Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

publice apud Fontene Bleaudi in palatio | taste of Louis XIV., excited the liveliest nostro." This residence, like Versailles, admiration at a period when the arts were became from a mere hunting-box a sump- only beginning to reäppear. All contemtuous residence, by the successive addi- poraries speak with admiration of Fontions of the greatest French monarchs. tainebleau. Many brilliant fêtes were Louis VII. built a chapel here, dedicated held there under Francis on the occasion to St. Saturnin. Philip Augustus added of the Emperor Charles V. passing through considerably to the building. There re- France. main various acts of this prince dated from this residence, among others one by which he gives to the Hôtel-Dieu, at Nemours, all the bread remaining from his table during his stay at Fontainebleau.

St. Louis added much to the constructions of his predecessors; among other apartments, a pavilion that still bears his name, although re-built by Francis I. St. Louis, in several of his letters, calls this place "Our Desert," which seems to imply that Fontainebleau in his time was not of considerable extent. The room is still shown where this just and pious sovereign, being dangerously ill, gave what he supposed to be his dying advice to his son. Philippe le Bel was born and died at Fontainebleau.

Among the constructions of Francis I., which indicate not a little the too gallant character of that monarch, was a bath surrounded by mirrors, situated in a grotto in the garden of pine-trees. There is a curious anecdote related of this bath.

When James V. of Scotland came into France to demand the hand of Madeleine, daughter of Francis I., his impatience to behold the princess caused him to commit a great indiscretion, if a conversation which took place between him and Henri II. is to be believed.

"You may remember," said the Scotch monarch to Henri II., "that at the beginning of the summer Madeleine wished to bathe, and chose as the place of her bath that magnificent grotto constructed by your father, Francis I., and joining the apartments of the Duchesse d'Etampes. I was acquainted with the secret of the arch, where, by means of a reflecting mirror set in the rock, the person bathing could be distinctly visible. The king, your father, had let me into this secret. I gained by bribes the officer who had charge of the grotto, and he placed me in the niche just before the princess entered the bath. Pardon me, my dear prince, this audacity, and let the purity of my intentions plead my excuse. Indeed, I was in the sequel sufficiently punished for my temerity. You imagine my audacity was successful? Well, you are both right and wrong, for, up to a certain point, all went well; but the niche became any thing but an agreeable position when I heard the princess whom I loved so distractedly, and whom I was on the

Charles V. formed the magnificent library-the first of the kind in France. To render it worthy of his royal name he employed all the litterati in France and in foreign countries to collect the best books for him, and wishing to make it universally useful, he enriched it with the best translations. Towards 1364 Charles V. formed another library at Paris.

Charles VII. much embellished this residence, and, amongst other things, added various paintings.

The library, having been pillaged by the English under his reign, was re-constructed by Louis XI., and received great additions by the discovery of printing, lately introduced into France. Charles VIII. enriched it with the Greek and Latin collections of the kings of Naples, the only substantial fruit of the conquest of that kingdom; and Louis XII., after having removed it to Blois-then the residence of the court-point of marrying, declare to her companadded to it all the books from the library ion, Mademoiselle Vendôme, that she felt of Pavia, brought back by him from his any thing but indifferent to Don Juan, the expedition to the Milanese. handsome natural son of the Emperor Charles V., and that if she were married to me (the King of Scotland), she should look on herself as a miserable victim of state policy!"

The reign of Francis I. is particularly connected with Fontainebleau. He made various changes in the château; many buildings were re-constructed, and new ones erected, while vast gardens, designed by Primaticcio, contributed to the beauty of this residence. These gardens, admirable in that age, but destroyed to suit the

Notwithstanding this frank avowal of the Princess Madeleine, James could not make up his mind to resign her, and although he had heard this confession from

the lips of the princess herself, he continued to solicit her hand from her father, and press his suit with herself. The marriage took place in January, 1537.

But, says Brantôme, when Madeleine arrived in Scotland, she found the country very different to what it had been described to her, and a sad contrast to la belle France. She uttered but few complaints, and only repeated continually to herself: "Alas! I would be a queen!" veiling her melancholy and her ambition under a garment of patience. Madeleine was miserable; she could not bear the severe climate of Scotland nor the savage manners of the inhabitants. She faded like a fair flower transplanted into an uncongenial soil, and died of grief about six months after her marriage.

The grotto of the garden of pines is now entirely destroyed, and the tell-tale mirror has disappeared, but there are some frescoes still visible that mark the situation of the celebrated bath of the Duchesse d'Etampes.

