fever, during the miserable war of
the Fronde. He who had been the first to lure her from the path of
duty--the handsome but frivolous Holland--had ascended the scaffold with
Charles I.; and her last friend, much younger than herself, the Marquis
de Laigues, had preceded her to the tomb.

Arrived at length but too clearly at the conviction that she had given
up her mind to chimeras and illusions, and seeking self-mortification
through the same sentiment which had brought about her ruin, the
once-haughty Duchess became the humblest of women. Renouncing all
worldly grandeur, she quitted her splendid mansion in the Faubourg St.
Germain, built by Le Muet, and retired into the country--not to
Dampierre, which would have only too vividly recalled to her remembrance
the brilliant days of her past existence--but to a modest dwelling at
Gagny, near Chelles. There she awaited her last hour, far from the
world's observation, and ere long expired in tranquillity at the age of
seventy-nine, the same year as Cardinal de Retz and Madame de
Longueville. She desired to have neither solemn obsequies nor funeral
oration, and forbade that any of those lofty titles which she had borne
through life and had learned to despise should accompany her to the
grave. It was her wish to be buried obscurely in the small and ancient
church of Gagny; and there, in the southern aisle, near the chapel of
the Virgin, some faithful but unknown hand has placed upon a slab of
black marble the following epitaph:--

     "Here lies Marie de Rohan, Duchess de Chevreuse, daughter of
     Hercule de Rohan, Duke de Montbazon. She espoused, first, Charles
     d'Albert, Duke de Luynes, peer and constable of France, and
     secondly, Claude de Lorraine, Duke de Chevreuse."



THE political importance of the Princess Palatine dates from 1650, when
the arrest of Condé, Conti, and the Duke de Longueville urged her, as we
have seen, to take part in the struggles of the Fronde. The Duchesses de
Chevreuse, De Montbazon, De Guéméné, and other famous feminine
factionists of that time, became, in the hands of Anne de Gonzagua, as
so many wires with which she moved at her will the men whom these women
governed; for the Princess exercised alike over all those men and women
that superiority which disinterestedness, good faith, and firmness of
decision confer. De Retz, when he discovered her characteristics, was
immediately struck with the above-named qualities, especially the two
latter. "To have stability of purpose," said he, when speaking of his
first interview with Anne, "is a rare quality, which indicates an
enlightened mind far above the ordinary class." And further on, "I do
not think," he remarks, "that Queen Elizabeth had more capacity to
govern a state." Mazarin, too, somewhat later, in alluding to the dread
in which he held the famous trio of political women for their capacity
to work mischief, remarked to Don Louis de Haro:--"The most turbulent of
the male politicians do not give us half so much trouble to keep them
within bounds as the intrigues of a Duchess de Chevreuse or a Princess

Anne de Gonzagua, the Princess Palatine, lived long after the Fronde in
the midst of all sorts of political troubles and diplomatic intrigues:
conferences innumerable were held beneath her roof, and in that tortuous
labyrinth she wandered and manoeuvred to her heart's delight. Sometimes
she laboured to reconcile Condé with Anne of Austria, sometimes to
reunite Gaston and Condé, or perhaps the Queen and Madame de
Longueville. She often failed, it is true, in these attempts, and
meanwhile Mazarin, with more address, setting in motion in his retreat
beyond the frontier the most powerful machinery, and making magnificent
promises, again appeared above the political horizon--winning over his
enemies one after another through his secret agents; at one time it was
Châteauneuf, at another Gondi, whom he made for good and all a cardinal;
at another it was Madame de Chevreuse. He had passed his word to the
Princess Palatine that he would some day give her the post of
superintendent of the young Queen's household: he did so, in fact, but
on condition that she should relinquish it two months later to the
Countess de Soissons, which she did in all good faith. Then she withdrew
from court, somewhat undeceived no doubt touching men and things
therein, if it really were the case that she ever had indulged in great
illusions concerning court life.

Years rolled away, however: Mazarin died. Court intrigue with her was at
an end. The personages who had been mixed up in the Fronde hurly-burly,
so menacing in reality, so puerile in aspect, so insignificant as an
isolated fact, and so formidable as a symptom, appeared affected by that
decay which change of circumstances more than lapse of time imposes upon
men and ideas. All that sort of thing was out of fashion. The reign of
the _Grand Monarque_ was in all its heyday. Besides, the Palatine was
no longer young; she had married her daughters, and dwelt in seclusion.
And it was when living thus tranquilly that a rapid, unforeseen,
enthusiastic conversion came upon her like a surprise. For all relating
thereto, we must listen to Bossuet, who dwells upon it in his funeral
oration upon the Princess. His eloquence revels in relating the miracles
suddenly wrought in such a soul as hers. He expatiates on that sudden
change with an apostolic joy and an incomparable majesty: it was a
subject worthy of him, the brilliant narrator of solemn events. It was
exoteric to that life upon which it was so difficult to pronounce an
eulogium; he was not trammelled in the flow of his diction by those
oratorical precautions which are so distressingly hampering to an
impetuous genius like his. He celebrated a victory of grace, and that in
accents the most touching and expressions the most powerful. It was the
hymn of an illustrious conversion, chanted by the noblest mortal voice
ever heard.

Bossuet relates with inimitable art the Princess's two dreams; the
simple anecdotes are dramatised, poetised--one might almost say
sanctified--in proceeding from his lips. But, in short, whether Anne de
Gonzagua saw or thought that she saw that mystical mendicant, and those
symbolical animals, in her slumbers, the truth is that in soul she was
touched, agitated, shaken, overcome. An ardent faith, an invincible
longing for prayer and penitence, had obtained the mastery over that
rebellious soul. She felt once more the enthusiasm of her early youth;
she felt beating once more, at the Divine Master's name, that heart
which had too often throbbed for His creatures only. Her scepticism
vanished; she had no other ambition left save that of gaining heaven,
and holy tears were seen to dim those eyes wherein it once seemed as
though the source of such emotion was dried up for ever. It was done. A
great thing was accomplished, whatsoever had been the cause. A soul
which incredulity had frozen into apathy became fervent before its
Creator. Anne de Gonzagua did not fear to let her repentance be seen;
she desired that the publicity of her penitence might obliterate, if it
were possible, the scandal of her past life. Her conscience became
tender, even scrupulous. "_Plus elle était clairvoyante,_" says Bossuet;
"_plus elle était tourmentée._" Henceforward she devoted herself wholly
to charity and prayer. She became as humble as she had hitherto been
proud. She cherished a life of seclusion as much as she had once loved
mundane notoriety. She became as sincerely a Christian as she had
formerly been an infidel. During the lapse of twelve years this
startling confession of faith did not belie itself for a single day.
"Everything became poor about her house and person," says her
illustrious panegyrist. "She saw with sensible delight the relics of the
pomps of this world disappear one after another, and alms-giving taught
her to retrench daily something fresh.... A person so delicate and
sensible had suffered for twelve entire years, and almost without an
interval, either the most vivid anguish or languor exhausting alike to
mind and body; and notwithstanding, during the whole of that time, and
in the unheard-of torments of her last illness, in which her sufferings
were increased to the utmost excess, she had not to repent of having
once wished for an easier death. Again and again did she suppress that
weak wish by uttering, so soon as she felt it arising, with the Saviour,
the prayer of the Sacred Mystery of the Garden, 'Father, thy will, not
mine, be done!'"

Such a sight must have moved the least susceptible--to have beheld the
Palatine thus redeem her past errors. She was anxious to write with her
own hand the account of her conversion, and addressed it to the
celebrated Rancé, the Abbé of La Trappe. It was from that narrative that
Bossuet drew the source of his own. Some few years previously, with that
polished and elegant vein which intercourse with so many superior minds
tends to create, she had written, as though she had foreseen that she
would not despair of her spiritual future, a short but charming
panegyric upon Hope. Bussy-Rabutin has preserved this relic in one of
his letters. "I have never in my life," he says, with no doubt a little
too much enthusiasm, "seen anything better or more delicately written."
There is to be found in it, it is true, a happy inspiration and a
passage capable of pleasing minds struggling with difficulties. "It is
permitted to us," she says, "to measure our hope by our courage, it is
noble to sustain it amidst trials; but it is not less glorious to suffer
the entire ruin of it with the same high-heartedness which had dared to
conceive it." Those are noble sentiments, and revealing a vigorous
mental power. The end of the Princess Palatine (1681) showed clearly
that she had not, for the mere pleasure of expressing herself elegantly,
vaunted the delights of a saint-like hope. "Ready to render up her
soul," says Bossuet, "she was heard to utter in dying accents, 'I am
about to see how God will treat me, but I hope for His mercy.'" Such was
the close of that life, the piety of which illuminated its latter years;
such was the death of that Princess who, after having been remarkable
among the women of her time for her beauty, her errors, and, at last, by
her penitence, had the rare good fortune to be praised by the most
illustrious of historians, priests, and authors of the great century.

Our notice of this celebrated woman would be incomplete without a
passing glance at the singular fortunes of Henri de Guise, subsequent to
his desertion of his first love, Anne de Gonzagua.

The Duke de Guise, after playing a conspicuous part in the first
dissensions of the Regency, and after having killed Coligny, had married
at Brussels the widow of the Count de Bossut, with whom he became
quickly disgusted, and whose fortune he squandered. A violent passion
next possessed him for the charming and witty Mademoiselle de Pons, maid
of honour to the Queen. He took it into his head to espouse her, and
"the marriage was spoken of as though he had never been married before."
That phantasy, however, did not hinder him from taking part, as a
volunteer, in the campaigns of 1644 and 1645. Whilst at Rome in 1647,
endeavouring to obtain a dispensation to enable him to secure the hand
of Mademoiselle de Pons, the Neapolitans, having revolted against the
Spaniards under Masaniello, elected him as their leader, and gave him
the title of generalissimo of their army. Brave, enterprising, and born
for adventure, able, moreover, to render available ancient pretensions
to that kingdom, through René d'Anjou, who in 1420 had espoused Isabelle
de Lorraine, encouraged in short, if not supported, by the French Court,
where it was deemed politic to keep at a distance from it a man bearing
the great name of Guise, so formidable some sixty years before, the
young prince embarked in a simple felucca, sailed boldly through the
naval armament of Don Juan, seized the reins of government, defeated the
Spanish troops, and made himself master of the country. He won all
hearts by his address, his gentleness, and his affability. But want of
circumspection in his gallantries, the objects of which were not always
of a rank equal to his own, caused jealousies and discontent among the
nobles. His enemies, profiting by a sortie which he made for the purpose
of getting a convoy into Naples, delivered up the city to the Spaniards.
His repeated efforts to re-enter the place proved futile. After having
defended himself like a lion, he was nevertheless carried prisoner to
Madrid. The great Condé, who was then serving the enemies of his
country, demanded that Guise should be set at liberty, in the hope that
he might foment troubles in France. But the ill-treatment which the Duke
had experienced at the hands of the Spaniards left impressions upon his
mind which made him regardless of a promise that had been extorted from
him. He attempted again in 1654 to reconquer the kingdom of Naples, with
the aid of a French fleet, but failed of success. He then went back to
Paris to seek indemnity for the loss of his crown. In 1655 he was
appointed to the post of grand-chamberlain of France. He figured in the
famous _carrousel_ of 1663, at the head of a quadrille of American
savages, whilst the great Condé appeared as chief of the Turks. On
seeing those two personages so pitted, some wit observed, "There go the
heroes of history and fable." The Duke de Guise might indeed be very
aptly compared to a mythological entity, or to a knight errant of the
age of chivalry. His duels, his romantic amours, his profusion, the
varied adventures of his life, rendered him exceptionable in everything.
He died in 1664, leaving no issue.



AMONGST the celebrated women of the first half of the seventeenth
century, many were, says Bussy Rabutin, "pitiable," whilst some were
"brazen." We must assert unhesitatingly that Madame de Montbazon
belonged to the latter class. She was "one of those personages, however,
who made the most noise" at the courts of Louis the Thirteenth and Anne
of Austria, as we are told by Madame de Motteville, and as we have
already seen by the prominent political part she played in the factions
of the Importants and the Fronde. In summing up her character, we shall
be silent upon the subject of many of her faults, though it is not our
wish to excuse one of them.

"She was not wanting in wit," remarks Tallemant; "for she had been
acquainted with so many witty people!" There is a spice of flattery in
this, for we must agree with Madame de Motteville and M. Cousin that the
wit of the dazzling rival of Madame de Longueville was far from being as
delicate and attractive as was her handsome person, though we cannot at
the same time look upon Tallemant's phrase as a calumny. Both space and
courage would alike fail us, should we attempt to produce a list of all
the lovers, titled and untitled, who had peculiar opportunities of
sharpening the wit of Madame de Montbazon.

Among the first of her adorers, beside the name of Gaston d'Orléans,
must be cited that of the Duke de Chevreuse, her husband's kinsman.
Their _liaison_ furnished matter for a ballad, and was very nearly the
cause of a duel at the door of the king's apartments, between the Duke
de Montmorency and the Duke de Chevreuse; but that did not hinder Madame
de Montbazon from becoming the friend of her step-daughter, who, older
and more experienced in the political world than she was, often used her
as an instrument. The young Duchess was a more dangerous rival to Madame
de Guéméné, her other step-daughter, from whom she carried off, not her
husband, but the Count de Soissons. And it was not enough that she
obtained an easy conquest over her, for she instigated the Count to add
outrage to desertion, and he docilely compromised his forsaken mistress
by a gross and shameful perfidy.

But, passing rapidly over the errors of her youth, it is the close of
Madame de Montbazon's political career with which we are now concerned.
The influence which the gay and gallant Duchess long exercised over the
Duke de Beaufort had sometimes proved useful to the interests of the
Court, and during the early troubles of the Fronde the Queen and Mazarin
took care to keep her favourably disposed towards them. But the
importance which Beaufort's infatuated passion gave or seemed to give
her, speedily made the Duchess one of the heroines of the
Fronde--though, it must be owned, one of the secondary heroines. Her
allies were careful not to allow her to take upon herself a part she was
unable to sustain. Violent, unreflecting, accessible to the most
contradictory suggestions, ready for any turn, and the sport of every
caprice, she was wanting in all the better qualities of a political
woman. Her indiscretion became formidable on all occasions when secresy
was necessary, and more than once the Duke de Beaufort was obliged to be
excluded from the assemblages at which the chiefs of the Fronde took
counsel together. It was well known that he dare not keep anything from
his mistress, and it might chance that a royalist might turn to account
the confidence which she wormed out of her lover, for conformity in
political sentiments was not one of the conditions which she imposed
upon the adorers whose homage she welcomed. Her correspondence with
Marshal d'Albret exposed her moreover to be subject to, without being
aware of it, the influences of the Court, and her intimacy with Vineuil
tended to make her an ally, in spite of herself, of the Prince de Condé.
Hence it is easy to explain the mistrust with which she inspired the
Coadjutor of Paris, the future Cardinal de Retz. She herself did not
fail to perceive the surveillance which he exercised around her; and she
was irritated to see with what facility he modified in his own fashion
the line of conduct which she had just previously dictated to the Duke
de Beaufort. She was forced to confess that his authority prevailed over
her own. One evening, disheartened by the incapacity of the grandson of
the great Henry, and terrified by the dangers to which their imprudence
exposed the Frondeurs, and esteeming the political talent of Gondi to be
more truly worthy of her own, she opened her heart to him, and proposed
that they should enter into a treaty of alliance. The gallant Coadjutor
would only consent to accept one portion of the treaty, and, happily for
the Duke de Beaufort, who was busily occupied with a game at chess
during that strange conversation, he stipulated to eliminate from the
proposed association everything that related to politics. But the
Duchess would not consent to those terms.

In love, Madame de Montbazon was very mercenary; we say it once for all,
and beg to be excused from citing proof of the assertion. In politics,
she also surrendered herself very willingly to any representation the
eloquence of which was aided by crowns or pistoles. It was thus that in
the month of August, 1649, she promised that the Duke de Beaufort should
not oppose the return of the Court, at the same moment that she opened
her hand to receive a considerable sum. It was thus that, the same year,
she accepted two thousand pistoles from the Spanish envoys, who,
desirous of rendering her favourable, promised besides that the sum of
twenty thousand crowns and a pension of six thousand livres if she would
secure to them the concurrence of the Duke de Beaufort. But she did not
always meet with debtors so honest as Mazarin and the Spanish
ambassadors. In 1650, whilst the treaty was preparing which sought to
unite the Frondeurs with the Princes, then prisoners at Havre, a
negotiation was entered into with Madame de Montbazon in which the
Prince de Conti was offered to her as a husband for her daughter. The
proposition was not accepted. The proposers were not discouraged, and a
sum of a hundred thousand crowns was offered to her. This time the
Duchess could not resist, and the treaty was signed in all due form.
Unfortunately, when the Princes were liberated, she was imprudent enough
to confide her voucher to the Princess Palatine, who, with perfidious
haste, had promised to take care of her interests. She never saw the
precious contract again, and the Prince de Condé only answered her
demands by cruel and cutting jeers. In that adventure, it was not Madame
de Montbazon who played the shabbiest part.

The aid which the Duchess had often lent the Court amidst intrigues the
most contradictory, did not preserve her from exile when the King made
his entry into Paris, on its definite pacification in October, 1652. She
did not return thither till 1657. "She was still beautiful, and as much
carried away by vanity as though she had been only in her twenty-fifth
year," says Madame de Motteville, when noting her reappearance. "She
relied all the same upon her charms," she adds with a somewhat malicious
finesse, "for she returned with the same desire of pleasing; and those
who saw her assured me that the mourning garb which she wore as a widow,
and to which she added everything in the shape of ornament that
self-love could suggest, rendered her so charming, that in her case it
might be said that the course of nature was changed, since so many years
and so much beauty could meet together."[5] Thus, by dint of care and
art, did Madame de Montbazon succeed in preserving her beauty much
longer than she could have hoped for, since, in the pride of her
eighteen summers, she declared that old age commenced at thirty, and
requested it as a favour that she might be flung into the river and
drowned so soon as she reached the dreaded period. Who would have dared
to remind her of that imprudent proposal in 1640? And who could have
refused her a respite even in the latter moments of her existence?

    [5] The same sentiments were thus versified by Loret, when
    announcing that the Duchess had obtained permission to return to

        "Montbazon, la belle douairière,
        Dont les appas et la lumière
        Sous de lugubres vêtements
        Paraissent encore plus charmants...."

Permission had scarcely been given her to appear at Court, when she was
attacked by an illness which seemed nothing more than a common cold,
but which turned out to be the measles. In the course of a few days the
malady proved fatal. Three hours only were accorded to this
earthly-minded woman to prepare for death. She made confession and
received the sacrament with every indication of the most lively piety
and the most sincere repentance, saying to her daughter, the Abbess of
Caen, "that she regretted not having always lived in a cloister as she
had, and that she looked with horror upon her past life." Up to those
last three hours, she had refused to believe that there were degrees in
the morality of women, and to admit that they were not all equally

"She was little regretted by the Queen," Madame de Motteville tells us,
"as she had frequently forsaken her interests to follow her own
caprices. The minister heard of her death with the feeling one
entertains for one's deceased enemy. Her former lovers looked upon her
with contempt; and those who admired her still, were but little touched
at her loss, because each, jealous of his rival, left tears and grief as
the share of the Duke de Beaufort, who was at that moment the most

On that point Madame de Motteville was in error. Which of the two--M. de
Beaufort or M. de Rancé--was most beloved it would be difficult to
determine. But this is so far certain, that M. de Rancé, the future
founder of La Trappe, was the lover who regretted her the most
sincerely. He had hastened to her sick couch so soon as he heard of her
illness; and he had arrived, not too late, and only to find himself the
spectator of a most horrible sight, as has frequently been related with
much romantic and dramatic detail, but soon enough to pass within her
chamber the last hours left to her of life. "Already balancing and
wrestling between heaven and this world," says Saint Simon, who was in
his confidence, "the sight of that so sudden death achieved in him the
determination of withdrawing from the world which he had for some time

Among the different versions of this catastrophe, Laroque asserts that,
after an absence on a long journey, on De Rancé's return, he called at
the Hôtel Montbazon, and then learned, for the first time, the death of
the Duchess; that he was shown into her room, where, to his horror, the
headless body lay in its coffin. The head had been cut off, either
because the lead coffin was not made long enough or for the purpose of
an anatomical study. Some assert that De Rancé took the head, and that
the skull of the woman he loved so well was found in his cell at La
Trappe. History, however, will not accept this romantic incident.

Touching the fate of De Rancé's rival--when Louis XIV. returned to Paris
in 1652, the Duke de Beaufort submitted to the royal authority, and took
no further part in the civil war, which the Prince de Condé carried on
for several years longer. Later, the Duke obtained the command of the
royal fleet. In 1664 and 1665, he was at the head of several expeditions
against the African corsairs. In 1666 he commanded the French men-of-war
ordered to join those of Holland against England. Finally, in 1669, he
went to the aid of the Venetians, attacked by the Turks in the island of
Candia. The galleys and vessels, newly constructed in the port of
Toulon, disembarked seven thousand men under Beaufort--a contingent too
weak for such a dangerous undertaking. That aid only served to retard
the taking of Candia for a few days, and was the means of useless
bloodshed. In a sortie, the rash and impetuous grandson of Henry the
Great was cut to pieces in the most merciless way; and as his body
could not be found after the fight, his death gave rise to fables sought
to be rendered probable by the remembrance of the eccentric part he had
previously played.



ANNE MARIE LOUISE D'ORLÉANS, Duchess de Montpensier, whom history
distinguishes by the epithet of _La Grande Mademoiselle_, after telling
us in her memoirs, at least twenty times, in order to make herself
better known, that she was fond of glory, adds--"The Bourbons are folks
very much addicted to trifles, with very little solidity about them;
perhaps I myself as well as the rest may inherit the same qualities from
father and mother."[6] With this hint, whoever scans her portrait may
readily read the character her features reveal:--a mind false to the
service of a noble and generous heart; an honest but frivolous mind, too
often swayed, by a bombastic heroism; a _précieuse_ of the Hôtel
Rambouillet, whom Nicolas Poilly very happily painted as Pallas, with
her helmet proudly perched upon the summit of her fair tresses; an
amazon, who bordered upon the adventuress, and, notwithstanding,
remained the princess; in short, a personage at whom one cannot help
laughing heartily, nor at the same time help admiring.

    [6] The daughter of Gaston d'Orléans and the charming Marie de
    Bourbon, she was born in 1627, the same year as Bossuet and Mad. de
    Sévigné. Her mother died five days after her birth.

Passing by the subject of her numerous matrimonial projects, we hasten
on to the commencement of her political--and perhaps we may add her
military[7]--career, when, in January, 1652, a treaty had been concluded
between _Monsieur_ her father, Condé, and the Duke de Lorraine, the
Duchess d'Orléans had signed in her brother's name, and the Count de
Fiesque in the name of Condé. On her part, Mademoiselle, somewhat
fantastic but loyal and courageous, had joined her mother-in-law, and
declared for the Fronde, partly through her liking for _éclat_ and the
notoriety of parading at the head of the troops, with her two ladies of
honour, the Countesses of Fiesque and Frontenac, transformed into
aides-de-camp; partly by the secret hope that by Mazarin's defeat and
her father's triumph she might succeed in espousing the young King, and
so exchange the helmet of the Fronde for the crown of France.

    [7] Her father, writing to her companions in arms the Countesses of
    Fiesque and Frontenac shortly after their entrance into Orleans,
    complimented them upon their courage, and addressed his letter to
    _the Countesses Adjutant-Generals in the Army of my Daughter against

It would be a great mistake to attribute to this fair Frondeuse a
liberalism of ideas to which she was most assuredly a stranger. "It must
be," she somewhere remarks, "that the intentions of the great are like
the mysteries of the Faith: it does not belong to mankind to penetrate
within them; men ought to revere them, and to believe that they are
never otherwise than for the welfare and salvation of their country."
But, however that may be, it did not prevent the civil war from being a
very amusing thing for Mademoiselle. To hear the drums beating to arms
one fine morning, to see men running through the streets to defend the
barricades as well as their untrained hands could wield musket and
sabre, to lie upon the floor in a large chamber at Saint-Germain, and to
find on awaking that chamber filled with soldiers in great buff
jerkins,--those were pleasures not to be always found at will, and were
to be made the most of when met with. Such pleasures, moreover,
savouring of the unforeseen, the adventurous, and the grotesque, solely
determined Mademoiselle's conduct in the outset. But on the second
Fronde breaking out, when the struggle of the Parliament with royalty
had become a quarrel between princes and ministers, Mademoiselle felt
that the honour of her house was at stake. Gaston, after having pledged
himself to the Prince de Condé, so far as a man who does not know his
own mind can give a pledge, contented himself with whistling, as he was
wont to do, or to dissertating cleverly without acting. But his daughter
wrested from him an authority to go herself and defend Orleans against
the troops of Louis XIV.; his daughter, on seeing the unfortunate
adherents of Condé engaged with her in rebellion overpowered at the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine, secured their retreat by ordering the guns of
the Bastille to cannonade the royal forces, although that cannonade
should slay the husband of whom she still dreamed; that daughter, too,
when she heard of the disgraceful scenes of the 4th of July, 1652,
boldly did what no one else dare do,--she flew to the assistance of the
victims of the Hôtel de Ville, without bestowing a thought of the
imminent danger she thereby ran.

But it is in the Princess's own Memoirs that the curious epopee must be
read; and to which a dry abridgment does injustice. Whether she hold
council of war with her fair _Maréchales de Camp_, without allowing the
men folks to give her their ready cut-and-dried advice,--whether she be
thrust into Orleans through the gap of an old gateway, and, covered with
mud, be seen carried along its streets in an old arm-chair, laughing
heartily,--or when hastening to arrest the massacre at the Hôtel de
Ville, she stops to look at Madame Riche, the ribbon-vendor, talking in
her chemise to her gossip, the beadle of St. Jacques, who has nothing
on but his drawers,--the reader is always reminded that he sees and
hears the granddaughter of Henry IV.--a Parisian with a touch of the
princess in all she says and does, and he cannot help asking himself
momentarily whether it be all incorrigible frivolity, or some quaint
species of natural heroism which speaks and acts thus strangely.

Heroic or frivolous, Mademoiselle expiated her pranks by an exile of
four years in her manor of Saint-Fargeau. The rupture with her father,
who drove her out of doors, and denied her permission to take refuge
under any other roof he owned, her consequent wanderings, at times not a
little affecting, and at others comical, when directing her steps
towards her place of banishment, her arrival at the ruinous château
which has neither doors nor windows, and which is haunted by ghosts, and
the attempts to embellish the tumble-down place, and people it with
gaiety, animation, and life, are so many scenes to which the piquant
style of Mademoiselle gives singular attractiveness. Whilst avenues were
being planted and a theatre built, matrimonial negotiations went on as
briskly as ever, and pretenders to her hand abounded--the Elector of
Bavaria, the Duke of Savoy, the nephew of the Duke of Lorraine, the Duke
de Neuborg. The reception of M. de Neuborg's envoy, an honest Jesuit,
who draws out of his pocket victoriously two portraits of his good lord,
ogles Mademoiselle as long as he could, and talks "goguette" to her for
a whole hour, is one of the most amusing farces anywhere to be met with.
Unluckily, the farce was not worth the candle in the opinion of certain
judges, and all the diversions of Saint-Fargeau did not prevent our
princess from regretting with all her heart that pompous Court of
Versailles in which the young Louis was giving such graceful ballets,
brilliant carousals, and piquant masquerades. The masquerades of 1657
carried the day over the political aims of 1652, and the fair exile
experienced a vivid longing to be once more received into favour at the
court of her royal cousin.

To take up sword or pen and fall foul of the government was almost
always an easy thing to do in France; the difficulty lay in proposing
peace after the war, to hit upon profitable reconciliations or lucrative
treaties. Mademoiselle did her best; and at length, in that same year of
1657, she made her appearance in the royal camp near Sedan, having at
her carriage-door the silly and complaisant Mazarin, who believed all
she wished him to believe, and who presented the princess with a little
Boulogne bitch, in token of good friendship; she made her excuses to the
King for having been naughty, and promised to be wise in future. Louis
behaved more graciously towards the fair rebel than did his mother, and
said that everything should be buried in oblivion; but he did not forget
the cannonade of the Bastille. After five years' seclusion, she again
looked forward to resume her position at Court, to keep one of her own,
to enthrone herself at the Luxembourg, and doubtless contract some
sovereign alliance. Vain illusions! Conflicts of the heart were about to
succeed to those political storms from whose effects she had just
recovered. The most vainglorious of the daughters of France was destined
to extinguish with the wet blanket of vile prose the brilliancy of a
long and romantic career.

History, justly severe upon the Fronde, ought not, we think, to treat
too harshly the Frondeuse of the blood-royal. Upon one delicate point of
her private life the biographer cannot, unfortunately, show the same
indulgence. The supreme criterion for the appreciation of certain women,
and the irresistible argument, is the man whom they have loved.
Assuredly we may pardon many things recorded of the _Grande
Mademoiselle_, even her shrewish relations with her step-mother, even
her haughty contempt for her half-sisters, but we cannot pardon her M.
de Lauzun. We are all well acquainted with that individual, with his
cunning and supercilious cast of countenance, servile or arrogant,
according to circumstances and interests, adroit in concealing a
merciless egotism, a revolting brutality, under the guise of a
theatrical liberality; brave so far as was necessary to be insolent with
impunity, intelligent no further than to the extent at which selfishness
blinds the judgment, and delighting in mischief when there was nothing
to dread from it. To all this may be added an incisive tone of voice,
and language keenly sarcastic or servilely obsequious, an insatiable and
inordinate sensuality, innumerable conquests among the fair sex, and
extraordinary adventures. At first sight, at a Court masquerade, in
1659, the bully made an impression upon the _précieuse_, and she noticed
him for his exquisite elegance during the marriage fêtes of Louis XIV.
When she met him in the Queen's apartments, she remarked that he had
more wit than anyone else, and found a particular pleasure in talking
with him. The charm operated so effectually that the princess of
forty-three was at length fain to own that she passionately loved the
Gascon cadet, who was then in his thirty-eighth year. Determined as she
was naturally, that discovery overwhelmed her. "I resolved," she says,
"never to speak to M. Lauzun again save in hearing of a third person,
and I was anxious to avoid opportunities of seeing him in order to drive
him out of my head. I entered upon such a line of conduct; I only
exchanged a few trivial words with him. I found that I did not know what
I was saying, that I could not put three words of good sense together;
and the more I sought to shun him, the more desirous I was of seeing
him." At her wits' end, the poor Princess cast herself at the foot of
the altar, on one occasion when she took the sacrament, and ardently
besought Heaven to enlighten her as to the course she ought to pursue.
The inspiration is by no means difficult to anticipate. "Heaven's grace
determined me not to struggle longer to drive out of my mind that which
was so strongly established in it, but to marry M. de Lauzun."

Two things, however, were necessary to accomplish this: firstly, that M.
de Lauzun should thoroughly understand that he was beloved, and that he
would deign to espouse Mademoiselle's twenty-two millions; and next that
King Louis should consent to a marriage, the strangest certainly ever
resolved upon. Strange, indeed, that she, the grand-daughter of Henry
the Great, Mademoiselle d'Eu, Mademoiselle de Dombes, Mademoiselle
d'Orléans, Mademoiselle the King's first cousin, the Mademoiselle
destined to the throne, should ask the King's permission to marry a
Gascon cadet. Louis, as the sequel to an overture made to him by several
nobles collectively, friends of Lauzun, with M. de Montausier at their
head, granted his permission. But when the question arose, thanks to the
blind vanity of Lauzun, of their union being celebrated at the Louvre
and in the face of all France, like an alliance "of crown to crown;"
when a feeling which was shared by every member of the royal house was
on the point of communicating itself to all the sovereign families of
Europe, Louis, with great reason, began to take account of the political
interests which this whim of the Princess brought into play, and
retracted, as King, the authority which he had given as head of a
family. Contemporary writers seem never tired of dwelling upon the
manifestations of Mademoiselle's grief, at times as laughable as at
others it was touching; receiving the condolence of all the Court as
though she had been a lone widow, Madame de Sévigné tells us, and
exclaiming excitedly in her despair to every fresh visitor, as she
pointed to the vacant place in her bed, "He should be there! he should
be there!"

This took place on the 18th of December, 1670. On the 25th of November,
1671, M. de Lauzun was arrested, thrown into the Bastille, and taken
thence to Pignerol, where he was subjected to a captivity of ten years.
What passed in that interval has proved a great subject of controversy
amongst ingenious writers. The most probable explanation seems to be
that, notwithstanding the King's refusal, the marriage between Lauzun
and Mademoiselle had been accomplished. The evidence of twenty different
persons might be cited in support of the fact, but one may suffice. An
historian of the last century, M. Anquetil, relates that at the Château
d'Eu, in 1774, an apartment was still pointed out which had been
occupied by Lauzun, situated above that of the princess, and
communicating by a secret staircase with her alcove. At the same period,
Anquetil saw at Treport a tall person resembling Mademoiselle not only
in her figure, but strikingly like her portraits. She seemed to be about
seventy or seventy-five. She was called, throughout that part of the
country, the Princess's daughter. She seemed to believe so herself, and
was in receipt of a pension of fifteen hundred francs paid punctually,
without knowing from what quarter they came. She occupied a handsome
house for which she paid no rent, although for it she held no
proprietary deed. All this, coupled with the age of the lady, who stated
that she was born in 1671, would seem decisive as to the clandestine
marriage which probably occasioned the arrest of Lauzun.

Ten years of anguish and poignant regrets passed over poor
Mademoiselle's head--ten years employed in imploring and bargaining for
the restoration of her dearly beloved captive. "Consider what you have
it in your power to do to please the King, in order that he may grant
you that which you have so much at heart," was the artful suggestion
daily repeated in her ear by Madame de Montespan. And to render the
discovery more easy, she took care to bring with her, and to send to her
very frequently, that charming little Duke du Maine to whom the county
of Eu, the duchy of Aumale, and the principality of Dombes would have
been a fitting appanage. To despoil herself for the deliverance of the
man she loved with such an infatuated affection, the Princess would not
have hesitated a moment. The difficulty was to despoil the man himself,
already in possession of a portion of what was required, and very
keen-witted indeed to keep what he had acquired. The negotiation, for a
long while brought to a dead-lock by the resistance of Lauzun, was at
length concluded. M. de Lauzun, emerged from Pignerol, but restricted at
first to a residence in Touraine or Anjou, received at length permission
to revisit Paris and behold once more the benefactress who could still
secure to him the enjoyment of an income of forty thousand livres. "I
did not know him," exclaimed the woebegone Princess, shortly after his
release, "and my sole consolation is that the King, who is more
clear-sighted than I am, did not know him either." Tardy
clear-sightedness! M. de Lauzun had then made himself known
unmistakably--by beating her. But, if the truth must be told, she had
first scratched his face.

Thus ended, in vulgar squabbles, more and more stormy, a connection so
romantically begun. Lauzun, disappointed in his hope of a magnificent
alliance, considered himself despoiled by the Princess's donation, and,
finding himself after ten years' captivity the husband of a woman of
fifty-four, showed her neither tenderness nor respect. It was,
therefore, a relief to her when he took his departure for England in
1685. The ill-assorted couple never met again. Lauzun more than once
endeavoured to obtain an interview with the Princess, but she would not
forgive him, and died without consenting to his urgent appeals. It was
in her latter years only, and under the perceptibly increasing sway of
religious influences, that her miserably tormented mind recovered peace
and repose. Mademoiselle, who had only given up dancing in 1674,
withdrew gradually from Court when she found that she had become an
object of pity, if not of mockery, therein. The _Grande Mademoiselle_
expired on the 5th of April, 1693, in her palace of the Luxembourg, aged
sixty-six. That singularity, which had so remarkably characterised her
life, pursued her even beyond it. At her obsequies, celebrated with much
magnificence, her entrails, imperfectly embalmed, fermented, and the urn
which contained them burst with a loud explosion during the ceremonies.
All present fled in the extremity of terror.

Was it from the singularity of her existence, from the essentially
French tone of her character, from the grandeur of an epoch during which
no one passed unnoticed, that the species of popularity half-indulgent,
half-sportive, which attached to her name must be attributed? To all
these doubtless, but likewise to another cause more decisive still.
Mademoiselle does not take her place only in the sufficiently extensive
catalogue of princely eccentricities; she holds a creditable position
upon the list of French writers. Nor should it be forgotten that the
gates of the Luxembourg were by her thrown open to all the _beaux
esprits_ of her time, "qui y trouvaient leur place comme chez Mécænas;"
and that she fostered both by encouragement and example La Rochefoucauld
and La Bruyère, and that it is no slight claim to remembrance that she
led France to appreciate the _Maxims_ of the one and the _Characters_ of
the other. May such considerations serve as extenuating circumstances
when we bring her up for judgment for the flagrant crime of--M. de



AMONG so many heroines of beauty, glory, and gallantry, who achieved
celebrity at this stirring epoch of French history, there is one whose
name ought not to be effaced from, nor placed lowest on the list,
although a humble--we were going to say, a humiliated, disdained, and
sacrificed wife; a martyr to conjugal faith, but who, perhaps, can
scarcely be called a "political" woman.

Mademoiselle de Brézé, as already intimated, had entered into the Condé
family through the detestable influence of authority and politics. The
Duke d'Enghien, therefore, unhappily held his wife in aversion; her
mother-in-law, Charlotte de Montmorency, despised her; Madame de
Longueville, her sister-in-law, did not esteem her; Mademoiselle de
Montpensier declares that "she felt pity for her," and that was the
gentlest phrase she could find to apply to a person who had so signally
crossed her views and inclination.

Married at thirteen to the future hero of Rocroy and Lens, both before
marriage and again more strongly after, the young Duke had protested by
a formal act that he yielded only to compulsion and his respect for
paternal authority in giving her his hand. Henry (II.), Prince de Condé,
who thus exacted his son's compliance, merely followed his usual
instincts as a greedy and ambitious courtier in seeking an alliance with
Cardinal Richelieu, whose niece Mademoiselle de Brézé was, through her
mother, Nicole du Plessis. Mademoiselle de Montpensier, who thought that
she had more reason than any one else to be indignant at the match,
tells us plainly that the Prince threw himself at the feet of his
eminence to solicit from him both Mademoiselle de Brézé for the Duke
d'Enghien, and M. de Brézé, her brother, for Mademoiselle de Bourbon,
and that he only escaped from the disgrace of a double _mésalliance_
through the Cardinal's clemency, who, in reply, told him that "he was
quite willing to give untitled young ladies to princes, but not
princesses to untitled young gentlemen."

Did the young Duchess personally merit that aversion and contempt?
Mademoiselle has told us, indeed, that she was awkward, and that, "on
the score of wit and beauty, she had nothing above the common run." But
Madame de Motteville, less passionate and more disinterested in her
judgments, recognises certain advantages possessed by her. "She was not
plain," she tells us, "but had fine eyes, a good complexion, and a
pretty figure. She spoke well when she was in the humour to talk." The
discerning court lady adds that, "if Madame de Condé did not always
display a talent for pleasing in the ball-room or in conversation, the
fidelity with which she clung to her husband during adversity, and the
zeal she showed for his interests and for those of her son during the
Guienne campaign, ought to compensate for the misfortune of not having
been able to merit, by more eminent virtues, a more brilliant and widely
celebrated reputation."

Here, then, it seems incumbent upon us to divine, from the _façon de
parler_ of that day, what were _the eminent virtues_ which the Princess
de Condé needed to deserve the esteem of her husband; or to ask whether
tried fidelity, courage, devotedness, were not then ranked among the
eminent virtues. They were so, no doubt; and it is probable that what
Madame de Motteville understands by those words, was the eminence of
qualities peculiar to the women, who more than ever in her day derived
from them a species of celebrity which closely resembled glory--the
éclat of beauty, wit, grace, intrepidity, and power of charming; in a
word, that which was possessed in so high a degree by a Madame de
Longueville, a Madame de Chevreuse, a Marie de Hautefort, and a
Mademoiselle du Vigean.

Whatever might have been the personal merit of the wife of the great
Condé, did the little she had justify the wretchedness of her destiny?
No: some beauty, wit, virtue, courage, a timid disposition perhaps, an
unpretending virtue, a courage even mediocre, easily overthrown, and
which needed the pressure of circumstances and danger for its
development,--in all this there was nothing to invoke the ire of the
implacable sisters.

In contemplating her truly deplorable existence, afflicted from its
beginning to its end by every kind of grief and humiliation, one can
scarcely resist the idea of the ascendency of an invincible fatality,
making her a victim of the irresistible force of events and destiny. The
woes of Claire de Brézé commenced in her earliest childhood. At the time
of her marriage to the Duke d'Enghien she had lost her mother some six
years, that parent having died in 1635. What befell her infancy,
abandoned to the neglect of a fantastic and libertine father, ruled even
before his widowhood by a mistress, the wife of one of his lacqueys,
whom he killed one day during a hunting match in order to get him out of
the way; of a father who, Tallemant tells us, carelessly remarked, when
his daughter's marriage was agreed upon--as though she belonged to some
one else--"They are going to make a princess of that little girl!"

She was destined, nevertheless, to have her hour of fame and
distinction, and that hour dawned amidst disasters of every sort, and
upon the captivity of her husband. At the moment of the arrest of the
Prince, whilst the Princess-dowager was conferring with her adherents
upon the best measures to be adopted for the deliverance of the Princes
and for the safety of her little grandson, the young Princess,
overcoming her timidity, interrupted Lenet, who was proposing a plan for
their flight, and another for a campaign, and, after the humblest tokens
of respect and deference for her mother-in-law, _entreated her not to
separate her from her son, protesting that she would follow him
everywhere joyfully, whatsoever might be the peril, and that she would
expose herself to any risk to aid her husband_.[8]

    [8] Lenet.

From that moment, we trace, almost from day to day as it were, in the
_Mémoires_ of Lenet proofs of the zeal and constancy of the Princess de
Condé. She escapes from Chantilly on foot, with her son and a small band
of faithful followers, traverses Paris, whence she reaches, in three
days and by devious roads, Montrond, the place pointed out by Lenet as
the safest retreat and the most advantageous to defend. Her letters to
the Queen and ministers, to the magistrates, to her relatives, are
stamped with nobility and firmness. Threatened in Montrond by La
Meilleraye, who was advancing in force, she again made her escape under
cover of a hunting party, after having provided for the safety of the
place and others which depended on it, and went in search of, amid a
host of difficulties, sometimes on horseback, at others in a litter or
by boat, the Dukes de Bouillon and La Rochefoucauld, who escorted her
to Bordeaux. One must turn to Lenet for all the details of that toilsome
journey and of the insurrection at Bordeaux, which he has related with
all the minutiæ and animation of an eye-witness and an actor who more
than once figured in the front rank. No longer timid, no longer awkward,
in presence of danger the daughter of Marshal de Brézé became the amazon
and almost the heroine. She held reviews, councils of war, negotiated,
and issued orders. Scarcely had she reached Bordeaux, her entry into
which was quite an ovation, than she besieged the Parliament chamber to
procure the registration of her requests and protestations against the
unjust detention of her husband. "She solicited the judges on their way
out of court, representing to them with tears in her eyes the unhappy
condition of all her oppressed house.... The young Duke, whom a
gentleman (Vialas) carried in his arms, caught the counsellors round the
neck as they passed, and weepingly besought at their hands the
liberation of his father, in so tender a manner that those gentlemen
wept also as bitterly as he and his mother, and gave them both good
hopes." She harangued the magistrates, supplicated them, urged them; she
even protected them, on one occasion that the populace of Bordeaux,
finding them not so bold as they could have wished, endeavoured by
clamour to obtain a decree contrary to the views of the party of the
Princes. She repaired to the palace, and from the top of the steps
conjured the furious rabble and made them lay down their arms. "And it
must be owned," says Lenet, "that she had a particular talent for
speaking in public, and that nothing could be better, more appropriate,
nor more conformable to her position than what she said." On that day,
the Princess de Condé, upon the steps of the Hôtel de Ville of Bordeaux,
appeared no longer unworthy of being ranked with Madame de Longueville
at the town-hall at Paris, or with Mademoiselle d'Orléans at the Porte
St. Antoine. Brienne adds that she worked, with her own hands, with the
ladies of the city, at the fortifications, and that she was anxious
herself to embroider, upon the banners of her army, the emblem and
device of the revolt--a grenade exploding, with the word _coacta_!

We have already seen the result of that three months' resistance--the
peace concluded at Bordeaux, the amnesty accorded to all those who had
taken up arms in Guienne, in a word, all the conditions proposed by the
Princess and the Dukes conceded, with the exception of one only--the
principal, that which had been the prime cause of all that
insurrection--the deliverance of the Prince de Condé, whom Mazarin
persisted in retaining prisoner, whilst at the same time promising to do
everything towards abridging his captivity.

The Princess was sent back to Montrond with her son, vexed no doubt at
not having conquered, but proud of having dared so much, and satisfied
at having deserved for that once to share his imprisonment. That day
came, however,--the day of gratitude and justice. On one occasion
already, whilst yet at Vincennes, the Prince, as he watered the tulips
celebrated by Mademoiselle de Scudéry in song, remarked to some one,
"_Who would have thought that I should be watering tulips whilst Madame
la Princesse was making war in the south!_"

But later, when the campaign at Bordeaux had ended, the Prince still a
prisoner at Havre, forwarding a communication in cypher to Lenet, added
thereto a short note for the Princess, couched in terms so tender that
Lenet, fearing lest in the exuberance of her delight the Princess might
betray the secret of that correspondence, hesitated for some moments to
communicate it to her. That note, the first and sole recompense of her
devotion, courage, and constancy, we must here transcribe, as the tardy
and begrudging compensation for such long-continued ingratitude, such
long-continued disdain, for so many cruel and unmerited outrages.

     "Il me tard, Madame, que je sois en état de vous embrasser mil fois
     pour toute l'amitié que vous m'avez temoigné, qui m'est d'autant
     plus sensible que ma conduite envers vous l'avoit peu méritée; mais
     je sçauray si bien vivre avec vous à l'advenir, que vous ne vous
     repentirés pas de tout ce que vous avés faict to me pour moy, qui
     fera que je seray toute ma vie tout à vous et de tout mon coeur."

Poor Clémence de Maillé! how, at that first testimony of an affection
which she had despaired of ever gaining, did her heart, so long pent up,
burst forth with ecstatic delight! And how must Lenet, on witnessing
that touching effusion of irrepressible rapture, have congratulated
himself at not having persevered in his diplomatic prudence! She took
the letter, shed tears over it, kissed it, read it over and over again,
and tried to get it by heart--for she might lose it. Then she selected
from her toilette her finest ribbon (a bright _flame-coloured_ one), and
sewed that precious missive to it, in order to carry it always upon her
person, beneath her dress--upon her chemise, Lenet bluntly tells us, and
who adds that that gush of delirious delight lasted until the morrow.

Alas! that warm ray was the only one that Condé, in his glory, let fall
upon her, and it was but evanescent. The danger over, the prison opened,
Condé restored to his honours and his power, she became once more the
despised, alienated, humiliated wife. Mademoiselle, on meeting her
again, asked whether it were true that she had taken part _in that
which was done in her name?_ On her return from Montrond (after the
letter), she found her, it is true, _plus habile_; but she was shocked
at the delight manifested by the Princess on seeing all the great world
flock to visit her, so wholly forsaken as she had previously been, and
she concluded that, being carried out of her normal condition, she
thought too much of herself.

Then came humiliations the most cutting, and the deepest grief. Twice
was she attacked by dangerous illness, from which it was asserted she
could not recover. And each time that report was welcomed at Court as
the joyous announcement of a marriage or a succession. Everybody busied
themselves with finding another wife for the Prince; and some thought
once more of Mademoiselle: "that rumour reached my ears," says she, "and
I mused upon it." Unfortunately for her, the poor Princess recovered,
and Mademoiselle had to wait for Lauzun. In another place she remarks
somewhat spitefully, "Madame la Princesse arrived in better health than
_could have been anticipated; no one could have imagined that she would
so soon recover_."

At length a tragic event, the consequences of which exhibit in a
sinister light the perseverance of ill-feeling that had always been
shown towards her in the family of which she had become a member, came
to add itself to that almost unbroken chain of tribulations, outrages,
and troubles amid which no sort of calamity seemed wanting. Two officers
of her household took it into their heads to quarrel and draw swords
upon each other. The Princess (she was then in her forty-third
year--1671) placed herself between the angry combatants with the
intention of separating them, and by so doing received a stab in her
side. The individual who inflicted the wound was brought to trial. As
for her,

     "When she was cured, the Prince had her conducted to Châteauroux,
     one of his country-houses. She has been there kept for a long time
     imprisoned, and at present permission is only given her to walk in
     the court-yard, always strictly watched by the people whom the
     Prince always keeps about her. _The Duke is accused of having
     suggested to the Prince the treatment to which his mother is
     subjected: he was very glad_, it is said, to find a pretext for
     putting her in a place where she would _spend less_ than in

        [9] Mémoires of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, 4th part.

