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restorative powers of France appear to have been the same in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as in the nineteenth. Cardinal Richelieu thought she required bleeding to prevent plethora. For she would become too rich, and the people be in too flourishing a condition, if the public money, which other States expend with economy, were not squandered with prodigality here.' The measures taken by Henry to develop her resources were adapted to the times and did good upon the whole, although some of them were of a protectionist character. The manufacture of silk was introduced: usury was forbidden : canals were dug: public works were promoted, and all branches of industry were encouraged.
Comparing the present with the past, Henry was soon able to say that the time had been when he was a king without kingdom, husband without wife, making war without money; but God had been so gracious to him that now (showing his arsenal) he could boast that he had wherewithal to arm fifty thousand men, with all munitions of war; and in his Bastille, just opposite, wherewithal to pay them for three years.' The speech by which his memory has become endeared to the French peasantry was spoken in 1600 to the Duke of Savoy, who asked him what his kingdom was worth to him in revenue. 'What I choose,' was the reply. Being pressed for a more specific answer, he said: Yes, what I choose; for, possessing the hearts of my people, I can have from them what I wish and if God spares me life, I will bring to pass that there shall not be a labourer in my kingdom without means to have a fowl in his pot.' Although he could take what he pleased, he gave up an obnoxious impost in the nature of an income-tax on being made aware that it was unjust and injurious as well as unpopular.
He had some expensive tastes for which Sully was expected to find money, besides the ordinary and extraordinary demands on the Exchequer for public purposes.* His Majesty was fond of building, hunting, and high play. He was capable of any extravagance to gratify the favourite Sultana in her heyday. Gabrielle was permitted to affect royal state. The Louvre was assigned her as a residence and she held levées, which were attended by the greatest ladies. At one magnificent collation she occupied the place of honour, seated in a fauteuil, whilst the Duchesse de Guise, making low obeisances, presented the dishes. She helped herself to what she fancied with one hand,
'I made a calculation of the expense Henry was commonly at every year in building, in play, for his mistresses, and hounds, and found that it amounted to twelve hundred thousand crowns. I could not, though I risked the danger of losing his affection, be silent on this subject.'-SULLY.
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and extended the other to be kissed by the King. No wonder that she aspired to be Queen; and her royal lover might have been weak enough to gratify her had she lived another year. It was only by the strongest remonstrances that Sully could induce him to suspend the design of marrying her and legiti mating her children. She was about to give birth to a fourth when she was seized with convulsions, and died under circumstances which raised a suspicion of poison: a suspicion which almost invariably followed a sudden death in those days.*
She died at Paris, where the King had sent her after a parting of more than usual tenderness to remain whilst he spent the Easter (1599) at Fontainebleau, to avoid the scandal of their living together during the Holy Week. He was completely prostrated by the blow. The regrets and the plaints,' he wrote to his sister, will accompany me to the tomb: the root of my love is dead: it will never sprout again.' Within five weeks after this was written, the praises which he heard on all sides of the beauty, wit, and sprightliness of Henriette, Mademoiselle d'Entragues, induced him to volunteer a visit to the château of her father, where he speedily fell a willing captive to her charms. To satisfy the alleged scruples of her relations she required a written promise of marriage, which the King drew up and signed; but before delivering it to her, he called Sully into the gallery at Fontainebleau and put this shameful paper' into his hands. On Sully's returning it silently and coldly, the King told him to speak freely, assuring him that no offence would be taken, do or say what he might. I obliged him to repeat this assurance several times, and even to seal it with a kind of oath and then I took the paper out of his hands and tore it to pieces without saying a word.' 'How!' exclaimed Henry, astonished at the boldness of this action, 'Morbleu! what do you mean? I think you are mad.' 'I am mad, I acknowledge, Sire,' I replied, and would to God I was the only madman in France!' Henry listened patiently, giving no further vent to his anger, but went straight to his closet, called for pen, ink, and paper, and came out in a few minutes with a fresh promise in his hand. This he delivered to the lady, who could never be induced to give it up, even when it was prac tically nullified by his second marriage, the negociations for which were proceeding at the time.
Queen Margaret had positively refused to assent to a divorce
* Sully says that she expired 'in a general subversion of all the functions of nature capable of inspiring horror and dismay.' According to another contemporary, her mouth was twisted round to the back of her neck. The convulsions came on immediately after eating a citron.
except on a distinct pledge that she was not to be succeeded by Gabrielle. When this obstacle was removed, the marriage with Mary of Medicis was hurried on by the King's trusty counsellors, who caused the articles to be drawn up and signed before he was made aware that they had definitively committed him. Sully undertook to communicate what had been done. 'As soon as I replied to his question from whence I came, "We come, Sire, from marrying you," this prince remained a quarter of an hour as if he had been struck with a thunderbolt. At length recovering himself like a man who has taken his resolution, “Well,” said he, rubbing his hands together, "well, depardieu! be it so ; there is no remedy. If for the good of my kingdom I must marry, I must."
He afterwards acknowledged that the fear of succeeding no better in his second than in his first marriage was the cause of his irresolution; and his fear was well grounded, for his irregular amours were an insuperable bar to his living on terms of confidential affection with a wife. Six days after the conclusion of the marriage at Florence he wrote to Henriette to say that he should see her on the Sunday following, and that he had kissed a hundred times a letter just received from her. The Queen was brought to bed of the Dauphin on the 27th of September, 1600. Three days afterwards the favourite, now Marquise de Verneuil, presented him with a son. A day or two before this event, he wrote to her, 'Don't go to the jubilee. I shall see you, please God, to-morrow evening, and I shall cherish you as what I love most in the world, I say a thousand times more than myself.'
