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their persecutors with valor and manly cour- clining carelessly on their swelling divans, age. His common-sense and innate poetical they contracted alliances and waged wars ; by spirit preserved him from their violent excesses. a smile, by a glance, they often decided the After conquering their adversaries, the Puri- most important questions. Their whole life tans were as intolerant and prone to perse was a net-work of intrigues, in which now the cution as the royalists, although they distin- heart, and now the interests of the state, played guished themselves most advantageously from the most prominent part. the latter by their morality and fervent piety. Henrietta was exceedingly skilled in this inNevertheless, the maintenance of their suprem- tricate game, and Louis XIV. was perfectly acy would have done more harm than good to justified in intrusting her with a confidential England, inasmuch as, from their narrow mission to England. Under the mask of a minded point of view, they were intent on mere visit to her native country, she was to converting the state into a house of prayer, and enter upon the most important negotiations, the nation into a pious conventicle. A reac- whose object was nothing short of a total tion was the inevitable consequence of this change in the foreign policy of the country. system, against which the people could not but England, which had hitherto stood at the head rebel in the interest of individual liberty. of the Protestant states, and had but recently
concluded an alliance with Sweden and the Dutch Republic for the protection of the Reformation, and as a measure of safety against
the thirst of France for conquest, was to disCHAPTER XV.
solve this “triple alliance," which the nation MLLE, DE QUEROUAILLE-ALLIANCE WITH
had hailed with the utmost enthusiasm, declare
war against the Dutch Republic, and assist At the royal court had arrived a guest who Louis XIV. in his plans for destroying the carried to the highest pitch the licentiousness equilibrium of Europe. Both the triumph of and immorality already prevailing there. This Catholicism and the supremacy of absolution, was the beautiful and accomplished but frail whose most prominent representative, and, as Henrietta of Orleans, the sister of Charles II., it were, incarnation, was the King of France, and sister-in-law of Louis XIV., and doted was to be achieved by this arrangement. The upon by both. She was one of the amiable fate of the world was at stake, and every thing ladies of that period, who combined with the depended upon the decision at which Charles utmost frivolity a polished mind and an ex- II. should arrive. Circumstances greatly fatraordinary spirit of intrigue. They were the cilitated Henrietta's task. The king had rediplomatists in petticoats, the forerunners of warded the faithful services of his pedantic those arrogant mistresses who, toward the end but honorable minister, Clarendon, by ignoof the seventeenth and the beginning of the miniously depriving him of his office, and sendeighteenth centuries, exercised at almost all ing him into exile. The men to whom the courts a decisive influence over the political government was now intrusted were a set of affairs of the time. These ladies coupled love frivolous and unreliable profligates. * Clifford, with politics, coquetry with diplomacy; from a Ashley, Buckingham, Arlington, and Laudertender tête-à-tête they went to a cabinet meeting, dale, were the unprincipled servants whom the and tied and untied with their delicate white king called into the cabinet and appointed to hands the threads of political intrigues; re the most responsible offices. From the initial
letters of their names the people made the , which he had become partial; but the younger word “cabal,” which is still used to stigmatize generation covered their heads with the enora system of falsehood, rascality, and infamy. mous wigs purchased in Paris, which was Surrounded and influenced by such men, then, as now, the leader of fashion. The coats Charles lost the last trace of shame and scru were adorned with costly embroidery, and the pulousness. Engrossed only with his pleas- elegant hanger which the gentlemen wore ures, he left the whole government in the hands threatened entirely to supplant the heavy of his ministers.
broadsword. Gay-colored ribbons floated down Henrietta was familiar with her brother's from the shoulders, and the large number of weaknesses, and, to profit by them, she bad rosettes fastened to the attire of the gentlebrought with her a female ally. This was men imparted to them an effeminate appearMlle. de Querouaille, one of the most beautiful ladies of France. No sooner had the king The ladies at the court of Charles II, wore beheld her, than he fell in love with her. His light, transparent dresses ; they unhesitatingly sister had foreseen this, and given beforehand displayed the charms which their mothers had the necessary instructions to the beautiful carefully veiled, and took pains, if possible, to lady.