The room is yet shown at Fontainebleau where Francis I. received the beautiful Diana of Poictiers, when that noble dame came sobbing and in tears to supplicate pardon for her father, condemned to death for treason. Diana was covered with a long black veil, which shrouded her charming features as under a sombre cloud. The monarch at first sternly refused the appeals she addressed to his mercy. The heart of Diana was bursting with emotion, and for a moment she lost all consciousness. The gallant Francis was not slow in offering his assistance to the distressed beauty. He placed her on a couch, the black veil which had before covered her was displaced, and the countenance of Diana was revealed to him in all its dazzling beauty. The king was astonished at the ravishing sight, and contemplated for some time her lovely face with boundless admiration. His sense of justice, which the entreaties of the daughter had failed to touch, was disarmed by the sight of such charms. Her prayer was granted, and the life of her father was spared.

Francis was not without reason styled "the restorer of literature and art." Be

sides the numerous palaces he built, in whose construction and embellishment he

day. The library of Fontainebleau, reduced to almost a name, was reorganized by Francis, who employed for that purpose Guillaume Budé, one of the most erudite men then living.

employed the first painters and architects of Italy, he made a collection of all the rare and ancient manuscripts, in which he was aided by the learned litterati of his

There is extant an anecdote of Budé, which shows his extraordinary application to study, and the little attention he paid to the more material and sublunary cares of life. One day he was engaged in study in his house at Paris, when a servant, rushing into the room, informed him that the house was on fire. "Go and tell my wife," replied he, without raising his eyes; "you know I never attend to any of the household affairs."

Loaded with favors by Francis I., who named him to some valuable situations, he never could bear to tear himself from his beloved books to attend to the duties his appointments imposed on him. "The liberality of the king and the confidence of the people," said he, complainingly, "will have the effect at last of making me utterly ignorant."

Henri II., Charles IX., and Henri III., all continued the embellishment of Fontainebleau, making it their residence from time to time. Henri IV. particularly delighted in Fontainebleau. He spent in buildings and additions to the palace and the park two million four hundred thousand eight hundred livres-an immense sum for that period. Henri liked this palace particularly; he never, however, was perfectly happy either here or elsewhere, unless La belle Gabrielle was beside him. "What would you have?" he used to say to his friends when speaking on this subject; "after all the reverses I have encountered, and all the battles I have fought, I want to enjoy myself, and to pass some jovial days at least. I am never happy but with my son and with his dear mother." At that time he had no other child but Cæsar, created Duc de Vendôme, whose mother, the beautiful Gabrielle d'Estrées, was his mistress. As a specimen of his attachment to this lady, a letter is subjoined that he wrote to her from Fontainebleau in the autumn of 1599, entreating her to join him forthwith:

"From our delicious Wilderness of Fontaine-belle-Eau.

"MY DEAREST LOVE: The courier has arrived

this evening. I sent him quickly to you, because: he me that you had ordered return in order to have some news of me. I am well, thank God; the only malady I endure is the violent longing I have again to behold you."

The next day Gabrielle was at Fontainebleau.

In 1599, Henri IV. received Charles Emanuel, Duke of Savoy, here. It was most probable that during this visit those intrigues were begun that ended by conducting Biron to the scaffold-Biron who, after having bravely fought for Henri, being honored by his friendship, and having received from him the staff of maréchal as a reward, fell in the midst of prosperity, when his conspiracies with Spain-then the bitterest enemy of France-were discovered, as well as various other intrigues against his sovereign, he having been seduced by the caresses and the magnificent promises made to him by his country's foes. The king was at Fontainebleau when the guilt of Biron was first discovered. Nothing could exceed the grief he felt at the treachery of the maréchal, to whom he was personally much attached. He sent for Sully, and throwing his arms round. him with great emotion, said to him: "Sully, I am betrayed by a friend. Biron has conspired against me." Sully advised the king to have Biron arrested in his own house. Henri would not consent to this; he wished first to have an interview with his former friend, and induce him to acknowledge his crime, in order afterwards at once to forgive him. The maréchal was summoned to court without delay. He at first hesitated, but, reässured by his accomplices, who persuaded him that it was impossible the king could be acquainted with the conspiracy, proceeded to Fontainebleau, and arrived there the 13th of June, 1602. His entry created quite a sensation, for every one suspected his treason, and all were on the qui vive to know what steps would be taken against him.

The king determined to make a last appeal to his treacherous general. One evening, after playing at cards, he summoned Biron into his cabinet, and thus addressed him:

Biron resisted with haughty obstinacy all the efforts of his magnanimous sovereign to draw from him an acknowledg ment of his treason, or some expressions of regret and repentance. "Sully," said Henri to his minister, "Biron is indeed a most unhappy man. I really have a great inclination to pardon him, to forget the past, and behave to him as if I had never known it. I pity him profoundly. I can not endure to punish so brave a man-one who has served me for so many years, and for whom I have felt so much friendship. All my fear is, that if I pardon him he will never pardon me, and may revenge himself on my children or my kingdom."

