Abbildungen der Seite

struck on the head, was carried off by his wounded son. Turenne was the most powerful; and no chance appeared of Condé's saving himself and the relics of his army, when the gate of St. Antoine unexpectedly opened to receive him, the cannon of the Bastile at the same time sending their fire up the three attacked streets, and thus effectually checking the progress of the royalists. This well-timed succor came from mademoiselle de Montpensie, daughter of the duke of Orleans, whose sympathy for the heroic Condé, now in distress, was aided by the clamors of the populace, enraged at beholding a rash and imprudent but still generous prince sacrificed to the detested Mazarin. She wrung from the municipal officers the orders for opening the gates; herself directed the firing of the guns of the Bastile; nay, her hand is said to have applied the match. Mademoiselle had aspired to the hand of Condé, to that of the king, and might hope at least to espouse a sovereign prince. But Mazarin observed, on seeing the fire of the Bastile, and knowing who commanded it, “That shot has killed the husband of mademoiselle.” The prince of Condé, who had covered himself with glory as a warrior in the battle of St. Antoine, now blotted his fair fame. The parliament was still opposed to him, and the respectable citizens equally averse to support his resistance. The prince determined to try more forcible means of intimi. dation than had yet been used. An assembly of burgesses was held at the Hôtel de Ville. Condé repaired thither, accompanied by a mob of his lowest partisans, and demanded permission to raise troops and contributions. This demand being refused, he left the meeting and the Hôtel de Ville abruptly, exclaiming that the burgesses were Mazarins. The word was enough for the collected mob, which instantly attacked the Hôtel de Ville. Soldiers in disguise, but armed, joined the tumult, and kept up a constant fire upon the windows and into the apartments. A great number of the citizens perished in the building; others were massacred in the streets. A considerable number fled, and sought refuge in the royal camp. . By this sanguinary act, worthy of the days of the Armagnacs and Burgundians, Condé remained master of the municipal council, and in a little time of the parliament also. The king summoned the magistrates of the latter to repair to Pontoise, and there hold their sittings, until Paris was restored to his authority. The greater number obeyed, and the capital was left destitute of all its principal citizens; but even those who remained preserved their resentment, and were not prepared


to stoop before the prince. The latter was unable to reap any advantage from the ascendency which he had gained by crimes. On the contrary, the court gathered influence daily; people began to be reconciled to the absolute power of the monarch, and even of the ministers, which at least secured them from plunder and assassination. The Parisians had now made five years' trial of opposition to the court, and of struggles for liberty. Each class had united, debated, intrigued, and fought for the great boon. The legists had planned and decreed a constitution; but it was found not tenable, nor could the pretensions of the noblesse be reduced to system. Five years of turbulence, of anarchy, of mutual slaughter, had produced no good effect, nor advanced the nation one step towards the goal it sought. England, too, whose example had stirred their emulation, might now serve to deter the French from insubordination. In short, with or without reason, the French of a sudden took a disgust to freedom. They invoked the royal authority as the harbinger of peace, and were prepared to yield to it, making sacrifice of political creeds, and interests, and passions. The noblesse, all save Condé, implored pardon, and negotiated for impunity. They did not even murmur a word of the states-general. The magistrates abandoned their high claim to political right; whilst the mob hailed Louis XIV., on his entry into Paris, as exultingly as if the triumph had been theirs, not his. The court, however, deemed it necessary to assume the appearance of yielding on one important point. Cardinal Mazarin retired to Sedan. This difficulty removed, few remained. The king published an amnesty, from which the princes and La Rochefoucault were excepted. Condé quitted Paris to join the Spanish armies. The duke of Orleans was ordered to Blois, and the duke of Beaufort accompanied him. Louis entered Paris on the 21st of October, 1652, and held a bed of justice in his parliament on the following day, which was the anniversary of the famous declaration, or constitution it might be called, of 1648. From his throne the monarch declared his will, that the parliament should no more presume to interfere with state affairs, to discuss or oppose them; at the same time he forbade its members to cultivate the acquaintance of princes and grandees. This royal edict, annulling its long and fiercely contested claims, the parliament registered without a murmur; and from that hour the spirit as well as the insurrection of the Fronde may be considered as ceasing to exist, at least in the capital. If a proof be needed, it lies in the arrest of the coadjutor, the cardinal De Retz, in a few weeks after, without a symptom ( “ot, or even chagrin, on he part of a people, of whom he had been the idol and the leader so lately and so long. His great enemy thus removed, cardinal Mazarin ventured to return, The Parisians welcomed and fêted him with a fickleness that did them little honor. .