outstrip their French patterns. English gayety At St. James's palace a most brilliant festi- | combined with French coquetry into a strange val was given in honor of the guests. The mixture, which, like champagne and porter apartments and halls were resplendent with mixed together, gave rise to a doubly heavy fairy - like magnificence. Costly hangings, intoxication, and degenerated into the most splendid Gobelins, covered the walls with licentious frivolity. To the ball succeeded a their artistic embroideries ; on the wainscoted mask, specially written for the occasion by ceilings hung large lustres, shedding a flood Dryden, who gra cually eclipsed the already of light over the gorgeous scene. The tables superannuated Davenant, and, with Waller, were loaded down with viands and liquors, shared the special favor of the king and his which were served up in silver and golden courtiers. On the stage appeared nearly all vessels. Immediately after the banquet, com the gods of Olympus, represented by ladies menced the ball, which the king opened with and gentlemen of the court, who celebrated the beautiful Mlle. de Querouaille. They the arrival of the Duchess of Orleans with the were followed by the extravagant and reckless most fulsome flatteries. Already, for several Buckingham with the charming Henrietta of days previous to the performance, all the acOrleans, and the other dancers. The gloomy tresses were in the highest state of excitement fanatics and rude warriors were supplanted by in regard to the interesting question which of licentious and supercilious courtiers, who imi- them would be selected to play the part of tated the example of their sovereign. They Venus. This was a matter of the highest imturned in the mazes of the dance until they portance for the ladies of the court, as the sesank exhausted upon their chairs. The gen- lection would be equivalent to a public declaratlemen lavished on the ladies the most gallart tion which of them was generally considered compliments, which, like their whole costume, the most beautiful. All the mistresses of the they borrowed from France. Here and there king believed themselves justly entitled to the some old cavalier, who had fought under rôle, and left no means untried to attain their Prince Rupert or the Duke of Newcastle, wore object. Prayers and threats, blandishments his own gray hair, and the ancient uniform to 1 and tears, were resorted to, and none of them
were willing to renounce their claims, but | direction. That game is reserved to his marather determined to carry matters to extremi- jesty, and no loyal subject is allowed to hunt ties. Charles was greatly puzzled, and the and kill game in the royal park.” affair engrossed him and his cabinet far more A general burst of surprise and admiration than the most important political questions. greeted the appearance of the goddess of Finally, after innumerable consultations and love. Surrounded by Cupids, a silver chatsecret conferences, it was resolved to bestow iot, adorned with shells and drawn by two upon Mlle. de Querouaille the role of the doves, moved across the stage. A surpassgoddess of love, whereby she was, as it were, ingly beautiful woman carelessly reclined in it. elevated to the position of the king's favorite Like small serpents, countless black ringlets mistress. The whole court had watched these curled round the white forehead, under which important deliberations with the utmost sus two dark eyes were burning. The most prepense, and it was now filled with the most in- cious pearls and diamonds, flashing around tense curiosity, assembled in front of the stage. her charming head, were to represent the wa
The curtain rose. A number of inferior ter-drops clinging to the goddess, who had just genii announced the approach of the Olympian risen from the foam of the sea.
A blue gosgods, at last appeared the procession, amid samer mantle surrounded her slender form, the brilliant notes of a solemn march. At and served to unveil rather than bide her the head of the procession strode Ashley, a charms. At her side strode the Earl of member of the “cabal,” representing Jupiter, Rochester, representing Mars, and clad in a wearing a golden crown on his head, and hold- magnificent cuirass; while Lord Wilmot, as ing a sceptre in his hand. At his side ap- Vulcan, limped after them. A beautiful boy, peared Lady Arlington as Juno, seated in a Amor, accompanied her, and handed her from chariot of gold drawn by peacocks. Then fol- time to time a gilded arrow, wbich she sent lowed the other gods and goddesses, who were from her small bow into the midst of the greeted with more or less applause by the audience. audience, and gave rise to all sorts of witty Great was the admiration excited by this remarks and exclamations.
goddess of love; especially were the king and “Good faith,” said a courtier, rather loudly, the other gentlemen in ecstasies at her loveli“there comes Grammont as Apollo, with his ness and grace, while the ladies gave vent to tbin legs, which look precisely like walking- their envy by all sorts of malicious remarks. sticks. A man must be very bold to walk on Mlle. de Querouaille was about to recite the them.”
lines which she was to utter as Venus, when “And yet,” wbispered another, “he has suddenly there emerged from behind the padded them with more than twenty pounds scenes a similar chariot, likewise drawn by of wool. What do you think of Lady Clifton doves. From it descended another goddess as Diana?"
of love, wearing the same costume, and who “As she has no Actæon, she has placed was no other than Barbara Villiers, the king's antlers on her husband's head. But hush! | former mistress. The slighted mistress could if I am not mistaken, Venus and the Graces not bear the idea that a stranger should be are about to step upon the stage.”
preferred to her; therefore, at the risk of “Mlle. de Querouaille! By Jove, she is incurring the king's anger, she had chosen beautiful !”
the same mask, and appeared so unexpectedly “You need not hope for any thing in that I to dispute with her the palm of beauty. Both
the spectators and actors were not a little , lady;"moreover, it no longer belongs to you, surprised at this spectacle. All fixed their but to your consort." eyes on Charles, who, speechless with aston “Do not remind me of the sacrifice which ishment, seemed at first to be at a loss I was obliged to make to circumstances. whether to laugh or be angry at this improvi- We poor princes are entitled to your comsation.
passion." During this piquant scene, the two fair ri “Poor king !” jested the lady. vals looked daggers at each other. Mlle. “I cannot offer you any thing save my de Querouaille, however, did not lose her self-heart.” possession, and commenced reciting the lines **** Which I should have to share with a in broken English. No sooner, however, had hundred other women-among them with she concluded, than Barbara Villiers recited Barbara Villiers, Nell Gwynn, and so forth." a few verses perfectly adapted to the situa “You are cruel. But I swear to be faithtion. Thus a most charming contest of love ful to you.” and grace took place between them in the “Do not commit perjury. I have been presence of the whole court, which followed warned of your oaths. The king, I have with undisguised interest the developments been told, is constant only in inconstancy.” of the strange scene. At last the king rose “Put me to the test, and ask of me whatand put an end to the mask which had been ever you please,” cried Charles, whose desires interrupted by Barbara's appearance.
He were still more inflamed by her resistance. took the hands of the two ladies, and whis “I am a good Catholic, and, therefore, solipered into the ear of each a word sounding citous for the salvation of my soul. A heretic half like an entreaty, and half like an order. never can be my lover. My Church would not The rivals then approached and embraced forgive such a sin.” each other before the audience, which burst “For your sake, then, I will embrace the into loud applause. Peace seemed momen- Catholic faith.” tarily restored; but in the hearts of the two “That is quite acceptable,” she replied, jealousy fanned as before its devouring flames. with charming coquetry. “At least I should
It was not until late in the evening that do something for my Church, and would be the king succeeded in getting rid of the irk- less guilty. Tell me, are you in earnest about some Barbara, and in holding an undisturbed your promise ? " tête-d-tête with Mlle. de Querouaille. Henri “As sure as my name is Charles, and as I etta of Orleans had instructed her beforehand am King of Great Britain. Like your Henry as to the course she was to pursue in regard | IV., I say, “Such a woman is worth a mass.'" to the king. Every favor which she should “He said, 'Paris is worth a mass.'” grant to Charles was to be sold at an exorbi “I would give Paris and London for a kiss tant rate. In a remote cabinet the king lay from your rosy lips.” at the feet of the goddess of love. A discreet "You will not attain your object so very Jamp shed its rosy lustre over her charming fast. I am not only a good Catholic, but also form. The distant notes of seductive, volup- a good Frenchwoman. So long as you side tuous music penetrated faintly into the room. with the heretical Swedes and Dutch, and op
"I will give my crown,” said Charles, “for pose France, you shall not touch the tip of my you and your love."
little finger.” "I do not ask for it,” replied the French So saying, she withdrew her delicate white
hand from that of the king, and pouted so a limited one, and hitherto no king has succharmingly that Charles entirely lost his pres-ceeded in governing without a Parliament." ence of mind, and would have consented to all “Then you must be the first to do so. I that she asked of him.
have been authorized to promise you the as“I envy your king, not for his glory, but sistance of his majesty King Louis, who will for the fair subject who so warmly advocates furnish you all the means you need for imitathis cause; but you do not know what you ask ing his example."
I am to dissolve the triple alliance, So saying, the beautiful woman drew from that is to say, defy the public opinion of all her bosom a treaty fully drawn up, and conEngland, which, in consideration of this alli- taining all the points which she had menance with the Protestant powers, overlooks all tioned. With a seductive smile, the ambassamy other weaknesses and faults. Do not look dress handed the enamoured king the paper at me so wonderingly with your large blue which she wished him to sign. Charles read eyes, to which I cannot refuse any thing; but it, and seemed to hesitate. In spite of his it would be no joke for me if all parties should recklessness, he shrank from a plan aiming at rise against me, and stun my ears with their nothing less than the restoration of England cries. It would be a dangerous, very danger to the Catholic faith, and the abolition of ous step; for, to tell you the truth, the people Parliament. It is true, he was perfectly insubmit to a great many things so long as I do different in religious matters, and looked upon not act contrary to their Protestant convic- | the repeal of the constitution only as a retions. In this point they are like a restive moval of an irksome restraint; but at the horse, prancing and perhaps throwing off his same time he was fully alive to the dangers in rider, if he should not sit well in the saddle." which such a step might involve him. Too
I always thought you a good horseman, indolent to make up his mind on so important and able to manage your charger."
a subject, he possessed not sufficient courage “What will Parliament say?" asked Charles and energy either to accept or to reject the thoughtfully; for, notwithstanding his frivolity, offer. Mlle. de Querouaille watched with be possessed sufficient understanding to see anxious suspense the features of her lover. his position in its true light. Only his pas. On perceiving that he hesitated, she seized his sions blinded him, and to them he mostly hands, and with caresses and blandishments sacrificed his better conviction.
pressed into it the pen with which he was to “Parliament ?” gmiled Mlle. de Querouaille, sign the treaty. playing with her fan, and gently waving it; “You do not know what you ask of me." “you will chase it away if it should incom “A proof of your love. It is only on this mode you, just as I chase away the fly buzzing condition that I can belong to you.” around me at this moment."
The lovely woman bent over his shoulders “That is not so easy as you seem to ima as if to read the contents of the important gine. Parliament is not a fly, but a wasp document. Her fragrant breath intoxicated which knows how to sting."
her silky ringlets touched his cheeks, " Then you will kill the wasp. Do what the and her electric contact fanned the fire burnKing of France did with his Parliament. He ing in his heart to a devouring flame. Her silenced its members, riding-whip in hand.” eyes gazed so longingly and beseechingly into
“But there is a vast difference between his own, that he was scarcely able to withiEngland and France. Our government is only I stand her. He himself did not know exactly