« AnteriorContinuar »
believe impossibilities: for albeit they, and all the rest of the world about them, are firmly persuaded, that the little bauble Prince of Wales was never of Queen Mary's bearing, much less of King James's begetting; yet, if these infidels had been as well-mannerly credulous, as we in France have been, of the wonderful trausmuta. tion of our Lewis le Grand, they needed not have made all this noise about the little impostor infant, but might have comforted themselves in the hopes, that he, who was a spurious Prince of Wales to-day, might some years hence, by a new French way of transubstantiation, become a lawfully begotten King of England. But the mischief of all is, these stiff-necked hereticks, ever since they fell off from the communion of the holy church, make bold to call in question all our miracles; and such a one, as this would be, I am afraid they would stick at, amongst others.
Good God! how happy had it been for France, yea, for a great part of the world, that the French had been as great infidels, upon the point of miracles, as the heretick English; and that our Lewis the Fourteenth had been hurled out of France, when but Dauphin of Viennois, as the little mock Prince of Wales has been out of England, when scarce well handled into the light? What dismal tragedies has our French impostor caused in Christendom? How many cities laid in ashes, countries ruined, families extinguished, and mil. lions of lives sacrificed to the vanity and ambition of a bastard?The Hugonots of France, of all people in the world, have most reason to be ashamed of their conduct, with relation to this ungrate monster, in the time of his minority, and of the Prince of Conde's wars: and these people, who disown a thousand things in the Catholick religion, merely upon the account of their being, in their opinion, irreconcilable to reason, did strangely contradict, not only common fame, but even reason itself, in being brought to think, that it was possible that Lewis the Fourteenth should be the true son of Lewis the Thirteenth, after near half a jubilee of years past in marriage betwixt him and Anne of Austria, his queen, without the least hope of issue, with all the concurring signs of a natural impotency on his side. But these gentlemen have paid dear enough for their opinions, and have had sufficient time and occasion to read their past folly, in their present affliction, and to call to mind, with regret, their unaccountable madness, in assisting him to re-ascend the throne of France, whom almost the whole nation, the princes of the blood, and the parliament of Paris had combined together to tumble down, and had certainly done it, if the Hugonots had not turned the scale. These poor Hugonots have had so many sad occasions since to repent their fault, that I confess it is scarce generous to upbraid the miserable with the follies they cannot now amend, and which have brought upon them so many misfortunes. And yet I must beg leave to tell them, That as their zeal to Lewis the Fourteenth's unjust interest was the original cause, in my opinion, of heaven's thus afflicting them by his hands; so indeed it was the true motive that induced this ungrate to ruin them. For thus it was, that he and his jesuitick cabal reasoned amongst themselves. If the Hugonots in the late Prince of Conde's wars, when the crown was at stake, were able to turn the balance, and to draw victory and success to the side they espoused, which at that time was ours: by the same parity of reason, if the same Hugonots shall at any time hereafter be induced to join against us, and to take our enemy's part, they will without all doubt turn the scale on the other side, and prove as dangerous enemies as formerly they were friends; and thence, by a diabolical way of reasoning, it was concluded that it was the true interest of the crown, that the Hugonots should be utterly destroyed.
By the way, I must, though contrary to my inclination, do a piece of justice to Lewis the Fourteenth, in vindicating him from a common aspersion cast upon him by the Hugonots, and it is this:Over and above the foulest ingratitude imaginable (in which charge I heartily agree with them) he is chargeable with, as to them they will needs load him to the boot, with no less than perjury and breach of faith, in not observing the famous edict of Nantz, which was granted to them by King Henry the Fourth, and declared by him to be, in all time coming, an irrevocable and fundamental constitution of the state; which edict, say they, Lewis the Fourteenth swore at his coronation inviolably to observe I confess this is a heavy charge; but, to speak no worse of the devil than he deserves, in my opinion our Lewis le Grand is not chargeable upon that score, as not being bound to the observance of that edict, even though having sworn it;if we shall consider, that, by the express words of the edict itself, King Henry obliges himself and his lawful successors only, that is, those who shall succeed to the crown of France in a lawful descent of royal blood. Now I think no man will say, that, by this clause of the edict, an extraneous person, such as our interloper Lewis the Fourteenth, is, can be included; and therefore, as having none of the royal blood of France in his veins, he cannot be justly charged with perjury or breach of faith, in not observing one edict, which was declared and meant to oblige only the lawful successors of King Henry the Fourth.
Here I cannot but relate a discourse I had once with one of the fathers of the Capuchin order, the very day after the revocation of the edict of Nantz, and which may serve to answer one objection naturally arising, from what I have said upon this head. All Paris was filled with the noise of this affair, and, in every corner, both Papist and Protestant were reasoning upon it: amongst the rest, the good Capuchin and I would needs turn both statesmen and casuists on the subject. We lost betwixt us all the arguments we could fall upon, to vindicate, if possible, the king's so apparently unjust ac. lion; and, in the end, we came to reason, how far the king was obliged to the observance of the edict of Nantz, upon account of his not being indeed the lawful successor of Henry the Fourth, the granter of it. But, said I, ' Father, though I should agree, that 'the king is not obliged by that edict at first, for the reason we have 'named, yet his posterior swearing to observe it, makes him as 'liable to the observance of it, as if he were really the true successor * to Henry the Fourth, and of the royal blood of France.' To this the Capuchin returned me a very satisfactory answer:' Sir,' says he, 'it seems you are but little acquainted with the casuistick doctrine 'and principles of the Jesuits, and have not the happiness to be ac
* quainted with Father le Chese the king's confessor, so well as
* I; and therefore I'll tell you one evasion, a wit, like his, will 'soon find out to remove all needless scruples from the king's
* mind, arising from his swearing the edict of Nantz, and it is this: 'The words of the oath, which the king did take at his coronation,
* were these: And seeing this edict was declared to by King Henry
* the Fourth, our grandfather of glorious memory, to be irrevocable,
* and that his lawful successors, the succeeding kings of France,
* should swear the same at their coronation, thefore we do thereby
* promise and swear, faithfully and inviolably to observe the said
* edict all the days of our life-time. Now these being the very
* words of the king's oath (continues the capuchin) how proper 'and easy was it for the Reverend Father le Chese, to tell him, 'Sire, you are not at all obliged by this oath, because it leans upon, 'and contains in its very bosom, a supposition, upon the removal of 'which, the whole oath itself does necessarily fall, viz. your ma. 1 jesty's beingfhegrand-child of Henry the Fourth; which neither you 'yourself, nor no body else does believe: so that, if your majesty 4 has sworn an oath, wherein there is an express supposition that
* you are the grand-child of Henry the Fourth, which you are not, 'the oath itself, as leaning on that false supposition, must necessari. '1 y fall with it, and becomes in itself void. I hope you are wiser, 4 (concludes the capuchin to mel but to think that Father le Chese 'might'use all this freedom with his ignorant bigotted pupil, in.
* slaved to his direction, especially that he is acquainted with all the 'villainies of his life, and in particular with his criminal privacies 'with the dauphiness.' Thus far the capuchin's discourse and mine; and I must say, upon reflexion, I cannot divine an evasion which Father le Chese could have fallen upon more plausible, to persuade his inslaved pupil to revoke the edict of Nantz, than this the capuchin hinted at.
But I know the reader will tell me, what means all this pother, upon a mere supposition that Lewis le Grand is a bastard, without making it appear, or proving that he is so? I acknowledge, that, of all the tasks one ever ventured upon, that of proving a man to be a bastard is the hardest; for, when a woman designs to bring another than her husband to her bed, she uses not to order such and such persons to stand by, that they may bear testimony of her crime ; and though some women may come the length of inadvertency or impudence, in being too open in their amours, yet when they have to do with a gallant that is concerned in honour, and obliged by his character, to be more reserved in his pleasures; it is not to be imagined, but she will be taught to play her part, if not chastely, yet cautiously. All the world knows that the cardinals of Richlieu and Mazarine were capable of keeping their own secrets; and yet it is to be refretted, that their amours with our invincible monarch's mother were hard enough to be concealed, so many are the spies about the courts of princes. That Anne of Austria found a way to provide an heir to Lewis the Thirteenth, without putting him to the pains of getting it him. self, will appear clearly enough, if we take a view of all the circumstances that meet in this affair, which, all taken together, leave us no room to doubt of that queen's concern for perpetuating her husband's memory at any cost.
Common fame was ever looked upon as a great presumption of the truth of a thing, especially if joined to other concurring circumstances; and never did that prating goddess extend her voice louder, than in proclaiming to the world the spurious birth of our august monarch. Time was, when she did not whisper it in corners, but expressed it in publick pictures, plays, farces, and what not? Modesty will not allow me to mention the bawdy shapes of these two sorts of bread, called to this day the Queen's Bread, and the Cardinal's Bread, sold through Paris, and in most places of France; so that, at that time, one could scarce sit down to eat, but he was put in mind of the queen and the cardinal's amours. It were in vain to enumerate the thousandth part of the satires and pasquils on this subject, for a great many years; each pen outvying one another, in the glory of propagating to posterity the love passions of these two mighty cardinal ministers of state; let this one upon Cardinal Richlieu, affixed on his palace, serve for all:
What means th' ungrate French to hate,
The only true support of state?
What greater favour could there be
Shewn to the king, queen, state, all three;
Than to provide, by his unwearied care,
The king a son, the queen a husband, and the state an heir?
Tmpotency is one of those imperfections, a man is most unwilling to take with, being that which unmans him, and renders him the scorn of his own, and the abhorrence of the other sex. It can only be proved by presumptions; and these are for the most part reducible, either to his indifference for the fair sex in general, or for his own wife in particular; the weakness of his constitution, or his cohabitins; with a woman of a sound body, and proportioned age, for a con. siderable time, without having any issue by her. All these presumptions, and some more than perhaps decency will allow me to name, will be found in Lewis the Thirteenth, the supposed father of our august monarch.
I think there can be no greater proof of a man's indifference for the fair sex, in general, or his own wife in particular, than when a man, in the heat of his youth, has a right by marriage to the bed of a beautiful and young princess, has her constantly in his view, and in his power, and yet, at the same time, can, for some years toge. ther, abstain from those embraces, which marriage has not only made lawful, but a duty. And this unwonted coldness, in youth, is the more to be jealoused, that, previous to the marriage, the man did express an eager impatience to enjoy his young bride; for the subsequent coldness and abstinence does clearly insinuate a consciousness of his being mistaken of himself, and that upon trial he has found his power not answerable to his will.
Of all this, we have a pretty clear instance in Lewis) the Thirteenth. Upon his being married by proxy to Anne of Austria, Infanta of Spain, afterwards mother to our invincible monarch, he expressed the greatest eagerness to enjoy her, and, having gone the length of Bourdeaux to meet her, his desires vented themselves in the following letter, sent her some few days before her arrival.
Since I cannot, according to my longing desire, find myself near you, at your entry into my kingdom, to put you in possession of the power I have, and of that intire affection I have in my breast to love and serve you; I send you Luyenes, one of the most trusty of my servants, to salute you in my name, and to tell you, that you are expected by me with the greatest impatience, to offer unto you myself: I pray, therefore, receive him favourably, and believe what he shall tell you, madam, from your most dear friend and servant,
The strain of this letter seems to be warm enough, and the word, offer of himself, is pretty expressive, as coming from a young bridegroom, to a young and beautiful bride. Now who would have dreamed, but this skirmishing by letters should have produced a fixed battle at meeting? But, alas! our youngster, having bedded his queen but for the space of two hours, rises up from his nuptial bed, too late conscious to himself of his unfitness for the sports of Venus. And, albeit he was in his queen's company every day for four years thereafter, his false desires never led him once again, during all that time, to try a second rencounter: Yea, it was expected by every body, he should never have ventured to bed the queen again, if his favourite Luyenes had not tricked him into it, the very night of his sister's marriage with the prince of Piedmont. For, Luyenes finding the king in a good jolly humour, and talking more wantonly than ordinary, he grasps him out of his bed, in his arms, and throwing a night-gown about him, brings him unexpectedly into the queen's bed. It was indeed pretended, that the reason of this four years abstinence was, for fear the marriage-bed might hinder the king's growth, and enervate his strength: And yet it is hard to believe, that such a politick consideration could prevail with a man that had any boiling blood in his veins. But every body will be apt, at the first dash, to draw this consequence from it, that there was more in it of a winter chilness, than usually suits with youth.
From the beginning of the year 1619, to 1638, King Lewis the Thirteenth continued to cohabit with his queen; and often in his