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bad reading; but the only quotation which need be made here is the unconscious revelation which the writer makes of his simple code of morals. On the details of the plot being laid before him- "I pricked my ears," says he. "Certainly I had no reason to be proud of my master; but he was the master I had chosen, whose bread I ate dry bread though it was. I owed him faith and aid so long as I remained in his service; and before enlisting among his enemies, I was bound to resign my office." Therefore, though he assigned as the origin of the existing tumults, of the Prince de Conde's subsequent revolt and the long years of desolating civil war which followed, nothing but the hatred borne by the whole French nation towards Cardinal Mazarin, d'Artagnan continued to the end his unswerving fidelity to his employer.
The service was of a nature to suit the most ravenous appetite for adventure, for Mazarin, once convinced of a man's capacity, was not wont to hesitate about exposing him to the utmost hazard. D'Artagnan had already visited England in the suite of the Comte d'Harcourt, and, with the other gentlemen attending on that envoy, had charged under Prince Rupert at Newbury. He was chosen by Mazarin in 1648 to go on a secret mission to Oliver Cromwell. Already Queen Henrietta Maria had been for some years a refugee at the French Court; but hitherto Mazarin, whose policy it had been to support the Parliamentarians in their resistance to Charles I., had succeeded in steeling the heart of Anne of Austria against the English queen's entreaties for succour. Now, however, when the fate of Charles was closely impending, Mazarin consented to
send d'Artagnan to intercede with the Protector for the unhappy king. Simultaneously, the Spanish Government despatched a secret emissary to warn Cromwell not to listen to the dangerous counsels of the French Minister. senger, who, as d'Artagnan observes, was no more a spy than himself, had the bad luck to be captured in passing through France, and his papers fell into the hands of Mazarin. Accordingly, when d'Artagnan, having failed in getting any satisfaction out of Cromwell (whom he estimates as "un des plus habiles hommes de son siècle"), lands at Boulogne, he was met by some of the Cardinal's archers, having the Spaniard in custody. A letter was handed to d'Artagnan, containing a commission which, he callously observes, "was not difficult to fulfil." It was simply to convey the Spaniard out to sea and have him quietly drowned. "The Cardinal asked no more than that I should be an eye-witness, and, as I was in no way concerned in the execution of his decree, I did not think I could refuse to be present." He obeyed his instructions to the letter, though it was an incident little calculated to enhance for him the attractions of the diplomatic service: the wretched prisoner confessed himself to a priest they had on board for the purpose, and died with exemplary fortitude.
D'Artagnan's next mission was far more perilous, and brought him into such an extraordinary series of adventures that it is surprising Dumas resisted the temptation to weave them into his story. The civil war with the Prince de Condé was raging at the time, while the Spaniards were busily using the opportunity to recapture, one by one, the towns which the French had taken from them in the Netherlands. Conde's brother, the
Prince de Conti, was with the insurgents, besieged by the king's forces in Bordeaux: Mazarin had conceived the project of detaching him from the rebels by offering him one of his nieces, the Mancini, in marriage, with an immense dowry. But it was necessary first to detach Conti from the influence of a mistress with whom he was living in Bordeaux, and d'Artagnan was no unfitting instrument for a delicate game of that kind; for, as he remarks in telling the story, "I have always been of a temperament which renders me exceedingly susceptible to this kind of amusettes.'
First of all, he spent some weeks in growing a long beard; then, disguised as a hermit, he made his way into the besieged city. It was an enterprise of frightful hazard, for, had he been discovered, he would infallibly have been hung as a spy. All went well with him, however; and the ex-musketeer soon struck up a friendship with Las Florides, the bandit captain of a troop known as the Ormistesmost sanguinary and unscrupulous of all the insurgents. Obtaining access by a ruse to the house of Conti's mistress, he speedily found means to get into the best of her good graces. Still more remarkable, he managed to enlist her sympathy in the scheme of the proposed marriage. Conti, though a hunchback, was insatiable in love-affairs; the lady was sagacious enough to be well aware that her reign as chief favourite could not endure much longer, and that it would be to her substantial interest to anticipate the moment when her lover should discard her, by forwarding his legitimate alliance with the Mancini. D'Artagnan had brought with him a portrait - très appetisant of the Cardinal's niece: this was arranged
in a conspicuous place in the chamber of Conti's fair one: the attention of the volatile prince was easily attracted to it, his curiosity excited, and, to make a long story short, the mission was completely successful; Conti fell in with the Cardinal's scheme, and d'Artagnan, after innumerable exciting and perilous adventures, returned to Paris to claim from his employer the promised reward of a captaincy in the Gardes. Unluckily, the rumour of d'Artagnan's intrigue with the fair one of Bordeaux had got abroad: to his intense disgust the Cardinal, instead of praising him for performing a difficult service skilfully, reproached him for his immorality.
