« PreviousContinue »
OF FICTION, POETRY, HISTORY, AND GENERAL LITERATURE.
fect and regular features, he added a A TALE OF LOUIS THE FOURTEENTH. large commanding eye. (For the Parterre.)
An arch Italian girl, of the name of
Maria Mancini, and niece of the celeThat princes never become the objects brated Cardinal Mazarin, was the first to of friendship, has been the frequent draw any advantage from the peculiar opinion of mankind. But do they disposition of the youthful monarch. neither ever become the objects of love? Without being positively beautiful, and Or is the female heart capable of an in spite of the disturbance which this first elevation unattainable by the other sex, love-affair of Louis immediately created and, by casting all vanity and self-interest among the members of his family, she aside, in loving the man, of overlooking managed to obtain entire possession of the prince?
his heart; and not content with this, Louis the Fourteenth, the so called great, even ventured to aspire to the rank of was a man who had perhaps few real her lover. The thoughtless youth was claims to such a title, but was one who, in actually on the point of yielding to her his younger years at least, was worthy of wishes by espousing her.
The wily being the object of love. Why was he Mazarin himself was dazzled at the brilcalled upon to conquer kingdoms, when liant prospect. To the complaints of the he was satisfied with conquering hearts ? king's family, however, was already added Had he lived but a century before, and, the murmuring voice of the people, who instead of a sceptre, received a knightly shuddered at the possibility of the royal sword in his hand, he would everywhere blood of France, to which every true have borne away the prize through his patriot owed blind obedience, being, valour and his mercy. His intellect was polluted by that of an Italian girl. The neither dazzling nor clouded. His out. cardinal, afraid of the coming storm, ward bearing was noble and faultless ; drew back; and Maria Mancini, nothis stature tall and majestic; and to per- withstanding her tears and entreaties,
in the grove.
was obliged to leave, not only the court, “is a circumstance at wbich, I think, we but the kingdom.
ought all to rejoice, for did he not wear a After having mourned for his first love crown, we might hope”the becoming time, Louis took unto “Well! what?” impatiently exclaimed himself a consort in the person of Mare one of the company. garet of Savoy. Not finding, however, She was unable to finish the sentence in this marriage all that his fickle nature she had begun ; but after a few moments required, he began again to long for taking courage, she continued, “even as novelty.
king, however, we must confess that One clear and beautiful summer's he must render one indifferent to any night, Louis, after being present at a other." ball given by his consort at the château of With ravished eyes the monarch looked Vincennes, strolled forth into the neigh- at Beringer; and, nodding to him sigbouring grove, attended only by a few nificantly, they both receded a few steps, courtiers. They had not been long there as they perceived the ladies preparing to before a faint and distant noise fell upon depart. their ears. Groping their way through « Who can that be?” was the question the thicket in the direction whence the that first escaped the lips of Louis, as soon noise proceeded, they stopped to listen ; as he found himself alone with his and presently several female voices be- favourite. 6. Whoever she is, tell me, came distinctly audible.
you must know her." “ So late in the night ?” exclaimed the Beringer expressed extreme regret at king to his favourite Beringer. “What his total ignorance of who the fair one in the name of wonder can our fair ones might be; and thereupon he received be seeking at this time ?"
his most gracious dismissal from his “What else, sire,” answered the irritable master, but with the caution courtier, smiling, but the joys of some not to mention a word of what had passed happy love, or consolation for an unhappy one?”
“ Most singular !” said Louis to him“Well, in either case," returned Louis, self, as soon as Beringer had withdrawn. “it will be worth the trouble to watch “ She loves me—an incognito! Here at them.”
my court, where coquetry and art are The ladies approached, and passing continually striving to recommend themslowly by, were soon lost in the grove, selves to my notice, where the eye of envy without having perceived either Louis or is ever on the watch, here is one that loves * his courtiers. The latter followed them me, and in secret !" softly until they saw them seat themselves Who in Louis' situation could have on one of the benches.
slept the night through after such a disThe king, then making a sign to all covery? And yet Louis, who, contrary his attendants, with the exception of to his habits, rose early the following Beringer, to withdraw, took his station morning, was obliged to wait several behind a large tree, from which, although hours before Beringer brought so much nothing could be seen, they could hear intelligence that the ladies of the previous all that passed distinctly and unobserved. night were in all probability attached to And what was it they heard ?- Nothing the court of Henrietta, his brother's conmore or less than a very grave discussion sort.* Again a curious link in the chain as to who had been the best dancer at the of events ! With this very Henrietta, ball! Each gave her separate opinion; Louis was at that time carrying on a the one declaring this, and the other that sort of amorous intrigue, and he was courtier to have been the best. One now to seek out his beloved unknown at lady, however, among them, was not very her court. At one moment he was willwilling to concur in the critical opinion ing to dare all; the next his fears were of the majority, and was consequently the master of him. His courage, how taken to task by the others.
ever, at last prevailed, and Louis deter“ Can one then,” she at length said, mined to go to Madame. “ for a moment look upon those whom With devouring looks the monarch's you have been mentioning, after having eyes measured every female figure preseen the king ?”
sent. Not less busily engaged was “ Oh, oh !” they all exclaimed at once, Beringer, who felt himself in utter em“so the happiness of attracting your eyes barrassment until he had replaced on a is reserved for majesty alone !”
sure footing, his tottering reputation as “ That the king is not a private indi
* Henrietta of England, sister of our Charles vidual,” replied the refractory fair one, the Second
a courtier. A well-known lady of the himself. Henrietta soón discovered that court, whose name does not at present the object of his frequent visits was some concern us, fell under his notice, and other than herself, and her jealousy was hastily going up to the king, he whis- immediately aroused. She watched and pered into his ear, “ That is the fair one, inquired, but all to no 'purpose. The sire!”. But no sooner had Louis heard ladies of the court, however, whom the her voice, than he turned his back on unaccustomed and despotic tone of their her, and took no further notice of Berin- mistress equally as much surprised as ger. At length, however, he discovered distressed, were more successful in their among the crowd a figure, with her pen- inquiries. It was soon whispered about, sive eyes resting upon the ground. The and pretty loudly, that the king was in veil of modesty lay in her every look. love with La Vallière. At first no one Louis accosted her. She blushed, and gave credence to it, not even Henrietta. stammered forth some broken sentence. Poor La Vallière, who soon became the This was the fair one.
object of envy and ridicule at court, To have thrown himself instantly at grieved in secret. Even Louis, whether her feet, the delighted monarch would through frivolity or shame, appeared all have been but too happy. But in such at once to avoid her. a company how could he do this? The Bnt when did not love compel even thought of the jealousy of Henrietta the most open character at times to put pierced like a dagger into his
heart; he cast on the mask ? Perhaps Louis, rememone look on his fair one, and went away. bering the history of Mancini, sought
Louisa Francisca de la Vallière, the only security under the mantle of indifnewly discovered favourite of the king, ference; perhaps he only wanted time was one of those charming beings, whose to determine on the plan best suited to good qualities escape the observation of the accomplishment of his wishes. Howcommon eyes, on account of their being ever this might be, he still loved La Valmore touching than striking. She could lière as before, and all that he wished for hardly be called handsome; her face was was an opportunity of conversing with rather too long for the oval, and her her. This soon presented itself. mouth rather large; neither was her com- The whole court was one day walking plexion dazzling, nor her figure sufficiently in the park of Vincennes, when a heavy embon-point. There was nevertheless and unexpected shower came on, so that a charm and a grace about her, which every one sought shelter for himself, riveted the looks of the beholder. To without paying much regard to the king. long flowing hair and dark blue eyes, Louis, who during the confusion, had were added lips the colour of the rose; fixed his eyes unceasingly on La Vallière, a faultless figure, a rounded arm and deli- soon perceived that on account of her cately small hand, were such as to prevent partial lameness, she was unable to keep the cireumstance of her being somewhat up with the rest of the company. He lame* from being noticed. Her mind held back ;—the company were soon out was strictly in accordance with her body; of sight, and the king was alone with his without possessing wit or remarkable fair one. talent, she had a happy spirit of observa- “ May I be permitted to offer my tion. The idea of dazzling never entered arm ?” asked Louis. her mind, much less that of deceiving; The poor girl blushed crimson, and her heart was open as the day. Her stammering forth some broken answer, whole being seemed formed for love. accepted it. They had thus walked on a
To have attracted the notice of the few yards, when Louis proceeded ;king, was certainly a thought sufficient “ Perhaps you are not so well acto add to the charms of a modest and quainted with this road as myself. I beautiful enthusiast. She was ignorant will lead you the nearest way back.” that the king was aware of her regard For a minute or two there was a perfor him. The king himself was happy; fect silence. The two lovers walked on his first wish had been granted; he had together without looking at each other. seen her.
Louis became embarrassed, until at length There was still, however, much want- La Vallière timidly observed ing to a proper understanding between “I am sorry that the company should them. Louis, on his part, did all that have been so disagreeably disturbed by lay in his power, by frequently going to the rain.” the court of Madame, and unhappily no “ If you only knew for what I am inone was less disposed to dissemble than debted to this rain”* This is strictly true.
“ What might that be?”.
“The power of at length disclosing to a knowledge of the manners of the court you, what so long hath made me both so at that period, preserve it from ridicule. happy and so miserable. Oh! could That striving after esprit, the national I but calculate that you would listen to malady of the French, was then in its it with favour."
infancy, and consequently, like all other During the discourse, the words of epidemics, at its greatest height. WhatLouis became somewhat more connected. ever was spoken, must have been spoken The impetuous and irresistible ardour of with elegance; and whatever was writ. his address deprived the timid girl of her ten, must have been capable of appearsenses, and her embarrassment only served ing as an appendix to the letters of to increase the eloquence of the king. Voiture.* Truth, without colouring, He well knew that every word from the was looked upon as simplicity ; and the mouth of a lover is sacred; and if he had language of love, without the flowers of not been previously persuaded of her speech, as insensibility. Unfortunately love towards him, her present conduct there was not a single lady at the court less must have betrayed it. Minute after acquainted with these requisite flowers minute thus glided away, and instead of of speech, than the child of nature, La returning to the company, they lost Vallière. She thought and thought of a themselves deeper and deeper in the well-written answer, but all to no púrwood, and, after the lapse of an hour, on pose; until, at length one day, when their arrival at the château, the king buried in meditation on the subject, it first perceived that during the whole chanced that she received a visit from time he had been walking with his head the rhymster Benserade, who, although uncovered.
not exactly the appointed poet-laureate, And now the path to a secret under- generally performed all the duties apperstanding between them was broken ; but taining to that honourable office. notwithstanding this, it was impossible “ You seem quite lost in thought, for them to think of seeing each other gracious lady,” said Benserade, “one again for the present, on account of the would almost imagine that you were in unceasing watchfulness of Henrietta, secret communication with the Nine whose suspicions had been aroused far Sisters.” more than was agreeable to either. Epis- “ No, dear Benserade, it is precisely tolary correspondence, however,—that because I am not in this secret commuuniversal assistant of separated lovers,-- nication, that you find me thus in Louis determined should help to alleviate thought. Suppose you were to assist the dreary interval ; and Beringer was I am in one of those desperate again brought into requisition, to be the situations in which I can neither say yes bearer to La Vallière of a letter full -nor no—but yet must say something." of burning expressions of tenderness. “ Most gracious lady! all my little But, how unexpected was its reception ! riches are quite at your service. But The poor simple-hearted girl certainly might I presume to ask loved the king more than he loved her ; “Oh yes! The whole of the affair is she would really have done, what he that I am to write a letter to one whom merely said-have cast away a sceptre I must deprive of all hope, but yet withto share a cottage with him. But the out seriously hurting him.” thought of being his mistress, fell lik “ I always thought, that to write such a poisonous mildew on every budding letters was the innate talent of the ladies. flower of her wishes and her fancy. You must say much, in order to say Although the conviction of the king's nothing; promise much, in order to inability to marry her might have pleaded promise nothing; and grant much, in for the lover, yet the knowledge of that order, unobserved to take away the lover being the husband of another, was more." sufficient to destroy her peace of con- Jest soon became earnest; and Benscience. To his first letter, therefore, serade really indited a pretty tolerable the king received no answer.
extempore answer, which, possessing the Aroused by this opposition, Louis requisite qualities, La Vallière copied, of wrote a second, and Beringer, the bearer, course with a few alterations and addi. made the necessity of an answer so ap- tions, and forwarded to the king. parent, that the timid La Vallière con- “ So she has esprit too !” exclaimed sented to answer it.
the astonished Louis. Without loving The correspondence which the lovers now carried on, was certainly of a curi
* A courtier of those days famed for the ex. ous description ; nor can anything but travagant style of his letters.
her the more, the king rejoiced at this The timid La Vallière was almost connewly discovered perfection ; and in cealed in one corner of the room, when order not to be backward in gallantry, Louis, with the bracelets in his hand, he gave a small fète in her honour, and and accompanied by every eye, walked conimanded Benserade to write a poeti. up to his charmer.' cal epistle to her on the occasion.
“ What do you think of these braceNo sooner had La Vallière received lets, Mademoiselle ?” at the same time this poetical effusion, than she invited handing them to her. With down-cast Benserade to pay her a visit, but with eyes, she took them out of his hand, and the caution to keep it secret. What inspected them. cannot the vanity of a poet conceive? “ They are uncommonly beautiful ! ” Benserade imagined that at least the answered La Vallière, making a motion lady was in love with him. He appeared to return them. The king however, at the appointed time — twilight, and drew back, adding; “and in hands too cautiously opened the door. The lady beautiful ever to be returned into mine." beckoned to him slightly with her hand, The blood rushed to the cheeks of the and in a moment the laureate was at her astonished girl. Henrietta sunk back in feet, in due theatrical attitude.
her chair. Looks were exchanged in My goddess ! impressed with the every direction. The queen-mother was feeling of my happiness
uneasy; the whole company was dis“ No, not so, dear Benserade ; no, turbed. The king alone walked stately, that is not the question. Rise, I want and unconcerned up and down the you to indite me another answer.”
The poet rose, and recovering from How much is it to be regretted that his delusion, became from that moment Louis, daring enough to enter upon the the confidant of both La Vallière and most hazardous enterprise, was not enLouis.
Behaving himself with praise- dowed with sufficient courage to proceed worthy discretion, he enjoyed the felicity, with it. From that evening, La Valthrough the means of the letters and lière was watched with more than Argus answers, which he alternately wrote, of eyes, and seldom enjoyed one happy moplaying with the hearts of the lovers.
But La Vallière and Louis, soon found Henrietta, however, bought her unthat the most elegant sentences brought generous persecution of this poor girl'at them no nearer to the goal of their a dear price. Louis gave several fêtes wishes. To see each other daily, with nominally in honour of her, but in out being able to utter more than a few which, in reality, his beloved played the hasty words, was too much for the self. principal character. Hunting parties denial of a king. How willingly would especially, were the favourite amusement, he have concealed his love altogether as the ladies then appeared in their from the eyes of the court, if he could Amazonian habit, and no dress displayed have enjoyed it in secret ! But this was
the slender figure of La Vallière to not possible. He therefore boldly de greater advantage. It is true that Hentermined to seize the first opportunity of rietta often struggled to be absent from publicly bestowing on La Vallière some these parties, but the etiquette of the distinguished mark of his favour. court would not allow her presence al
In those days, it was customary for ways to be dispensed with. elderly ladies to pass away their leisure Louis soon became impatient to have evenings, either over their breviaries, or another interview with La Valliere, 'at at cards; but with the queen-mother, whatever price; and after adopting and the game of lottery was the usual amuse- rejecting many plans in his mind, he at ment; and those who were so happy as length resolved on the following enterto be in her good graces, were generally prise. presented with a ticket.
The chamber of La Vallière 'in the were not unfrequently of great value. chateau, was adjoining to the chamber It happened one evening, that the king of Mademoiselle d’Artigny, which borwas one of the party, and the first prize dered on one side of the roof. Around a pair of beautiful bracelets. The king the roof ran a leaden gutter. This neckdrew, and won. Every lip was eloquent breaking way of getting to the object of in the praises of the bracelets, and every his love, was right welcome to the chieye strained to see who would receive valrous nature of Louis. Beringer was them. The queen-consort smiled full of so fortunate as to obtain the consent of curious hope, and Henrietta of England Artigny to the king's passage, through sat in haughty and silent expectation. her room; and the very evening on