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´╗┐Title: Famous Affinities of History: The Romance of Devotion. Volume 1
Author: Orr, Lyndon
Language: English
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Of all love stories that are known to human history, the love story of
Antony and Cleopatra has been for nineteen centuries the most
remarkable. It has tasked the resources of the plastic and the graphic
arts. It has been made the theme of poets and of prose narrators. It
has appeared and reappeared in a thousand forms, and it appeals as much
to the imagination to-day as it did when Antony deserted his almost
victorious troops and hastened in a swift galley from Actium in pursuit
of Cleopatra.

The wonder of the story is explained by its extraordinary nature. Many
men in private life have lost fortune and fame for the love of woman.
Kings have incurred the odium of their people, and have cared nothing
for it in comparison with the joys of sense that come from the
lingering caresses and clinging kisses. Cold-blooded statesmen, such as
Parnell, have lost the leadership of their party and have gone down in
history with a clouded name because of the fascination exercised upon
them by some woman, often far from beautiful, and yet possessing the
mysterious power which makes the triumphs of statesmanship seem slight
in comparison with the swiftly flying hours of pleasure.

But in the case of Antony and Cleopatra alone do we find a man flinging
away not merely the triumphs of civic honors or the headship of a
state, but much more than these--the mastery of what was practically
the world--in answer to the promptings of a woman's will. Hence the
story of the Roman triumvir and the Egyptian queen is not like any
other story that has yet been told. The sacrifice involved in it was so
overwhelming, so instantaneous, and so complete as to set this
narrative above all others. Shakespeare's genius has touched it with
the glory of a great imagination. Dryden, using it in the finest of his
plays, expressed its nature in the title "All for Love."

The distinguished Italian historian, Signor Ferrero, the author of many
books, has tried hard to eliminate nearly all the romantic elements
from the tale, and to have us see in it not the triumph of love, but
the blindness of ambition. Under his handling it becomes almost a
sordid drama of man's pursuit of power and of woman's selfishness. Let
us review the story as it remains, even after we have taken full
account of Ferrero's criticism. Has the world for nineteen hundred
years been blinded by a show of sentiment? Has it so absolutely been
misled by those who lived and wrote in the days which followed closely
on the events that make up this extraordinary narrative?

In answering these questions we must consider, in the first place, the
scene, and, in the second place, the psychology of the two central
characters who for so long a time have been regarded as the very
embodiment of unchecked passion.

As to the scene, it must be remembered that the Egypt of those days was
not Egyptian as we understand the word, but rather Greek. Cleopatra
herself was of Greek descent. The kingdom of Egypt had been created by
a general of Alexander the Great after that splendid warrior's death.
Its capital, the most brilliant city of the Greco-Roman world, had been
founded by Alexander himself, who gave to it his name. With his own
hands he traced out the limits of the city and issued the most
peremptory orders that it should be made the metropolis of the entire
world. The orders of a king cannot give enduring greatness to a city;
but Alexander's keen eye and marvelous brain saw at once that the site
of Alexandria was such that a great commercial community planted there
would live and flourish throughout out succeeding ages. He was right;
for within a century this new capital of Egypt leaped to the forefront
among the exchanges of the world's commerce, while everything that art
could do was lavished on its embellishment.

Alexandria lay upon a projecting tongue of land so situated that the
whole trade of the Mediterranean centered there. Down the Nile there
floated to its gates the barbaric wealth of Africa. To it came the
treasures of the East, brought from afar by caravans--silks from China,
spices and pearls from India, and enormous masses of gold and silver
from lands scarcely known. In its harbor were the vessels of every
country, from Asia in the East to Spain and Gaul and even Britain in
the West.

When Cleopatra, a young girl of seventeen, succeeded to the throne of
Egypt the population of Alexandria amounted to a million souls. The
customs duties collected at the port would, in terms of modern money,
amount each year to more than thirty million dollars, even though the
imposts were not heavy. The people, who may be described as Greek at
the top and Oriental at the bottom, were boisterous and
pleasure-loving, devoted to splendid spectacles, with horse-racing,
gambling, and dissipation; yet at the same time they were an artistic
people, loving music passionately, and by no means idle, since one part
of the city was devoted to large and prosperous manufactories of linen,
paper, glass, and muslin.

To the outward eye Alexandria was extremely beautiful. Through its
entire length ran two great boulevards, shaded and diversified by
mighty trees and parterres of multicolored flowers, amid which
fountains plashed and costly marbles gleamed. One-fifth of the whole
city was known as the Royal Residence. In it were the palaces of the
reigning family, the great museum, and the famous library which the
Arabs later burned. There were parks and gardens brilliant with
tropical foliage and adorned with the masterpieces of Grecian
sculpture, while sphinxes and obelisks gave a suggestion of Oriental
strangeness. As one looked seaward his eye beheld over the blue water
the snow-white rocks of the sheltering island, Pharos, on which was
reared a lighthouse four hundred feet in height and justly numbered
among the seven wonders of the world. Altogether, Alexandria was a city
of wealth, of beauty, of stirring life, of excitement, and of pleasure.
Ferrero has aptly likened it to Paris--not so much the Paris of to-day
as the Paris of forty years ago, when the Second Empire flourished in
all its splendor as the home of joy and strange delights.

Over the country of which Alexandria was the capital Cleopatra came to
reign at seventeen. Following the odd custom which the Greek dynasty of
the Ptolemies had inherited from their Egyptian predecessors, she was
betrothed to her own brother. He, however, was a mere child of less
than twelve, and was under the control of evil counselors, who, in his
name, gained control of the capital and drove Cleopatra into exile.
Until then she had been a mere girl; but now the spirit of a woman who
was wronged blazed up in her and called out all her latent powers.
Hastening to Syria, she gathered about herself an army and led it
against her foes.

But meanwhile Julius Caesar, the greatest man of ancient times, had
arrived at Alexandria backed by an army of his veterans. Against him no
resistance would avail. Then came a brief moment during which the
Egyptian king and the Egyptian queen each strove to win the favor of
the Roman imperator. The king and his advisers had many arts, and so
had Cleopatra. One thing, however, she possessed which struck the
balance in her favor, and this was a woman's fascination.

According to the story, Caesar was unwilling to receive her. There came
into his presence, as he sat in the palace, a group of slaves bearing a
long roll of matting, bound carefully and seeming to contain some
precious work of art. The slaves made signs that they were bearing a
gift to Caesar. The master of Egypt bade them unwrap the gift that he
might see it. They did so, and out of the wrapping came Cleopatra--a
radiant vision, appealing, irresistible. Next morning it became known
everywhere that Cleopatra had remained in Caesar's quarters through the
night and that her enemies were now his enemies. In desperation they
rushed upon his legions, casting aside all pretense of amity. There
ensued a fierce contest, but the revolt was quenched in blood.

This was a crucial moment in Cleopatra's life. She had sacrificed all
that a woman has to give; but she had not done so from any love of
pleasure or from wantonness. She was queen of Egypt, and she had
redeemed her kingdom and kept it by her sacrifice. One should not
condemn her too severely. In a sense, her act was one of heroism like
that of Judith in the tent of Holofernes. But beyond all question it
changed her character. It taught her the secret of her own great power.
Henceforth she was no longer a mere girl, nor a woman of the ordinary
type. Her contact with so great a mind as Caesar's quickened her
intellect. Her knowledge that, by the charms of sense, she had mastered
even him transformed her into a strange and wonderful creature. She
learned to study the weaknesses of men, to play on their emotions, to
appeal to every subtle taste and fancy. In her were blended mental
power and that illusive, indefinable gift which is called charm.

For Cleopatra was never beautiful. Signor Ferrero seems to think this
fact to be discovery of his own, but it was set down by Plutarch in a
very striking passage written less than a century after Cleopatra and
Antony died. We may quote here what the Greek historian said of her:

Her actual beauty was far from being so remarkable that none could be
compared with her, nor was it such that it would strike your fancy when
you saw her first. Yet the influence of her presence, if you lingered
near her, was irresistible. Her attractive personality, joined with the
charm of her conversation, and the individual touch that she gave to
everything she said or did, were utterly bewitching. It was delightful
merely to hear the music of her voice, with which, like an instrument
of many strings, she could pass from one language to another.

Caesar had left Cleopatra firmly seated on the throne of Egypt. For six
years she reigned with great intelligence, keeping order in her
dominions, and patronizing with discrimination both arts and letters.
But ere long the convulsions of the Roman state once more caused her
extreme anxiety. Caesar had been assassinated, and there ensued a
period of civil war. Out of it emerged two striking figures which were
absolutely contrasted in their character. One was Octavian, the adopted
son of Caesar, a man who, though still quite young and possessed of
great ability, was cunning, cold-blooded, and deceitful. The other was
Antony, a soldier by training, and with all a soldier's bluntness,
courage, and lawlessness.

The Roman world was divided for the time between these two men, Antony
receiving the government of the East, Octavian that of the West. In the
year which had preceded this division Cleopatra had wavered between the
two opposite factions at Rome. In so doing she had excited the
suspicion of Antony, and he now demanded of her an explanation.

One must have some conception of Antony himself in order to understand
the events that followed. He was essentially a soldier, of excellent
family, being related to Caesar himself. As a very young man he was
exceedingly handsome, and bad companions led him into the pursuit of
vicious pleasure. He had scarcely come of age when he found that he
owed the enormous sum of two hundred and fifty talents, equivalent to
half a million dollars in the money of to-day. But he was much more
than a mere man of pleasure, given over to drinking and to dissipation.
Men might tell of his escapades, as when he drove about the streets of
Rome in a common cab, dangling his legs out of the window while he
shouted forth drunken songs of revelry. This was not the whole of
Antony. Joining the Roman army in Syria, he showed himself to be a
soldier of great personal bravery, a clever strategist, and also humane
and merciful in the hour of victory.

Unlike most Romans, Antony wore a full beard. His forehead was large,
and his nose was of the distinctive Roman type. His look was so bold
and masculine that people likened him to Hercules. His democratic
manners endeared him to the army. He wore a plain tunic covered with a
large, coarse mantle, and carried a huge sword at his side, despising
ostentation. Even his faults and follies added to his popularity. He
would sit down at the common soldiers' mess and drink with them,
telling them stories and clapping them on the back. He spent money like
water, quickly recognizing any daring deed which his legionaries
performed. In this respect he was like Napoleon; and, like Napoleon, he
had a vein of florid eloquence which was criticized by literary men,
but which went straight to the heart of the private soldier. In a word,
he was a powerful, virile, passionate, able man, rough, as were nearly
all his countrymen, but strong and true.

It was to this general that Cleopatra was to answer, and with a firm
reliance on the charms which had subdued Antony's great commander,
Caesar, she set out in person for Cilicia, in Asia Minor, sailing up
the river Cydnus to the place where Antony was encamped with his army.
Making all allowance for the exaggeration of historians, there can be
no doubt that she appeared to him like some dreamy vision. Her barge
was gilded, and was wafted on its way by swelling sails of Tyrian
purple. The oars which smote the water were of shining silver. As she
drew near the Roman general's camp the languorous music of flutes and
harps breathed forth a strain of invitation.

Cleopatra herself lay upon a divan set upon the deck of the barge
beneath a canopy of woven gold. She was dressed to resemble Venus,
while girls about her personated nymphs and Graces. Delicate perfumes
diffused themselves from the vessel; and at last, as she drew near the
shore, all the people for miles about were gathered there, leaving
Antony to sit alone in the tribunal where he was dispensing justice.

Word was brought to him that Venus had come to feast with Bacchus.
Antony, though still suspicious of Cleopatra, sent her an invitation to
dine with him in state. With graceful tact she sent him a
counter-invitation, and he came. The magnificence of his reception
dazzled the man who had so long known only a soldier's fare, or at most
the crude entertainments which he had enjoyed in Rome. A marvelous
display of lights was made. Thousands upon thousands of candles shone
brilliantly, arranged in squares and circles; while the banquet itself
was one that symbolized the studied luxury of the East.

At this time Cleopatra was twenty-seven years of age--a period of life
which modern physiologists have called the crisis in a woman's growth.
She had never really loved before, since she had given herself to
Caesar, not because she cared for him, but to save her kingdom. She now
came into the presence of one whose manly beauty and strong passions
were matched by her own subtlety and appealing charm.

When Antony addressed her he felt himself a rustic in her presence.
Almost resentful, he betook himself to the coarse language of the camp.
Cleopatra, with marvelous adaptability, took her tone from his, and
thus in a moment put him at his ease. Ferrero, who takes a most
unfavorable view of her character and personality, nevertheless
explains the secret of her fascination:

Herself utterly cold and callous, insensitive by nature to the flame of
true devotion, Cleopatra was one of those women gifted with an unerring
instinct for all the various roads to men's affections. She could be
the shrinking, modest girl, too shy to reveal her half-unconscious
emotions of jealousy and depression and self-abandonment, or a woman
carried away by the sweep of a fiery and uncontrollable passion. She
could tickle the esthetic sensibilities of her victims by rich and
gorgeous festivals, by the fantastic adornment of her own person and
her palace, or by brilliant discussions on literature and art; she
could conjure up all their grossest instincts with the vilest
obscenities of conversation, with the free and easy jocularity of a
woman of the camps.

These last words are far too strong, and they represent only Ferrero's
personal opinion; yet there is no doubt that she met every mood of
Antony's so that he became enthralled with her at once. No such woman
as this had ever cast her eyes on him before. He had a wife at home--a
most disreputable wife--so that he cared little for domestic ties.
Later, out of policy, he made another marriage with the sister of his
rival, Octavian, but this wife he never cared for. His heart and soul
were given up to Cleopatra, the woman who could be a comrade in the
camp and a fount of tenderness in their hours of dalliance, and who
possessed the keen intellect of a man joined to the arts and
fascinations of a woman.

On her side she found in Antony an ardent lover, a man of vigorous
masculinity, and, moreover, a soldier whose armies might well sustain
her on the throne of Egypt. That there was calculation mingled with her
love, no one can doubt. That some calculation also entered into
Antony's affection is likewise certain. Yet this does not affect the
truth that each was wholly given to the other. Why should it have
lessened her love for him to feel that he could protect her and defend
her? Why should it have lessened his love for her to know that she was
queen of the richest country in the world--one that could supply his
needs, sustain his armies, and gild his triumphs with magnificence?

There are many instances in history of regnant queens who loved and yet
whose love was not dissociated from the policy of state. Such were Anne
of Austria, Elizabeth of England, and the unfortunate Mary Stuart.
Such, too, we cannot fail to think, was Cleopatra.

The two remained together for ten years. In this time Antony was
separated from her only during a campaign in the East. In Alexandria he
ceased to seem a Roman citizen and gave himself up wholly to the charms
of this enticing woman. Many stories are told of their good fellowship
and close intimacy. Plutarch quotes Plato as saying that there are four
kinds of flattery, but he adds that Cleopatra had a thousand. She was
the supreme mistress of the art of pleasing.

Whether Antony were serious or mirthful, she had at the instant some
new delight or some new charm to meet his wishes. At every turn she was
with him both day and night. With him she threw dice; with him she
drank; with him she hunted; and when he exercised himself in arms she
was there to admire and applaud.

At night the pair would disguise themselves as servants and wander
about the streets of Alexandria. In fact, more than once they were set
upon in the slums and treated roughly by the rabble who did not
recognize them. Cleopatra was always alluring, always tactful, often
humorous, and full of frolic.

Then came the shock of Antony's final breach with Octavian. Either
Antony or his rival must rule the world. Cleopatra's lover once more
became the Roman general, and with a great fleet proceeded to the coast
of Greece, where his enemy was encamped. Antony had raised a hundred
and twelve thousand troops and five hundred ships--a force far superior
to that commanded by Octavian. Cleopatra was there with sixty ships.

In the days that preceded the final battle much took place which still
remains obscure. It seems likely that Antony desired to become again
the Roman, while Cleopatra wished him to thrust Rome aside and return
to Egypt with her, to reign there as an independent king. To her Rome
was almost a barbarian city. In it she could not hold sway as she could
in her beautiful Alexandria, with its blue skies and velvet turf and
tropical flowers. At Rome Antony would be distracted by the cares of
state, and she would lose her lover. At Alexandria she would have him
for her very own.

The clash came when the hostile fleets met off the promontory of
Actium. At its crisis Cleopatra, prematurely concluding that the battle
was lost, of a sudden gave the signal for retreat and put out to sea
with her fleet. This was the crucial moment. Antony, mastered by his
love, forgot all else, and in a swift ship started in pursuit of her,
abandoning his fleet and army to win or lose as fortune might decide.
For him the world was nothing; the dark-browed Queen of Egypt,
imperious and yet caressing, was everything. Never was such a prize and
never were such great hopes thrown carelessly away. After waiting seven
days Antony's troops, still undefeated, finding that their commander
would not return to them, surrendered to Octavian, who thus became the
master of an empire.

Later his legions assaulted Alexandria, and there Antony was twice
defeated. At last Cleopatra saw her great mistake. She had made her
lover give up the hope of being Rome's dictator, but in so doing she
had also lost the chance of ruling with him tranquilly in Egypt. She
shut herself behind the barred doors of the royal sepulcher; and, lest
she should be molested there, she sent forth word that she had died.
Her proud spirit could not brook the thought that she might be seized
and carried as a prisoner to Rome. She was too much a queen in soul to
be led in triumph up the Sacred Way to the Capitol with golden chains
clanking on her slender wrists.

Antony, believing the report that she was dead, fell upon his sword;
but in his dying moments he was carried into the presence of the woman
for whom he had given all. With her arms about him, his spirit passed
away; and soon after she, too, met death, whether by a poisoned draught
or by the storied asp no one can say.

Cleopatra had lived the mistress of a splendid kingdom. She had
successively captivated two of the greatest men whom Rome had ever
seen. She died, like a queen, to escape disgrace. Whatever modern
critics may have to say concerning small details, this story still
remains the strangest love story of which the world has any record.


Many a woman, amid the transports of passionate and languishing love,
has cried out in a sort of ecstasy:

"I love you as no woman ever loved a man before!"

When she says this she believes it. Her whole soul is aflame with the
ardor of emotion. It really seems to her that no one ever could have
loved so much as she.

This cry--spontaneous, untaught, sincere--has become almost one of
those conventionalities of amorous expression which belong to the
vocabulary of self-abandonment. Every woman who utters it, when torn by
the almost terrible extravagance of a great love, believes that no one
before her has ever said it, and that in her own case it is absolutely

Yet, how many women are really faithful to the end? Very many, indeed,
if circumstances admit of easy faithfulness. A high-souled, generous,
ardent nature will endure an infinity of disillusionment, of
misfortune, of neglect, and even of ill treatment. Even so, the flame,
though it may sink low, can be revived again to burn as brightly as
before. But in order that this may be so it is necessary that the
object of such a wonderful devotion be alive, that he be present and
visible; or, if he be absent, that there should still exist some hope
of renewing the exquisite intimacy of the past.

A man who is sincerely loved may be compelled to take long journeys
which will separate him for an indefinite time from the woman who has
given her heart to him, and she will still be constant. He may be
imprisoned, perhaps for life, yet there is always the hope of his
release or of his escape; and some women will be faithful to him and
will watch for his return. But, given a situation which absolutely bars
out hope, which sunders two souls in such a way that they can never be
united in this world, and there we have a test so terribly severe that
few even of the most loyal and intensely clinging lovers can endure it.

Not that such a situation would lead a woman to turn to any other man
than the one to whom she had given her very life; but we might expect
that at least her strong desire would cool and weaken. She might
cherish his memory among the precious souvenirs of her love life; but
that she should still pour out the same rapturous, unstinted passion as
before seems almost too much to believe. The annals of emotion record
only one such instance; and so this instance has become known to all,
and has been cherished for nearly a thousand years. It involves the
story of a woman who did love, perhaps, as no one ever loved before or
since; for she was subjected to this cruel test, and she met the test
not alone completely, but triumphantly and almost fiercely.

The story is, of course, the story of Abelard and Heloise. It has many
times been falsely told. Portions of it have been omitted, and other
portions of it have been garbled. A whole literature has grown up
around the subject. It may well be worth our while to clear away the
ambiguities and the doubtful points, and once more to tell it simply,
without bias, and with a strict adherence to what seems to be the truth
attested by authentic records.

There is one circumstance connected with the story which we must
specially note. The narrative does something more than set forth the
one quite unimpeachable instance of unconquered constancy. It shows
how, in the last analysis, that which touches the human heart has more
vitality and more enduring interest than what concerns the intellect or
those achievements of the human mind which are external to our
emotional nature.

Pierre Abelard was undoubtedly the boldest and most creative reasoner
of his time. As a wandering teacher he drew after him thousands of
enthusiastic students. He gave a strong impetus to learning. He was a
marvelous logician and an accomplished orator. Among his pupils were
men who afterward became prelates of the church and distinguished
scholars. In the Dark Age, when the dictates of reason were almost
wholly disregarded, he fought fearlessly for intellectual freedom. He
was practically the founder of the University of Paris, which in turn
became the mother of medieval and modern universities.

He was, therefore, a great and striking figure in the history of
civilization. Nevertheless he would to-day be remembered only by
scholars and students of the Middle Ages were it not for the fact that
he inspired the most enduring love that history records. If Heloise had
never loved him, and if their story had not been so tragic and so
poignant, he would be to-day only a name known to but a few. His final
resting-place, in the cemetery of Pere Lachaise, in Paris, would not be
sought out by thousands every year and kept bright with flowers, the
gift of those who have themselves both loved and suffered.

Pierre Abelard--or, more fully, Pierre Abelard de Palais--was a native
of Brittany, born in the year 1079. His father was a knight, the lord
of the manor; but Abelard cared little for the life of a petty noble;
and so he gave up his seigniorial rights to his brothers and went forth
to become, first of all a student, and then a public lecturer and

His student days ended abruptly in Paris, where he had enrolled himself
as the pupil of a distinguished philosopher, Guillaume de Champeaux;
but one day Abelard engaged in a disputation with his master. His
wonderful combination of eloquence, logic, and originality utterly
routed Champeaux, who was thus humiliated in the presence of his
disciples. He was the first of many enemies that Abelard was destined
to make in his long and stormy career. From that moment the young
Breton himself set up as a teacher of philosophy, and the brilliancy of
his discourses soon drew to him throngs of students from all over

Before proceeding with the story of Abelard it is well to reconstruct,
however slightly, a picture of the times in which he lived. It was an
age when Western Europe was but partly civilized. Pedantry and learning
of the most minute sort existed side by side with the most violent
excesses of medieval barbarism. The Church had undertaken the gigantic
task of subduing and enlightening the semi-pagan peoples of France and
Germany and England.

When we look back at that period some will unjustly censure Rome for
not controlling more completely the savagery of the medievals. More
fairly should we wonder at the great measure of success which had
already been achieved. The leaven of a true Christianity was working in
the half-pagan populations. It had not yet completely reached the
nobles and the knights, or even all the ecclesiastics who served it and
who were consecrated to its mission. Thus, amid a sort of political
chaos were seen the glaring evils of feudalism. Kings and princes and
their followers lived the lives of swine. Private blood-feuds were
regarded lightly. There was as yet no single central power. Every man
carried his life in his hand, trusting to sword and dagger for

The cities were still mere hamlets clustered around great castles or
fortified cathedrals. In Paris itself the network of dark lanes, ill
lighted and unguarded, was the scene of midnight murder and
assassination. In the winter-time wolves infested the town by night.
Men-at-arms, with torches and spears, often had to march out from their
barracks to assail the snarling, yelping packs of savage animals that
hunger drove from the surrounding forests.

Paris of the twelfth century was typical of France itself, which was
harried by human wolves intent on rapine and wanton plunder. There were
great schools of theology, but the students who attended them fought
and slashed one another. If a man's life was threatened he must protect
it by his own strength or by gathering about him a band of friends. No
one was safe. No one was tolerant. Very few were free from the grosser
vices. Even in some of the religious houses the brothers would meet at
night for unseemly revels, splashing the stone floors with wine and
shrieking in a delirium of drunkenness. The rules of the Church
enjoined temperance, continence, and celibacy; but the decrees of Leo
IX. and Nicholas II. and Alexander II. and Gregory were only partially

In fact, Europe was in a state of chaos--political and moral and
social. Only very slowly was order emerging from sheer anarchy. We must
remember this when we recall some facts which meet us in the story of
Abelard and Heloise.

The jealousy of Champeaux drove Abelard for a time from Paris. He
taught and lectured at several other centers of learning, always
admired, and yet at the same time denounced by many for his advocacy of
reason as against blind faith. During the years of his wandering he
came to have a wide knowledge of the world and of human nature. If we
try to imagine him as he was in his thirty-fifth year we shall find in
him a remarkable combination of attractive qualities.

It must be remembered that though, in a sense, he was an ecclesiastic,
he had not yet been ordained to the priesthood, but was rather a
canon--a person who did not belong to any religious order, though he
was supposed to live according to a definite set of religious rules and
as a member of a religious community. Abelard, however, made rather
light of his churchly associations. He was at once an accomplished man
of the world and a profound scholar. There was nothing of the recluse
about him. He mingled with his fellow men, whom he dominated by the
charm of his personality. He was eloquent, ardent, and persuasive. He
could turn a delicate compliment as skilfully as he could elaborate a
syllogism. His rich voice had in it a seductive quality which was never
without its effect.

Handsome and well formed, he possessed as much vigor of body as of
mind. Nor were his accomplishments entirely those of the scholar. He
wrote dainty verses, which he also set to music, and which he sang
himself with a rare skill. Some have called him "the first of the
troubadours," and many who cared nothing for his skill in logic admired
him for his gifts as a musician and a poet. Altogether, he was one to
attract attention wherever he went, for none could fail to recognize
his power.

It was soon after his thirty-fifth year that he returned to Paris,
where he was welcomed by thousands. With much tact he reconciled
himself to his enemies, so that his life now seemed to be full of
promise and of sunshine.

It was at this time that he became acquainted with a very beautiful
young girl named Heloise. She was only eighteen years of age, yet
already she possessed not only beauty, but many accomplishments which
were then quite rare in women, since she both wrote and spoke a number
of languages, and, like Abelard, was a lover of music and poetry.
Heloise was the illegitimate daughter of a canon of patrician blood; so
that she is said to have been a worthy representative of the noble
house of the Montmorencys--famous throughout French history for
chivalry and charm.

Up to this time we do not know precisely what sort of life Abelard had
lived in private. His enemies declared that he had squandered his
substance in vicious ways. His friends denied this, and represented him
as strict and chaste. The truth probably lies between these two
assertions. He was naturally a pleasure-loving man of the world, who
may very possibly have relieved his severer studies by occasional
revelry and light love. It is not at all likely that he was addicted to
gross passions and low practices.

But such as he was, when he first saw Heloise he conceived for her a
violent attachment. Carefully guarded in the house of her uncle,
Fulbert, it was difficult at first for Abelard to meet her save in the
most casual way; yet every time that he heard her exquisite voice and
watched her graceful manners he became more and more infatuated. His
studies suddenly seemed tame and colorless beside the fierce scarlet
flame which blazed up in his heart.

Nevertheless, it was because of these studies and of his great
reputation as a scholar that he managed to obtain access to Heloise. He
flattered her uncle and made a chance proposal that he should himself
become an inmate of Fulbert's household in order that he might teach
this girl of so much promise. Such an offer coming from so brilliant a
man was joyfully accepted.

From that time Abelard could visit Heloise without restraint. He was
her teacher, and the two spent hours together, nominally in the study
of Greek and Hebrew; but doubtless very little was said between them
upon such unattractive subjects. On the contrary, with all his wide
experience of life, his eloquence, his perfect manners, and his
fascination, Abelard put forth his power to captivate the senses of a
girl still in her teens and quite ignorant of the world. As Remusat
says, he employed to win her the genius which had overwhelmed all the
great centers of learning in the Western world.

It was then that the pleasures of knowledge, the joys of thought, the
emotions of eloquence, were all called into play to charm and move and
plunge into a profound and strange intoxication this noble and tender
heart which had never known either love or sorrow. ... One can imagine
that everything helped on the inevitable end. Their studies gave them
opportunities to see each other freely, and also permitted them to be
alone together. Then their books lay open between them; but either long
periods of silence stilled their reading, or else words of deepening
intimacy made them forget their studies altogether. The eyes of the two
lovers turned from the book to mingle their glances, and then to turn
away in a confusion that was conscious.

Hand would touch hand, apparently by accident; and when conversation
ceased, Abelard would often hear the long, quivering sigh which showed
the strange, half-frightened, and yet exquisite joy which Heloise

It was not long before the girl's heart had been wholly won.
Transported by her emotion, she met the caresses of her lover with
those as unrestrained as his. Her very innocence deprived her of the
protection which older women would have had. All was given freely, and
even wildly, by Heloise; and all was taken by Abelard, who afterward
himself declared:

"The pleasure of teaching her to love surpassed the delightful
fragrance of all the perfumes in the world."

Yet these two could not always live in a paradise which was entirely
their own. The world of Paris took notice of their close association.
Some poems written to Heloise by Abelard, as if in letters of fire,
were found and shown to Fulbert, who, until this time, had suspected
nothing. Angrily he ordered Abelard to leave his house. He forbade his
niece to see her lover any more.

But the two could not be separated; and, indeed, there was good reason
why they should still cling together. Secretly Heloise left her uncle's
house and fled through the narrow lanes of Paris to the dwelling of
Abelard's sister, Denyse, where Abelard himself was living. There,
presently, the young girl gave birth to a son, who was named Astrolabe,
after an instrument used by astronomers, since both the father and the
mother felt that the offspring of so great a love should have no
ordinary name.

Fulbert was furious, and rightly so. His hospitality had been outraged
and his niece dishonored. He insisted that the pair should at once be
married. Here was revealed a certain weakness in the character of
Abelard. He consented to the marriage, but insisted that it should be
kept an utter secret.

Oddly enough, it was Heloise herself who objected to becoming the wife
of the man she loved. Unselfishness could go no farther. She saw that,
were he to marry her, his advancement in the Church would be almost
impossible; for, while the very minor clergy sometimes married in spite
of the papal bulls, matrimony was becoming a fatal bar to
ecclesiastical promotion. And so Heloise pleaded pitifully, both with
her uncle and with Abelard, that there should be no marriage. She would
rather bear all manner of disgrace than stand in the way of Abelard's

He has himself given some of the words in which she pleaded with him:

What glory shall I win from you, when I have made you quite inglorious
and have humbled both of us? What vengeance will the world inflict on
me if I deprive it of one so brilliant? What curses will follow such a
marriage? How outrageous would it be that you, whom nature created for
the universal good, should be devoted to one woman and plunged into
such disgrace? I loathe the thought of a marriage which would humiliate

Indeed, every possible effort which another woman in her place would
employ to make him marry her she used in order to dissuade him.
Finally, her sweet face streaming with tears, she uttered that
tremendous sentence which makes one really think that she loved him as
no other woman ever loved a man. She cried out, in an agony of

"I would rather be your mistress than the wife even of an emperor!"

Nevertheless, the two were married, and Abelard returned to his
lecture-room and to his studies. For months they met but seldom.
Meanwhile, however, the taunts and innuendos directed against Heloise
so irritated Fulbert that he broke his promise of secrecy, and told his
friends that Abelard and Heloise were man and wife. They went to
Heloise for confirmation. Once more she showed in an extraordinary way
the depth of her devotion.

"I am no wife," she said. "It is not true that Abelard has married me.
My uncle merely tells you this to save my reputation."

They asked her whether she would swear to this; and, without a moment's
hesitation, this pure and noble woman took an oath upon the Scriptures
that there had been no marriage.

Fulbert was enraged by this. He ill-treated Heloise, and, furthermore,
he forbade Abelard to visit her. The girl, therefore, again left her
uncle's house and betook herself to a convent just outside of Paris,
where she assumed the habit of a nun as a disguise. There Abelard
continued from time to time to meet her.

When Fulbert heard of this he put his own interpretation on it. He
believed that Abelard intended to ignore the marriage altogether, and
that possibly he might even marry some other woman. In any case, he now
hated Abelard with all his heart; and he resolved to take a fearful and
unnatural vengeance which would at once prevent his enemy from making
any other marriage, while at the same time it would debar him from
ecclesiastical preferment.

To carry out his plot Fulbert first bribed a man who was the
body-servant of Abelard, watching at the door of his room each night.
Then he hired the services of four ruffians. After Abelard had retired
and was deep in slumber the treacherous valet unbarred the door. The
hirelings of Fulbert entered and fell upon the sleeping man. Three of
them bound him fast, while the fourth, with a razor, inflicted on him
the most shameful mutilation that is possible. Then, extinguishing the
lights, the wretches slunk away and were lost in darkness, leaving
behind their victim bound to his couch, uttering cries of torment and
bathed in his own blood.

It is a shocking story, and yet it is intensely characteristic of the
lawless and barbarous era in which it happened. Early the next morning
the news flew rapidly through Paris. The city hummed like a bee-hive.
Citizens and students and ecclesiastics poured into the street and
surrounded the house of Abelard.

"Almost the entire city," says Fulques, as quoted by McCabe, "went
clamoring toward his house. Women wept as if each one had lost her

Unmanned though he was, Abelard still retained enough of the spirit of
his time to seek vengeance. He, in his turn, employed ruffians whom he
set upon the track of those who had assaulted him. The treacherous
valet and one of Fulbert's hirelings were run down, seized, and
mutilated precisely as Abelard had been; and their eyes were blinded. A
third was lodged in prison. Fulbert himself was accused before one of
the Church courts, which alone had power to punish an ecclesiastic, and
all his goods were confiscated.

But, meantime, how did it fare with Heloise? Her grief was greater than
his own, while her love and her devotion were absolutely undiminished.
But Abelard now showed a selfishness--and indeed, a meanness--far
beyond any that he had before exhibited. Heloise could no more be his
wife. He made it plain that he put no trust in her fidelity. He was
unwilling that she should live in the world while he could not; and so
he told her sternly that she must take the veil and bury herself for
ever in a nunnery.

The pain and shame which she experienced at this came wholly from the
fact that evidently Abelard did not trust her. Long afterward she wrote:

God knows I should not have hesitated, at your command, to precede or
to follow you to hell itself!

It was his distrust that cut her to the heart. Still, her love for him
was so intense that she obeyed his order. Soon after she took the vows;
and in the convent chapel, shaken with sobs, she knelt before the altar
and assumed the veil of a cloistered nun. Abelard himself put on the
black tunic of a Benedictine monk and entered the Abbey of St. Denis.

It is unnecessary here to follow out all the details of the lives of
Abelard and Heloise after this heart-rendering scene. Abelard passed
through many years of strife and disappointment, and even of
humiliation; for on one occasion, just as he had silenced Guillaume de
Champeaux, so he himself was silenced and put to rout by Bernard of
Clairvaux--"a frail, tense, absorbed, dominant little man, whose face
was white and worn with suffering," but in whose eyes there was a light
of supreme strength. Bernard represented pure faith, as Abelard
represented pure reason; and the two men met before a great council to
match their respective powers.

Bernard, with fiery eloquence, brought a charge of heresy against
Abelard in an oration which was like a charge of cavalry. When he had
concluded Abelard rose with an ashen face, stammered out a few words,
and sat down. He was condemned by the council, and his works were
ordered to be burned.

All his later life was one of misfortune, of humiliation, and even of
personal danger. The reckless monks whom he tried to rule rose fiercely
against him. His life was threatened. He betook himself to a desolate
and lonely place, where he built for himself a hut of reeds and rushes,
hoping to spend his final years in meditation. But there were many who
had not forgotten his ability as a teacher. These flocked by hundreds
to the desert place where he abode. His hut was surrounded by tents and
rude hovels, built by his scholars for their shelter.

Thus Abelard resumed his teaching, though in a very different frame of
mind. In time he built a structure of wood and stone, which he called
the Paraclete, some remains of which can still be seen.

All this time no word had passed between him and Heloise. But presently
Abelard wrote and gave to the world a curious and exceedingly frank
book, which he called The Story of My Misfortunes. A copy of it reached
the hands of Heloise, and she at once sent to Abelard the first of a
series of letters which have remained unique in the literature of love.

Ten years had passed, and yet the woman's heart was as faithful and as
full of yearning as on the day when the two had parted. It has been
said that the letters are not genuine, and they must be read with this
assertion in mind; yet it is difficult to believe that any one save
Heloise herself could have flung a human soul into such frankly
passionate utterances, or that any imitator could have done the work.

In her first letter, which was sent to Abelard written upon parchment,
she said:

At thy command I would change, not merely my costume, but my very soul,
so entirely art thou the sole possessor of my body and my spirit.
Never, God is my witness, never have I sought anything in thee but
thyself; I have sought thee, and not thy gifts. I have not looked to
the marriage-bond or dowry.

She begged him to write to her, and to lead her to God, as once he had
led her into the mysteries of pleasure. Abelard answered in a letter,
friendly to be sure, but formal--the letter of a priest to a cloistered
nun. The opening words of it are characteristic of the whole:

To Heloise, his sister in Christ, from Abelard, her brother in Him.

The letter was a long one, but throughout the whole of it the writer's
tone was cold and prudent. Its very coldness roused her soul to a
passionate revolt. Her second letter bursts forth in a sort of anguish:

How hast thou been able to frame such thoughts, dearest? How hast thou
found words to convey them? Oh, if I dared but call God cruel to me!
Oh, most wretched of all creatures that I am! So sweet did I find the
pleasures of our loving days that I cannot bring myself to reject them
or to banish them from my memory. Wheresoever I go, they thrust
themselves upon my vision, and rekindle the old desire.

But Abelard knew only too well that not in this life could there be
anything save spiritual love between himself and Heloise. He wrote to
her again and again, always in the same remote and unimpassioned way.
He tells her about the history of monasticism, and discusses with her
matters of theology and ethics; but he never writes one word to feed
the flame that is consuming her. The woman understood at last; and by
degrees her letters became as calm as his--suffused, however, with a
tenderness and feeling which showed that in her heart of hearts she was
still entirely given to him.

After some years Abelard left his dwelling at the Paraclete, and there
was founded there a religious house of which Heloise became the abbess.
All the world respected her for her sweetness, her wisdom, and the
purity of her character. She made friends as easily as Abelard made
enemies. Even Bernard, who had overthrown her husband, sought out
Heloise to ask for her advice and counsel.

Abelard died while on his way to Rome, whither he was journeying in
order to undergo a penalty; and his body was brought back to the
Paraclete, where it was entombed. Over it for twenty-two years Heloise
watched with tender care; and when she died, her body was laid beside
that of her lover.