"You will always be the same, sir," he said; "the first petticoat and serious matters fly out of your head. You were sent to Bordeaux on the king's servicenot to make love."
D'Artagnan, thoroughly disgusted with such a rapacious master, resolved to serve him no longer, sold his commission in the Gardes, and prepared to retire to the pri vacy and poverty of Béarn. But the Cardinal had no intention of parting with such a useful and dauntless officer: at the last moment he appointed d'Artagnan to a captaincy, coupled, however, with the demand for 20,000 francs as purchase - money. This was a sum which it was clearly impossible for the needy Gascon to furnish; nevertheless it shows how valuable he was known to be to the Cardinal that several persons thought it worth while to ingratiate themselves with him by offering to advance the amount. In the end, a certain M. de Lyonne, who, owing to his holding some official position, had his hand in the public purse, handed him the money
in the shape of 400 double louis, just come from the Mint. There is a fine description of the interview at which d'Artagnan handed the gold to the avaricious Cardinal. Mazarin fingered and fondled the glittering pieces, then putting them in the bag, smelt at it, invited the guardsman to do the same, and asked him if it was not of exquisite fragrance.
The personal ambition of Mazarin grew in proportion to his illgotten fortunes: he cherished the idea of marrying one of his nieces to the King of France, and another to the King of England. But in 1654 it seemed very doubtful who was to wear the crown of England. Henrietta Maria had already offered the hand of her son, afterwards Charles II., but it was by no means clear that Richard Cromwell was not the real game to stalk. So the indispensable d'Artagnan was commissioned once more to proceed incognito to England, to find out the probable course of events. His adventures on this occasion in London were of an exceedingly piquant nature, but unluckily not of a sort that can be explained to the readers of 'Maga.' Enough to say that, disguised as a cook, he entered the service of a rich Englishman, and he does not scruple to describe how in that situation he became the successful rival of the French Ambassador, M. de Bordeaux, in the favours of the Englishman's beautiful wife. De Bordeaux, from whom the Cardinal had carefully concealed d'Artagnan's presence in London, surprised the lovers and arrested d'Artagnan, who was sent as a prisoner to Paris and lodged in the Bastille. For five weeks he remained there, maddened with the intolerable horrors of solitary imprisonment to that degree that, had he pos
sessed the means, he would almost certainly have destroyed himself, "as did many wretches confined in this prison."
Meanwhile the Cardinal, in ignorance of the misadventure which had befallen his envoy, continued to address letters to him in London. It may be asked why d'Artagnan did not explain the real state of the case to the prison authorities, but that is to ignore the nature of the horrible system under which he had been arrested. M. de Bordeaux had simply intimated to the Cardinal as First Minister of the Crown that a certain prisoner, known to be dangerous, and suspected of being a spy of the Prince de Condé, had been consigned to the Bastille, and Mazarin's mind was far too full of lofty designs to trouble itself on such a small matter. The prisoner saw nobody but the turnkey, who was not likely to pay much attention to his complaints; until at last, having been brought before the lieutenant-criminel for interrogation, he revealed his real name, and sent word of the plight he was in to the Cardinal, who ordered him to be set at liberty and gave him 2000 crowns de gratification.
Brighter days were in store for our hero. The young king was beginning to assert himself, and becoming impatient of the perpetual dictation of his First Minister. Especially irritating were the continual injunctions on the part of Mazarin that Louis should practise economy. No precaution in the view of the Cardinal was too minute to prevent unnecessary expense. Thus when he took Louis to witness the siege of Montmédy, the soldiers were delighted with the indifference to cold and heat, foul weather or fair, displayed by their young monarch; but it was noticed also how, when
it began to rain, the Cardinal reminded him to take off his gloves and put them in his pocket.
But Louis soon shook himself free of these restrictions, being naturally of a turn for magnificence. The company of Mousquetaires was restored to its pristine splendour, the king himself being captain, the idle and dissolute Duc de Nevers, Mazarin's nephew, captain- lieutenant, and d'Artagnan, at length au comble de ses vœux, lieutenant of the corps-the Cardinal giving him two chargers of the proper colour out of his own stables. It was worth all the dangers and disappointments he had come through in his tortuous employment. De Nevers seldom came on parade, and troubled himself not at all about internal economy: d'Artagnan was practically second in command under the king, who made the regiment his favourite plaything, personally putting them through evolutions in the court of the Louvre, winter and summer, for three or four hours on end, to the intense ennui of his attendant courtiers.
Mazarin had long been jealously aware that his own system of peculation was by no means his monopoly. M. de Fouquet, upon whom the constitution conferred, as Superintendent of Finance, practical irresponsibility, had enriched himself to a degree, and acquired an amount of power, hardly inferior to those attained by the First Minister himself. The story of his fall, trial, and condemnation is well known; so is that of the rise of M. de Colbert: they are told in these pages with vivid details of a personal kind. Mazarin did not live to witness the end, as he died in 1661; but with his last breath he denounced Fouquet to the king, and prayed that measures might be taken to
bring him to justice. Fouquet, foreseeing the influential position to which d'Artagnan was attaining, had made repeated overtures of friendship to him, and offered to finance his affairs-for which the still needy Musketeer could not fail to feel some gratitude, although Mazarin had strictly forbidden the soldier to hold any intercourse with the financier. It was, therefore, a peculiarly unpleasant duty which the king imposed on d'Artagnan when he ordered him to arrest Fouquet, and not only so, but to be responsible for his prisoner, first in the donjon of Angers, then in that of Vincennes, and, lastly, in the Bastille. He gives a mournful description of how severely the imprisonment told on the spirits of Fouquet, who, of all men, had been le plus vif et le plus remuant, -but, indeed, the routine of a French prison under the Grand Monarque was of a nature to crush the liveliest temperament. Fouquet himself sought relief in reading and writing; but his confidential clerk and his equerry, who also were placed in solitary confinement, had not the same sources. Of these, the first went raving mad, and the other-named Pelisson - saved himself from a like fate by an ingenious device. He bought a thousand pins; every morning he scattered them broadcast in the room where he was confined, and spent the rest of the day in collecting them.
D'Artagnan soon became as enthusiastically proud of his new master as he had been ashamed of the old one. Of Louis he never speaks save with the deepest reverence, though he gives some amusing and scantly respectful particulars. He has some amusing passages about the Infanta Marie Thérèse, who, when she came to Paris for her betrothal with Louis,
etrayed too naïvely the frugal habits acquired in a Court which cultivated none of the prodigality of French society. The splendour of the repast prepared for her after the journey was such, the Princess supposed, as could only be appropriate for a special ceremonial occasion, and she greatly scandalised her maître d'hôtel, M. de Villacerf, by commanding him to reserve for the morrow the remains of a dish which particularly pleased her palate. Scarcely could she be persuaded to believe that what seemed to her a magnificent banquet was no more than an ordinary meal, such as would be served to her every day in her adopted country, and that the favourite dish could be repeated as often as she chose.
In truth, Louis XIV. was prince to inspire enthusiastic devotion. Handsome, generous, intellectual, an accomplished soldier, and devoted to the service of beauty, men could not but love and admire him as a man, and willingly supported him in his farreaching and impetuous schemes of reform. Reorganisation of finance, of the public service generally, and of the army in particular, were set on foot vigorously. The last-mentioned reform was essential to the young king's deliberate designs of foreign conquest, and it is interesting to note the reason for the change from personal to territorial titles of regiments. Hitherto it had been the custom to name regiments after their colonels, who were appointed to their commands as offices of profit, in token of the degree of favour each one had secured with the Cardinal, or, still more frequently, in consideration of the price each one was ready to pay for the post. There were only a very few famous old corps-such as the regiments of Picardy, of
Normandy, and of Champagnewhich remained exceptions to the general rule. Now, however, when the king had determined that military capacity should be the sole qualification for the command of a regiment, the poorest officer had as good a chance of promotion as the greatest seigneur; and so it came to pass that a very needy but accomplished gentleman named Montpeyroux received command of a regiment: "Aussi puait-il comme un bouc, le plus souvent; mais à cela près, il était bon officier." Montpeyroux represented to the king that it would be absurd to name a battalion after such a ragged cavalier as himself, so it was called the regiment of Rouergue, and from that day territorial designations came into vogue.
It followed on this terrible system of appointment by merit that many of the old courtly families found themselves out in the cold. None of them suffered more severely in this respect than the house of Mazarin. The great Cardinal's nephew, the Duc de Nevers, was still nominal commander, under the king, of the Mousquetaires. He was deprived of his command, which Louis conferred on d'Artagnan-"sans que j'osasse la demander." Behold him then the stripling starved out of Béarn to seek his fortune in the great world-the gallant whose name had become a bogey to all self- respecting husbands — the ruffler whose terrible sword had carved so many drinking-places for flies ("abreuvoirs à mouches," as he grimly calls them) on the persons of those who crossed him in love, at play, or in every day intercourse,-behold him at the very pinnacle of a soldier of fortune's ambition. No-not quite the pinnacle: there was a loftier eminence to which, had his life been spared,