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arrived near to the seat of war, he took his quarters at Tarascon, a fortified place, some leagues distant from Narbonne, where Louis had his court and camp. With common prudence the conspirators might have completed their project; but they unwisely sought to strengthen themselves by a treaty with Olivarez, the Spanish minister, whilst, at the same time, Cinq-Mars conducted himself with so little secrecy that the plot universally got wind, and at the same time with so little discretion as to give cause of disgust to the susceptible and feeble monarch. Richelieu, informed of the manoeuvres of Cinq-Mars, had no means of defeating them until he procured a copy of the treaty entered into by them with Spain. He dispatched Chavigny, secretary of state, to lay it before the king, who was roused and irritated by what he looked on as gross treason. To have plotted with him against the life of the cardinal was no crime, but to have leagued with Spain, and without his privacy, was guilt. All his mistrust of CinqMars gathered at the moment. Chavigny and Mazarin gained ground for the cardinal, and kept possession of the monarch's ear, till warrants were procured for the arrest of those implicated. Thus did the good fortune of Richelieu triumph to the last. Cinq-Mars and De Thou were taken. The duc de Bouillon underwent a similar fate, though at the head of his army; so dreaded was the ascendency of the minister. Gaston, duke of Orkeans, found himself equally in his enemies' power: and the first act of this weak prince was to make submissions, and to offer himself as informer against his friends. Richelieu was restored to full confidence. It was not he, however, who repaired to court. The monarch came to visit him at Tarascon; although so little able to bear the voyage, that a couch was instantly obliged to be prepared for him by the side of that of the cardinal. There, extended each on his bed, did these personages, both menaced by the slow but sure approach of death, discuss the punishment of the baffled conspirators. Louis showed no more pride nor heart than his brother: he betrayed all the plans of the grand equerry against Richelieu. The lattor repaid the confidence by covertly reproaching Jouis with conspiring his death. The wretched monarch wept, and murmured excuses. The tiger-like cruelty of Richelieu was preferable to this. Cinq-Mars might well exclaim with Strafford, “Put not. your trust in princes.” The king and his brother deposed against him. Both, however, gave their evidence only in writing; Gaston stipulated that he was not to be confronted with the victim of his treachery. Richelieu, ascending the
1642. DEATH OF RICHELIEU. 51
Rholie in a boat to avoid the fatigues of land travelling, dragged the prisoners after him in another bark, thus glutting his vengeance with the near view of its unfortunate objects. They were judged by a commission; Cinq-Mars, of course, condemned. Against De Thou no crime could be proved, except that he knew of the Spanish treaty, without revealing it. This satisfied the judges; and the friends were both con demned. The executioh of these youths was a touching scene: they embraced on the scaffold: Cinq-Mars died with the physical courage of light-hearted youth; De Thou with the constancy of a reflecting mind, trembling, yet full of hope. Richelieu, in the mean time, had reached his palace in the capital. Roman despot was never more courted, nor more feared: but death was coming fast to close his triumphant career. A mortal malady wasted him; yet the cardinal abated nothing of his pride, nor of his vindictiveness. He exiled some of the king's personal and cherished officers; he insulted Anne of Austria; remained seated during a visit that she paid him, and threatened to separate her from her children. Even his guards no longer lowered their arms in the presence of the monarch. His demeanor to Louis was that of one potentate to another. In December of 1642, three months after the execution of Cinq-Mars, the malady of the cardina became inveterate, and every hope of life was denied him. He summoned the king to his dying bed, recapitulated the great and successful acts of his administration, and recommended Mazarin as the person to continue its spirit, and to be his successor. Louis promised obsequiousness. Richelieu then received the last consolations of religion, and went through these pious and touching ceremonies with an apparently firm and undisturbed conscience. The man of blood knew no remorse. His acts had all been, he asserted, for his country's good: and the same unbending pride and unshaken confidence, that had commanded the respect of men, seemed to accompany him into the presence of his Maker. He died like the hero of the Stoics, though clad in the trappings of a prince of the church. Most of those present were edified by his firmness; but one bishop, calling to mind the life, the arrogance, and the crimes of the minister, observed, that “the confidence of the dying Richelieu filled him with terror.” Louis XIII. survived his great minister but a few months: during that time he scarcely exercised the royal will, except upon one great occasion. Though supporting Mazarin and the policy of Richelieu, he tolerated rather than permitted the return of all the exiled nobles. Condé alone remained constant and respectful to the memory of the cardinal. But the party of Vendôme, united to the house of Austria, already usurped the authority that the speedy death of Louis seemed about to leave them. The monarch, however, made a struggle to thwart them. Mazarin, a foreigner and an upstart, could not pretend to the regency that Richelieu might have grasped but he prepared a plan for balancing parties and personages dividing power so between them as to neutralize their force and thus leave the existing ministry predominant as umpires To effect this, Louis drew up a will, declaring Anne of Austria regent, and the duke of Orleans lieutenant-general; at the same time appointing a council, whose approbation was necessary to all acts of government, and which was to consist of the queen, of the duke of Orleans, the prince of Condé, Mazarin, and three other ministers. This vain attempt of despotism to prolong its power beyond the grave was rightly judged invalid by the queen, who persuaded the parliament to register it, rather than disturb the death-bed of her husband. He to the last remained suspicious of her faith, and deaf to her protestations, Louis expired at St. Germain on the 14th of May, 1643. His character, one of the feeblest of humanity, is sufficiently marked in the preceding pages: that he did not want sagacity, is pro ed by his choice of Richelieu, and his adherence to him; beyond this he possessed not another respectable quality. A more contemptible character was never raised to the eminence of a throne. Louis appears as a phantom, into which Richelieu had the power of breathing, from time to time, his own passions and feelings; and which, when released from the influence of these, relapsed into its own shadowy nature, and complained of the violence and the tyranny which compelled it to energy. Thus we see him acting now informer and spy for his minister, and placing himself in the judgment-seat to make the condemnation of a victim more sure; another page of history represents him pouring out his plaints against the cardinal to Cinq-Mars, declaring his disgust of life and of the crown. The memoirs of Brienne record a striking picture of his remorse. When at Ecouen, the old palace of the Montmorencys, he fancied that he perceived the spectre of the duke, who had been decapitated, coming to upbraid him: the affrighted monarch fled the château, and no more returned to it.* Richelieu was the true monarch of the reign : it was he who stamped upon it the impress of his genius and despotic character. True, he did but adopt and follow up the plans of
* Chantilly and Ecouen were spoils of the Montmorencys, forfeited in this -eign to the crown, and given by it 3 the branch of Condé.
1643. CHARACTER OF RICHELIEU. 53
the great Henry, in humbling the Huguenots, the noblesse, and the house of Austria; but the execution of three such enterprises in the short space of twenty years, and by a minister risen from obscurity, and obliged to act as often in despite of the monarch as with his countenance and aid, places Richelieu in the first rank of statesmen. His address, his firmness, his sagacity, were unequalled. He was naturally magnanimous, oving wealth and splendor more as the symbol of power than as the gratification of selfish vanity. - The cruelty of his character is its great blemish; yet he was clement to the Huguenots, and shrunk early from the severe acts which he foresaw his plans for raising royalty would throw upon him. In the states-general for 1614, he proposed to do away with the punishment of death for political crimes, yet he soon came to be unsparing in its infliction; and the decapitation of each new victim increased in him the taste for blood, until his prelate's robe assumed the crimson dye of the murderer and the tyrant. On a superficial view, this minister's unvarying success is the most striking feature of his career; and yet all of this that his own sagacity might not produce, the extreme imprudence and feebleness of his enemies may account for. . The crime of having trodden out the last spark of his country's liberties, and of having converted its monarchic government into pure despotism, is that for which Richelieu is most generally condemned. But the state of anarchy which he removed was license, not liberty. The task of reconciling private independence with public peace, civil rights with the existence of justice,—and this without precedent or tradition, without that rooted stock on which freedom, in order to grow and bear fruit, must be grafted,—was a conception which, however familiar to our age, was utterly unknown, and impracticable to that of Richelieu. With the horrors of civil war fresh in the memory of all, the general desire was for tranquillity and peace, not liberty; to which, moreover, had it been contemplated, the first necessary step was that of humbling the aristocracy. It was impossible that constitutional freedom could ever grow out of the chaos of privileges, and anarchy, and organized rebellion, that the government had to contend with. In building up her social fabric, France had in fact gone wrong, destroyed the old foundations, and rebuilt on others without solidity or system. To introduce order or add solidity to so ill-constructed a fabric was impossible; Richelieu found it necessary to raze all at once to the ground, except the central donjon of despotism, which he left standing. Had Richelieu, with all his genius and sagacity, undertaken for liberty what he achieved for royalty, his age would have rejected or misunderstood him, as it did Bacon and Galileo. He might, indeed, as a man of letters, have consigned such a political dream to the volume of an Utopia, but from action or administration he would have been Soon discarded as a dreamer, Liberty must come of the claim of the mass; of the general enlightenment, firmness, and probity. It is no great physical secret, which a single brain, finding, may announce and so establish: it is a moral truth, which, like a gem, hides its ray and its preciousness in obscurity, nor becomes refulgent, till all around it is beaming with light. Had we space to enter into the minor details of Richelieu’s administration, much might be found to abstract from his merit, much to add to it. His management of the finances was grasping and unwise. France paid dearly for her glory and ascendency. The 20,000,000 of revenue, that enabled Henry IV. to amass, were quadrupled and yet expended by Richelieu; the greater part being wasted ere it reached the treasury. Thus the proud monarchy which Richelieu founded, owed to him also the canker that was destined to destroy it, the extravagance and mismanagement of its pecuniary resources. For the sake of a certain revenue, there were 40,000 employments in finance and law left in the hereditary possession of subjects; an anomaly in a despotism scarcely credible. But the minister could not venture to attack at once the noblesse of the sword and that of the robe. He destroyed the former, and contented himself with humbling the latter.
CHAP. III. 1643–1661. Louis THE FOURTEENTH's REIGN TO THE DEATH OF MAZARIN
A short time before the death of the late king, his young son of five years old, the dauphin, was brought to his bedside. “What is your name?” asked the languid monarch: “Louis the Fourteenth,” replied the boy, who had early learned the secret of his dignity. “Not yet, not yet,” observed his sire. Anne of Austria showed similar haste in usurping power. Surrounded by the exiles whom she had recalled, supported by the duc de Vendôme, by his.son the duc de Beaufort, a handsome youth, whose devotion to her was as gallant as . politic, and by the duke of Orleans himself, the queen was enabled, immediately on the demise of the king, to assume not only the name but the authority of regent. The late