The Queen had none of his former queen's reasons for being indulgent and accommodating: the favourite was too sure of her hold on him to put a bridle on her temper or to be sparing of her sarcasms, and we find him writing to Sully to complain that he is leading a most uncomfortable life between the two. After complaining that the new Marquise had applied so coarse an epithet to his wife that he was tempted to box her ears, he says: 'And notwithstanding, I should be sorry to use violence towards her, for she is most agreeable company when she chooses, and has always some bons mots to make me laugh, which I never get at home, receiving from my wife neither company, nor enjoyment, nor consolation. She wears so cold and disdainful a mien when I come to caress, laugh, and trifle with her, that I am constrained to leave her in pique, and go to seek some recreation elsewhere.'
'Nothing,' says Sully, 'would have been wanting to complete the unhappiness of these domestic quarrels, if Queen Margaret had borne part in them: this was the only misfortune that Henry
escaped and certainly this princess merited the highest encomiums for the sweetness of her temper, her resignation, and (above all) her disinterestedness.' Subsequently to the divorce the best understanding prevailed between her and Henry, who went to visit her when she passed through Paris in 1605. After leaving Usson she occupied a palace in the Faubourg SaintGermain, where she died, March 27, 1615.
Henry's letters abound in allusions to la chasse, of which he was passionately fond. He sends a despatch by a special messenger to Montmorency to announce the capture of a stag after a two hours' run; and he writes to James the First of England to propose a conference on the art (as he terms it) with the view of promoting their common enjoyment during the remainder of their lives and leaving it in an improved state to their children. The chief amusement provided for the Court ladies at Foix was a bear-hunt, thus described by Sully:
'Some of these animals tore the horses to pieces; others overthrew ten Swiss and as many fusileers and one of them, who had been wounded in several places, mounting upon a rock, threw himself down headlong, with seven or eight hunters whom he held in his paws, and crushed them to pieces.'
Sully, although in many respects beyond his age, partook largely of its credulity. He seldom pauses to consider the probability of a reported incident. Thus he sets down as a fact that a drummer-boy, beating a parley, came down uninjured after being knocked twelve feet into the air by a cannon-ball which struck the ground from under him. Several notable persons are described by Sully and his contemporaries as dying from an effusion of blood bursting forth simultaneously from every pore in the body.
Great captains given to play have commonly exhibited the same qualities at the gaming-table as on the battle-field. Not so Henry. He was not what is called a beau joueur; he was especially wanting in dash: he risked his money timidly, and betrayed too much exultation when he won, too much annoyance when he lost. His rate of play was startling. Bassompierre, speaking of the royal party, says: We remained several days at Fontainebleau playing the most furious play ever heard of. There was not a day without the gain or loss of twenty thousand pistoles (200,000 livres) at the least.' L'Estoile, referring to the same period, says that a Portuguese, named Pimentel, gained more than a hundred thousand crowns in the Court circle, to which the King contributed 340,000 livres. It would seem from his letters to Sully that his Majesty sometimes played on credit: e. g. 'I have lost at play 22,000 pistoles
(220,000 livres), I beg you to pay them directly to Faideau, that he may distribute them to the persons to whom I owe them.' 'August 20, 1609: Pay M. Edouard, Portuguese, 51,000 livres on account of what I owe him at play.'
His taste for building had higher objects than personal gratification, and conduced largely to the improvement of his capital. He made important additions to the Louvre and the Tuileries: he completed the Pont Neuf: he planned and partly completed the Place Royale; and he framed highly useful regulations for the construction of new streets. In a letter, dated May 1607, he speaks of the extensive works in progress (amongst others) at St. Germain, Fontainebleau, and Monceaux. He spent large sums in the construction of canals, and conceived the design of connecting the Mediterranean with the Atlantic by water communication.
It was finely said by Thiers in one of his latest speeches that 'Religious toleration, well-practised and well-understood, is one of the noblest conquests of the human mind, and this is the conquest of Henry IV.' This conquest is the more honourable to him because it was not owing to scepticism; and we must take into account the opposition he encountered, as well as the personal danger he incurred from fanaticism. The registration of the Edict of Nantes was vehemently opposed, and a deputation from the Parliament and clergy waited on Henry to denounce the measure as ungodly and ignominious. His reply, rough and ready, is a fair specimen of his oratory:
'I wish to inform you that it is my will that you register the edict which I have granted to the Huguenots. I gave it for the sake of peace, which, as I have obtained it abroad for my kingdom, it is my intention to establish within my realm. I know that factions have been formed in my parliament, and that turbulent priests have been instigated to preach revolt. This was the way taken before the barricades, and which led to the assassination of the late king. Be sure that I will repress such doings. I will cut the root of faction and overthrow all preachers of sedition. I have overleapt the walls of many towns, and I will show you, gentlemen, that I can leap over barricades. Talk not to me of your zeal for the Catholic faith. I am more orthodox than you, being the eldest son of the Church. You deceive yourselves if you fancy you are all-powerful with the Pope: a despatch from me would get you all attached as heretics, if I thought fit.'
In the heat of the controversy M. de Vitry challenged Sully. On being informed of it, the King sent for M. de Vitry and warned him to select a good second as he himself intended to act as second to Sully. The seconds then fought as well as the principals: