Page images

love you'not the less for it: on the contrary, from the moment you cease to contend with me in these matters, which I am convinced you cannot approve, I shall believe you no longer love me.""

We soon after find the grave duke a kind of master of the revels, as he is preparing halls for ballets, and making a gallery for the ladies only: a regulation he personally enforced,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"One day when a very fine ballet was represented in this hall, I perceived a man leading in a lady, with whom he was preparing to enter one of the women's galleries: he was a foreigner, and I easily distinguished of what country by the swarthy colour of his skin. Monsieur,' said I to him, you must seek for another door if you please; for I do not imagine that, with such a complexion, you can hope to pass for a fair lady.' My lord,' answered he, in very bad French, when you know who I am, I am persuaded you will not refuse to let me sit among those fair ladies, as swarthy as I am. My name is Pimentel, I have the honour to be very well with his majesty, who plays very often with me:' which was, indeed, too true; for this foreigner, whom I had already heard often mentioned, had gained immense sums from the king. How, Ventre-de-ma-vie,' said I to him, affecting to be extremely angry, you are then that fat Portuguese,* who every day wins the king's money. Pardieu, you are come to a bad place; for I neither like, nor will suffer such people to come here.' He offered to speak, but I would not hear him. 'Go, go,' said I, pushing him back, 'you shall not enter here: I am not to be prevailed upon by your gibberish. The king afterwards asking him if he did not think the ballet very fine, and the dances exquisitely performed, Pimentel told him that he had a great inclination to see it, but that he met his grand financier, with his negative front, at the door, who turned him back. He then related his adventure with me, at which the king was extremely pleased, and laughed heartily at his manner of telling it; nor did he forget to divert the whole court with it afterwards."

We now enter on the last book of Henry's history; and from the memoirs before us we learn, that something like a presentiment of his death might be said to affect this great monarch for a considerable time before it took place. This arose, undoubtedly, from the various attempts of a treasonable nature which had occurred during his reign, aided by several prognostications pointing out this year of his life as his last. The Queen, who had never been crowned, now insisted on the performance of this ceremony, and she was the more urged to it by the insults of the Marchioness, who maintained that she had no right to the distinction, on account of Henry's former promise. The matter

* Pimentel was not a Portuguese, but an Italian.

was therefore finally settled and the day appointed; but, speaking on this subject, we find the King thus deploring it

[ocr errors]


"Oh! my friend,' said he, this coronation does not please me: I know not what is the meaning of it; but my heart tells me, some fatal accident will happen.' He sat down, as he spoke these words, upon a low chair,which I had caused to be made on purpose for him, and which was kept always in my closet, and, resigning himself up to all the horror of his melancholy apprehensions, he beat on the case of his reading glass with his fingers, and continued in a profound reverie; then, suddenly starting up, and striking his hands together, he exclaimed; Pardieu, I shall die in this city; they will murder me here; I see plainly that they have made my death their only resource. Oh! this cursed coronation, it will be the cause of my death.' 'My God, sire,' said I to him one day, 'what a thought have you entertained: if you persist in it, it is my opinion, that you ought to break off this coronation, your journey, and your war; if you wish it should be so, it is not difficult to satisfy you.' 'Yes,' said he at length, after I had several times made the same proposal to him, " yes, break off this coronation, and let me never hear more of it; my mind will then be freed from those apprehensions which the advices I have received have given rise to: I shall then leave this city, and have nothing to fear.'

66 6

[ocr errors]


I shall not conceal from you,' added he, that it has been foretold to me I should be murdered at a public ceremony, and die in a coach; and hence proceed my fears.' You never mentioned this to me, sire,' replied I; and I have been often surprised to hear you cry out when in a coach, and seem so much alarmed at a danger so inconsiderable; you whom I have often beheld unmoved in all the rage of war, amidst volleys of cannon and musquet shots, and environed by swords and pikes. However, since this potion affects you to such a degree, I would advise you, sire, to depart to-morrow: let the coronation be performed without you, or defer it till some other time; and let it be long e'er you return to Paris, or get into a coach. Shall I send directly to Notre Dame and St. Denis, to put a stop to the preparations, and send back the workmen?' I would consent to it. willingly,' said the king; but what will my wife, who has this coronation strangely in her head, say to it? Let her say what she will,' resumed I, finding my proposal had greatly pleased the king; however, I cannot believe that she will continue obstinate, when she knows what apprehensions you have of some disaster happening.'

[ocr errors]

"I did not wait for any other order, but sent immediately to put a stop to the preparations for the coronation. It is with much regret, that I am obliged to confess, that, notwithstanding all iny endeavours, the queen would not give her husband this satisfaction. I shall pass over in silence, the prayers, entreaties, and arguments, with which, for three whole days, I endeavoured to move her. It was Henry's part to yield; and, as in certain moments he was the first to condemn himself for his fears, he left off speaking to me of the coronation; or by me to the queen. The preparations again went forward, and again his apprehensions returned. It was in these words, which he had perpetually in his mouth, that he expressed those apprehensions.


my friend, I shall never go out of this city: they will murder me here: this cursed coronation will be the cause of my death.' I shall never forget those sad words.

The ceremony of the Queen's coronation was performed at St. Denis; and the following Wednesday, May 17th, was fixed upon for her public entry into Paris, but on some account it was suspended. The Duke of Sully was ill, and being desired to bathe, the King, who wished to speak with him, gave strict orders that he should not leave his room, "for that he would himself come to the Duke's house :" the memoir concludes thus :

[ocr errors]


"At four o'clock in the afternoon, as I had just entered my wardrobe, I heard Castenet, and afterwards my wife, utter a great cry, and that instant my whole house resounded with this mournful exclamation: Ah! my God, all is lost! France is undone!' I went out precipitately, undressed as I was. Ah! Monsieur,' cried they on all sides, the king has just been dangerously wounded in his side with a knife.' It was not possible for me to doubt a moment whether the dreadful news was true. St. Michel entered immediately: he had been a witness almost of the blow, and brought the knife with which it was given, still reeking with blood. Oh!' cried I, raising my hands and eyes to heaven, in a distraction no words can describe, this is what the poor prince always apprehended: Oh! my God, have pity upon him, upon us, and the state: it is all over if he is murdered-God would not have permitted so cruel an accident, but to let loose all his wrath upon France; into what strange hands is she about to be dedelivered! *'»

"One would imagine, that upon a fact so public and so recent as the assassination of Henry IV., there would be found a perfect conformity in the histories and memoirs of that time; yet many of the cotemporary writers do not agree either as to the number of the persons who were in the coach with this prince when he was assassinated, the wounds he received, nor many other circumstances no less essential. In order, therefore, to make this recital in a manner equally faithful and complete, it is necessary to collect and join together what has been said on this subject by Messieurs de Péréfixe, Matthieu, L'Etoile, the continuator of Du Thou, and the French Mercury for the year 1610.

"The night before this most unhappy day his majesty could take no rest, and was in continual uneasiness. In the morning he told those about him, that he had not slept, and that he was very much disordered. Thereupon M. de Vendôme entreated his majesty to take care of himself that day, and not to go out; for that day was fatal to him. 'I see,' answered the king, that you have consulted the almanack, and have heard of the prediction of La-Brosse, from my cousin the count of Soissons he is an old fool, and you, who are young, have still less wisdom.' The duke of Vendôme then went to the queen, who likewise

The Duke dares not enter into farther particulars of the awful catastrophe he deplores, but thus speaks of his murdered King.

"Such was the tragical end of a prince, on whom nature, with a lavish profusion, had bestowed all her advantages, except that of a death such as he merited. I have already observed, that his nature was so happy, and his limbs formed with such proportion, as constitutes

begged the king not to go out of the Louvre that day; but he made her the same answer.' P. de L'Etoile.

"The coach turned from the street St. Honoré into that part called Féronnerie, which was then very narrow, and made more so by the little shops erected against the wall of the churchyard of St. Innocent. A little embarrassment was occasioned by the meeting of two carts, one loaden with wine, the other with hay; so that the coach was obliged to stop in a corner of the street, over against the study of a certain notary, whose name was Poutrain. The footmen took a nearer way, that they might with less difficulty come up with the coach at the end of the street; so that there were only two which followed the coach, and one of these went to make way for it to go on, while the other in the mean time took that opportunity to fasten his garter.' Ibid.

"Ravillac, who had followed the coach from the Louvre, perceiving that it stopped, and that there was no person near it, advanced to that side where he observed the king sat. His cloak being wrapped round his left arm served to conceal the knife, which he held in his hand; and sliding between the shops and the coach, as if he was attempting to pass by, like others, he supported one foot upon one of the spokes of the wheel, and the other upon a stone, and, drawing a knife edged on both sides, gave the king a wound a little above the heart, between the third and fourth rib. His majesty had just turned towards the duke of Epernon, and was reading a letter; or, as others say, leaning towards the marechal Lavardin, to whom he was whispering. Henry, feeling himself struck, cried out, I am wounded;' and, in the same instant, the assassin perceiving that the point of his knife had been stopped by a rib, he repeated the blow with such quickness, that not one of those who were in the coach had time to oppose nor even to perceive it. Henry, by raising his arm, gave a fairer aim for the second blow, which, according to Péréfixe and L'Etoile, went directly to his heart; and according to Rigault and the French Mercury, near the auricle of the heart; so that the blood gushing out of his mouth, and from his wound, the unhappy prince expired, breathing a deep sigh; or, as Matthieu asserts, pronouncing, with a faint and dying voice, these words, It is nothing.' The murderer aimed a third stroke at him, which the duke of Epernon received in his sleeve.' Ibid.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

"It is the opinion of the author of the French Mercury, that Henry IV. died at the first blow, which,' said he, entering between the fifth and sixth rib, pierced the vein within, round the auricle of the heart, and reached to the vena cava, which, being cut, that great prince was in an instant deprived of speech and life. The second stroke only razed the skin, and made no impression.'

not only what is called a well-made man, but indicates strength, vigour, and activity; his complexion was animated; all the lineaments of his face had that agreeable liveliness which forms a sweet and happy physiognomy, and perfectly suited to that engaging easiness of manners which, though sometimes mixed with majesty, never lost the graceful affability and easy gaiety so natural to that great prince. With regard to the qualities of his heart and mind, I shall tell the reader nothing new, by saying that he was candid, sincere, grateful, compassionate, generous, wise, penetrating; in a word, endowed with all those great and amiable qualities which in these Memoirs we have so often had occasion of admiring in him.

"He loved all his subjects as a father, and the whole state as the head of a family and this disposition it was, that recalled him even from the midst of his pleasures, to the care of rendering his people happy, and his kingdom flourishing: hence proceeded his readiness in conceiving, and his industry in perfecting, a great number of useful regulations; many I have already specified; and I shall sum up all, by saying, that there were no conditions, employments, or professions, to which his reflections did not extend; and that with such clearness and penetration, that the changes he projected could not be overthrown by the death of their author, as it but too often happened in this monarchy. It was his desire, he said, that glory might influence his last years, and make them, at once, useful to the world, and acceptable to God: his was a mind, in which the ideas of what is great, uncommon, and beautiful, seemed to rise of themselves: hence it was, that he looked upon adversity as a mere transitory evil, and prosperity as his natural state."

Thus warned, and knowing that all was over, the Duke, overwhelmed with sorrow, returned to his house, but he was soon drawn thence by the importunities of the Queen, whose grief at the sight of so dear a friend proved how sensible she was of the severity of the loss she had sustained. Even now it appears, however, that some in her household rejoiced; and from this time Conchini and his wife Leonora, who had ever been the enemies of Henry's peace, gain a complete ascendancy over the Queen, who is in the general consternation declared Regent, and of course the downfall of Sully and the perversion of his excellent system may be foreseen, this weak Princess, though affectionately attached to her late husband, and well aware of all he owed to the Duke of Sully, being entirely governed by her insidious Florentines.

The" Supplement to the life of the Duke of Sully," is very interesting, and we regret that our limits forbid further extracts.

This great man closed a life so full of useful exertion, and dignified tranquillity; so honourable to himself, and beneficial to his country; "at the castle of Villebon, Dec. 22d, 1641, aged 82 years." His widow erected a noble mausoleum to perpetuate his virtues, and honours; and survived him until 1659, when she died in her 97th year.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »