LA GRANDE MADEMOISELLE.*
MADEMOISELLE DE MONTPENSIER, daughter of Gaston, Duke of Orleans, and granddaughter of Henri IV., was called "La Grande," Saint-Simon tells us, to distinguish her from the daughter of Philippe, the Duke of Orleans of a later date. She had every right to the title. She was one of the most striking figures of the period, and her very frank and voluminous memoirs, besides revealing an interesting per- sonality, describe an eventful episode in French history in which she played a leading Part,—La Fronde, as it was called, from the slings used by the gamins of Paris. It was the last struggle for power of the nobles. The Crown had become almost-absolute under Richelieu, and his death, followed by that of Louis XIII., was the signal for a desperate struggle on the part of the higher classes to shake off the yoke which he had imposed on them. They little knew that his suecessor, Cardinal Mazarin, was i man whose suppleness and dissima- • La Giande Mademoiselle, 1027-1632. By Arrkle Barine. Authorised English Version by lielen E. Meyer. London: 0. P. Putnanl'a Sons. [12s. 6d.] lation had already subjugated the Queen and whose velvet glove concealed a hand of iron. At first all was joy. Mademoiselle writes : "The first months of the Regency were the most beautiful that one could have wished. They danced at my house, although it was not at all according to decorum." The tyrant was no more, and Mademoiselle was looking forward to the arrival of her stepmother, the beautiful Marguerite de Lorraine, who had incurred the wrath of Richelieu by marrying Gaston,—" Monsieur," as he was called. Their marriage was most romantic, and the Parisians were longing to see the heroine. Our translator writes :—" The world called her courageous, and when she exercised her impeccancy during a nine years' separation from her husband, conjugal fidelity, rare at any time, and especially at that time, definitely ranged her among spectacular examples of virtue. Mademo1 selle revelled in the thought of a stepmother young and beautiful as a houri ; they would dance together and rut about like sisters." The brilliant beauty, , however, .la become a fanciful invalid, who bated the world, and spen4 most of her time in bed : "The romantic type of constancy habitually hung upon the gates of death." This increased the popularity of Mademoiselle, who was the only Royal inhabi- tant of the Tuileries, and with her twenty-four violins attracted the cream of society, Anne of Austria, the Queen, being still in deep mourning. Pomps and vanities were Mademoiselle's natural atmosphere; from a child she had been, after the Queen, the principal person to receive homage, to hear herself called "Grande Princesse," and until the Dauphin- was born her father was heir to the throne. She had an excellent governess, Madame de St. Georges, but she herself regretted that no one had real authority over her. She says proudly that she "owed her good qualities entirely to herself." She loved Madame de St. Georges dearly, nursed her and mourned for her as a mother, and made herself conscientiously disagreeable to her successor, Madame de Fiesque. The conspiracies, the tyranny, and the gloom of the Court of Louis XIIL did not affect her buoyant spirits. She doted on her father, who played at battledore and shuttlecock with her in the corridors; she made a point of forgetting all the unpleasant things she heard; she paid visits to her friends in the country, notably to her aunt, the Abbess of Fontevrault, where she was regaled with the sight of a naked mad woman whose contortions amused her extremely, and next deer an equally entertaining maniac was found for her ; but she took an aversion to the convent,—the bad dinners, the long services, and the luscious compliments of the nuns.
Her great preoccupation was to make a brilliant marriage. She would rather marry Louis XIV. than any one, though he was eleven years younger than herself; next to him the Emperor Ferdinand; but although two of his wives died successively, he married again without consulting Mademoiselle. She protects herself against the imputation of being in love, "as he was neither young, handsome, nor gallant"; nor had she ever met him, and she considered love in marriage was setting a bad example; nothing but ambition and a fine position should be thought of. She heard that he was " devot " ; so she made herself "devote," went into a convent, left off powder and patches, and neglected her hair till she was barely recognisable. She asked to be allowed to become a nun; but Gaston would not hear of it. He obliged her to return to Court, where .she soon became reconciled to her former life. The most serious among her suitors was the Prince of Wales (Charles II.), and if he had made passionate love to her she might have yielded; but he was cold and silent. His attentions culminated at a grand ball given in honour of Mademoiselle. The Queens of England and France dressed her for the occasion, and Prince Charles held the candle. They heaped on her all the Crown jewels of England and France they could lay their hands on. She was much pleased with her appearance. "No one could be more magnificently attired ; but people let me know that my fine figure and carriage, my brilliant complexion and golden heir, became me more than all the diamonds showered on me." In the ballroom she was seated on a throne with all the Court at her feet, including the Prince, on whom she says she looked down with her mind as much as with her eyes. She was still thinking of the Emperor. After Charles became King, Mademoiselle looked on him more favourably; but still, he made no pretty speeches, and at dinner
fell ravenously on a round of beef and a shoulder of mutton, neglecting the ortolans and other dainties. This proved him to be a man of no taste. She got rid of him by insisting on his changing his religion, which he could not do except by forfeiting his crown.
Mademoiselle had soon a different stage on which to exercise her talents, her bravery, and her strong will. The encroach- ments of Mazarin, his rapacity, and the increased taxation roused the Parliament, and their opposition was the first act of the Fronde. Anne of Austria arrested two of the prin- cipal Members, Blancmesnil and Broussel, the latter an old man of eighty, universally beloved. This roused the people, and Mademoiselle set out to visit her stepmother, but really to see what was going on. The barricades fell down before her. "The Parisians always loved me," she writes. On re- turning she went to the Palais Royal, where she greatly enjoyed the consternation of the Queen, and was much amused by the scenes in the street; but on the next day she felt differently when the wounded and the dying were carried past. The Deputies from the Parliament came to ask the King to restore the prisoners. "After their request was granted they marched out very proudly. This was the origin of all the trouble which followed." The Queen sent to call back Conde, who was gaining victory after victory in Flanders. Mademoiselle bated him at this time, and wept over his success. He did not shine in council, he quarrelled with all the parties in turn, while the Queen feared him on account of his popu- larity with the people, and at length threw him into prison with his brothers, the Prince de Conti and the Due de Longue- vile. There they remained for more than a year, Conti in tears, the Due de Longueville in gloom, but the "Grand Conde" in high spirits, gardening, laughing, swearing, singing :—
"Oh la folle enterprise Du Prince de Conde."
Finding that the cause of the Princes was gaining ground, Mazarin went to set them free himself, hoping to earn their gratitude; but Conde treated him with icy disdain. The Cardinal went immediately into voluntary exile.
The Princes were joyfully welcomed on their return.
Mademoiselle overcame her dislike to Conde; but he soon made enemies all round, and on hearing that Mazarin was to be recalled, entered into negotiations with Spain. On this the Cardinal returned to France with a considerable force, and was joined by Turenne and the Royal troops. The country was in a ferment. Orleans, the capital of Gaston's appanage, was threatened by both parties, and he was entreated to go and help the garrison. He WEIS Much too frightened, and, as usual, was seized with colic and went to bed. To her great joy, he deputed his daughter, who set out all in grey and gold, in full war panoply, with her two Field-Marshals, Mesdames de Fiesque and de Frontenac, at the head of her troops, marching in triumph to Orleans. She found the gates shut, and the garrison refused to open them. She waited for three hours, and then set off to walk with her ladies round the ramparts. They were crowded with people. She called to them to open the gates. Some one told her that there was a postern gate on the quay which could be easily broken open. She got the boatman to set her across the river; she climbed, she says, "like a cat, I caught my hands on the thorns, I leaped all the hedges. Suddenly a plank in the gate gave way Two men raised me and put me into a chair. Every one kissed my hands, and I was quite exhausted with laughing." She was carried in triumph through the town, and next day she made a fine speech at the Hotel de Ville, exhorting the authorities to be faithful to her father, and not to admit the Royal troops any more than the Army of the Fronde. Conde was in Guyenne, but when he heard the news, traversed France with almost incredible swiftness to join his army at Loris, near Briars, where Turenne was encamped. Hocquincourt was in command of the army. The Fronde generals were so inferior that Turenne was not afraid of a disaster; but he was amazed at the skilful disposition of the troops, and exclaimed: "M. le Prince is in command." This was the battle of Bleneau, another victory to add to Conde's list. His army was allowed to enter the town, but he soon got bored and went off to Paris.
His example was followed by Mademoiselle, who met with a splendid reception. "The whole Court surrounded me," she says, "I was the Queen of Paris, I received the highest honours." Paris was in a disturbed state, the canaille had
possession of the streets, and in the hope of striking a decisive blow Conde rejoined his army and marched towards Charenton Here be was opposed by Turenne, and therefore concentrated
his force outside the Porte St. Antoine. At 6 in the morning a messenger from Conde knocked at Mademoiselle's door
asking for help,—the Army of the Fronde, at bay against the wall of the city, was threatened with destruction by the larger force to which it was opposed. The messenger had first gone to Monsieur, who said he had one of his colic& Mademoiselle hurried to the Luxembourg. "Either mount your horse," she cried, "or go to bed." She stormed, she wept, but Gaston would not move. At length he was persuaded to -
allow his daughter to go to the Hotel de Vile to give the necessary orders, and by dint of entreaties and menaces she obtained permission for Conde and his troops to enter the town. She then flew to the Porte St. Antoine, meeting the dead and the dying at every step. She entered a house near the Bastille and sent for Conde: he had been fighting with reckless bravery, and was covered with blood and dust. He sank into a chair. "You see a man in despair,' he cried; I have lost all my friends.' I assured him that he was mis- taken. He got up, begging my pardon for such a display of emotion, and returned to his troops." The fighting began again, and Conde and his following would have been cut in pieces; but just then the cannon from the Bastille fired on the Royal troops, Turenne was forced to retire, and the gates opened to receive Conde and his army. It was said that Mademoiselle herself had fired the first shot, and at the same time killed her chance of ever being Queen of France. The Princes wanted money to carry on the war, and Gaston to be proclaimed Regent, but the Parliament would consent to neither proposal. As he could not get his will by fair means, Conde employed foul. He dressed one hundred of the lowest rabble in uniform, and ordered them to set fire to the Intel de Ville, where the Members were sitting. News of this was brought to Mademoiselle, who urged her father and Conde to quell the disturbance, and save the Hotel de Ville; but Gaston had the colic, and Conde said he was a coward and could not face a mob. They allowed Mademoiselle to go. She started with her ladies and all the officers who could be. mustered. The streets were full of the dead and wounded ; her escort obliged her to turn back, but Gaston, when she returned, ordered her to try again. Her carriage became entangled with a cart carrying the dead to the cemetery; she changed her seat lest the protruding arms and legs should bit her in the face. M. de Beaufort came to meet her, and they went to the Hotel de Ville, which was still smoking. Not a soul was to be seen. At last they found in hiding the PrevOt des Marchands, and got him out through a back door. The Marechal de l'Hopital escaped through a window. This dis- graceful affair was called the "Massacre of the Hotel de Ville." Gaston and Conde were known to have originated it, and it was the death-blow of the Fronde. Tired of anarchy and bloodshed, the Parisians called loudly for their King. The Court returned in triumph. The Princes were exiled, and Mademoiselle, to her surprise, was sent to one of her chlteaux in the country. She showed her good sense by employing herself in all sorts of country pursuits; she received the neighbours, she became passionately fond of reading, and wrote her memoirs. She was not unhappy, although many years passed before she again saw her beloved Paris, of which she was no longer the Queen, for the "Roi Soleil " was all in all.
The attempt to tell in epitome the romantic story of La Grande Mademoiselle has left us little space in which to speak of the most recent version of her Life. All we can do is to say that the book is a very interesting one, and well worth reading. The present writer is, however, too old-fashioned to admire the English of the translation. In some instances it is even difficult to understand, there are so many unusual expressions; but the subject and the heroine are enough to make the book extremely attractive.