To-day their bones are mingled as she would have desired them to be
mingled. The stones of their tomb in the great cemetery of Pere
Lachaise were brought from the ruins of the Paraclete, and above the
sarcophagus are two recumbent figures, the whole being the work of the
artist Alexandra Lenoir, who died in 1836. The figure representing
Heloise is not, however, an authentic likeness. The model for it was a
lady belonging to a noble family of France, and the figure itself was
brought to Pere Lachaise from the ancient College de Beauvais.

The letters of Heloise have been read and imitated throughout the whole
of the last nine centuries. Some have found in them the utterances of a
woman whose love of love was greater than her love of God and whose
intensity of passion nothing could subdue; and so these have condemned
her. But others, like Chateaubriand, have more truly seen in them a
pure and noble spirit to whom fate had been very cruel; and who was,
after all, writing to the man who had been her lawful husband.

Some of the most famous imitations of her letters are those in the
ancient poem entitled, "The Romance of the Rose," written by Jean de
Meung, in the thirteenth century; and in modern times her first letter
was paraphrased by Alexander Pope, and in French by Colardeau. There
exist in English half a dozen translations of them, with Abelard's
replies. It is interesting to remember that practically all the other
writings of Abelard remained unpublished and unedited until a very
recent period. He was a remarkable figure as a philosopher and scholar;
but the world cares for him only because he was loved by Heloise.


History has many romantic stories to tell of the part which women have
played in determining the destinies of nations. Sometimes it is a
woman's beauty that causes the shifting of a province. Again it is
another woman's rich possessions that incite invasion and lead to
bloody wars. Marriages or dowries, or the refusal of marriages and the
lack of dowries, inheritance through an heiress, the failure of a male
succession--in these and in many other ways women have set their mark
indelibly upon the trend of history.

However, if we look over these different events we shall find that it
is not so much the mere longing for a woman--the desire to have her as
a queen--that has seriously affected the annals of any nation. Kings,
like ordinary men, have paid their suit and then have ridden away
repulsed, yet not seriously dejected. Most royal marriages are made
either to secure the succession to a throne by a legitimate line of
heirs or else to unite adjoining states and make a powerful kingdom out
of two that are less powerful. But, as a rule, kings have found greater
delight in some sheltered bower remote from courts than in the castled
halls and well-cared-for nooks where their own wives and children have
been reared with all the appurtenances of legitimacy.

There are not many stories that hang persistently about the love-making
of a single woman. In the case of one or another we may find an episode
or two--something dashing, something spirited or striking, something
brilliant and exhilarating, or something sad. But for a woman's whole
life to be spent in courtship that meant nothing and that was only a
clever aid to diplomacy--this is surely an unusual and really wonderful

It is the more unusual because the woman herself was not intended by
nature to be wasted upon the cold and cheerless sport of chancellors
and counselors and men who had no thought of her except to use her as a
pawn. She was hot-blooded, descended from a fiery race, and one whose
temper was quick to leap into the passion of a man.

In studying this phase of the long and interesting life of Elizabeth of
England we must notice several important facts. In the first place, she
gave herself, above all else, to the maintenance of England--not an
England that would be half Spanish or half French, or even partly Dutch
and Flemish, but the Merry England of tradition--the England that was
one and undivided, with its growing freedom of thought, its bows and
bills, its nut-brown ale, its sturdy yeomen, and its loyalty to crown
and Parliament. She once said, almost as in an agony:

"I love England more than anything!"

And one may really hold that this was true.

For England she schemed and planned. For England she gave up many of
her royal rights. For England she descended into depths of treachery.
For England she left herself on record as an arrant liar, false,
perjured, yet successful; and because of her success for England's sake
her countrymen will hold her in high remembrance, since her scheming
and her falsehood are the offenses that one pardons most readily in a

In the second place, it must be remembered that Elizabeth's courtships
and pretended love-makings were almost always a part of her diplomacy.
When not a part of her diplomacy they were a mere appendage to her
vanity. To seem to be the flower of the English people, and to be
surrounded by the noblest, the bravest, and the most handsome
cavaliers, not only of her own kingdom, but of others--this was,
indeed, a choice morsel of which she was fond of tasting, even though
it meant nothing beyond the moment.

Finally, though at times she could be very cold, and though she made
herself still colder in order that she might play fast and loose with
foreign suitors who played fast and loose with her--the King of Spain,
the Duc d'Alencon, brother of the French king, with an Austrian
archduke, with a magnificent barbarian prince of Muscovy, with Eric of
Sweden, or any other Scandinavian suitor--she felt a woman's need for
some nearer and more tender association to which she might give freer
play and in which she might feel those deeper emotions without the
danger that arises when love is mingled with diplomacy.

Let us first consider a picture of the woman as she really was in order
that we may understand her triple nature--consummate mistress of every
art that statesmen know, and using at every moment her person as a
lure; a vain-glorious queen who seemed to be the prey of boundless
vanity; and, lastly, a woman who had all a woman's passion, and who
could cast suddenly aside the check and balance which restrained her
before the public gaze and could allow herself to give full play to the
emotion that she inherited from the king, her father, who was himself a
marvel of fire and impetuosity. That the daughter of Henry VIII. and
Anne Boleyn should be a gentle, timid maiden would be to make heredity
a farce.

Elizabeth was about twenty-five years of age when she ascended the
throne of England. It is odd that the date of her birth cannot be given
with precision. The intrigues and disturbances of the English court,
and the fact that she was a princess, made her birth a matter of less
account than if there had been no male heir to the throne. At any rate,
when she ascended it, after the deaths of her brother, King Edward VI.,
and her sister, Queen Mary, she was a woman well trained both in
intellect and in physical development.

Mr. Martin Hume, who loves to dwell upon the later years of Queen
Elizabeth, speaks rather bitterly of her as a "painted old harridan";
and such she may well have seemed when, at nearly seventy years of age,
she leered and grinned a sort of skeleton smile at the handsome young
courtiers who pretended to see in her the queen of beauty and to be
dying for love of her.

Yet, in her earlier years, when she was young and strong and impetuous,
she deserved far different words than these. The portrait of her by
Zucchero, which now hangs in Hampton Court, depicts her when she must
have been of more than middle age; and still the face is one of beauty,
though it be a strange and almost artificial beauty--one that draws,
attracts, and, perhaps, lures you on against your will.

It is interesting to compare this painting with the frank word-picture
of a certain German agent who was sent to England by his emperor, and
who seems to have been greatly fascinated by Queen Elizabeth. She was
at that time in the prime of her beauty and her power. Her complexion
was of that peculiar transparency which is seen only in the face of
golden blondes. Her figure was fine and graceful, and her wit an
accomplishment that would have made a woman of any rank or time
remarkable. The German envoy says:

She lives a life of such magnificence and feasting as can hardly be
imagined, and occupies a great portion of her time with balls,
banquets, hunting, and similar amusements, with the utmost possible
display, but nevertheless she insists upon far greater respect being
shown her than was exacted by Queen Mary. She summons Parliament, but
lets them know that her orders must be obeyed in any case.

If any one will look at the painting by Zucchero he will see how much
is made of Elizabeth's hands--a distinctive feature quite as noble with
the Tudors as is the "Hapsburg lip" among the descendants of the house
of Austria. These were ungloved, and were very long and white, and she
looked at them and played with them a great deal; and, indeed, they
justified the admiration with which they were regarded by her

Such was the personal appearance of Elizabeth. When a young girl, we
have still more favorable opinions of her that were written by those
who had occasion to be near her. Not only do they record swift glimpses
of her person, but sometimes in a word or two they give an insight into
certain traits of mind which came out prominently in her later years.

It may, perhaps, be well to view her as a woman before we regard her
more fully as a queen. It has been said that Elizabeth inherited many
of the traits of her father--the boldness of spirit, the rapidity of
decision, and, at the same time, the fox-like craft which often showed
itself when it was least expected.

Henry had also, as is well known, a love of the other sex, which has
made his reign memorable. And yet it must be noted that while he loved
much, it was not loose love. Many a king of England, from Henry II. to
Charles II., has offended far more than Henry VIII. Where Henry loved,
he married; and it was the unfortunate result of these royal marriages
that has made him seem unduly fond of women. If, however, we examine
each one of the separate espousals we shall find that he did not enter
into it lightly, and that he broke it off unwillingly. His ardent
temperament, therefore, was checked by a certain rational or
conventional propriety, so that he was by no means a loose liver, as
many would make him out to be.

We must remember this when we recall the charges that have been made
against Elizabeth, and the strange stories that were told of her
tricks--by no means seemly tricks--which she used to play with her
guardian, Lord Thomas Seymour. The antics she performed with him in her
dressing-room were made the subject of an official inquiry; yet it came
out that while Elizabeth was less than sixteen, and Lord Thomas was
very much her senior, his wife was with him on his visits to the
chamber of the princess.

Sir Robert Tyrwhitt and his wife were also sent to question her,
Tyrwhitt had a keen mind and one well trained to cope with any other's
wit in this sort of cross-examination. Elizabeth was only a girl of
fifteen, yet she was a match for the accomplished courtier in diplomacy
and quick retort. He was sent down to worm out of her everything that
she knew. Threats and flattery and forged letters and false confessions
were tried on her; but they were tried in vain. She would tell nothing
of importance. She denied everything. She sulked, she cried, she
availed herself of a woman's favorite defense in suddenly attacking
those who had attacked her. She brought counter charges against
Tyrwhitt, and put her enemies on their own defense. Not a compromising
word could they wring out of her.

She bitterly complained of the imprisonment of her governess, Mrs.
Ashley, and cried out:

"I have not so behaved that you need put more mistresses upon me!"

Altogether, she was too much for Sir Robert, and he was wise enough to
recognize her cleverness.

"She hath a very good wit," said he, shrewdly; "and nothing is to be
gotten of her except by great policy." And he added: "If I had to say
my fancy, I think it more meet that she should have two governesses
than one."

Mr. Hume notes the fact that after the two servants of the princess had
been examined and had told nothing very serious they found that they
had been wise in remaining friends of the royal girl. No sooner had
Elizabeth become queen than she knighted the man Parry and made him
treasurer of the household, while Mrs. Ashley, the governess, was
treated with great consideration. Thus, very naturally, Mr. Hume says:
"They had probably kept back far more than they told."

Even Tyrwhitt believed that there was a secret compact between them,
for he said, quaintly: "They all sing one song, and she hath set the
note for them."

Soon after this her brother Edward's death brought to the throne her
elder sister, Mary, who has harshly become known as Bloody Mary. During
this time Elizabeth put aside her boldness, and became apparently a shy
and simple-minded virgin. Surrounded on every side by those who sought
to trap her, there was nothing in her bearing to make her seem the head
of a party or the young chief of a faction. Nothing could exceed her in
meekness. She spoke of her sister in the humblest terms. She exhibited
no signs of the Tudor animation that was in reality so strong a part of
her character.

But, coming to the throne, she threw away her modesty and brawled and
rioted with very little self-restraint. The people as a whole found
little fault with her. She reminded them of her father, the bluff King
Hal; and even those who criticized her did so only partially. They
thought much better of her than they had of her saturnine sister, the
first Queen Mary.

The life of Elizabeth has been very oddly misunderstood, not so much
for the facts in it as for the manner in which these have been arranged
and the relation which they have to one another. We ought to recollect
that this woman did not live in a restricted sphere, that her life was
not a short one, and that it was crowded with incidents and full of
vivid color. Some think of her as living for a short period of time and
speak of the great historical characters who surrounded her as
belonging to a single epoch. To them she has one set of suitors all the
time--the Duc d'Alencon, the King of Denmark's brother, the Prince of
Sweden, the russian potentate, the archduke sending her sweet messages
from Austria, the melancholy King of Spain, together with a number of
her own brilliant Englishmen--Sir William Pickering, Sir Robert Dudley,
Lord Darnley, the Earl of Essex, Sir Philip Sidney, and Sir Walter

Of course, as a matter of fact, Elizabeth lived for nearly seventy
years--almost three-quarters of a century--and in that long time there
came and went both men and women, those whom she had used and cast
aside, with others whom she had also treated with gratitude, and who
had died gladly serving her. But through it all there was a continual
change in her environment, though not in her. The young soldier went to
the battle-field and died; the wise counselor gave her his advice, and
she either took it or cared nothing for it. She herself was a curious
blending of forwardness and folly, of wisdom and wantonness, of
frivolity and unbridled fancy. But through it all she loved her people,
even though she often cheated them and made them pay her taxes in the
harsh old way that prevailed before there was any right save the king's

At the same time, this was only by fits and starts, and on the whole
she served them well. Therefore, to most of them she was always the
good Queen Bess. What mattered it to the ditcher and yeoman, far from
the court, that the queen was said to dance in her nightdress and to
swear like a trooper?

It was, indeed, largely from these rustic sources that such stories
were scattered throughout England. Peasants thought them picturesque.
More to the point with them were peace and prosperity throughout the
country, the fact that law was administered with honesty and justice,
and that England was safe from her deadly enemies--the swarthy
Spaniards and the scheming French.

But, as I said, we must remember always that the Elizabeth of one
period was not the Elizabeth of another, and that the England of one
period was not the England of another. As one thinks of it, there is
something wonderful in the almost star-like way in which this girl
flitted unharmed through a thousand perils. Her own countrymen were at
first divided against her; a score of greedy, avaricious suitors sought
her destruction, or at least her hand to lead her to destruction; all
the great powers of the Continent were either demanding an alliance
with England or threatening to dash England down amid their own

What had this girl to play off against such dangers? Only an undaunted
spirit, a scheming mind that knew no scruples, and finally her own
person and the fact that she was a woman, and, therefore, might give
herself in marriage and become the mother of a race of kings.

It was this last weapon, the weapon of her sex, that proved, perhaps,
the most powerful of all. By promising a marriage or by denying it, or
by neither promising nor denying but withholding it, she gave forth a
thousand wily intimations which kept those who surrounded her at bay
until she had made still another deft and skilful combination, escaping
like some startled creature to a new place of safety.

In 1583, when she was fifty years of age, she had reached a point when
her courtships and her pretended love-making were no longer necessary.
She had played Sweden against Denmark, and France against Spain, and
the Austrian archduke against the others, and many suitors in her own
land against the different factions which they headed. She might have
sat herself down to rest; for she could feel that her wisdom had led
her up into a high place, whence she might look down in peace and with
assurance of the tranquillity that she had won. Not yet had the great
Armada rolled and thundered toward the English shores. But she was
certain that her land was secure, compact, and safe.

It remains to see what were those amatory relations which she may be
said to have sincerely held. She had played at love-making with foreign
princes, because it was wise and, for the moment, best. She had played
with Englishmen of rank who aspired to her hand, because in that way
she might conciliate, at one time her Catholic and at another her
Protestant subjects. But what of the real and inward feeling of her
heart, when she was not thinking of political problems or the
necessities of state!

This is an interesting question. One may at least seek the answer,
hoping thereby to solve one of the most interesting phases of this
perplexing and most remarkable woman.

It must be remembered that it was not a question of whether Elizabeth
desired marriage. She may have done so as involving a brilliant stroke
of policy. In this sense she may have wished to marry one of the two
French princes who were among her suitors. But even here she hesitated,
and her Parliament disapproved; for by this time England had become
largely Protestant. Again, had she married a French prince and had
children, England might have become an appanage of France.

There is no particular evidence that she had any feeling at all for her
Flemish, Austrian, or Russian suitors, while the Swede's pretensions
were the laughing-stock of the English court. So we may set aside this
question of marriage as having nothing to do with her emotional life.
She did desire a son, as was shown by her passionate outcry when she
compared herself with Mary of Scotland.

"The Queen of Scots has a bonny son, while I am but a barren stock!"

She was too wise to wed a subject; though, had she married at all, her
choice would doubtless have been an Englishman. In this respect, as in
so many others, she was like her father, who chose his numerous wives,
with the exception of the first, from among the English ladies of the
court; just as the showy Edward IV. was happy in marrying "Dame
Elizabeth Woodville." But what a king may do is by no means so easy for
a queen; and a husband is almost certain to assume an authority which
makes him unpopular with the subjects of his wife.

Hence, as said above, we must consider not so much whom she would have
liked to marry, but rather to whom her love went out spontaneously, and
not as a part of that amatory play which amused her from the time when
she frisked with Seymour down to the very last days, when she could no
longer move about, but when she still dabbled her cheeks with rouge and
powder and set her skeleton face amid a forest of ruffs.

There were many whom she cared for after a fashion. She would not let
Sir Walter Raleigh visit her American colonies, because she could not
bear to have him so long away from her. She had great moments of
passion for the Earl of Essex, though in the end she signed his
death-warrant because he was as dominant in spirit as the queen herself.

Readers of Sir Walter Scott's wonderfully picturesque novel,
Kenilworth, will note how he throws the strongest light upon
Elizabeth's affection for Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester. Scott's
historical instinct is united here with a vein of psychology which goes
deeper than is usual with him. We see Elizabeth trying hard to share
her favor equally between two nobles; but the Earl of Essex fails to
please her because he lacked those exquisite manners which made
Leicester so great a favorite with the fastidious queen.

Then, too, the story of Leicester's marriage with Amy Robsart is
something more than a myth, based upon an obscure legend and an ancient
ballad. The earl had had such a wife, and there were sinister stories
about the manner of her death. But it is Scott who invents the
villainous Varney and the bulldog Anthony Foster; just as he brought
the whole episode into the foreground and made it occur at a period
much later than was historically true. Still, Scott felt--and he was
imbued with the spirit and knowledge of that time--a strong conviction
that Elizabeth loved Leicester as she really loved no one else.

There is one interesting fact which goes far to convince us. Just as
her father was, in a way, polygamous, so Elizabeth was even more truly
polyandrous. It was inevitable that she should surround herself with
attractive men, whose love-locks she would caress and whose flatteries
she would greedily accept. To the outward eye there was very little
difference in her treatment of the handsome and daring nobles of her
court; yet a historian of her time makes one very shrewd remark when he
says: "To every one she gave some power at times--to all save

Cecil and Walsingham in counsel and Essex and Raleigh in the field
might have their own way at times, and even share the sovereign's
power, but to Leicester she intrusted no high commands and no important
mission. Why so? Simply because she loved him more than any of the
rest; and, knowing this, she knew that if besides her love she granted
him any measure of control or power, then she would be but half a queen
and would be led either to marry him or else to let him sway her as he

For the reason given, one may say with confidence that, while
Elizabeth's light loves were fleeting, she gave a deep affection to
this handsome, bold, and brilliant Englishman and cherished him in a
far different way from any of the others. This was as near as she ever
came to marriage, and it was this love at least which makes
Shakespeare's famous line as false as it is beautiful, when he
describes "the imperial votaress" as passing by "in maiden meditation,
fancy free."


Mary Stuart and Cleopatra are the two women who have most attracted the
fancy of poets, dramatists, novelists, and painters, from their own
time down to the present day.

In some respects there is a certain likeness in their careers. Each was
queen of a nation whose affairs were entangled with those of a much
greater one. Each sought for her own ideal of love until she found it.
Each won that love recklessly, almost madly. Each, in its attainment,
fell from power and fortune. Each died before her natural life was
ended. One caused the man she loved to cast away the sovereignty of a
mighty state. The other lost her own crown in order that she might
achieve the whole desire of her heart.

There is still another parallel which may be found. Each of these women
was reputed to be exquisitely beautiful; yet each fell short of
beauty's highest standards. They are alike remembered in song and story
because of qualities that are far more powerful than any physical charm
can be. They impressed the imagination of their own contemporaries just
as they had impressed the imagination of all succeeding ages, by reason
of a strange and irresistible fascination which no one could explain,
but which very few could experience and resist.

Mary Stuart was born six days before her father's death, and when the
kingdom which was her heritage seemed to be almost in its death-throes.
James V. of Scotland, half Stuart and half Tudor, was no ordinary
monarch. As a mere boy he had burst the bonds with which a regency had
bound him, and he had ruled the wild Scotland of the sixteenth century.
He was brave and crafty, keen in statesmanship, and dissolute in

His first wife had given him no heirs; so at her death he sought out a
princess whom he pursued all the more ardently because she was also
courted by the burly Henry VIII. of England. This girl was Marie of
Lorraine, daughter of the Duc de Guise. She was fit to be the mother of
a lion's brood, for she was above six feet in height and of proportions
so ample as to excite the admiration of the royal voluptuary who sat
upon the throne of England.

"I am big," said he, "and I want a wife who is as big as I am."

But James of Scotland wooed in person, and not by embassies, and he
triumphantly carried off his strapping princess. Henry of England
gnawed his beard in vain; and, though in time he found consolation in
another woman's arms, he viewed James not only as a public but as a
private enemy.

There was war between the two countries. First the Scots repelled an
English army; but soon they were themselves disgracefully defeated at
Solway Moss by a force much their inferior in numbers. The shame of it
broke King James's heart. As he was galloping from the battle-field the
news was brought him that his wife had given birth to a daughter. He
took little notice of the message; and in a few days he had died,
moaning with his last breath the mysterious words:

"It came with a lass--with a lass it will go!"

The child who was born at this ill-omened crisis was Mary Stuart, who
within a week became, in her own right, Queen of Scotland. Her mother
acted as regent of the kingdom. Henry of England demanded that the
infant girl should be betrothed to his young son, Prince Edward, who
afterward reigned as Edward VI., though he died while still a boy. The
proposal was rejected, and the war between England and Scotland went on
its bloody course; but meanwhile the little queen was sent to France,
her mother's home, so that she might be trained in accomplishments
which were rare in Scotland.

In France she grew up at the court of Catherine de' Medici, that
imperious intriguer whose splendid surroundings were tainted with the
corruption which she had brought from her native Italy. It was, indeed,
a singular training-school for a girl of Mary Stuart's character. She
saw about her a superficial chivalry and a most profound depravity.
Poets like Ronsard graced the life of the court with exquisite verse.
Troubadours and minstrels sang sweet music there. There were fetes and
tournaments and gallantry of bearing; yet, on the other hand, there was
every possible refinement and variety of vice. Men were slain before
the eyes of the queen herself. The talk of the court was of intrigue
and lust and evil things which often verged on crime. Catherine de'
Medici herself kept her nominal husband at arm's-length; and in order
to maintain her grasp on France she connived at the corruption of her
own children, three of whom were destined in their turn to sit upon the

Mary Stuart grew up in these surroundings until she was sixteen, eating
the fruit which gave a knowledge of both good and evil. Her
intelligence was very great. She quickly learned Italian, French, and
Latin. She was a daring horsewoman. She was a poet and an artist even
in her teens. She was also a keen judge of human motives, for those
early years of hers had forced her into a womanhood that was premature
but wonderful. It had been proposed that she should marry the eldest
son of Catherine, so that in time the kingdom of Scotland and that of
France might be united, while if Elizabeth of England were to die
unmarried her realm also would fall to this pair of children.

And so Mary, at sixteen, wedded the Dauphin Francis, who was a year her
junior. The prince was a wretched, whimpering little creature, with a
cankered body and a blighted soul. Marriage with such a husband seemed
absurd. It never was a marriage in reality. The sickly child would cry
all night, for he suffered from abscesses in his ears, and his manhood
had been prematurely taken from him. Nevertheless, within a twelvemonth
the French king died and Mary Stuart was Queen of France as well as of
Scotland, hampered only by her nominal obedience to the sick boy whom
she openly despised. At seventeen she showed herself a master spirit.
She held her own against the ambitious Catherine de' Medici, whom she
contemptuously nicknamed "the apothecary's daughter." For the brief
period of a year she was actually the ruler of France; but then her
husband died and she was left a widow, restless, ambitious, and yet no
longer having any of the power she loved.

Mary Stuart at this time had become a woman whose fascination was
exerted over all who knew her. She was very tall and very slim, with
chestnut hair, "like a flower of the heat, both lax and delicate." Her
skin was fair and pale, so clear and so transparent as to make the
story plausible that when she drank from a flask of wine, the red
liquid could be seen passing down her slender throat.

Yet with all this she was not fine in texture, but hardy as a man. She
could endure immense fatigue without yielding to it. Her supple form
had the strength of steel. There was a gleam in her hazel eyes that
showed her to be brimful of an almost fierce vitality. Young as she
was, she was the mistress of a thousand arts, and she exhaled a sort of
atmosphere that turned the heads of men. The Stuart blood made her
impatient of control, careless of state, and easy-mannered. The French
and the Tudor strain gave her vivacity. She could be submissive in
appearance while still persisting in her aims. She could be languorous
and seductive while cold within. Again, she could assume the
haughtiness which belonged to one who was twice a queen.

Two motives swayed her, and they fought together for supremacy. One was
the love of power, and the other was the love of love. The first was
natural to a girl who was a sovereign in her own right. The second was
inherited, and was then forced into a rank luxuriance by the sort of
life that she had seen about her. At eighteen she was a strangely
amorous creature, given to fondling and kissing every one about her,
with slight discrimination. From her sense of touch she received
emotions that were almost necessary to her existence. With her slender,
graceful hands she was always stroking the face of some favorite--it
might be only the face of a child, or it might be the face of some
courtier or poet, or one of the four Marys whose names are linked with
hers--Mary Livingstone, Mary Fleming, Mary Beaton, and Mary Seton, the
last of whom remained with her royal mistress until her death.

But one must not be too censorious in thinking of Mary Stuart. She was
surrounded everywhere by enemies. During her stay in France she was
hated by the faction of Catherine de' Medici. When she returned to
Scotland she was hated because of her religion by the Protestant lords.
Her every action was set forth in the worst possible light. The most
sinister meaning was given to everything she said or did. In truth, we
must reject almost all the stories which accuse her of anything more
than a certain levity of conduct.

She was not a woman to yield herself in love's last surrender unless
her intellect and heart alike had been made captive. She would listen
to the passionate outpourings of poets and courtiers, and she would
plunge her eyes into theirs, and let her hair just touch their faces,
and give them her white hands to kiss--but that was all. Even in this
she was only following the fashion of the court where she was bred, and
she was not unlike her royal relative, Elizabeth of England, who had
the same external amorousness coupled with the same internal

Mary Stuart's love life makes a piteous story, for it is the life of
one who was ever seeking--seeking for the man to whom she could look
up, who could be strong and brave and ardent like herself, and at the
same time be more powerful and more steadfast even than she herself in
mind and thought. Whatever may be said of her, and howsoever the facts
may be colored by partisans, this royal girl, stung though she was by
passion and goaded by desire, cared nothing for any man who could not
match her in body and mind and spirit all at once.

It was in her early widowhood that she first met the man, and when
their union came it brought ruin on them both. In France there came to
her one day one of her own subjects, the Earl of Bothwell. He was but a
few years older than she, and in his presence for the first time she
felt, in her own despite, that profoundly moving, indescribable, and
never-to-be-forgotten thrill which shakes a woman to the very center of
her being, since it is the recognition of a complete affinity.

Lord Bothwell, like Queen Mary, has been terribly maligned. Unlike her,
he has found only a few defenders. Maurice Hewlett has drawn a picture
of him more favorable than many, and yet it is a picture that repels.
Bothwell, says he, was of a type esteemed by those who pronounce vice
to be their virtue. He was "a galliard, flushed with rich blood,
broad-shouldered, square-jawed, with a laugh so happy and so prompt
that the world, rejoicing to hear it, thought all must be well wherever
he might be. He wore brave clothes, sat a brave horse, and kept brave
company bravely. His high color, while it betokened high feeding, got
him the credit of good health. His little eyes twinkled so merrily that
you did not see they were like a pig's, sly and greedy at once, and
bloodshot. His tawny beard concealed a jaw underhung, a chin jutting
and dangerous. His mouth had a cruel twist; but his laughing hid that
too. The bridge of his nose had been broken; few observed it, or
guessed at the brawl which must have given it to him. Frankness was his
great charm, careless ease in high places."

And so, when Mary Stuart first met him in her eighteenth year, Lord
Bothwell made her think as she had never thought of any other man, and
as she was not to think of any other man again. She grew to look
eagerly for the frank mockery "in those twinkling eyes, in that quick
mouth"; and to wonder whether it was with him always--asleep, at
prayers, fighting, furious, or in love.

Something more, however, must be said of Bothwell. He was undoubtedly a
roisterer, but he was very much a man. He made easy love to women. His
sword leaped quickly from its sheath. He could fight, and he could also
think. He was no brawling ruffian, no ordinary rake. Remembering what
Scotland was in those days, Bothwell might well seem in reality a
princely figure. He knew Italian; he was at home in French; he could
write fluent Latin. He was a collector of books and a reader of them
also. He was perhaps the only Scottish noble of his time who had a
book-plate of his own. Here is something more than a mere reveler. Here
is a man of varied accomplishments and of a complex character.

Though he stayed but a short time near the queen in France, he kindled
her imagination, so that when she seriously thought of men she thought
of Bothwell. And yet all the time she was fondling the young pages in
her retinue and kissing her maids of honor with her scarlet lips, and
lying on their knees, while poets like Ronsard and Chastelard wrote
ardent love sonnets to her and sighed and pined for something more than
the privilege of kissing her two dainty hands.

In 1561, less than a year after her widowhood, Mary set sail for
Scotland, never to return. The great high-decked ships which escorted
her sailed into the harbor of Leith, and she pressed on to Edinburgh. A
depressing change indeed from the sunny terraces and fields of France!
In her own realm were fog and rain and only a hut to shelter her upon
her landing. When she reached her capital there were few welcoming
cheers; but as she rode over the cobblestones to Holyrood, the squalid
wynds vomited forth great mobs of hard-featured, grim-visaged men and
women who stared with curiosity and a half-contempt at the girl queen
and her retinue of foreigners.

The Scots were Protestants of the most dour sort, and they distrusted
their new ruler because of her religion and because she loved to
surround herself with dainty things and bright colors and exotic
elegance. They feared lest she should try to repeal the law of
Scotland's Parliament which had made the country Protestant.

The very indifference of her subjects stirred up the nobler part of
Mary's nature. For a time she was indeed a queen. She governed wisely.
She respected the religious rights of her Protestant subjects. She
strove to bring order out of the chaos into which her country had
fallen. And she met with some success. The time came when her people
cheered her as she rode among them. Her subtle fascination was her
greatest source of strength. Even John Knox, that iron-visaged,
stentorian preacher, fell for a time under the charm of her presence.
She met him frankly and pleaded with him as a woman, instead of
commanding him as a queen. The surly ranter became softened for a time,
and, though he spoke of her to others as "Honeypot," he ruled his
tongue in public. She had offers of marriage from Austrian and Spanish
princes. The new King of France, her brother-in-law, would perhaps have
wedded her. It mattered little to Mary that Elizabeth of England was
hostile. She felt that she was strong enough to hold her own and govern

But who could govern a country such as Scotland was? It was a land of
broils and feuds, of clan enmities and fierce vendettas. Its nobles
were half barbarous, and they fought and slashed at one another with
drawn dirks almost in the presence of the queen herself. No matter whom
she favored, there rose up a swarm of enemies. Here was a Corsica of
the north, more savage and untamed than even the other Corsica.

In her perplexity Mary felt a woman's need of some man on whom she
would have the right to lean, and whom she could make king consort. She
thought that she had found him in the person of her cousin, Lord
Darnley, a Catholic, and by his upbringing half an Englishman. Darnley
came to Scotland, and for the moment Mary fancied that she had
forgotten Bothwell. Here again she was in love with love, and she
idealized the man who came to give it to her. Darnley seemed, indeed,
well worthy to be loved, for he was tall and handsome, appearing well
on horseback and having some of the accomplishments which Mary valued.

It was a hasty wooing, and the queen herself was first of all the
wooer. Her quick imagination saw in Darnley traits and gifts of which
he really had no share. Therefore, the marriage was soon concluded, and
Scotland had two sovereigns, King Henry and Queen Mary. So sure was
Mary of her indifference to Bothwell that she urged the earl to marry,
and he did marry a girl of the great house of Gordon.

Mary's self-suggested love for Darnley was extinguished almost on her
wedding-night. The man was a drunkard who came into her presence
befuddled and almost bestial. He had no brains. His vanity was
enormous. He loved no one but himself, and least of all this queen,
whom he regarded as having thrown herself at his empty head.

The first-fruits of the marriage were uprisings among the Protestant
lords. Mary then showed herself a heroic queen. At the head of a motley
band of soldiery who came at her call--half-clad, uncouth, and
savage--she rode into the west, sleeping at night upon the bare ground,
sharing the camp food, dressed in plain tartan, but swift and fierce as
any eagle. Her spirit ran like fire through the veins of those who
followed her. She crushed the insurrection, scattered its leaders, and
returned in triumph to her capital.

Now she was really queen, but here came in the other motive which was
interwoven in her character. She had shown herself a man in courage.
Should she not have the pleasures of a woman? To her court in Holyrood
came Bothwell once again, and this time Mary knew that he was all the
world to her. Darnley had shrunk from the hardships of battle. He was
steeped in low intrigues. He roused the constant irritation of the
queen by his folly and utter lack of sense and decency. Mary felt she
owed him nothing, but she forgot that she owed much to herself.

Her old amorous ways came back to her, and she relapsed into the joys
of sense. The scandal-mongers of the capital saw a lover in every man
with whom she talked. She did, in fact, set convention at defiance. She
dressed in men's clothing. She showed what the unemotional Scots
thought to be unseemly levity. The French poet, Chastelard, misled by
her external signs of favor, believed himself to be her choice. At the
end of one mad revel he was found secreted beneath her bed, and was
driven out by force. A second time he ventured to secrete himself
within the covers of the bed. Then he was dragged forth, imprisoned,
and condemned to death. He met his fate without a murmur, save at the
last when he stood upon the scaffold and, gazing toward the palace,
cried in French:

"Oh, cruel queen! I die for you!"

Another favorite, the Italian, David Rizzio, or Riccio, in like manner
wrote love verses to the queen, and she replied to them in kind; but
there is no evidence that she valued him save for his ability, which
was very great. She made him her foreign secretary, and the man whom he
supplanted worked on the jealousy of Darnley; so that one night, while
Mary and Rizzio were at dinner in a small private chamber, Darnley and
the others broke in upon her. Darnley held her by the waist while
Rizzio was stabbed before her eyes with a cruelty the greater because
the queen was soon to become a mother.

From that moment she hated Darnley as one would hate a snake. She
tolerated him only that he might acknowledge her child as his son. This
child was the future James VI. of Scotland and James I. of England. It
is recorded of him that never throughout his life could he bear to look
upon drawn steel.

After this Mary summoned Bothwell again and again. It was revealed to
her as in a blaze of light that, after all, he was the one and only man
who could be everything to her. His frankness, his cynicism, his
mockery, his carelessness, his courage, and the power of his mind
matched her moods completely. She threw away all semblance of
concealment. She ignored the fact that he had married at her wish. She
was queen. She desired him. She must have him at any cost.

"Though I lose Scotland and England both," she cried in a passion of
abandonment, "I shall have him for my own!"

Bothwell, in his turn, was nothing loath, and they leaped at each other
like two flames.

It was then that Mary wrote those letters which were afterward
discovered in a casket and which were used against her when she was on
trial for her life. These so-called Casket Letters, though we have not
now the originals, are among the most extraordinary letters ever
written. All shame, all hesitation, all innocence, are flung away in
them. The writer is so fired with passion that each sentence is like a
cry to a lover in the dark. As De Peyster says: "In them the animal
instincts override and spur and lash the pen." Mary was committing to
paper the frenzied madness of a woman consumed to her very marrow by
the scorching blaze of unendurable desire.

Events moved quickly. Darnley, convalescent from an attack of smallpox,
was mysteriously destroyed by an explosion of gunpowder. Bothwell was
divorced from his young wife on curious grounds. A dispensation allowed
Mary to wed a Protestant, and she married Bothwell three months after
Darnley's death.

Here one sees the consummation of what had begun many years before in
France. From the moment that she and Bothwell met, their union was
inevitable. Seas could not sunder them. Other loves and other fancies
were as nothing to them. Even the bonds of marriage were burst asunder
so that these two fiery, panting souls could meet.

It was the irony of fate that when they had so met it was only to be
parted. Mary's subjects, outraged by her conduct, rose against her. As
she passed through the streets of Edinburgh the women hurled after her
indecent names. Great banners were raised with execrable daubs
representing the murdered Darnley. The short and dreadful monosyllable
which is familiar to us in the pages of the Bible was hurled after her
wherever she went.

With Bothwell by her side she led a wild and ragged horde of followers
against the rebellious nobles, whose forces met her at Carberry Hill.
Her motley followers melted away, and Mary surrendered to the hostile
chieftains, who took her to the castle at Lochleven. There she became
the mother of twins--a fact that is seldom mentioned by historians.
These children were the fruit of her union with Bothwell. From this
time forth she cared but little for herself, and she signed, without
great reluctance, a document by which she abdicated in favor of her
infant son.

Even in this place of imprisonment, however, her fascination had power
to charm. Among those who guarded her, two of the Douglas
family--George Douglas and William Douglas--for love of her, effected
her escape. The first attempt failed. Mary, disguised as a laundress,
was betrayed by the delicacy of her hands. But a second attempt was
successful. The queen passed through a postern gate and made her way to
the lake, where George Douglas met her with a boat. Crossing the lake,
fifty horsemen under Lord Claude Hamilton gave her their escort and
bore her away in safety.

But Mary was sick of Scotland, for Bothwell could not be there. She had
tasted all the bitterness of life, and for a few months all the
sweetness; but she would have no more of this rough and barbarous
country. Of her own free will she crossed the Solway into England, to
find herself at once a prisoner.

Never again did she set eyes on Bothwell. After the battle of Carberry
Hill he escaped to the north, gathered some ships together, and preyed
upon English merchantmen, very much as a pirate might have done. Ere
long, however, when he had learned of Mary's fate, he set sail for
Norway. King Frederick of Denmark made him a prisoner of state. He was
not confined within prison walls, however, but was allowed to hunt and
ride in the vicinity of Malmo Castle and of Dragsholm. It is probably
in Malmo Castle that he died. In 1858 a coffin which was thought to be
the coffin of the earl was opened, and a Danish artist sketched the
head--which corresponds quite well with the other portraits of the
ill-fated Scottish noble.

It is a sad story. Had Mary been less ambitious when she first met
Bothwell, or had he been a little bolder, they might have reigned
together and lived out their lives in the plenitude of that great love
which held them both in thrall. But a queen is not as other women; and
she found too late that the teaching of her heart was, after all, the
truest teaching. She went to her death as Bothwell went to his, alone,
in a strange, unfriendly land.

Yet, even this, perhaps, was better so. It has at least touched both
their lives with pathos and has made the name of Mary Stuart one to be
remembered throughout all the ages.