"Maréchal, I wish to learn from your own mouth circumstances which, to my sorrow, I am too well acquainted with. I promise you my forgiveness for whatever you have done against me; only confess frankly what your conduct has been. All shall be covered with the royal mantle of mercy. I will protect you, and every thing shall be buried in eternal silence!"

"This is strange language to an honest man," replied the obstinate maréchal. “I never had any desire but to be your faithful servant."

"Would to God that were true!" replied the king. Then, turning on him a look of compassion, he left the room, saying: "Adieu, Maréchal Biron."

A few moments afterwards Biron was arrested in the very palace where he had been summoned to justify himself. Once in the hands of justice, and condemned to death, he now vainly solicited a pardon which Henri would once willingly have granted to him, if he had only confessed his delinquency. The only favor he could obtain was, that he should undergo the extreme penalty of the law in private within the walls of his prison.

Louis XIII., that feeble, timid, suspicious son of the gallant Henry IV. and of Marie de Medicis, was born at Fontainebleau. During his whole life this prince was governed by Cardinal Richelieu. History seems only to have preserved his name in order to mark the era of an imperious minister, or as a period of repose for the mind, passing from the inordinate licentiousness of his father's conduct to the pompous though scandalous amours of his son, Louis XIV.

The sight of youth and beauty were not, however, without very particular attractions for Louis XIII., yet his attachments were entirely Platonic-a union of kindred souls that excluded all idea of sensuality-truly, a most singular exception in the annals of royal intrigues! Some account of these liaisons must, I imagine, be agreeable to the reader, and I shall, therefore, enter into the details of various scenes in the life of Mademoiselle de Hautefort and of Mademoiselle de la Fayette, the two favorites who have afforded the almost singular instance offered by history

of influence acquired by beauty and maintained by virtue.

Anne of Austria, and wife of Louis XIII., was born in the same month of the same year, 1601, as he was himself, and they were married at the age of fifteen. The mind of the queen was already formed; she was lively, clever, and brilliant. Louis, who still remained a child, was naturally timid and melancholy, and she felt her superiority over him. It is easy to govern those who are of an imbecile or indolent disposition without pleasing them, but love is often not gained by a display of superiority. The admiration extorted by the superior mind from one conscious of inferiority is, after all, only a kind of wonder, often mixed with envy, which, far from gaining the affections, only serves to alienate and repulse those tenderer feelings. The queen might and ought to have governed Louis, but she wanted those qualities that were calculated to gain his heart. Louis admired her beauty, but was terrified at her vivacity. Her gayety, her frankness, and general taste for all kinds of amusements, jarred against the austerity of his principles, and from the very commencement of their union he lived as much estranged from her as the rules of etiquette permitted.

Marie de Medicis, who then held the reins of government, dreading the power that a young and beautiful wife might exercise over him, used every endeavor to confirm these painful impressions in the mind of the king, and increase his disinclination towards Anne of Austria. The first years of their marriage passed away in mutual indifference. The queen uttered no complaints, she showed no vexation, but among her favorite friends she expressed herself in a style of very indiscreet raillery on the character and conduct of her husband. If the reproaches of a neglected wife are wearisome, at least they are flattering to a husband's vanity; but ridicule on subjects that ought to produce sorrow and distress is not to be pardoned, for it is the certain indication of scorn or of insensibility. Reports of the queen's expressions, heightened by the malice of those whose interest it was to widen the breach, were not wanting to alienate still further the mind of Louis. His was of a disposition neither to hide nor to display his displeasure with violence, much less to seek for explanations. He took no care to disguise his annoyance, and showed his

feelings by a cold and disdainful silence. The pride of the queen was wounded. Too young to be fully aware of the probable danger and misery of her future position, and entirely deprived of all judicious advice, she took no steps to reconcile herself to the king, and their misunderstanding grew into irreconcilable dislike.