Was it the hereditary avarice of the house of Condé which thus revealed
itself in the odious sentiment of that unworthy son? Poor woman! Her
only crime was that of being too liberal. She had, it is true, foolishly
placed her diamonds in pledge at Bordeaux to support the cost of the
war. But had she not, as a set-off to her prodigality, brought to the
Duke d'Enghien and his father her share of Richelieu's wealth? That
prudent advice of the excellent son was followed: the Princess was still
a prisoner at Châteauroux, when the Prince her husband died, in 1686;
and by way of a precaution--which cannot be thought of without a
shudder, giving as it does the measure of an implacable hatred--he
recommended that she should be so kept after his decease. This once,
Mademoiselle did find a word of pity for the persecuted wife and mother.
"I could have wished," says she, when speaking of the last moments of
the Prince, "that he had not prayed the King to let his wife always be
kept at Châteauroux, and I was very sorry for it...."

And it was there, doubtless, that she died in 1694, at the age of
sixty-six. The collections of funeral orations and sermons of celebrated
preachers of that day will be searched in vain for any funeral tribute
to her memory. And a feeling of disappointment arises that Bossuet, in
his panegyric of the hero, could not find a word of praise, of
consolation, or even of pity for the ill-fated shadow he left sorrowful
and abandoned by all, to bear his name in pitiless obscurity to the

Mysterious destiny! strange fatality! which neither personal demerits,
wrongs, nor faults justified, which neither love, devotedness, nor
unfailing virtue, approved and respected even by the calumnious, could



VERY little is known for certain concerning the antecedents of Louise
Querouaille before she figured at the Court of France as one of the
maids of honour to the unfortunate Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans, sister
of Charles the Second of England. The contemporaries of the merry
monarch, witnesses and censors of his political errors, in tracing them
to their source, have attributed them primarily to the foreign
favourite, who was, more than any other of the many mistresses of that
Prince, odious in the eyes of the English people.

At the commencement of 1670, the splendour and corruption of the French
Court had reached their acme. The seraglio of the great King recalled to
mind that of Solomon, whilst his brother, enslaved by effeminacy and
debauchery, had only to hold up his finger and the most important
personages of the state were suitably provided with mistresses to such
an extent that at length it became necessary to transfer occasionally to
foreign courts those attractive creatures who, by antiphrasis doubtless,
were always called "maids of honour." It was in the household of his
sister-in-law, Henrietta of England, that Louis had first met the two
mistresses of his predilection; and when he wished to assure himself by
a new tie of his royal vassal on the other side of the channel, it was
still the domestic circle of the Duchess of Orleans which supplied him
with the diplomatist in petticoats he wanted.

When Mademoiselle Querouaille's mission to the Court of St. James's
became thoroughly understood, and her position as Duchess of Portsmouth
assured in it, her previous history was hunted up, the details of which
no one knew--not even the royal family of France, who had used her as an
instrument without caring to trouble itself about her origin. Madame de
Sévigné, in her letters to her daughter, speaks of the Duchess of
Portsmouth in a very disrespectful fashion, so much so as to reveal, if
not the certainty, at least the belief that the antecedents of the _maid
of honour_, as she says, were not the most honourable. In 1690, five
years after Charles's death, a pamphlet was published in London in which
the Duchess figures under the fictitious name of _Francelie_; Louis XIV.
designated as _Tirannides_, and our English king as _Prince des Iles_.
In the preface to the French translation of this pamphlet, which bears
the title of _Histoire secrète de la Duchesse de Portsmouth_, it is
stated that the author desired to give, by these changes of name, some
additional piquancy to the revelations contained in his book. According
to such chronicle, the father of Louise Querouaille was a wool merchant
of Paris. After having realised a moderate fortune in trade, he retired
into Brittany, his native country, with his two daughters; the youngest,
Louise, being amiable and pretty; the eldest, plain and ungraceful. The
dissimilarity of the two sisters, the one universally pleasing, the
other displeasing everybody, created such misunderstanding between them
that their father was obliged to separate them. He kept the plain
daughter at home, and placed the younger and pretty one as a boarder in
a neighbouring town to that in which he lived. Louise thereby acquired
accomplishments which enhanced her natural charms. She was sharp,
cunning, insinuating, and having gained the confidence and goodwill of
the lady to whose care her father had entrusted her, the former
introduced her amongst her relations and general society. In that circle
Mademoiselle Querouaille ere long inspired passions, rumours of which
reached the ears of the old wool-merchant. Fearing lest his daughter
might but too thoughtlessly respond to the attentions of which she was
the object, he withdrew her from the boarding-house, and took her to
Paris, where he left her under the care of his sister-in-law, then a
widow. Her husband had been a dependent of the Duke de Beaufort, and she
herself lived, for the most part, upon the bounty of that nobleman, who,
on reconciling himself with the Court after the Fronde, had obtained the
post of high-admiral of France. Shortly after the arrival of Louise in
Paris, in 1669, the Duke seeing her walking in the Tuileries gardens
with her relative, and being struck with the young girl's beauty, and
moreover it is said with the effect which she produced upon the public,
became suddenly enamoured of her. The author of the _Histoire secrète_
relates the manoeuvres resorted to by Beaufort and Louise to deceive the
vigilance, more affected than real, as it would seem, of her old aunt.
In short, the Duke's passion made rapid progress; and the young girl,
yielding to the wishes of a lover who adored her and heaped magnificent
presents upon her, allowed herself to be carried off by him at the
moment that he was about to enter upon his naval command. That
expedition had for its object the succour of the Venetians, who for some
twenty-four years had been blockaded by the Turks in Candia.
Mademoiselle Querouaille, disguised as a page, embarked with the Duke,
who, shortly after landing, was cut to pieces in action. An officer of
the French force, whom the before-cited chronicle merely designates as a
marquis, and to whom Beaufort had confided the secret of his love,
offered to conduct Louise back to France. It appears that Mademoiselle
Querouaille would have preferred to have been accompanied on her return
by a certain smart page who had been in the Duke's service, but the
marquis did not give her the option of such a choice. Yet, though Louise
could not withdraw herself from the protection of the latter, there is
no reason to believe that he forced his love upon her. The anonymous
chronicler concedes that much; but, in his opinion, the Marquis might
have hoped that Louise would have acknowledged his care and respect by
the same favours which she had accorded to "Beaufort, and," he adds,
"one may presume that a girl who previously, urged by love, had allowed
the Duke to carry her off to Candia, could do no less for a man who
showed her so much attention on the voyage back to France." More or less
just as these inductions may be, it appears quite certain that this same
prank of Mademoiselle Querouaille was the foundation of her fortunes. In
giving his friends an account of the expedition in which he had taken
part, the Marquis did not omit the episode of the Duke de Beaufort's
pretended page. Henrietta of England, to whom this romantic tale was
carried, became desirous of seeing the heroine of it, and Louise
Querouaille was therefore duly introduced to the Duchess. The fictitious
Cherubino was cunning enough to represent herself as being the victim of
a forcible abduction. Henrietta listened to her story with the liveliest
interest, took her into her household, and soon afterwards admitting her
amongst the number of her maids of honour. Louise, at the age of
nineteen, was thus at once introduced to all the pleasures and
temptations of a magnificent and dissipated court. Her introduction took
place at a critical moment (1669), and, in deciding her future, fate
has made her destiny and character matter of history.

The conquest or the ruin of Holland had long been one of the favourite
projects of Louis the Fourteenth. The Dutch, however, resisted his
overgrown power, as their ancestors had formerly defied that of Philip
the Second of Spain. In order to carry his plans into execution, Louis
found it necessary to detach England from the interests of Holland. This
was matter of some difficulty, for an alliance with France against
Holland was so odious to all parties in England, so contrary to the
national prejudices and interests, that though Louis did not despair of
cajoling or bribing Charles into such a treaty, the utmost caution and
secresy were necessary in conducting it.

The only person who was at first trusted with this negotiation was the
Duchess of Orleans. She was at this time about five-and-twenty, "a
singular mixture of discretion, or rather dissimulation, with rashness
and petulance; of exceeding haughtiness, with a winning sweetness of
manner and disposition which gained all hearts." She was not, however,
exactly pretty or well made, but had the dazzlingly fair complexion of
an Englishwoman, "un teint de rose et de jasmin," a profusion of light
hair, with eyes blue and bright as those of Pallas. She had inherited
some of the nobler qualities of her grandfather, Henri Quatre, and all
the graces and intriguing spirit of her mother, Henrietta Maria. Early
banished from England by the misfortunes of her family, she regarded the
country of her birth with indifference, if not abhorrence, and was a
Frenchwoman in education, manners, mind, and heart. She possessed
unbounded power over the mind of Charles the Second, whose affection for
her was said to exceed that of a brother for a sister; he had never
been known to refuse her anything she had asked for herself or others,
and Louis trusted that her fascinations would gain from the king of
England what reason and principle and patriotism would have denied.

The shrewdness of mind and inclination for intrigue which characterised
his sister-in-law's maid-of-honour did not escape the observation of
Louis. In her he found an apt as well as willing instrument in the
secret negotiation of which he had constituted her mistress the
plenipotentiary. For such compliance the manners of the time may, to a
certain extent, furnish La Querouaille with an excuse. At Versailles,
ideas of honour and morality had lost their ordinary signification: the
men envied generally the lot of Amphitryon, and the women lost every
instinct of modesty when it became a question about satisfying a caprice
of Jupiter. Breathing such a vitiated atmosphere, and having so many
lamentable examples before her eyes, Mademoiselle Querouaille saw only
the dazzling side of the proposition made to her--the hope of reigning
despotically over the heart of a great prince, and of becoming the equal
of that La Vallière whose _elevation_ was the object of so much envy and
feminine ambition.

It was arranged, therefore, that the piquant Bas-Bretonne should be
brought under the notice of the amorous Charles II. during a visit to
him, arranged to take place at Dover. In order to give the interview
between the royal brother and sister the appearance of an accidental or
family meeting, the pretext of a progress to his recently acquired
Flemish territories was resorted to by Louis, who set out with his
queen, his two mistresses De Montespan and La Vallière, the Duchess of
Orleans and Mademoiselle de Montpensier, with their respective retinues,
and attended by the most beautiful women of the Court. The splendour
exhibited on this occasion exceeded all that had been witnessed, even
during the reign of this pomp-loving monarch. Thirty thousand men
marched in the van and rear of the royal party; some of them destined to
reinforce the garrisons of the conquered country, others to work upon
the fortifications, and others again to level the roads. It was a
continued series of fêtes, banquets, and triumphs, the ostensible
honours being chiefly for Madame de Montespan; the real object of this
famous journey, well-nigh unparalleled for its lavish and luxurious
ostentation, was known only to Henrietta of England, who enjoyed in
secret her own importance, and this gave a new zest to the pleasures
with which she was surrounded.

On reaching Dunkirk, the Duchess of Orleans embarked for England with
her maid-of-honour and a small but chosen retinue, and met Charles at
Dover, where this secret negotiation was initiated. The result
anticipated came to pass, and proved that Louis had not miscalculated
the power of his sister-in-law over her easy-going and unscrupulous
brother. Charles fell into the snare laid for him, and Henrietta carried
most of the points of that disgraceful treaty, which rendered the King
of England the pensioned tool of France, and his reign the most abject
in the annals of her native country.

Aiming rather to stimulate than gratify the languid desires of her
brother for fresh feminine novelty, the Duchess of Orleans, with
finished finesse, appeared not to perceive the attention which the
piquant charms and almost childish grace of her young maid-of-honour won
from the captivated King. Nor did she, at her departure, leave Louise in
England, as some historians have erroneously supposed. In order to
render the impression which her fair attendant had made upon Charles
more deep and lasting, it was sought by her absence to incite the desire
felt by her royal brother to retain her in his Court. The secret
negotiation with which Louis had entrusted his sister-in-law had not
been, in fact, yet completed. To conduct it to a prosperous termination,
to preserve perfect harmony between France and England, it was still
needful to make use of another kind of female influence. It was
necessary, moreover, that such influence should become permanent--a
thing hitherto very difficult at courts wherein the fair sex disputed
strenuously and shamelessly for the royal favour. But thus much seemed
certain--that the key to the will of the sovereign of Great Britain had
been found in Mademoiselle Louise Querouaille.

Charles had indeed written in reply to his sister, on the 8th July of
the preceding year (1668), that "in every negotiation she shall have a
share, which will prove how much I love her." In August he told the
French ambassador--"The Duchess of Orleans passionately desires an
alliance between me and France; and as I love her tenderly, I shall be
happy to let her see what power her entreaties have over me." Henrietta,
probably, did not consider that by thus bringing her brother into
alliance with France she was betraying her native country. She no doubt
thought rather of augmenting the greatness of Charles than of benefiting
England. The sea should be given up to England; the territory of
Continental Europe to France. Louis XIV. expressly declared, in
opposition to the views of Colbert, "that he would leave commerce to the
English--three-fourths of it at least--that all he cared for was
conquest." But that would have involved, as a first step, the conquest
of England herself, and have cost torrents of blood. The fascinating
Henrietta, doubtless, did not perceive this when she trod so far in the
fatal footsteps of her ancestress, Mary Stuart. She had none of her rash
violence, but not a little of her spirit of romantic intrigue, and that
feminine delight of having in hand a tangled skein, of which she held
securely the end of the thread.

The secret negotiation of the treaty, however, went on between the two
kings. Louis had submitted to exorbitant conditions on the score of
money, and to another, moreover, sufficiently weighty. It was that
Charles, converted to the Romish faith, should share with him in the
conquest of Holland, should send a considerable military force thither,
and should keep for himself the Dutch islands opposite to England--an
advantage so enormous to the latter power that it would have rendered
national the odious alliance, and glorified the treason.

Two points still remained unsettled: first, to persuade Charles to
commence the war before his conversion--a step considered easy to
obtain; but that conversion terrified him when the moment came for
carrying it out. Secondly--and which proved the most difficult--was to
induce him to despatch very few troops--too few to take and afterwards
hold the territory promised him. Louis XIV. stipulated to send 120,000
men there; Charles II. engaged to furnish 6000, which number his sister
prevailed upon him to reduce to 4000.

Such was the sad, disgraceful, deplorable negotiation imposed by the
great King upon his sister-in-law. She had always obeyed him (as she
herself said), and she obeyed him in this matter, rendering her brother
doubly a traitor by his abandonment of the latter condition, which
lessened his treason.

Everybody had envied the Duchess her visit to England, none knew the
bitterness it entailed. The King confided in her, and yet distrusted
her. Otherwise he would not have had her accompanied by the pretty doll,
with her baby face, whose office it was to ensnare the licentious
Charles. Henrietta was compelled to take her over to England, and, in
fact, to chaperone her. For such self-abasement the King had handsomely
rewarded the compliant maid-of-honour, promising to give her an estate,
and so much per head for each bastard she might have by Charles of

Henrietta endured all this shameful bargaining, hoping that her royal
brother would obtain from the Pope the dissolution of her marriage with
the worthless, stupid, profligate Duke of Orleans, on whom her wit and
charms were equally thrown away. She might then remain at his court and
be the virtual Queen of England, by governing him through female
influence. Her brilliant hopes, however, were destined to be speedily
dissipated, and her career cut short by a painful and treacherous death.

On her return from England, two surprises awaited her: not only did she
find the Duke, her husband, exasperated against her, but what she had
least of all expected, the King very cold in his demeanour towards her.
Louis had got from her all he desired. His changed attitude emboldened a
cabal in her own household to effect her destruction. Those who formed
it were creatures of her husband's detestable favourite, the Chevalier
de Lorraine, whom they believed had been banished by the King through
her entreaties. The poor Duchess wept bitterly on finding that she had
now no support from any one about her. The Duke, in the exercise of his
marital authority, took her from Court, not permitting her any longer to
visit Versailles. The King might have insisted upon her attendance
there but did not. In tears, she suffered herself to be carried off to
St. Cloud. There she felt herself alone, with every hand against her.

The weather was excessively hot. On her arrival at St. Cloud, she took a
bath, which made her ill, but she soon recovered from it, and during two
days was tolerably well--eating and sleeping. On the 28th of June she
asked for a cup of chicory, drank it, and at the same moment became red,
then pale, and shrieked aloud. The poor Duchess, commonly so patient
under pain, gave way under the excess of her anguish, her eyes filled
with tears, and she exclaimed that she was dying.

Inquiries were made about the water the Duchess had drunk, and her
waiting-woman said that she had not prepared it herself, but had ordered
it to be made, and then asked that some of it might be given her, drank
of it; but there is no evidence to show that the water had not been
changed in the interval.

Was it an attack of cholera, as was said? The symptoms in no wise
indicated that species of disorder. The Duchess's health was very much
shattered, and she was doubtless liable to be rapidly carried off. But
the event had very plainly been hastened (as in the case of Don Carlos);
nature had been assisted. The Duke's valets--who were, as to fidelity,
much more the servants of his banished favourite, the Chevalier de
Lorraine--comprehended that, in the approaching alliance of the two
kings, and the need they would have of each other's confidence, the
Duchess might in some moment of tenderness recover her absolute power
over the King, who would in such event sweep his brother's household
clear of them all. They well knew the Court, and surmised that, if she
were to die, the alliance would nevertheless be maintained, and the
matter hushed up; that she would be lamented, but not avenged; that
facts accomplished would be respected.

Good care was taken not to confide the secret to the wretched Duke, her
husband; it was even thought that it might be possible to get him out of
the way--to keep him in Paris, where by chance, indeed, he was detained.
Philip of Orleans was really astonished when he beheld his agonised
wife, and ordered an antidote to be given her; but time was lost in
administering the _poudre de vipère_. The Duchess asked only for an
emetic, and the doctors obstinately refused her one. Strange, too, the
King, who, on his arrival, remonstrated with them, was equally
unsuccessful in obtaining for the sufferer that which she craved. The
medicos held steadily to their opinion: they had pronounced it to be
cholera, and they would not swallow their own words.

Were they in the plot? That did not follow. For, besides the
professional pride which forbade them to belie themselves, they might
fear to discover more than they wished--to act in a very uncourtier-like
manner by discovering traces but too evident of poisoning. In such case
the alliance, perhaps, might have been broken off, and the projects of
both King and clergy for the Dutch and English crusade have come to
nothing. Such blundering fellows would never have been forgiven. So the
physicians were prudent and politic. It was altogether a grievous
spectacle. Here was a woman universally beloved, yet who inspired no one
with any strong feeling. Everybody was interested--went and came; but no
one would assume any responsibility, no one obeyed her last and constant
prayer. She wanted to eject the poison by the aid of an emetic. No one
dared to give it her. "Look," she exclaimed, "my nose is gone--shrunk
to nothing." It was observed, in fact, that it was already like that of
an eight days' corpse. For all that, they stuck to the doctors' opinion:
"It is nothing." With only one exception, nobody seemed uneasy about
her; some even laughed. Mademoiselle de Montpensier alone showed
indignation at all this heartless indifference, and had the courage to
remark that "At any rate they should endeavour to save her soul," and
went in search of a confessor.

The people belonging to the household, one and all, recommended that the
curé of St. Cloud should be sent for, certain that, as he was unknown to
the Duchess, their mistress would confess nothing of moment to him.
Mademoiselle, however, would not hear of him as confessor. "Fetch
Bossuet," she said, "and meanwhile call in the Canon Feuillet."

Feuillet was a very wary ecclesiastic, and quite as prudent as the
physicians. He persuaded _Madame_ to offer herself up as a sacrifice to
Heaven without accusing anyone. The Duchess said, in fact, to Marshal de
Grammont, "They have poisoned me--but by mistake." She exhibited
throughout an admirable discretion and perfect gentleness. She embraced
the Duke, her husband, whispering to him--in allusion to the outrageous
arrest of the Chevalier de Lorraine--that she had "never been unfaithful
to him."

The English Ambassador having arrived, she spoke to him in English,
telling him to conceal from her brother that she had been poisoned. The
Abbé Feuillet, who had not quitted her, overhearing the word "_poison_,"
stopped her, saying, "_Madame_, think only of God now!" Bossuet, who
next came in, continues Feuillet, confirmed her in those thoughts of
self-abnegation and discretion. For a long time back, she had looked to
Bossuet to console her in that supreme moment. She desired that after
her decease an emerald ring should be given to him which she had
reserved for that purpose.

By degrees, however, the unfortunate Duchess found herself left almost
alone. The King had taken his departure, after manifesting great
emotion, and the Duke also in tears. All the Court had disappeared.
Mademoiselle de Montpensier was too much affected to bid her farewell.
She was sinking fast, felt an inclination to sleep, woke up suddenly,
inquired for Bossuet, who placed a crucifix in her hand, and, whilst in
the act of embracing it, she expired. The clock at that moment struck
three, and the first faint light of dawn was visible (June 29th, 1670).

The English Ambassador expressed a desire to be present at the
_post-mortem_ examination, and the doctors did not fail to pronounce the
cause of her death to be an attack of _cholera morbus_ (so Mademoiselle
de Montpensier states), and that mortification had for some time past
set in. He was not the dupe of such opinion; neither was Charles II.,
who, at first, indignantly refused to receive the letter addressed to
him by the Duke of Orleans. But to persevere in such a line of conduct
would have been to bring about a rupture of the pending negotiation and
the loss of the French subsidy. He calmed down, therefore, and pretended
to believe the explanations that were offered him. It was, however,
remembered that the Chevalier de Lorraine, the Duke's unworthy
favourite, had openly accused _Madame_ as the instigator of his
banishment; and Saint-Simon asserts that the King, before consenting to
his brother marrying again, was resolved to know whether he had really
had the Duchess poisoned, and with that view summoned Furnon,
Henrietta's master of the household. From him he learned that the
poison had been sent from Italy by the Chevalier de Lorraine to
Beauveau, equerry to the Duchess, and to D'Effiat, her captain of the
guard, but without the knowledge of the Duke. "It was that
_maître-d'hôtel_ who himself related it," says Saint-Simon, "to M. Joly
de Fleury, from whom I had it."

A story but too probable. But that which appears incredible, and which
nevertheless is quite certain, was that the poisoners were perfectly
successful, that shortly after the crime the King permitted the
Chevalier de Lorraine to serve in the army, appointed him
marshal-de-camp, and allowed him to return to Court. What explanation,
what palliation, can there be for such an enormous outrage to our common
humanity? It has truly been said that "the intrigues which led to the
murder of the unfortunate Henrietta of England present such a scene of
accumulated horrors and iniquity, that, for the honour of human nature,
one could wish that the curtain had never been raised which hid them
from our knowledge."

The last political act of the Duchess of Orleans was one of decisive
import, and calculated to secure for a long time the subjection of the
English nation. Although seriously afflicted by the death of his sister,
the thoughtless Charles seemed especially occupied with the design of
bringing over to England the attractive maid-of-honour who had made such
a lively impression upon him, as had been intended, during the short
visit to Dover already mentioned. On the melancholy tidings of
Henrietta's death reaching England, the profligate Duke of Buckingham
was despatched to Paris as envoy extraordinary, ostensibly to inquire
into the particulars of that catastrophe but in reality, as Burnet
says, to conclude the treaty. This he accomplished; France agreeing to
give two millions of livres (£150,000) for Charles's conversion to
popery, and three millions a year for the Dutch war. Large sums of money
were also distributed to Buckingham, Arlington, and Clifford.

Buckingham, that complaisant companion of "the merry monarch," who,
"everything by turns and nothing long," having been the first to observe
the impression the mignonne maid-of-honour had made on the King's
susceptible fancy, had little hesitation in attaching to his diplomatic
office the very undignified one of Sir Pandarus, and therefore with a
brave defiance of decorum bent all his efforts to overcome the scruples,
if any there might be, lingering in the mind of Louise with regard to
transferring herself to the service of the Queen of England, poor
Catherine of Braganza. As she was then placed through the death of the
Duchess of Orleans, a convent was the only retreat Mademoiselle
Querouaille could look forward to in France; and as religious seclusion
was not at all congenial to the lively nymph, she was not found
impracticable to Buckingham's overtures. Nor were the latter's efforts
entirely disinterested in the matter. He had lately had a fierce quarrel
with "old Rowley's" imperious mistress, the Duchess of Cleveland, and
having sworn hatred and revenge against that profligate beauty, sought
to turn the French maid-of-honour to his own advantage by raising up a
rival in the King's affections, who should be wholly governed by
himself. He therefore represented seriously to Louis that the only way
to secure Charles to French interests was to give him a French mistress;
and he told Charles jestingly that he ought to take charge of his
sister's favourite attendant, if only out of "decent tenderness for her

The delicate affair, in short, was soon arranged; an invitation, so
formally worded as to wear the semblance of propriety, was sent from the
English Court, and Louise immediately departed for Dieppe, escorted by
part of the Duke of Buckingham's suite, and his grace's promise to join
her with all convenient speed. But, as usual with the man whose
"ambition was frequently nothing more than a frolic, and whose best
designs were for the foolishest ends," who "could keep no secret nor
execute any design without spoiling it," he totally forgot both the lady
and his promise, and, leaving the forsaken demoiselle at Dieppe to cross
the Straits as she best might, sailed to England by way of Calais. Lord
Montagu, then our Ambassador at Paris, hearing of the Duke's escapade,
immediately sent over for a yacht, and ordered some of his own
attendants to convey her, with all honour, to Whitehall, where she was
received by Lord Arlington with all respect, and forthwith appointed
maid-of-honour to the Queen.

The intoxication of Charles was complete, and the man who had supported
patiently the furious outbreaks of Barbara Palmer[10] and the saucy
petulence of Nell Gwynne, was the more able to appreciate "les grâces
décentes" of the foreign maid-of-honour, who, in the profaned walls of
Whitehall, diffused the delicate odour of Versailles.

    [10] Duchess of Cleveland.

The purpose of her receiving an appointment at the Court of St. James's
was apparently foretold, for Madame de Sévigné thus writes to her
daughter:--"Ne trouvez-vous pas bon de savoir que Querouaille dont
l'étoile avait été devineé avant qu'elle partit, l'a suivie
très-fidèlement? Le roi d'Angleterre l'a aimée, elle s'est trouvée avec
une légère disposition à ne le pas haïr."[11]

    [11] Letter 190.

It is doubtful, however, whether Charles did immediately enjoy his
conquest. If it be noted that the Duke of Richmond only came into the
world in 1672, we may be led to suppose that Mademoiselle Querouaille
did not yield without hesitation to the desires of her royal lover; and
that supposition becomes almost a certitude, when one reads this passage
of a letter which Saint-Evremond addressed to his fair countrywoman:--

     "Suffer yourself rather to follow the bent of your temptation,
     instead of listening to your pride. Your pride would soon cause you
     to be sent back to France, and France would fling you, as has been
     the lot of many others, into some convent. But allowing that you
     should choose of your own free will that dismal kind of retreat,
     still it would be necessary beforehand to render yourself worthy of
     entering therein. What a figure you would cut there, if you had not
     the character of a penitent! True penitence is that which afflicts
     and mortifies us at the recollection of our faults. Of what has a
     good girl to be penitent who has done nothing wrong? You would
     appear ridiculous in the eyes of the other nuns, who, repenting
     from just motives, should discover that your repentance was only

Louise committed the error of not only approving the advice of that
equivocal monitor, but the greater error of following it. Experience
came very soon to open her eyes.

In 1672, as has been said, the Querouaille having presented the King
with a son, her favour increased considerably. In 1673 she was created
_Duchess of Portsmouth_, and at the close of the same year Louis XIV.,
alike to flatter the King of England, and to confirm him in his alliance
with himself against Holland, as to reward the good offices of Louise
Querouaille, conferred upon the latter the domain of D'Aubigny, in
Berry. This domain given, in 1422, by Charles VII. to John Stuart, "as a
token of the great services which he had rendered in war to that King,"
had reverted to the crown of France. In the letter of donation which
Louis sent to Charles, it stated that "after the death of the Duchess of
Portsmouth, the demesne of Aubigny shall pass to such of the natural
children of the King of Great Britain as he shall nominate." Charles II.
nominated Charles Lennox (his son by Querouaille), and created him Duke
of Richmond on the 19th of August, 1675.

Although _maîtresse-en-titre_, and favourite mistress as she became, she
could not, however, prevent the unworthy and frequent resort of the
debauched prince to rivals of a lower grade, and Madame de Sévigné
penned some amusing lines on the subject of those duplicate
amours:--"Querouaille has been in no way deceived; she had a mind to be
the King's mistress, she has her wish. He passes almost every evening in
her company, in presence of the whole Court. She has a child which has
just been acknowledged, and on whom two duchies have been bestowed. She
amasses wealth, and makes herself feared and respected wherever she can;
but she could not foresee finding a young actress in her path by whom
the King is bewitched.... He shares his attentions, his time, and his
health between them both. The actress is quite as proud as the Duchess
of Portsmouth: she spites her, makes wry faces at her, assails her, and
often carries the King off from her. She boasts of those points in which
she is preferable--that she is young, silly, bold, debauched, and
agreeable; that she can sing, dance, and play the part _de bonne foi_.
She has a son by the King, and is determined that he shall be
acknowledged. Here are her reasons:--'This Duchess,' she says, 'acts
the person of quality; she pretends that she is related to everybody in
France. No sooner does any grandee die, than she puts on mourning. Ah
well! if she is such a great lady, why did she condescend to become a
_catin_? She ought to expire with shame: for myself, it is my
profession; I don't pique myself on anything else. The King keeps me; I
am at present his solely. I have brought him a son, whom I intend he
shall acknowledge, and I am assured that he will, for he loves me quite
as well as he does his Portsmouth.' This creature takes the top of the
walk, and embarrasses and puts the Duchess out of countenance in a most
extraordinary manner."

In Mrs. Nelly, with all her good qualities, Charles had not found
exactly a rose without thorns to stick in his button-hole. In her too
wild fun, or spirit of mockery, she was apt, as most others, to give
demonstration of all the variety of her woman's nature and her woman's
wit, and to make her baffled and humbled sovereign wish in his inmost
heart that he had never had anything to do with her.

Such were the annoyances--doubtless unforeseen by Mademoiselle
Querouaille on quitting France, and to which La Vallière and Montespan
were not exposed in the Court of the _Grand Monarque_, where vice itself
put on airs of grandeur and majesty. It must be owned, however, that
Madame de Sévigné exaggerates when she pretends to establish a sort of
equilibrium between the position of the actress and that of the Duchess.
The triumphs of Nell Gwynne were triumphs of the alcove; whilst her
Grace of Portsmouth reigned without a rival over the realm of diplomacy.
Charles II. was in the habit of passing a great portion of his time in
her apartments, where often, in the midst of a joyous circle, he met
Barillon, the French Ambassador, who, from his agreeable manners, was
freely admitted to all the amusements of the indolent monarch. It was by
means of these frequent conversations that, seizing the favourable
moment, the Duchess and the Ambassador succeeded in obtaining an order
which suddenly changed the face of Europe, by bringing about the
signature of the Treaty of Niméguen, and more than once it fell to her
lot to obtain a success of the same kind, to which neither her arrogant
Grace of Cleveland nor the piquant Nelly could ever pretend. In
political affairs the Querouaille held her own triumphantly over all her
rivals, and obtained a dominion that ended only with the life of
Charles. Too sensible to exact a strict fidelity from the King, the
Duchess of Portsmouth was content to sigh in silence so long as her
womanly feelings alone were sported with; but when it seemed likely that
the influence which she strove to utilise to the profit of France might
be trenched upon, her resentment broke forth in sudden and sweeping
ebullitions which even the dread of a public scandal was impotent to
repress. The correspondence of Bussy-Rabutin furnishes us with a scene
of that description:--

     "It is rumoured that Querouaille has been sermonising the King,
     crucifix in hand, as well both to wean him from other women as to
     bring him back to Christianity: in fact, it appears that she
     herself has been very near the point of death. However, three or
     four days afterwards, finding herself better, she rose from her
     bed, and dragged herself into the box where the King was seeing a
     play in company with Madame de Mazarin, and there she overwhelmed
     him with endless reproaches for his infidelity. Love and jealousy
     are strong passions."

Hortensia Mancini, Duchess de Mazarin, who was commonly thought to be
the finest woman in Europe, and more than that--a very great lady, aunt
of the Duchess of York, might have easily supplanted the "baby-faced"
Querouaille in the inconstant heart of Charles Stuart, but that the
haughty Italian paid small attention to the predilections of that
prince, whom she cut to the quick by receiving before his face the
advances of the Prince de Monaco, and so Charles returned "_à ses
premières amours_." That phrase, somewhat vague in so far as it applies
to the sensual instincts of a man who did not even believe in
friendship, describes at least accurately that passionate feeling with
which the Duchess of Portsmouth had inspired him. Under certain
circumstances--very rare, it is true--she went so far as to sacrifice to
him entirely her political _rôle_, and when the question of the famous
"bill of exclusion" arose, she was seen to throw herself at the King's
feet, and implore her royal lover not to rush headlong to
destruction;[12] entreating him to abandon, if it must be so, the
interests of his brother and those of Catholicism, rather than
compromise his crown and life. Such proceeding appears still more
generous, if we reflect that, in spite of the irregular position which
she had accepted, the Duchess had remained deeply attached to her
religion and her native country, and that at that juncture no one was
ignorant that an era of persecution was about to commence for the
reformed Churches of France. Two years later, on the eve of the Niméguen
treaty, the decline of the great reign was already foreshadowed; the
influence of incapable though _right-thinking_ men became daily more
marked, and the star of the austere Frances d'Aubigny (Maintenon) arose
slowly above the horizon. Conversions at any price were clamoured for,
and no extent of sacrifice deterred the proselytisers from bringing back
within the fold souls of quality, save leaving one day to Louvois'
dragoons the charge of enlightening the Protestant vulgar. The Duchess
of Portsmouth was, together with the Duchess of York, at the head of the
English propagandists, and, curious enough, a regular exchange of
edifying letters took place between the future foundress of Saint-Cyr
and the joyous sinner of the Court of St. James's. Louis XIV., desirous
of duly recompensing the services of the royal favourite, conferred upon
her by letters-patent dated January, 1684, the French title of Duchess

    [12] Macaulay.

Thus had Louise Querouaille reached the summit of her rapid prosperity;
but a great turn of chance was at hand, and in a moment she was about to
be hurled from that dizzy height.

Lord Macaulay has graphically sketched the memorable scene in which she
figured so creditably when Charles was struck with his fatal seizure. On
the 2nd of February, 1685, "scarcely had Charles risen from his bed when
his attendants perceived that his utterance was indistinct, and that his
thoughts seemed to be wandering. Several men of rank had, as usual,
assembled to see their sovereign shaved and dressed. He made an effort
to converse with them in his usual gay style; but his ghastly look
surprised and alarmed them. Soon his face grew black; his eyes turned in
his head; he uttered a cry, staggered, and fell into the arms of one of
his lords. A physician, who had charge of the royal retorts and
crucibles, happened to be present. He had no lancet; but he opened a
vein with a penknife. The blood flowed freely; but the King was still

"He was laid on his bed, where, during a short time, the Duchess of
Portsmouth hung over him with the familiarity of a wife. But the alarm
had been given. The Queen and the Duchess of York were hastening to the
room. The favourite concubine was forced to retire to her own
apartments. Those apartments had been thrice pulled down and thrice
rebuilt by her lover to gratify her caprice. The very furniture of the
chimney was massive silver. Several fine paintings, which properly
belonged to the Queen, had been transferred to the dwelling of the
mistress. The sideboards were piled with richly wrought plate. In the
niches stood cabinets, masterpieces of Japanese art. On the hangings,
fresh from the looms of Paris, were depicted, in tints which no English
tapestry could rival, birds of gorgeous plumage, landscapes, hunting
matches, the lordly terrace of Saint-Germain's, the statues and
fountains of Versailles.[13] In the midst of this splendour, purchased
by guilt and shame, the unhappy woman gave herself up to an agony of
grief, which, to do her justice, was not wholly selfish."

    [13] Evelyn's Diary, Jan. 24, 1681-2. Oct. 4, 1683.

On the morning on which the King was taken ill, the Duchess of York had,
at the request of the Queen, suggested the propriety of procuring
spiritual assistance. "For such assistance," continues Macaulay,
"Charles was at last indebted to an agency very different from that of
his pious wife and sister-in-law." A life of frivolity and vice had not
extinguished in the Duchess of Portsmouth all sentiments of religion, or
all that kindness which is the glory of her sex. The French Ambassador,
Barillon, who had come to the palace to inquire after the King, paid her
a visit. He found her in an agony of sorrow. She took him into a secret
room, and poured out her whole heart to him. "I have," she said, "a
thing of great moment to tell you. If it were known, my head would be in
danger. The King is really and truly a Catholic; but he will die
without being reconciled to the Church. His bedchamber is full of
Protestant clergymen. I cannot enter it without giving scandal. The Duke
is thinking only of himself. Speak to him. Remind him that there is a
soul at stake. He is master now. He can clear the room. Go this instant,
or it will be too late."

Barillon hastened to the bedchamber, took the Duke aside, and delivered
the message of the mistress. The conscience of James smote him. He
started as if roused from sleep, and declared that nothing should
prevent him discharging the sacred duty which had been so long delayed.
Several schemes were discussed and rejected. At last the Duke commanded
the crowd to stand aloof, went to the bed, stooped down, and whispered
something which none of the spectators could hear, but which they
supposed to be some question about affairs of state. Charles answered in
an audible voice, "Yes, yes, with all my heart." None of the bystanders,
except the French Ambassador, guessed that the King was declaring his
wish to be admitted into the bosom of the Church of Rome.

The difficulty was to find a priest at a moment's notice; for, as the
law then stood, the person who admitted a proselyte into the Roman
Catholic Church was guilty of a capital crime. John Huddleston, a
Benedictine monk, however, who had, with great risk to himself, saved
the King's life after the battle of Worcester, readily consented to put
his life a second time in peril for his prince. Father Huddleston was
admitted by the back door. A cloak had been thrown over his sacred
vestments; and his shaven crown was concealed by a flowing wig. "Sir,"
said the Duke, "this good man once saved your life. He now comes to save
your soul." Charles faintly answered, "He is welcome." Huddleston went
through his part better than had been expected, for he was so illiterate
that he did not know what he ought to say on an occasion of so much
importance, and had to be instructed on the spot by a Portuguese
ecclesiastic, one Castel Melhor. The whole ceremony occupied about
three-quarters of an hour; and, during that time, the courtiers who
filled the outer room had communicated their suspicions to each other by
whispers and significant glances. The door was at length thrown open,
and the crowd again filled the chamber of death.

It was now late in the evening. The King seemed much relieved by what
had passed. His natural children were brought to his bedside--the Dukes
of Grafton, Southampton, and Northumberland, sons of the Duchess of
Cleveland; the Duke of St. Albans, son of Eleanor Gwynne; and the Duke
of Richmond, son of the Duchess of Portsmouth. Charles blessed them all,
but spoke with peculiar tenderness to Richmond. One face, which should
have been there, was wanting. The eldest and best beloved child was an
exile and a wanderer. His name was not once mentioned by his father.

During the night Charles earnestly recommended the Duchess of Portsmouth
and her boy to the care of James; "And do not," he good-naturedly added,
"let poor Nelly starve." The Queen sent excuses for her absence by
Halifax. She said she was too much disordered to resume her post by the
couch, and implored pardon for any offence which she might unwittingly
have given. "She asks my pardon, poor woman!" cried Charles; "I ask hers
with all my heart."

At noon of the next day (Friday, February 6th) he passed away without a

As it commonly happens in the sequel of such sudden and mournful events,
the most absurd rumours did not fail to be circulated on the subject of
Charles's death. According to one, the Duchess of Portsmouth had
poisoned the King with a cup of chocolate; another asserted that the
Queen had poisoned him with a jar of preserved pears. Time has done
justice to these ridiculous suspicions; but that which will probably
never be discovered is the exact nature of the unfortunate monarch's
malady, whom a deplorable fatality caused to fall into the hands of
ignorant physicians who, not being able to agree amongst themselves,
tortured the patient haphazard for many hours together.

Hume, at the end of his dissertation upon the hypothesis of the
poisoning of Charles, relates the following anecdote:--"Mr. Henley, of
Hampshire, told me that the Duchess of Portsmouth having come to England
in 1699, he learned that she had caused it to be understood that Charles
II. had been poisoned, and that, being desirous of ascertaining the fact
from the Duchess's own mouth, she told him that she continually urged
the King to place himself at his ease as well as his people, and to live
in perfect understanding with his Parliament; that he had taken the
resolution of sending his brother out of the kingdom, and to convoke a
Parliament, which was to have been put in execution on the day after
that upon which he was seized with his first access; that, above
everything, the King recommended her to keep it secret, and that she had
only revealed it to her confessor; but she believed that her confessor
had revealed the secret to persons who made use of that evil means of
preventing the _coup d'état_."

If such, indeed, was the political attitude of the Duchess during the
last months of Charles's life, it may be conceived that the supreme
recommendations of the dying monarch may have exercised little influence
over the predetermined resolves of his ignoble successor, and it
explains the sudden step she took to regain her native country. On her
return to France she carried with her a large treasure in money and
jewels. She had come to England poor, had lived there in splendour, but
without much care for the future, and having proudly enjoyed a
full-blown prosperity, was now about to endure adversity with courageous
resolution. Having quarrelled with James II., the Duchess could not
think of taking up her abode at Versailles, where her position would not
have been tenable; she determined therefore to settle herself in Paris,
where her house and surroundings became the object of a rigorous

"It reached the King's ears," says Saint-Simon, "that great freedom of
speech prevailed in her circle, and that she herself spoke very freely
of him and Madame de Maintenon, upon which M. de Louvois was directed to
prepare immediately a _lettre de cachet_ to exile her far away. Courtin
was an intimate friend of Louvois, who had a small house at Meudon,
where the former was accustomed to enter his cabinet unceremoniously at
all hours. On his entrance one evening, he found Louvois alone writing,
and whilst the minister was absorbed in that occupation, Courtin
perceived the _lettre de cachet_ lying upon the bureau. When Louvois had
finished writing, Courtin, with some emotion, asked him what that
_lettre de cachet_ was? Louvois told him its purpose. Courtin remarked
that it was surely an ungracious act, for that, even if the report were
true, the King might be content to go no further than advising her to be
more circumspect. He begged and entreated him to tell the King so on his
part before acting upon the _lettre de cachet_; and that, if the King
would not believe his words, he should get him, before going further, to
look at the despatches of his negotiations with England, especially
those relating to the important results he had obtained through the
Duchess of Portsmouth at the time of the Dutch war, and during the whole
of his embassy; and that after such services rendered by her, it would
be dishonour to himself to forget them. Louvois, who remembered it all
very well, after Courtin had reminded him of several important facts,
suspended the execution of the _lettre de cachet_, and gave the King an
account of the interview, and of what Courtin had said; and upon such
testimony, which recalled several facts to the King's mind, he ordered
the _lettre de cachet_ to be thrown into the fire, and had the Duchess
of Portsmouth admonished to be more reserved in future. She defended
herself stoutly from what had been imputed to her, and, true or false,
she took heed in future of the nature of the conversation which was held
at her house.

Louis XIV., become a bigot and a persecutor, suffered none but silent
and submissive slaves to surround him. The Duchess showed herself docile
to Courtin's advice, and passed in profound obscurity the many long
years which, remained to her of existence. Saint-Simon and Dangeau say
nothing more about her, save to enregister the meagre favours which the
Court measured out with an avaricious hand, and that woman, to whom was
owing the signature of the Treaty of Niméguen, was reduced in 1689 to
solicit a pension of 20,000 livres, which was considerably diminished
when the disasters soon afterwards happened which impoverished the
French nation.

Such was the parsimony exercised by the great Monarch towards a woman
who had laboured strenuously for French interests so long as her sway
over Charles of England lasted, and which sway only ceased with his
life. "Therein she employed unceasingly all her talent for politics, all
her fascinations, all her wit," says the English chronicler already
cited, and whose object has been, according to his translator, anonymous
like himself, to demonstrate that if Charles II. acted in a way so
little conformable to the interests not only of several foreign states,
but still more of his own kingdom, it was the Duchess of Portsmouth who
urged him to it, through the passion with which she had inspired him, by
her cunning, and the power she possessed over his mind. The same
translator afterwards remarks, that "this lady obtained more easily from
the King in a moment and with a _coup de langue_ things the most
unreasonable and the most contrary to true policy, than all the most
judicious, the most voluble, the most insinuating persons could obtain
from him in matters infinitely reasonable and just." Without attributing
to the Duchess of Portsmouth a power of action so prejudicial to the
interests of the British nation as her anonymous biographer has done,
who wrote under the excitement of discontent caused, says Lyttleton, by
"the strengthening of the alliance with France, the secret enemy of
England and the Protestant religion, as well as by a costly war with
Holland, her natural ally," Hume states that "during the rest of his
life Charles II. was extremely attached to Querouaille, and that this
favourite contributed greatly to the close alliance between her own
country and England." Voltaire, without particularising the effects of
the ascendancy of the Duchess of Portsmouth over Charles II., says that
that monarch "was governed by her to the very last moment of his life."
He adds that "her beauty equalled that of Madame de Montespan, and that
she was in England what the other beauty had been in France, but with
more influence." This assertion, accurate as it is so far as concerns
political influence--for Madame de Montespan never exercised any over
the government of Louis XIV.--is not equally so with regard to the
question of beauty. On that head, indeed, the Duchess had her
detractors. "I have seen that famous beauty, Mademoiselle Querouaille,"
wrote Evelyn in his _Diary_, about a month after her arrival in England;
"but, in my opinion, she is of a childish, simple, and baby face."





AT the outset of that historic period known as the _War of the Spanish
Succession_ a remarkable feature presents itself in the fact that two
women were chosen to be, as it were, its advanced sentinels--the one of
the Austrian party in England, the other of the French party in Spain.
These were Lady Churchill (wife of the famous soldier, Marlborough),
first lady of the bedchamber to our Queen Anne, and the Princess des
Ursins, fulfilling, under the title of _Camerara-Mayor_, the same
functions for the new Queen of Spain, Marie-Louise of Savoy, first wife
of Philip V.

The perpetual struggle previously waged between France and Spain for two
centuries constitutes a theme of no ordinary interest. True, that in
modern times armed interventions and dynastic and family tendencies have
attested the political predominance of the former power, but it was not
so in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, when the bigoted Philip
II. looked upon himself as the head of all Catholicism and the
vicegerent of God on earth. The general character of the struggle, the
events, the men, the results, are all worthy of consideration, and
replete with illustrations of historical and political adventure. Every
effort made by the two great adversaries shook Europe to its centre, and
the ultimate result of each has always been in favour of the great cause
of religious and political freedom. Two centuries of warfare between two
absolute governments and two states so profoundly Catholic gave birth to
the first European republic--Holland; and served to confirm the power of
the great Protestant state--England; and to establish religious liberty
in Germany.

A brief glance at the more immediate circumstances which brought about
this _War of Succession_ may here be necessary. The Treaty of the
Pyrenees had terminated the long struggle above alluded to; peace being
cemented by the marriage of the Infanta Maria Theresa, daughter of
Philip IV. of Spain, to the young Louis XIV. of France, on the 3rd of
June, 1660. The royal husband renounced for himself and his heirs all
right of succession to the Spanish throne, but was promised in return a
moderate dowry, which, however, was only partially paid. Forty years
after this marriage, Charles II. of Spain, widowed, childless, and
broken in health, selected as his successor Prince Leopold of Bavaria,
but he died when five years old. In this difficulty Charles consulted
Pope Innocent XII., who decreed that the children of the Dauphin of
France were the true, only, and legitimate heirs. But this negotiation
was conducted with such profound secresy that it was only after the
accession of Philip V., grandson of Louis XIV., that the Pope's
interference became public.

The Holy Father's reply, however, was so positive, that all the scruples
of Charles II. were removed. His previous will was immediately burnt in
the presence of his confessor; and a new one drawn up wherein Philip
d'Anjou was declared absolute heir to the crown and kingdom of Spain;
which, in the event of his demise, were to devolve to the Duke de Berri,
third son of the Dauphin; and, he failing, to the Archduke Charles; with
the reservation, as regarded the two first, that they should not unite
in their own persons the sovereignties of France and Spain; and in that
of the third that he should renounce all claim to the empire of Germany
if he ever became heir to the Spanish throne; while it was, moreover,
finally decreed that, if by any extraordinary concatenation of events,
neither of those three princes should be enabled to claim the bequest of
Charles II., it should devolve upon the Duke of Savoy without any
restriction whatever.

The precaution was well-timed; for shortly afterwards, Charles, losing
the use of his faculties, descended into the vaults of the Escurial,
where he had commanded the tombs of his father, mother, and first wife
to be opened in order that he might consult their tenants upon the
sacred obligations of the will he had just signed. Wildly interrogating
the mouldering relics, upon which he imprinted impassioned kisses, the
unfortunate monarch fell senseless upon an adjacent tomb, destined
shortly to receive his own remains, and was carried from those gloomy
sepulchres back to his couch only to be borne back again in a few short
days a corpse.

The royal will--the subject of so much gloomy meditation, of discussions
the most anxious in the councils of the Escurial, and of intrigues the
most active on the part of the foreigner, had been accepted by Louis
XIV. in the name of his grandson, the Duke d'Anjou. The cabinet of
Versailles, hoping to ally the Duke of Savoy to its policy, had brought
about a marriage between Philip V. and the daughter of Victor Amadeus
II., Marie Louise, sister of the young Duchess of Burgundy. The House of
Hapsburg, during a period of almost hopeless anarchy, had exhausted its
efforts in the attempt to establish a political duality in Spain. "If
the government of that monarchy be closely scrutinised," wrote Count de
Rébenac,[14] "it will be found that disorder everywhere prevails to an
excessive degree; but that, in the condition in which matters stand,
scarcely any change can be ventured upon without risk of incurring
dangers more to be dreaded than the existing evils, and a complete
revolution would be necessary before perfect order in the state could be
re-established." Rébenac added that it was not the elements of strength
that were wanting to Spain, but that they were scattered as in a chaos,
and that no master-mind existed capable of reducing them to order and
unity. The dynasty, in fact, which reigned at Madrid at that juncture
had passed from incapacity to impotence, and henceforward there only
remained to Spain her _law of succession_ to rescue her from her
abasement. The miserable Charles II. was then making and unmaking his
will continually--sometimes indicating a prince of Bavaria as his
successor, at others a prince of the house of Austria. At last he chose,
as has been said, a grandson of Louis XIV., in the hope of interesting
France in the preservation of the duality of the monarchy. Two years
afterwards one half of Europe was in arms to hurl the youthful Philip
from his throne.

    [14] Memoirs of Count de Rébenac's Embassy to Spain in 1689, MS. No.
    63, fol. 224, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.




AMONG the heroines of the Fronde there were certainly lofty minds and
strongly tempered souls to be found; but, when the French nation
remitted to those Erminias and Hermengildas the care of its destiny upon
some grave emergency or decisive occasion, those very women so
conspicuous for their generous impulses, delicate tastes, and unsparing
self-abnegation, only profited by their possession of power to
inaugurate a policy the record of which has remained branded with
opprobrium in history as a treason to their country. The bare
remembrance, indeed, of those sterile agitations proves the first rock
upon which the memory of the Princess des Ursins suffered shipwreck. In
the brilliant daughter of the Duke de Noirmoutier, heiress of a name
mixed up with all the struggles of that epoch, we behold a last survivor
of the Regency, and the dramatic vicissitudes of a life devoted to the
pursuit of political power, have blinded the mental vision of posterity
to the grandeur of a work of which that eminent woman was the principal
instrument. Proud and restless, as largely dominated as any other of her
sex by the vivacity of her preferences and her dislikes, but full of
sound sense in her views and in the firmness of her designs, the skilful
adviser of a King and Queen of Spain has not received at the hands of
posterity the merit due to an idea pursued with a wonderful perseverance
amidst obstacles which would have daunted men even of the strongest
resolution. Because her public career ended in a catastrophe, popular
opinion, which readily follows success, considers as merely abortive
that long career during which her hand sustained upon the brow of a
French prince the tottering crown against which the arms of Europe, the
distrust of Spain, and the discouragement of France vied in conspiring.

Yet in her girlhood, during the last days of the Fronde, Marie Anne de
la Trémouille must early have observed how greatly beauty can aid
ambition, and how, by tact, endowments the most frivolous may be brought
to the service of interests the most serious and complicated. Married in
1650 to the Prince de Chalais, of the house of Talleyrand, she conceived
for her young husband the sole passion to be noted throughout a life in
which, especially during its later period, love figured only in the
dullest of hues. This marriage took place during the wars of the second
Fronde, and at an epoch when a rage for duelling, the anarchical and
ruthless effect of Frenchmen's ideas touching the "point of honour," had
infused a new element into the spirit of party, and had become a
veritable mania. It chanced on the occasion of one of those duels in
1663--that of the two brothers Frette--wherein four fought on either
side, and in which the Duke de Beauvilliers was slain, that the Prince
de Chalais figured as one of the champions. The law against duelling,
enforced by Henri Quatre, and revived with so much rigour by Richelieu
against the father of the famous Marshal de Luxembourg, and from which
practice the blood of Bouteville had not completely delivered France,
was still in full vigour. The consequences being so terrible, that the
Prince de Chalais, to place himself beyond reach of them, was compelled
to seek safety in flight. He succeeded in escaping to Spain, whither his
wife followed him.

During this brief period of her union with the Prince de Chalais, whom
she adored, Marie Anne de la Trémouille had shone as conspicuously by
her wit as by her beauty in the famous circle of the Hôtel d'Albret,
where she first met Madame Scarron, whose destiny it was later on in
life--as Madame de Maintenon--to be so closely allied with the Princess.
Thus united by ties of the tenderest affection, scarcely had the young
couple quitted Madrid, after a three years' sojourn, to establish
themselves at Rome, when the death of M. de Chalais left her a childless
widow, without protection, and almost destitute--a prey to grief
apparently the most profound, and to anxieties concerning the future
readily conceivable.

Madame de Chalais was then in the plenitude of that attractive beauty so
closely observed and described in all its most delicate shades by the
graphic pen of the Duke de Saint-Simon when at a more advanced period of
her life, but on which beauty, by a miracle of art and nature, the
wasting hand of time had as yet scarcely brought a blemish.

The first years of her widowhood, passed in a convent, were marked by
the liveliest sorrow. By degrees, however, love of society resumed its
sway over her, and she reappeared therein with all her wonted
attractiveness, markedly patronised in the highest circles of Roman
society by Cardinal d'Estrées, the French ambassador--assuredly not
without design, since at the same time that high functionary so
distinguished her, he directed the attention of Louis XIV. to the wit
and capacity of the charming widow. It was, therefore, in great measure
with a political purpose, and by the diplomatic tact of the two brothers
d'Estrées, that the second marriage of the Princess de Chalais with
Flavio Orsini, Duke di Bracciano, himself a widower, was arranged
(1675). Thenceforward the Palazzo Orsini became the focus of French
influence, which was further increased by a marriage promoted between
her sister Louise Angélique de la Trémouille and her brother-in-law, the
Duke de Lanti.

She thus, therefore, became definitively an inhabitant of Rome and
_quasi_ Roman. What did she do there? How did she consort with an
Italian husband? With what ambition was she soon inspired in the more
elevated position in which her second marriage placed her at Rome? What
talents, what political aptitude were manifested by her, and developed
at a court which at that time bore the highest repute for skill in
politics and diplomacy? How did Italian finesse and cunning blend and
harmonize with the quick penetration and delicate tact of the
Frenchwoman? What advantage did the French government, which, after the
death of the Prince de Chalais, could no longer treat her as a
proscribed subject, seek to draw immediately from her position and
disposition? What were her relations with the first personages at the
court of France, with the Roman cardinals, with the French ambassadors
at Rome, with the representatives or the principal personages of other
nations, and what splendour did her palace display, whether through the
influence of natural taste or a calculating ambition? In a word, what
was the mode of life, and what was the career of the Duchess di
Bracciano, at Rome, before she proceeded to make application of the
science she must there have acquired upon another and a wider stage?
These are the curious and interesting points, upon which the recent
discovery in the public library at Stockholm, of copies of nearly one
hundred inedited letters addressed by the Princess des Ursins to Madame
la Maréchale de Noailles and Madame de Maintenon, in addition to five
long letters published by the Abbé Millot,[15] enable us to furnish very
nearly complete details, ranging from 1675 to 1701.

    [15] Among the _pièces justificatives_ appended to the Mémoires du
    Maréchal de Noailles.

Owning as its mistress a woman so abundantly charming, the Palazzo
Orsini became more than ever the rendezvous of the best society. The
Duchess di Bracciano held therein an actual Court, as numerous also as
it was distinguished. Each visitor delighted to frequent it, in order to
witness with his own eyes to what a degree of perfection and
gracefulness a French lady could attain. The men especially sought her
society; for although womanly, and more so than many around her, the
habitual subject of their conversations pleased her better than those of
persons of her own sex, and she therein exhibited a solidity of
understanding, a correctness of view, together with a perfect lucidity
of expression which captivated the Roman nobles, and made them feel it a
satisfaction to submit their ideas to her, and hear her discuss them.
The Duke di Bracciano was not mentally up to her mark, nevertheless in
the first season which followed their union, a season of complaisant
affection, when susceptibility was held in check by a more spontaneous
admiration, he felt himself flattered by the homage she received, and
which wore the semblance of an eulogium upon his choice and good taste.
But, eventually, too mediocre, or too much kept in the background, not
having wit enough himself to appreciate that of his brilliant partner
without blushing at his own defect, or, it might be, sufficient
consideration not being given to the inevitable arousing of his
masculine _amour propre_, he sought to attribute to himself the
popularity which she obtained, and that which might have constituted his
pride became his torment. It would have been wanting in dignity to
himself, he felt, ever to have owned or even in the least degree
betrayed the secret motive of his wounded self-love; but the excessive
extravagance of his wife, and the enormous expenses in which she
involved him afforded ample pretext for his complaints: such was the
ground, therefore, upon which he fell back. The Princess unhappily
comprehended all this, and went to greater lengths than ever: hence
untoward misunderstandings ere long arose between them.

Nevertheless, through the effect of her irresistible attractions, the
Duchess di Bracciano became the centre of a cosmopolitan society which,
in the midst of the noisiest diversions, debated daily in the capital of
the papal dominions the weightiest problems of contemporary politics.
Whilst externally her palace on the Piazza Navone blazed broadly with
illuminated devices and coloured fires, and made all the echoes of Rome
resound in pealing harmonies with the name of Louis the Great, in the
interior of her magnificent saloons the vicissitudes of the long
struggle waged between that monarch and the Holy Father were watched
with inquietude, whether as concerning regal claims or the question of
religious freedom--a portentous strife which seemed to increase in
energy at each fresh act of violence on the part of Louis XIV. against
his Protestant subjects. To the arduous questions in which theology ran
so closely parallel with State interests, to the burning rivalries of
doctrines and persons which then set by the ears the most illustrious
among Christian prelates, were added the daily accidents of a policy to
which fell the burden of maintaining in all corners of the universe a
constant equilibrium between the Houses of France and Austria--a
permanent problem which soon helped to complicate the perspective opened
by the next succession to the Crown of Spain.

In such a school--borne along the brimming tide of pleasure by the soft
breeze of homage--did Madame di Bracciano's political intelligence
rapidly ripen: and if by a glittering gaiety, ease of manner, and a
species of decorous gallantry, her life appeared to continue the
traditions of Anne of Austria's time, the restrained firmness of her
opinions, her reverence for absolute authority, her settled resolve to
owe nothing to any one save to her own Great King, combined to link her
fast to the new school of power and respect founded by Louis XIV. in the
plenitude of his sway. Thus the passion for politics and power was not
slow to obtain the mastery over the mind of a woman constituted like
Marie Anne de la Trémouille, who had failed to find in her second
marriage any community of taste or intellect.

The disputes between Louis and Innocent XI. proved, perhaps, another
source of disunion between the ducal pair. The Orsini were in some sort
a sacerdotal family, at the same time that they stood at the head of the
Roman aristocracy: it had always furnished Pontiffs and Cardinals to the
Church. It was not, therefore, probable that the Duke di Bracciano, who
was its chief, should hold, in those famous quarrels, an opinion
contrary to that of the Holy Father, more especially if, as it was
rumoured, having no child, he had by an adoption long kept secret,
sought for a son in the family of Innocent XI. himself. The same
induction cannot be drawn from acts which were comprised in the life of
the Duchess di Bracciano. Whether at Rome or at Madrid, the ideas held
by the Court of Versailles upon dogmatic questions, or upon the
relations of the Church with the State, were hers also; and in Italy, in
the halls of the Vatican, she openly evinced her detestation of the
Jesuits, in whom the Ultramontane doctrines were personified. Therein,
in all probability, lay a new stumbling block against which the conjugal
harmony jarred, already shaken as it was by all the dissemblances of
habit, appreciation, and of taste, which difference of nationality
engendered. "_Ce ménage ne fut pas concordant_," says Saint-Simon;
"_quoique sans brouillerie ouverte, et les époux furent quelquefois bien
aises de se séparer._"

To escape from these different causes of domestic ennui, the Duchess di
Bracciano varied her sojourn in Italy by long and frequent visits to
France, going thither to present, by clever and well-timed calculation,
the spectacle of a Roman princess whom no one even within the grandiose
precincts of Versailles surpassed either in true French _esprit_ or
steady devotion to the Sovereign. The Duchess formed a close intimacy
with the Maréchale de Noailles, to whom she was related; she made the
acquaintance of the minister Torcy, who was capable of appreciating all
the varied resources of her woman's nature and her woman's wit; and she
was presented to Madame de Maintenon, who had become the goddess of the
Court. Her second visit took place shortly after the period of the
Treaty of Ryswick--that is to say, near upon that fatal conjuncture at
which Louis XIV. saw England escape him for ever, supported as she was
by the Dutch alliance, and had hope only from the Court of Spain to
counterbalance the formidable union of his enemies. This was the reason
that each of those personages, at Versailles or Paris, had for
retaining the Duchess di Bracciano in the interests of France in the
future succession of Spain, and recommended them to her at the Papal
Court, to the Spanish Ambassador at Rome, the Duke d'Uzeda, or indeed to
any other Spaniard of distinction whom she might meet with in that

The letters addressed to the Duchess Lanti, her sister, which are, as it
were, a last echo of the conversations of the Hôtel d'Albret,[16] were
for the most part written from Paris between the years 1685 and 1698,
the latter being the date of the demise of the Duke di Bracciano. The
advanced age and failing health of her second husband had, in that year,
summoned her back to Rome, and a kind of reconciliation, brought about
chiefly through the good offices of Cardinal Porto-Carrero--soon
afterwards destined to play a great part in the political affairs of his
native country--had preceded that demise, which placed the Duchess in
possession of estates and property reputed to be considerable, but upon
which heavy incumbrances, increased by lawsuits, brought down upon her
endless anxiety and almost ruin.

    [16] Collection of M. Geffroy, pp. 1-25.

The obligation of discharging an immense amount of debt compelled Madame
di Bracciano to part with the property of the duchy bearing that name.
She was, therefore, forced to relinquish that title and adopt that of
Princess des Ursins (Orsini), under which she has taken her place in
history. The beneficence of the French King was assured beforehand to a
noble widow married under his auspices, ruined, so to speak, in his
service, and whose palace had become the residence of his ambassador
from the moment that the Prince de Monaco had superseded the disgraced
Cardinal de Bouillon in that high post. The Princess obtained,
therefore, one of those Court pensions, the ordinary patrimony of all
great families, and of which the good offices of the Maréchale de
Noailles, the staunch patroness of her kinswoman, had ere long succeeded
in doubling the amount, when the death of Cardinal Maidalchini had left
the considerable subsidy disposable by which that member of the Sacred
College was secretly secured to the policy of Louis XIV. She had,
indeed, herself solicited an increase of her pension in a charmingly
witty letter, in which she undertook to prove how useful it would be for
the King's service that she should be richer. "My house," says she, "is
the only French abode open to the public. It is in my assemblages there
that one can speak to people whom it would be difficult to meet with
elsewhere." And thus she rose sufficiently high in the esteem of the
cabinet of Versailles to obtain even the recall of the French Ambassador
from Rome.



AT the moment when the Court of Versailles very earnestly sought the
support of the Princess des Ursins, the important business of the
Spanish succession engrossed the attention of all the politicians of
Europe. The question, however, still presented that undecided aspect
which left the field open to every species of ambition and manoeuvre.
The influence of the Court of Rome and that of the Spaniards there
located was necessary to the success of the House of Bourbon. Among
these latter was to be numbered the Cardinal Porto-Carrero, Archbishop
of Toledo, who dreamed of being, in his own day, it is said, the Ximenes
of Spain. Madame des Ursins, as already stated, had formed a close
friendship with that prelate, who, as a member of the Council of
Castille, exercised a powerful influence alike over the mind of Pope
Innocent XI. and of King Charles II. of Spain. She led him to perceive
in the choice of the Duke d'Anjou a sure means of reaching the goal of
his ambition. She dazzled his mental vision with "the advantages which
he might derive from the just gratitude of Louis XIV." Porto-Carrero
allowed himself to be seduced. At the same moment, Charles II.,
disquieted, tormented, and worn out with an endless train of doubts,
consulted Pope Innocent XI. The latter, whom the management of Madame
des Ursins and the credit of Porto-Carrero had brought to look with
favour upon the pretensions of France, sent a friendly communication to
the Duke d'Anjou. These counsels determined the irresolution of the
Spanish King, and the Bourbons reaped the benefit of the succession of
Charles V.

Thus matters stood between France and the Princess when it became
necessary to choose a _Camerara-Mayor_ for the young Queen. Madame des
Ursins had given Louis XIV. ample proof of her devotion; she had in some
sort enchained him: she could, therefore, with so much the more security
invoke the gratitude of his court, which feeling, under existing
circumstances, it was advisable for the cabinet of Versailles to make
manifest. Thoroughly secure in that quarter, she wrote direct to the
Duke of Savoy,--Philip V. making his father-in-law comprehend that it
was the wish of France to see her installed in such post--and the Duke
of Savoy referred the matter to Louis XIV. From that moment her
elevation was certain. Such choice was the consummation of French

There is something very striking indeed in that indomitable resolution
one day to govern Spain, conceived and adopted so far from the theatre
of events--to exercise the functions of _Camerara-mayor_ to a queen of
thirteen years of age, when to obtain that exalted guardianship in Court
and State, every ambitious heart was throbbing from the Alps to the
Pyrenees. Yet Madame des Ursins importuned no one, for no one had
thought of her, Louis XIV. no more than his ministers, the Duke of Savoy
no more than the King of Spain; but that remarkable woman had mentally
aimed at that as the supreme object and end of her aspirations. For its
realisation she combined her measures, therefore, with an activity so
ardent, with an accuracy of perception so marvellous through the mesh
of intrigues which spread from Versailles to Turin and to Madrid, that
she succeeded in getting herself accepted simultaneously by the three
courts, through letting them think that the choice of her individuality
had been for each of them the effect of a spontaneous inspiration.

The principal instrument in this affair ought to have been, and was in
fact, the Maréchale de Noailles. No woman had a better footing at court
or exercised a more incessant activity among the ministers. The young
Count d'Ayen, her son, a personal friend of the Duke d'Anjou, and who
derived a precocious importance from the gravity of his life, was,
moreover, disposed to second at Madrid the secret negotiation first
broached in the cabinet of Madame de Maintenon, the barriers of which
_sanctum_ scarcely gave way even before the Maréchale. The progress of
the negotiation may be followed from day to day in the letters addressed
to Madame de Noailles, conducted by that lady as her indefatigable
correspondent pointed out. The first idea of Madame des Ursins may be
therein detected, developed as it is with equal art and caution, and
strengthened by addressing itself to the mother of a numerous family in
arguments which could not fail of their effect. "I conjecture from all
this," wrote the Princess, "that the Duchess of Burgundy will have the
satisfaction of seeing her sister queen of that great monarchy, and as
there must be some lady of rank to direct that young princess, I entreat
of you, madame, that you will offer my services, before the King can
cast his eyes upon some one else. I venture to say that I am better
fitted than any other person whomsoever for such office from the
numerous friends I have in that country, and the advantage I have in
being a grandee of Spain, which would lighten the difficulties another
might encounter in the matter of ceremonial customs. I speak, moreover,
Spanish, and further, I am certain that such choice would be agreeable
to the whole nation, by whom I can boast of having always been loved and
esteemed. My design, madame, would be to go to Madrid, to remain there
so long as it should please the King, and afterwards to return to Court
and render an account to his Majesty of my sojourn. If it were only a
question of accompanying the Queen as far as the frontier, I would not
think further of the matter, for that which makes me chiefly desire it,
after the King's service, which with me goes before everything, is the
wish that I have to prosecute personally at the Court of Madrid certain
business of importance connected with the kingdom of Naples. I should be
very glad also to see my friends there, and amongst others the Cardinal
Porto-Carrero, with whose aid I would find means of marrying a round
dozen of your daughters in that country. You must know, madame, that I
reckon upon him almost as firmly in Spain as I do upon you in France.
Judge after this whether I could not bring rain or sunshine upon that
Court, and whether it is with too much vanity that I offer you my
services therein. I did not believe that I could persuade you to enter
into this matter, madame, save in making you take a weighty interest in
it, for I apprehend that you may be very weary of employing longer the
Cardinal de Noailles in my behalf, to whom I have communicated my views,
but you can rouse him up again, if necessary. Thus you will be the only
person upon whom I shall rely for the entire conduct of this affair."
Rome, 27th December, 1700.[17]

    [17] Collection of M. Geffroy, p. 88.

Each difficulty is seen to vanish, one after another, under the combined
efforts of secret influence and patient and persistent suppleness. Then
when the moment had arrived at which it was necessary for the Duke of
Savoy to decide upon a matter that affected so closely the personal
expedience of his daughter, and to set M. de Torcy in motion, promptly
rallied to the support of the candidate favoured by Madame de Maintenon,
we find the Princess des Ursins tracing for the use of that minister a
programme which a diplomatist already grown grey under the toils and
anxieties of office would not have disowned.

"ROME, January, 1701.

"I dare not, Madame, allow two couriers to depart one after another,
without writing to you about my business, but as I have nothing new to
tell you, I shall only do myself the honour to communicate to you some
reflections I have made. It is certain that the success of all this
depends upon His Highness the Duke of Savoy; you have written to me
clearly enough upon the subject to enable me to see that, and besides
the thing speaks for itself. I am seeking, therefore, the means of
gaining the confidence of that Prince, who, _au fond_, ought not to feel
the slightest repugnance in preferring me to anybody else. However, as I
can promise myself nothing certain from his letter, which I have the
honour to forward to you, I wish to propose one thing to you which would
in no way commit the King, and which not the less would assuredly
determine His Royal Highness. That is, Madame, that M. de Torcy, acting
for himself, and without mixing up the King's name in any way, should in
course of conversation, ask the ambassador, who is at Paris, the name of
the lady whom his master destines for this post, and that he would be
good enough to mention me as thoroughly adapted for it, in his
estimation. Ambassadors keep journals of everything that goes on, and
inform their sovereigns of the most trifling matters they hear discussed
in ministerial circles. What I have suggested might be taken as an
insinuation which would certainly determine the Duke of Savoy to do what
we desire, whilst leaving him nevertheless at full liberty to act
agreeably to his fancy. I submit this idea to your prudent judgment, and
should it appear to you right, you can turn it to what account you like,
for you are more clever than I am."[18]

    [18] Collection of M. Geffroy, p. 90.

The trenches thus cleverly opened, the fair besiegers were not likely to
fail of ultimate success. The Princess's letters to the Maréchale, so
nicely calculating in the force of every phrase throughout the course of
the siege, are, after her victory, the natural and almost naïve
expression of delight at a success which both sides promised themselves
to render fruitful. It is an instance of poor, naked human nature caught
in the fact. But, as in other instances, she cannot play the woman with
impunity. Madame des Ursins dwells with complacency upon her description
of the fabulous _cortége_ which he has in preparation. Lackeys
innumerable, a legion of pages and gentlemen, _fiocches_ and carriages,
emblazoned with gold, a suite with which in the present day a sovereign
would not encumber himself, and which ate up the remainder of her
fortune, all these marvels by means of which it was proposed to win over
the admiration of the Spaniards to the new dynasty, were not
unserviceable also in gaining over the young Duchess of Burgundy, and
the details of them were welcomed by an approving smile in the sanctuary
of Madame de Maintenon. The Princess des Ursins being, moreover, too
knowing to exact anything in the shape of money from the King in
addition to the high favour and all-powerful protection she had just
received at his hands; she showed herself, to use her own words, _aussi
fière que gueuse_.[19] But there is a time for all things; when we have
gained possession of the tree itself, we need not be in such a hurry to
strip it of its fruits.

    [19] Letter to the Maréchale de Noailles of 21st June, 1701.



IT was, therefore, with a paraphernalia almost regal that Madame des
Ursins set forth to conduct the Princess of Savoy to her husband. Our
heroine was then in her fifty-ninth year (1701), according to most
authorities, in her sixty-second, according to others; and either age
would have been for any one else the period for retreat. But by the rare
privilege of a singular energy, physical and moral, still beautiful, and
having as yet only prepared herself for playing the grand part of her
life's drama, she was about to make that advanced age a point of
departure in her militant career, the outset of a new existence. She had
not committed the error of remaining attached to old customs or old
styles of dress, she had, as the present phrase runs, advanced with the
age. She had sympathised with it with a juvenile ardour, she had noted,
at a distance, its deviations. She was desirous, by opposing it on many
points, to take advantage of its decreptitude. She could not shut her
eyes to the dazzling aspect of Madame de Maintenon's laurels.

We have shown what the Princess was as a young woman, and also at the
mature age of forty; but it is during the twenty-four years of her green
old age (1698-1722) when having become a great political personage, we
have to behold her exercising a powerful influence over the destinies of
two great kingdoms, and aspiring to soar to a greater height than ever
her painstaking ambition enabled her to attain. It was then that
ambition began to take entire possession of her soul, and displaced in
her heart every other sentiment that her previous sixty-two years had
not extinguished. There can be no doubt of that fact when we discover in
her letters such a glow of youthful feeling, such scarcely repressible
delight, and finally that air of triumph with which she proposes to
welcome and profit by her first elevation.

Her ambition, moreover, could not have had a more brilliant and
legitimate aim than that of associating herself in the glorious task of
France become the instructress of Spain; and Madame des Ursins, who
joined to her own the aspirations of the other sex, entered upon her new
mission with a zeal, an ardour, and an activity more than virile.

Into what profound decadence Spain had then fallen is well known to any
reader of modern history, and the history of modern Europe contains no
more terrible lesson. The Austrian dynasty, insatiable and jealous, had
sought to impose at once upon Spain, Europe, and the world, her
political and religious despotism. Charles V. had confiscated Spanish
liberties and conquered the Commons. Philip II., his son, constituting
himself the representative of Catholicism, had persecuted on all sides,
whether by open violence or intrigue, by the aid of corruption or
torture, the new principle of Protestantism. He had failed in every
quarter. The sanguinary executions of the Duke of Alva had been answered
by the creation of a new free State--Protestant and Republican Holland.
With the _Invincible Armada_ was engulfed the last menace of the Spanish
navy, which had been answered by the triumph of Protestant England under
the glorious reign of Elizabeth. The Spanish nation itself had
conspired, it must be confessed, to that decadence. It had shown no
reaction either against the enervating despotism of royalty, or even the
nature of the climate and soil, unequal and excessive in every way. The
epoch of heroic deeds once elapsed upon the glowing arena of the Middle
Ages, the Spanish people had despised labour, commerce, and industry.
The soil, neglected, had returned to its primitive sterility, and almost
entire provinces had become solitary deserts. Indolence and poverty are
evil counsellors. The Spanish people, the nation of the Cid, had
transformed her noble and fervent religion of the Middle Ages into a
degrading, and too often cruel superstition. It was unhappily the
popular sentiment of which Philip III. was the exponent when he expelled
the Moors in 1603, thus depriving Spain--poor and already
depopulated--of one hundred thousand rich and industrious families; and
it was national opinion also which had accepted and maintained the
domination of the monks and the hateful empire of the Inquisition.

France, on the contrary, had proceeded rapidly along the path of an
admirable progress. After having put an end to the sanguinary period of
the religious wars, after having repressed the formidable ambition of
the House of Austria, she had proclaimed the principles of tolerance and
justice, destined to become common to all modern communities, and she
had afforded the example of a centralisation which it was thought would
prove an element of prosperity and power. Would the establishment of
such a centralisation consort with the native energy of Spain, which
the peculiar genius of her great provinces still retained? Was it
necessary, in order to rouse that generous country from its languor,
merely to appeal to its recollections of the past, to the sentiment of
its dignity, to what remained of its antique virtues, or was it indeed
necessary to inoculate it with an infusion of some better blood?
Finally, had it not become a question whether Spain should be governed
for itself, or rather as an annexation of France, by considering it as a
simple instrument of the policy of Louis XIV.

Such were the grave questions which the accession of Philip V. had
raised. Louis XIV. had solved them in the sense most favourable to his
ambition, and if he recommended his grandson not to surround himself
with Frenchmen and to respect the national feeling, it was only to bend
the more gently the genius of Spain to his own designs. The
correspondence of Madame de Maintenon--eloquent echoes from Marly and
Versailles--openly reveals that policy. No wonder that it should do so.
The interests involved in the preservation of the balance of power in
Europe were not those which affected the great King: those of the
cabinet of Versailles, he considered ought to be the sole rule, not only
for France, but for Europe entire. So thought everybody also who
surrounded the pompous Louis. Those even who pretended to hold
themselves aloof from his moral domination--the Duke de Beauvilliers,
the Duke de Chevreuse, and the Archbishop of Cambrai--divided their
hopes between the Duke of Burgundy and the new King of Spain, the
brother of their well-beloved disciple; and, surrounding Philip V. with
creatures of their own, would not admit that they could govern otherwise
than by Frenchmen and French ideas. Even for that party which arrogated
to itself the title of "honest folks," animated by noble sentiments and
generous illusions, it was difficult sufficiently to enlarge the narrow
patriotism of the time, and to admit within it a sympathetic alliance
with the ideas of any foreign nationality.

Madame des Ursins was less exclusively and more truly devoted to Spain,
without failing in her devotion to France. She was a Frenchwoman at
Madrid in sustaining the alliance between the two countries in view of
their common interests, and in attacking by reforms the deep-seated
abuses which had prepared the complete ruin of Spain; she was so
especially likewise in waging a determined fight against an institution
the most repugnant to the character and intelligence of France--the
Inquisition. But she became Spanish also when needful, whether she had
to humour warily the national susceptibilities, or to confide the
principal posts to Spaniards rather than to Frenchmen, or, finally,
whether in 1709, when the guardianship of Philip V. had become a very
heavy burden to the declining Louis, she manifested her indignation at
the very idea, too readily accepted at Versailles, of abandoning Spain,
and was stubbornly resolved, on her own part, to struggle by the side of
Louis XIV.'s grandson to the last extremity.

The whole period which extends up to the moment of her first disgrace
was solely employed by her in establishing her power by masking it. She
still remained without a very precise mission; the indirect
encouragement of Torcy and Madame de Maintenon, it is true, soon came to
sustain her, and her entire study centered in meriting at their hands,
and especially at those of Louis XIV., a more effective confidence.

She had first to make herself acceptable to the Queen of Spain.
Marie-Louise of Savoy, whom her _Camerara-mayor_ met for the first time
on board her galley in the harbour of Villefranche, at the moment when
the tearful eyes of the young princess were casting a last glance at the
lovely Italian land, was that admirable queen whose life in default of
mental courage became worn out by the corroding of adversity, and whose
popular name has remained as a symbol in Spain of every royal and
domestic virtue. Not quite fourteen at the period of that meeting, the
princess was already as tall as the Duchess of Burgundy, whose perfect
shape she also possessed, with a more regular cast of features and an
incomparable charm in her graceful and affable manners. Smiling through
her tears, and in the midst of her grief ever displaying gentleness
blended with majesty, she played the queen on all occasions in a
marvellous way for one so youthful, that everybody who had the honour of
approaching her during the journey was struck with astonishment.
Marie-Louise was a gentle and affectionate girl, of an intelligence and
will in advance of her years, and which happily did not injure her
natural gracefulness. For this young creature, for this child, suddenly
become a wife and a queen, the presence of Madame des Ursins, still
handsome even at sixty-six, sprightly and as skilful as she was eager to
please, was the sole refuge beside the indolent love of a boy-king of
eighteen, who gave her no protection. These two women, whom nature had
created so dissimilar, were about to be united for ever in one common
destiny. The young Queen appeared to be immediately struck with the
value of the support which a mind so supple and vigorous offered her,
and when the departure of her Piedmontese waiting-maids had torn from
the poor girl-queen the last trace of family and country, she clung to
her grand _camerara_ as the ivy to the tree which supports it. On the
other hand, Madame des Ursins did not fail to hold herself out as
representing the respected authority of Louis XIV. and Madame de
Maintenon; on the other, she knew well how to initiate herself, by means
of the domestic duties, of which she designedly exaggerated the
importance, into the innermost prejudices of the royal wife. She made
herself useful to Marie-Louise, became indispensable amidst an
intercourse so privileged and private; at the same time she afforded
pleasure in so doing, and that proved during the whole period of her
sojourn in Spain the most solid foundation of her favour and power.

Through the Queen the _camerara-mayor_ was certain of governing the
King. Proportionately as the absolute monarchy, in spite of the severest
warnings, set up pretensions even more and more excessive and insensate,
it became also more manifest that its old traditions had rendered the
princes degenerate, and that the blood was equally menaced with
impoverishment in the family of Louis XIV. as in that of Charles V. The
new King of Spain was deficient in moral force and determination. He had
generous proclivities, without the least doubt. He was gloriously born,
as the phrase then ran. Like all his race, he showed bravery on the
field of battle; but energetic persistence in long-continued designs
firmly conceived, he was ever wanting in. Wearied to excess by the
weight of a crown, he ended by resigning its functions; compelled to
resume them, he succumbed beneath their weight, conceived scruples
touching the legitimacy of his royalty, and sunk into a crazy
melancholy, which degenerated later into downright insanity.[20]

    [20] The singing of Farinelli had at first the effect of charming
    away his dark moods, but he speedily gave way to such hallucinations
    that he quite neglected his personal appearance, pretended to go
    fishing in the middle of the night, and to mount the horses which
    figured on the tapestry of his chamber.

The Princess des Ursins in directing her steps towards Villefranche, the
little Piedmontese port, which had been fixed upon as the place of
Marie-Louise's embarkation, had merely wished to present herself to the
Queen, her mistress, at the moment when the latter would be ready to
enter her galley and set sail for Spain. By that means, she would avoid
the necessity of putting all the royal train in mourning. For, as she
had already suggested with remarkable foresight to the Maréchale de
Noailles--the Court of Turin was then in mourning, and there would have
been a necessity to conform to the French custom, followed by the Dukes
of Savoy: on the contrary, by stopping at Villefranche and meeting the
Queen at the moment of her embarkation, she would merely have to observe
the usage of Spain, which only enjoined mourning upon the master and
mistress of a house.

Authorised to do what seemed fit to her on that score, she had awaited
therefore the arrival of the young princess at Villefranche, and with so
much the more satisfaction, that at Turin she would have been exposed to
a thousand annoyances. There she would have encountered the Princess de
Carignan--the great lady who had taken care of her niece, Marie-Louise
of Savoy, and like many other Piedmontese ladies, she wished very much
to follow her into Spain, and perhaps remain there. There were many
little projects, it appears, formed at Turin with the view of governing
the young Queen.[21] For a long while it was thought that they would be
realised, because the report ran that the Princess de Carignan would in
fact accompany her niece to Madrid. But Louis XIV., foreseeing that
source of embarrassment, had given an order to dismiss all the
Piedmontese ladies at the frontier, so soon as the Queen should meet her
Spanish household. Those ladies were aware of this; but their discontent
was only the greater, and it was much to be feared lest if Madame des
Ursins should herself repair to Turin, to present herself to the young
Queen, she might be exposed to some insult on their part. Who could tell
whether, at that court, before the departure of Marie-Louise had removed
all hope, her "position might not be menaced"? In that, then, there
arose an additional motive, and the principal one, to stop at
Villefranche, in order not to see the Queen before the moment of
embarking with her, and of entering immediately and irrevocably upon the
exercise of her duties.

    [21] Memoirs of Louville, tom. i., and those of De Noailles, tom.
    ii., pp. 164, 165.

When Marie-Louise arrived there in the month of October, 1701, the
anchor of her galley was instantly weighed and sail set for Nice, where
a last farewell was taken of Piedmont and the soil of Italy; and next,
her foot touched the French shore to make slight halts at Toulon, at
Marseilles, and at Montpellier, and despatch thence, by way of thanks
for the splendid fêtes given by the local authorities, a salvo of homage
to the Great King at Versailles. Madame des Ursins was seated in the
royal litter, at the Queen's side, and everywhere had her share of the
honours rendered to that princess in the various cities of France and
Italy. At length the Spanish frontier was reached, and there the
Piedmontese ladies, to the great regret of Marie-Louise and their own,
were compelled to stop and retrace their steps to Turin. The Spanish
dames, appointed by Philip V., replaced them. The young Queen thereupon
lost much of her characteristic amenity, and Madame des Ursins gained
nothing on the score of benevolence of intention; but the jealousy of
the Spanish ladies was less formidable to her.

The marriage by procuration had been performed at Turin. The definitive
espousals, it was settled, should be accomplished at Figuieras, on
Spanish soil, in order that Marie-Louise might not enter into the
country, where she was destined to reign, save with the irrevocable
titles of wife and queen. Thither was to come, on an appointed day, King
Philip V. He did not keep his bride waiting for him, for, impatient to
behold her to whom, by procuration, he had already given his hand, and
whose charms had been highly extolled to him, he passed beyond the place
fixed upon for the official reception, and went forwards disguised,
without pomp or noise, to meet her. He was followed by a very small
number of cavaliers, and so soon as he perceived the queen's retinue
approaching the town of Hostalnovo, he quitted his attendants, and
"pricked forward like a courier" towards the royal litter. Desirous of
preserving his incognito, he presented himself as a king's messenger,
sent to get the earliest tidings of the Queen, and he addressed himself
in Spanish to the Princess des Ursins, to receive the information which
he asserted he was ordered to obtain. The Queen immediately guessed that
the messenger was no other than the King himself. She was, therefore,
anxious to answer him herself, and so their conversation commenced,
touching her health and that of King Philip V., the incidents of her
journey, and it was continued for about a quarter of an hour. For some
time the Queen pretended not to recognise him; but, at last, her emotion
getting the better of her, she broke through the assumed incognito in
which the King had shrouded himself, and was anxious to alight from her
litter. Philip, without further revealing himself, stayed her with his
hand. Whereupon, she grasped hold instantly of that royal hand, which by
an attention, divined by her heart, was rendered so dear to her; "she
took it in both of her own, kissed it, and held it for some moments,
after which the king rode off to rejoin his suite, and returned
satisfied to Figuieras."[22]

    [22] MS. Hist. de l'élévation de Philip V., p. 372.

There was celebrated the marriage of Philip V. with Marie-Louise of
Savoy. But oh, unforeseen mischance! Several days were destined to
elapse ere he could really possess her the sight of whom had only had
the effect of redoubling the ardour of his desires. His happiness was
retarded by an incident of a very extraordinary nature, one which caused
him personally much unpleasantness, and moreover, gave his young bride a
bad impression of the character of a nation she was about to rule over.
For the supper, which was prepared for her after the marriage ceremony,
the viands had been cooked partly in the Spanish, partly in the French
fashion, because at Turin the art of the celebrated _Chef_ Vatel had
been adopted. But the Spanish ladies whose duty it was, under the
direction of Madame des Ursins, to serve the dishes, did not expect such
a strange commencement of their functions. All their national
susceptibilities were aroused at the sight, and determined to wean
abruptly their new Queen from the customs of her own country, and to
impose upon her, from the moment of her very first repast, the diet of
Spain, they did not hesitate to upset all the French dishes, without a
single exception, in order to serve up nothing but Spanish cookery. The
King said nothing; and the Princess des Ursins, notwithstanding her
stupefaction and secret wrath, was unwilling to commence her career in
Spain by scenes of reproach and severity. The Queen also, whose natural
vivacity and tender age could not be expected to observe the same
restraint, had, nevertheless, sufficient control over herself at first
to keep silence. But when she found herself with the King and Madame des
Ursins in the apartment allotted to their privacy, her displeasure burst
forth, and with so much the greater force that it had been so long
restrained and that no foreign eye hindered its manifestation. She shed
tears plentifully, sobbed, regretted the absence of her Piedmontese
ladies, waxed indignant at the audacity and rudeness of the Spanish
dames, and even declared that she would proceed no further, but would
return to Piedmont. Night came on, the king left her to undress, and
waited to be summoned to his bride's apartment; but the young Queen,
"_entêtée, comme une enfant qu'elle était_," says Saint Simon, "for she
was scarcely fourteen," appeared disposed to attribute to the King
himself, the rude conduct of his subjects; and in spite of all reasoning
on the subject, and the remonstrances of Madame des Ursins, replied that
she would sleep alone and go back as quickly as possible to Turin. It
may easily be guessed how untoward and disagreeable such an affair
proved to Philip V.; he was greatly discomfited by it, and when the
second night came, as the Queen had not recovered her good humour, it
was he, who acting upon the advice of the Duke of Medina Sidonia and
Count San Estevan de Gormas, anticipated a fresh refusal, by causing her
to be told that he would not now share her couch. That spontaneous
determination was adroit, and produced its effect. Marie-Louise was
exceedingly piqued at it in the depth of her girlish _amour-propre_, and
ended by making an honourable _amende_ to the King, blaming and
condemning her own childishness. She promised to conduct herself for the
future like a woman and a queen, and on the arrival of the third night,
the nuptial bed at length reunited the hitherto dissevered husband and
wife. The next day they left Figuieras, touched at Barcelona, and thence
hastened on to Madrid, wherein they made their triumphal entry by the
Alcala Gate, towards the end of October, 1701, amidst a great concourse
of nobles and populace. There also the Princess des Ursins was installed
definitively in her functions of _camerara-mayor_. These she was
destined to fulfil during a period of thirteen years, from 1701 to 1714,
and by favour of that influential position, to exercise a virtual
sovereignty, the acts of which it will now be our task to duly



THE sudden departure of all her Italian waiting-women had, as we have
seen, on first setting her foot in Spain, for a moment thrown the young
Queen into a condition bordering on despair. By advice, however, the
respectful devotedness of which served to soften its austerity, and by
an absolute abnegation of herself, Madame des Ursins drew closely
towards her the broken-hearted princess by discreetly assuaging all her
first girlish sorrows. She became a friend, a sister, almost a mother to
the exiled-one, and her influence profited no less by the first
embarrassments of the conjugal union than by the unbridled passion which
ere long placed under the yoke of his wife a husband of eighteen, chaste
as St. Louis, with the amorous temperament of Henry IV. In order to
strengthen that ascendency and to remain exclusive mistress of a
confidence of which power was the price, the Princess des Ursins
flinched neither under fatigue calculated to exhaust the sturdiest
frame, nor before services the nature of which would have outraged her
pride, had it not been to her, as Saint-Simon says, _une même chose
d'être et de gouverner_. That gilded servitude is described with a
charmingly punctilious complaisance in her letters to the Maréchale de
Noailles and the Marquis de Torcy, and notwithstanding the commiseration
which she claims for it, it may be clearly seen that Madame des Ursins
enters into the details of her domestic service far less for the purpose
of carrying a complaint to Versailles, than to have it there set down to
her credit.

"Gracious Heaven! to what sort of occupation, madame, have you destined
me? I have not a moment's repose, and cannot find time even to speak to
my secretary. There is no longer any question about resting after
dinner, nor of eating when I am hungry. I am but too glad to be able to
make a bad dinner standing, and moreover it is very rare that I am not
summoned away before swallowing the first mouthful. In truth, Madame de
Maintenon would laugh heartily if she knew all the details of my office.
Tell her, I beseech you, that it is I who have the honour of receiving
the King of Spain's dressing-gown when he gets into bed, and of handing
it to him along with his slippers when he rises. So far as that goes I
don't lose my patience; but every night when the King enters the Queen's
chamber to go to bed, the Count de Benavente confides to my care the
King's sword, a certain utensil, and a lamp, the contents of which I
generally manage to spill over my dress,--rather too good a joke. The
King would never rise were I not to go and draw aside the bed-curtains,
and it would be a sacrilege if anybody but myself were to enter the
Queen's chamber whilst they were abed. Very lately, the lamp went out
because I had spilled half the oil. I could not find where the windows
were, and thought that I should have broken my neck against the wall,
and we were--the King of Spain and I--near a quarter of an hour
stumbling against each other in trying to find them. Her Majesty has got
so used to me that sometimes she is good enough to call me up two hours
earlier than I should otherwise care to rise.... The Queen delights in
this sort of pleasantry; still, however, she has not yet regained the
confidence she placed in her Piedmontese women. I am astonished at this,
for I serve her better than they did, and I am certain that they would
not wash her feet or pull off her shoes as readily as I do."[23]

    [23] Letter to the Maréchale de Noailles, Dec. 1701. Recueil de M.

How unlike a contemporary mistress of the robes in England, the haughty
Duchess of Marlborough!

Such a state of slavery weighed very lightly upon the Princess, for,
although it was conformable to the custom of a palace, in which a
solitary royalty seemed to exist without keeping up any relations with
the human race, nothing could have been more easy than for the _camerara
mayor_ to have provided substitutes for the performance of her
unbecoming duties. One of the recommendations of Louis XIV. to his
grandson had been, in fact, that whilst scrupulously respecting all
popular customs, to wage an implacable war in his court against the
monstrous etiquette which, under the last Austrian princes, had palsied
Spanish royalty. This was one of the labours to which the _camerara
mayor_ devoted herself; but she took good care not to reform anything
appertaining to her own functions, comprehending clearly enough the
policy of keeping to herself sole access to the royal personages, and
sacrificing without grudge her dignity to her power and influence. A
contrary policy, as will be seen, caused the downfall of Queen Anne's
potent favourite.

But we must pass over these domestic duties to speak of state affairs
and the gradual initiation therein by the Princess of this young couple.
During the campaign of Italy in which Philip V. was anxious to take
part, Madame des Ursins, suitably to the duties and prerogatives of her
charge, did not quit the Queen for a single moment. She was present with
her on every occasion at the sittings of the Junta, and, under pretext
of familiarising her with politics, she herself penetrated every state
secret. The Princess well knew how to make etiquette subserve her
purpose, to maintain it to the utmost, modify or slacken it according to
her interests. She understood what kind of concessions the genius of the
Spanish nation demanded, and also what reforms it permitted. She judged
at a glance of the disposition of the grandees, and yielded to no
illusion relative to the degree of support she might expect from them.
"With these sort of folks," she wrote to the Marquis de Torcy, "the
surest way is to show firmness. The closer I observe them, the less do I
find that they merit the esteem which I thought it would have been
impossible not to accord them." According to the Princess, the Spanish
nation in the persons of its grandees, had yielded obedience to a son of
France only, under the idea that France alone could defend and protect
it. France remaining powerful and victorious, Spain would be safe: but,
at each defeat that occurred in Flanders or Germany from the
irresistible sword of Marlborough, the eyes of the grandees were turned
towards the Archduke, and their fidelity was shaken. The skill and merit
of Madame des Ursins was to perceive how, in so short a time, to derive
so much advantage from the grace and affability of the Queen, whom she
made really popular among the faithful people of central Spain, and it
was wonderful to see the roots of that new royalty strike so quickly in
the hearts of the old Castilians, as to render it able later during the
stormy times to weather every rude attack. With an intuitive
foresightedness not a little remarkable, the Princess des Ursins had
from the first proposed to herself a twofold object. She sought to
become the intermedium of the close alliance formed between the
grandsire and the grandson, in order to regenerate Spain by causing
French measures to prevail in the government of that misruled country;
but to the extent only that their application should appear possible
without wounding the national sentiment. That policy was the wisest and
assuredly the most useful for the Peninsula in the extremity to which
the inept power it had just escaped from had brought it. Among the
princes who were neither vicious nor cruel, there are none who had done
more harm to mankind than the last descendants of Charles V. At the end
of the seventeenth century, the immense empire of Philip IV. and Charles
II., reduced to a feebleness which the Ottoman empire in our own days
has scarcely felt, was nothing more than the phantom of a nation. The
House of Austria had triumphed over feudality and municipal resistance
as completely as the House of Bourbon; but the successes of monarchical
power had been as sterile on one side of the Pyrenees as they had been
profitable to it on the other, for in Spain the impotence of the
vanquisher had still surpassed that of the vanquished.

So much blood shed by axe and sword, so many lives sacrificed under
torture, had scarcely tended further to strengthen royal authority or
cement the union of the Spanish kingdoms; and those princes whose
domains still spread widely across the globe, had no longer to oppose
to Europe, during the long agony in which their race was perishing,
either an army, a fleet, a general, or even a statesman.

The first of the sovereigns summoned to assist in restoring this unhappy
country to its ancient grandeur was assuredly the least fitting to
accomplish such a task. But seventeen years old, when Charles II. chose
him for his successor, the Duke d'Anjou was indebted both to nature and
education for a mind rather constituted to serve than reign. Brother of
the heir to the French throne, he had been reared in studied
subordination towards the latter, and the discipline of Beauvilliers and
Fénelon, which had curbed the violence of character in the Duke of
Burgundy, had produced less beneficial effects in the melancholy
temperament of his younger brother. With a natural rectitude of thought
and a pride which at times revealed the hereditary haughtiness of his
race, Philip V. had in the same degree as his nephew Louis XV., whom he
resembled in many ways, that morbid weariness of life, that contempt for
mankind and distaste for business. He was afflicted, moreover, with that
fatal impotence of will which makes a libertine king the slave of his
mistresses, and, a faithful husband the passive instrument of a charming
queen who may happen to be prompted by the most skilful of councillors.

But nothing had as yet indicated the melancholy condition of mind which
later drove the young King to the confines of despair and insanity. On
his first entrance into his kingdom, escorted by a crowd of brilliant
nobles, Philip was radiant with youth and hope. He strode forwards
sustained by the strong arm of a people who thought to escape, by the
intervention of the most powerful sovereign in Europe, from the evils
of war, and more especially from that severance of the Spanish monarchy
more dreaded by the nation than all its other woes together. In a
capital which he was forced to quit on two several occasions, in a court
soon afterwards prostrated before his rival, and even in those provinces
of Arragon and Catalonia, the burning centres of civil war, nothing at
first was heard save shouts of joy and protestations of fidelity.
Nevertheless it did not need great sagacity to foresee the perils
reserved for the new establishment. The French regime disquieted
interests too numerous and prejudices too powerful throughout the
Peninsula not to explode at the first difficulty which it might
encounter on its path.

Thunderstruck by the unforeseen will of Charles II., Europe, which at
the first moment had seemed indisposed to contest its dispositions, had
not long deferred their reconsideration. Persuaded that the
aggrandisement of his family was equivalent in the eyes of Louis XIV. to
an aggrandisement of territory, England, Holland, and Portugal, taking
in hand the successorial pretentions of the house of Austria, out of
which those cabinets had made such a good bargain in two treaties of
partition, sent fleets into every sea, whilst awaiting the moment to
carry into the heart of Spain, hostilities which the emperor had already
commenced in Italy. An implacable coalition, of which the Peace of
Ryswick had suspended the effects without modifying the causes of it,
was formed to snatch the two peninsulas from the domination of France.
The latter power resolutely accepted the struggle this time for a just
and honest cause; but the war was scarcely begun ere the certitude was
acquired that in doubling the dangers of France, Spain would add nothing
to its resources. With what contemptuous bitterness did Spain, in fact,
watch the long train of disasters which from the pinnacle of power
brought Louis XIV. to the brink of an abyss by one of those vicissitudes
the effect of which is never more rapid upon the popular mind than when
fortune deserts men who have been long powerful and flourishing!

Such was the theatre upon which Providence had placed a timid and ailing
prince, but which event threatened to endanger even the very existence
of the French monarchy itself. Louis XIV. seemed to have attained his
object in the guidance of his grandson, who followed the great monarch's
injunctions with filial docility. The Queen governed Philip V., and
Madame des Ursins governed the Queen. Saint Simon thus explains this
ascendancy:--"She guided the Queen," says he, "who had placed in her all
the affection and all the confidence of a young person who knew no other
adviser, who depended wholly upon her for her particular daily conduct,
and for her amusements, and who found in her graciousness, gentleness,
and complaisance, combined with every possible resource. For the rest,
such empire was not that which weakness and incapacity yields to genius
and strength." Marie-Louise had not been less carefully brought up than
her sister, the Duchess of Burgundy, nor less well instructed. She had
innate talent, and, in her early youth showed intelligence, good sense,
firmness, and was capable of being advised and restrained, and who
later, when her character became more developed and formed, manifested a
constancy and courage which the natural graces of that same intelligence
infinitely enhanced. A lively sympathy between the two women alone
determined the authority of the older over the younger, and if the
King's confidence in the _camerara-mayor_ was a homage rendered to the
real superiority of her intelligence, it might be said that a happy
conformity of tastes, views, and dispositions, attached his Queen to the
Princess des Ursins.

Two political systems confronted each other at Madrid. The one
ultra-French, the other purely Spanish, represented by the grandees and
inclining towards the Archduke of Austria, the competitor of Philip V.
The first-named had for champions, Cardinal Porto-Carrero, "virtually
the actual prime minister," the Archbishop of Seville, Arias, the
provisional president of the Council of Castille, the Marquis de
Louville, and all the King's French household; subsequently it was
directed by the Cardinal and the Abbé d'Estrées, Ambassadors of France.
The second party re-united the most illustrious names of the monarchy.
It had for its chiefs, successively, the Count de Melgar, Admiral of
Castile, the Marquis de Léganez, and the Duke de Medina-Coeli. The
first-named policy tended to destroy, by its exclusive ideas, the
popularity of Philip V., the second prepared to betray him. They were
both reduced to impotence, and became fatal to those who ventured to
defend them. Madame des Ursins combated the one and the other, and aimed
at inaugurating in Spain a mixed policy, heeding the cabinet of
Versailles without annihilating the cabinet of Madrid, satisfying the
just desires of Spain and the susceptibilities of the nation, without
disdaining the sometimes useful advice and the ever requisite resources
of France. Such was, therefore, the plan adopted by the young Queen.
But, in order to realise it, it was necessary to have the field open, it
was necessary that Madame des Ursins should be delivered from her
rivals, and should reign as absolutely in the councils of the Crown as
in the minds of the King and Queen.

The principal chief of the Austrian party, the Admiral of Castile, was
the first to become dangerous. "He loved the house of Austria, for which
he had fought, under the preceding reign, by sea and land, and from
which he had received the highest honours." On the contrary he detested
the house of Bourbon, against which he had strongly "pronounced" at the
time when the last will of Charles II. was in preparation.[24] But he
had confronting him the vigilance of Madame des Ursins. She fathomed his
intrigues and baffled his early manoeuvres; though she had not always to
struggle openly against him. He rendered himself justice; he
comprehended his own impotence, and had recourse to treason. He had
frequent conferences with a Dutch spy, plotted with him the downfall of
Philip V., and the elevation of the Archduke, and finally handed him a
correct topographic plan of Andalusia and Estremadura. The cabinets of
Vienna and London assured of such an aid, declared war against Philip V.
Nevertheless, although the Spanish government was duly apprised of these
proceedings, it still wanted that boldness which the continuous use of
power and long-indulged prosperity give. It only determined upon
dispatching the admiral abroad, and appointed him ambassador to the
French Court; a dubious favour which at once revealed its fears and its
weakness, but which at least postponed a peril it dared not yet face.
The admiral saw plainly that he was suspected in Spain, and that in
France he would be a cipher; nevertheless, he pretended to take his
departure thither; but halted when half-way, and went to join the
Portuguese troops banded with those of the allies. The cabinet of Madrid
had from that time forward acquired the right of punishing him. The
Count de Melgar was condemned _par contumace_; his friends were forced
to blame his conduct openly; and his melancholy death which happened
shortly afterwards, the result of an insult reserved sooner or later for
all traitors, deprived a formidable faction of its leader.

    [24] Combes, p. 109.

The ultra-French party did not find a less rude adversary in Madame des
Ursins. Of this, Louville, even before the arrival of the Princess, had
a presentiment. "I would much rather have Madame de Ventadour," he wrote
Torcy. So early as the month of January, 1703, he saw his influence
destroyed, foresaw his coming defeat and meditated a _coup d'éclat_--the
getting rid of the _camerara-mayor_. He declares to the Duke de
Beauvilliers,--"If prompt measures are not taken to extricate the
Catholic King from his slavery, he is lost. In the first place, Madame
des Ursins must be got rid of, there need be no hesitation about that."
In the month following, he insists that they should "keep firm, and get
rid of her;" and, in July, 1703, to bring Torcy to a decision, he
adds,--"She is now detested by the Spaniards." Madame des Ursins repaid
him hate for hate, and never spoke of him save with a lofty contempt
befitting an offended great lady. "He has cut a greater figure," she
wrote to Cardinal de Noailles, "by the insolent things he has written
about me, than by any merit of his own. I think that I can never forgive
him if he does not first retract everything which he has advanced
against me. In truth, it ought not to be permitted that so insignificant
a person should outrage a woman of my rank." Matters having reached this
pass, it was clear that one or the other must succumb. It was the lot of
the Marquis de Louville. Two couriers reaching Versailles from Spain,
determined his fall. On the 22nd of October, a despatch from the Duke de
Beauvilliers announced it to him. "It is done," wrote the duke, "we are
lost. The step is taken. You are to be instantly recalled."[25]

    [25] Collection of M. Geffroy, p. 457.

The Archbishop of Seville, Arias, who was of the same politics, was
shortly afterwards sent back to his diocese. The Duke de Montellano
replaced him in the presidency of Castile, and a Papal brief, obtained
some months after his disgrace, enjoined him not to quit Seville again.
There remained Porto-Carrero and the Cardinal d'Estrées, recently
nominated ambassador of France. They were the firmest supporters of
their cause and the most formidable adversaries of the Princess:
Porto-Carrero, by his high position, by the recollection of services
rendered at the period of the will; Cardinal d'Estrées, by his influence
at the Court of Versailles, by the protection of Noailles, by the
energetic support of the entire French party. The strife was fierce; but
the resources of Madame des Ursins were equal to the emergency. The Duke
de Montellano, president of the Council of Castille, counterbalanced the
authority, until then unlimited, of Porto-Carrero; the auditorship of
finance, which had always appertained to the prime minister, being taken
from him. Weakened by this check and rivalry, the Cardinal abruptly
changed his policy and placed himself at the head of the anti-French
party; he refused to act with Cardinal d'Estrées, and tendered his
resignation. Had he remained firm in that course, probably he might have
re-enacted his political part in the ranks of his new friends, and have
caused the government great embarrassment. On receiving a letter from
Louis XIV., he had the weakness to give way, withdrew his resignation,
and resumed his seat at the council board. But factions hate and despise
more intensely those who abandon their ranks than those who fight
against them: that manoeuvre irritated alike the French and the
Spaniards; both, in their turn, abjured. Porto-Carrero was the turn-coat
from every cause: as a politician he was annihilated.

In this affair, Cardinal d'Estrées had been, without knowing it, the
tool of Madame des Ursins. "He was," according to Saint Simon, "a hot,
hasty, impetuous, high-handed man, who could tolerate neither superior
nor equal." It will readily be imagined that the _camerara-mayor_ could
not brook the ascendency which he aimed at ursurping. She resolutely
resisted him in all things and on every occasion. She opposed, with
might and main, the success of his policy; she set her face against his
imperious manners and tedious formalities. Philip and his Queen grew
tired of the strife. They took part with Madame des Ursins and wrote to
Louis XIV. After that letter "the Cardinal d'Estrées was looked upon as
the great stirrer-up of strife. His arrival at the Court of Madrid had
interrupted the perfect harmony about to be re-established. Not a day
passed without some one suffering from his intractable and arrogant
temper." Madame des Ursins worked in the same groove with Torcy. The
Cardinal's cabal, by way of revenge, "raked into the private life of the
_camerara-mayor_," hoping to destroy by scandalous tales her reputation
in the eyes of Louis XIV. and Madame de Maintenon. Those tactics failed
of success; Louis XIV., it is true, recalled Madame des Ursins; but the
Queen of Spain defended her favourite with such earnest importunity,
that the severity of the Court of Versailles was disarmed. An endeavour
was made to reconcile the two adversaries; but that reconciliation, if
sincere, was not lasting. Supreme authority admits of no equal
partition: difficulties multiplied themselves. Philip V. at length
declared to Louis XIV., "that if, to keep his crown, he must resign
himself to have Cardinal Porto-Carrero always as his minister, he knew
what he should prefer to choose." In the month of September, 1704,
therefore, all the French household, with Cardinal Porto-Carrero,
quitted Madrid.



TO recall Madame des Ursins at the earliest possible moment and inflict
upon her a well-merited disgrace was the earnest desire of Louis XIV.;
but, omnipotent as that Prince was, he found his hand arrested by a very
serious difficulty, the _camerara-mayor_, in fact, screened herself
behind the Queen, and the King of France was well aware that in
recalling her he would deal a blow alike against the affection and
self-love of his grand-daughter which she would never forgive--an
extremity which was not less repugnant to his policy than to his good
feeling. Moreover the departure of Madame des Ursins would not render
the Cardinal d'Estrées' position less insupportable in a court, all the
approaches to which were barred to him, and in which his isolation was a
constant insult to France. There was nothing left, therefore, but to
grant the latter a recall which, smarting with a humiliation so
unforeseen to his overweening arrogance, he demanded in accents of rage
and despair. However, in order to salve his _amour-propre_, the Abbé
d'Estrées continued to discharge the functions of the embassy, as though
his uncle's absence were only temporary; but that state of things did
not suit either of the two factions which for more than twelve months
past divided the French household of the King of Spain, surpassing each
other in vituperation and calumny. Despite a sort of truce stipulated
between the embassy and the palace, the Abbé d'Estrées soon found
himself in the same position in which the Cardinal had been placed; for
Madame des Ursins did not like the arrangement of the Abbé being left
behind, but as Madame de Maintenon insisted upon it, she was obliged to
accept it with as good a grace as possible.[26] The Abbé, vain of his
family and his position, was not a man much to be feared as it seemed.
Madame des Ursins accordingly laughed at and despised him. He was
admitted to the council, but was quite without influence there, and when
he attempted to make any representations to Madame des Ursins or Orry,
they listened to him without attending in the least to what he said. The
Princess reigned supreme, and thought of nothing but getting rid of all
who attempted to divide her authority. At last she obtained such a
command over the poor Abbé d'Estrées, so teased and hampered him, that
he consented to the hitherto unheard-of arrangement, that the Ambassador
of France should not write to the King without first concerting his
letter with her, and afterwards show her its contents before he
despatched it. But such restraint as this became, in a short time, so
fettering, that the Abbé determined to break away from it. He wrote a
letter to the King without showing it to Madame des Ursins. She soon had
scent of what he had done; seized the letter as it passed through the
post, opened it, and, as she expected, found its contents were not of a
kind to give her much satisfaction. In fact, in her emotion of anger and
indignation she made a false step in her state-craft of a nature one can
hardly imagine a person so astute as the Princess making. This blunder
led to a great _imbroglio_.

    [26] Saint Simon.

The question has been raised--Did Madame des Ursins always use the
intimate and uncontrolled influence she had obtained over the young
Queen of fourteen in a purely devoted and disinterested way? It would be
difficult, certainly, to answer in the affirmative. Louville, her rival
and enemy, a man of talent and ardour, but passionate, represents her as
the wickedest woman on earth, to be got rid of at the earliest possible
moment and at any cost, "sordid and thievish to a marvellous degree." He
raises the same accusation against Orry, a clever man whom Louis XIV.
had sent to Spain to put some order into her finances. These accusations
seem to have been unjustifiable. The Marshal Duke of Berwick, who kept
himself aloof from all these odious bickerings, does more justice to
Orry, and everything leads the impartial student to think that Madame
des Ursins on that score comes out of the scrutiny with still cleaner
hands. "_Je suis gueuse, il est vrai_," she writes to Madame de Noailles
on first going to Spain, "_mais je suis encore plus fière_." Detailing
to Madame de Maintenon somewhat later the indignities they both had to
put up with from accusations of a like nature, she speaks of them in a
tone of lofty irony and sovereign contempt which appears to exclude
anything like falsehood.

But what seems more certain--if the truth must be told--is, although a
little singular at first sight, that at the age of sixty and upwards,
Madame des Ursins still had lovers. "She is hair-brained in her
conduct,"[27] wrote Louville to the Duke and Duchess de Beauvilliers.
One Sieur d'Aubigny, a kind of household steward whom she had promoted
to be her equerry, was lodged in the _Retiro_ palace near the apartments
of her women, where he was seen one day brushing his teeth very
unconcernedly at the window. _C'était un beau et grand drôle très-bien
fait et très-découplé de corps et d'esprit_,[28] and not a _bête brute_,
as Louville calls him. But he was bold and somewhat insolent, as one who
conceived that he had a right to be so. On another occasion, Louville
and the Duke de Medina-Coeli entering the apartments of Madame des
Ursins, into which she ushered them in order that they might talk more
unrestrainedly, D'Aubigny who was installed at the other end, seeing
only the Princess and believing her to be alone, began to apostrophise
her in terms of very rude and coarse familiarity, which threw all
present into confusion. The feminine failing of Madame des Ursins, was,
we are told, this; "gallantry and _l'entêtement de sa personne_ was in
her the dominant and overweening weakness above all else, even to the
latest period of her life." So Saint Simon says, and he renders her full
justice moreover for her spirited and elevated qualities.

    [27] "Elle a des moeurs _à l'escarpolette_."

    [28] Saint Simon.

But to return to the matter of the intercepted despatch. What piqued the
Princess most was, to find details in it exaggerating the authority of
D'Aubigny, and a statement to the effect that it was generally believed
that she had married him. On reading this passage the pride of the great
lady was more outraged even than her modesty. Beside herself with rage
and vexation, she wrote with her own hand upon the margin of the letter,
"_Pour mariée, non_" ("At any rate, not married"), showed it in this
state to the King and Queen of Spain, to a number of other people,
always with strange clamouring, and finally crowned her folly by
sending it to Louis XIV., with furious complaints against the Abbé for
writing it without her knowledge, and for inflicting upon her such an
atrocious injury as to mention such a thing as this pretended marriage.
Her letter and its enclosure reached the King at a very inopportune
moment. Just before he had received a letter, which, taken in connection
with this of the Princess des Ursins, struck a blow at her power of the
most decisive kind. At the same time that the original thus annotated
was despatched to the Marquis de Torcy, a copy of it was addressed by
the Princess to the Duke de Noirmoutier, her brother, and the latter
caused it to be circulated throughout Paris, to the great scandal of a
society which had still some little respect left for morals and royal

Louis XIV. owed it to himself not to allow such excessive audacity to go
unpunished. At the same time the affairs of Spain were then in such a
state of confusion, the danger of exasperating the young Queen appeared
so great, that it was necessary to defer severe measures, however
justifiable they might be. It was only some months afterwards, when
Philip V. had quitted Madrid for the frontiers of Portugal, to take
command of his army, reinforced by a French corps under the command of
the Duke of Berwick, that Louis thought it possible to make himself
obeyed and to strike what he himself called a decisive blow.

"The complaints against the Princess des Ursins," wrote the King to the
Abbé d'Estrées,[29] "have reached such a point that at length it is
necessary to take notice of them. I should have used less delay if I had
only consulted the welfare of the State; but I was compelled to wait
until the King quitted Madrid. I had reason to foresee that he would be
only too much influenced by the Queen's tears, that they might hinder
him from deferring with sufficient promptitude to my advice.... If the
King offers resistance, let him see how onerous is the war which I am
waging for his interests. Do not tell him that I will abandon him, for
he would not believe you; but let him understand that whatever may be my
affection for him, I can, if he does not respond thereto, make peace at
the expense of Spain, and grow tired of supporting a monarchy wherein I
only see disorders and contradictions in matters the most reasonable
that I may urge in his own interest. In fine, after such an _éclat_,
nothing short of success will do; my honour, the interest of the King,
my grandson, and that of the monarchy are concerned therein.... The
directions that I give you are absolutely necessary for my service, but
the consequences will be disagreeable for you. They have not ceased to
make mischief between my grandson and yourself; matters have made such
an impression that he has already on several occasions requested me to
recall you."

    [29] 19th March, 1704. Memoirs of Noailles, tom. ii., p. 297.

Louis XIV. gave the Abbé, therefore, an order to leave forthwith, adding
to the expression of his lively regret the assurance that this disgrace,
wholly involuntary as it was, should not damage his future fortunes.
Such was the extremity to which a subject had brought the most absolute
prince in Europe. It may thus be seen what extensive roots the woman had
already thrown out in Spain who balanced so nicely the power of the
French King in his grandson's court. It will shortly afterwards be more
clearly apparent; but if the _éclat_ of such a part enhances the
importance of Madame des Ursins, her character remains singularly
compromised by it. However indulgently we may be disposed to look upon
it, we cannot dissever from a system of policy the unworthy hostility
waged by a Frenchwoman against two ambassadors of her sovereign with so
cruel a perseverance. The Cardinal d'Estrées was desirous of carrying
the same measures in Spain as Madame des Ursins; he there represented
their common master with a loftier title and a more legitimate
authority. His errors of conduct, which were numerous, had in some sort
been forced upon him, and if he had the misfortune to fall into
ambushes, to another person must be attributed the fault of preparing
them. In that period of two years, the least honourable of her political
life, the Princess had solely as a stimulant her egotistic and impatient
ambition. In subordinating to her interests those of two monarchies, in
alleging as an excuse for the violence of her attacks the right of her
own superiority, she confirmed in the minds of her adversaries by her
example the truth, that for ardent natures it is less perilous to
exercise than to pursue power.

Philip, reduced by the Queen's absence to his natural indolence, opposed
no resistance to the injunctions of his grandfather. Assailed in her
tenderest affections, wounded in her dignity as a sovereign, and
resenting at fifteen years of age that twofold outrage in as lively a
degree as in the maturity of life, Marie-Louise restricted herself at
first to a disdainful silence which, nevertheless, revealed the hope
either of a terrible vengeance or a speedy retaliation. Madame des
Ursins submitted to the commands of her sovereign with the stately
haughtiness, the expression of which is conveyed in one of her very best
letters to Madame de Noailles. The consciousness of the great services
rendered by her to both monarchies with an inviolable fidelity, the
bitter astonishment at finding her relative, until then so devoted,
"prefer to herself persons who were merely her allies, and whose
wickedness ought to have inspired her with horror," her adroit flattery
of Madame de Maintenon, "to whom Providence had reserved, as by an
assured privilege for her virtue, the sacred mission of causing truth
and justice in the end to triumph;" "Heaven wishing to avail itself of
her services for that purpose in spite of herself;" such are the chief
features of that clever defence, in which calculation tempers rage and
resentment, and which ought to be read in its entirety in the
interesting letters of the Princess.[30]

    [30] Letter of May, 23rd, 1704. Geffroy's Recueil, p. 169.

But the letters likewise of the great King which have come down to us,
show that there was no need of the foolish insult conveyed by her own
epistle, to make him angry with Madame des Ursins. The complaints raised
against her were then universal, at least at Versailles, and at a
distance it was difficult to separate those which were founded on false
reports. With the well-known temper which characterised Louis XIV., it
must have seemed a thing inconceivable that such importance should be
conceded to a woman whom he had placed there to do his bidding. Finding
that his grandson and the young queen were disposed to resist his recall
of the _camerara-mayor_, he addressed them as a father and as a king:--

"You ask for my advice," he says to Philip V. (20th August, 1704), "and
I write you what I think; but the best advice becomes useless when it is
only asked for and followed after the mischief has happened.... You have
hitherto given your confidence to incapable or interested persons....
(And speaking of the recall of Orry and of another agent) it seems,
however, that the interest of those particular persons wholly engages
your attention, and at a time when you ought only to have elevated
views _you dwarf them down to the cabals of the Princess des Ursins,
with which I am unceasingly wearied_."

And to the Queen, Louis XIV. writes still more explicitly (20th
September, 1704,):--

"You know how much I have desired that you should give your confidence
to the Princess des Ursins, and that I forgot nothing that might induce
you to do so. However, unmindful of our common interest, she has given
herself up to an enmity which I do not comprehend, and has only thought
of baffling those who have been charged with our affairs. If she had had
a sincere attachment for you, she would have sacrificed all her
resentments, well or ill-founded, against the Cardinal d'Estrées,
instead of dragging you into them. _Persons of your rank ought to keep
themselves aloof from private quarrels and conduct themselves with
regard to their own interests and those of their subjects, which are
always identical._ I must therefore recall my ambassador, abandon you to
the Princess des Ursins, and leave her solely to govern your realms, or
recall that lady herself. That is what I think I ought to do."

In these truthful and kingly words, the true cause of Louis'
dissatisfaction may be seen, and the marginal note, true or false, in
the despatch, appears nothing more than a secondary accident.[31]

    [31] The affirmation of Madame des Ursins was no doubt true, since
    in a letter of hers to Orry, dated in 1718, she begs him to present
    her friendly remembrances to M. d'Aubigny's _wife_.

The politic monarch, moreover, thought it well to take extreme
precaution in timing his blow aright. The moment of the young King being
with the army and separated from the Queen was expressly chosen, for
fear lest the latter in her despair, might oppose some obstacle, to its



MADAME DES URSINS had received Louis XIV.'s command to withdraw into
Italy. Quitting Madrid as a State criminal (_en criminelle d'état_), the
Princess directed her steps towards the land indicated for her exile. We
must refer, however, to "The Memoirs of Saint Simon" those of our
readers who are desirous of admiring the presence of mind with which
Madame des Ursins, recalled thus unexpectedly and struck by the Olympian
bolt, suffered herself to be in nowise disconcerted, but skilfully
managed to retreat slowly and in good order, yielding ground only step
by step,[32] without appearing to disobey, she found time to arouse her
friends at Versailles into action, "who representing the severity of
such a fall for a dictatress of her quality, urged that the King, having
been obeyed, and having glutted his vengeance, a feeling of
commiseration ought to be shown thereafter, and that it was not
advisable to push the Queen to extremity." These reasons commented upon
by the Duke d'Harcourt, a man of great weight in the affairs of the
Peninsula, by Marshal de Villeroy and the Noailles, prevailed with Louis
XIV., who granted the Princess his permission, ardently solicited, to
stop at Toulouse and there take up her abode. That was but the first
step to a rehabilitation towards which laboured with equal ardour,
though by very different ways, the youthful spouse of Philip V. and the
grave companion of Louis XIV. Madame de Maintenon, accepting willingly
the part of missionary of Divine justice, held it as a point of honour
not to deceive the hope of the illustrious accused, who had attributed
those functions to her at a juncture so _à propos_. And whether that she
felt a real affection for Madame des Ursins, whether that she wished to
mitigate the Duchess of Burgundy's regret for her sister's vexation,
whether, in short, she feared to see Louis XIV. lose by so abrupt a
change all authority over the affairs of Spain, she was disposed in
every event to serve the exile. The Princess, to give time for the storm
to expend its fury, well knowing that acts hastily determined upon are
ordinarily the least durable, did not seek to hurry matters herself with
the French King, but wrote to Madame de Noailles, hoping that her letter
might be shown: "You are not ignorant of my attachment and respect for
Madame de Maintenon; the obligations that I owe her are ever present to
me, and the reliance that I place in the generosity of her heart."[33]
All the correspondence from Toulouse is in that vein, and, still
further, she adroitly represents herself as a victim, as a woman
disabused of worldly grandeur, and afflicted solely at having displeased
Louis XIV.

    [32] "_A lents tours de roue._" St. Simon, tom. vii.

    [33] Recueil of M. Geffroy, Letter lvi.

This conduct allayed the mutterings of the spent tempest. The court grew
accustomed to behold in her an unfortunate noblewoman resigned to her
exile with an antique patience.

At the end of four months passed in the capital of Languedoc, in the
depth of a retreat enlivened by an assiduous correspondence with the two
courts, Madame des Ursins received permission to appear at Versailles
and there to justify herself. The intervention of Madame de Maintenon
had nothing more in it than was perfectly natural under the
circumstances; not that she had the desire to govern Spain, as Saint
Simon affirms, nor even France, however entirely she might govern Louis
XIV. What she desired to establish on either side of the Pyrenees was a
species of moral control of the house of Bourbon. And, by keeping her
informed of the most minute particulars touching the King and Queen, by
inspiring the Duchess of Burgundy's sister with the duteous affection of
the elder for her _aunt_, Madame des Ursins rendered the Marquise de
Maintenon the only service the latter cared for, and the only one, to
speak the truth, which could add anything to her importance.

The motives of Louis XIV. were of a very different kind, and his politic
mind did not hesitate to sacrifice to them his grievances, however
legitimate they might be. Far from pacifying the Court of Spain, the
departure of the Princess des Ursins had been the signal for an outburst
of the most complete anarchy. To the rule exercised by the Queen had
succeeded an entire absence of direction, and matters were conducted
with an incoherence so shocking, that M. de Torcy having exhausted both
his advice and his patience, opened with perfect terror the despatches
drawn from that Pandora's box. The accord--at least apparent, which the
preponderance of Madame des Ursins had maintained among the members of
the _despacho_ by the intervention of the Duke de Montellano, her
creature, was abruptly broken up, and the Austrian party gathered
strength from the effect of that disorder and that universal
dissolution. The Archduke, proclaimed King of Spain by the Emperor under
the name of Charles III. and recognised in that quality by England and
Holland, had just landed at Lisbon; the campaign opened against the
Portuguese had ended, after some ephemeral successes, by a sort of
disbanding of the Spanish army, through want of clothing, pay, and
provisions, in the supply of which nothing was done after Orry's
departure, recalled to France from the same motives as the Princess.
Gibraltar, the defence of which had been confided by an inexplicable
negligence to fifty men, was torn away for ever by a handful of British
seamen from the crown of the Catholic kings; Catalonia, Arragon, the
kingdom of Valentia, made ripe for insurrection by the Prince of
Darmstadt, were on the eve of escaping from their allegiance. At the
beginning of 1705, the armies of Philip V. were composed of five or six
thousand men in rags, their tottering fidelity daily tampered with, and
the little band of French auxiliaries exhausted itself in fruitless
efforts to retake Gibraltar, which, covered as it was by the English
fleet, remained mistress of the Straits, after the first disaster
inflicted on the French marine in that war which was destined to cost it
its last vessel.

To the government of prime ministers, and still more that of women,
Louis XIV. had an insuperable antipathy. It must therefore have cost him
much to renounce the flattering hope of seeing his grandson make
practical application of the lofty instructions in which his personal
royalty reflected itself with so much splendour; but such a prince as he
knew but too well that a political idea is valueless when it remains
inapplicable. Impressed with the sorrowful conviction, he was compelled
to recognise that Philip's ailing temperament rendered all equilibrium
between intelligence and will impossible, so far so that that unhappy
Prince could not elude his fate save by escaping from himself. In the
approaching perils which the disasters of the French armies foreboded,
the hope of preserving Spain even under the dictation of Madame des
Ursins was better, after all, than the certainty of losing that crown by
estranging the _camarera-mayor_. After the battle of Blenheim, the
defection of the Duke of Savoy and the disastrous Italian campaign, the
restoration of the Princess to her charge was, on the part of Louis
XIV., a first concession to evil fortune, a determination for which his
sagacity triumphed over his repugnance. And so Saint Simon ought to have
seen, instead of representing the triumph obtained by Madame des Ursins
at Versailles as the inexplicable effect of a species of sudden

That victory suddenly transformed her who was but a short time
previously an accused person into "a court divinity." The Spanish
ambassador, followed by a swarm of courtiers, went forth to meet her
outside the gates of Paris, and offered her his mansion during her stay
in the capital. There she received "all France" we are told.[34] Her
every look was interpreted, and the words she addressed to ladies of the
highest consideration impressed them with a rapturous sense of her
condescension. Nothing could exceed the King's attentions in every way
that could contribute to her honour and distinction, and from the
majestic fashion with which it was all received, with such a rare
admixture of grace and politeness it reminded the beholders of the early
days of the Queen-Mother. Whether the particular determination of the
King shone through this marked graciousness, or that the well-known
dexterity of the Princess did not allow of any doubt of her success, she
was welcomed on all hands, not with those timid precautions and that
ambiguous reserve which characterise the incertitude of courts, but
with that lively, prompt and decided enthusiasm which only greets
unclouded favour and assured fortune. At the balls which were given at
the royal residences, Louis XIV., the Duchess of Burgundy, and all the
princes treated her with the most affable condescension. If Louis XIV.
showed great tact in appearing to attribute to his conversations with
Madame des Ursins a preconceived resolution which had really been the
simple result of events, and if the easy grace of the gentleman covered
in some sort the retreat of the politician, it will be readily imagined
that the Princess did not suffer herself to be beaten in address. When
the desire to see her return to the side of the young Queen of Spain was
intimated to her, she spoke of the disgust with which the condition of
that miserable country filled her, and which made it impossible to do
any good there. To the King's impatience she opposed the impaired state
of her health, and placed herself under medical treatment, having at
that identical moment a real interest in being pronounced out of health.
She delayed from day to day a departure that was more and more pressed
for, cautiously making it understood that in order to avoid the mishaps
and the mistakes of the past, the safety of Spain must be sought in a
complete unity of direction, and that the inevitable preponderance of
the Queen would constrain the placing of that political direction, not
in the embassy, but in the Palace. This was to demand nothing less than
a _carte blanche_ to govern the kingdom; but however audacious in itself
such exigence might be, it offended no one, so glad were all concerned,
after so many mistakes, to find one head which could courageously
confront the responsibility of a situation that had become so perilous.
She was the only Frenchwoman who could govern Spain, and the cabinet of
Versailles, satisfied with having shown its strength, exhibited
henceforth that majestic condescendence towards her which is the
flattery made use of by monarchs in their relations with indispensable

    [34] Saint Simon.

She was not in a hurry, therefore, to return to Madrid. Probably she was
anxious to enjoy her triumph, and by it to crush for a long while the
trembling jealousy of her enemies; perhaps, sure of setting out when she
chose, it was her aim to make her presence in Spain felt. Be that as it
may, we do not believe, as it has been supposed, that she herself was
tired of her political _rôle_ whatever may have been the mask with which
her prudence sought to cover her ambition during her disgrace, the
existence of that ambition is clear enough as a matter of history. We
admit nothing more, in answer to the insinuations of Saint Simon, that
dazzled with the royal favour she had dreamed of supplanting Madame de
Maintenon in the great King's confidence. Of a judgment eminently sound
and precise, she had too much of the practical in her character to
cradle her imagination with such chimæras. Madame des Ursins'
quick-sightedness fathomed all the advantages she might derive from the
general discouragement, and promised herself to let nothing be lost by
it either for herself or her dependents, however equivocal their
position might be towards her. She procured the admission of D'Aubigny
into the cabinet of Louis XIV., and, a thing more difficult still, into
that of Madame de Maintenon. She caused Orry to be reinstated in his
former functions, at the same time that one of her most dangerous
enemies, the father Daubenton, received an order to quit Madrid, where
his restless nullity had lost itself in a maze of intrigues. Authorised
in a manner to form her ministry, she nominated the President Amelot as
Ambassador for Spain, a diplomatist although very high minded, yet of
somewhat subaltern ability, one of the lights of that magistracy from
which Louis XIV. loved to recruit the staff of his government, and
whence Madame des Ursins herself sprung on her mother's side. The
Marshal de Tessé was appointed to the command of the army, and Orry, a
pupil of Colbert and a distinguished financier, was one of those clever
and hard-working citizens who were amongst the best of French ministers
of that epoch. This selection, equally excellent for both monarchs, was
better still for the Princess, to whom it guaranteed a valuable
concurrence without leaving her to apprehend any resistance. Those three
men, from the very moment of their arrival in Madrid, found themselves
face to face with two grave difficulties. The first was the opposition
of the grandees; the second, a foreign invasion. Aristocratic
conspiracies were hatching in the capital. The Archduke Charles had
landed in Catalonia, and several noblemen were endeavouring to clear the
road for him as far as Madrid. The Marquis de Leganez was the soul of
this plot. Ever since the accession of Philip V. he had eluded taking
the oath of allegiance: and later, summoned to take up arms against the
Archduke, he had refused. From that moment he became a suspected person.
His sole refuge was a conspiracy: and that was his destruction. Arrested
by order of the new administration, he was conducted to the fortress of
Pampeluna, afterwards to Bordeaux, whence his vain and tardy
protestations in favour of Philip V. failed to extricate him. This
energetic blow struck terror into the hearts of the grandees and
prepared the triumphal return of the Princess.



IN the balls given at Marly, she appeared loftily self-possessed, easy
and familiar by turns, ogling people one after another with her
eye-glass; and at one of these balls she made her appearance with a tiny
spaniel under her arm, as though she had been in her own house, and
(which was more remarked than anything else) the King caressed the
little dog on several different occasions, when he went up to converse
with her, and he did so nearly throughout the evening. "She had never
before been seen to take so grand a flight."

Madame des Ursins, who, though a woman of imagination, was, as we have
said, but little liable to be dazzled, might still have been pardoned
giving way during these months of royal favour to an excess of
intoxication; but above all, and at the same time that she displayed the
treasures of her continual and inexhaustible conversation, she evinced a
lively appreciation of the King's mental qualities. She returns to the
subject afterwards too frequently, and enters too minutely into detail
of what she discovered in him, not to show on her part a truthfulness
stronger than flattery. She never speaks of the King otherwise than as
_l'homme du monde le plus aimable_, as the _meilleur ami_, and _le plus
honnête homme du monde_.

     "If I had further, Madam, as you observe to me (she writes to Madam
     de Maintenon) the happiness of his being more accustomed to me, I
     ingenuously confess to you that it only depends upon his Majesty to
     perceive that I find him _very good company_. Really, although I
     can boast of having, in my time, entertained in France, Italy, and
     Spain, all the wittiest and most agreeable persons therein, I have
     never been so much pleased with them as with his Majesty. You must
     own that this is a very frank avowal."

There were not wanting those who even went so far as to suppose that the
views of Madame des Ursins went much further--"the age and health of
Madame de Maintenon tempting her." The question must have occurred to
the Princess, it was hinted, whether the prospect of replacing her in
France was not more alluring than any she was likely to meet with in
Spain. Such conjectures, however, touching the inmost secrets of a
woman's heart, are more easily formed than verified.

That which appears far more certain is, that independently even of
politics there was a mental triumph achieved by her in this close
contact with the great King. Madame de Maintenon, Madame des Ursins, and
Louis XIV. were all three for some time under the same spell: "I often
recall to mind your ideas and that amiable countenance which so charmed
me at Marly," Madame de Maintenon writes to her a year later; "do you
still preserve that equanimity which allowed you to pass from the most
important topics of conversation with the King to indulge in _badinage_
with Madame d'Heudicourt in my cabinet?" Madame des Ursins, who was only
at that moment a bird of passage, was of those in whom the delight of
pleasing and the feeling of success doubly enhanced every innate grace.
That slight fascination which she probably underwent, she repaid with a
shower of sparkling phrases.

Louis XIV. himself was seduced both by her grace and her talent. He had
expected, according to all accounts, to find in Madame des Ursins a
woman of the Fronde, somewhat post-dated: instead of that he discovered
a person whom it cost little to be naturally a person of authority, with
a capacity for governing, and whose social powers never failed of their
charm, so elevated were their characteristics. She, even as a third
party, from her intercourse with Madame de Maintenon, felt herself grow
quite young again. Of these three potential persons, the assertion may
be hazarded that Madame des Ursins was still that one who best
maintained her position, possessed the happy knack of turning all things
to advantage through her lucid common sense: of the three she played her
part the most unrestrictedly, and therefore so much the better, through
an energetic will in carrying out what an acute judgment told her was

Her brow encircled with the halo of victory, Madame des Ursins, after a
year's absence, re-entered that Spain which she had quitted humiliated:
she returned to it amid the acclamations of its populace, welcomed in
all its cities as a sovereign. The citadels fired salutes as she passed;
the Spanish Court went out to meet her as far as Burgos; the King and
Queen received her at some two leagues from Madrid. She returned
strengthened by disgrace, so much the stronger that her absence had
proved injurious, treating henceforward as between Power and Power with
the Court of Versailles, which, yielding to a political necessity,
recognized and graciously accepted, had restored her with its own hand
to the summit of power, and seemed, by that signal preference, to menace
beforehand all those who should pretend to struggle against her
sovereign mission.

Once re-established in Spain, Madame des Ursins, thus acting in harmony
once more with Louis XIV., set herself to pursue a more measured course,
more regular and thoroughly irreproachable with relation to those whose
envoy she was. She took no step save in concert with the sagacious
ambassador M. Amelot. If the letters she addressed to Madame de
Maintenon, and which commence immediately after her departure from
Paris, do not reveal her genius in all its vigour and brilliancy, they
at any rate allow us to divine it in certain passages, and give us
clearly the chief outlines of her character. The natural tone of her
mind was serious, positive, somewhat dry at bottom, but frank,
deliberate, and bold. Unlike Madame de Maintenon, she had political
ideas which she dared not only avow, but put into execution. Before all
else she decided upon the complete restoration of the King's authority.
With reference to a claim advanced by the grandees against the captain
of the guards, she was anxious to break up effectually that cabal of the
grandees who profited by the weakness of the new régime in order to
create titles and prerogatives for themselves: otherwise it would be the
means of throwing Spain again into the same embarrassments as those in
which France found herself during the Fronde, "when Frenchmen only
busied themselves with provoking one another." She was of opinion that
the chiefs of that party should feel the effects of the King's
displeasure before there was time to receive replies from France, in
order that it might clearly appear that it was a determination taken by
the King of Spain himself, and not a suggestion of others:

     "Do not be frightened, Madame, I entreat you, at these resolutions.
     It is fortunate that the grandees have given us such a lucky
     opportunity of mortifying them. Lacking strength and courage, these
     haughty nobles are ceaseless in their attempts to overthrow the
     authority of their king, and against whom I am incensed beyond
     measure for all which they did so long as they had the uppermost in
     the _Despacho_ (Privy Council)."

The virile tone of that paragraph carries us far beyond Madame de
Maintenon. There was one thing, however, of more importance to Madame
des Ursins than appeasing the grandees, and that was to procure troops
and find the means of paying them. That done, she might laugh at every
other difficulty. "Would to heaven," she exclaimed, "that it were as
easy to get the uppermost over the priests and monks, who are the cause
of all the revolts you hear of!"

The first portion of the Princess's labours was accomplished. Her most
dangerous enemies had fallen: she reigned. But there yet remained a few
hostile nobles, and she resolved to strike at them. One of them,
formerly her ally, the Duke de Montellano, president of Castile, excited
the suspicion of this mistrustful woman. She manifested towards him,
from the moment of her return, a haughty coldness. She dreaded to see in
a post of such eminence a man placed by his birth amongst her worst
enemies. Montellano, offended at her attitude towards him, tendered his
resignation. The King hesitated, but the Princess made him accept it,
and the corregidor of Madrid, Ronquillo, a man of obscure origin, was
nominated to the presidentship. Amelot was equally mistrustful of
certain grandees in the Privy Council, as was the Princess; and, whether
they tendered their resignation or that it was required of them, the
Duke de Montalto and the Count de Monterei were replaced by devoted
partisans of the Princess. The high aristocracy, indignant at this
manoeuvre, worked against her in an underhanded opposition, in which the
double character of the Duke de Medina-Coeli was more and more
developed. Their plans were foiled in the very outset, but we shall see
them again make their appearance upon the political arena at a moment
when it required nothing less than all the power and skill of Madame des
Ursins to triumph over them.

The Princess was, in fact, triumphing on the very brink of a volcano.
Spain was in a blaze, and every day seemed to call in question the
existence of that throne under the shadow of which she had come to
reign. Lord Peterborough had torn Barcelona from Philip V., and the
greater part of its garrison had recognised the Archduke, who, acting
henceforward as King of Spain, had just made his entrance into that city
amidst the acclamations of the Catalan people. The principal fortresses
of the province had shared the fate of the chief city; and on one side
the insurrection spread to Saragossa, whilst on the other, the important
city of Valencia proclaimed Charles III. The situation was little better
in the west of the kingdom, for an Anglo-Portuguese army had penetrated
into Estramadura, commanded by a French refugee who had been made an
English peer,[35] and whose hatred pursued Louis XIV. on every field of
battle. Constrained to carry on the struggle simultaneously in Flanders,
Italy, and beyond the Pyrenees, in order to defend the integrity of a
monarchy which more and more hesitated in its obedience, the French King
had just sent to Spain thirty battalions and twenty squadrons, which it
became necessary to supplement by despatching a new army. Unhappily, the
time was approaching when the French soldiery had more cause to dread
their own generals than those of the enemy; and these forces, besides
being insufficient, were placed under the command of Marshal de Tessé, a
cunning courtier but mediocre general, incapable of any initiative
strategy, and whose sole study was to carry out to the letter the
personal instructions of Louis XIV. and Chamillard. However, either from
want of sufficient resources or want of skill, Tessé failed this once in
the execution of his master's formal orders, which directed him to
suspend all his operations in order to retake Barcelona at any cost. A
siege languidly conducted in presence of a fleet mistress of the seas,
on which the French flag dared no longer show itself, was followed by a
disaster aggravated by the presence of the King of Spain and by bitter
recriminations between the two nations together engaged in that fatal
enterprise. Alike indifferent to misfortune and success, still it might
be seen in Philip, since the presence of his rival in Spain, that there
was an indomitable resolution to die sword in hand in defence of the
sole right which touched his pride and his conscience. Before Barcelona
he had displayed a useless courage, and when de Tessé rendered it
necessary to raise the siege by his refusal to continue it, the
insurrection had closed to the King every road which gave access to his
capital. To rejoin the Queen Regent in the heart of the two Castiles,
Philip was compelled to take, in mortal agony, the road to France, in
order to direct his steps by way of Rousillon towards Navarre, thus
giving his enemies a plausible pretext for turning his going out of the
kingdom into a desertion of the crown.

    [35] The Duke of Berwick.

Trials not less formidable awaited the young Queen at the hands of
fortune. Excited by the greatness of the danger, but finding a succour
in the _sang-froid_ of Madame des Ursins, which her youth and ardour
denied her, adored by the inhabitants of Madrid, to whom in the hour of
crisis she confided herself with a touching helplessness, the
_Savoiana_, by the spell of her gentle and steady virtues, alone
maintained the royal authority in a country where "it was necessary to
have almost an army in each province."[36]

    [36] Despatch of Marshal de Tessé to Chamillard, 4th Feb.,
    1706.--_Mémoires_ de Noailles, tom. ii., p. 380.

At length the day came when despair reigned everywhere save at the
_Retiro_ Palace. The square d'Alcantara, defended by ten battalions, the
last remains of the Spanish army, had surrendered without fighting.
Whether through folly or treason, Salamanca had also just fallen into
the enemy's hands, and the Anglo-Portuguese troops advanced by forced
marches upon Madrid, in order there to proclaim Charles III. There was
nothing left but flight--but to quit a city of proved devotion and
confide in others of doubtful fidelity. The King had rejoined the French
army; the Queen, accompanied by her _camerara mayor_ and a few female
attendants, was compelled to repair to Burgos, in order there to keep up
at least some shadow of legitimate government. The little party was
without resources, money, almost without victuals. The silver plate
belonging to the palace was hastily flung into the melting-pot; the
sovereign of so many realms, after having borrowed by pawning so many
thousand pistoles, packed up with her own hands those jewels which were
a tribute to her from the new world, the pride and recreation of her
sorrowful youth, previous to pledging them to the Jew brokers. Her
court, lately so numerous, had been dispersed by the wind of adversity,
not with the intent of influencing events, but, shameful to record, only
to await them; and Marie Louise _enceinte_ with the first child of her
marriage, shaped her course towards the land of the Cid, resolved to go
thither and defend the monarchy even among those rugged mountains which
had been its cradle. Destitution prevailed throughout the solitudes of
Castile as well as in those poor _posadas_, bare as an Asiatic
caravanserai. If in the central provinces the populace showed itself
faithful, it was not without extreme suffering and the most cruel
perplexity that the journey could be accomplished by almost
impracticable ways, through detachments of the enemy, launched in
pursuit of the royal retinue. Nothing certainly is more honourable to
the memory of the Princess des Ursins than the letters in which she
relates with charming naturalness the daily accidents of that
adventurous life, which she supported at the age of sixty-five with all
the gaiety of a youthful tourist.[37]

    [37] Letters of the Princess to Mad. de Maintenon, from the 24th of
    June to 26th October, 1706.--Tom. iii., pp. 305 to 367.

In the midst of these disasters, therefore, Philip V. found a firm
support in the devotion of the people and in the indefatigable zeal of
Madame des Ursins. At Madrid and in all the provinces, except Catalonia,
the allies were received with that repugnance which presages a
disastrous future and belies the most brilliant promises of victory.
Madame des Ursins multiplied herself: speeches, letters, overtures--she
spared nothing to obtain from the people the money indispensable for
carrying on the war. She thus arrested desertion, consolidated in Old
Castile, and even in Andalusia the King's authority; she propagated, in
short (if we may so express it) the feeling of devotedness. She knew how
to surround Philip V. with the austere majesty of royal misfortune
endured with courage and consoled by the watchful love of the nation. At
the same time her cheerful and confident spirit restored to its serenity
the little court of Burgos. She locked within her own bosom her
discouragements and inquietudes: she clung to hope, and that
successfully. She sought and found in her own firm will consolation
justified by events. All her correspondence at this epoch, at times
amiable, witty, affectionate, at others grave, precise, and altogether
politic, full of facts, plans, exact details, worthy of a minister, and
of a great minister too, shows the extraordinary genius of the woman. It
was not she alone, certainly, who saved the dynasty, for it was
necessary to fight and conquer to do that, but she was unquestionably
one of the most vigorous instruments ever made use of by Providence to
work out its own purposes in defence of a nation.

She had some ideas about war too--we do not say they were of the best,
but she had some--and about plans of defence and the choice of generals.
She anticipated coming dangers, which she laid bare and exposed without
allowing herself to be discouraged by them. She described the native
troops in their true colours, the places of importance entirely
unprovided for, according to Spanish custom; she energetically claimed
help from France, and after asking for strong battalions in the body of
her letter, adds in a postscript that she has advised the King of Spain
to have prayers offered up. She did not forget to send appropriate
flatteries also to Madame de Maintenon.

A few days after the arrival of the Duke of Berwick, in order to thank
Madame de Maintenon for such aid, she spoke to her about Saint-Cyr, well
aware that nothing could be more agreeable, and knowing _the weakness of

     "The Queen has highly approved of all your Saint-Cyr rules; our
     ladies are anxious to have them, and I am working hard at
     translating them into Spanish to afford them that satisfaction. If
     her Majesty were not under engagements very different to those of
     the young ladies of Saint-Cyr, I really believe that she would like
     to be one of your pupils."

Her flattery knew well in what language to couch itself; but there were
moments at which, discontented at feeling Spain abandoned and lost sight
of by Versailles, she became plain spoken even to rudeness. Great
allowance, however, ought to be made for the Princess's occasional
bluntness when it is remembered that she was then in her sixty-fourth
year, suffering from rheumatism and a painful affection of one of her
eyes, a condition altogether very unpropitious in which to commence the
career of arms in the capacity of field-marshal to a youthful Queen.
Notwithstanding all this, however, she exerted herself to enliven
everybody, to console, to inspire fortitude and a spirit of joyousness
around her, never to see things on their darkest side or through her
ailing eye, but to obey rather the buoyant spirit and an inclination to
hope for the best, which was natural to her.