Sweden to-day is one of the peaceful kingdoms of the world, whose
people are prosperous, well governed, and somewhat apart from the clash
and turmoil of other states and nations. Even the secession of Norway,
a few years ago, was accomplished without bloodshed, and now the two
kingdoms exist side by side as free from strife as they are with
Denmark, which once domineered and tyrannized over both.

It is difficult to believe that long ago, in the Middle Ages, the
cities of southern Sweden were among the great commercial centers of
the world. Stockholm and Lund ranked with London and Paris. They
absorbed the commerce of the northern seas, and were the admiration of
thousands of travelers and merchants who passed through them and
trafficked with them.

Much nearer to our own time, Sweden was the great military power of
northern Europe. The ambassadors of the Swedish kings were received
with the utmost deference in every court. Her soldiers won great
battles and ended mighty wars. The England of Cromwell and Charles II.
was unimportant and isolated in comparison with this northern kingdom,
which could pour forth armies of gigantic blond warriors, headed by
generals astute as well as brave.

It was no small matter, then, in 1626, that the loyal Swedes were
hoping that their queen would give birth to a male heir to succeed his
splendid father, Gustavus Adolphus, ranked by military historians as
one of the six great generals whom the world had so far produced. The
queen, a German princess of Brandenburg, had already borne two
daughters, who died in infancy. The expectation was wide-spread and
intense that she should now become the mother of a son; and the king
himself was no less anxious.

When the event occurred, the child was seen to be completely covered
with hair, and for this reason the attendants at first believed that it
was the desired boy. When their mistake was discovered they were afraid
to tell the king, who was waiting in his study for the announcement to
be made. At last, when no one else would go to him, his sister, the
Princess Caroline, volunteered to break the news.

Gustavus was in truth a chivalrous, high-bred monarch. Though he must
have been disappointed at the advent of a daughter, he showed no sign
of dissatisfaction or even of surprise; but, rising, he embraced his
sister, saying:

"Let us thank God. I hope this girl will be as good as a boy to me. May
God preserve her now that He has sent her!"

It is customary at almost all courts to pay less attention to the birth
of a princess than to that of a prince; but Gustavus displayed his
chivalry toward this little daughter, whom he named Christina. He
ordered that the full royal salute should be fired in every fortress of
his kingdom and that displays of fireworks, balls of honor, and court
functions should take place; "for," as he said, "this is the heir to my
throne." And so from the first he took his child under his own keeping
and treated her as if she were a much-loved son as well as a successor.

He joked about her looks when she was born, when she was mistaken for a

"She will be clever," he said, "for she has taken us all in!"

The Swedish people were as delighted with their little princess as were
the people of Holland when the present Queen Wilhelmina was born, to
carry on the succession of the House of Orange. On one occasion the
king and the small Christina, who were inseparable companions, happened
to approach a fortress where they expected to spend the night. The
commander of the castle was bound to fire a royal salute of fifty
cannon in honor of his sovereign; yet he dreaded the effect upon the
princess of such a roaring and bellowing of artillery. He therefore
sent a swift horseman to meet the royal party at a distance and explain
his perplexity. Should he fire these guns or not? Would the king give
an order?

Gustavus thought for a moment, and then replied:

"My daughter is the daughter of a soldier, and she must learn to lead a
soldier's life. Let the guns be fired!"

The procession moved on. Presently fire spurted from the embrasures of
the fort, and its batteries thundered in one great roar. The king
looked down at Christina. Her face was aglow with pleasure and
excitement; she clapped her hands and laughed, and cried out:

"More bang! More! More! More!"

This is only one of a score of stories that were circulated about the
princess, and the Swedes were more and more delighted with the girl who
was to be their queen.

Somewhat curiously, Christina's mother, Queen Maria, cared little for
the child, and, in fact, came at last to detest her almost as much as
the king loved her. It is hard to explain this dislike. Perhaps she had
a morbid desire for a son and begrudged the honors given to a daughter.
Perhaps she was a little jealous of her own child, who took so much of
the king's attention. Afterward, in writing of her mother, Christina
excuses her, and says quite frankly:

She could not bear to see me, because I was a girl, and an ugly girl at
that. And she was right enough, for I was as tawny as a little Turk.

This candid description of herself is hardly just. Christina was never
beautiful, and she had a harsh voice. She was apt to be overbearing
even as a little girl. Yet she was a most interesting child, with an
expressive face, large eyes, an aquiline nose, and the blond hair of
her people. There was nothing in this to account for her mother's
intense dislike for her.

It was currently reported at the time that attempts were made to maim
or seriously injure the little princess. By what was made to seem an
accident, she would be dropped upon the floor, and heavy articles of
furniture would somehow manage to strike her. More than once a great
beam fell mysteriously close to her, either in the palace or while she
was passing through the streets. None of these things did her serious
harm, however. Most of them she luckily escaped; but when she had grown
to be a woman one of her shoulders was permanently higher than the

"I suppose," said Christina, "that I could be straightened if I would
let the surgeons attend to it; but it isn't worth while to take the

When Christina was four, Sweden became involved in the great war that
had been raging for a dozen years between the Protestant and the
Catholic states of Germany. Gradually the neighboring powers had been
drawn into the struggle, either to serve their own ends or to support
the faith to which they adhered. Gustavus Adolphus took up the sword
with mixed motives, for he was full of enthusiasm for the imperiled
cause of the Reformation, and at the same time he deemed it a favorable
opportunity to assert his control over the shores of the Baltic.

The warrior king summoned his army and prepared to invade Germany.
Before departing he took his little daughter by the hand and led her
among the assembled nobles and councilors of state. To them he
intrusted the princess, making them kneel and vow that they would
regard her as his heir, and, if aught should happen to him, as his
successor. Amid the clashing of swords and the clang of armor this vow
was taken, and the king went forth to war.

He met the ablest generals of his enemies, and the fortunes of battle
swayed hither and thither; but the climax came when his soldiers
encountered those of Wallenstein--that strange, overbearing, arrogant,
mysterious creature whom many regarded with a sort of awe. The clash
came at Lutzen, in Saxony. The Swedish king fought long and hard, and
so did his mighty opponent; but at last, in the very midst of a
tremendous onset that swept all before him, Gustavus received a mortal
wound and died, even while Wallenstein was fleeing from the field of

The battle of Lutzen made Christina Queen of Sweden at the age of six.
Of course, she could not yet be crowned, but a council of able
ministers continued the policy of the late king and taught the young
queen her first lessons in statecraft. Her intellect soon showed itself
as more than that of a child. She understood all that was taking place,
and all that was planned and arranged. Her tact was unusual. Her
discretion was admired by every one; and after a while she had the
advice and training of the great Swedish chancellor, Oxenstierna, whose
wisdom she shared to a remarkable degree.

Before she was sixteen she had so approved herself to her counselors,
and especially to the people at large, that there was a wide-spread
clamor that she should take the throne and govern in her own person. To
this she gave no heed, but said:

"I am not yet ready."

All this time she bore herself like a king. There was nothing
distinctly feminine about her. She took but slight interest in her
appearance. She wore sword and armor in the presence of her troops, and
often she dressed entirely in men's clothes. She would take long,
lonely gallops through the forests, brooding over problems of state and
feeling no fatigue or fear. And indeed why should she fear, who was
beloved by all her subjects?

When her eighteenth year arrived, the demand for her coronation was
impossible to resist. All Sweden wished to see a ruling queen, who
might marry and have children to succeed her through the royal line of
her great father. Christina consented to be crowned, but she absolutely
refused all thought of marriage. She had more suitors from all parts of
Europe than even Elizabeth of England; but, unlike Elizabeth, she did
not dally with them, give them false hopes, or use them for the
political advantage of her kingdom.

At that time Sweden was stronger than England, and was so situated as
to be independent of alliances. So Christina said, in her harsh,
peremptory voice:

"I shall never marry; and why should you speak of my having children! I
am just as likely to give birth to a Nero as to an Augustus."

Having assumed the throne, she ruled with a strictness of government
such as Sweden had not known before. She took the reins of state into
her own hands and carried out a foreign policy of her own, over the
heads of her ministers, and even against the wishes of her people. The
fighting upon the Continent had dragged out to a weary length, but the
Swedes, on the whole, had scored a marked advantage. For this reason
the war was popular, and every one wished it to go on; but Christina,
of her own will, decided that it must stop, that mere glory was not to
be considered against material advantages. Sweden had had enough of
glory; she must now look to her enrichment and prosperity through the
channels of peace.

Therefore, in 1648, against Oxenstierna, against her generals, and
against her people, she exercised her royal power and brought the
Thirty Years' War to an end by the so-called Peace of Westphalia. At
this time she was twenty-two, and by her personal influence she had
ended one of the greatest struggles of history. Nor had she done it to
her country's loss. Denmark yielded up rich provinces, while Germany
was compelled to grant Sweden membership in the German diet.

Then came a period of immense prosperity through commerce, through
economies in government, through the improvement of agriculture and the
opening of mines. This girl queen, without intrigue, without descending
from her native nobility to peep and whisper with shady diplomats,
showed herself in reality a great monarch, a true Semiramis of the
north, more worthy of respect and reverence than Elizabeth of England.
She was highly trained in many arts. She was fond of study, spoke Latin
fluently, and could argue with Salmasius, Descartes, and other
accomplished scholars without showing any inferiority to them.

She gathered at her court distinguished persons from all countries. She
repelled those who sought her hand, and she was pure and truthful and
worthy of all men's admiration. Had she died at this time history would
rank her with the greatest of women sovereigns. Naude, the librarian of
Cardinal Mazarin, wrote of her to the scientist Gassendi in these words:

To say truth, I am sometimes afraid lest the common saying should be
verified in her, that short is the life and rare the old age of those
who surpass the common limits. Do not imagine that she is learned only
in books, for she is equally so in painting, architecture, sculpture,
medals, antiquities, and all curiosities. There is not a cunning
workman in these arts but she has him fetched. There are as good
workers in wax and in enamel, engravers, singers, players, dancers here
as will be found anywhere.

She has a gallery of statues, bronze and marble, medals of gold,
silver, and bronze, pieces of ivory, amber, coral, worked crystal,
steel mirrors, clocks and tables, bas-reliefs and other things of the
kind; richer I have never seen even in Italy; finally, a great quantity
of pictures. In short, her mind is open to all impressions.

But after she began to make her court a sort of home for art and
letters it ceased to be the sort of court that Sweden was prepared for.
Christina's subjects were still rude and lacking in accomplishments;
therefore she had to summon men of genius from other countries,
especially from France and Italy. Many of these were illustrious
artists or scholars, but among them were also some who used their
mental gifts for harm.

Among these latter was a French physician named Bourdelot--a man of
keen intellect, of winning manners, and of a profound cynicism, which
was not apparent on the surface, but the effect of which last lasting.
To Bourdelot we must chiefly ascribe the mysterious change which
gradually came over Queen Christina. With his associates he taught her
a distaste for the simple and healthy life that she had been accustomed
to lead. She ceased to think of the welfare of the state and began to
look down with scorn upon her unsophisticated Swedes. Foreign luxury
displayed itself at Stockholm, and her palaces overflowed with
beautiful things.

By subtle means Bourdelot undermined her principles. Having been a
Stoic, she now became an Epicurean. She was by nature devoid of
sentiment. She would not spend her time in the niceties of love-making,
as did Elizabeth; but beneath the surface she had a sort of tigerish,
passionate nature, which would break forth at intervals, and which
demanded satisfaction from a series of favorites. It is probable that
Bourdelot was her first lover, but there were many others whose names
are recorded in the annals of the time.

When she threw aside her virtue Christina ceased to care about
appearances. She squandered her revenues upon her favorites. What she
retained of her former self was a carelessness that braved the opinion
of her subjects. She dressed almost without thought, and it is said
that she combed her hair not more than twice a month. She caroused with
male companions to the scandal of her people, and she swore like a
trooper when displeased.

Christina's philosophy of life appears to have been compounded of an
almost brutal licentiousness, a strong love of power, and a strange,
freakish longing for something new. Her political ambitions were
checked by the rising discontent of her people, who began to look down
upon her and to feel ashamed of her shame. Knowing herself as she did,
she did not care to marry.

Yet Sweden must have an heir. Therefore she chose out her cousin
Charles, declared that he was to be her successor, and finally caused
him to be proclaimed as such before the assembled estates of the realm.
She even had him crowned; and finally, in her twenty-eighth year, she
abdicated altogether and prepared to leave Sweden. When asked whither
she would go, she replied in a Latin quotation:

"The Fates will show the way."

In her act of abdication she reserved to herself the revenues of some
of the richest provinces in Sweden and absolute power over such of her
subjects as should accompany her. They were to be her subjects until
the end.

The Swedes remembered that Christina was the daughter of their greatest
king, and that, apart from personal scandals, she had ruled them well;
and so they let her go regretfully and accepted her cousin as their
king. Christina, on her side, went joyfully and in the spirit of a
grand adventuress. With a numerous suite she entered Germany, and then
stayed for a year at Brussels, where she renounced Lutheranism. After
this she traveled slowly into Italy, where she entered Borne on
horseback, and was received by the Pope, Alexander VII., who lodged her
in a magnificent palace, accepted her conversion, and baptized her,
giving her a new name, Alexandra.

In Rome she was a brilliant but erratic personage, living sumptuously,
even though her revenues from Sweden came in slowly, partly because the
Swedes disliked her change of religion. She was surrounded by men of
letters, with whom she amused herself, and she took to herself a lover,
the Marquis Monaldeschi. She thought that at last she had really found
her true affinity, while Monaldeschi believed that he could count on
the queen's fidelity.

He was in attendance upon her daily, and they were almost inseparable.
He swore allegiance to her and thereby made himself one of the subjects
over whom she had absolute power. For a time he was the master of those
intense emotions which, in her, alternated with moods of coldness and
even cruelty.

Monaldeschi was a handsome Italian, who bore himself with a fine air of
breeding. He understood the art of charming, but he did not know that
beyond a certain time no one could hold the affections of Christina.

However, after she had quarreled with various cardinals and decided to
leave Rome for a while, Monaldeschi accompanied her to France, where
she had an immense vogue at the court of Louis XIV. She attracted wide
attention because of her eccentricity and utter lack of manners. It
gave her the greatest delight to criticize the ladies of the French
court--their looks, their gowns, and their jewels. They, in return,
would speak of Christina's deformed shoulder and skinny frame; but the
king was very gracious to her and invited her to his hunting-palace at

While she had been winning triumphs of sarcasm the infatuated
Monaldeschi had gradually come to suspect, and then to know, that his
royal mistress was no longer true to him. He had been supplanted in her
favor by another Italian, one Sentanelli, who was the captain of her

Monaldeschi took a tortuous and roundabout revenge. He did not let the
queen know of his discovery; nor did he, like a man, send a challenge
to Sentanelli. Instead he began by betraying her secrets to Oliver
Cromwell, with whom she had tried to establish a correspondence. Again,
imitating the hand and seal of Sentanelli, he set in circulation a
series of the most scandalous and insulting letters about Christina. By
this treacherous trick he hoped to end the relations between his rival
and the queen; but when the letters were carried to Christina she
instantly recognized their true source. She saw that she was betrayed
by her former favorite and that he had taken a revenge which might
seriously compromise her.

This led to a tragedy, of which the facts were long obscure. They were
carefully recorded, however, by the queen's household chaplain, Father
Le Bel; and there is also a narrative written by one Marco Antonio
Conti, which confirms the story. Both were published privately in 1865,
with notes by Louis Lacour.

The narration of the priest is dreadful in its simplicity and
minuteness of detail. It may be summed up briefly here, because it is
the testimony of an eye-witness who knew Christina.

Christina, with the marquis and a large retinue, was at Fontainebleau
in November, 1657. A little after midnight, when all was still, the
priest, Father Le Bel, was aroused and ordered to go at once to the
Galerie des Cerfs, or Hall of Stags, in another part of the palace.
When he asked why, he was told:

"It is by the order of her majesty the Swedish queen."

The priest, wondering, hurried on his garments. On reaching the gloomy
hall he saw the Marquis Monaldeschi, evidently in great agitation, and
at the end of the corridor the queen in somber robes. Beside the queen,
as if awaiting orders, stood three figures, who could with some
difficulty be made out as three soldiers of her guard.

The queen motioned to Father Le Bel and asked him for a packet which
she had given him for safe-keeping some little time before. He gave it
to her, and she opened it. In it were letters and other documents,
which, with a steely glance, she displayed to Monaldeschi. He was
confused by the sight of them and by the incisive words in which
Christina showed how he had both insulted her and had tried to shift
the blame upon Sentanelli.

Monaldeschi broke down completely. He fell at the queen's feet and wept
piteously, begging for pardon, only to be met by the cold answer:

"You are my subject and a traitor to me. Marquis, you must prepare to

Then she turned away and left the hall, in spite of the cries of
Monaldeschi, to whom she merely added the advice that he should make
his peace with God by confessing to Father Le Bel.

After she had gone the marquis fell into a torrent of self-exculpation
and cried for mercy. The three armed men drew near and urged him to
confess for the good of his soul. They seemed to have no malice against
him, but to feel that they must obey the orders given them. At the
frantic urging of the marquis their leader even went to the queen to
ask whether she would relent; but he returned shaking his head, and

"Marquis, you must die."

Father Le Bel undertook a like mission, but returned with the message
that there was no hope. So the marquis made his confession in French
and Latin, but even then he hoped; for he did not wait to receive
absolution, but begged still further for delay or pardon.

Then the three armed men approached, having drawn their swords. The
absolution was pronounced; and, following it, one of the guards slashed
the marquis across the forehead. He stumbled and fell forward, making
signs as if to ask that he might have his throat cut. But his throat
was partly protected by a coat of mail, so that three or four strokes
delivered there had slight effect. Finally, however, a long, narrow
sword was thrust into his side, after which the marquis made no sound.

Father Le Bel at once left the Galerie des Cerfs and went into the
queen's apartment, with the smell of blood in his nostrils. He found
her calm and ready to justify herself. Was she not still queen over all
who had voluntarily become members of her suite? This had been agreed
to in her act of abdication. Wherever she set her foot, there, over her
own, she was still a monarch, with full power to punish traitors at her
will. This power she had exercised, and with justice. What mattered it
that she was in France? She was queen as truly as Louis XIV. was king.

The story was not long in getting out, but the truth was not wholly
known until a much later day. It was said that Sentanelli had slapped
the marquis in a fit of jealousy, though some added that it was done
with the connivance of the queen. King Louis, the incarnation of
absolutism, knew the truth, but he was slow to act. He sympathized with
the theory of Christina's sovereignty. It was only after a time that
word was sent to Christina that she must leave Fontainebleau. She took
no notice of the order until it suited her convenience, and then she
went forth with all the honors of a reigning monarch.

This was the most striking episode in all the strange story of her
private life. When her cousin Charles, whom she had made king, died
without an heir she sought to recover her crown; but the estates of the
realm refused her claim, reduced her income, and imposed restraints
upon her power. She then sought the vacant throne of Poland; but the
Polish nobles, who desired a weak ruler for their own purposes, made
another choice. So at last she returned to Rome, where the Pope
received her with a splendid procession and granted her twelve thousand
crowns a year to make up for her lessened Swedish revenue.

From this time she lived a life which she made interesting by her
patronage of learning and exciting by her rather unseemly quarrels with
cardinals and even with the Pope. Her armed retinue marched through the
streets with drawn swords and gave open protection to criminals who had
taken refuge with her. She dared to criticize the pontiff, who merely
smiled and said:

"She is a woman!"

On the whole, the end of her life was pleasant. She was much admired
for her sagacity in politics. Her words were listened to at every court
in Europe. She annotated the classics, she made beautiful collections,
and she was regarded as a privileged person whose acts no one took
amiss. She died at fifty-three, and was buried in St. Peter's.

She was bred a man, she was almost a son to her great father; and yet,
instead of the sonorous epitaph that is inscribed beside her tomb,
perhaps a truer one would be the words of the vexed Pope:



One might classify the kings of England in many ways. John was
undoubtedly the most unpopular. The impetuous yet far-seeing Henry II.,
with the other two great warriors, Edward I. and Edward III., and
William of Orange, did most for the foundation and development of
England's constitutional law. Some monarchs, such as Edward II. and the
womanish Henry VI., have been contemptible. Hard-working, useful kings
have been Henry VII., the Georges, William IV., and especially the last

If we consider those monarchs who have in some curious way touched the
popular fancy without reference to their virtues we must go back to
Richard of the Lion Heart, who saw but little of England, yet was the
best essentially English king, and to Henry V., gallant soldier and
conqueror of France. Even Henry VIII. had a warm place in the affection
of his countrymen, few of whom saw him near at hand, but most of whom
made him a sort of regal incarnation of John Bull--wrestling and
tilting and boxing, eating great joints of beef, and staying his thirst
with flagons of ale--a big, healthy, masterful animal, in fact, who
gratified the national love of splendor and stood up manfully in his
struggle with the Pope.

But if you look for something more than ordinary popularity--something
that belongs to sentiment and makes men willing to become martyrs for a
royal cause--we must find these among the Stuart kings. It is odd,
indeed, that even at this day there are Englishmen and Englishwomen who
believe their lawful sovereign to be a minor Bavarian princess in whose
veins there runs the Stuart blood. Prayers are said for her at English
shrines, and toasts are drunk to her in rare old wine.

Of course, to-day this cult of the Stuarts is nothing but a fad. No one
ever expects to see a Stuart on the English throne. But it is
significant of the deep strain of romance which the six Stuarts who
reigned in England have implanted in the English heart. The old
Jacobite ballads still have power to thrill. Queen Victoria herself
used to have the pipers file out before her at Balmoral to the
"skirling" of "Bonnie Dundee," "Over the Water to Charlie," and "Wha'll
Be King but Charlie!" It is a sentiment that has never died. Her late
majesty used to say that when she heard these tunes she became for the
moment a Jacobite; just as the Empress Eugenie at the height of her
power used pertly to remark that she herself was the only Legitimist
left in France.

It may be suggested that the Stuarts are still loved by many Englishmen
because they were unfortunate; yet this is hardly true, after all. Many
of them were fortunate enough. The first of them, King James, an absurd
creature, speaking broad Scotch, timid, foolishly fond of favorites,
and having none of the dignity of a monarch, lived out a lengthy reign.
The two royal women of the family--Anne and Mary--had no misfortunes of
a public nature. Charles II. reigned for more than a quarter of a
century, lapped in every kind of luxury, and died a king.

The first Charles was beheaded and afterward styled a "saint"; yet the
majority of the English people were against his arrogance, or else he
would have won his great struggle against Parliament. The second James
was not popular at all. Nevertheless, no sooner had he been expelled,
and been succeeded by a Dutchman gnawing asparagus and reeking of
cheeses, than there was already a Stuart legend. Even had there been no
pretenders to carry on the cult, the Stuarts would still have passed
into history as much loved by the people.

It only shows how very little in former days the people expected of a
regnant king. Many monarchs have had just a few popular traits, and
these have stood out brilliantly against the darkness of the background.

No one could have cared greatly for the first James, but Charles I. was
indeed a kingly personage when viewed afar. He was handsome, as a man,
fully equaling the French princess who became his wife. He had no
personal vices. He was brave, and good to look upon, and had a kingly
mien. Hence, although he sought to make his rule over England a
tyranny, there were many fine old cavaliers to ride afield for him when
he raised his standard, and who, when he died, mourned for him as a

Many hardships they underwent while Cromwell ruled with his iron hand;
and when that iron hand was relaxed in death, and poor, feeble Richard
Cromwell slunk away to his country-seat, what wonder is it that young
Charles came back to England and caracoled through the streets of
London with a smile for every one and a happy laugh upon his lips? What
wonder is it that the cannon in the Tower thundered a loud welcome, and
that all over England, at one season or another, maypoles rose and
Christmas fires blazed? For Englishmen at heart are not only
monarchists, but they are lovers of good cheer and merrymaking and all
sorts of mirth.

Charles II. might well at first have seemed a worthier and wiser
successor to his splendid father. As a child, even, he had shown
himself to be no faint-hearted creature. When the great Civil War broke
out he had joined his father's army. It met with disaster at Edgehill,
and was finally shattered by the crushing defeat of Naseby, which
afterward inspired Macaulay's most stirring ballad.

Charles was then only a child of twelve, and so his followers did
wisely in hurrying him out of England, through the Scilly isles and
Jersey to his mother's place of exile. Of course, a child so very young
could be of no value as a leader, though his presence might prove an

In 1648, however, when he was eighteen years of age, he gathered a
fleet of eighteen ships and cruised along the English coast, taking
prizes, which he carried to the Dutch ports. When he was at Holland's
capital, during his father's trial, he wrote many messages to the
Parliamentarians, and even sent them a blank charter, which they might
fill in with any stipulations they desired if only they would save and
restore their king.

When the head of Charles rolled from the velvet-covered block his son
showed himself to be no loiterer or lover of an easy life. He hastened
to Scotland, skilfully escaping an English force, and was proclaimed as
king and crowned at Scone, in 1651. With ten thousand men he dashed
into England, where he knew there were many who would rally at his
call. But it was then that Cromwell put forth his supreme military
genius and with his Ironsides crushed the royal troops at Worcester.

Charles knew that for the present all was lost. He showed courage and
address in covering the flight of his beaten soldiers; but he soon
afterward went to France, remaining there and in the Netherlands for
eight years as a pensioner of Louis XIV. He knew that time would fight
for him far more surely than infantry and horse. England had not been
called "Merry England" for nothing; and Cromwell's tyranny was likely
to be far more resented than the heavy hand of one who was born a king.
So Charles at Paris and Liege, though he had little money at the time,
managed to maintain a royal court, such as it was.

Here there came out another side of his nature. As a child he had borne
hardship and privation and had seen the red blood flow upon the
battlefield. Now, as it were, he allowed a certain sensuous,
pleasure-loving ease to envelop him. The red blood should become the
rich red burgundy; the sound of trumpets and kettledrums should give
way to the melody of lutes and viols. He would be a king of pleasure if
he were to be king at all. And therefore his court, even in exile, was
a court of gallantry and ease. The Pope refused to lend him money, and
the King of France would not increase his pension, but there were many
who foresaw that Charles would not long remain in exile; and so they
gave him what he wanted and waited until he could give them what they
would ask for in their turn.

Charles at this time was not handsome, like his father. His complexion
was swarthy, his figure by no means imposing, though always graceful.
When he chose he could bear himself with all the dignity of a monarch.
He had a singularly pleasant manner, and a word from him could win over
the harshest opponent.

The old cavaliers who accompanied their master in exile were like
Napoleon's veterans in Elba. With their tall, powerful forms they
stalked about the courtyards, sniffing their disapproval at these
foreign ways and longing grimly for the time when they could once more
smell the pungent powder of the battle-field. But, as Charles had
hoped, the change was coming. Not merely were his own subjects
beginning to long for him and to pray in secret for the king, but
continental monarchs who maintained spies in England began to know of
this. To them Charles was no longer a penniless exile. He was a king
who before long would take possession of his kingdom.

A very wise woman--the Queen Regent of Portugal--was the first to act
on this information. Portugal was then very far from being a petty
state. It had wealth at home and rich colonies abroad, while its flag
was seen on every sea. The queen regent, being at odds with Spain, and
wishing to secure an ally against that power, made overtures to
Charles, asking him whether a match might not be made between him and
the Princess Catharine of Braganza. It was not merely her daughter's
hand that she offered, but a splendid dowry. She would pay Charles a
million pounds in gold and cede to England two valuable ports.

The match was not yet made, but by 1659 it had been arranged. The
Spaniards were furious, for Charles's cause began to appear successful.

She was a quaint and rather piteous little figure, she who was destined
to be the wife of the Merry Monarch. Catharine was dark, petite, and by
no means beautiful; yet she had a very sweet expression and a heart of
utter innocence. She had been wholly convent-bred. She knew nothing of
the world. She was told that in marriage she must obey in all things,
and that the chief duty of a wife was to make her husband happy.

Poor child! It was a too gracious preparation for a very graceless
husband. Charles, in exile, had already made more than one
discreditable connection and he was already the father of more than one
growing son.

First of all, he had been smitten by the bold ways of one Lucy Walters.
Her impudence amused the exiled monarch. She was not particularly
beautiful, and when she spoke as others did she was rather tiresome;
but her pertness and the inexperience of the king when he went into
exile made her seem attractive. She bore him a son, in the person of
that brilliant adventurer whom Charles afterward created Duke of
Monmouth. Many persons believe that Charles had married Lucy Walters,
just as George IV. may have married Mrs. Fitzherbert; yet there is not
the slightest proof of it, and it must be classed with popular legends.

There was also one Catherine Peg, or Kep, whose son was afterward made
Earl of Plymouth. It must be confessed that in his attachments to
English women Charles showed little care for rank or station. Lucy
Walters and Catherine Peg were very illiterate creatures.

In a way it was precisely this sort of preference that made Charles so
popular among the people. He seemed to make rank of no account, but
would chat in the most familiar and friendly way with any one whom he
happened to meet. His easy, democratic manner, coupled with the grace
and prestige of royalty, made friends for him all over England. The
treasury might be nearly bankrupt; the navy might be routed by the
Dutch; the king himself might be too much given to dissipation; but his
people forgave him all, because everybody knew that Charles would clap
an honest citizen on the back and joke with all who came to see him
feed the swans in Regent's Park.

The popular name for him was "Rowley," or "Old Rowley"--a nickname of
mysterious origin, though it is said to have been given him from a
fancied resemblance to a famous hunter in his stables. Perhaps it is
the very final test of popularity that a ruler should have a nickname
known to every one.

Cromwell's death roused all England to a frenzy of king-worship. The
Roundhead, General Monk, and his soldiers proclaimed Charles King of
England and escorted him to London in splendid state. That was a day
when national feeling reached a point such as never has been before or
since. Oughtred, the famous mathematician, died of joy when the royal
emblems were restored. Urquhart, the translator of Rabelais, died, it
is said, of laughter at the people's wild delight--a truly Rabelaisian

There was the king once more; and England, breaking through its long
period of Puritanism, laughed and danced with more vivacity than ever
the French had shown. All the pipers and the players and panderers to
vice, the mountebanks, the sensual men, and the lawless women poured
into the presence of the king, who had been too long deprived of the
pleasure that his nature craved. Parliament voted seventy thousand
pounds for a memorial to Charles's father, but the irresponsible king
spent the whole sum on the women who surrounded him. His severest
counselor, Lord Clarendon, sent him a remonstrance.

"How can I build such a memorial," asked Charles, "when I don't know
where my father's remains are buried!"

He took money from the King of France to make war against the Dutch,
who had befriended him. It was the French king, too, who sent him that
insidious, subtle daughter of Brittany, Louise de Keroualle--Duchess of
Portsmouth--a diplomat in petticoats, who won the king's wayward
affections, and spied on what he did and said, and faithfully reported
all of it to Paris. She became the mother of the Duke of Lenox, and she
was feared and hated by the English more than any other of his
mistresses. They called her "Madam Carwell," and they seemed to have an
instinct that she was no mere plaything of his idle hours, but was like
some strange exotic serpent, whose poison might in the end sting the
honor of England.

There is a pitiful little episode in the marriage of Charles with his
Portuguese bride, Catharine of Braganza. The royal girl came to him
fresh from the cloisters of her convent. There was something about her
grace and innocence that touched the dissolute monarch, who was by no
means without a heart. For a time he treated her with great respect,
and she was happy. At last she began to notice about her strange
faces--faces that were evil, wanton, or overbold. The court became more
and more a seat of reckless revelry.

Finally Catharine was told that the Duchess of Cleveland--that splendid
termagant, Barbara Villiers--had been appointed lady of the bedchamber.
She was told at the same time who this vixen was--that she was no fit
attendant for a virtuous woman, and that her three sons, the Dukes of
Southampton, Grafton, and Northumberland, were also the sons of Charles.

Fluttered and frightened and dismayed, the queen hastened to her
husband and begged him not to put this slight upon her. A year or two
before, she had never dreamed that life contained such things as these;
but now it seemed to contain nothing else. Charles spoke sternly to her
until she burst into tears, and then he petted her and told her that
her duty as a queen compelled her to submit to many things which a lady
in private life need not endure.

After a long and poignant struggle with her own emotions the little
Portuguese yielded to the wishes of her lord. She never again
reproached him. She even spoke with kindness to his favorites and made
him feel that she studied his happiness alone. Her gentleness affected
him so that he always spoke to her with courtesy and real friendship.
When the Protestant mobs sought to drive her out of England he showed
his courage and manliness by standing by her and refusing to allow her
to be molested.

Indeed, had Charles been always at his best he would have had a very
different name in history. He could be in every sense a king. He had a
keen knowledge of human nature. Though he governed England very badly,
he never governed it so badly as to lose his popularity.

The epigram of Rochester, written at the king's own request, was
singularly true of Charles. No man relied upon his word, yet men loved
him. He never said anything that was foolish, and he very seldom did
anything that was wise; yet his easy manners and gracious ways endeared
him to those who met him.

One can find no better picture of his court than that which Sir Walter
Scott has drawn so vividly in Peveril of the Peak; or, if one wishes
first-hand evidence, it can be found in the diaries of Evelyn and of
Samuel Pepys. In them we find the rakes and dicers, full of strange
oaths, deep drunkards, vile women and still viler men, all striving for
the royal favor and offering the filthiest lures, amid routs and balls
and noisy entertainments, of which it is recorded that more than once
some woman gave birth to a child among the crowd of dancers.

No wonder that the little Portuguese queen kept to herself and did not
let herself be drawn into this swirling, roaring, roistering
saturnalia. She had less influence even than Moll Davis, whom Charles
picked out of a coffee-house, and far less than "Madam Carwell," to
whom it is reported that a great English nobleman once presented pearls
to the value of eight thousand pounds in order to secure her influence
in a single stroke of political business.

Of all the women who surrounded Charles there was only one who cared
anything for him or for England. The rest were all either selfish or
treacherous or base. This one exception has been so greatly written of,
both in fiction and in history, as to make it seem almost unnecessary
to add another word; yet it may well be worth while to separate the
fiction from the fact and to see how much of the legend of Eleanor Gwyn
is true.

The fanciful story of her birthplace is most surely quite unfounded.
She was not the daughter of a Welsh officer, but of two petty hucksters
who had their booth in the lowest precincts of London. In those days
the Strand was partly open country, and as it neared the city it showed
the mansions of the gentry set in their green-walled parks. At one end
of the Strand, however, was Drury Lane, then the haunt of criminals and
every kind of wretch, while nearer still was the notorious Coal Yard,
where no citizen dared go unarmed.

Within this dreadful place children were kidnapped and trained to
various forms of vice. It was a school for murderers and robbers and
prostitutes; and every night when the torches flared it vomited forth
its deadly spawn. Here was the earliest home of Eleanor Gwyn, and out
of this den of iniquity she came at night to sell oranges at the
entrance to the theaters. She was stage-struck, and endeavored to get
even a minor part in a play; but Betterton, the famous actor, thrust
her aside when she ventured to apply to him.

It must be said that in everything that was external, except her
beauty, she fell short of a fastidious taste. She was intensely
ignorant even for that time. She spoke in a broad Cockney dialect. She
had lived the life of the Coal Yard, and, like Zola's Nana, she could
never remember the time when she had known the meaning of chastity.

Nell Gwyn was, in fact, a product of the vilest slums of London; and
precisely because she was this we must set her down as intrinsically a
good woman--one of the truest, frankest, and most right-minded of whom
the history of such women has anything to tell. All that external
circumstances could do to push her down into the mire was done; yet she
was not pushed down, but emerged as one of those rare souls who have in
their natures an uncontaminated spring of goodness and honesty. Unlike
Barbara Villiers or Lucy Walters or Louise de Keroualle, she was
neither a harpy nor a foe to England.

Charles is said first to have met her when he, incognito, with another
friend, was making the rounds of the theaters at night. The king spied
her glowing, nut-brown face in one of the boxes, and, forgetting his
incognito, went up and joined her. She was with her protector of the
time, Lord Buckhurst, who, of course, recognized his majesty.

Presently the whole party went out to a neighboring coffee-house, where
they drank and ate together. When it came time to pay the reckoning the
king found that he had no money, nor had his friend. Lord Buckhurst,
therefore, paid the bill, while Mistress Nell jeered at the other two,
saying that this was the most poverty-stricken party that she had ever

Charles did not lose sight of her. Her frankness and honest manner
pleased him. There came a time when she was known to be a mistress of
the king, and she bore a son, who was ennobled as the Duke of St.
Albans, but who did not live to middle age. Nell Gwyn was much with
Charles; and after his tempestuous scenes with Barbara Villiers, and
the feeling of dishonor which the Duchess of Portsmouth made him
experience, the girl's good English bluntness was a pleasure far more
rare than sentiment.

Somehow, just as the people had come to mistrust "Madam Carwell," so
they came to like Nell Gwyn. She saw enough of Charles, and she liked
him well enough, to wish that he might do his duty by his people; and
she alone had the boldness to speak out what she thought. One day she
found him lolling in an arm-chair and complaining that the people were
not satisfied.

"You can very easily satisfy them," said Nell Gwyn. "Dismiss your women
and attend to the proper business of a king."

Again, her heart was touched at the misfortunes of the old soldiers who
had fought for Charles and for his father during the Civil War, and who
were now neglected, while the treasury was emptied for French
favorites, and while the policy of England itself was bought and sold
in France. Many and many a time, when other women of her kind used
their lures to get jewels or titles or estates or actual heaps of
money, Nell Gwyn besought the king to aid these needy veterans. Because
of her efforts Chelsea Hospital was founded. Such money as she had she
shared with the poor and with those who had fought for her royal lover.

As I have said, she is a historical type of the woman who loses her
physical purity, yet who retains a sense of honor and of honesty which
nothing can take from her. There are not many such examples, and
therefore this one is worth remembering.

Of anecdotes concerning her there are many, but not often has their
real import been detected. If she could twine her arms about the
monarch's neck and transport him in a delirium of passion, this was
only part of what she did. She tried to keep him right and true and
worthy of his rank; and after he had ceased to care much for her as a
lover he remembered that she had been faithful in many other things.

Then there came the death-bed scene, when Charles, in his inimitable
manner, apologized to those about him because he was so long in dying.
A far sincerer sentence was that which came from his heart, as he cried
out, in the very pangs of death:

"Do not let poor Nelly starve!"


