« AnteriorContinuar »
infinitely more by the persons for whom they conceive a. serious attachment. Many a man of wit has established the reputation of his mistress, without composing wadrigals for her, but by making known the passion with which she had inspired him; many a woman of merit has created or established the reputation of him whom she has adopted her. chevalier. After all, it is more dan. gerous to solicit than to decline this kind of reputation : it happens more frequently that a man loses himself by making a bad choice, than he adds to his fame by making a good one.
If the public are indulgent to the attachments of simple individuals, they are much more so to those of kings, and people in place, when they think them real, and do not suspect in them either ambition, intrigue, or motives of interest. All France approyed of the love of Charles VII. for Agnes Sorel, because she had the courage to say to this prince, that, unless he recovered his kingdom, he was not worthy of her affection. The Parisians applauded the love of Henry IV. for La Lelle Gabrielle, and sung with pleasure the songs this monarch made for her ; because, knowing her to be handsome, and of a good disposition, they imagined she would inspire the King with senti. ments of benevolence.
Never did a woman love a man more sincerely than Madame de la Valliere loved Lewis XIV. She never quitted him but for God alone ; and, swelled with vanity as that monarch was, he could not complain of this rivality; so much the less, as the Supreme Being bad but the rea mains of the heart of his mistress, and perhaps never possessed it entirely.
I have heard an anecdote of Madame de la Valliere, which I do not remember to have seen in print. This lady was so modest, and had so little ambition, that she had never told the king she had a brother, much less had she everasked any favour for him. Hewas still young, and had made his first campaign among the cadets of the king's household. Lewis XIV. reviewny his troops, saw his mistress smile in a friendly manner at a young man, who, on his part, bowed to her with an air of familiarity. In the evening, the King asked, in a severe and irritated tone of voice, who this young man was. Madame de la Valliere was at first confused, but afterwards told his Majesty it was her brother. The King, having assured
himself of it, conferred distinguished favours upon the young gentleman, who was father of the first Duke de la Valliere.
. The King's intrigue with Madame de Montespan was not of a nature to be approved of so much as that he had with Madame de la Valliere; yet the nation did not com. plain, because it was thought the love ot' this lady procured the public magnificent ieasts and elegant amusements. The following verses were a good deal sung at that time:
: ! Ab ! quelle est charmante
Notre aimable cour;
On voit tour a tour.
Et fete gallante
Marquent chaque jour. On the contrary, the public were a good deal disgusted with the amours of the King and Madame de Maintenon, although more decent, and that a secret marriage had rendered them legitimate. It was observed that a love, conceived when both parties were in years, afforded a ridiculou's spectacle : moreover, Madame de Maiutenon med, dled with the affairs of government; and it was when she inost interfered with them that things fell into decline, and that Lewis XIv. began to experience misfortunes, which were all laid to her charge.
When the Duke of Orleans, who was Regent, fell in love with Mademoiselle de Sery, he was not censured on account of it. The Duchess of Orleans, natural daughter to the King, was rather beautiful, but she was not amiable; Mademoiselle de Sery, on the contrary, was very much so. She had a son, and it was predicted of him that he would one day become Duke of Dunois. But he did not fulfil what was expected of him ; yet he had wit, and was, in many respects, amiable.
In process of tiine the Regent fell into such an irregula, rity of conduct, that the public were shocked at it. It was necessary for him to have inany other brilliant and estimable qualities to be pardoned so great a defect; but people were so much disposed to indulgence for him, that his affection for Madame de Parabere was approved of, because it was supposed she really loved him, and that he loved her, although he was frequently unfaithful to her.
Exterior decency is generally admired, and princes and
men of distinction ought to do nothing to disgust the public; but, right or wrong, it is but too true, that in the end the public assumes the authority of censuring, without delicacy, every fault: woe to them who are the first objects of gross scandal; they become the victims of its rage: the public judges, and punishes them for it; or at least hoots at, hisses, and despises them; but, when the number of the guilty increase to a certain degree, it is foond, that although hisses are sufficient to condemn bad pieces, they are not rods enough for those men who deserve to be lashed; they then become tolerated; nothing more is said, and, what is worse than all; a resolution is sometimes taken to imitate them. It must be acknow. ledged that the teinptation to sin is very great, when we are sure to do it with impunity; and that people are made easy upon this head, when they are sheltered from reproach and ridicule.