     "It often happens, Madame," she writes to Madame de Maintenon,
     "that when one thinks all is lost some fortunate circumstance
     occurs unexpectedly which entirely changes the face of things." "I
     think," she says in another letter, "that fortune may again become
     favourable to us; that it is with its favours as with too much
     health; I mean that one is never so near falling sick as when one
     feels oneself so remarkably well, nor so near being unfortunate as
     when our measure of happiness is full to the brim. I reverse the
     medal, and I await some consolation which may effectually alleviate
     my sorrows. I wish, Madame, that you would do the same, and that
     your temperament were your best friend, as mine is that on which I
     can surest reckon; for I think, to speak frankly, that I have more
     obligation to it than to my reason, and that there is no great
     merit in possessing that tranquillity of mind, of which you are
     disposed, in your extreme kindness, to think me possessed, and on
     which you bestow so much praise."

Madame de Maintenon, in fact, who, strong-minded as she might be, was
nevertheless perpetually tormenting herself and wailing about something
or other, continually eulogised that natural equanimity which she
envied, that courage allied with good temper, that amiability, and that
_beau sang qui ne laissait rien d'âpre et de chagrin en elle_.

Her letters to Madame de Maintenon from Burgos, admirably paint this
characteristic tranquillity of mind. "To enliven you," she writes, "I
must give you a description of my quarters. They consist of a single
room, which may measure twelve or thirteen feet at most. One large
window which will not shut, facing the south, occupies almost entirely
one side. A somewhat low door gives me admittance to the Queen's
chamber, and another still smaller opens into a winding passage, into
which I dare not go, although it always has two or three lamps lighted
in it, because it is so badly _paved_ that I should break my neck there.
I cannot say that the walls are whitewashed, for they are so dirty. My
travelling bedstead is the sole piece of furniture I have in it, besides
a folding stool and a deal table, which latter serves me alternately for
a toilette, to write upon, or to hold the Queen's dessert--there being
no receptacle in the kitchen or elsewhere wherein to put it. I laugh at
all this ... and amidst all the sombre occurrences which have befallen
us, I console myself with my own reflections. I imagine that fortune may
take a good turn, and I calmly and trustfully wait for those
consolations which are powerful to assuage all my trouble."[38] "Action
becomes you," Madame de Maintenon might remark with great truth. It was,
in fact, an original and most distinctive feature in the Princess des
Ursins' character, that of having been known to be a person so
thoroughly calm in the main during a career so active and a destiny so
agitated; and it was to this very characteristic equanimity that she was
indebted, after so abrupt a downfall at sixty-two, for the lot reserved
for her of dying in peace and of old age at eighty. But there are many
other traits worthy of study in her composition, and which place her in
perfect contrast with her friend Madame de Maintenon.

    [38] Mém. de Noailles, tom. iii., p. 375, and Letters to Mad. de
    Maintenon, tom. iv., p. 163.




THE succession of the Duke d'Anjou to the Spanish crown had, in fact,
destroyed the balance of power in Europe; and our William the Third,
then recently dead, but even beyond the grave the most resolute enemy of
Louis the Fourteenth, had bequeathed to him the new league which bore
the name of the Great Alliance, and which had for its aim to place the
Spanish crown upon the head of the Archduke Charles, the son of the
Emperor of Germany; or in default of dispossessing Philip the Fifth of
his kingdom, to trace round the two nations of France and Spain a limit
which should never be overpassed by the ambition of either. All hope of
success for the Archduke Charles--the legitimate successor to the last
four effete kings of Spain--all the means which he might have of
preserving in Europe two houses of Austria, and of continuing that grand
Austrian duality which the sceptre of Charles the Fifth had produced,
but which was then broken in twain, rested chiefly upon the English
alliance. There, for the adversaries of Louis the Fourteenth, was the
knot of the question. With the treasures of England, with her navy, with
her troops also, together with the advantage of her situation, which
allowed of her doing so much mischief to France, the Imperialists might
effect much; without her they could scarcely do anything. Hence with
them the necessity of keeping in power a party favourable to them--the
Whigs, a party which preferred that ancient duality to the new
duality--in other words, the ambition of Louis the Fourteenth to
therewith augment the House of Bourbon, and in effect more dangerous
than the other to the English nation. But that necessity created
another: it was requisite to have near Queen Anne some one who, at
Court, should be, as it were, the advanced sentinel of the Whigs,
attached to the interests of Austria, and who would hinder from
penetrating, or at any rate prevailing therein any other interest than
theirs. This precaution was so much the more indispensable that Queen
Anne's feeling towards the Whigs was purely official, and not a genuine
sympathy. To these zealous partizans of Parliament and liberty, to these
avowed heirs of those who had made the revolution of 1640, she secretly
preferred the Tories. Amongst them she found admirers of the absolute
order of government that Louis XIV., lord of France instead of being
legislator of it, had for too long a time substituted for the too much
contemned troubles of the Fronde. And the rather as they might be
termed, under that relation, a veritable French party, did she lean
towards them, because they were the defenders of the royal prerogative.
The exactions, the delays, the innumerable formalities of constitutional
monarchy, wearied her to such an extent, that more than once the rumour
ran that she was willing to treat for the recall of her brother, the
ex-King James the Third. These reports were not without foundation, as
the Duke of Berwick tells us in his "Memoirs"; the desire alone of
preventing civil war, to which fresh endeavours on the part of that
prince would give rise, was alleged as the generous motive for
relinquishing a design which the disgust of a too-limited power had
inspired. The Whigs well knew how to conjure that peril. But they had
always to dread that whilst continuing to wear the crown, Anne might not
so much consider the welfare of England as that of her own pleasure,
where such welfare interfered with her peculiar sympathies; and lest in
turning to the side of the Tories she might carry away from the Archduke
Charles the support of England, in other words his chief reliance. The
question was how to guarantee themselves from that untoward eventuality?
One means devised--and it was not the less available in this case of
royalty exercised by a woman--was to secure to Queen Anne the adhesion
of the Mistress of the Robes, Lady Churchill, the clever wife of the
brilliant soldier, afterwards Duke of Marlborough.

This remarkable woman, who, without possessing great talents, and with
the disadvantage of an imperious and capricious temper, exercised for so
long a period such exceptional influence over public affairs, was the
second of the three daughters of Richard Jennings, a country gentleman
of good family but moderate fortune, her mother being Frances
Thornhurst, daughter of Sir Gifford Thornhurst, of Agnes Court, in Kent,
and his heiress. She was born at Holywell, near St. Alban's, 29th May,
1660, the very day of the restoration of Charles the Second. In
recompense for the services rendered by their father during the civil
wars, the two elder sisters were received when very young into the
household of the Duchess of York.

When only twelve years old, Sarah Jennings had the good fortune to
become the inseparable companion of the Princess Anne, who was about the
same age. Her beauty was not characterised by regularity of feature, but
she possessed an animated countenance, with eyes full of fire. She was
small of stature, more piquante than imposing, and her chief charms
were centered in her magnificent tresses, the delicacy of her features,
and certain peculiar graces of mind and person. These attractions were
enhanced by a conversation full of vivacity and intelligence. Prudent
and virtuous--for even Swift, who was otherwise the remorseless enemy of
the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough, renders homage to the virtue of the
latter--in the midst of a corrupt Court, and enjoying the highest favour
of the Royal Family, she had for admirers some men of the highest rank
in England. Amongst those who aspired to her hand may be cited the
admired Earl of Lindsay, afterwards Marquis of Ancaster, "the star and
ornament of the Court," whose suit she rejected for that of the young
and handsome Colonel Churchill. A single trait suffices to prove the
lady's attractiveness--the avaricious John Churchill wooed and wedded
her although all along he knew Sarah to be altogether portionless.

This successful wooer--afterwards Lord Churchill and Duke of
Marlborough--who had entered the army at sixteen, was the son of a poor
cavalier knight who had come to London after the Restoration. Love, not
War, was the first stepping-stone to his subsequent high fortune. The
Duke of York, heir to the Crown, "young and ardent in the pursuit of
pleasure," became enamoured of Arabella Churchill one of the
maids-of-honour to his first wife, and afterwards his avowed mistress.
Through this lady's interest, her elder brother John obtained a pair of
colours in the Guards. In his twenty-third year he made his first
campaign in the Low Countries when Charles and Louis united their forces
against Holland. Distinguished by his commanding stature and handsome
face, he was known to the French soldiery as the "handsome Englishman."
Turenne complimented him on his gallantry and "serene intrepidity"
before the allied armies. The Marshal had been attracted to him by his
courage, and is said to have laid a wager, which he won, on the subject
of Churchill's gallantry, on the occasion of a post of importance having
been abandoned by one of his own officers. "I will bet a supper and a
dozen of claret," said he, "that my handsome Englishman will recover the
post with half the number of men commanded by the officer who lost it."
The event justified the Marshal's opinion. Emboldened by the praise of
such a general, Churchill solicited but did not obtain the command of a
regiment from Louis XIV.,[39] the great King refusing his services, as
he declined those of Prince Eugene a few years later. He was esteemed
one of the handsomest and most attractive gentlemen of the day. Lord
Chesterfield, the _arbiter elegantiarum_, declared that the grace and
fascination of young Churchill was such, that he was "irresistible
either by man or woman."

    [39] This curious fact was lately ascertained by M. Moret, through
    the discovery of an inedited, but authentic document, in the
    _Archives de la Guerre_ in Paris. It appears in a letter of Lord
    Lockhart, the English Ambassador at Paris, who asks that the
    colonelcy of a regiment might be given to Churchill. It is dated
    27th of May, 1674.--_Archives de la Guerre_, vol. 411, No. 193.

On his return to London at the close of the war, the young soldier
became attached to the household of the Duke of York, and rose rapidly
in that witty, gallant, and corrupt Court, where shone the Grammonts,
Rochesters, and Hamiltons, and where Churchill sought the society of the
sultanas who shared with Charles the government of England. The handsome
Churchill became, for a short time, the object of the violent but fickle
fondness of the head sultana, the Duchess of Cleveland. On one occasion
the audacious gallant was very nearly caught in the frail beauty's
apartments by "old Rowley," and only escaped by leaping from the window
at the risk of his life. For this exploit the grateful Duchess presented
her daring lover with five thousand pounds. Churchill made no scruple of
receiving the money, so early had the sordid propensity for gain taken
hold of him, and with it he at once bought an annuity of five hundred a
year, well secured on the estate of Lord Chesterfield's grandfather,

    [40] Chesterfield's Letters, November 18th, 1748.

After some disputes and obstacles on the part of the Churchill family,
which the Duchess of York herself took the trouble to obviate, the two
lovers were united in the month of April, 1678: and whilst the husband
advanced in the confidence and favour of James, his wife made still more
rapid progress in the affections of the young Princess, his daughter.

During many years of married happiness, Churchill testified the greatest
affection for his wife, and always kept her minutely informed--even
amidst councils and battle-fields--upon the state of public affairs, and
showed the most entire deference and the liveliest affection for her.
Most of his letters end with these words: "I am yours, heart and soul."
Lady Churchill governed this great man, in fact, like a child--who
himself governed kings. Like the Princess des Ursins, she possessed
incontestably certain qualities, a liking and capacity for public
business, a knowledge of men, the shrewdness of her sex, the obstinacy
of her race, an inconceivable love of domination; but she was hard,
vindictive, insatiable of honours and wealth, and united to the pride of
a queen the rage of a fury.

Aided by his sister, by the King's imperious mistress and his own
incontestable merit, Churchill climbed fast up the ladder of
preferment. He obtained successively the command of the only dragoon
regiment in the service, a Scotch peerage, and the post of Ambassador to
the Court of France. Lord Churchill, however, was destined to be
advanced still higher in court favour through the influence of his wife
and his own genius as a general.

At the Revolution of 1688, he coldly foorsook James II., his benefactor,
and carried over his formidable sword to the House of Orange. The
Revolution augmented his fortune. Created Earl and General by William
III.; Duke, Knight of the Garter and Commander of the British Armies by
Queen Anne. Marlborough was one of those men whom conviction astonishes,
devotedness confounds; who acknowledge no other law than that of their
own interest, no other deity than success, and which the uncontrollable
current of human affairs not unfrequently brings rapidly to the surface.
Cradled in revolutions, he had seen the Commonwealth pass away, the
Stuarts fall, the House of Orange proclaimed. He had taken part in
intrigues, plots, apostacies, defections: doubt alone survived every
other political instinct of his heart. Faithful to the very brink of
misfortune, he ever adhered unswervingly until the dawning of the evil
days. Well aware how quickly dynasties expire in a country convulsed by
revolutions, he had learnt to anticipate approaching catastrophes, and
to secure to himself beforehand an _appui_ amongst the victorious
survivors. Whilst he was defending the cause of the House of Orange in
Europe, he corresponded secretly with the Stuarts, kept up assiduous
relations with the little Court of St. Germains, and made underhand
preparations for marrying one of his daughters with the Pretender, then
ex-King (James III.), at St. Germains, and, perhaps, on the morrow _de
facto_ King of England. But if Marlborough's soul was mean and sordid,
his genius was vast and powerful. In parliament, at St. James's, in
foreign councils, in foreign courts, on the field of battle, everywhere
he dominated men. His education had been so very much neglected that he
could scarcely write correctly his native English, and yet, when he rose
to speak in the House of Lords, the entire assembly hung upon his words,
and the most consummate orators, the heads of the British forum, were
envious of that natural eloquence which without effort went straight to
the heart; and he exercised that charm even upon his foes, to such a
degree that Bolingbroke once remarked to Voltaire, when speaking of him:
"He was such a great man that I have forgotten his vices."[41]

    [41] Voltaire, Beuchot's edition, tom. xxxvii. Lettre xii., p. 172.

At the period of which we are now treating, Marlborough was the most
powerful personage in England: by his wife, the Queen's favourite, he
ruled the household; by the Whigs, become his friends, parliament and
the ministry; by his rank and his military popularity, the army; by
Prince Eugene, his comrade in arms, the councils of Austria; by his old
friend Heinsius, the States-General; by the weight of his name, his
conduct and address, the suppleness of his character, Prussia and the
princes of the Empire. It was he who raised their regiments, who
regulated their subventions, who appeased their quarrels. He was the
head and arm of the coalition. As potent as Cromwell, more of a king
than William III.; without affection or hatred, he justified the saying
of Machiavelli: "The universe belongs to the phlegmatic."

We will now revert to his no less celebrated wife, who, as Lady
Churchill and Duchess of Marlborough, so long and wholly swayed the mind
and ruled the court of Queen Anne. Brought up in such close intimacy
with the Princess, Lady Churchill had assumed from childhood an absolute
ascendancy over her mind. Anne was indolent and taciturn; she delighted
in the lively talk of her companion and bosom friend, and loved her in
spite of her haughty temperament, to which her own easy disposition
yielded without offering the slightest resistance. Married to a sullen
and insignificant husband, whose sole delight was centred in a crapulous
love of the bottle; she had lost her only son during his minority--had
seen her father, James II. dethroned, her brother, the Chevalier St.
George, proscribed, and, to the exclusion of that well-beloved brother,
she was compelled to leave her crown to a stranger--the Elector George
of Hanover, for whom she felt an invincible aversion. Anne confided all
her griefs to her favourite Mistress of the Robes, and by degrees an
ardent affection for her inseparable companion, which had in it all the
delicate tenderness of feminine friendship, sprung up in the Princess's
bosom. Such was the strength of the attachment that it was the desire of
the Princess that all distinction prescribed by etiquette should be
waived. She required that in their epistolary correspondence they should
treat each other as equals, under the assumed names of Mrs. Morley and
Mrs. Freeman. Lady Churchill chose the latter, which would be, she said,
the emblem of her "frank, open temper." Under these assumed names they
wrote frequently to each other to communicate their sentiments of joy,
anguish, hope or fear, according to the events of the day, and gave
themselves up unrestrictedly to the momentary impulse of their hearts.

"I both obtained and held the place in her service," the favourite goes
on to relate, "without the assistance of flattery--a charm which, in
truth, her (the Princess's) inclination for me, together with my
unwearied application to serve and amuse her rendered needless; but
which, had it been otherwise, my temper and turn of mind would never
have suffered me to employ. Young as I was when I first became this high
favourite, I laid it down as a maxim, that flattery was falsehood to my
trust, and ingratitude to my dearest friend.... From this rule I never
swerved: and though my temper and my notions in most things were widely
different from those of the Princess, yet, during a long course of
years, she was so far from being displeased with me for openly speaking
my sentiments, that she sometimes professed a desire, and even added her
command, that it should be always continued, promising never to be
offended at it, but to love me the better for my frankness."



THE year following that in which the Duke d'Anjou succeeded to the
throne of Spain saw Anne Queen of England.

On her accession Queen Anne had found three parties in action--the
Tories, the Whigs, and the Jacobites. The first asserting the
sovereignty of the royal prerogative; the second the extension of public
liberty; the last demanding the exclusion of the Protestant George of
Hanover, designated by the Commons as the Queen's heir, and the recall
of the Chevalier St. George, the Romanist son of James II., then an
exile in France, where Louis XIV. had welcomed him under the title of
James III.

Of these three parties, the last, who were desirous of a revolution with
a change of dynasty, naturally found themselves excluded from public
affairs; the Queen, facile and conciliating, divided the power of the
State between the two others, and chose a ministry comprising the most
eminent men among both Whigs and Tories.

Those statesmen jointly carried on the government for four years, after
which the opposition of their sentiments and interests became so violent
that it divided them. The Tories, representing the landed interest,
which had suffered during the war, clamoured for peace with all their
might; the Whigs, on the contrary, representing the monied interest,
had lent their funds to the State, and desired the continuance of
hostilities, as it enhanced the value of their capital. The Whigs
triumphed in this first struggle. They ejected, in the first instance,
three Tories from the Ministry, and afterwards obtained the dismissal of
all the rest--Mansel, Harley, and Bolingbroke, and then ruled without
division. They reckoned amongst their ranks the most illustrious men of
the day: Marlborough, the great soldier; the skilful financier,
Godolphin; the formidable speaker, Robert Walpole; the army, public
opinion, parliament, and even the very heart of the Queen, through the
Duchess of Marlborough, who, intoxicated with her almost unlimited sway,
no longer deigned to ask, but commanded.

The influence of the Duchess of Marlborough at the court of Queen Anne
was now well understood by the continental powers of Europe. When
England, in 1703, received a foreign potentate as her guest, the Duchess,
was, of all her subjects, the object peculiarly selected for
distinction. Charles, the second son of the Emperor of Austria, having
recently been proclaimed, at Vienna, King of Spain, in opposition to the
Duke of Anjou, completed his visits to sundry courts in Germany, whither
he had repaired to seek a wife, by paying his respects to Anne of
England. Anne received her royal ally with great courtesy at Windsor,
whither he was conducted by Marlborough, and there entertained with a
truly royal magnificence. All ranks of people crowded to see the young
monarch dine with the Queen in public, and his deportment and appearance
were greatly admired by the multitude, more especially by the fair sex,
whose national beauty was, on the other hand, highly extolled by
Charles. The Duchess of Marlborough, though no longer young, still
graced the court which she controlled. It was her office to hold the
basin of water after dinner to the Queen, for the royal hands to be
dipped, after the ancient fashion of the laver and ewer. Charles took
the basin from the fair Duchess's hand, and, with the gallantry of a
young and well-bred man, held it to the Queen; and in returning it to
the Duchess, he drew from his own finger a valuable ring and placed it
on that of the stately Sarah.

It was two years after this visit that Charles sent a letter of thanks
for the assistance granted him by the Queen against the French, which he
addressed to the Duchess of Marlborough, "as the person most agreeable
to her Majesty." The King might have added, as a partisan most
favourable to the aid afforded him, and most inimical to the sway of
France, which, by the will of the late King of Spain, Charles the
Second, had been unjustly extended over the Spanish monarchy.

At the time of the overthrow of the Tories, she had pushed obsession of
her royal mistress even as far as constraint. To the Whigs, who had
proscribed her brother, Anne preferred the Tories; but, in spite of
these sympathies the favourite had demanded the dismissal of the
Ministry, and the Queen had yielded, though not without the deepest
grief, to her imperious Mistress of the Robes.

Thus got rid of by an intrigue, the Tories, and at their head the two
celebrated statesmen, Harley and Bolingbroke, worked steadfastly in the
dark to regain power. Harley was a skilful and eloquent orator. He had
quitted the bar to enter parliament, and his suppleness as well as his
talents had rapidly carried him on to the Speakership and the Ministry.
He had specially directed his attention to finance, and passed for the
most skilful financier of his day. A man of wit and taste, he loved
books and manuscripts, and patronised the most illustrious writers of
the reign: Swift, the English Rabelais, Pope, Boileau, and Prior, the
Regnier of Great Britain. But he was not unjustly reproached for his
obstinacy of character, the changeableness of his opinions, his
proneness to descend to little means, and an unfortunate passion for

    [42] This habit of drinking had then invaded even the highest ranks
    of English society, the Queen herself not being exempt. Walpole,
    Harley's enemy, has traced a curious and tolerably accurate portrait
    of him in his "Letters."

The other chief of the Tory party was Henry St. John, so well-known
under the name of Bolingbroke.[43] He descended from an old Norman
family allied to the royal house of Tudor. His grandfather, as though he
had foreseen the future, had bequeathed him the greater part of his
property, and Bolingbroke began the world under the happiest auspices of
birth and fortune. At twenty-six, after a career of youthful
licentiousness, he married and entered parliament. He had all the
necessary qualifications for playing a distinguished part therein: a
noble countenance, ready eloquence, an incredible capacity for work, a
mind which later astonished Voltaire, a memory so retentive that he
avoided reading mediocre books from the fear of retaining their
contents. At thirty, his lofty and copious oratory, unceasingly fed by
study of the ancient models, captivated both Lords and Commons. His
powerful and versatile genius embraced at once poetry and jurisprudence,
history and the _belles lettres_. He was associated, like Harley, with
the first writers in England--Pope, Prior, Swift, Dryden, even with
Addison himself, the Whig poet and essayist. He was one of those
consummate orators who, joining grace to eloquence, was the foremost
alike in pleasure or business. He was in the habit of saying that only
fools were unable to find or enjoy leisure. He possessed, in short, the
peculiar talents and vices which were destined later to immortalise as
well as disgrace Mirabeau.

    [43] He was only created Viscount Bolingbroke in 1712, but we give
    him the name by which he is best known in history.

Uniting their talents and their rancour against the imperious and
uncompromising woman who had compassed their disgrace, Harley and
Bolingbroke, in their turn, had set about overthrowing the sway of the
Duchess. They craftily endeavoured to undermine, therefore, that
friendship which constituted her strength, and sought for a rival who
might supplant her in the Queen's heart. There was then at court a young
lady named Abigail Hill, the daughter of a bankrupt merchant of London,
who, when in poverty, had been taken by the hand by the Duchess of
Marlborough, to whom she was cousin, and through her influence appointed
bedchamber-woman to the Queen. By a singular chance, Abigail Hill was
also a cousin of Harley, who during his administration married her to
Masham, a dangling official of the royal household, who had been
indebted for his post rather to his birth and connections than any
personal merit.

Up to the period of Marlborough's brilliant victory of Ramilies (May,
1706), the influence of the Duchess over the mind of her sovereign was
not visibly lessened by her own indiscretion, or by the arts of her
opponents. From the moment of Anne's accession, she had flung herself
with ardour into politics. To dominate was her favourite passion. And
she imagined that she could decide affairs of State as easily as she
directed a petty intrigue, or suppressed a squabble within the interior
of the royal household. Instead of using the absolute sway she had over
the Queen with tact and moderation, she exercised it with an imprudent
audacity. Her party predilections were diametrically opposed to those of
Anne, who was sincerely attached to the principles of the Tories, and
who ardently desired to bring them into power. The Duchess did not allow
her a moment's repose until she had, by concession after concession,
surrounded herself by the chiefs of the Whig party, whom she at heart
detested. Hence an endless succession of piques, misunderstandings, and
jars between the royal Lady and her imperious Mistress of the Robes. The
glory and the important services of the Duke had, however, long deferred
the explosion of these secret resentments; but it was when Harley found
it impossible by any means to establish himself in the favour of the
Duchess, and gain her over to his interest, that he hit upon a plan
which succeeded to the utmost, as trifles often do when more important
engines fail. The one he used was ready to his hand in the person of the
bedchamber-woman, who had been placed about the Queen by the Duchess
herself. In a letter, supposed to have been addressed to Bishop Burnet,
the Duchess gives a brief account of this person, who was her kinswoman,
in explanation to his inquiry as to the first cause of her disagreement
with the Queen.

Abigail Hill--a name rendered famous from the momentous changes which
succeeded its introduction to the political world--was the appropriate
designation of the lowly, supple, and artful being on whose secret
offices Harley relied for the accomplishment of his plans. Mistress Hill
at this time held the post of dresser and chamber-woman to her Majesty.
The world assigned certain causes for the pains which the proud
favourite (the Duchess) had manifested to place her cousin in a post
where she might have easy access to the Queen's ear, and obtain her
confidence. The Duchess, it was said, was weary of her arduous
attendance upon a mistress whom she secretly despised. She had become
too proud to perform the subordinate duties of her office, and proposed
to relieve herself of some of them, by placing one on whom she could
entirely depend, as an occasional substitute in the performance of those
duties which even habit had not taught her to endure with patience.
Since after the elevation of the Duke, in consequence of the battle of
Blenheim, she had become a princess of the empire,[44] she was supposed
to consider herself too elevated to continue those services to which she
had been enured, first in the court of the amiable Anne Hyde, then in
that of the unhappy Mary of Modena, and since, near her too gracious
sovereign, the meek, but dissembling Anne.

    [44] Lediard, vol. ii., p. 2.

The ungrateful kinswoman had been early acquainted with adversity, which
was the remote cause of her ultimate greatness. "Mrs. Masham," the
Duchess tells us, in her succinct narrative, "was the daughter of one
Hill, a merchant in the city, by a sister of my father. Our grandfather,
Sir John Jenyns, had two-and-twenty children, by which means the estate
of the family, which was reputed to be about four thousand pounds a
year, came to be divided into small parcels. Mrs. Hill had only £500 to
her fortune. Her husband lived very well for many years, as I have been
told, until turning projector, he brought ruin on himself and family.
But as this was long before I was born, I never knew there were such
people in the world till after the Princess Anne was married, and when
she lived at the Cockpit; at which time an acquaintance of mine came to
me and said, _she believed I did not know that I had relations who were
in want_, and she gave me an account of them. When she had finished her
story, I answered, _that indeed I had never heard before of any such
relations_, and immediately gave her out of my purse ten guineas for
their present relief, saying I would do what I could for them."

Not contented with conferring important benefits on Abigail's brothers
and sister, the Duchess tells us that even the _husband_ of Mrs. Masham
had several obligations to her. "It was at my instance," says the
indignant benefactress, "that he was first made a page, then an equerry,
and afterwards groom of the bedchamber to the Prince; for all which he
himself thanked me, as for favours procured by my means."

Towards the Queen, Mrs. Hill displayed a servile, humble, gentle, and
pliant manner, in singular contrast with that of the commanding and
haughty Duchess. Anne, accustomed to opposition and remonstrance, nay,
sometimes rebukes, upon certain points she had at heart, was delighted
to find that as regarded both religious opinions and politics, her lowly
attendant coincided with her. Mrs. Hill was, or pretended to be to serve
her purpose, an enemy to the Hanoverian succession, if not a partizan of
the exiled Stuarts--subjects on which the Queen and the Duchess were
known to have frequent controversies, which sometimes degenerated into
angry disputes. Such was the woman whom the Tories set up to oppose and
undermine the influence of the redoubtable Sarah. Mrs. Masham was able
to give them, by means of her court-appointment, continual access to the
Queen. She had neither the wit nor the intelligence of her rival, but
she pleased Anne by the simplicity of her manners and the amenity of
her temper. Moreover, two powerful ties, political and religious, though
strangely contradictory in their sympathies, attached her to her royal
mistress. An ardent Jacobite, she, equally with the Queen, desired the
return of the Pretender; like her, too, she was a zealous Protestant.

Carrying out Harley's injunctions, Mrs. Masham strove secretly
to sap the power and credit of the Whigs at Court, by daily
representing to Queen Anne the disquieting influence of their chief,
Marlborough--master, as he was, of the parliament, the army, the
ministry, the court,--more sovereign, in fact, than the Queen herself;
and she recalled to mind that last dismissal of the Tories, so rudely
and imperiously dictated by the Duchess. The Queen, moved even to terror
by such advice, drew closer by degrees to her new confidante, and
shortly manifested towards her a favour which the Duchess of Marlborough
was the first to perceive. But instead of seeking to revive a friendship
still endeared to the Queen, the Duchess complained sharply of it being
shared. At the same time she heaped every species of contempt, sarcasm,
and insult upon Mrs. Masham, spread the vilest calumnies about her, and
then, perceiving the inutility of her efforts, directed the current of
her wrath against the throne. In the month of August, 1708, during a
thanksgiving service at St. Paul's on the occasion of the battle of
Oudenarde, Anne found that she had not put on her diamonds, and blamed
the Duchess for the omission, it belonging to her duty as Mistress of
the Robes. The quondam favourite made her Majesty a haughty reply; and
Anne, hurt at it, repeated her reproaches with greater warmth. The
Duchess, furious, imposed silence upon her royal mistress. "I don't ask
you for an answer," she exclaimed loud enough to be heard by the court
and congregation, "don't answer me." The Queen remained silent, dreading
further scandal, but she did not forget that day's incident.[45]

    [45] The extent of her insolence towards the Queen on this occasion
    is scarcely conceivable. "The Duchess gave her her gloves to hold,"
    relates Walpole; "and, on taking them back, suddenly turned away her
    head, as though the breath of her royal mistress had imparted a
    disagreeable odour."

A year afterwards, during the autumn of 1709, another altercation took
place still more deplorable. Anne was in the habit of allowing a bottle
of wine to be daily carried to one of her laundrymaids who was ailing,
without previously asking leave of the Mistress of the Robes. This
coming to the knowledge of the Duchess, she ran after the Queen one day
as Anne was proceeding on her charitable errand, reproached her for
having usurped her functions, and behaved with such violence that the
lackeys at the bottom of the stairs could overhear what she said.
Indignant at this, Anne rose to leave the room, but the Duchess
prevented her by placing her back against the door, and, during an hour,
exhausted herself by launching invectives against her sovereign. Having
sufficiently vented her rage, the angry woman ended by saying that
doubtless she should never see her again, but she cared very little
about that. "I think," calmly replied Anne, "the seldomer the better."
The Duchess at length quitted the room, but from that day the links of
their hitherto close friendship were rudely broken, their correspondence
interrupted, and the Queen gave her entire confidence to Mrs. Masham.

The subtle Abigail was ever on the watch to closely observe the frequent
disagreements between her Majesty and the Mistress of the Robes, and did
not fail to turn them to skilful account. When the storm had subsided,
and the Queen poured into her friendly ear confidential complaints of
the absent Duchess, Abigail's sympathy, acquiescence, and responsive
condolences, were ever ready, and effected their purpose. The
lady-dresser thus gradually wormed herself into the Queen's affections,
and as gradually undermined what remained of friendly feeling between
her powerful kinswoman and their royal mistress. Every one at court had
become aware of the influence of the new favourite before the Duchess
herself perceived it; but it was not in the power of the artful
relative, nor of her tool, the Queen, much longer to blind the woman
whom they had, with true vulgarity of mind, gloried in deceiving.[46]

    [46] MSS. Brit. Mus., Coxe Papers, vol. xliv.

From the time of Mrs. Masham's admittance to close attendance on the
Queen, the Duchess seemed in a constant state of irritation and
annoyance. Her letters to Anne showed the mortification and vexation she
endured, and prove the petty and ungrateful conduct of the
bedchamber-woman, whose hold on the Queen's regard was sustained by a
thousand mean and paltry instances of treachery to her benefactress.
That Queen Anne, who had once been really attached to a woman like the
Duchess of Marlborough, could condescend to replace her by such a rival
is not a little surprising, and shows the true bent of her character to
have been such as to render her unworthy of the friendship of an honest
and high-minded woman. That the Duchess herself entered into details of
petty injuries, and descends to justify herself, cannot be wondered at;
for such subjects were forced upon her, and much as it galled her
feelings to be obliged to notice what she held in contempt, still she
had no other course to pursue.

At length, the Duchess perceived clearly enough that she had been
hoodwinked in certain matters by the Queen and Mrs. Masham, and that
without any reasonable cause for resorting to mystery or deception.
Having discovered that not only was Mrs. Hill's marriage known to the
Queen, though she had denied any knowledge of the event, but that her
Majesty had been herself at the wedding, and given a large dower to the
bride, the Duchess immediately wrote to Mrs. Masham, to desire an
explanation of her reasons for concealing so important an occurrence
from one whom she had every reason to consider her only friend. The
cautious answer which she received to her question was dictated, as she
easily perceived, by no other than Harley, whose tool she now saw, too
late, her unworthy cousin was; and it became sufficiently plain that her
empire over the mind of the weak Queen was gone.

The Duchess was, whatever her faults, upright, honest, truthtelling, and
fearless; and _she_ was long before she could suspect the treachery and
meanness of a dependent; and still longer in believing that the woman
who had for so many years been her pupil, and had been accustomed to her
frankness, could condescend to a low cabal, and, displacing her from her
councils, solace herself with the society of a person so immeasurably
her inferior.

The betrayed Mistress of the Robes could now trace the whole system of
deception which had been carried on to her injury for a considerable
time; her relative and former dependent being the chief agent--her
sovereign the accomplice. She could account for the interest which
Harley had now acquired at court by means of this new instrument. She
could explain to her astonished and irritated mind certain incidents,
which had seemed of little moment when they occurred, but which
afforded an unquestionable confirmation of all that she had learned.

When the Duchess could no longer doubt the mortifying truth, she
communicated the fact to her friend, Lord Godolphin, and to her husband,
then abroad. Marlborough wearied with these, as he considered them,
petty dissensions, wrote a somewhat stern letter to his wife. The great
soldier was annoyed and distressed at the details of paltry wrongs which
he was obliged to hear, and grown impatient, forgot that sometimes,--

"Dire events from little causes spring;"

he did not contemplate his own, his wife's, and his friend's disgrace,
from the contemptible quarrels among the women about the court.

"If you have good reasons," he writes, "for what you write of the
kindness and esteem the Queen has for Mrs. Masham and Mr. Harley, my
opinion should be, that my Lord Treasurer and I should tell her Majesty
what is good for herself; and if that will not prevail, to be quiet, and
to let Mr. Harley and Mrs. Masham do what they please; for I own I am
quite tired, and if the Queen can be safe I shall be glad. I hope the
Lord Treasurer will be of my mind; and then we shall be much happier
than by being in a perpetual struggle."

At length the mask of affected humility assumed by Mrs. Masham was
thrown off entirely; and, confident in the support of her royal
mistress, the upstart favourite exhibited all the scorn and insolence
which was in her nature. The Duchess expatiates with feminine
pertinacity upon the stinging impertinences and insulting condescensions
she had to endure from her lately exalted cousin. One instance she
dwells on with bitter recollection, for it was the first time the minion
of the Queen had dared to show her how little she regarded her.

When having with difficulty obtained an interview with Mrs. Masham, the
Duchess upbraided her with her treachery, and observed, that she was
certain no good intentions towards herself could have influenced her
actions, Abigail replied:--

"... very gravely, that she was sure the Queen, who had always loved me
extremely, would _always be very kind to me_. I was some minutes before
I could recover from the surprise with which so extraordinary an answer
struck me. To see a woman whom I had raised out of the dust put on such
a superior air, and to hear her assure me, by way of consolation, that
the Queen would always be very kind to me!--I was stunned to hear her
say so strange a thing!"

The Duchess of Marlborough was now, therefore, at open variance with her
cousin. Towards her Majesty she stood in a predicament the most curious
and unprecedented that perhaps ever existed between sovereign and
subject. The amused and astonished court beheld Anne cautiously creeping
out of that subjection in which the Duchess had, according to her
enemies, long held the timid sovereign.

A confidential friend of the Duchess, Mr. Mainwaring, remarks of her, in
one of his letters, that she was totally deficient in that "part of
craft which Mr. Hobbes very prettily calls crooked wisdom."[47] Apt, as
she herself expresses it, "to tumble out her mind," her openness and
honesty were appreciated, when at an advanced age, and after she had run
the career of five courts--by that experienced judge, the Lady Mary
Wortley Montagu, who often presumed upon the venerable Duchess's
candour in telling her unpalatable truths, which none but the honest
could have borne to hear. It was this uprightness and singleness of mind
which rendered the Duchess unwilling to believe in the duplicity and the
influence of her cousin. Warned of it by Mr. Mainwaring, it was not
until she found in the Queen a defender of Mrs. Masham's secret
marriage, that the Duchess was roused into suspicion. It was then that
she communicated her conviction to Lord Godolphin and to Marlborough,
and besought their advice and assistance.

    [47] Private Correspondence, vol. i., p. 105.

The Duke had just then prepared measures for carrying on the war, and
had completed every arrangement for his voyage into Holland; the only
thing which detained him in England was, says Cunningham, "the quarrel
among the women about the court." He desired his often-offended Duchess
"to put an end to those controversies, and to avoid all occasions of
suspicion and disgust; and not to suffer herself to grow insolent upon
the favour of fortune; "otherwise," said he, "I shall hardly be able
hereafter to excuse your fault, or to justify my own actions, however
meritorious." To which the Duchess replied, "I will take care of those
things, so that you need not be in any fear about me; but whoever shall
think to remove me out of the Queen's favour, let them take care lest
they remove themselves."

It was not long before Marlborough perceived that the Duchess was not
mistaken in her apprehensions; nor before he became painfully aware of
the fact, that services of the greatest magnitude are often not to be
weighed against slights and petty provocations.

Queen Anne, however, had some pangs of conscience, in spite of her joy
at being emancipated from the thraldom of her haughty Mistress of the
Robes, in ill-treating the great general who had filled her reign with
glory; but the uninterrupted gossip which she delighted now to indulge
in with her waiting-woman compensated for all.

Soon after Marlborough had won the sanguinary battle of Malplaquet, the
celebrated trial of the noted Doctor Sacheverell took place; on which
occasion an incident occurred which completed the downfall of the
Duchess. The prosecution of Sacheverell had been advised by the Duke,
lest he should preach him and his party out of the kingdom.



THE result of the trial of Sacheverell made Harley and the favourite
sure of the temper of the nation, and they resolved to hesitate no
longer. The cabal had succeeded, and the Queen, a tool in the hands of
others, by degrees gave up every appearance of regard for the Duchess,
or of gratitude to the Duke. Though still fighting his country's battles
and gaining immortal honours, the cabal sought to overwhelm him with
unkindness and mortification at home. On the death of Lord Essex, the
Queen was urged to give the Duke's regiment to Major Hill, Mrs. Masham's
brother. Marlborough, highly indignant, insisted on Abigail being
dismissed, or else he would resign; but the efforts of Godolphin and
other friends accommodated the matter, and he was contented with the
disposal of the regiment being left with him. To prove, as it were, the
influence of the favourite, the Queen soon after gave Hill a pension of
£1,000 a year; and she made the Duke consent to raise him to the rank of

It was Harley's plan to overthrow the Ministry by degrees; and when Lord
Godolphin was dismissed from office, the triumph of the adverse party
was complete. Thus fell the most able, and perhaps the most patriotic
administration that England had possessed since the days of Elizabeth.
It fell by disunion in itself, by the imprudent impeachment of a
contemptible divine, and by the intrigues of the bedchamber, where a
weak woman, whom the constitution had invested with power, was
domineered over by one attendant and wheedled and flattered by another.

It was thus that, after seven-and-twenty years' service and professed
friendship, Anne emancipated herself from all obligations, and shook off
the yoke which pressed too heavily on her mind, regardless of the
confusion into which her weak compliance with interested persons cast
the country.

It was now that all the malice which had been long repressed burst out,
and poured forth its vengeance on the disgraced favourite. Among other
libellers in the service of the new Ministry Swift employed his great
talents to cover her with ridicule and obloquy. In the celebrated
journal called "The Examiner," his unjust insinuations must have been
even more galling than his abuse. He represents the Duke and Duchess as
extortioners and dissipators of the public money, insatiable in their
avarice, and greedily swallowing all that they could get into their
power, disposing of places, and seizing on rewards in a manner the most
odious. "Even the Duke's courage," says Smollet, "was called in
question, and this consummate general was represented as the lowest of
mankind." Yet he did not resign; for Godolphin and the Whigs, the
Emperor, and all the allies implored him to retain the command of the
army, as otherwise all their hopes would be gone.

The clamour raised by Dr. Sacheverell's affair, not less than the
acrimonious temper of the Duchess, contributed to ruin the Whigs in the
Queen's favour, who was present _incognita_ during every debate. During
the course of Sacheverell's trial, the government advocate, in order to
establish the true Whig doctrine, calumniated by the Doctor, uttered
words which seemed revolutionary to the royal ears. It will be readily
understood that the theory of absolute obedience, preached by
Sacheverell and adopted by certain Tories, was more consonant with the
Queen's taste than the maxims of the Whigs, who asserted the dogma of
the sovereignty of nations and recognised their right of insurrection
against royalty. Anne was a zealous Protestant, and sincerely attached
to the Anglican Church, of which she was the head. She blamed the
tolerance of the Whigs, and thought with Sacheverell that it was
necessary to defend the Church both against Popery and indifferentism.

The Tories fomented these dissensions in an underhand way, turning them
dexterously against their enemies. The negotiations then set on foot in
Holland occurred still more favourably to advance their projects. Anne
had a horror of bloodshed: since her accession she had not permitted a
single political execution. She sighed deeply on hearing of the
continual levies for the war, and shed tears on receiving the long lists
of dead and wounded from the Low Countries. One day, having to sign
certain papers relative to the army, her tears were seen to blot the
paper, as she exclaimed, "Great God! when will this horrible effusion of
blood cease?" The Tories, who, like herself, wished for peace with all
their hearts, adroitly fostered her grief. With her, they deplored the
butchery of Malplaquet, the increase of taxation, the misery entailed by
the interminable campaigns, and repeated that it was time to put an end
to the sufferings of the people. Such hideous carnage seemed at last to
cry aloud to Heaven for cessation. Pity and conscience, so long stifled
and tyrannised over, claimed at length to be heard. Weighing well also a
consideration no less potent over the Queen's heart, they represented
that the Whigs were her brother's most implacable enemies--that they
had set a price upon his head--that they (the Whigs) would never
recognise, as her successor, any other king than the Elector of Hanover;
that they (the Tories), on the contrary, felt neither repulsion nor
hatred for the Pretender, and that if the good of the country demanded
it, they would willingly favour his return. Finally they dwelt upon the
odious tyranny of the Duchess of Marlborough,[48] especially in the
scenes enacted at St. Paul's and Windsor, and promised the Queen to
deliver her from a woman whom she had ceased to love, and who had begun
to terrify her.

    [48] Bolingbroke says so in express terms: "The true cause (of the
    change of Ministry) was her discontent," &c.--Secret Memoirs of Lord
    Bolingbroke, p. 18.

Lending a willing ear to such arguments, Anne gave herself up entirely
to Mrs. Masham, and the misunderstanding between the Queen and the
Duchess had become public, when a fresh outbreak of violence on the part
of the latter precipitated her disgrace.

On the occasion of a christening, at which Marlborough was to stand
godfather, the Duchess vowed that she would never consent to it if the
child were to bear the name of Anne, and she made use of an epithet
which neither a queen nor a woman could ever pardon. The word was duly
reported at St. James's. Anne heard it with the deepest indignation, and
so gross an outrage extinguished any latent spark of tenderness left in
her heart. The downfall of the Duchess and the Whigs was resolved upon.

Recognising her error when too late, the Duchess requested an audience
of the Queen, in the hope of exculpating herself. Anne, who dreaded her
furious violence, replied that she could justify herself by letter, and
to avoid the chance of an interview, left London for Kensington Palace.

Explicit, however, as was this step, it did not stop the Duchess. She
despatched a letter to the Queen, in which she excused herself, on the
score of the impossibility of writing such a justification, and
requested an interview--a proposition the most alarming conceivable to
the poor Queen, on account of the advantage which her antagonist
possessed in powers of tongue. She therefore parried it as long as
possible, and would evidently have not assented at all, had not the
Duchess extorted the permission by stratagem. Unfortunately, however,
for her success, she had told the Queen, in a letter which preceded it,
that she only desired to be seen and be heard by her Majesty. There was
no necessity, she said, for the Queen to answer. The Queen, in fact, had
answered so many of her tormentor's letters in the negative, that the
Duchess, not foreseeing what would be the consequence of this general
preclusion of response in her Majesty's favour, was resolved to prevent
further epistolary acknowledgment by following up her last letter in
person. She says, in the foolish "Account" which she gave to the world
of her "Conduct," and which had the reverse effect of what she intended
(which is the usual case with violent relaters of their own story):--

"I followed this letter to Kensington, and by that means prevented the
Queen's writing again to me, as she was preparing to do. The page who
went in to acquaint the Queen that I was come to wait upon her stayed
longer than usual; long enough, it is to be supposed, to give time to
deliberate whether the favour of admission should be granted, and to
settle the measure of behaviour if I were admitted. But, at last, he
came out and told me I might go in."

The Queen was alone, engaged in writing. "I did not open your letter
till just now," she said, "and I was going to write to you."

"Was there anything in it, Madam, that you had a mind to answer?"

"I think," continued poor Anne, who even now endeavoured to stop the
coming torrent of words, "I think there is nothing you can have to say
but you may write it."

But as this was the very thing over which the Duchess thought she had
triumphed, she must have heard the proposal with contemptuous delight;
and she proceeded accordingly to pour forth her complaints.

"I cannot write such things," exclaimed the haughty Sarah, alluding to
the grossness of the language attributed to her, adding, "Won't your
Majesty give me leave to tell it you?"

"Whatever you have to say, you may write it," was the royal answer.

"I believe your Majesty never did so hard a thing to anybody as to
refuse to hear them speak--even the meanest person that ever desired

"Yes," said the Queen, "I _do_ bid people put what they have to say in
writing, when I have a mind to it."

"I have nothing to say, Madam," replied the Duchess, "upon the subject
that is so uneasy to you. That person (Lady Masham) is not, that I know
of, at all concerned in the account that I would give you."

"You can put it into writing," reiterated the Queen, who, desirous at
any cost of avoiding a quarrel, which, from the temper of her quondam
favourite, seemed inevitable, repeated the same words several times,
purposely interrupting the Duchess, who was already beginning to defend

In spite of the Queen's injunctions, Sarah continued to affirm that she
was no more capable of making such disrespectful mention of her Majesty
than she was of killing her own children, to which Anne coolly remarked,
"There are, doubtless, many lies told on 'both sides.'"

During a whole hour, nevertheless, the Duchess strove to establish her
innocence by protestations or prayers. But the Queen's heart was
irrevocably closed. Desirous of terminating an interview that grew more
and more embarrassing, and remembering the scene in St. Paul's, when her
Mistress of the Robes had told her to be silent and make no answer, and
that lately, in writing to her, the Duchess had said that she required
no answer, or that she would not trouble the Queen to give her one, Anne
said, "You did not require an answer from me, and I will give you none."
This frigid resistance exasperated the Duchess, who, astounded to find
herself caught in her own trap, and taken at her word, declared, of
course, that the phrase was not intended to imply what it did; but the
Queen, she says, repeated it again and again, "without ever receding."

The Duchess protesting that her only design was to clear herself, the
Queen repeated over and over again, "You desired no answer, and shall
have none."

The angry but still politic Sarah next passed from prayers to
reproaches. "I will leave the room," said Anne, with dignity.

"I then begged to know if her Majesty would tell me some other time."

"You desired no answer, and you shall have none."

On hearing these words, which left no further hope, the Duchess burst
into tears; then, as though ashamed of her weakness, she withdrew into
the gallery to suppress her passionate fit of weeping. Returning after
the lapse of a few minutes, she tried a last and decisive application:

"I have been thinking," said the Duchess, "whilst I sat there, that if
your Majesty came to the Castle at Windsor, where I heard you were soon
expected, it would not be easy to see me in public now, I am afraid. I
will therefore take care to avoid being at the Lodge at the same time,
to prevent any unreasonable clamour or stories that might originate in
my being so near your Majesty without waiting on you."

"Oh," said the Queen, promptly, "you may come to me at the Castle: it
will not make me uneasy."

The Duchess, however, still persevered. "I then appealed to her Majesty
again, if she did not herself know, &c. And whether she did not know me
to be of a temper incapable of, &c."

"You desired no answer, and you shall have none."

Finding Anne thus inflexible, the Duchess rose up in a towering rage at
having vainly humiliated herself, and gave vent to her passion in a
storm of recrimination.

"This usage," concludes the Duchess, "was so severe, and these words, so
often repeated, were so shocking, &c, that I could not conquer myself,
but said the most disrespectful thing I ever spoke to the Queen in my
life; and that was, that I was confident her Majesty would suffer for
such an instance of inhumanity."

She quitted the presence, in fact, exclaiming, "God will punish you,
Madam, for your inhumanity."

"That only concerns myself," drily answered the Queen.

"And thus ended," says the Duchess, "this remarkable conversation, the
last I ever had with her Majesty." (April 6th, 1710.)

Such, too, was the end of a thirty years' friendship, and the last
interview between Anne and her once-cherished favourite.[49] The Duchess
remained in the household for a short time afterwards, but never saw her
royal mistress save on public occasions; and from that day the Queen
never spoke to her again.

    [49] Private Correspondence of the Duchess of Marlborough, vol. 1,
    p. 301.



THE disgrace of the Duchess involved the fall of the Whigs. A few days
after the scene at Kensington, Anne named two Tories to court
appointments, and next dismissed successively all the Whigs from the
Ministry--Boyle, Russell, Godolphin, and Walpole. They were replaced by
Bolingbroke, Harley, the Earl of Jersey, and the Dukes of Ormonde and
Shrewsbury. Anne spared only the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough--not
from compassion but through fear. The irate Mistress of the Robes drove
about London daily in her splendid equipage, and repeated at every visit
she made that she would publish the Queen's letters, and that some day
the infamous motives which had brought about her disgrace would be
disclosed. Whilst the timid Anne grew terrified at these menaces, the
formidable Sarah remained at St. James's, holding her head aloft and
dealing out bitter denunciations against her enemies the victorious

When the Duke of Marlborough came back from Flanders, during the
Christmas holidays, he met with the coldest reception possible. The
usual motion of thanks to him had been dropped by his friends for fear
of its being negatived by the Tory majority. The new ministers, however,
waited upon him, promising that he should have all his present military
commands, and also the nomination of the generals who were to serve
under him. His wife had never ceased making efforts at court, by means
of "_one_ person" there, who happened to be in good favour with the
Queen, and to whom the Duchess wrote long accounts of the past,
justifying herself, and exposing the ingratitude, as well as malice, of
her enemies. All these accounts that gentleman read to Anne; but he
might as well have read them to a stock or stone. According to her
Grace, the Queen never offered a word, good or ill, except on one
particular point. Lady Masham and Harley had employed Swift and other
writers to accuse the Duchess of having grossly cheated her royal
mistress of vast sums of money; and on that occasion her Majesty was
pleased to say, "Everybody knows cheating is not the Duchess of
Marlborough's crime." Where there was so much received in what was
deemed an honourable as well as regular way,[50] there was no great
temptation to embezzle and cheat; and the Duchess was in all respects a
higher-minded person than her husband, in whom love of money became at
last the ruling passion to such a degree as to make him stoop to all
kinds of mean and paltry actions. The Duchess, as Mistress of the Robes,
boasts that she had dressed the Queen for nine years for thirty-two
thousand and some odd hundred pounds; and she asks if ever Queen of
England had spent so little in robes! "It evidently appears," says her
Grace, "that, by my economy in the nine years I served her Majesty, I
saved her near ninety thousand pounds[51] in clothes alone.
Notwithstanding this," continues the Duchess, "my Lord-Treasurer
(Harley) has thought fit to order the _Examiner_ (Swift) to represent me
in print as a pick-pocket all over England; and for that honest
service, and some others, her Majesty has lately made him a Dean."

    [50] The Marlborough family were said to be in the receipt of
    £90,000 a year, including all their places and pensions.

    [51] Anne's sister, Queen Mary, had been charged £12,600 for her
    dresses one year, and £11,000 another year.

Just at this moment, the Duchess thought herself obliged to appear at
Court "on account of some new clothes which, as Groom of the Stole, she
had by her mistress's orders bought for her;" but the Queen charged the
only friend her Grace had there to advise her, as from himself, not to
come. It was scarcely possible, after this to think of retaining her
office; and it appears that the Duchess, of her own accord, sent in her
resignation. Lord Dartmouth, however, gives another version of the
matter, as follows:--

Emboldened and urged by her Ministers, Anne requested Marlborough to
demand the return of the golden Keys which were the symbols of her
office. The Duke, who dreaded the consequences of such a step, entreated
the Queen to wait till the end of the campaign, promising that he would
then retire with his wife. But Anne was driven to extremity by calumnies
that reddened her cheek with shame, and she demanded the immediate
return of the Keys. Marlborough threw himself on his knees, and
entreated her to give him at least ten days' respite. Anne consented to
three days, and that interval having expired, renewed her commands. The
Duke hastened to the palace, and demanded to be ushered into the
presence. But Anne refused to receive him until she received back her
gold Keys from the Duchess, and Marlborough at length resigned himself
to encounter his wife's anger. On reaching home, he told the Mistress of
the Robes that she must give up the golden insignia of office, which she
at first refused; but on his persistently intimating the necessity of
her resignation, she threw her gold Key on the floor, and told him to do
what he liked with it; and that then Marlborough caught it up and
carried it to the Queen.[52]

    [52] The Duchess herself says, "When, after a very successful
    campaign, the Duke of Marlborough was returned to London, the Queen
    most readily accepted the resignation that _he_ carried _from me_ of
    my offices."--_Account._

About one point there is no doubt--Anne accepted the resignation with
eagerness and joyfulness, and divided the Duchess's Court places between
Lady Masham and the Duchess of Somerset. It astonished most people to
see the Duke consent to serve when his wife was dismissed--to see him
continue to hold command of the troops under the Ministry which had
sprung out of a bed-chamber squabble, and which was sure to thwart him
in all his measures. His enemies have generally accounted for this by
assuming that the Duke's avarice was at the bottom of it; but his lady
assigns very different reasons. "The Duke of Marlborough," she says,
"notwithstanding an infinite variety of mortifications, by which it was
endeavoured to _make_ him resign his commission, that there might be a
pretence to raise an outcry against him, as having quitted his Queen's
and his country's service merely because he could not govern in the
cabinet as well as in the field, continued to serve yet another
campaign. All his friends here, moved by a true concern for the public
welfare, pressed him to it, the confederates called him with the utmost
importunity, and Prince Eugene entreated him to come with all the
earnestness and passion that could be expressed." These were certainly
powerful inducements, and they may have mingled (together with that
passionate fondness for a fine army which every good general must
contract) with Marlborough's love of money.

Mr. Hallam says, with strong and proper feeling, "It seems rather a
humiliating proof of the sway which the feeblest prince enjoys even in
a limited monarchy, that the fortunes of Europe should have been changed
by nothing more noble than the insolence of one waiting woman and the
cunning of another. It is true that this was effected by throwing the
weight of the crown into the scale of a powerful _faction_; yet the
House of Bourbon would probably not have reigned beyond the Pyrenees but
for Sarah and Abigail at Queen Anne's toilette."[53]

    [53] Hallam--Constitutional History.

The Queen, altogether unmindful of her former warm attachment to her
Mistress of the Robes, overjoyed to find herself free, wrote, with her
own hand, the dismissal of the Duchess, and gave herself up to her

The Duchess, quite beside herself with chagrin and fury, only thought of
some means or other of revenge. As a first step she demanded payment of
the arrears of her pension--a boon she had with great high-mindedness
refused on Anne's accession. But that was not all. When she was about to
quit the sphere of her palace triumphs, she gave directions for the
removal of the locks from the doors and the marble chimney-pieces she
had put up at her own cost in her apartments. "It is all very well,"
remarked the Queen to her Secretary of State, "but tell the Duchess if
she demolishes the fittings-up of my palace, she may depend upon it that
I will not build hers at Woodstock." The Duchess consented to abandon
the chimney-pieces, and withdrew at once to her country seat, near St.
Alban's, where she lived in a style of great magnificence.

In the retirement of private life, Marlborough, worn out with the harass
attendant upon such a lengthened succession of arduous campaigns, and
wearied with political intrigue, now hoped to enjoy that which he had
for years longed for--the society of those so dear to him, from whom he
had been so many years separated. But it was not to be. Quiet happiness
in the evening of his eventful life was not destined to be his lot. His
wife, for whom he had ever shown such strong and unalterable affection,
was a woman thwarted in all her designs--outraged, injured, mortified,
and disgusted with the court and with the world. She was no longer
young, nor possessed of the great attractions which had formerly thrown
a veil over the deformities of her temper, which, always violent, had
now become soured by adversity. She had no indulgence left for others.
Dissatisfied with her friends, her children, and everything about her,
she was disposed to wrangle and dispute on the slightest provocation.

Next came a great affliction--more deeply felt by both, perhaps, than
either the fickleness of the Queen or the virulence of their political
enemies--the death under their own roof at St. Alban's of their
long-tried, attached, and amiable friend, Lord Godolphin. This sad event
determined Marlborough to reside abroad until happier days dawned--their
ungrateful country no longer offering any charms for them. His
long-cherished desire for rural leisure, retirement, and the quiet
enjoyments of private life had ended in disappointment. The master of
wealth and great possessions, palatial edifices rising around him, and
rank, glory, and well-earned honour his own; yet was he the mark of
envy, hatred, and jealousy. Not even could he and the Duchess enjoy and
return the ordinary courtesies of society without incurring observation
and provoking suspicion. His enemies had triumphed, his Queen was cold
and unjust, and now his dearly-loved friend, his adviser and confidant,
the sharer of his sorrows, his consoler and encourager, was no more. A
blight had fallen upon his existence.

Marlborough sailed from Dover to Ostend in October, 1712, and his wife
followed him in a few months afterwards, she having remained behind to
arrange his or her own affairs. The Duke was furnished with a passport,
it is said, by the instrumentality of his early favourite and secret
friend Bolingbroke. His request to see the Queen before his departure
from her dominions was refused; and the apathetic Anne never again saw
her great general, or the woman for whom she once professed so strong an
attachment. When it was told her that both he and the Duchess had left
England, she coolly remarked to the Duchess of Hamilton--"the Duke of
Marlborough has done wisely to go abroad."

Thus was the illustrious soldier, then sixty-two years of age, and the
Duchess in her fifty-second year, driven from their country by the
machinations of a party too strong for them to resist without the
especial favour of the Queen.




MADAME DES URSINS had long continued fearlessly to face the storm that
growled all around her, and by degrees the horizon showed signs of
clearing. As it often happens in the course of human affairs, the
occupation of the capital by the enemy had an effect contrary to that
which it was very natural to expect. The allies, who had entered Madrid
as conquerors, found within that city none of the elements necessary for
the definitive establishment of the Archduke who was proclaimed amidst a
chilling silence. If the grandees almost to a man evinced their sympathy
for the House of Austria, if the staff of the administration and the
personal machinery of all the public departments, remained at their
posts at the price of an oath which did not seem to cost more in those
days than at present, the populace of Madrid showed an aversion to the
foreigners which soon manifested itself in numerous assassinations. How
could it be otherwise than that the ancient soil of Castile should heave
on finding itself trampled on by the partisans of a loyalty hailed with
acclamation at Saragossa and Barcelona; on witnessing those outbursts of
insolent triumph on the part of the Portuguese, who, in the eyes of
every Spaniard, were still rebels; and the contemptuous phlegm of Lord
Galloway's army, commanded, as it was, by a heretic _condottiere_?
Outside the official spheres, the isolation was therefore complete, and
during that three months' crisis the errant royalty of Philip V.,
represented by his courageous consort, struck indestructible roots in
the hearts of his subjects. The northern shores and the great province
of Andalusia, joining to those divers motives the hatred with which
England inspired the maritime population, resolutely declared for the
House of Bourbon, to such an extent that, beyond the territories of the
ancient realm of Arragon, the moral conquest of the kingdom was very
nearly consummated, despite the foreign occupation, and through the
effect of that very same occupation. The position of the foreigners at
Madrid had never been anything else than provisory; and it was with
transports of joy that the Anglo-Portuguese troops were seen to hastily
evacuate the capital on the approach of another French army, which
advanced through Navarre under the command of the Duke of Berwick.[54]
Philip V. was soon able to re-enter Madrid as a liberator, and a galleon
from Mexico brought him most opportunely a million of crowns. On the
25th of April, 1707, Berwick completely defeated the allies near
Almanza, and the Duke of Orleans covered himself with glory by the
capture of Lerida, which had previously resisted the great Condé.

    [54] Natural son of James II. of England, by Arabella Churchill,
    sister of the Duke of Marlborough.

The influence of Madame des Ursins became greatly enhanced after these
unhoped-for successes, and both Philip V. and the cabinet of Versailles
equally testified their gratitude to her. She had manifested an
inflexible devotedness in the midst of reverses, and adversity had taken
its full measure of her. Never, throughout the course of her chequered
career, had Madame des Ursins shown more activity than during the six
months which intervened between the return of the Court to Madrid and
the battle of Almanza. Her position was as delicate as it was perilous.
It was necessary to stigmatise flagrant defections, but without driving
anyone altogether to desperation. She profited by the confidence she had
won to bring about happily an important reform. Spain, composed of
divers kingdoms successively annexed, had not yet attained unity. More
than ever, after the experiences of 1706, was seen the necessity of a
centralisation which should re-unite in the hands of the new dynasty the
entire strength of the government, which should extinguish injurious
rivalries between province and province, which should facilitate
administrative relations, and allow of an equal action in the different
parts of the monarchy. Each kingdom hitherto had had its laws, its
customs, its constitution (_fueros_). Already in 1705 certain
restrictions had been imposed by Castile upon Arragon: no more dared be
attempted. The battle of Almanza and the successes of 1707 inspired
still further energy. In the council, the party of Madame des Ursins,
leaning on the assent of Berwick, overcame the opposition of Montellano
and the friends of the old system; and the pragmatic sanction, or
constitution of Castile, became the sole law of Spain.

The victory of Almanza was, in fact, the last service rendered to Philip
V. by his native country. From that day forward, France, menaced upon
its frontiers, constrained to appropriate all its resources to its own
safety, became an obstacle and a permanent peril to Spain. The former
compromised the Spanish monarchy by its military operations, and far
more gravely still by its diplomatic negotiations. In this new phase,
signalised by the almost constant antagonism of the two courts, the
position of Madame des Ursins was one of the most critical nature; but
we are about to see her, with her habitual rectitude of judgment, take
unhesitatingly the part alike dictated by honour as by sound policy.

It was at this juncture that the gravity of events determined Louis XIV.
upon being represented in Spain by his nephew, the Duke of Orleans. That
prince, in two campaigns, had subdued the kingdom of Valentia and the
greatest part of Arragon, after taking fortresses in Catalonia hitherto
deemed impregnable. Inspired by the ambition of the chief of his race,
he had made his military services subservient to the extension of
monarchical authority, and had solemnly abolished, in the name of Philip
V. in Arragon, the anarchical privileges which weakened the royal power
without efficaciously strengthening the liberties of Spain. Distrusted
by those he came ostensibly to defend, and, from the first, an object of
suspicion to Madame des Ursins, still the correspondence of the Princess
with Madame de Maintenon and the Maréchale de Noailles from April, 1707,
to November, 1708, the date of the duke's departure, shows that the
relations of the latter with the _camerara-mayor_ were for a long time
maintained on the best footing, the dissolute habits of the Duke of
Orleans proving less disgusting to Madame des Ursins than the accuracy
of his insight into public affairs appears to have charmed her. The
rupture of this good understanding, which, however, took place silently,
was one among other results greatly to be regretted of the dark intrigue
into which certain obscure agents momentarily led astray the ambition of
Anne of Austria's grandson--a machination the more disastrous to the
prince, whose honour it impugned, than to the King of Spain, who
received no injury from it during the Duke of Orleans' sojourn within
his territories; the movements of Flotte and Renault, his emissaries,
having only assumed some small degree of importance after his departure.

It is a knotty point of history altogether; but the fact is clear that
the Duke was the centre of the faction opposed to the Princess, and that
around him were banded those with whom she had either clashed or whom
she had overcome. The moment was badly chosen for intriguing; to save
the state should have been the sole aim of the Duke of Orleans. The
allies, for an instant discouraged after Almanza, had not lost all hope.
Their successes in Italy and in Germany soon consoled them for that
reverse, and their armies became once more menacing. It was then that
the Duke of Orleans, it is said, conceived the hope, if not of governing
all Spain, at least of obtaining the kingdoms of Murcia, Valentia, and
Navarre. He himself avowed later to the Duke de Saint-Simon that, seeing
Philip V. tottering, "he had allowed himself to indulge the hope of
being put in his place;" hence his double-faced conduct and strange
manoeuvres. He might not have been willing, doubtless, to pull down the
King of Spain with his own hand, but he did not, of course, steadfastly
desire a triumph which marred his own fortunes. That which, however, may
be affirmed with certainty is, that he maintained with different foreign
generals, among others with the Earl of Stanhope, very suspicious
negotiations; that he designedly did all he could to impede the progress
of the Spanish Government, and seemed, in all he did, solely concerned
in not overstepping that loosely-defined line at which treason begins.
However that might be, Madame des Ursins, strenuously opposed to the
policy which the Duke of Orleans desired to see prevail, and moreover
scarcely able to endure the hostile attitude of that Prince, demanded
his recall and obtained it.

After his departure she pursued him in the persons of his two agents,
Renault and Flotte, whom she had arrested. As for his friend, Marshal de
Bezons, whose hasty retreat upon the banks of the Segra excited the
indignation of the Spanish court, he lost his command. She even
denounced the Duke of Orleans to his royal uncle, and the erring nephew
had very great difficulty in escaping a scandalous trial. He was forced,
therefore, to renounce his ambitious hopes with regard to Spain, if ever
he had seriously nourished them. Such an exposure, rendered his return
to the Peninsula impossible. His faction was speedily dispersed. One of
the noblemen with whom he had had very intimate relations, the Duke of
Medina-Coeli, minister for foreign affairs and head of the grandee
party, was suddenly arrested and taken to the Castle of Segovia.
Whether, as Saint Simon intimates, it was that "weary of the yoke of
Madame des Ursins, he desired _pointer de son chef_," whether that,
favourable to the Duke of Orleans, perhaps even to the allies, he had
voluntarily caused the failure of the expedition which the Spanish
government meditated against Sardinia, or whether he had dreamed of an
anti-French reaction, he ended his days in a state prison.

Whilst the government of Philip V., was working its way very laboriously
through that maze of conspiracies and intrigues, the allies regained the
ground which Almanza had lost them. "Despite all the efforts of Madame
des Ursins," wrote the Chevalier du Bourk, her agent, at Versailles,
"matters are going badly at Madrid." France, discouraged and weighed
down, moreover by its own reverses, seemed no longer able to defend
Philip V.; Louis XIV., whatever might have been his secret intentions,
was not willing to appear to support his grandson; the Austrians
thoroughly defeated Philip at Saragossa. The severe winter of 1709 had
brought the general distress to a climax; and the Archduke Charles made
his entrance into Madrid. The court of Versailles became
terror-stricken. Madame de Maintenon, outwearied with this everlasting
strife, changed the tone of her letters to a cold and sometimes ironic
vein. She went so far as to say to the Princess, "It is not agreeable to
us here that women should busy themselves with state affairs."[55] Louis
XIV., himself, advised his grandson to abandon Spain in order to keep

    [55] Recueil de M. Geffroy, p. 395.

Madame des Ursins had thus to choose between the French policy, imposed
upon Louis XIV. by cruel necessity, and the Spanish policy, for which
Philip V. was resolved to die. On one hand, the young mother, who had
just confided to her care an infant son she had conceived in anguish,
appealed most touchingly to her attachment and courage; on the other,
Madame de Maintenon, whose sole solicitude was to insure repose to Louis
XIV., by plucking out one after another all the thorns from his crown,
reminded her that she was born a Frenchwoman, and that she owed too much
to the Great King to arrogate to herself the right of contradicting him.
A subject of Louis XIV., did she dare combat at Madrid the plans decided
upon at Versailles? The governess of the heir to the crown of Spain,
could she concur by her advice in despoiling the infant whose first
caresses she was receiving? Madame des Ursins could only escape by a
prompt departure from the difficulties of such an alternative.
Incontestable facts prove that she so understood her position, and that
she was fully determined to quit Spain towards the close of 1709; but
the despair of the Queen, the state of whose health at that time gave
but too serious grounds for alarm, alone hindered her from following out
a project which promised more flattering results than any other in the
deep depression into which the resolves of France had plunged her.

Madame des Ursins had no sooner taken the resolution of remaining upon
the theatre of events, and of sustaining the King of Spain in the noble
career to which his conscience and the national will alike bound him,
than she threw herself headlong into the _mêlée_, caring nothing more
for the Versailles policy, and burning her ships with a boldness of
which her gentleness of character seemed to have rendered her incapable.
Her epistolary style undergoes also a marked change, and rises with the
loftiness of her part and character. In reproaching Madame de Maintenon
for preferring the King's ease to that of his honour, she launches
shafts against her which, though tipped with elegance, are none the less
sharp-pointed, sometimes in the shape of studied reproaches, but more
frequently still with the spontaneous overflowings of a towering wrath.
The writer then reveals herself from beneath the guise of the woman of
the world, and it is clearly seen that in that encompassed life the
heart has for a moment triumphed over the intelligence.

Madame des Ursins alone, however, remained unshaken. She might well
have, it is true, some moments of misgiving; such as when she wrote to
Madame de Noailles, "I have foreseen, for a long time, the precipice
over which they would hurl us, and to the brink of which we ourselves
are hurrying, and I know not, by Heaven, who can save us from it." With
admirable eloquence she encouraged Madame de Maintenon, who appeared to
despair of the divine protection; and she inspired Philip V. with an
energy truly worthy of the throne, shown in that noble letter in which
the King of Spain declared to his grandfather "that, in spite of the
misfortune which confronted him, he would never abandon his subjects."
Madame des Ursins in all probability dictated the phraseology, and all
the glory of it resulted from her firmness.

She thoroughly comprehended that it became sovereigns worthy of their
position to speak loftily, were it from the depth of an abyss, and that
that supreme courage is itself the first indication of a return of good
fortune. She soon found that it was so; for from the moment that the
King's cause seemed to be lost, the animosities of the grandees gave way
before their patriotism. Whether they were at length inspired by so much
energy, whether the expulsion of the French from every post throughout
the state, decreed by Philip V. under the advice of Madame des Ursins,
had well disposed their minds, "almost all, by a sudden awakening of
chivalrous fidelity," submitted to the House of Bourbon. The Archduke
awaited in vain their homage and their oaths. At the moment of his
entrance into the capital, curiosity itself failed to attract any one to
cross his path; a solitude and sullen gloom pervaded all the public
places. He did not even proceed so far as the royal palace, but went out
by the Alcala gate, muttering, "It is a deserted city."

Without hesitation, therefore, Madame des Ursins placed herself at the
head of the national movement, seeking to pluck the safety of Spain from
the very abandonment in which France had left that monarchy. Without
breaking off confidential relations with her usual correspondents at
Versailles, she enveloped them in the thickest possible veil, her sole
idea being to stimulate Castilian patriotism, appearing to adopt
everything Spanish from its popular costumes, even to its hatreds and
its prejudices. By the aid of a _sombrero_ and a _gollil_[56] Don Luis
d'Aubigny had become a perfect _caballero_; the like transformation
being effected throughout the entire staff of the palace household, and
shortly afterwards a very decided step characterised the novel attitude
assumed by Philip and his court. Madame des Ursins, who reckoned her
chief enemies amongst the monarch's French household, decided that
prince upon the dismissal in mass of all his non-Spanish domestics--an
unexpected resolve which produced an immense sensation on both sides of
the Pyrenees; because, whilst subserving a personal vengeance skilfully
dissimulated, it gave sanction to a policy the harshness of which was
pushed even to ingratitude.

    [56] A sort of collar.

To throw Philip V. into the arms of the Spaniards, was to flatter alike
the democracy and the grandees. To the populace Madame des Ursins
presented, amidst the most fervent benediction, the Prince of Asturias;
to the grandees, of whom she had long been the declared enemy, she
caused to be given a striking proof of the royal confidence. The Duke de
Bedmar, appointed to the ministry of war, was charged with the
organization of the new levies, and the direction of the troops in all
parts of the kingdom. To transform the grandson of Louis XIV. into a
peninsula king was to furnish the best argument to the partisans of
peace, already numerous in the British parliament. On the other hand,
that same policy could not very seriously disquiet the cabinet of
Versailles. The King knew that he might count upon every sacrifice from
the respectful attachment of his grandson, save that of the throne; and
although he had adhered officially to the principle of the dispossessing
of Philip V., he could not regret, either as sovereign or as grandsire,
the obstacles which the more resolute attitude of Spain then opposed to
the enemies of the two crowns. Louis XIV. therefore continued,
notwithstanding his diplomatic engagements, to secretly assist in the
Peninsula what might be called the party of _fara da se_. Madame des
Ursins had recovered her influence at Versailles from the moment at
which it was found necessary to depend, in order to prolong the
struggle, rather upon the military resources of Spain than upon those of
France at bay. To impart more gravity to the national movement, to which
she gave the impulse in order to remain the moderatrix, she had required
the recall of Amelot, who had long assumed at Madrid the attitude of a
prime minister rather than that of an ambassador; and Louis XIV.,
deferring to that wish, had replaced that experienced agent by a simple
_chargé d'affaires_. Orry was in like manner sacrificed, despite his
invaluable services; but, at the same time that she gave satisfaction by
the withdrawal of her friends in deference to the popular
susceptibilities, the Princess earnestly implored that the Duke de
Vendôme might be sent to take command of the Spanish forces; and Louis
XIV., on his part, at the moment that he was compelled to withdraw from
Spain the last French soldier, despatched thither the general who was
destined to save his grandson's crown.

Arriving in Spain sometime during the summer of 1710, Vendôme displayed
an activity which did not seem to comport with his habits, in order to
reunite and arm the volunteers, who, from the summit of the Sierras,
descended in swarms upon the plains of the two Castiles at the summons
of a monarch become the personification of a patriot. He speedily
transformed into a powerful and well-trained army the undisciplined
_guerillas_ whose bravery had hitherto been useless; in a few months,
the Anglo-Austrian army, at the head of which the prince who called
himself Charles III. had been able to show himself for a few hours in
the deserted capital, was confronted by disciplined troops prepared to
retake territories which until then had not been seriously disputed.
Under the irresistible impulse of a noble patriotism which had at last
recovered itself, the English force of Lord Stanhope capitulated at
Brihuega after a terrible carnage, and Stahrenberg, crushed in his turn
at Villaviciosa, carried away by his flight the last hopes of the House
of Austria.

By the victory of Villaviciosa the House of Bourbon was definitively
seated on the throne of Charles the Fifth. Philip V. slept that night
(10th December, 1710) upon a couch of standards taken from the enemy:
the Austrian cause was lost; and Madame des Ursins, who, in spite of
Europe coalesced, in spite of Louis XIV. hesitating and disquieted, in
spite of so many disasters, had never trembled, received the title of
HIGHNESS, and saw her steadfast policy at length crowned by accomplished

Spain had thus solved by her own efforts solely the great question which
had kept Europe so long in arms. At the commencement of 1711, Philip V.
had acquired for his throne a security that Louis XIV. had not yet
obtained for the integrity of his own frontiers, and without mistaking
the influence of the victory of Denain, so wonderfully opportune, it is
just, we think, to allow a far larger share than is customary to the
thoroughly Spanish victory of Villaviciosa in the unhoped-for conditions
obtained by France at the peace of Utrecht.



IF the new ministry of Queen Anne succeeded in inducing the English
nation to support the treaty of Utrecht, that was nothing less than to
prove undeniably, without fear of contradiction, that the establishment
of the French dynasty in the Peninsula had there acquired the authority
of a fact irrevocably accomplished. The resuscitation of the Spanish
nation had, therefore, a decisive effect upon European affairs; and
whilst, by leaving France almost intact, the treaties of Utrecht had
parcelled out the monarchy of the catholic kings, the authors of the
great popular movement crowned by the victory of Villaviciosa might
consider without prejudice their country as sacrificed, notwithstanding
the weight which it had flung into the scales.

In this work Madame des Ursins had had certainly a very considerable
share, and it was with a very legitimate pride that through it she was
enabled to prevail at Versailles as at Madrid. A perseverance unexampled
both in idea and conduct, a rare suppleness in the means, had made her
the principal instrument of an enterprise in which a virile ambition,
united to a deep devotedness, sustained her. Undismayed by reverses,
never intoxicated by success, she tempered by her equanimity the at
times imprudent ardour of the young Queen, and reanimated by her
firmness the frequent retrocessions of her morose consort. She
rejoiced, therefore, with a scarcely veiled pride in that security for
the future which Spain had conquered before France, and in her
correspondence with Madame de Maintenon her letters began to assume a
somewhat protective tone. It was at this culminating point of her
greatness that fate was preparing to inflict upon her the humiliating
catastrophe which again obscured the remembrance of her services and
even the honour of her name.

It is unnecessary to recapitulate the means by which peace was
re-established, how the fall of the Whig ministry and the elevation of
the Archduke to the imperial throne after the death of Joseph I. brought
England and the other allied powers into the treaties which confirmed
Philip V. in the peaceable possession of the Spanish monarchy. We will
not dwell upon these details, nor upon divers acts of interior policy
which followed upon the victory of Villaviciosa. Let us confine our
attention solely to those in which the Princess des Ursins took an
active part. The first was the pursuance of the administrative
centralisation of which we have spoken; the abolition of the council
exclusively called the Council of Castile, for which she caused to be
substituted a council of state, the members of which should be chosen
from every part of Spain, and which became the centre of the government.
The second was a reform in the finance department; Orry being in these
measures the Princess's instrument, and he justified the long-continued
esteem with which she had honoured his talents. It was thus that after
having successively saved the monarchy from a policy exclusively French,
and from the factious pretensions of the grandees, after having
contributed to the defeat of Austria, Madame des Ursins sought to
consolidate on firm bases the power of Philip V. and prepare a happier
future for Spain.

She was not destined, however, to long enjoy the fruits of her triumph.
It was a symptomatic sign of this new phase of her life, the universally
unfavourable interpretation given to an affair which should rather be
looked upon in the light of a check than of a fault. It is well known
that Philip, desirous of recognising the devotedness of his son's
governess, and of assuring to that noble lady an independent position
which should not be below her birth, had stipulated, at the time of the
preliminaries of peace, for the reservation of a territory in the
Spanish low countries ceded to Austria, which he destined to form into a
sovereignty for Marie Anne de la Trémouille. This negotiation, which
bore successively upon the county of Limbourg and the small seigniory of
La Roche-en-Ardennes, had been received at first at Versailles with the
most entire approbation, for the reproach of "_playing the queen_" only
occurred as an after-thought. The gratitude of their Catholic Majesties
was found to be quite natural, and was warmly praised, especially by
Madame de Maintenon. It is not at all to be wondered at, consequently,
if Madame des Ursins should blandly contemplate such a prospect,
especially in anticipation of the approaching demise of her well-beloved
protectress, who could not fail to be soon replaced in the confidence
and couch of her consort. The Court of France did not change its opinion
until that affair of La Roche, very annoyingly taken by the Dutch, had
become the occasion of a delay in the signing of the general peace. Then
Madame des Ursins was overwhelmed by reproaches on all sides, and those
which came from Saint Cyr were of a peculiarly acrimonious character,
which we must not join the Duke de Saint Simon in attributing to a
jealousy of which there exists no trace, but which is explained by
Madame de Maintenon's desire to secure repose to Louis XIV. at any cost.
These reproaches, moreover, were without foundation, for the accusers of
the Princess should have considered that, if France had the right to
await with lively impatience the signature of a treaty which secured to
her almost all her conquests, it was quite otherwise with Spain, called
upon by that same treaty to pay alone the costs of the pacification. The
measures of 1713, the conclusion of which was in fact retarded for a few
months by the interest and intervention of Madame des Ursins, had been
received with a very natural indignation in the monarchy of Charles V.,
from which they tore away the Milanese, the Two Sicilies, Sardinia, the
Low Countries, Port Mahon, and Gibraltar. So France can now easily
decide whether it had been in 1815 an unpardonable crime in her eyes to
cause by a dilatory question the adjournment of the signing of the
treaties of Vienna.

That check was the first in a series of misfortunes which death alone
was henceforward destined to bring to a close. Early in 1714 died very
suddenly, at the age of twenty-six, Marie Louise of Savoy, her delicate
frame worn out by an ardent temperament, which had sustained it whilst
the storm raged, and which declined when the breath of the hurricane had
ceased to kindle it further. The remains of the young Queen had scarcely
descended into the vaults of the Escurial ere the nation demanded to
know who was to be the new queen-consort; and the same question was
addressed to Madame des Ursins by the Court of Versailles, so well were
known there both the requirements and the austerity of the King of
Spain. What passed during the eight months of that widowhood so
painfully borne? What mysteries did the Medina Coeli palace witness, in
which Madame des Ursins shut up closely Philip V. from the gaze of every
prying eye? Such questions can never now be answered with certainty, for
the reports put into circulation in France by Saint Simon and Duclos, in
Italy by Poggiali, and in England by Fitz-Maurice, had their common
source in the conversations of Alberoni, one of the least scrupulous
actors in the drama of the _Quadruple Alliance_. Did the elderly
_camerara mayor_, already three-score and ten, dare to spread alluring
snares wherein to entrap an amorous prince of thirty? And did such
tentative, more strange than audacious, succeed to the extent of binding
Philip's conscience in some way? History will never answer the question.
Instead, therefore, of hazarding conjectures, it will be well to confine
our attention to the well-authenticated political acts of the Princess
at this, to her, serious conjuncture.

In losing her royal mistress, the powerful favourite lost along with her
the greatest portion of her strength. It was the remote signal which
heralded her fall. At the same time it did not appear that her energy
had become diminished, or her intelligence clouded, but that her
ordinary prudence had abandoned her. Perhaps, having attained such an
elevation, she dreaded no further reverse, and believed herself secure
enough, in the universal esteem and admiration in which she was held, to
venture upon anything. However that might be, as though her brain had
grown dizzy, she destroyed with her own hands, not her skilfully raised
political edifice, but the structure of her individual fortunes.

Her first imprudence was to attack the Spanish Inquisition. Spain was
not then ripe for that reform accomplished only a century later. Much
less, as it appears to us, should Madame des Ursins, under the influence
of a preconceived religious opinion, with the object of strengthening
the royal authority, have attempted its sudden suppression. Far be it
from us, certainly, to think of defending the Spanish Inquisition. But
it cannot be denied that that institution had vigorously defended Philip
V., and in the eyes of the people was part and parcel, as it were, of
Spain itself. It seemed as though French ideas alone demanded such a
reform, and hence popular suspicion was excited. The Princess failed in
her attempt; but she had voluntarily created for herself a host of
enemies, who from that moment laboured to effect her ruin.

We have already said that, cherishing the hope of obtaining for herself
an independent sovereignty, the difficulties arising from her
pretensions had delayed the conclusion of the treaty of peace. Louis
XIV. was indignant at finding his negotiations fettered and himself
involved in an unavoidable opposition to the wishes of his grandson. As
for Madame de Maintenon, whether the interests of France, compromised by
these delays, had alone provoked her resistance, or whether, as Saint
Simon declares, that that independent sovereignty which she herself felt
was so little beyond her reach offended her pride by making her feel the
distance between their several ranks and births, she opposed the desire
of her old friend, and peace was concluded by the authority of Louis
XIV. But the King had a grudge against the Princess for having driven
him to such extremity. Besides, just then his own dynasty had been
fatally stricken. The Duke of Burgundy and his eldest son, the Duke of
Brittany, had died. The heir to the throne was an infant only three
years old. The Court foresaw the Regency of the Duke of Orleans, a
personal enemy of Madame des Ursins, and it was dangerous, by leaving
her at the head of affairs in Spain, to prepare, probably, for the
future a disastrous rivalry.

The storm thus darkened thickly over the head of this imperious woman,
who, supported against her enemies so long as she had been useful, was
subject to the common law of favourites, and began to totter when she
appeared no longer so. One resource remained to her--to remarry Philip
V. She was anxious to find a consort who could replace in her interests
Marie Louise, and restore her waning influence. Her incertitude was
great: she felt truly that in spite of past services her future fate
depended upon her choice. At length she cast her eyes upon Elizabeth
Farnese, daughter of the last Duke of Parma, and niece of the then
existent Duke, and thought that gratitude for such an extraordinary turn
of fortune would for ever secure the attachment of a princess who,
without her influence, could never have had pretensions to such an
union. But she was anxious to ascertain whether Elizabeth Farnese was
one of those who would submit to be ruled, and she opened her mind upon
the subject to a man then obscure but afterwards celebrated--Alberoni,
who had been sent as consular agent from Parma to Madrid. He had
frequent conversations with the great favourite, and readily succeeded
in insinuating himself into her good graces. He described the Princess
of Parma as simple minded, religious, ignorant of the world from which
she had always lived secluded--in short, perfectly fitting to forward
the design of the Princess. In making such statements he reckoned at the
same time upon pleasing his own Court, and bringing about the fall of
Madame des Ursins; for he knew well that Elizabeth, whose character was
very different from that which he had represented, would not submit to
be governed by any one. Dazzled, therefore, with the smiling vista which
chance had so unexpectedly opened to him, and understanding all the
importance which he might derive from the negotiation of such marriage,
and finding, moreover, Madame des Ursins well disposed beforehand
towards him, and, by a singular blindness, inclined to put implicit
confidence in one whose interest it was to conceal the truth, he
secretly set off for Parma on his delicate mission. By this first move
the Princess's game was lost.



IT was the peculiar misfortune of Madame des Ursins to scarcely meet
with a single sincere friend in Spain: she was submitted to there,
rather than accepted. She had been sought after through interest or fear
rather than through sympathy; but especially since the Queen's decease,
since no one save herself was seen by the King's side, and that the
strokes of her power were dealt without any apparent intermediator, she
was no longer tolerated, save with infinite difficulty. Neither can it
be concealed that, at this period, she had not acted in a way to
diminish the number of her enemies, or to conciliate them. She was of
opinion that the Duke of Berwick had not sufficiently defended her at
Versailles against their machinations: she broke with him in 1714,
before he returned from Catalonia. She did her utmost to have Tessé
chosen to replace him, whom she pronounced quite capable of taking
Barcelona; and, on learning that Berwick was nevertheless appointed, she
hastened to banish Ronquillo, for something he had uttered against the
Government, but in reality because he was the intimate friend of that
general.[57] Two nobles were also imprisoned at this time--Don Manuel de
Sylva, commandant of the galleys of Sicily, already temporarily exiled
in 1709 for having (so said the sentence) "spoken ill of her," and Don
Valerio d'Aspetia, Lieutenant-General. Both were declared enemies of
Madame des Ursins, and the first had moreover the fault of being closely
connected with the Duke d'Uzeda. Valerio d'Aspetia died in prison, at
the age of seventy, and after fifty years of service, a lamentable loss,
and which involved that of his still young and lovely wife, whose days
were cut short through grief and poverty. Besides all this, must be
noticed a suspicious jealousy of domination over Philip V., which was
fearfully developed when that prince found himself a widower, and which
betrayed itself in very disagreeable actions.

    [57] Memoirs of Saint Philippe, tom. iii., p. 88.

Saint Simon tells us that, after the death of Marie Louise of Savoy,
Madame des Ursins usually supped with the King, and had him transferred
from the palace of the Buen-Retiro, in which the Queen had died, to that
of Medina Coeli. There she caused a corridor to be constructed, leading
from the King's cabinet to the apartments of the young princes, wherein
she was lodged; and it was not, as may be imagined, to facilitate
communications between a bereaved father and his children, who had
become doubly dear to him, but, according to our authority, in order
that it might never be known whether the King was alone or with her. She
was in such haste to see this secret passage completed, that, to the
great scandal of Catholic Spain, she had the work carried on during
Sundays and saints' days as well as upon ordinary days. This was pushed
to such an extent, that a great number of pious persons no less than
thrice asked Father Robinet, the most exemplary of the confessors Philip
V. ever had, if he were not aware of such unlawful labour, and when it
was that he intended it should cease. To which the subtle Jesuit, who
was unwilling to be accused of laxity in morals, replied that the King
had not spoken to him upon the subject, alluding to his relations with
Philip as his Confessor, in which relation alone he wished it to be
understood that he was to be considered--always adding, for their
satisfaction, that if he had been consulted in the matter, he would not
have failed to say that, to complete that criminal corridor, work should
never have been so permitted, but that to effect its destruction, the
labourers might have worked at it even on Easter Day.[58]

    [58] Mémoires de Saint Simon, tom. xx., p. 171, 172.

This statement of Saint Simon, quite insupportable as it is, would
nevertheless leave subsisting, in the melancholy position of the
children and their father, a means of justification to Madame des
Ursins, did not Duclos deprive her of it; and who, less charitable than
the authority whom he generally cites when treating of this celebrated
woman, tells us purely and simply that she desired to facilitate the
communication of her own apartments with those of the King, which leaves
ample room for slander and suspicion. He goes still further. Improving
upon Saint Simon, and showing himself better acquainted with the
particulars than the Duke, he mentions a very aggravating fact, which
was, that, in order to construct that very suspicious means of
communication, it was necessary to demolish a monastery of Capuchins,
and that in consequence "dead bodies were disinterred, the Holy
Sacrament dislodged from the church, the monks quitting it in
procession, amidst exclamations of "Oh, sacrilege! Oh, profanation!"
from all Madrid."[59]

    [59] Memoirs of Duclos (Petitot's Collection), tom. i., p. 230.

Happily, Duclos is merely in this the servile copyist of a Spanish
author, whose contradictions and bad feeling it would be very easy to
expose. He has reproduced word for word the version to be found in the
_Mémoires sur l'Espagne_, printed as a sequel to the letters of
Fitz-Maurice. What! to make a simple corridor from one apartment to
another, nothing less was required than to demolish an entire monastery,
large as they were, in Spain especially, with its church and everything
devoted to its religious purposes, and the dwellings of the monks? And
Saint Simon knew nothing of all this? For, had he known it, most
assuredly he would not have failed to fling it in the face of Madame des
Ursins. That the Marquis de Saint Philippe, who was upon the spot, a man
so religious, and who could not endure Madame des Ursins, should say not
one word, without fear of derogating from his customary gravity, of that
impious scandal, of such a Vandalism as had revolted all Madrid! We
think that if M. Duclos had better informed himself upon the point and
of the source whence he derived it, he, too, would have complained of
exaggeration, and would not have given it out as a fact.

The part played by Madame des Ursins would assuredly have been grander
if she had herself renounced the regal boon proffered by Philip V., as
soon as it promised to be an obstacle to the pacification of Europe; if
she had preferred the general good to her own particular advantage, and
sustained her lofty character to the end, she would have preserved by so
doing the prestige of grandeur and disinterestedness which had
constantly surrounded her. A love of power would have been pardoned in
her, always foreign to considerations of personal advantage; and, as
ambition, like other human passions, may become a source of crime,
though it is not itself a crime, in her case it would have been praised,
because she would have unceasingly shunned the vanity which lessens it,
the self-interest which debases it, and that continual recurrence to
egotism which travesties it in intrigue. But she failed to crown her
career by that true glory. Seeing the King and Queen of Spain very much
offended at the retrograde step of Louis XIV., she further irritated
them by her peevish attitude and marked discontent. The Marquis de
Brancas, sent by Louis into Spain, proceeded to represent the articles
of the Treaty of Utrecht to Philip V. in such wise as the Emperor and
his allies wished them to stand; Philip replied that he would not sign
them, unless there was a special clause added in favour of Madame des
Ursins. That ambassador returned furious, crying out against the Spanish
Government, and especially against Madame des Ursins, who directed
everything, he said, and who had played at cross-purposes in order to
cause his mission to miscarry. He succeeded in drawing down upon the
Court of Madrid the heavy rebuke of Louis XIV. This, however, proved
altogether useless; for Philip persisted in his resolution, and
contented himself with sending the Cardinal del Guidice to his
grandfather, whilst Madame des Ursins employed with the same monarch the
customary influence of Madame de Maintenon. The latter, in fact, so the
Marquis de Saint Philippe tells us, made excuses for Madame des Ursins
to Louis XIV., and the other advocate of the Court of Madrid obtained
the order for the march of the troops destined for the siege of
Barcelona, whose success, looked upon as certain, ought likewise to
render the Austrians more disposed to treat upon the question of her

But that was not the only expedient employed by Madame des Ursins. The
English ambassador, Lord Lexington, besides Gibraltar and Port Mahon,
relied upon obtaining for the English a free trade in the brandies of
Tarragon; this the Princess conceded to him. He desired also that they
might be allowed to construct, upon the River de la Plata, a fort for
their protection, and as a depôt for negroes, in order that in future
they might alone supply the Spanish colonies with slaves: this monopoly
was also accorded. In return, Lord Lexington signed a convention with
her, in which Queen Anne "_engaged to secure her a sovereignty_."[60] At
such price the adhesion of England seemed secured. She reckoned also on
obtaining that of Holland by analogous commercial advantages, and, in
fact, she obtained them. But how to win back Louis XIV. was the
question! For that she had a secret project, which, as she thought,
ought to rehabilitate her in that monarch's eyes, in representing her as
guided by a love of France more than by vanity. Louis XIV. was not to
derive any territorial advantage from the Treaty of Utrecht. But Madame
des Ursins was desirous so soon as the cession was made of the said
principality of giving it up immediately to that King, in exchange for
an equivalent life-interest in Touraine, within French territory. With
that view she had a clause inserted in the letters-patent of Philip V.,
empowering her to alienate during her lifetime that principality in
whatever way she chose. Such was her design; and that it had evidently
been divined by the sagacious Madame de Maintenon would appear from the
following passage in a letter of about that date addressed to the
Princess: "Side by side with all your merits, you have _a concealed
project_, which, if I guess aright, has got the uppermost of all those

    [60] So runs the textual engagement of Queen Anne, taken from the
    Royal Archives of the Hague, and communicated to M. Geffroy.

    [61] Lettres de Madame de Maintenon et de Madame des Ursins, tom.
    ii., pp. 7, 8.

But that was just what the allies most feared. The faculty given to
Madame des Ursins in Philip's deed of gift had made them suspect that
intention of a surrender or an exchange, and they were on the watch for
everything which might arise to support their suppositions. In such
conjuncture, Madame des Ursins was wanting, as it appears to us, in
prudence and address. Instead of postponing, until the cession had
become an accomplished fact, the question of the exchange, she pursued
the two objects simultaneously. To negotiate the second with Torcy, she
sent D'Aubigny secretly to France, and the latter, after some overtures,
gave her hopes of entire success. Transported with delight, she gave
herself up to all the illusions of what the future had in store for her
of happiness. She was not, therefore, destined to descend either in rank
or honours after quitting the Court of Madrid. Here she had ruled
beneath the shadow of a phantom King; there she would command directly
and in person. In Spain, she had only been a subordinate; in France she
would have no superior, and would be more mistress of herself. All these
satisfactions were increased a hundredfold by the proud feeling of
returning to her native country as a sovereign princess, in a state so
strictly levelled by royalty, wherein no one would have a condition
equal to her own, and in which she would display with jesting
haughtiness the pomp inseparable from her title before her abashed
enemies. She had so much faith in the hopes with which d'Aubigny
inspired her, and by which that cunning favourite thought perhaps
already to profit, that she instructed him to go into Touraine and to
purchase land in the neighbourhood of Amboise whereon to erect a
chateau, which should be called the manor of Chanteloup.[62] It was
something like selling the skin of the bear before slaying her bruin;
but with the formal and written engagement of England, with the support
of Holland, which she also had, with Louis XIV., whom she sought to win
back through the influence of Madame de Maintenon, and by the calculated
nobleness of her intentions, she would overcome the resistance of
Austria, and her victory was certain.

    [62] Mémoires de Saint Simon, tom. xviii., p. 104.

Unfortunately, that which she ought to have anticipated actually came to
pass. England first discovered the occult negotiations of d'Aubigny at
Versailles, and, unwilling that the Princess des Ursins should bestow
anything upon France, she changed her tone, and became almost a
defaulter to her. A Valentian gentleman, Clemente Generoso, says Duclos,
still copying textually from Fitz-Maurice, blamed Lord Lexington, whose
agent and interpreter he had been from the beginning of the war, for
having committed the Queen of England so far to Madame des Ursins, and
advised him to tear up the convention.[63] By the intervention of that
lady, England had obtained all it required, and the written consent of
Philip V. rendered the concessions irrevocable; there was no danger,
therefore, of want of good faith on the part of Madame des Ursins.

    [63] Memoirs of Duclos, tom. i., p. 190.

The towering rage of the latter may be imagined when she heard this
news. She made the most earnest entreaties to Queen Anne not to abandon
her. All that she could obtain was that that Princess "would use her
good offices" to procure her the object of her desires. An elastic and
somewhat embarrassing promise of protection was substituted for a formal
and signed engagement, which bound Queen Anne to the interests of Madame
des Ursins as to those of a contracting power. The English had tricked
her; they had surpassed her in cunning. A short time afterwards, if we
may believe Fitz-Maurice and his Spanish interlocutors, she made
Clemente Generoso pay dearly for his evil counsel. One day when he was
returning from London to Madrid, with instructions for Lord Lexington,
some Irishmen, in the service of Philip V., attacked him, and, as he was
endeavouring to take refuge in a church, they killed him, conformably to
the orders which they had received, it is said, from the Princess des
Ursins and Orry.