It is an old saying that to every womanly woman self-sacrifice is
almost a necessity of her nature. To make herself of small account as
compared with the one she loves; to give freely of herself, even though
she may receive nothing in return; to suffer, and yet to feel an inner
poignant joy in all this suffering--here is a most wonderful trait of
womanhood. Perhaps it is akin to the maternal instinct; for to the
mother, after she has felt the throb of a new life within her, there is
no sacrifice so great and no anguish so keen that she will not welcome
it as the outward sign and evidence of her illimitable love.

In most women this spirit of self-sacrifice is checked and kept within
ordinary bounds by the circumstances of their lives. In many small
things they do yield and they do suffer; yet it is not in yielding and
in suffering that they find their deepest joy.

There are some, however, who seem to have been born with an abnormal
capacity for enduring hardship and mental anguish; so that by a sort of
contradiction they find their happiness in sorrow. Such women are
endowed with a remarkable degree of sensibility. They feel intensely.
In moments of grief and disappointment, and even of despair, there
steals over them a sort of melancholy pleasure. It is as if they loved
dim lights and mournful music and scenes full of sad suggestion.

If everything goes well with them, they are unwilling to believe that
such good fortune will last. If anything goes wrong with them, they are
sure that this is only the beginning of something even worse. The music
of their lives is written in a minor key.

Now, for such women as these, the world at large has very little
charity. It speaks slightingly of them as "agonizers." It believes that
they are "fond of making scenes." It regards as an affectation
something that is really instinctive and inevitable. Unless such women
are beautiful and young and charming they are treated badly; and this
is often true in spite of all their natural attractiveness, for they
seem to court ill usage as if they were saying frankly:

"Come, take us! We will give you everything and ask for nothing. We do
not expect true and enduring love. Do not be constant or generous or
even kind. We know that we shall suffer. But, none the less, in our
sorrow there will be sweetness, and even in our abasement we shall feel
a sort of triumph."

In history there is one woman who stands out conspicuously as a type of
her melancholy sisterhood, one whose life was full of disappointment
even when she was most successful, and of indignity even when she was
most sought after and admired. This woman was Adrienne Lecouvreur,
famous in the annals of the stage, and still more famous in the annals
of unrequited--or, at any rate, unhappy--love.

Her story is linked with that of a man no less remarkable than herself,
a hero of chivalry, a marvel of courage, of fascination, and of

Adrienne Lecouvreur--her name was originally Couvreur--was born toward
the end of the seventeenth century in the little French village of
Damery, not far from Rheims, where her aunt was a laundress and her
father a hatter in a small way. Of her mother, who died in childbirth,
we know nothing; but her father was a man of gloomy and ungovernable
temper, breaking out into violent fits of passion, in one of which,
long afterward, he died, raving and yelling like a maniac.

Adrienne was brought up at the wash-tub, and became accustomed to a
wandering life, in which she went from one town to another. What she
had inherited from her mother is, of course, not known; but she had all
her father's strangely pessimistic temper, softened only by the fact
that she was a girl. From her earliest years she was unhappy; yet her
unhappiness was largely of her own choosing. Other girls of her own
station met life cheerfully, worked away from dawn till dusk, and then
had their moments of amusement, and even jollity, with their
companions, after the fashion of all children. But Adrienne Lecouvreur
was unhappy because she chose to be. It was not the wash-tub that made
her so, for she had been born to it; nor was it the half-mad outbreaks
of her father, because to her, at least, he was not unkind. Her
discontent sprang from her excessive sensibility.

Indeed, for a peasant child she had reason to think herself far more
fortunate than her associates. Her intelligence was great. Ambition was
awakened in her before she was ten years of age, when she began to
learn and to recite poems--learning them, as has been said, "between
the wash-tub and the ironing-board," and reciting them to the
admiration of older and wiser people than she. Even at ten she was a
very beautiful child, with great lambent eyes, an exquisite complexion,
and a lovely form, while she had the further gift of a voice that
thrilled the listener and, when she chose, brought tears to every eye.
She was, indeed, a natural elocutionist, knowing by instinct all those
modulations of tone and varied cadences which go to the hearer's heart.

It was very like Adrienne Lecouvreur to memorize only such poems as
were mournful, just as in after life she could win success upon the
stage only in tragic parts. She would repeat with a sort of ecstasy the
pathetic poems that were then admired; and she was soon able to give up
her menial work, because many people asked her to their houses so that
they could listen to the divinely beautiful voice charged with the
emotion which was always at her command.

When she was thirteen her father moved to Paris, where she was placed
at school--a very humble school in a very humble quarter of the city.
Yet even there her genius showed itself at that early age. A number of
children and young people, probably influenced by Adrienne, formed
themselves into a theatrical company from the pure love of acting. A
friendly grocer let them have an empty store-room for their
performances, and in this store-room Adrienne Lecouvreur first acted in
a tragedy by Corneille, assuming the part of leading woman.

Her genius for the stage was like the genius of Napoleon for war. She
had had no teaching. She had never been inside of any theater; and yet
she delivered the magnificent lines with all the power and fire and
effectiveness of a most accomplished actress. People thronged to see
her and to feel the tempest of emotion which shook her as she sustained
her part, which for the moment was as real to her as life itself.

At first only the people of the neighborhood knew anything about these
amateur performances; but presently a lady of rank, one Mme. du Gue,
came out of curiosity and was fascinated by the little actress. Mme. du
Gue offered the spacious courtyard of her own house, and fitted it with
some of the appurtenances of a theater. From that moment the fame of
Adrienne spread throughout all Paris. The courtyard was crowded by
gentlemen and ladies, by people of distinction from the court, and at
last even by actors and actresses from the Comedie Franchise.

It is, in fact, a remarkable tribute to Adrienne that in her thirteenth
year she excited so much jealousy among the actors of the Comedie that
they evoked the law against her. Theaters required a royal license, and
of course poor little Adrienne's company had none. Hence legal
proceedings were begun, and the most famous actresses in Paris talked
of having these clever children imprisoned! Upon this the company
sought the precincts of the Temple, where no legal warrant could be
served without the express order of the king himself.

There for a time the performances still went on. Finally, as the other
children were not geniuses, but merely boys and girls in search of fun,
the little company broke up. Its success, however, had determined for
ever the career of Adrienne. With her beautiful face, her lithe and
exquisite figure, her golden voice, and her instinctive art, it was
plain enough that her future lay upon the stage; and so at fourteen or
fifteen she began where most actresses leave off--accomplished and
attractive, and having had a practical training in her profession.

Diderot, in that same century, observed that the truest actor is one
who does not feel his part at all, but produces his effects by
intellectual effort and intelligent observation. Behind the figure on
the stage, torn with passion or rollicking with mirth, there must
always be the cool and unemotional mind which directs and governs and
controls. This same theory was both held and practised by the late
Benoit Constant Coquelin. To some extent it was the theory of Garrick
and Fechter and Edwin Booth; though it was rejected by the two Keans,
and by Edwin Forrest, who entered so throughly into the character which
he assumed, and who let loose such tremendous bursts of passion that
other actors dreaded to support him on the stage in such parts as
Spartacus and Metamora.

It is needless to say that a girl like Adrienne Lecouvreur flung
herself with all the intensity of her nature into every role she
played. This was the greatest secret of her success; for, with her,
nature rose superior to art. On the other hand, it fixed her dramatic
limitations, for it barred her out of comedy. Her melancholy, morbid
disposition was in the fullest sympathy with tragic heroines; but she
failed when she tried to represent the lighter moods and the merry
moments of those who welcome mirth. She could counterfeit despair, and
unforced tears would fill her eyes; but she could not laugh and romp
and simulate a gaiety that was never hers.

Adrienne would have been delighted to act at one of the theaters in
Paris; but they were closed to her through jealousy. She went into the
provinces, in the eastern part of France, and for ten years she was a
leading lady there in many companies and in many towns. As she
blossomed into womanhood there came into her life the love which was to
be at once a source of the most profound interest and of the most
intense agony.

It is odd that all her professional success never gave her any
happiness. The life of the actress who traveled from town to town, the
crude and coarse experiences which she had to undergo, the disorder and
the unsettled mode of living, all produced in her a profound disgust.
She was of too exquisite a fiber to live in such a way, especially in a
century when the refinements of existence were for the very few.

She speaks herself of "obligatory amusements, the insistence of men,
and of love affairs." Yet how could such a woman as Adrienne Lecouvreur
keep herself from love affairs? The motion of the stage and its mimic
griefs satisfied her only while she was actually upon the boards. Love
offered her an emotional excitement that endured and that was always
changing. It was "the profoundest instinct of her being"; and she once
wrote: "What could one do in the world without loving?"

Still, through these ten years she seems to have loved only that she
might be unhappy. There was a strange twist in her mind. Men who were
honorable and who loved her with sincerity she treated very badly. Men
who were indifferent or ungrateful or actually base she seemed to
choose by a sort of perverse instinct. Perhaps the explanation of it is
that during those ten years, though she had many lovers, she never
really loved. She sought excitement, passion, and after that the
mournfulness which comes when passion dies. Thus, one man after another
came into her life--some of them promising marriage--and she bore two
children, whose fathers were unknown, or at least uncertain. But, after
all, one can scarcely pity her, since she had not yet in reality known
that great passion which comes but once in life. So far she had learned
only a sort of feeble cynicism, which she expressed in letters and in
such sayings as these:

"There are sweet errors which I would not venture to commit again. My
experiences, all too sad, have served to illumine my reason."

"I am utterly weary of love and prodigiously tempted to have no more of
it for the rest of my life; because, after all, I don't wish either to
die or to go mad."

Yet she also said: "I know too well that no one dies of grief."

She had had, indeed, some very unfortunate experiences. Men of rank had
loved her and had then cast her off. An actor, one Clavel, would have
married her, but she would not accept his offer. A magistrate in
Strasburg promised marriage; and then, when she was about to accept
him, he wrote to her that he was going to yield to the wishes of his
family and make a more advantageous alliance. And so she was
alternately caressed and repulsed--a mere plaything; and yet this was
probably all that she really needed at the time--something to stir her,
something to make her mournful or indignant or ashamed.

It was inevitable that at last Adrienne Lecouvreur should appear in
Paris. She had won such renown throughout the provinces that even those
who were intensely jealous of her were obliged to give her due
consideration. In 1717, when she was in her twenty-fifth year, she
became a member of the Comedie Franchise. There she made an immediate
and most brilliant impression. She easily took the leading place. She
was one of the glories of Paris, for she became the fashion outside the
theater. For the first time the great classic plays were given, not in
the monotonous singsong which had become a sort of theatrical
convention, but with all the fire and naturalness of life.

Being the fashion, Mlle. Lecouvreur elevated the social rank of actors
and of actresses. Her salon was thronged by men and women of rank.
Voltaire wrote poems in her honor. To be invited to her dinners was
almost like receiving a decoration from the king. She ought to have
been happy, for she had reached the summit of her profession and
something more.

Yet still she was unhappy. In all her letters one finds a plaintive
tone, a little moaning sound that shows how slightly her nature had
been changed. No longer, however, did she throw herself away upon
dullards or brutes. An English peer--Lord Peterborough--not realizing
that she was different from other actresses of that loose-lived age,
said to her coarsely at his first introduction:

"Come now! Show me lots of wit and lots of love."

The remark was characteristic of the time. Yet Adrienne had learned at
least one thing, and that was the discontent which came from light
affairs. She had thrown herself away too often. If she could not love
with her entire being, if she could not give all that was in her to be
given, whether of her heart or mind or soul, then she would love no
more at all.

At this time there came to Paris a man remarkable in his own century,
and one who afterward became almost a hero of romance. This was
Maurice, Comte de Saxe, as the French called him, his German name and
title being Moritz, Graf von Sachsen, while we usually term him, in
English, Marshal Saxe. Maurice de Saxe was now, in 1721, entering his
twenty-fifth year. Already, though so young, his career had been a
strange one; and it was destined to be still more remarkable. He was
the natural son of Duke Augustus II. of Saxony, who later became King
of Poland, and who is known in history as Augustus the Strong.

Augustus was a giant in stature and in strength, handsome, daring,
unscrupulous, and yet extremely fascinating. His life was one of
revelry and fighting and display. When in his cups he would often call
for a horseshoe and twist it into a knot with his powerful fingers.
Many were his mistresses; but the one for whom he cared the most was a
beautiful and high-spirited Swedish girl of rank, Aurora von
Konigsmarck. She was descended from a rough old field-marshal who in
the Thirty Years' War had slashed and sacked and pillaged and plundered
to his heart's content. From him Aurora von Konigsmarck seemed to have
inherited a high spirit and a sort of lawlessness which charmed the
stalwart Augustus of Poland.

Their son, Maurice de Saxe, inherited everything that was good in his
parents, and a great deal that was less commendable. As a mere child of
twelve he had insisted on joining the army of Prince Eugene, and had
seen rough service in a very strenuous campaign. Two years later he
showed such daring on the battle-field that Prince Eugene summoned him
and paid him a compliment under the form of a rebuke.

"Young man," he said, "you must not mistake mere recklessness for

Before he was twenty he had attained the stature and strength of his
royal father; and, to prove it, he in his turn called for a horseshoe,
which he twisted and broke in his fingers. He fought on the side of the
Russians and Poles, and again against the Turks, everywhere displaying
high courage and also genius as a commander; for he never lost his
self-possession amid the very blackest danger, but possessed, as
Carlyle says, "vigilance, foresight, and sagacious precaution."

Exceedingly handsome, Maurice was a master of all the arts that
pleased, with just a touch of roughness, which seemed not unfitting in
so gallant a soldier. His troops adored him and would follow wherever
he might choose to lead them; for he exercised over these rude men a
magnetic power resembling that of Napoleon in after years. In private
life he was a hard drinker and fond of every form of pleasure. Having
no fortune of his own, a marriage was arranged for him with the
Countess von Loben, who was immensely wealthy; but in three years he
had squandered all her money upon his pleasures, and had, moreover, got
himself heavily in debt.

It was at this time that he first came to Paris to study military
tactics. He had fought hard against the French in the wars that were
now ended; but his chivalrous bearing, his handsome person, and his
reckless joviality made him at once a universal favorite in Paris. To
the perfumed courtiers, with their laces and lovelocks and mincing
ways, Maurice de Saxe came as a sort of knight of old--jovial, daring,
pleasure-loving. Even his broken French was held to be quite charming;
and to see him break a horseshoe with his fingers threw every one into

No wonder, then, that he was welcomed in the very highest circles.
Almost at once he attracted the notice of the Princesse de Conti, a
beautiful woman of the blood royal. Of her it has been said that she
was "the personification of a kiss, the incarnation of an embrace, the
ideal of a dream of love." Her chestnut hair was tinted with little
gleams of gold. Her eyes were violet black. Her complexion was
dazzling. But by the king's orders she had been forced to marry a
hunchback--a man whose very limbs were so weakened by disease and evil
living that they would often fail to support him, and he would fall to
the ground, a writhing, screaming mass of ill-looking flesh.

It is not surprising that his lovely wife should have shuddered much at
his abuse of her and still more at his grotesque endearments. When her
eyes fell on Maurice de Saxe she saw in him one who could free her from
her bondage. By a skilful trick he led the Prince de Conti to invade
the sleeping-room of the princess, with servants, declaring that she
was not alone. The charge proved quite untrue, and so she left her
husband, having won the sympathy of her own world, which held that she
had been insulted. But it was not she who was destined to win and hold
the love of Maurice de Saxe.

Not long after his appearance in the French capital he was invited to
dine with the "Queen of Paris," Adrienne Lecouvreur. Saxe had seen her
on the stage. He knew her previous history. He knew that she was very
much of a soiled dove; but when he met her these two natures, so
utterly dissimilar, leaped together, as it were, through the
indescribable attraction of opposites. He was big and powerful; she was
small and fragile. He was merry, and full of quips and jests; she was
reserved and melancholy. Each felt in the other a need supplied.

At one of their earliest meetings the climax came. Saxe was not the man
to hesitate; while she already, in her thoughts, had made a full
surrender. In one great sweep he gathered her into his arms. It
appeared to her as if no man had ever laid his hand upon her until that
moment. She cried out:

"Now, for the first time in my life, I seem to live!"

It was, indeed, the very first love which in her checkered career was
really worthy of the name. She had supposed that all such things were
passed and gone, that her heart was closed for ever, that she was
invulnerable; and yet here she found herself clinging about the neck of
this impetuous soldier and showing him all the shy fondness and the
unselfish devotion of a young girl. From this instant Adrienne
Lecouvreur never loved another man and never even looked at any other
man with the slightest interest. For nine long years the two were bound
together, though there were strange events to ruffle the surface of
their love.

Maurice de Saxe had been sired by a king. He had the lofty ambition to
be a king himself, and he felt the stirrings of that genius which in
after years was to make him a great soldier, and to win the brilliant
victory of Fontenoy, which to this very day the French are never tired
of recalling. Already Louis XV. had made him a marshal of France; and a
certain restlessness came over him. He loved Adrienne; yet he felt that
to remain in the enjoyment of her witcheries ought not to be the whole
of a man's career.

Then the Grand Duchy of Courland--at that time a vassal state of
Poland, now part of Russia--sought a ruler. Maurice de Saxe was eager
to secure its throne, which would make him at least semi-royal and the
chief of a principality. He hastened thither and found that money was
needed to carry out his plans. The widow of the late duke--the Grand
Duchess Anna, niece of Peter the Great, and later Empress of Russia--as
soon as she had met this dazzling genius, offered to help him to
acquire the duchy if he would only marry her. He did not utterly
refuse. Still another woman of high rank, the Grand Duchess Elizabeth
of Russia, Peter the Great's daughter, made him very much the same

Both of these imperial women might well have attracted a man like
Maurice de Saxe, had he been wholly fancy-free, for the second of them
inherited the high spirit and the genius of the great Peter, while the
first was a pleasure-seeking princess, resembling some of those Roman
empresses who loved to stoop that they might conquer. She is described
as indolent and sensual, and she once declared that the chief good in
the world was love. Yet, though she neglected affairs of state and gave
them over to favorites, she won and kept the affections of her people.
She was unquestionably endowed with the magnetic gift of winning hearts.

Adrienne, who was left behind in Paris, knew very little of what was
going on. Only two things were absolutely clear to her. One was that if
her lover secured the duchy he must be parted from her. The other was
that without money his ambition must be thwarted, and that he would
then return to her. Here was a test to try the soul of any woman. It
proved the height and the depth of her devotion. Come what might,
Maurice should be Duke of Courland, even though she lost him. She
gathered together her whole fortune, sold every jewel that she
possessed, and sent her lover the sum of nearly a million francs.

This incident shows how absolutely she was his. But in fact, because of
various intrigues, he failed of election to the ducal throne of
Courland, and he returned to Adrienne with all her money spent, and
without even the grace, at first, to show his gratitude. He stormed and
raged over his ill luck. She merely soothed and petted him, though she
had heard that he had thought of marrying another woman to secure the
dukedom. In one of her letters she bursts out with the pitiful

I am distracted with rage and anguish. Is it not natural to cry out
against such treachery? This man surely ought to know me--he ought to
love me. Oh, my God! What are we--what ARE we?

But still she could not give him up, nor could he give her up, though
there were frightful scenes between them--times when he cruelly
reproached her and when her native melancholy deepened into outbursts
of despair. Finally there occurred an incident which is more or less
obscure in parts. The Duchesse de Bouillon, a great lady of the
court--facile, feline, licentious, and eager for delights--resolved
that she would win the love of Maurice de Saxe. She set herself to win
it openly and without any sense of shame. Maurice himself at times,
when the tears of Adrienne proved wearisome, flirted with the duchess.

Yet, even so, Adrienne held the first place in his heart, and her rival
knew it. Therefore she resolved to humiliate Adrienne, and to do so in
the place where the actress had always reigned supreme. There was to be
a gala performance of Racine's great tragedy, "Phedre," with Adrienne,
of course, in the title-role. The Duchesse de Bouillon sent a large
number of her lackeys with orders to hiss and jeer, and, if possible,
to break off the play. Malignantly delighted with her plan, the duchess
arrayed herself in jewels and took her seat in a conspicuous stage-box,
where she could watch the coming storm and gloat over the discomfiture
of her rival.

When the curtain rose, and when Adrienne appeared as Phedre, an uproar
began. It was clear to the great actress that a plot had been devised
against her. In an instant her whole soul was afire. The queen-like
majesty of her bearing compelled silence throughout the house. Even the
hired lackeys were overawed by it. Then Adrienne moved swiftly across
the stage and fronted her enemy, speaking into her very face the three
insulting lines which came to her at that moment of the play:

    I am not of those women void of shame,
    Who, savoring in crime the joys of peace,
    Harden their faces till they cannot blush!

The whole house rose and burst forth into tremendous applause. Adrienne
had won, for the woman who had tried to shame her rose in trepidation
and hurried from the theater.

But the end was not yet. Those were evil times, when dark deeds were
committed by the great almost with impunity. Secret poisoning was a
common trade. To remove a rival was as usual a thing in the eighteenth
century as to snub a rival is usual in the twentieth.

Not long afterward, on the night of March 15, 1730, Adrienne Lecouvreur
was acting in one of Voltaire's plays with all her power and
instinctive art when suddenly she was seized with the most frightful
pains. Her anguish was obvious to every one who saw her, and yet she
had the courage to go through her part. Then she fainted and was
carried home.

Four days later she died, and her death was no less dramatic than her
life had been. Her lover and two friends of his were with her, and also
a Jesuit priest. He declined to administer extreme unction unless she
would declare that she repented of her theatrical career. She
stubbornly refused, since she believed that to be the greatest actress
of her time was not a sin. Yet still the priest insisted.

Then came the final moment.

"Weary and revolting against this death, this destiny, she stretched
her arms with one of the old lovely gestures toward a bust which stood
near by and cried--her last cry of passion:

"'There is my world, my hope--yes, and my God!'"

The bust was one of Maurice de Saxe.


The royal families of Europe are widely known, yet not all of them are
equally renowned. Thus, the house of Romanoff, although comparatively
young, stands out to the mind with a sort of barbaric power, more
vividly than the Austrian house of Hapsburg, which is the oldest
reigning family in Europe, tracing its beginnings backward until they
are lost in the Dark Ages. The Hohenzollerns of Prussia are
comparatively modern, so far as concerns their royalty. The offshoots
of the Bourbons carry on a very proud tradition in the person of the
King of Spain, although France, which has been ruled by so many members
of the family, will probably never again behold a Bourbon king. The
deposed Braganzas bear a name which is ancient, but which has a
somewhat tinsel sound.

The Bonapartes, of course, are merely parvenus, and they have had the
good taste to pretend to no antiquity of birth. The first Napoleon,
dining at a table full of monarchs, when he heard one of them
deferentially alluding to the Bonaparte family as being very old and
noble, exclaimed:

"Pish! My nobility dates from the day of Marengo!"

And the third Napoleon, in announcing his coming marriage with Mlle. de
Montijo, used the very word "parvenu" in speaking of himself and of his
family. His frankness won the hearts of the French people and helped to
reconcile them to a marriage in which the bride was barely noble.

In English history there are two great names to conjure by, at least to
the imaginative. One is Plantagenet, which seems to contain within
itself the very essence of all that is patrician, magnificent, and
royal. It calls to memory at once the lion-hearted Richard, whose short
reign was replete with romance in England and France and Austria and
the Holy Land.

But perhaps a name of greater influence is that which links the royal
family of Britain today with the traditions of the past, and which
summons up legend and story and great deeds of history. This is the
name of Stuart, about which a whole volume might be written to recall
its suggestions and its reminiscences.

The first Stuart (then Stewart) of whom anything is known got his name
from the title of "Steward of Scotland," which remained in the family
for generations, until the sixth of the line, by marriage with Princess
Marjory Bruce, acquired the Scottish crown. That was in the early years
of the fourteenth century; and finally, after the death of Elizabeth of
England, her rival's son, James VI. of Scotland and I. of England,
united under one crown two kingdoms that had so long been at almost
constant war.

It is almost characteristic of the Scot that, having small territory,
little wealth, and a seat among his peers that is almost ostentatiously
humble, he should bit by bit absorb the possessions of all the rest and
become their master. Surely, the proud Tudors, whose line ended with
Elizabeth, must have despised the "Stewards," whose kingdom was small
and bleak and cold, and who could not control their own vassals.

One can imagine also, with Sir Walter Scott, the haughty nobles of the
English court sneering covertly at the awkward, shambling James, pedant
and bookworm. Nevertheless, his diplomacy was almost as good as that of
Elizabeth herself; and, though he did some foolish things, he was very
far from being a fool.

In his appearance James was not unlike Abraham Lincoln--an unkingly
figure; and yet, like Lincoln, when occasion required it he could rise
to the dignity which makes one feel the presence of a king. He was the
only Stuart who lacked anything in form or feature or external grace.
His son, Charles I., was perhaps one of the worst rulers that England
has ever had; yet his uprightness of life, his melancholy yet handsome
face, his graceful bearing, and the strong religious element in his
character, together with the fact that he was put to death after being
treacherously surrendered to his enemies--all these have combined to
make almost a saint of him. There are Englishmen to-day who speak of
him as "the martyr king," and who, on certain days of the year, say
prayers that beg the Lord's forgiveness because of Charles's execution.

The members of the so-called League of the White Rose, founded to
perpetuate English allegiance to the direct line of Stuarts, do many
things that are quite absurd. They refuse to pray for the present King
of England and profess to think that the Princess Mary of Bavaria is
the true ruler of Great Britain. All this represents that trace of
sentiment which lingers among the English to-day. They feel that the
Stuarts were the last kings of England to rule by the grace of God
rather than by the grace of Parliament. As a matter of fact, the
present reigning family in England is glad to derive its ancient strain
of royal blood through a Stuart--descended on the distaff side from
James I., and winding its way through Hanover.

This sentiment for the Stuarts is a thing entirely apart from reason
and belongs to the realm of poetry and romance; yet so strong is it
that it has shown itself in the most inconsistent fashion. For
instance, Sir Walter Scott was a devoted adherent of the house of
Hanover. When George IV. visited Edinburgh, Scott was completely
carried away by his loyal enthusiasm. He could not see that the man
before him was a drunkard and braggart. He viewed him as an incarnation
of all the noble traits that ought to hedge about a king. He snatched
up a wine-glass from which George had just been drinking and carried it
away to be an object of reverence for ever after. Nevertheless, in his
heart, and often in his speech, Scott seemed to be a high Tory, and
even a Jacobite.

There are precedents for this. The Empress Eugenie used often to say
with a laugh that she was the only true royalist at the imperial court
of France. That was well enough for her in her days of flightiness and
frivolity. No one, however, accused Queen Victoria of being frivolous,
and she was not supposed to have a strong sense of humor. None the
less, after listening to the skirling of the bagpipes and to the
romantic ballads which were sung in Scotland she is said to have
remarked with a sort of sigh:

"Whenever I hear those ballads I feel that England belongs really to
the Stuarts!"

Before Queen Victoria was born, when all the sons of George III. were
childless, the Duke of Kent was urged to marry, so that he might have a
family to continue the succession. In resenting the suggestion he said
many things, and among them this was the most striking:

"Why don't you call the Stuarts back to England? They couldn't possibly
make a worse mess of it than our fellows have!"

But he yielded to persuasion and married. From this marriage came
Victoria, who had the sacred drop of Stuart blood which gave England to
the Hanoverians; and she was to redeem the blunders and tyrannies of
both houses.

The fascination of the Stuarts, which has been carried overseas to
America and the British dominions, probably began with the striking
history of Mary Queen of Scots. Her brilliancy and boldness and beauty,
and especially the pathos of her end, have made us see only her intense
womanliness, which in her own day was the first thing that any one
observed in her. So, too, with Charles I., romantic figure and knightly
gentleman. One regrets his death upon the scaffold, even though his
execution was necessary to the growth of freedom.

Many people are no less fascinated by Charles II., that very different
type, with his gaiety, his good-fellowship, and his easy-going ways. It
is not surprising that his people, most of whom never saw him, were
very fond of him, and did not know that he was selfish, a loose liver,
and almost a vassal of the king of France.

So it is not strange that the Stuarts, with all their arts and graces,
were very hard to displace. James II., with the aid of the French,
fought hard before the British troops in Ireland broke the backs of
both his armies and sent him into exile. Again in 1715--an episode
perpetuated in Thackeray's dramatic story of Henry Esmond--came the son
of James to take advantage of the vacancy caused by the death of Queen
Anne. But it is perhaps to this claimant's son, the last of the
militant Stuarts, that more chivalrous feeling has been given than to
any other.

To his followers he was the Young Chevalier, the true Prince of Wales;
to his enemies, the Whigs and the Hanoverians, he was "the Pretender."
One of the most romantic chapters of history is the one which tells of
that last brilliant dash which he made upon the coast of Scotland,
landing with but a few attendants and rejecting the support of a French

"It is not with foreigners," he said, "but with my own loyal subjects,
that I wish to regain the kingdom for my father."

It was a daring deed, and the spectacular side of it has been often
commemorated, especially in Sir Walter Scott's Waverley. There we see
the gallant prince moving through a sort of military panorama. Most of
the British troops were absent in Flanders, and the few regiments that
could be mustered to meet him were appalled by the ferocity and
reckless courage of the Highlanders, who leaped down like wildcats from
their hills and flung themselves with dirk and sword upon the British

We see Sir John Cope retiring at Falkirk, and the astonishing victory
of Prestonpans, where disciplined British troops fled in dismay through
the morning mist, leaving artillery and supplies behind them. It is
Scott again who shows us the prince, master of Edinburgh for a time,
while the white rose of Stuart royalty held once more the ancient keep
above the Scottish capital. Then we see the Chevalier pressing
southward into England, where he hoped to raise an English army to
support his own. But his Highlanders cared nothing for England, and the
English--even the Catholic gentry--would not rise to support his cause.

Personally, he had every gift that could win allegiance. Handsome,
high-tempered, and brave, he could also control his fiery spirit and
listen to advice, however unpalatable it might be.

The time was favorable. The British troops had been defeated on the
Continent by Marshal Saxe, of whom I have already written, and by
Marshal d'Estrees. George II. was a king whom few respected. He could
scarcely speak anything but German. He grossly ill-treated his wife. It
is said that on one occasion, in a fit of temper, he actually kicked
the prime minister. Not many felt any personal loyalty to him, and he
spent most of his time away from England in his other domain of Hanover.

But precisely here was a reason why Englishmen were willing to put up
with him. As between him and the brilliant Stuart there would have been
no hesitation had the choice been merely one of men; but it was
believed that the return of the Stuarts meant the return of something
like absolute government, of taxation without sanction of law, and of
religious persecution. Under the Hanoverian George the English people
had begun to exercise a considerable measure of self-government. Sharp
opposition in Parliament compelled him time and again to yield; and
when he was in Hanover the English were left to work out the problem of
free government.

Hence, although Prince Charles Edward fascinated all who met him, and
although a small army was raised for his support, still the unromantic,
common-sense Englishmen felt that things were better than in the days
gone by, and most of them refused to take up arms for the cause which
sentimentally they favored. Therefore, although the Chevalier stirred
all England and sent a thrill through the officers of state in London,
his soldiers gradually deserted, and the Scots insisted on returning to
their own country. Although the Stuart troops reached a point as far
south as Derby, they were soon pushed backward into Scotland, pursued
by an army of about nine thousand men under the Duke of Cumberland, son
of George II.

Cumberland was no soldier; he had been soundly beaten by the French on
the famous field of Fontenoy. Yet he had firmness and a sort of
overmastering brutality, which, with disciplined troops and abundant
artillery, were sufficient to win a victory over the untrained

When the battle came five thousand of these mountaineers went roaring
along the English lines, with the Chevalier himself at their head. For
a moment there was surprise. The Duke of Cumberland had been drinking
so heavily that he could give no verbal orders. One of his officers,
however, is said to have come to him in his tent, where he was trying
to play cards.

"What disposition shall we make of the prisoners?" asked the officer.

The duke tried to reply, but his utterance was very thick.

"No quarter!" he was believed to say.

The officer objected and begged that such an order as that should be
given in writing. The duke rolled over and seized a sheaf of
playing-cards. Pulling one out, he scrawled the necessary order, and
that was taken to the commanders in the field.

The Highlanders could not stand the cannon fire, and the English won.
Then the fury of the common soldiery broke loose upon the country.

There was a reign of fantastic and fiendish brutality. One provost of
the town was violently kicked for a mild remonstrance about the
destruction of the Episcopalian meeting-house; another was condemned to
clean out dirty stables. Men and women were whipped and tortured on
slight suspicion or to extract information. Cumberland frankly
professed his contempt and hatred of the people among whom he found
himself, but he savagely punished robberies committed by private
soldiers for their own profit.

"Mild measures will not do," he wrote to Newcastle.

When leaving the North in July, he said:

"All the good we have done is but a little blood-letting, which has
only weakened the madness, but not at all cured it; and I tremble to
fear that this vile spot may still be the ruin of this island and of
our family."

Such was the famous battle of Culloden, fought in 1746, and putting a
final end to the hopes of all the Stuarts. As to Cumberland's order for
"No quarter," if any apology can be made for such brutality, it must be
found in the fact that the Highland chiefs had on their side agreed to
spare no captured enemy.

The battle has also left a name commonly given to the nine of diamonds,
which is called "the curse of Scotland," because it is said that on
that card Cumberland wrote his bloodthirsty order.

Such, in brief, was the story of Prince Charlie's gallant attempt to
restore the kingdom of his ancestors. Even when defeated, he would not
at once leave Scotland. A French squadron appeared off the coast near
Edinburgh. It had been sent to bring him troops and a large supply of
money, but he turned his back upon it and made his way into the
Highlands on foot, closely pursued by English soldiers and Lowland

This part of his career is in reality the most romantic of all. He was
hunted closely, almost as by hounds. For weeks he had only such sleep
as he could snatch during short periods of safety, and there were times
when his pursuers came within an inch of capturing him. But never in
his life were his spirits so high.

It was a sort of life that he had never seen before, climbing the
mighty rocks, and listening to the thunder of the cataracts, among
which he often slept, with only one faithful follower to guard him. The
story of his escape is almost incredible, but he laughed and drank and
rolled upon the grass when he was free from care. He hobnobbed with the
most suspicious-looking caterans, with whom he drank the smoky brew of
the North, and lived as he might on fish and onions and bacon and wild
fowl, with an appetite such as he had never known at the luxurious
court of Versailles or St.-Germain.

After the battle of Culloden the prince would have been captured had
not a Scottish girl named Flora Macdonald met him, caused him to be
dressed in the clothes of her waiting-maid, and thus got him off to the
Isle of Skye.

There for a time it was impossible to follow him; and there the two
lived almost alone together. Such a proximity could not fail to stir
the romantic feeling of one who was both a youth and a prince. On the
other hand, no thought of love-making seems to have entered Flora's
mind. If, however, we read Campbell's narrative very closely we can see
that Prince Charles made every advance consistent with a delicate
remembrance of her sex and services.

It seems to have been his thought that if she cared for him, then the
two might well love; and he gave her every chance to show him favor.
The youth of twenty-five and the girl of twenty-four roamed together in
the long, tufted grass or lay in the sunshine and looked out over the
sea. The prince would rest his head in her lap, and she would tumble
his golden hair with her slender fingers and sometimes clip off tresses
which she preserved to give to friends of hers as love-locks. But to
the last he was either too high or too low for her, according to her
own modest thought. He was a royal prince, the heir to a throne, or
else he was a boy with whom she might play quite fancy-free. A lover he
could not be--so pure and beautiful was her thought of him.

These were perhaps the most delightful days of all his life, as they
were a beautiful memory in hers. In time he returned to France and
resumed his place amid the intrigues that surrounded that other Stuart
prince who styled himself James III., and still kept up the appearance
of a king in exile. As he watched the artifice and the plotting of
these make-believe courtiers he may well have thought of his innocent
companion of the Highland wilds.

As for Flora, she was arrested and imprisoned for five months on
English vessels of war. After her release she was married, in 1750; and
she and her husband sailed for the American colonies just before the
Revolution. In that war Macdonald became a British officer and served
against his adopted countrymen. Perhaps because of this reason Flora
returned alone to Scotland, where she died at the age of sixty-eight.

The royal prince who would have given her his easy love lived a life of
far less dignity in the years that followed his return to France. There
was no more hope of recovering the English throne. For him there were
left only the idle and licentious diversions of such a court as that in
which his father lived.

At the death of James III., even this court was disintegrated, and
Prince Charles led a roving life under the title of Earl of Albany. In
his wanderings he met Louise Marie, the daughter of a German prince,
Gustavus Adolphus of Stolberg. She was only nineteen years of age when
she first felt the fascination that he still possessed; but it was an
unhappy marriage for the girl when she discovered that her husband was
a confirmed drunkard.

Not long after, in fact, she found her life with him so utterly
intolerable that she persuaded the Pope to allow her a formal
separation. The pontiff intrusted her to her husband's brother,
Cardinal York, who placed her in a convent and presently removed her to
his own residence in Rome.

Here begins another romance. She was often visited by Vittorio Alfieri,
the great Italian poet and dramatist. Alfieri was a man of wealth. In
early years he divided his time into alternate periods during which he
either studied hard in civil and canonical law, or was a constant
attendant upon the race-course, or rushed aimlessly all over Europe
without any object except to wear out the post-horses which he used in
relays over hundreds of miles of road. His life, indeed, was eccentric
almost to insanity; but when he had met the beautiful and lonely
Countess of Albany there came over him a striking change. She
influenced him for all that was good, and he used to say that he owed
her all that was best in his dramatic works.

Sixteen years after her marriage her royal husband died, a worn-out,
bloated wreck of one who had been as a youth a model of knightliness
and manhood. During his final years he had fallen to utter destitution,
and there was either a touch of half contempt or a feeling of remote
kinship in the act of George III., who bestowed upon the prince an
annual pension of four thousand pounds. It showed most plainly that
England was now consolidated under Hanoverian rule.

When Cardinal York died, in 1807, there was no Stuart left in the male
line; and the countess was the last to bear the royal Scottish name of

After the prince's death his widow is said to have been married to
Alfieri, and for the rest of her life she lived in Florence, though
Alfieri died nearly twenty-one years before her.

Here we have seen a part of the romance which attaches itself to the
name of Stuart--in the chivalrous young prince, leading his Highlanders
against the bayonets of the British, lolling idly among the Hebrides,
or fallen, at the last, to be a drunkard and the husband of an
unwilling consort, who in her turn loved a famous poet. But it is this
Stuart, after all, of whom we think when we hear the bagpipes skirling
"Over the Water to Charlie" or "Wha'll be King but Charlie?"


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