Thus ended the Fronde, an epoch little understood or developed by historians. Voltaire dismisses it in a few pages, satisfied with recording its bon mots. He seems to have looked upon this civil war as merely a pastime, entered into by a few froward youths and their mistresses. He did not see in it the serious,...the sanguinary and unhappy struggle of a nation for its liberty.* Even later writers, more profound than Voltaire, have designated the Fronde as “the last campaign of the noblesse.” It was indeed so. But the noblesse formed not the prominent body. It was the parliament, the magistracy, that put itself forward to represent the commons, of which they claimed and established the privileges for themselves. This was, no doubt, an audacious and hopeless enterprise. The states-general, the ancient representative assembly of the nation, was the form to which they should have rallied. But the extravagance of the English parliament deterred them; and they fixed upon their own body, as a less democratic and dangerous assembly, to participate in legislative power. The scheme was new : it was conceived with boldness, and supported with courage; and if the legists failed in arriving at settled liberty by its means, they may plead that representative assemblies have frequently failed in fhe same endeavor. &

The moral to be drawn from these and similar attempts cannot be too strongly inculcated. This is, the necessity of consulting the traditions, the indigenous institutions, of a country, in any attempt to reform or remodel, or even to direct, its scheme of government. Countries, like men, have their peculiar character, which origin, climate, and fortune decide in the earlier epochs of civilization. Then it is that the political instincts of a nation become manifest; seeking ander nature's guiding their true development, and putting forth the roots of a social system, the growth of which man may check or aid, may prune or endow with fresh luxuriance, but which to destroy and re-create at pleasure is as muck beyond his power as to put together and build up the oak of the forest.

* Hume calls the Fronde “a rebellion unennobled by the spirit of liberty.”




A CENTURY has passed in this narration since the reader was congratulated on quitting the annals of despotic power, in which the course of events and fate of countries were decided solely by the personal character of monarchs, the selfish intrigues of their grandees and courtiers, and by the great predominance of chance, the influence of which is ever in inverse proportion to the progress of liberty and enlightenment. At that period, a phenomenon called principle began to make its appearance, acting as a motive and as a bond amongst men, and proving at times an obstacle against which all the efforts of monarch and pontiff dashed in vain. Symptoms of this, more or less numerous, endured down to the present time. Civil and religious freedom were understood and prized; various views and tenets of either animated personages and parties, giving a life and a moral interest to the historic scene, which now for a long interval it is again doomed to want.

We re-enter the reign of tyranny, where all the intellect of the nation, as well as its external pride and independence, bows before the monarch's throne; where servitude supplies the place of creed, and selfish vain desires of superiority, not worthy the name of ambition, form the proudest passion of the breast. Again we are to lose sight of the people, nay, of the country itself, to occupy ourselves with a knot of courtiers and their chief. The amours of the latter are to be recorded, and the chronicles of scandal raked, in order to date the reign of his many mistresses. History grows merely personal, —a lewd, a gay and prattling biography, a splendid and empty pageant, magnificent without dignity, glittering without worth., The philosopher's eye disdains to contemplate a scene where the petty motives and acts of private life must be produced on the public stage, and where the fate of empires must be traced to causes better calculated to string together the incidents of a novel.

The events of Louis XIV.'s youth were such as to inspire him not only with high ideas of his kingly rights, but to prove to him the necessity of absolute power in the monarch. Ir

the great English rebellion, and in the Fronde, he had seen freedom under its most hideous aspect, and followed by the vainest of results. We can scarcely then blame him personally for his despotic propensities, which, moreover, his manly and ambitious character tended to increase. The young king and his brother Philip, them called the duc d’Anjou, were educated in the privacy of the palace. The nieces of the car dinal were their playmates; and Louis formed successive at tachments for two of these young ladies, especially for Maria Mancini, afterwards the wife of the constable Colonna. So intimate was the connexion betwixt Mazarin and Anne of Austria, that many were persuaded of their marriage. Certainly her attachment to him was personal and tender. At the same time, the gallant notions of Louis XIII.'s reign resembled much those of chivalry, in devotion chastely borne by many a lover towards his mistress. It was not until these dangerous connexions, and the stilted sentiment which preserved them pure, were made the subject of general ridicule, that the love intrigues of the court became scandalous, and its morals corrupted. Louis XIV. always preserved for the cardinal a sort of filial reverence; he may be said to have learned in the school of implicit obedience how to be himself despotic. At intervals, however, the imperious temper of the young monarch burst forth, and betrayed itself. In 1655, the parliament, after registering certain fiscal edicts, thought proper to re-examine them, to complain, and show symptoms of their ancient independence. Louis was at Vincennes, engaged in the chase, when he heard of their conduct. Instantly, without consulting the cardinal, or even tarrying to change his dress, the young monarch gallopped to Paris, entered the Palace of Justice and the Hall of the Parliament in his hunting habit, booted, and with whip in hand. “Gentlemen,” said Louis to the astonished legists, “every one is acquainted with the ill consequences of your former assemblies. Their recurrence must be prevented. I command you instantly to cease busying yourself with my edicts. And you, Mr. President, I forbid either to call or suffer such assemblies.” This bold assertion of the royal will from the mouth of a stripling, proved sufficient to crush the reviving spirit of the magistracy. It was silent, and obeyed. The great Condé, in the mean time, reduced to command a division of the Spanish army, was vainly endeavoring to make progress in France. Turenne barred the road, and de feated all his attempts. In 1654, the archduke and the prince formed the siege of Arras. Turenne attacked them; forced their lines; and defeated the Spaniards, whose retreat

« ZurückWeiter »