We only give this statement, be it well understood, under reservation,
because nowhere else have we found any confirmation or even indication
of it. But thus much is certain, that the chances which Madame des
Ursins had on the part of the Queen of England were greatly diminished,
and that it was necessary to look elsewhere for more reliable aid. She
quickly despatched, therefore, her favourite d'Aubigny to Utrecht.
"But," says Saint Simon, "_c'était un trop petit Sire_; he was not
admitted beyond the antechambers." But Saint Simon often falls into
error through excessive contempt for those below his own level. By
certain documents recently discovered at the Hague and communicated to
M. Geffroy, it may be seen that the members of the congress of Utrecht
deliberated with d'Aubigny, and that they designated him _the
plenipotentiary_ of Madame des Ursins. However that may be, d'Aubigny
did not obtain much; in fact, he spoilt everything by offering the Dutch
greater advantages than had been accorded to the English. So the latter
at least pretended, in order, no doubt, to have a pretext for wholly
abandoning Madame des Ursins and for resuming their haughty attitude
towards her, after having courted her for awhile. Queen Anne feigned, in
fact, to be hurt that the Dutch had been more favoured than her own
subjects, and exclaimed, with a readiness that betrayed an inward
satisfaction: "Since the Princess des Ursins has recourse to others, I
abandon her."[64] D'Aubigny, as the sole result, obtained only vague
hopes on the part of the Dutch, who were as inimical as the English as
to any exchange with France.

    [64] Memoirs of Duclos, tom. i., p. 191.

Without being angry with her "man of business," whom she allowed even to
return to Amboise to complete the erections already begun, Madame des
Ursins selected, to continue the negotiations, a more important
personage--a young nephew of Madame de Noailles, named de Bournonville,
Baron de Capres. But he covered himself with ridicule at this game of
private intrigue rather than real diplomatic negotiation; and,
notwithstanding all the trouble he took, he obtained nothing by it, "the
gratitude of Madame des Ursins excepted, who made Philip V. give him the
Golden Fleece, the rank of grandee, the Walloon company of the
bodyguard--everything, in fact, he could desire."[65]

    [65] MS. Letters of the Baron de Capres to Mad. des Ursins, xxxi.,

The successive check of her two diplomatists was not, however, a
sufficient warning to Madame des Ursins. Ever in pursuit of a position,
which had become nothing more than a chimera after having served as a
lure on the part of the English, she relied for success upon the
persistent and obstinate will of Philip V., who made it a question of
_amour propre_ for himself as much as a just recompense for Madame des
Ursins. It was under these circumstances that this Prince refused to
sign the treaty of Utrecht, that treaty which Louis XIV. had signed and
sealed with his own royal hand, and engaged to make him accept it, even
though the allied powers should not grant him what he desired to
bequeath to Madame des Ursins.[66] Such a firm attitude proved plainly
enough that there was good reason for reliance upon him.

    [66] Memoirs of Duke of Berwick, tom. ii., pp. 164-169.

But this affair "hung up" the peace, to use Saint Simon's phrase--the
peace that Louis XIV. could now sign, because it was honourable. His
displeasure was extreme. It was all very well for Madame des Ursins to
say that she had nothing to do with the matter, that the King of Spain
was only following his own inclination, and that after all she despised
the malevolent designs of his enemies; still the delay experienced in
the conclusion of the general peace was imputed to her. She was accused
of occupying herself too exclusively with her own interests, and of
placing in the scales the repose of Europe entire: it was said that she
abused Philip's good-nature, and that she ought not to have availed
herself of her ascendancy over that conscientious prince save to release
him from his promise, to free him from all trammel, and incline him
towards the wishes of his grandfather.

It was from the French ministry that these complaints came, and Torcy,
so greatly humiliated in 1704, at length had his revenge. Madame de
Maintenon herself made remarks upon her, based upon the same motives;
only that she threw more form into them, contenting herself with giving
the Princess to infer that of which the others did not spare her the
harshest expression. "You have good reason to let folks chatter;" she
wrote, "_provided that you have nothing to reproach yourself with_....
for, you must know, we here look upon the treaty of Spain with Holland,
such as it is, as equally necessary, _as you think it shameful at
Madrid_.... Make up your mind, therefore, Madam, and do not allow it to
be said _that you are the sole cause of the prolongation of the war_. I
cannot believe it, and think it very scandalous that others should."[67]

    [67] Letters of Madame des Ursins to Madame de Maintenon, tom. ii.,
    7th Aug., 1713; 3rd Sept., 1713; 16th June, 1714.

But these warnings and exhortations, imparted with such delicate tact,
had no more effect at Madrid than the harsh severity of the ministerial
reprimands. Louis XIV. then made his solemn voice heard. "Sign," said
he, tartly, to his grandson, "or no aid from me. Berwick is on his march
for Barcelona--I will recall him; then I will make peace privately with
the Dutch and with the Emperor; I will leave Spain at war with those two
powers, and I will not mix myself up further in any of your affairs,
because I do not choose, for the private interest of Madame des Ursins,
to defer securing the repose of my people, and perhaps plunge them into
fresh sufferings."[68]

    [68] Mémoires de Saint Philippe, tom. iii., p. 91, and Duclos, tom.
    i., p. 100.

When Louis XIV. had thus proffered his last word, Philip V. even yet
urged some objections, and the Princess des Ursins on her part, moved
her friends into action; but there was no means of converting Louis XIV.
to what the Court of Madrid demanded, since not one of the allies was
willing either; and, as for the acquisition of those few manors in
Luxembourg, in exchange for an equivalent in Touraine, he preferred
personally to have nothing upon any frontier, than to gain so little,
and owe such feeble legacy to an intrigue, unworthy of his character,
unworthy of a great nation, and only fit to serve as a text for the
biting irony of foreigners or that of his own subjects.

Madame des Ursins is indeed no longer comprehensible throughout this
affair. She, hitherto so noble-minded, so devoted to high-class
politics, so prudent, so full of tact. Oh! how far off are we from
realising that lofty sentiment of hers:--

     "Sans peine je passerais de la dictature à la charrue!"

There was nothing left, however, but to give way. The treaty of Utrecht
was signed by Philip V., and unconditionally. The net gain in the
business fell to d'Aubigny; he received for his trouble as a negotiator,
and for his constancy in another way, the manor of Chanteloup, revealed
the motive of its construction--yet an enigma to everybody in France,
says Saint Simon[69]--installed himself therein, and, for the rest, made
himself loved and esteemed there. To Madame des Ursins there only
remained the mortification of having failed, a mortification the greater
that her pretensions had been so lofty and tenacious. It was further
increased, also, by having turned the Court of France against her, and
engendered a coolness towards her on the part of Madame de Maintenon
herself, who up to that juncture had always approved of her manner of
acting and her system of government, but who now, seizing the occasion
of Orry having established some imposts upon the Catalans, did not
hesitate to say very harshly and laconically: "We do not think Orry fit
for his post, for Spain is very badly governed."[70]

    [69] Mémoires de Saint Simon, tom. xviii., p. 104.

    [70] Lettres, tom. iii., p. 448, year 1714.

Those were accents which must have deeply grieved the heart of the
Princess. Next came Berwick, who was by no means, as we have seen, to be
ranked amongst her friends--Berwick, whom Louis XIV. had sent in spite
of her, in spite of what she had said of Tessé, who, by his own account,
had failed the first time before Barcelona only because he had been
prevented from commencing the siege soon enough. Her influence, it was
impossible to longer doubt, had been greatly lessened at Versailles, if
it had not perished altogether.

Trembling for herself, she continued naturally to lean upon the King of
Spain, who was devoted to her. In order that this plank of safety should
not escape her grasp, she permitted only those she liked to have access
to him; she regulated all his proceedings; she kept him from all private
audience; she seemed jealous of it, whilst she was only so as regarded
her own preservation. Scandal, as may be imagined, was again busy with
her name. It was again whispered that she was in hopes that the King,
scarcely yet thirty-two, would not be repelled by the faded charms of a
septuagenarian; that he would marry her, that was certain; and in every
saloon throughout the world of fashion in France, circulated the
following anecdote, which Saint Simon duly registered in his Memoirs,
and in which further figured, to render it more piquante and authentic,
the Reverend Father Robinet. The King certainly had one evening
withdrawn with his confessor into the embrasure of a window. The latter
appearing reserved and mysterious, the curiosity of Philip V. was
excited, and the King questioned his confessor as to the meaning of the
unwonted mood in which he found him. Upon which Father Robinet replied,
that since the King forced him to it, he would confess that nobody
either in France or Spain doubted but that he would do Madame des Ursins
the honour of espousing her. "I marry her!" hastily rejoined the King.
"Oh! as to that, certainly not!" and he turned upon his heel as he
uttered the sentence. It was the pendant of "_Oh! pour mariée, non!_" of
the famous letter of the Abbé d'Estrées, related by the same historian.
Saint Simon's two pictures are delightful; in either of the two, the
priest, whether cunning or malignant, figures conspicuously, attracts
attention, and keeps up one's curiosity.

For some time, Philip V. treated these reports as mere inventions and
calumnies, "the offspring of envy, hatred, and ambition." All that was
said concerning the omnipotence of Madame des Ursins, of her empire over
him, of her hopes, her designs, of that same corridor, of their private
interviews, left him unmoved and indifferent. The Count de Bergueick,
until then a stanch adherent of the Princess des Ursins, himself
declared that that omnipotence had become insupportable, and he asked
permission to return to Flanders, whence he had been summoned. Philip V.
allowed him to depart, and Madame des Ursins lost not one jot of her
authority. But the complaints, the murmurs, the idle talk continued, the
incessant repetition of which could not fail at last to make an
impression upon a weak mind. In the end the King grew wearied, and
vexed, especially at the reports relating to such a ridiculous marriage,
to a matrimonial project which wounded his self-love as a man as well as
his royal dignity, and tormented besides by the exigencies of a
temperament, in which the flesh was far too predominant over the
spirit--"Find me a wife," said he, one day to Madame des Ursins, "our
_tête-à-têtes_ scandalise the people."[71]

    [71] Mémoire de Duclos, tom, i., p. 230.



"FIND me a wife!" The sentence was like a thunderclap in the ears of
Madame des Ursins, so long accustomed as she had been to govern and
domineer. Where to find one--one like Marie Louise of Savoy, who would
consent to retain her in the same functions, and who, like her, with
intelligence and firmness of mind, would have a boundless confidence in
her _camerara mayor_, and a docility proof against everything? Louis
XIV., being consulted, replied to his grandson that he gave him his
choice between a princess of Portugal, a princess of Bavaria, and a
princess of Parma. The first was greatly to the taste of the Castilians;
they had always had reason to praise their Portuguese queens, and they
attached to such choice hopes of renewed political unity for the Spanish
peninsula to the profit of Castile, which thus, by marriages, would
absorb, on the left, Portugal, as it had appropriated on the right, the
kingdom of Arragon. But the Court of the King of Portugal, the brother
of that princess, had been the rendezvous and the asylum of aristocratic
and Austrian opposition. These antecedents alarmed Madame des Ursins on
her own account, and did not appear much more assuring for Philip V. Was
it not known, on the other hand, that Portugal--especially since the
treaty of Utrecht, since the Bourbons had become, in spite of that
nation, the immutable possessors of Spain--dreaded those neighbouring
kings, after having previously loved them so much as liberators, and on
that account had placed herself under the protection of England, the
enemy of all the reigning branches of that powerful and ambitious house?

A marriage with the daughter of the Elector of Bavaria, of a firm ally
of Louis XIV. and Philip V., might well be the boon and the bond of an
old friendship, but could not procure for Spain any compensation for the
sacrifices imposed upon her by the terms of the recent peace.

The Princess of Parma, as a guarantee of security, if not of material
advantage, did not at the first glance seem more eligible. "Besides that
she was the issue of a double bastardy, of a pope on her father's side,
of a natural daughter of Charles V. on her mother's side, she was the
daughter of a petty duke of Parma and a thoroughly Austrian mother, who
was herself the sister of the dowager-empress, of the dowager-queen of
Spain, who was so unpopular that she was exiled; and further of the
Queen of Portugal, who had persuaded her husband to receive the Archduke
at Lisbon, and to carry the war into Spain."[72] On that account such
was not an eligible choice for the King of Spain. It was certain,
moreover, although Madame des Ursins was unaware of it, that "she was of
a haughty disposition, and that she had been brought up at Parma with
the same thoroughly French freedom which reigned at Turin."[73] But by
her uncle, the reigning Duke of Parma, who had no children, and was no
longer of an age to have any, she was heiress to the duchies of Parma,
Plaisance, and Guastalla, and by another uncle, the aged Gaston de
Medicis, Duke of Tuscany, she had the expectation of Tuscany itself, and
the isle of Elba, a dependance of it. United to Philip V. she might
therefore some day, and perhaps shortly, bring Spain into Italy,
alongside of its ancient possessions, from which the treaty of Utrecht
had driven her. This consideration had much weight with Madame des
Ursins, to whom that treaty, as we have seen from a letter of Madame de
Maintenon, had appeared disgraceful for Spain, as well as detrimental to
herself. Doubtless there was something disquieting in the family
alliances of this princess; but it might be thought that the perspective
of an union with one of the most illustrious crowned houses of Europe,
and moreover the crown of a queen which would bind her brow, would
render her favourable to Madame des Ursins, upon whom a marriage so
brilliant depended, and which far surpassed Elizabeth's utmost
expectations. The former thought to find in the Farnese, brought up in a
modest and virtuous court, a simple-minded, timorous girl. Gratitude for
such a service appeared to Madame des Ursins a certain security for her
future tranquillity; but a skilful intriguer who had but very slightly
rendered himself agreeable to the princess--Alberoni, a native of
Parma--afterwards celebrated throughout Europe as the Cardinal Alberoni,
but then occupying a subordinate position in Spain, conceived at that
moment one of those vast plans to which his fertile genius was wont to
give birth, and which would have placed him in the foremost rank of
great men had a like success equally crowned them all. He concealed, as
already said, the real character of the Princess of Parma, who,
moreover, could not then have been known to be what she afterwards
turned out. The marriage was concluded, the new Queen set out for
Spain, and Madame des Ursins went forward to meet her at Xadraque, a
small town some few leagues from Madrid.

    [72] Memoirs of St. Simon, tom. xx., p. 175.

    [73] Histoire Secrete de la Cour de Madrid, année 1714, p. 315.

A dispensation from the Pope--for the future Queen was a near relative
of Gabrielle of Savoy--had been promptly obtained. Already did the
favourite indulge herself with the contemplation of the illimitable
prospect of domination which the future seemed to open up for her, when
she received more truthful information relative to the character of
Elizabeth Farnese. Her letters during the latter part of 1714,
notwithstanding their great reserve, reveal a manifest uneasiness, and
it is with an ill-concealed emotion that she relates, without precisely
detailing them, the contradictory reports which reach her relative to
the Princess. It seems impossible to doubt that, during the few months
which preceded the arrival of the Princess of Parma, the presence of
Madame des Ursins had not become a torment to the Spanish King, and that
he had not secretly lent his hand to a _coup d'état_ carried out
subsequently with a barbarous determination by his new consort. It was,
in fact, by showing to the officers of the guard a plenary power from
the King that Elizabeth triumphed over their hesitation, and that she
secured their assistance in the execution of a measure which perhaps
would have been less cruel if it had been more sanguinary; but if, since
the death of Marie Louise of Savoy, the relations of the King of Spain
with Madame des Ursins had assumed an obscure character, the active
intervention of the latter in the second marriage of that Prince at
least excludes the idea that she could have dreamed of a royal position
for herself, as her enemies accused her. Granted that the Abbé Alberoni
may have transformed the most ambitious princess in Europe into "a
jolly _Parmesane_ fattened upon cheese and butter,"[74] and that the
habitual circumspection of Madame des Ursins did not protect her against
the clumsiness of such a snare may be true, however unlikely; but it is
at least doubtful that the _camerara mayor_ could have cherished such
illusion when she presented herself for the first time before the new
Queen at the interview at Xadraque.

    [74] "Questo abbate pur freddamente, e come a mezza voce la nomino,
    aggiugnendo per altro, ch'ella era una buona Lombarda, impastata da
    buttero et fromagio picentino, elevata alla casalingua, ed avezza di
    non sentirsi di altro parlare che di mertelli ricami e
    tele."--_Memorie Istoriche_ di Poggiali, p. 279.

Whether the indiscretions of others had revealed to her the true
character of Elizabeth Farnese, whether she had foreseen the manoeuvres
of the Inquisition with the future Queen, whether she had dreaded the
anger of Louis XIV., who had not been consulted; whether the triumphant
attitude of her enemies had opened her eyes, certain it is, however,
that the Princess attempted to break off the match. But it was in vain
that she despatched a confidential agent to Parma for that purpose. On
his arrival, the messenger was thrown into prison and threatened with
death, and so failed in his mission. The marriage by procuration was
celebrated on the 16th of August, 1714. That unskilful and tardy
opposition released the Princess Farnese from all feelings of gratitude,
furnished the enemies of Madame des Ursins with a deadly weapon, by
appearing to justify their accusations in a striking manner, and so
prepared her ruin.

Her disgrace was prompt, cruel, decisive. The plan had evidently been
concerted long beforehand.[75] Confirmed in her design by her interview
at Saint Jean de Luz with the Queen Dowager, widow of Charles II. and
her relative, and at Pampeluna with Alberoni, Elizabeth held on her way
to Madrid. The King advanced to meet her on the road to Burgos, and
Madame des Ursins, as has been said, went on before as far as the little
town of Xadraque. When the Queen arrived there on the 23rd of December,
1714, Madame des Ursins received her with the customary reverences.
Afterwards, having followed her into a cabinet, she perceived her
instantly change her tone. By some it is said that Madame des Ursins,
being desirous of finding fault with something about the Queen's
head-dress, whilst she was at her toilette, the latter treated it as an
impertinence, and immediately flew into a rage. Others relate (and these
different accounts tally with each other in the main) that Madame des
Ursins having protested her devotedness to the new Queen, and assured
her Majesty "that She might always reckon upon finding her stand between
the King and herself, to keep matters in the state in which they ought
to be on her account, and procuring her all the gratifications which she
had a right to expect--the Queen, who had listened quietly enough so
far, took fire at these last words, and replied that she did not want
anyone near the King; that it was an impertinence to make her such an
offer, and that it was presuming too much to dare to address her in such
a fashion." Thus much is certain, that the Queen, outrageously thrusting
Madame des Ursins out of her cabinet,[76] summoned M. d'Amezaga,
lieutenant of the bodyguard, who commanded the escort, and ordered him
to arrest the Princess, to make her get immediately into a carriage, and
have her driven to the French frontiers by the shortest road, and
without halting anywhere. As d'Amezaga hesitated, the Queen asked him
whether he had not received a special command from the King of Spain to
obey her in everything and without reserve--which was quite true. Madame
des Ursins was arrested, therefore, and carried off instantaneously,
just as she was, in her full dress of ceremony, and hurried across Spain
as fast as six horses could drag her. It was mid-winter--no provisions
to be found in the inns of Spain; no beds; not a change of clothes--the
ground covered with frost and snow; and the Princess was then in her
seventy-second year. A lady's maid and two officers of the guard
accompanied her in the carriage.

    [75] "I only ask one thing of you," wrote Elizabeth Farnese to
    Philip V.; "that is the dismissal of Madame des Ursins;" and the
    king had replied--"At least do not spare your blow; for if she only
    talk to you for a couple of hours, she will enchain you, and hinder
    us from sleeping together, as happened to the late Queen."--Duclos.

    [76] Madame des Ursins, stupified, sought to make excuses. "La Reine
    alors, redoublant de furie et de menaces, se mit à crier qu'on fît
    sortir cette folle de sa présence et de son logis, et l'en fit
    mettre dehors par les épaules."--Saint Simon.

"I know not how I managed to endure all the fatigue of that journey,"
she wrote Madame de Maintenon, whilst wandering about the French
frontiers, eighteen days after the scene at Xadraque. "They compelled me
to sleep upon straw, and to breakfast in a very different style to the
repast to which I had been accustomed. I have not forgotten in the
details which I have taken the liberty to send the King (Louis XIV.)
that I ate only two stale eggs daily; it struck me that such a fact
would excite him to take pity upon a faithful subject who has not
deserved, it seems to me, in any way such contemptuous treatment. I am
going to Saint Jean de Luz to take a little repose and learn what it may
please the King to do in my behalf."

And from this last-named town--at which she was set at liberty--and up
to her arrival at which she had unfalteringly maintained the strength
and constancy of her character, neither a tear nor a complaint escaping
her--a few days later she wrote again to Madame de Maintenon:

"Here I shall await the King's commands. I am in a small house--the
ocean before me, sometimes calm, sometimes agitated: it is an image of
what passes in courts. You know what has happened to me; I shall not
implore in vain your generous compassion. I agree perfectly with you
that stability is only to be found in God. Assuredly it is not to be
found in the human breast; for who could be more certain than I was of
the King of Spain's heart?"

Everything leads us to infer, in fact, that it was Philip V. who,
forgetting the long and faithful services of Madame des Ursins, and
wearied of a domination from which he had not the courage to free
himself, gave authority to his new consort to take everything upon
herself; and the latter, who, like Alberoni, her crafty adviser,
belonged to the intrepid race of political gamesters, did not hesitate
for a single instant to commence her regal play with the execution of
such a master-stroke. Elizabeth of Parma felt herself to be too
first-rate a personage to condescend to figure side by side on the same
stage with Madame des Ursins.

It was of this same Elizabeth, born for a throne, that Frederick the
Great said: "The pride of a Spartan, the obstinacy of a Briton, added to
Italian finesse and French vivacity, formed the character of this
singular woman. She advanced audaciously to the accomplishment of her
designs; nothing astonished her, nothing could stop her." Possessed of
such qualities it is not surprising to find that she profited by the
smallest opening to sweep the ground clear on her arrival.

Recovering from this stunning downfall, Madame des Ursins, after the
first moments of surprise, recovered all her strength, her sang-froid,
her wonted equanimity. Not a complaint or unbecoming reproach or weak
word escaped her lips. She had formed a just estimate beforehand of all
that human instability; she said to herself, on beholding her enemies
triumphant and her friends in consternation, that there was no reason to
be greatly astonished. That this world was only a stage over which many
very poor actors strutted, that she had thereon played her part better
than many others perhaps, and that her enemies ought not to have
expected to see her so humiliated that she could no longer perform it:
"It is in the eye of heaven that I should be humbled," said she, "and I
am so."

Every reader of Saint Simon must be deeply impressed with his narrative
of that terrible night of December 24th, 1714. Who can fail to picture
to himself the rude expulsion of the Princess des Ursins from the
Queen's apartment in her full dress of ceremony, suddenly packed off in
a carriage, without proper clothing or change of linen, and without
money, to be whirled away through a winter's night so severe that her
driver lost one of his hands from frost-bite, over mountain passes where
the roads had disappeared beneath the snow, towards an unknown
destination? Who cannot picture to himself hunger coming to add fresh
tortures to those of the prolonged nightmare under which that
unfortunate lady must have suffered the keenest pangs of incertitude, of
astonishment, and of humiliation? Such, however, was the fate reserved
for a woman who had inscribed her name among those of the founders of a
dynasty and the liberators of a great kingdom!

For some time previous to the occurrence of that strange event--so
unlooked for, so inconceivable--the Princess had not been free from
inquietude with respect to the preservation of her prestige and
authority, as also on the score of constantly recurring difficulties
with the Court of Versailles, wherein she had numerous enemies keeping
up an active correspondence with the still more numerous enemies by whom
she was surrounded at Madrid; the affairs of the sovereignty, the
isolation in which Philip was kept; the marriage of that Prince,
determined upon and almost concluded without the consent of his
grandfather--all which had deeply angered Louis the Fourteenth.

Though all this tended by turns to inspire the Princess with fear and
disgust, still, she could not anticipate an ignominious treatment coming
from that quarter. Soon, however, her wonted courage got the uppermost
in her bosom; besides, she had hopes both from her justification and
from the King of Spain, whose confidence she thought unshakeable, of a
return to Court, difficult, nevertheless, after such a shock. Meanwhile,
the Queen vouchsafed no replies to her letters; the King announced to
her that he was unable to refuse the maintenance of the measure taken at
the instance of the Queen, but assured her that pensions would be
conferred upon her. Having reached St. Jean de Luz, Madame des Ursins
wrote to Versailles, and shortly afterwards despatched thither one of
her nephews. The Great Monarch was compelled to be guided by the
decision of his grandson; Madame de Maintenon replied by evasive
compliments. The Princess could then see that all was at an end, as
regarded her resumption of power. She pursued her way through France,
and arrived in Paris. The King received her coldly; her stay in France
was not prolonged without difficulty. Moreover, she foresaw the
approaching decease of Louis the Fourteenth, and a regency under the
Duke of Orleans. Their old quarrels, the open hatred which had since
existed between them, causing her uneasiness and misgivings, she
resolved to quit France. She wished to visit the Low Countries, but was
not permitted. She proceeded to Savoy, thence to Genoa, and at last
returned to Rome, where she once more fixed her abode. There a suitable
existence was secured to her, for Philip kept his promise, and caused
her pension to be punctually paid.

Habituated to the stir of courts and the excitement of state affairs,
she could not condemn herself, notwithstanding her age, to an absolute
repose. Prince James Stuart, called _the Pretender_, having withdrawn to
Rome, Madame des Ursins attached herself to him and his fortunes; she
did the honours of his house: and thus she remained until her death,
which took place December 5th, 1722, at the age of fourscore and

It has been sought to divine the real authors of the Princess's
disgrace; for it has been considered, not without good reason, that it
was very improbable that no other cause save a sudden impulse arising
from a feeling of anger, barely justifiable on the Queen's part, had
urged her to put in execution a resolution which brought about nothing
less than an actual political revolution.





THE Princess des Ursins, as it will be seen, shared the fate of
Portocarrero, of Medina-Coeli, and of all those whose power she had
broken or whose designs she had frustrated; and who, after their
decease, were immediately buried in silence and oblivion. Divided into
two parts by the death of Marie-Louise of Savoy, her political life in
Spain had not always assumed the same character, a like aspect. The
first had been marked by useful or glorious actions, and was of real
grandeur; the second was more remarkable for its weakness. Side by side
with a bold and honourable, although unsuitable enterprise, ridiculous
and extravagant pretensions were coupled. Finding herself alone at the
right hand of Philip the Fifth, she became puffed up with her exclusive
influence, her new rank and title. She exaggerated her personal
importance. She was possessed with the secret desire of being in Spain,
with a young sovereign, and he too on the eve of marriage, what Madame
de Maintenon was in France, with an aged monarch, and for a while she
attained that object, as flattering to her feminine vanity as to her

In this there was only one difference, a difference arising from the
respective characters of these two ladies and of those two kings; which
was that the ascendant of the one, taking the form of friendship the
most discreet, was lasting, whilst the other, exercising a direct,
immediate, and too overt domination, was destined, sooner or later, to
end in tiring out a monarch infinitely less capable than Louis the
Fourteenth, but quite as jealous of sway. The Princess bore, therefore,
rather the semblance of an intriguante, as people remarked, than of a
serious woman, having large views, of will alike firm and prompt, of
enlightened and, in a certain sense, liberal mind, with an entire
abnegation of self--seeking the welfare of the State alone, and the
interests only of the two great countries. Except those whom she had
served, or who had sent her to Spain, few had approved her acts at any
period of her favour. The misfortunes and the abuses that marked her
possession of power, when it had reached its apogee, confirmed them in
their opinion, especially when they saw, in France, the severest censure
launched against her even from high places, whence until then praise had
descended. Others, to whom her previous conduct was less known, judged
her only by what seemed ridiculous or faulty at that period of her life,
and the last impression received was that which they retained, which has
been transmitted to posterity; which was regarded as that most to be
relied upon, and which the almost exclusive perusal of Saint Simon, far
from modifying in any way that impression, only served to confirm it.
That consummate courtier has well said, in his Memoirs, that "her
history deserved to be written," implying the deep interest which would
be derivable from it. The narrative, apart from its interest, is
valuable for the lesson it conveys of the fruitlessness of the devotion
of a most gifted woman's life to the pursuit of politics on the grandest
and most elevated scale. During twelve years the Princess des Ursins
exercised a power almost absolute. If, however, the beneficent traces of
her influence and sway are sought for, the search proves futile; though
doubtless, after so many crises and revolutions Spain has experienced
since her time, that ungovernable country must have lost all such
advantages; but at any rate posterity would have preserved a remembrance
of them. We must not, however, accuse Madame des Ursins too severely.
One of those vigorous geniuses was needed which but too seldom make
their appearance upon the scene of events to resuscitate and sustain the
Spanish monarchy amidst circumstances so untoward and difficult. After
civil and foreign war which had driven Philip to the brink of a
precipice, he had succeeded in reducing to obedience the last city of
his kingdom, only a few days before the fall of Madame des Ursins. And
then began a peaceful sway, which allowed useful reforms and beneficent
ameliorations to be thought of.

The subject of so many accusations, and probably misconceptions, the
Princess possessed a large, fine, and cultivated mind, a rare aptitude
for business, a force of character little common among persons of her
sex. Warm in her affections, she was naturally so in her hatreds; and
though but too easily accessible to unjust prejudices, was prompt also
to seek out and encourage merit. She has been reproached for her
intrigues, but the same weapons with which she was assailed she turned
against her enemies, and their number was great. How manifold must have
been the animosities excited by the position of a woman who, standing
only at the foot of the throne, governed both its possessors and their
Court, created and directed its ministers, generals, and ambassadors!
Fervent attachment to her sovereigns, eminent services rendered to them
and their countries, an astonishing capacity, a profound knowledge of
mankind, a rare presence of mind, and an unshakeable firmness in
situations the most perilous and misfortunes the most unlooked-for,
such attributes cannot be denied without injustice to the Princess des
Ursins, and which, however futile the result of her political career,
ought to consecrate the memory of her labours and her name.

It was a generous impulse which prompted Madame des Ursins to commence a
fresh attack upon the Spanish Inquisition. Can it be said that the war
she waged against it remained without any result? Assuredly not. By her
active intervention the English Government obtained the privilege that
the palace of its ambassador at Madrid should enjoy the right of an
asylum against all the proceedings of the Inquisition, and the same
privilege was acquired for British vessels in the ports of Spain. A
Protestant nation thus opened in the capital of the Catholic King a
perpetual refuge against the rigours of the Holy Office. It was a great
innovation; it was the first blow dealt by the spirit of modern times
against that of those Spanish institutions which represented the most
faithfully the blind and almost barbarous religion of the Middle Ages.

It is difficult to decide whether it was a misfortune or an advantage to
her to figure in the gallery of the ducal memoir-writer, Saint Simon.
That portrait, sketched with a breadth and freedom by which her womanly
character has somewhat suffered, depicts her as devoured by a thirst for
power, without even allowing the important services which she rendered
to the two nations to be so much as suspected. The great master has not
given us a bust-portrait of Madame des Ursins, but a full-length
likeness, with that lavish excess of colour flung upon the canvas which
imparts more life than truth, more of relief than perspective to the
majority of his pictures. If in that brilliant delineation the great
lady shines with a somewhat theatrical majesty, the national object
which she pursued is in no wise indicated--a grave though natural
omission on the part of a man in whom a passionate fondness for details
almost always blinds him to the collective point of view, and who is not
the first of portraitists only because he is the least reliable of
historical painters. He, nevertheless, in her case, always manifests the
feeling that she is worthy of a careful, special, and patient study, and
he points out such study for the edification of posterity. "She reigned
in Spain," he remarks, "and her history deserves to be written."

We will now reproduce his elaborate portrait of the Princess. "Rather
tall than short of stature, she was a brunette with blue eyes whose
expression incessantly responded to everything that pleased her; with a
perfect shape, a lovely bosom, and a countenance which, without
regularity of feature, was more charming even than the purely
symmetrical. Her air was extremely noble, and there was something
majestic in her whole demeanour, and a grace so natural and continual in
all she did, even in things the most trivial and indifferent, that I
have never seen anyone approach to, either in form or mind. Her wit was
copious and of all kinds. She was flattering, caressing, insinuating,
moderate, desirous to please for pleasing sake, and with charms
irresistible when she strove to persuade and win over. Accompanying all
this, she possessed a grandeur that encouraged rather than repelled. A
delightful tone of conversation, inexhaustible and always most
amusing--for she had seen many countries and peoples. A voice and way of
speaking extremely agreeable and full of sweetness. She had read much
and reflected much. She knew how to choose the best society, how to
receive it, and could even have held a Court; was polite and
distinguished; and, above all, careful never to take a step in advance
without dignity and discretion. She was eminently fitted for intrigue,
in which, from taste, she had passed her time at Rome. With much
ambition, but of that vast kind far above her sex and the common run of
men--a desire to occupy a great position and to govern. An inclination
to gallantry and personal vanity were her foibles, and these clung to
her until her latest days; consequently she dressed in a way that no
longer became her, and as she advanced in life departed further from
propriety in this particular. She was an ardent and excellent friend--of
a friendship that time and absence never enfeebled; and therefore an
implacable enemy, pursuing her hatred even to the infernal regions.
Whilst caring little for the means by which she gained her ends, she
tried as much as possible to reach them by honest means. Secret, not
only for herself, but for her friends, she was yet of a decorous gaiety,
and so governed her humours, that at all times and in everything she was
mistress of herself."

Such was the Princess des Ursins, as sketched by that painstaking
limner, Saint-Simon; throughout whose "Memoirs" many other scattered
traits are to be found of this celebrated woman, who so long and so
publicly governed the Court and Crown of Spain, and whose fate it was to
make so much stir in the world alike by her reign and her fall.



THROUGHOUT the political conflicts which agitated the Court of England
since the Duke and Duchess of Marlborough had left their native shores,
the Duke maintained a steady correspondence with his friends, but
expressed a firm refusal to deviate from those principles which had
occasioned his exile, or to approve of the Peace of Utrecht, or to
abandon his desire for the Hanoverian succession. Distrusting the
sincerity of Harley's pretended exertions, he resolutely refused to hold
intercourse with a Minister of whose hollowness he had already received
many proofs. Nor was the Duchess less determined never to pardon the
injuries which she conceived herself and her husband to have sustained
from Harley. All offers of his aid, all attempts to lend to him the
influence which Marlborough's military and personal character still
commanded, were absolutely rejected.

At the Court of Hanover, the Duke and Duchess saw, as it were, reflected
the cabals of their native country. Little, indeed, that was reassuring
reached them in their foreign retreat, relative to public affairs. The
existing policy of Anne's Ministers seemed likely to destroy all that
his labours had effected during a long life of toil and danger; and the
sacrifice of thousands of lives had gained no advantage which the malice
of his enemies could not undo. In short, the friendly relations which
were brought about between France and England threatened to change the
face of things altogether.

The result of the shrewd Duchess's experience of political life and
royal favour was embodied in the sound advice she gave her illustrious
husband on his return to England, shortly after the death of Anne, and
previous to the arrival of her successor, George I. "I begged of the
Duke upon my knees," relates the Duchess, "that he would never accept
any employment. I said everybody that liked the Revolution and the
security of the law had a great esteem for him, that he had a greater
fortune than he wanted, and that a man who had had such success, with
such an estate, would be of more use to any court than they could be to
him; that I would live civilly with them, if they were so to me, but
would never put it into the power of any King to use me ill. He was
entirely of this opinion, and determined to quit all, and serve them
only when he could act honestly and do his country service at the same

Though the Duchess witnessed the triumph of the Whigs on their return to
power at the accession of George I., she was very far from possessing
the influence she had enjoyed during Anne's reign. Her feverish thirst
for political and courtly intrigues had returned upon her, despite so
many bitter deceptions and the advance of old age. She scolded
incessantly her husband for his indolence, when he had really become
incapable of any longer taking an active part in public affairs. He
confined himself to the enjoyment of his opulence and his high position.
In May, 1716, he experienced a violent attack of paralysis, which for
some time deprived him of speech and recollection. His health continued
to decline more and more to the close of his life in June, 1722, though
the notion of his imbecility appears to have been erroneous.

The Duke of Marlborough was one of the bravest and most kindly-tempered
of men. His gentleness and devotion towards his wife and love of his
children were not the only proofs which he gave of a kindly nature, and
many curious anecdotes are related of the way in which he governed his
imperious consort when he had to encounter her tears, sulks, and
torrents of passionate reproaches, which were among the favourite and
irresistible features of her conjugal eloquence. The fiery Duchess
survived her illustrious husband the long period of twenty-two years.
Notwithstanding her age, and probably on account of her immense fortune,
she was sought in marriage by the Duke of Somerset and Lord Coningsby.
The reply she made to the offer of the first-named, an old friend, the
"proud Duke," was admirable. She declined a second marriage as
unsuitable to her age; but added--"Were I only thirty, and were you able
to lay the empire of the world at my feet, I would not allow you to
succeed to that heart and hand which has always been devoted wholly to
John, Duke of Marlborough." A proof of her good judgment and true
dignity! At the same time, it must be owned that, alike through pride
and gratitude, she truly owed such a testimony of respect to the memory
of a husband who had left behind so great a name, and who was throughout
his married life full of amiability, deference, and tenderness towards
her, and who had suffered with an exemplary patience all the
capriciousness of her imperious character.

The instructive lesson derivable from the extraordinary career and
signal disgrace of this remarkable political woman is emphatically given
by the Duchess herself, on her retirement, as the results of her own
experience of royal favour.

"After what has passed, I do solemnly protest, that if it were in my
power I would not be a favourite, which few will believe; and since I
shall never be able to give any demonstration of that truth, I had as
good say no more of it. But as fond as people are of power, I fancy that
anybody that had been shut up so many tedious hours as I have been with
a person that had no conversation, and yet must be treated with respect,
would feel something of what I did, and be very glad when their
circumstances did not want it, to be freed from such a slavery, which
must be uneasy at all times; though I do protest, that upon the account
of her loving me, and trusting me so entirely as she did, I had a
concern for her, which is more than you will easily believe, and I would
have served her with the hazard of my life upon any occasion; but after
she put me at liberty by using me ill, I was very easy, and liked better
that anybody should have her favour than myself, at the price of
flattery without which I believe nobody can be well with a King or
Queen, unless the world should come to be less corrupt or they wiser
than any I have seen since I was born."

In another place she says: "Women signify nothing unless they are the
mistresses of a Prince or a Prime Minister, which I would not be if I
were young; and I think there are very few, if any, women that have
understanding or impartiality enough to serve well those they really
wish to serve."

The wife of the great captain and hero of Queen Anne's time--the most
remarkable woman of her own, or perhaps of any epoch--lived to the age
of eighty-four.

"So singular was the fate of this extraordinary woman in private life,"
it has been truly observed, "that scarcely did she possess a tie which
was not severed or embittered by worldly or political considerations."

Those who hopelessly covet wealth, honour, and celebrity through the
avenues of political strife may contemplate the career of Sarah Duchess
of Marlborough with profit, and rise from the study reconciled to a
calmer course of life and resigned to a humbler fate.


  ALBERONI, Julio Abbé (afterwards cardinal), Prime Minister of Spain,
      deceives Madame des Ursins as to the character of Elizabeth
      Farnese, 270-289;
    his representation of that most ambitious princess as "a jolly
      Parmesane fattened upon cheese and butter," 291;
    concerts with the Princess of Parma the ruin of Madame des
      Ursins, 292;
    belonged to the intrepid race of political gamesters, 294.

  AMELOT, the President, nominated ambassador for Spain by Madame des
      Ursins, 191.

  ANNE of AUSTRIA (mother of Louis XIV.), an example among all queens,
      and almost among all women, of constancy in adversity, 17;
    her reception of Mazarin after his exile, 18.

  ANNE, Queen of England, her feeling towards the Whigs purely official,
      and not a genuine sympathy, 206;
    she secretly leans towards the Tories, as defender of the royal
      prerogative, 206;
    indolent and taciturn, she yields without resistance to the
      ascendency of Sarah Jennings, 215;
    her unhappy married life, 215;
    the Queen and Sarah treat each other as equals, writing under
      assumed names, 215;
    state of parties on her accession, 218;
    chooses a ministry combining both Whigs and Tories, 218;
    entertains the Archduke Charles with truly royal magnificence, 218;
    the Duchess of Marlborough surrounds the Queen with the chiefs of
      the Whigs against her will, 222;
    an endless succession of jars and piques between the Queen and the
      Duchess, 222;
    the insolence of the Mistress of the Robes towards the Queen, 226;
    gives her favour and confidence to Mrs. Masham, 227;
    Anne cautiously creeps out of her subjection to the Duchess, 230;
    has some pangs of conscience in ill-treating Marlborough, 232;
    gives up all regard for the Duchess or gratitude to the Duke, 233;
    emancipates herself from obligations regardless of the confusion
      into which she casts the country, 234;
    intrigues of the bed-chamber, 234;
    a weak woman domineered over by one attendant and wheedled and
      flattered by another, 234;
    gives herself up entirely to Mrs. Masham, 236;
    dreading the furious violence of the Duchess, Anne leaves
      London, 237;
    spares the Duke and Duchess not from compassion but fear, 242;
    terrified at the Duchess's threat to publish her letters, 242;
    exonerates the Duchess from the charge of cheating, 243;
    demands the return of the gold key from the Duchess, 244;
    divides her Court places between Mrs. Masham and the Duchess of
      Somerset, 245;
    writes with her own hand the dismissal of the Duchess, and gives
      herself up to her enemies, 246;
    her apathetic remark on hearing that the Duke and Duchess had left
      England, 248;
    she never sees again her great general or the woman to whom she was
      once so strongly attached, 248;
    her conduct towards Madame des Ursins in the repudiation of
      Lexington's convention, 281.

  AUBIGNY, Louis d', equerry of Madame des Ursins, 178;
    his character and familiar relations with the Princess, 178;
    the intercepted letter intimating that they were married, 178;
    becomes a perfect _caballero_, 260;
    sent secretly to France by Madame des Ursins to negotiate with
      Torcy, 278;
    despatched to Utrecht to negotiate the principality, 280;
    obtains only vague hopes on the part of the Dutch, 281.

  AUSTRIA, Charles, Archduke of, the reservation, by will of Charles
      II., to renounce all claim to the empire of Germany, 129;
    competitor of Philip V. for the crown of Spain, 169;
    proclaimed Charles III. of Spain by the Emperor, 186;
    lands at Lisbon and opens the campaign, 187;
    lands in Catalonia, 191;
    enters Barcelona as King of Spain, 197;
    proclaimed in Saragossa and Valentia, 197;
    his chief reliance the support of England, 207;
    entertained with truly royal magnificence at Windsor, 208;
    highly praises the beauty of Englishwomen, 218;
    his gallantry to the Queen and Duchess of Marlborough, 219;
    proclaimed at Madrid amidst a chilling silence, 251;
    awaits in vain the homage and oaths of the grandees, 259;
    is elevated to the imperial throne by the death of Joseph I., 265.

  BARRILLON (the French ambassador), brings about the signature of the
      treaty of Niméguen by the help of the Duchess of Portsmouth, 113;
    carries the message of the dying king's (Charles) mistress to the
      Duke of York, 117.

  BEAUFORT, Francis de Vendôme, Duke de, commands the troops of Gaston
      and weakens the army by his dissensions with Nemours, his
      brother-in-law, 3;
    kills Nemours in a duel, 14;
    satisfied at seeing Madame de Montbazon satisfied, he retires to
      Anet, 21;
    submits to the royal authority and obtains command of the fleet, 67;
    commands the French men-of-war against England and Holland, 67;
    goes to the aid of the Venetians against the Turks in Candia, and is
      cut to pieces in a sortie, 67;
    he carries with him to Candia, disguised as a page, Louise
      Quérouaille, 95.

  BERWICK, Duke of (natural son of James II.), does justice to
      Orry, 177;
    commands the French corps in Spain, 179;
    commands an Anglo-Portuguese army in Estramadura, 197;
    his hatred pursues Louis XIV. on every field of battle, 197;
    completely defeats the allies near Almanza, 252.

  BOLINGBROKE, Henry St. John, Viscount, his remark to Voltaire
      concerning Marlborough, 212;
    his career, character, and abilities, 220;
    possessed the talents and vices which have immortalised as well as
      disgraced Mirabeau, 221.

  BOUILLON, Duke de, advises an immediate attack on Condé at the
      Faubourg St. Antoine, 8;
    a first-class politician, but with only one thought--the
      aggrandisement of his house, 22;
    a glance at his antecedents, 22;
    obtains the title of Prince, 23;
    is cut short in his ambitious career by death, 24.

  BOULAY, Marquis de la, prevented from crossing swords with his rival,
      de Choisy, by Madame de Châtillon seizing a hand of each, 5.

  BUCKINGHAM, George Villiers, second Duke of, sent to Paris to inquire
      into the sudden death of Henrietta of England, 107;
    he persuades Louise de Quérouaille to transfer herself to the
      service of the Queen of England, 108;
    seeks to turn her to his own advantage by raising up a rival to the
      Duchess of Cleveland in the king's affections, 108;
    offers to escort her to England, but forgets both the lady and his
      promise, and leaves her at Dieppe, 109.

  BUSSY-RABUTIN, Count de, his account of a scene in public between
      Charles II. and the Duchess of Portsmouth, 113.

  CAMBIAC, Abbé, enamoured of the Duchess de Châtillon, 4;
    retires on finding Condé is his rival, 5.

  CAPRES, Bournonville, Baron de, negotiates with the Dutch touching the
      principality for Madame des Ursins, 281;
    liberally rewarded by Philip V., 281.

  CARIGNAN, Princess de, her projects for governing her niece the Queen
      of Spain, 155.

  CHARLES II. of England, the unbounded power over his mind possessed by
      his sister Henrietta, Duchess of Orleans, 97;
    falls into the snare laid for him by Louis XIV., and is captivated
      by Louise Quérouaille, 99;
    the secret negotiation initiated at Dover by the Duchess, 99;
    the key to his will found in La Quérouaille, 100;
    the main features of the secret negotiation, 101;
    he is rendered doubly a traitor by his abandonment of the latter
      condition, 101;
    indignantly refuses to receive the Duke d'Orleans' letter
      acquainting him with his sister's death, 106;
    he pretends to believe the explanations offered him, 106;
    sends Buckingham to Paris ostensibly to inquire into the
      catastrophe, but in reality to conclude the treaty, 108;
    France gives three million of livres for Charles's conversion to
      Popery, and three for the Dutch war, 108;
    creates Louise Quérouaille _Duchess of Portsmouth_, 110;
    creates his son by her Duke of Richmond, 111;
    Madame de Sévigne's amusing account of Charles's duplicate
      amours, 111;
    his fatal seizure, 115;
    declares his wish to be admitted into the Church of Rome, 117;
    receives the offices of Father Huddlestone, 118;
    in his last moments commends the Duchess of Portsmouth to the care
      of his brother James, 118;
    the alleged poisoning of Charles II., 119.

  CHARLES II., King of SPAIN, secretly consults Pope Innocent XII. on
      the succession, 128;
    declares Philip d'Anjou absolute heir to his crown, 129;
    consults the mortal remains of his father, mother, and wife upon the
      sacred obligations of the will, and dies, 129.

  CHÂTILLON, Isabelle Angelique de Montmorency-Bouteville, Duchess de,
      visits Nemours when wounded under various disguises, 4;
    Condé not the only rival Nemours had to contend with, 4;
    her condescension towards Cambiac, an intriguing, licentious
      priest, 4;
    procures her an enormous legacy from the Princess-Dowager de
      Condé, 4;
    Vineuil makes himself very agreeable to her, 5;
    meeting her after the combat of St. Antoine, Condé shows by his
      countenance how much he despises her, 12;
    is unable longer to counterbalance the counsels and influence of
      Madame de Chevreuse, 14;
    her shameful league with La Rochefoucauld against Madame de
      Longueville, 38.

  CHEVREUSE, Marie de Rohan, Duchess de. She ultimately becomes resigned
      to Mazarin, 19;
    warmly welcomes the return of the cardinal, 20;
    summary of her political career, 49;
    her elevated position side by side with Richelieu and Mazarin, 49;
    her "marriage of conscience" with the Marquis de Laigues, 50;
    marries her grandson, the Duke de Chevreuse, to Colbert's
      daughter, 52;
    survives all whom she had either loved or hated, 52;
    dies in obscurity at Gagny, 53.

  CHOISY, Count de, enamoured of Madame de Châtillon, is bent on
      fighting a duel about her with the Marquis de la Boulay, 5.

  CHURCHILL, Arabella, mistress of the Duke of York, obtains her brother
      John (afterwards Duke of Marlborough) a pair of colours in the
      Guards, 208.

  CLEVELAND, Barbara Palmer, Duchess of, violently enamoured of the
      handsome John Churchill, 209;
    presents him with 5000_l._ for his daring escape from the window of
      her apartment, 209;
    Buckingham raises up a rival to her in the King's affections in
      Louise Quérouaille, 108.

  CONDÉ, Louis de Bourbon, Prince de, his small success in pleasing the
      fair sex, 4;
    almost always badly dressed, 4;
    his party very sensibly weakened by rivalries and gallant intrigues
      among the political heroines, 5;
    fixes his head-quarters at St. Cloud, 6;
    is distracted by different passions and feelings, 6;
    betrayed on all sides amidst a series of impotent intrigues, 7;
    his error in having preferred the counsels of his fickle mistress,
      Madame de Châtillon, to those of his courageous and devoted
      sister, 7;
    his talent and courage in the struggle at the Faubourg St. Antoine, 8;
    is saved from perishing by the noble conduct of Madame de
      Montpensier, 10;
    his sore distress at the loss of his slain friends, 11;
    his mind disabused with regard to Madame de Châtillon, he shows by
      his countenance how much he despises her, 12;
    proposes such hard conditions to the Royalists that all accord with
      him becomes impossible, 13;
    he retires to the Netherlands, and becomes _generalissimo_ of the
      Spanish armies, 13;
    is declared guilty of high treason and a traitor to the State, 14;
    plunges deeper than ever into the Spanish alliance and the war
      against France, 14;
    restored to his honours and power, the Princess de Condé becomes
      once more the despised, alienated, humiliated wife, 86;
    he keeps her imprisoned until his death, and recommended that she
      should be kept so after his decease, 88.

  CONDÉ, Claire Clémence Maillé de Brézé, Princess de (wife of the Great
      Condé), married at thirteen to the Duke d'Enghien, who yielded
      only to compulsion, 80;
    the unenviable light in which she was held by her husband and
      relatives, 80;
    a fair estimate of her qualities, 81;
    her fidelity to her husband during adversity, 81;
    her zeal during the Woman's War, 81;
    her truly deplorable existence from earliest childhood, 82;
    her hour of fame and distinction, 83;
    her letters to the Queen and Ministers stamped with nobility and
      firmness, 83;
    she escapes from Chantilly on foot with her son and reaches
      Montrond, 83;
    she escapes from Montrond under cover of a hunting party, 83;
    escorted to Bordeaux by the Dukes de Bouillon and de la
      Rochefoucauld, 84;
    becomes an amazon and almost a heroine in the insurrection at
      Bordeaux, 84;
    scene in the Parliament chamber, 84;
    her particular talent for speaking in public, 84;
    works with her own hands at the fortifications of the city, 85;
    all the conditions by the Princess, save one, conceded, 85;
    Condé's remark that "whilst he was watering tulips, his wife was
      making war in the south," 85;
    her rapturous reception of a tender note from Condé, 85;
    she again becomes the despised and humiliated wife, 86;
    a tragic event adds itself to the train of her tribulations,
      outrages, and troubles, 87;
    imprisoned by the Prince at Châteauroux until his death, 88;
    Bossuet in his panegyric of the hero gives not one word of praise to
      the ill-fated Princess, 89.

  CONTI, Armand de Bourbon, Prince de, weakens the party of the Princes
      by his dissensions with his sister, Madame de Longueville, 3.

  DARTMOUTH, Lord, his version of the affair of the gold keys, 244.

  ESTRÉES, Cardinal d', directs the ultra-French political system at
      Madrid, 169;
    a formidable adversary of Madame des Ursins, 172;
    her tool, without knowing it, 173;
    he demands his recall in accents of rage and despair, 175.

  ESTRÉES, the Abbé d', is laughed at and despised by Madame des
      Ursins, 176;
    his letter to Louis XIV. scandalising her intercepted by her, 176;
    the letter of Louis XIV. recalling him, 180.

  FARNESE, Elizabeth, Princess of Parma, afterwards second consort of
      Philip V. of Spain, her lineage and true character, 294;
    chosen by Madame des Ursins as consort of Philip V., 289;
    her outrageous dismissal of the _camerara-mayor_, 292;
    her character as sketched by Frederick the Great, 294.

  FERTÉ-SENNETERRE, Marshal de la, brings powerful reinforcements to the
      royal army from Lorraine, 7.

  FIESQUE and FRONTENAC, the Countesses, the adjutant-generals of Madame
      de Montpensier in "the Women's War," 69.

  FORCE, Duke de la (father-in-law of Turenne), made Marshal of
      France, 24.

  FRONDE, the army of the, discouraged and divided (July, 1652); the
      fight at the Faubourg St. Antoine an act of despair, 7;
    the defeat of Condé destroys the Fronde, 11;
    approaching its last agony, it treats with Mazarin for an
      amnesty, 13;
    contrasted with the Great Rebellion in England, 29;
    the revolt of the Fronde belonged especially to high-born
      Frenchwomen, 35.

  GWYNNE, Nell, her rivalry of the Duchess of Portsmouth, 111;
    difference in character of their respective triumphs, 112.

  GUISE, Henri, Duke de, rallies to Mazarin after the Fronde, 28;
    his violent passion for Mdlle. de Pons, 59;
    elected by the Neapolitans their leader after Masaniello, 59;
    defeats the Spanish troops and becomes master of the country, 59;
    is betrayed through his gallantries and carried prisoner to
      Madrid, 60;
    attempts to reconquer Naples but fails, 60;
    is appointed Grand Chamberlain of France, 60;
    his duels, his romantic amours, his profusion, and the varied
      adventures of his life, 60.

  HALLAM, Henry (the historian), his remarks: "that the fortunes of
      Europe would have been changed by nothing more noble than the
      insolence of one waiting-woman and the cunning of another," 246;
    that "the House of Bourbon would probably not have reigned beyond
      the Pyrenees but for Sarah and Abigail at Queen Anne's
      toilette," 246.

  HARCOURT, Duke d', intercedes for the exiled Princess des Ursins, 185.

  HARLEY (afterwards Earl of Oxford), his talents and character, 219;
    uses his relation, the bed-chamber woman, as a political tool, 222;
    his plan to overthrow the Whigs by degrees, 233.

  LEGANEZ, Marquis de, conspires in favour of the Archduke Charles, 191;
    arrested and imprisoned at Pampeluna, 191.

  LEXINGTON, Lord, signs a convention which engages to secure to Madame
      des Ursins "a sovereignty," 277.

  LONGUEVILLE, Anne de Bourbon, Duchess de, no longer guided by La
      Rochefoucauld, she loses herself in aimless projects and
      compromises herself in intrigues without result, 3;
    the most ill-treated of all the political women of the Fronde, 36;
    a retrospection of her career during the Fronde, 36;
    though no longer the brilliant Bellona of Stenay, she does not dream
      of separating her fate from that of Condé, 38;
    her conversion to be dated from her sojourn in the convent at
      Moulins, 38;
    she implores pardon of her husband, 39;
    she is taken from Moulins to Rouen by her husband, 39;
    the fair penitent finds a ghostly guide in M. Singlin, 40;
    who advises her to remain in the outer world, 40;
    her desire to abstain from political intrigue looked upon
      incredulously for some years, 41;
    still placed by Mazarin (in 1659) among the feminine trio "capable
      of governing or overturning three great kingdoms," 41;
    results of her long and rigid penitence, 41;
    protects the Jansenists and earns the designation of "Mother of the
      Church," 41;
    acquires great reputation at the Court of Rome, 41;
    the austerities and self-mortification of her widowhood, 42;
    the death of her son, Count de St. Paul, the last blow of her
      earthly troubles, 43;
    the scene depicted by Madame de Sevigné on the arrival of the fatal
      tidings, 43;
    her death at the Carmelites, 44;
    the funeral oration by the Bishop of Autun, 44;
    three well-defined periods in her agitated life, 45;
    Mrs. Jameson's ideas of the mischievous tendencies of political
      women, as shown in the career of the Duchess, 46;
    Mrs. Jameson's erroneous estimate of the character of Madame de
      Longueville, 46-47.

  LOUIS XIV., King of France; his triumphant entry into Paris with his
      mother and Turenne, 15;
    his attention drawn to the wit and capacity of Madame des
      Ursins, 134;
    acts of violence against his Protestant subjects, 136;
    endeavours to bend Spain to his own designs, 151;
    recommends to his grandson an implacable war against Spanish Court
      etiquette, 163;
    the long train of disasters which brought Louis to the brink of an
      abyss, 168;
    the succession of Philip V. threatens to endanger the very existence
      of the French monarchy, 168;
    desires to recall Madame des Ursins, but finds his hand
      arrested, 175;
    writes to the Abbé d'Estrées touching the complaints against Madame
      des Ursins, 179;
    his letters to the King and Queen of Spain, 183;
    his insuperable objection to a government of Prime Ministers, and
      still more of women, 187;
    in his restoration of the Princess des Ursins his sagacity triumphs
      over his repugnance, 188;
    represented in Spain by his nephew, the Duke of Orleans, 254;
    secretly assists the party in Spain of _fara da se_, 261;
    his displeasure at Madame des Ursins delaying the signature of the
      Treaty of Utrecht, 282;
    his tart letter to his grandson, 283;
    limits Philip's choice of a consort to three princesses, 287.

  LOUVILLE, Marquis de, the duel with Madame des Ursins, 171;
    his fall: recalled from Madrid, 172;
    accuses Madame des Ursins of being "hair-brained in her
      conduct," 177.

  MAINTENON, Françoise d'Aubigny, Marquise de, her star rises slowly
      above the political horizon, 114;
    the secret of Madame des Ursins' appointment first broached in her
      cabinet, 143;
    favours that candidature, 145;
    the dazzling aspect of her laurels in Madame des Ursins' eyes, 148;
    her letters reveal the policy of Louis XIV. with regard to
      Spain, 151;
    her favourable intervention in behalf of the exiled Madame des
      Ursins, 185, 186;
    her motives for supporting the Princess, 186;
    dwells upon her equanimity, 193;
    changes the tone of her letters to a cold and sometimes ironic
      vein, 257;
    opposes the design of her old friend for a "sovereignty," 269;
    she divines the concealed project of Madame des Ursins, 277.

  MANCINI, Hortensia, Duchess de Mazarin, cuts to the quick Charles II.
      of England, 114.

  MARLBOROUGH, Sarah Jennings, Lady Churchill, and subsequently Duchess
      of, her birth and parentage, 207;
    peculiar graces of her mind and person, 208;
    Swift renders homage to her virtue, 208;
    aspirants to her hand, 208;
    altogether portionless, wooed and won by the avaricious John
      Churchill, 208;
    hard, vindictive, insatiable of wealth and honours, 210;
    united to the pride of a queen the rage of a fury, 210;
    brought up in close intimacy with the Princess Anne, her early
      assumed absolute ascendency, 215;
    the grounds on which she obtained and held place in Anne's
      service, 215;
    intoxicated with her almost unlimited sway, 218;
    no longer deigns to ask, but commands, 218;
    her influence well understood by the Continental powers, 218;
    domination her favourite passion, 221;
    exercised her absolute sway over the Queen with an imprudent
      audacity, 222;
    endless succession of piques, jeers, and misunderstandings between
      her and the Queen, 222;
    become a Princess of the Empire, subordinate duties are repugnant to
      her, 223;
    her benefactions to Abigail Hill's relatives, 224;
    perceiving the Queen's confidence in Mrs. Masham, she heaps upon her
      every species of contempt, sarcasm, and insult, 225;
    her insulting behaviour to the Queen at St. Paul's, 225;
    another altercation unduly breaks the links of their
      friendship, 226;
    discovers that her empire over the Queen is gone, 228;
    traces the whole system of deception carried on to her injury, 228;
    curious predicament between sovereign and subject, 230;
    her uprightness and singleness of mind, openness, and honesty, 230;
    long-repressed malice pours forth its vengeance on the disgraced
      favourite, 234;
    a fresh outbreak of violence precipitates her final disgrace, 236;
    her account of her last interview with the Queen at Kensington, 237;
    terrifies Anne by threatening to publish her letters, 242;
    her economy in dressing the Queen, 242;
    the return of the gold key, 244;
    the resignation accepted with eagerness and joyfulness, 245;
    the Duchess thinks only of some means or other of revenge, 246;
    her directions when about to quit the sphere of her palace
      triumphs, 246;
    withdraws to her country seat near St. Albans, 246;
    becomes soured by adversity and disgusted with the Court and the
      world, 247;
    disposed to wrangle and dispute on the slightest provocation, 247;
    a great affliction in the death of a long-tried friend, Lord
      Godolphin, 247;
    the Duke and Duchess leave England, 248;
    the attitude assumed by the Duke and Duchess throughout the
      political conflicts which agitated the Court during her residence
      abroad, 307;
    returns to England shortly after the death of Anne, 308;
    very far from possessing the influence she had enjoyed during Anne's
      reign, 308;
    her feverish thirst for political and courtly intrigues return upon
      her despite the advance of old age, 308;
    her shrewd and sound advice to her husband, 308;
    survives her illustrious husband twenty-two years, 309;
    her reply to the "proud Duke" of Somerset on the offer of his
      hand, 309;
    the testimony of respect she owed to the memory of a husband who
      left so great a name, 309;
    the instructive lesson derivable from her extraordinary and signal
      disgrace, as emphatically given by herself, 309, 310;
    her death at eighty-four, 310;
    her singular fate in private life--"that scarcely did she possess a
      tie which was not severed or embittered by worldly or political
      considerations," 310.

  MARLBOROUGH, John Churchill, afterwards Duke of, son of a poor
      cavalier knight, he enters the army at sixteen, 208;
    love, not war, the first-stepping-stone to his high fortunes, 208;
    obtains a pair of colours in the Guards through the interest of his
      sister Arabella, 208;
    known to the French soldiery as "the handsome Englishman," 208;
    complimented by Turenne on his gallantry and serene
      intrepidity, 209;
    Turenne's wager, 209;
    solicits unsuccessfully the command of a regiment from Louis
      XIV., 209;
    declared by Lord Chesterfield "irresistible either by man or
      woman," 209;
    rises rapidly at Court, 209;
    his daring adventure with the Duchess of Cleveland, 210;
    presented by her with 5000_l._, with which he buys an annuity, 210;
    marries Sarah Jennings, 210;
    testifies the greatest affection for his wife, 210;
    climbs fast up the ladder of preferment, 211;
    coldly forsakes his benefactor James II., 211;
    created Earl and General by William III., 211;
    Duke and Commander of the British armies by Queen Anne, 211;
    his deceitful and selfish character, 211;
    if his soul was mean and sordid, his genius was vast and
      powerful, 212;
    his neglected education and consummate oratory, 212;
    the most powerful personage in England, 214;
    rules the household, parliament, ministry, and the army, 214;
    rules the councils of Austria, States-General of Holland, Prussia,
      and the Princes of the Empire, 214;
    as potent as Cromwell, and more of a king than William III., 214;
    writes a stern letter to his wife on her dissensions with the
      Queen, 229;
    detained in England by "the quarrel among the women about the
      Court," 231;
    Dean Swift's unjust insinuations, 234;
    his courage called in question, and he is represented as the lowest
      of mankind, 234;
    his cold reception on his return from Flanders, 242;
    his ruling passion--love of money--made him stoop to mean and paltry
      actions, 243;
    his motives for retaining command of the army under a Tory
      Ministry, 245;
    the mask of envy, hatred, and jealousy, 247;
    the death of Lord Godolphin determines him to reside abroad, 247;
    his request to see the Queen before his departure refused, 248;
    furnished with a passport by his secret friend Lord
      Bolingbroke, 248;
    his steady correspondence with his friends, 307;
    refuses to approve of the Peace of Utrecht, or abandon his desire
      for the Hanoverian succession, 307;
    sees the cabals of his native country reflected in the Court of
      Hanover, 307;
    returns to England shortly after the death of Queen Anne, 308;
    witnesses the triumph of the Whigs on their return to power at the
      accession of George I., 308;
    reproached by the Duchess for no longer taking an active part in
      public affairs, 308;
    attacked with paralysis which deprives him of speech and
      recollection, 308;
    his death (in 1722), 308;
    his gentleness and devotion towards his wife and children, 309;
    how he governed his imperious consort, 309;
    the testimony of respect shown to his memory by the Duchess refusing
      offers of marriage from Lord Coningsby and the Duke of
      Somerset, 309.

  MASHAM, Mrs. (afterwards Lady), her origin, related to the Duchess of
      Marlborough and Harley, 221;
    appointed bed-chamber woman to the Queen, 221;
    married to Masham when Abigail Hill, 221;
    her lowly, supple, artful character, 222;
    her servile, humble, gentle and pliant manner towards the
      Queen, 224;
    coincides with Anne in political and religious opinions, 224;
    strives to sap the power and credit of the Whigs and to displace
      Marlborough, 225;
    after an altercation with the Duchess, the Queen gives her entire
      confidence to Mrs. Masham, 226;
    ever on the watch to turn such disagreements to skilful
      account, 227;
    gradually worms herself into the Queen's affections and undermines
      the Mistress of the Robes, 227;
    the petty and ungrateful conduct of the bed-chamber woman, 227;
    mean and paltry instances of treachery to her benefactress, 227;
    the upstart favourite exhibits all the scorn and insolence of her
      nature, 229;
    an instance of Mrs. Masham's stinging impertinence towards the
      Duchess, 230;
    the influence of the favourite, 233.

  MAZARIN, Cardinal, his exclamation on hearing that Mademoiselle de
      Montpensier had fired upon the king's troops, 10;
    quits France once more to facilitate a reconciliation with the
      Frondeurs, 13;
    received on his return by the Parisians with demonstrations of
      delight, 15;
    his triumph over the Fronde, the result of his prudent line of
      conduct, 16;
    his reception at the Louvre by Anne of Austria and the Court, 17;
    the heads of the two powerful families of Vendôme and Bouillon
      become the firmest supporters of his greatness, 20;
    his good fortune opens the eyes of every one to his merit, 31;
    his solemn reception by the King and Queen not an idle pageant or
      empty ceremony, 32.

  MEDINA-COELI, Duke de, head of the purely political Spanish
      system, 169;
    his double character, 196;
    is arrested by Madame des Ursins, and ends his days in prison, 256.

  MEILLERAYE, Marshal la, advances against the Princess de Condé at
      Montrond, 83.

  MELGAR, Admiral Count de, plots the downfall of Philip V. and the
      elevation of the Archduke, 170;
    traitorously joins the Portuguese and their allies, 170;
    his death from an insult, 171.

  MERCOEUR, Duke de (eldest son of Cæsar, Duke de Vendôme), married to
      the amiable and virtuous Laura Mancini, 21;
    made Governor of Provence, 21.

  MONTBAZON, Marie d'Avangour, Duchess de, one of those who made most
      noise at Anne of Austria's Court, 61;
    summary of her character, 61;
    a list of all her lovers, titled and untitled, not to be
      attempted, 61;
    very nearly the cause of a duel at the door of the king's
      apartments, 62;
    often used as an instrument by Madame de Chevreuse, 62;
    a dangerous rival to Madame de Guéméné, 62;
    instigates the Count de Soissons to add outrage to desertion of
      Madame de Guéméné, 62;
    her long exercised influence over Beaufort useful to the Court, 62;
    wanting in all the better qualities of a political woman, 62;
    proposes to enter into a treaty of alliance with De Retz, 63;
    very mercenary both in love and politics, 64;
    tricked out of 100,000 crowns by Condé and the Princess Palatine, 64;
    returns to Court after an exile of five years, 65;
    Madame de Motteville's description of her well-preserved beauty, 65;
    dies of the measles--three hours only accorded to her to prepare for
      death, 66;
    looked back with horror on her past life, 66;
    little regretted by any one save De Rancé, 66;
    the sight of her sudden death determines De Rancé to withdraw from
      the world, 67;
    Laroque's version of the catastrophe, 67.

  MONTPENSIER, Anne Marie Louise d'Orleans, called _La Grande
      Mademoiselle_ Duchess de, mingles in all the intrigues of the
      Fronde, 6;
    adopts unwise means to force herself as a bride upon the young
      king, 6;
    by her noble conduct in the struggle at the Faubourg St. Antoine,
      she saves the live of Condé, 10;
    her description of Condé's most pitiable condition, 11;
    characterises the Bourbons as much addicted to trifles, 69;
    a hint by which, looking at her portrait, her character may readily
      be read, 69;
    the commencement of her political and military career, 69;
    her companions-in-arms, the Countesses Fiesque and Frontenac, 70;
    she hoped to exchange the helmet of the Fronde for the crown of
      France, 70;
    she describes the Civil War as being a very amusing thing for
      her, 70;
    her defence of Orleans against the royal troops, 71;
    thrust through the gap of an old gateway and covered with mud, 71;
    hastens to arrest the massacre at the Hotel de Ville, 71;
    driven out of doors by her father--her wanderings, 72;
    expiates her pranks by four years' exile at St. Fargeau, 72;
    numerous pretenders to her hand, 72;
    the masquerades of 1657 carry the day over the political aims of
      1652, 73;
    is reconciled to her cousin, Louis XIV., 73;
    conflicts of the heart succeed to political storms, 73;
    destined to extinguish with the wet blanket of vile prose the
      brilliancy of a long and romantic career, 73;
    history ought not to treat too harshly the Frondeuse of the
      blood-royal, 73;
    the supreme criterion for the appreciation of certain women is the
      man whom they have loved, 74;
    Lauzun makes an impression upon her at first sight, 74;
    her own account of the discovery of her love for him, 75;
    asks the king's permission to marry the Gascon cadet, 75;
    after giving permission, Louis XIV. retracts, 75;
    Mad. de Sevigné's laughable account of Mademoiselle's grief, 76;
    probability that a clandestine marriage had been accomplished, 76;
    Anquetil's account of a putative daughter, 76;
    a secret chamber occupied by Lauzun in the Château d'Eu, 76;
    she obtains Lauzun's release after ten years' captivity, 77;
    he shows her neither tenderness nor respect, but beats her, 78;
    they separate and never meet again, 78;
    her death at the Luxembourg, 78;
    her creditable position among French writers and her encouragement
      of literary men, 79

  MONTELLANO, Duke de, replaces Archbishop Arias in the presidency of
      Castile, 172;
    counterbalances the authority of Porto-Carrero, 172;
    offended at the attitude of the princess, he resigns, 196.

  NEMOURS, Charles Amadeus of Savoy, Duke de, wounded in the Fronde war,
      is visited in various disguises by the Duchess de Châtillon, 4;
    wounded in several places in the combat at the Faubourg St.
      Antoine, 9;
    is killed in a duel with his brother-in-law, Beaufort, 14.

  NOIRMOUTIER, Duke de, circulates his sister's annotated letter
      throughout Paris, 179.

  ORLEANS, Gaston, Duke d', but for his daughter, his inaction would
      have allowed Condé to perish, 10;
    his interview with Condé after the fight, 12;
    exiled to Blois, 15;
    passes there the remainder of his contemptible existence, 25.

  ORLEANS, Henrietta of England, daughter of Charles I., Duchess d',
      admits Louise Quérouaille into her household as
      maid-of-honour, 96;
    intrusted with the negotiating of detaching England from the
      interests of Holland, 97;
    her character and personal attributes at five-and-twenty, 97;
    her unbounded power over her brother, Charles II., 97;
    the secret of Louis XIV.'s progress to Flanders, known only to
      her, 99;
    embarks from Dunkirk for Dover, with La Quérouaille and initiates
      the secret negotiation with her brother, 99;
    Charles falls into the snare and Henrietta carries most of the
      points of that disgraceful treaty, 99;
    takes her maid-of-honour back to France to incite Charles's desire
      to retain her in his Court, 100;
    the Duchess thought more of augmenting the greatness of Charles than
      of benefiting England, 100;
    her motives for undertaking all this shameful bargaining, 102;
    on her return to Paris, a cabal in her household seeks to effect her
      destruction, 102;
    the motives originating the plot, 103;
    she is seized with a mortal illness at St. Cloud, 104;
    the heartless indifference of all around her, save Madlle. de
      Montpensier, 105;
    her dying declaration that she was poisoned, 105;
    Bossuet consoles her in her last moments, 106;
    the cause of her death falsely attributed to _cholera-morbus_, 106;
    St. Simon's statement of the poison being sent from Italy by the
      Chevalier de Lorraine, 107;
    the intrigues which led to the murder present a scene of accumulated
      horrors and iniquity, 107;
    the last political act of the Duchess calculated to secure the
      subjection of the English nation, 107.

  ORLEANS, Philip II. (nephew of Louis XIV. and afterwards Regent),
      Duke d', represents Louis XIV. in Spain, 254;
    distrusted by, but remains on the best footing with Mad. des
      Ursins, 254;
    indulged the hope of being put in the place of Philip V., 255;
    his suspicious negotiations with the Earl of Stanhope, 255;
    Mad. des Ursins demands his recall and obtains it, 255;
    denounced by Mad. des Ursins, and with difficulty escapes a
      scandalous trial, 256.

  ORRY, Jean Louville's accusations against him, 177;
    Mad. des Ursins' letter with friendly remembrances to d'Aubigny's
      wife, 183;
    recalled to France, 187;
    reinstated by Mad. des Ursins, 190.

  PALATINE, Anne de Gonzagua, Princess, if the Fronde could have been
      saved, her advice would have saved it, 18;
    is associated with Mazarin's triumph, 19;
    her political importance dates from the imprisonment of the
      Princess, 54;
    uses the feminine factionists as so many wires by which to move the
      men whom they governed, 54;
    the opinions of De Retz and Mazarin upon her stability of purpose
      and capacity to work mischief, 54;
    appointed superintendent of the young Queen's household, 55;
    retires from Court, and ends her days in seclusion, 56;
    her conversion and penitence, 57;
    Bossuet's funeral oration, 57;
    her account of her conversion addressed to the celebrated Abbé de
      Rancé, founder of La Trappe, 58;
    a glance at the singular fortunes of the Duke de Guise, her first
      lover, 59.

  PETERBOROUGH, Lord, tears Barcelona from Philip V., 197.

  PHILIP V. (Duke d' Anjou, grandson of Louis XIV.), King of Spain,
      grave questions raised by his accession, 151;
    his character, 154;
    Mad. des Ursins governs him through the Queen, 154;
    in disguise, meets his bride at Hostalnovo, 157;
    his mental defects--rather constituted to serve than reign, 166;
    his first entrance into Spain radiant with youth and hope, 166;
    Europe forms a coalition to snatch the two peninsulas from the
      domination of France, 167;
    compels the recall of Cardinal d'Estrées, 174;
    takes command of the army on the frontiers of Portugal, 179;
    baffled at Barcelona, and takes, in mortal agony, the road to
      France, 198;
    re-enters Madrid as a liberator, 252;
    is thoroughly defeated by the Austrians at Saragossa, 257;
    Louis XIV. advises him to abandon Spain in order to keep Italy, 257;
    his noble letter in reply, 259;
    his dismissal in mass of his French household, 260;
    after the victory of Villaviciosa, sleeps on a couch of
      standards, 262;
    in behalf of Mad. des. Ursins, refuses to sign the treaty of
      Utrecht, 281;
    he signs the treaty unconditionally, 284;
    his choice of a wife limited to three princesses by Louis XIV., 287;
    secretly lends his hand to a _coup d'état_ against Mad. des
      Ursins, 291;
    gives authority to his new consort to take everything upon
      herself, 294;
    succeeds in reducing Spain to obedience only a few days before the
      fall of Mad. des Ursins, 303.

  PORTO-CARRERO, Cardinal, exercises a powerful influence on Innocent
      XI. and Charles II. of Spain, 141;
    is won over by Mad. des Ursins to favour the pretensions of the
      Duke d'Anjou, 142;
    champion of the ultra-French political system, 169;
    abruptly changes his policy, 172;
    becomes a formidable adversary of the Princess des Ursins, 172;
    refuses to act with Cardinal d'Estrées and resigns, 172;
    the turncoat from every cause, and as a politician is
      annihilated, 173;
    his intractable and arrogant temper, 173;
    his cabal rakes into the private life of the _camerara-mayor_
      without success, 173;
    he quits Madrid with all the French household, 174.

  PORTSMOUTH, Louise Penhouet Quérouaille, Duchess of, the political
      errors of Charles II. primarily traced to her, 93;
    more than any other of his mistresses odious to the English, 93;
    the acme of splendour and corruption reached by the French court in
      1670, 93;
    the household of his sister-in-law, Henrietta of England, supplies
      Louis XIV. with a diplomatist in petticoats, 93;
    the royal family used her as an instrument without caring about her
      origin, 94;
    what Mad. de Sevigné says of her antecedents, 94;
    revelations of the _Histoire Secrète_, 94;
    the Duke de Beaufort enamoured of her, 95;
    carries her off to Candia disguised as a page, 95;
    on his being cut to pieces, she returns to France, 96;
    this prank of hers proves the foundation of her fortunes, 96;
    Henrietta of England, interested in her romantic tale, admits her as
      one of her maids-of-honour, 96;
    Louis XIV. finds her an apt and willing instrument in the secret
      negotiation, 98;
    the pretext of a progress to Flanders resorted to by Louis XIV. to
      bring La Quérouaille under the notice of Charles II., 98;
    she embarks with the Duchess at Dunkirk for Dover, where she
      captivates the king, 99;
    Louise returns to France with the Duchess of Orleans, 100;
    the key to the will of Charles II. found in Louise, 100;
    Louis XIV. promises of handsomely rewarding the compliant
      maid-of-honour, 102;
    the Duke of Buckingham seeks to turn her to his own advantage as a
      rival to the Duchess of Cleveland, 108;
    an invitation formally worded sent her from the English Court, 109;
    is left in the lurch at Dieppe by Buckingham, 109;
    Lord Montague has her conveyed to England in a yacht, 109;
    she is appointed maid-of-honour to the queen, 109;
    the intoxication of Charles at "les graces décentes" of Louise, 109;
    the purpose of her receiving an appointment at the Court of St.
      James's foretold by Madame de Sevigné, 109;
    St. Evremond's equivocal advice, 110;
    created Duchess of Portsmouth, 110;
    the domain of d'Aubigny conferred upon her by Louis XIV., 111;
    Charles Lennox, her son by Charles II., created Duke of
      Richmond, 111;
    put out of countenance by Nell Gwynne, 112;
    in conjunction with Barillon obtains an order which suddenly changed
      the face of Europe, 113;
    her triumphant sway in political matters, 113:
    generously sacrifices her political _rôle_ in the matter of the
      "bill of exclusion," 114;
    her correspondence with Madame de Maintenon, 115;
    Louis XIV. confers upon her the title of Duchess d'Aubigny, 115;
    her creditable behaviour during the fatal seizure of Charles
      II., 115;
    magnificence of her apartments, 116;
    Barillon finds her in an agony of grief, 116;
    the message of the mistress to the dying king's brother, 117;
    her political attitude during the last months of Charles's
      life, 119;
    she returns to France with a large treasure of money and
      jewels, 120;
    is the object of a rigid surveillance, 120;
    Louvois, Courtin, and the _lettre de cachet_, 120;
    passes in profound obscurity the remainder of her life, 121;
    so reduced as to solicit a pension, 121;
    the power she possessed over the mind of Charles II., 122;
    her beauty not comparable to that of Madame de Montespan, 123.

  RANCÉ, Armand, Jean Le Bouthillier (the reformer of La Trappe), the
      lover who regretted Madame de Montbazon the most sincerely, 6;
    the sight of her sudden death determines him to withdraw from the
      world, 67;
    the skull of the Duchess said to have been found in his cell at La
      Trappe, 67.

  RETZ, Cardinal de, chills the Duke d'Orleans into inaction during the
      struggle of Condé with Turenne, 10;
    imprisoned at Vincennes, 15;
    obtains the red hat from Louis XIV., 26;
    entering upon his old intrigues, he is arrested and imprisoned, 26.

  ROCHEFOUCAULD, Francis, Duke de la, blinded by a ball through his face
      in the fight at the Faubourg St. Antoine, 9;
    retires to his estates, and for a few years buries himself in
      obscurity, 27;
    is again received into favour, and obtains a thumping pension, 28.

  SAINT-SIMON, Duke de, his explanation of the ascendency of Madame des
      Ursins, 168;
    his elaborate portrait of the Princess, 304.

  SAVOY, Marie Louise of (daughter of Amadeus II., first wife of Philip
      V. of Spain), quits Italy with Madame des Ursins for Spain, 153;
    description of her at fourteen, 153;
    the _camerara-mayor_ becomes indispensable to her, 154;
    incidents of the journey to Spain, 156;
    her first interview with Philip, who is disguised as a king's
      messenger, 158;
    the marriage at Figuieras, 158;
    untoward incident of the supper there, 159;
    Spanish _versus_ French cookery, 159;
    her indignation at the conduct of the Spanish ladies, 159;
    attributes the audacity and rudeness of the Spanish dames to the
      King, 159;
    ends by making the _amende_ to Philip V., 169;
    the arrival at Madrid, 160;
    the Queen governs Philip V., and Madame des Ursins governs the
      Queen, 168;
    her education and mental characteristics, 168;
    a happy conformity of tastes, views, and dispositions attaches the
      Queen to Madame des Ursins, 169;
    maintains the royal authority by the spell of her gentle and steady
      virtues, 198;
    her destitution at Burgos, 199;
    forsaken by her Court, seeks an asylum in old Castile, 200;
    in childbirth, appeals touchingly to the attachment and courage of
      Madame des Ursins, 257;
    dies suddenly at the age of twenty-six, 267.

  SPAIN, two political systems confront each other at Madrid, 169;
    both reduced to impotence by Madame des Ursins, 169;
    Gibraltar torn away for ever from Spain by a handful of British
      seamen, 187;
    defenceless state of the country, 187;
    necessary to have almost an army in each province, 199;
    the last remnant of the army surrenders without fighting, 199;
    the aim of the Great Alliance, 205;
    solves by her own efforts the great question which had kept Europe
      so long in arms, 262;
    called upon alone to pay the costs of the pacification (Treaty of
      Utrecht), 267.

  SWIFT, Dean, covers the Duchess of Marlborough with ridicule and
      obloquy, 234;
    represents her in print as a pickpocket, 243.

  TESSÉ, Marshal de, commands in Spain, 191;
    a cunning courtier but mediocre general, 197.

  TORCY, Marquis de (Prime Minister of Louis XIV.), favours the
      candidature of Madame des Ursins, 145;
    his confidence in her, 152;
    a copy of Madame des Ursins' annotated letter sent him, 179.

  TORIES, the, ousted by the Whigs, 218;
    their dismissal demanded by the Queen's favourite, 219;
    with Harley and Bolingbroke at their head they work in the dark to
      regain power, 219;
    set up Mrs. Masham to oppose and undermine the influence of the
      favourite, 224;
    they foster the Queen's grief at the bloodshed in the Low
      Countries, 235;
    dwell upon the odious tyranny of the Duchess of Marlborough, and
      promise to deliver Anne from it, 236;
    the Whigs replaced by Bolingbroke, Harley, Earl of Jersey, and the
      Dukes of Ormonde and Shrewsbury, 242.

  TURENNE, Marshal de, his error in attacking Condé without his entire
      force, 7;
    rivals Condé in boldness and obstinacy, 8;
    his frigid, reflective, and profoundly dissembling character, 22;
    carefully conciliated and caressed by Mazarin, 24;
    made Governor of Auvergne, and the Viscounty of Turenne erected into
      a principality, 24;
    his wager on the subject of Churchill's gallantry, 211.

  URSINS (Orsini), Marie Anne de la Tremouille-Noirmoutier, Princess de,
      untoward result of the dramatic vicissitudes of a life devoted to
      the pursuit of political power, 131;
    married to the Prince de Chalais, 132;
    joins her husband in Spain, whither he had fled from the consequences
      of a duel, 133;
    first meeting with Madame Scarron, 133;
    left a childless widow on her arrival in Rome, 133;
    the attention of Louis XIV. directed to her wit and capacity, 134;
    she marries, with a political purpose, the Duke de Bracciano, 134;
    her mode of life and career at Rome, 134;
    character of the Duke, 135;
    untoward misunderstandings arise through her extravagances, 136;
    the passion for politics and power obtains mastery over her
      mind, 137;
    the Orsini in some sort a sacerdotal family, 137;
    dogmatic questions prove a stumbling block to conjugal harmony, 138;
    forms a close intimacy with the Maréchale de Noailles, 138;
    her varied resources appreciated by the minister Torcy, 138;
    presented to Madame de Maintenon on visiting Versailles, 138;
    reconciled to her husband, the Duke, on his death-bed, 139;
    is highly esteemed by the cabinet of Versailles, 140;
    wins over Innocent XI. to favour the pretensions of the Duke
      d'Anjou, 141;
    she aspires to govern Spain, 142;
    manoeuvres to secure the post of _camerara-mayor_, 142;
    the art and caution with which she negotiates with the Maréchale de
      Noailles, 143;
    the astute programme traced by her for de Torcy, 145;
    naïve expression of delight at her success, 146;
    sets forth regally equipped to conduct the Princess of Savoy to her
      husband, 148;
    enters upon her militant career at an advanced age, 148;
    entirely possessed by her painstaking ambition, 149;
    enters upon her new mission with zeal, ardour, and activity, more
      than virile, 149;
    truly devoted to Spain, without failing in her devotion to
      France, 152;
    wages a determined war against the Inquisition, 152;
    seeks to establish her power by masking it, 152;
    first meets Maria Louise, of Savoy, at Villefranche, 153;
    makes herself acceptable to the young Queen, 153;
    her wrath and stupefaction at the French dishes being upset, 159;
    installed definitively as _camerara-mayor_ at Madrid, 160;
    onerous and incongruous duties of the post, 162;
    her policy of keeping to herself sole access to the King and
      Queen, 163;
    sacrifices her dignity to her power and influence, 163;
    by familiarising the Queen with politics, she penetrates every state
      secret, 164;
    renders the Queen popular among the people of central Spain, 164;
    her wise policy for the regeneration of Spain, 165;
    reduces both the ultra-French and purely Spanish political systems
      to impotence, 169;
    fathoms the intrigues and baffles the manoeuvres of Melgar, 170;
    Louville succumbs to her, 171;
    Porto-Carrero tenders his resignation, 172;
    Cardinal d'Estrées her tool without knowing it, 173;
    the Cardinal's cabal "rakes into her private life," 173;
    the Queen defends her with earnest importunity, 174;
    holds the Abbé d'Estrées in contempt, 176;
    the intercepted letter and its marginal note, 176;
    makes a false step in her statecraft, 176;
    the blunder leads to a great imbroglio, 177;
    did she always use her influence over the young Queen in a purely
      disinterested way? 177;
    at the age of sixty still had lovers, 177;
    her relations with d'Aubigny, her equerry, 178;
    gallantry and _l'entêtement de sa personne_, St. Simon asserts to be
      her overwhelming weakness, 178;
    she rashly resents the accusation of her marriage with
      d'Aubigny, 179;
    nicely balances Louis XIV.'s power in his grandson's Court, 180;
    her egotistic and impatient ambition, 181;
    the stately haughtiness of her submission to Louis XIV., 181;
    her adroit flattery of Madame de Maintenon, 182;
    quits Madrid as a state criminal for Italy, 184;
    permitted to take up her abode at Toulouse, 184;
    her artful letters and politic conduct, 185;
    receives permission to appear at Versailles and justify
      herself, 186;
    the triumph of her restoration suddenly transforms her into "a court
      divinity," 188;
    she affects to be in no hurry to return to Spain, 189;
    procures the admission of d'Aubigny into the cabinets of Louis XIV.
      and Madame de Maintenon, 190;
    authorised to form her ministry, 191;
    her return to Spain prepared by the arrest of Leganez, 191;
    she triumphs at Versailles, 192;
    her lively appreciation of Louis XIV.'s mental qualities, 192;
    the question of the prospect of her replacing Madame de
      Maintenon, 193;
    Louis XIV. seduced both by her grace and talent, 193;
    turns all things to her advantage through her lucid common
      sense, 194;
    returns to Spain strengthened by disgrace, 194;
    determines to break up the cabal of the grandees, 195;
    foils the underhanded opposition of the high aristocracy, 196;
    triumphs on the very brink of a volcano, 197;
    nothing more honourable to her memory than her letters at this
      period of disaster, 200;
    by speeches, letters, and overtures, she consolidates the King's
      authority in Old Castile, 200;
    one of the most vigorous instruments ever made use of by
      Providence, 201;
    she flatters Madame de Maintenon about St. Cyr, 201;
    suffering from rheumatism and a painful affection of her sight, acts
      in the capacity of field-marshal to the Queen, 202;
    her courage allied with good temper, amiability and _beau
      sang_, 203;
    her wretched quarters at Burgos, 203;
    her temperament contrasted with that of Madame de Maintenon, 204;
    her delicate and perilous position, 253;
    overcomes Montellano and the friends of the old system, 253;
    distrusts the Duke of Orleans, but remains on the best footing with
      him, 255;
    opposes his policy, demands his recall and obtains it, 255;
    has to choose between the French policy of Louis XIV. and the
      Spanish policy of Philip V., 257;
    the young Queen appeals touchingly to her attachment and
      courage, 257;
    resolves to remain upon the theatre of events, 258;
    throws herself headlong into the _mêlée_, 258;
    reproaches Madame de Maintenon for preferring the King's case to his
      honour, 258;
    inspires Philip V. with an energy truly worthy of the throne, 259;
    places herself at the head of the national movement, 259;
    flatters alike the democracy and the grandees by throwing Philip
      into the arms of the Spaniards, 260;
    in deference to popular sensibilities she sacrifices Amelot and
      Orry, 261;
    implores that Vendôme might be sent to command the Spanish
      forces, 261;
    the victory of Villaviciosa definitely seats the Bourbons on the
      throne of Spain, 262;
    sees her steadfast policy crowned by accomplished facts, 262;
    receives the title of HIGHNESS, 262;
    her share in the treaty of Utrecht, 264;
    her perseverance unexampled both in idea and conduct, 264;
    undismayed by reverses, never intoxicated by success, 264;
    her letters to Madame de Maintenon assume a somewhat protective
      tone, 265;
    at this culminating point of her greatness a humiliating catastrophe
      is impending, 265;
    the measures taken by her to consolidate the power of Philip
      V., 266;
    the question of the erection of a territory into a sovereignty for
      her, 266;
    she is overwhelmed with reproaches on all sides, 267;
    this check the first of a series of misfortunes which death alone
      closed, 267;
    Marie Louise, of Savoy, dies suddenly, 267;
    what mysteries did the Medina-Coeli palace witness? 268;
    the loss of her royal mistress the remote signal which heralded her
      fall, 268;
    she destroys with her own hands the structure of her individual
      fortunes, 268;
    she imprudently attacks the Spanish inquisition, 269;
    fails in the attempt and creates a host of enemies, 269;
    Louis XIV. has a grudge against her for delaying the signature of
      the Treaty of Utrecht, 269;
    the storm darkens thickly over her head, 270;
    she consults Alberoni on the choice of Elizabeth Farnese as consort
      of Philip V., 270;
    Alberoni deceives her in the representation of the Princess of
      Parma's character, 270;
    by Alberoni's first move Madame de Ursini's game was lost, 271;
    she finds herself friendless in Spain, 272;
    she neglects to conciliate her enemies, 272;
    suspicious jealousy of domination over Philip V., 273;
    scandal of the construction of the secret corridor in the
      palace, 273;
    her error in not renouncing the idea of the principality, 275;
    Lord Lexington signs a convention with her in which Queen Anne
      "_engaged to secure her a sovereignty_," 277;
    Madame de Maintenon divines her concealed project, 277;
    sends d'Aubigny secretly to France to negotiate with Torcy, 278;
    her proud feeling of returning to France as a sovereign
      princess, 278;
    her towering rage on hearing of the repudiation of the convention by
      Queen Anne, 279;
    she believes herself tricked by the English, 279;
    despatches d'Aubigny to Utrecht, 280;
    selects a more important personage to continue the negotiations--the
      Baron de Capres, 281;
    the delay in the conclusion of the general peace imputed to
      her, 282;
    Madame de Maintenon's letter to her on that subject, 282;
    hitherto so noble-minded, she is no longer comprehensible throughout
      this affair, 283;
    nothing left but to give way; and the Treaty is signed
      unconditionally, 284;
    her mortification at the failure of her pretensions, 284;
    the Court of France is turned against her, 284;
    she is addressed harshly and laconically by Madame de
      Maintenon, 284;
    the Duke of Berwick proves unfriendly, 284;
    she keeps Philip V. from all private audience, and scandal becomes
      again busy with her name, 285;
    an anecdote circulated throughout the French world of fashion--the
      pendant of "_Oh! pour mariée, non!_" 285;
    Philip grows wearied of the complaints, murmurs, and idle talk, 286;
    his exclamation "Find me a wife! our _tête-à-têtes_ scandalise the
      people," 286;
    her difficulties in the choice of a consort for Philip, 287-289;
    selects Elizabeth Farnese, 289;
    her uneasiness at the contradictory reports of the Princess of
      Parma's character, 290;
    she attempts too late to break off the match, 291;
    that unskilful and tardy opposition prepares her ruin, 291;
    her prompt, cruel, and decisive disgrace, 291;
    her meeting with Elizabeth Farnese at Xadraque, 292;
    the Queen outrageously thrusts Madame des Ursins out of her cabinet,
      orders her to be arrested and instantaneously conveyed to the
      French frontiers, 293;
    her sufferings during the mid-winter journey, 293;
    her touching relation to Madame de Maintenon, 293;
    in her seventy-second year she sustains the strength and constancy
      of her character, 294;
    recovers all her strength, sang-froid, and wonted equanimity, 295;
    her just estimate of human instability, 295;
    St. Simon's impressive narrative of the terrible night of her rude
      expulsion (December 24th, 1714), 295;
    the hard fate reserved for a woman--the founder of a dynasty and
      liberator of a great kingdom, 295;
    the active correspondence of her numerous enemies both at Versailles
      and Madrid, 296;
    her hopes of returning to the Spanish Court frustrated, 296;
    the Queen leaves her letters unanswered, 296;
    Philip declares himself "unable to refuse the maintenance of the
      measure taken at the instance of the Queen," 296;
    Louis XIV. is compelled to be guided by the decision of his
      grandson, 296;
    Madame de Maintenon replies by evasive compliments, 296;
    she perceives that all is at an end as regarded her resumption of
      power, 296;
    arrives in Paris and is coldly received by Louis XIV., 296;
    she quits France and once more fixes her abode in Rome, 297;
    attaches herself to the fortunes of Prince James Stuart, _the
      Pretender_, and does the honours of his house, 297;
    her death at fourscore and upwards, 297;
    who were the real authors of the Princess's disgrace? 297;
    her political life in Spain characterized, 301;
    the difference arising from the respective characters of Madame des
      Ursins and Madame de Maintenon, 301;
    summary of her life and character, 303;
    St. Simon's elaborate portrait of the Princess, 304;
    his remark--"She reigned in Spain, and her history deserves to be
      written," 305;
    its lesson--the fruitlessness of the devotion of a most gifted
      woman's life to the pursuit of politics, 306.

  VENDÔME, Cæsar, Duke de, blockades Bordeaux, 14;
    is made High Admiral and State Minister by Mazarin, 21;
    pursues the Spanish fleet and threatens the relics of the Fronde at
      Bordeaux, 21.

  VENDÔME, Louis Joseph, Duke de (son of Cæsar), his victory at
      Villaviciosa, 262;
    it definitely seats the Bourbons on the throne of Spain, 262.

  VINEUIL, M. de, proves a dangerous emissary in Condé's courtship of
      "the Queen of Hearts," Madame de Châtillon, 5;
    Madame de Montbazon, Madame de Mouy, and the Princess of Wurtemberg,
      successively experience the effects of his seduction, 5.

  WAR OF THE SPANISH SUCCESSION, the more immediate circumstances that
      brought it about, 128;
    Charles II. consults Innocent XI., and secretly bequeaths his crown
      to the Duke d'Anjou, 142.

  WHIGS, the, Queen Anne's feeling towards that party purely
      official, 206;
    they labour to secure the adhesion of Lady Churchill, 207;
    they triumph in the first struggle, 218;
    they eject Mansel, Harley, and Bolingbroke, 218;
    they reckon amongst their ranks Marlborough, Godolphin, Walpole, the
      army, public opinion, and parliament, 218;
    the fall of the Ministry through disunion in itself, 233;
    Dr. Sacheverel's affair contributes to ruin the Whigs in the Queen's
      favour, 234;
    the disgrace of the Duchess involves the fall of the Whigs, 242.



  |Transcriber's Note                                                |
  |                                                                  |
  |Closing quotes are missing for the sentences beginning with:      |
  |                                                                  |
  |Page 44: "It was not a _Tartuffe_, it was not a _Pantaloon_       |
  |Page 120: "that great freedom of speech prevailed in her circle,  |
  |Page 231: "to put an end to those controversies, and to avoid     |
  |                                                                  |
  |The following changes were made to the original text [correction  |
  |in brackets]:                                                     |
  |                                                                  |
  |Page 83: difficulties, sometimes on horsback [horseback], at      |
  |Page 94: a neigbouring [neighbouring] town to that in which he    |
  |Page 147: from the King in addition to the high favonr[favour] and|
  |Page 181: The Cardinal d'Estrêes [d'Estrées] was desirous         |
  |Page 187: of women, Louis XIV. had an insuperable antipathy,[.] It|
  |Page 269: driven him to such extremity,[.] Besides, just then his |
  |Page 318: writes to the Abbé d'Estreés[d'Estrées] touching the    |
  |Page 323: the household of of[omitted] his sister-in-law,         |
  |Page 323: to a _coup d'état_ against Mad. des Ursins, 297[291];   |
  |Page 327: trimphs[triumphs] on the very brink of a volcano, 197;  |
  |Page 328: her hopes of returning to the Spansh[Spanish] Court     |

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Political Women, Vol. 2" ***

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ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.