BERTRAND DU GUESCLIN. · The great Turenne lies in the abbey of Saint Denis; without any monumental inscription, owing, as it is said, to the jealousy of a monarch, by no means wanting, in other respects, in magnanimity: Bertrand du Guesclin, a hero of earlier times, reposes in the same chapel, in a monument unworthy of the sacred deposit. This warrior, the pride of chivalry, and the glory of France, appears, by the diminutive figure on his tomb, to have been little fitted for the arduous enterprises of war; yet cotemporary historians represent him of an athletic and manly size. The last scene of Guesclin’s glorious career is singularly re. markable.
The governor of Rendon, to which he had laid siege; had capitulated; and engaged to give up the place, in Case no succour arrived within a certain number of days, Du Guesclin fell ill before this time, and died on the day preceding the expiration of the truce. On the mora row, the governor was summoned to surrender: he kept his word; but as it was to Du Guesclin himself he had given it, he came out attended by the chief officers of the garrison, and going directly to Guesclin's tent, he placed the keys of the town upon the coffin of the breathless hero.
THR DEATH OF ARGYLE.
• Before he left the Castle he had his dinner at the usual hour, at which he discoursed not only calmly, but even cheerfully, with Mr. Charteris and others. After dinner he retired, as was his custom, to his bed-chamber, where, it is recorded, that he slept quietly for about a quarter of an hour. While he was in bed, one of the members of the council came and intimated to the attendants a desire to speak with him : upon being told that the Earl was asleep, and had left orders not to be disturbed, the manager disbe. lieved the account, which he considered as a device to avoid further questionings. To satisfy him, the door of the bedchamber was half opened, and he then beheld, enjoying a sweet and tranquil slumber, the man who, by the doom of him and his fellows, was to die within the space of two short hours! Struck with the sight, he hurried out of the rooin, quitted the Castle with the utmost r: cipitation, and hid himself in the lodgings of an acquair ance who lived near, where he flung himself upon the first bed that presented itself, and had every appearance of a man suffering the most excruciating torture. His friend, who had been apprised by the servant of the state he was in, and who naturally concluded that he was ill, offered him some wine. He refused, saying, No, no, that will not help me; I have been in at Argyle, and saw him sleeping as pleasantly as ever man did, within an hour of eternity. But as for me . The name of the person to whom this anecdote relates is not mentioned, and the truth of it may therefore be fairly considered as liable to that degree of doubt with which men of judgment receive every species of traditional history. Woodrow, however, whose veracity is above suspicion, says he had it from the most unquestionable authority. It is not in itself unlikely, and who is there that would not wish it true? What a satisfactory spectacle to a philosophical mind, to see the oppressor, in the zenith of his power, envying his victim ! What an acknowledgment of the superiority of virtue! what an affecting and forcible testimony of the value of that peace of mind which innocence alone can confer ! We know not who this man was; but when wę retiect, VOL. IV.
that the guilt which agonised him was probably incurred for the sake of some vain title, or, at least, of some increase of wealth, which he did not want, and possibly knew not how to enjoy, our disgust is turned into something like compassion for that very foolish class of men, whom the world calls wise in their generation.
On the scaffold he embraced his friends, gave some tokens of remembrance to his son-in-law, Lord Maitland, for his daughter and grand-children,stripped himself of part of his apparel, of which he likewise made presents, and laid his head upon the block. Having uttered a short prayer, he gave the signal to the executioner, which was instantly obeyed, and his head severed from his body. Such were the last hours, and such the final close, of this great man's life. May the like happy serenity in such dreadful circumstances, and a death equally glorious, be the lot of all whom tyranny, of whatever denomination or description, shall, in any age, or in any country, call to expiate their virtues on the scaffold !!
PHILIP JI. KING OF SPAIN.
Count Egmont advised this Prince to break with France, in order to prevent the troubles that were begin. ning to rise in Flanders. He answered, “I had rather lose all Flanders, than so scandalously violate the agree. ment I have made with my brother the Most Christian King, and so young as he is too.”
On his death-bed he gave his successor this advice :“ Keep your dominions (if possible) in perpetual peace : give them good ministers, rewarding the good and punishing the bad.”
He often dissembled those injuries done to him which he either could not or would not revenge; observing, that it was a great part of prudence occasionally to pretend not to be well informed of certain things.
At his first coming to the crown, he ordered his judges, in all doubtful cases between him and any of his subjects, to be always sure to decide against the sovereign.
On receiving the news of the destruction of the celebrated Spanish armada, he merely said, “ I sent my fleet