Louis XIII. was neither without sense nor religion; his conduct was irreproachable, and he was not wanting in courage, but he had none of those virtues that insure domestic happiness; he failed equally in his duties as a son, a husband, and a brother, and was neither a great prince nor a good king. For in a sovereign, indolence and weakness become often the most fatal of vices, a certain strength and fortitude of character being absolutely necessary in those who are intrusted with the burden of the state. Educated in the midst of ever-recurring wars and rebellions, Louis knew nothing of royalty but its cares and anxieties; he only experienced the lassitude and weariness of power without any of its enjoyments. He had been badly educated, and when arrived at that age when his own sense and application might have remedied this neglect, he mistook his ignorance for incapacity, and took no measures for self-improvement. Those who desired to govern under his name were very careful not to enlighten him as to his own powers; his idleness was, moreover, favored by natural indolence, it being easier to doubt his own powers of acquirement than to apply himself to conquer such deficiencies. The fame of Henri IV., and the admiration his memory inspired, instead of filling his son with emulation, seemed only to have the effect of still further discouraging him. The most brilliant examples are not always the most useful. Emulation may be extinguished by the excessive superiority of the model, or the only sentiment it inspires may end in nothing but a barren enthusiasm. But there was at least this difference between Louis XIII. and the Fainéant kings, his predecessors, though similar to him in many other respects: he did not, at any rate, betray or leave to chance the best interests of his country; his mind and his principles at least induced him to select a worthy deputy for his delegated authority. He did not resign the reins of government without consideration, and he displayed discernment in intrusting them

into the most able hands. But from that | Hautefort repeated to the queen every moment he considered himself liberated word that the king had uttered. This from all the responsibilities of royalty. platonic attachment was the subject of He abdicated without descending from much amusement in the queen's circle, the throne, and by this dishonorable aban- and Mademoiselle de Hautefort herself donment of his duties, which only showed took rather a delight in ridiculing the senhis impotence and incapacity, without any timents and conduct of her august lover, of the philosophic contempt or disregard which was neither prudent nor right in of the advantages attending them which a her to do. She ought either to have revoluntary resignation of the legitimate fused to become the confidante of the exercises of power would have displayed, king, or to have faithfully kept the secrets he lost the respect due to his position, he intrusted to her. yet still remained responsible for the suf ferings inflicted on his people. That people ceased not to reproach him with every mishap that occurred, and at the same time refused to allow him any share of the glories of his reign. Posterity has confirmed this severe but equitable sentence.

The idle disposition of Louis made a prime minister absolutely necessary, and his heart yearned after a friend to whose bosom he could confide his sorrows and disappointments. Henri IV. had found many faithful and attached servants, but his son met only with favorites. An attachment of a deeper kind, but which the purity of his heart induced him to mistake for friendship, long occupied him. Among the queen's ladies of honor he particularly noticed Mademoiselle de Hautefort. Her discretion and her virtue first attracted him, and formed her greatest charm. Such a reputation in a young and beautiful woman was the most potent seduction that could be offered to the king. Mademoiselle de Hautefort was ambitious and talented, and of rather a serious turn of mind; her conversation was most agreeable to him, and she soon gained his confidence. It was observed with surprise that the king, after his daily visits to the queen, with whom he only stayed a few minutes, remained for whole hours in a boudoir contiguous to her apartments, where at certain hours he met Mademoiselle de Hautefort, accompanied by others of the maids of honor. Here, in the recess of a bay-window, Louis seated himself by her side, and while conversing in a low voice, forgot how the hours fled in interminable conversations, where such a naughty word as love was not even mentioned. The purity of his conduct was so thoroughly known, that this kind of intimacy did not damage in the slightest degree the reputation of the young lady. It is true that, in order to prevent even the shadow of suspicion, Mademoiselle de

After some months Louis discovered her treachery, as several circumstances were repeated to him again that he had only mentioned to Mademoiselle de Hautefort. He had every reason to feel himself offended as her friend and her sovereign, but he did not openly complain. Mademoiselle de Hautefort, however, was deprived of her situation and exiled. Af ter the loss of his confidante, Louis again shut himself up in his apartments, and became more shy and more reserved than ever. At this period he suffered much vexation, caused by the animosity of the queen-mother to Cardinal Richelieu. Marie de Medicis was obstinate and narrow-minded; her unbounded ambition was unaided by judgment; she was imperious, and at the same time weak, violent and inconstant-at once opiniated and obstinate when her passions were concerned. She was guided rather by the heart than the head, and became therefore the dupe of favorites; but still she wished to exercise the most despotic power over France. Her bad temper and her violence had already deprived her of her husband's affection. The same imperious temper alienated from her a son naturally affectionate and devoted, and her insatiable ambition forced that minister, who owed his elevation to her favor, ultimately to become her enemy. Richelieu did all that was possible to combat her prepossessions: he supplicated, he entreated, he knelt, he even shed tears; but the queen was inflexible. Louis, alarmed, or rather annoyed, at these disputes, neither acted as became a son nor a sovereign. He might at once have ended all internal discord by demanding of the queen, as a sovereign, and entreating her with all the filial respect of a son, to cease from further interference with the affairs of state. But he only requested where he ought to have commanded, and ended by basely sacrificing his mother, because he wanted

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »