Make your own free website on Tripod.com

List Of Contents | Contents of The Vicomte de Bragelonne, by Alexandre Dumas, Pere
< < Previous Page     Next Page > >


"Saying certain things to him at the same time, I guarantee he will
refuse them."

"But those things - what are they?"

"I will write them, if my lord will have the goodness to dictate them."

"Well, but, after all, what advantage will that be to me?"

"An enormous one.  Nobody will afterwards be able to accuse your eminence
of that unjust avarice with which pamphleteers have reproached the most
brilliant mind of the present age."

"You are right, Colbert, you are right; go, and seek the king, on my
part, and take him my will."

"Your donation, my lord."

"But, if he should accept it; if he should even think of accepting it!"

"Then there would remain thirteen millions for your family, and that is a
good round sum."

"But then you would be either a fool or a traitor."

"And I am neither the one nor the other, my lord.  You appear to be much
afraid that the king will accept; you have a deal more reason to fear
that he will not accept."

"But, see you, if he does not accept, I should like to guarantee my
thirteen reserved millions to him - yes, I will do so - yes.  But my
pains are returning, I shall faint.  I am very, very ill, Colbert; I am
near my end!"

Colbert started.  The cardinal was indeed very ill; large drops of sweat
flowed down upon his bed of agony, and the frightful pallor of a face
streaming with water was a spectacle which the most hardened practitioner
could not have beheld without much compassion.  Colbert was, without
doubt, very much affected, for he quitted the chamber, calling Bernouin
to attend to the dying man, and went into the corridor.  There, walking
about with a meditative expression, which almost gave nobility to his
vulgar head, his shoulders thrown up, his neck stretched out, his lips
half open, to give vent to unconnected fragments of incoherent thoughts,
he lashed up his courage to the pitch of the undertaking contemplated,
whilst within ten paces of him, separated only by a wall, his master was
being stifled by anguish which drew from him lamentable cries, thinking
no more of the treasures of the earth, or of the joys of Paradise, but
much of all the horrors of hell.  Whilst burning-hot napkins, physic,
revulsives, and Guenaud, who was recalled, were performing their
functions with increased activity, Colbert, holding his great head in
both his hands, to compress within it the fever of the projects
engendered by the brain, was meditating the tenor of the donation he
would make Mazarin write, at the first hour of respite his disease should
afford him.  It would appear as if all the cries of the cardinal, and all
the attacks of death upon this representative of the past, were
stimulants for the genius of this thinker with the bushy eyebrows, who
was turning already towards the rising sun of a regenerated society.
Colbert resumed his place at Mazarin's pillow at the first interval of
pain, and persuaded him to dictate a donation thus conceived.

"About to appear before God, the Master of mankind, I beg the king, who
was my master on earth, to resume the wealth which his bounty has
bestowed upon me, and which my family would be happy to see pass into
such illustrious hands.  The particulars of my property will be found 
they are drawn up - at the first requisition of his majesty, or at the
last sigh of his most devoted servant,

"JULES, _Cardinal de Mazarin._"

The cardinal sighed heavily as he signed this; Colbert sealed the packet,
and carried it immediately to the Louvre, whither the king had returned.

He then went back to his own home, rubbing his hands with the confidence
of  workman who has done a good day's work.


Chapter XLVII:
How Anne of Austria gave one Piece of Advice to Louis XIV., and how M.
Fouquet gave him Another.

The news of the extreme illness of the cardinal had already spread, and
attracted at least as much attention among the people of the Louvre as
the news of the marriage of Monsieur, the king's brother, which had
already been announced as an official fact.  Scarcely had Louis XIV.
returned home, with his thoughts fully occupied with the various things
he had seen and heard in the course of the evening, when an usher
announced that the same crowd of courtiers who, in the morning, had
thronged his _lever_, presented themselves again at his _coucher_, a
remarkable piece of respect which, during the reign of the cardinal, the
court, not very discreet in its performance, had accorded to the
minister, without caring about displeasing the king.

But the minister had had, as we have said, an alarming attack of gout,
and the tide of flattery was mounting towards the throne.  Courtiers have
a marvelous instinct in scenting the turn of events; courtiers possess a
supreme kind of science; they are diplomatists in throwing light upon the
unraveling of complicated intrigues, captains in divining the issue of
battles, and physicians in curing the sick.  Louis XIV., to whom his
mother had taught this axiom, together with many others, understood at
once that the cardinal must be very ill.

Scarcely had Anne of Austria conducted the young queen to her apartments
and taken from her brow the head-dress of ceremony, when she went to see
her son in his cabinet, where, alone, melancholy, and depressed, he was
indulging, as if to exercise his will, in one of those terrible inward
passions - king's passions - which create events when they break out, and
with Louis XIV., thanks to his astonishing command over himself, became
such benign tempests, that his most violent, his only passion, that
which Saint Simon mentions with astonishment, was that famous fit of
anger which he exhibited fifty years later, on the occasion of a little
concealment of the Duc de Maine's, and which had for result a shower of
blows inflicted with a cane upon the back of a poor valet who had stolen
a biscuit.  The young king then was, as we have seen, a prey to a double
excitement; and he said to himself as he looked in a glass, "O king! 
king by name, and not in fact; - phantom, vain phantom art thou! - inert
statue, which has no other power than that of provoking salutations from
courtiers, when wilt thou be able to raise thy velvet arm, or clench thy
silken hand? when wilt thou be able to open, for any purpose but to sigh,
or smile, lips condemned to the motionless stupidity of the marbles in
thy gallery?"

Then, passing his hand over his brow, and feeling the want of air, he
approached a window, and looking down, saw below some horsemen talking
together, and groups of timid observers.  These horsemen were a fraction
of the watch: the groups were busy portions of the people, to whom a king
is always a curious thing, the same as a rhinoceros, a crocodile, or a
serpent.  He struck his brow with his open hand, crying, - "King of
France! what a title!  People of France! what a heap of creatures!  I
have just returned to my Louvre; my horses, just unharnessed, are still
smoking, and I have created interest enough to induce scarcely twenty
persons to look at me as I passed.  Twenty! what do I say? no; there were
not twenty anxious to see the king of France.  There are not even ten
archers to guard my palace of residence: archers, people, guards, all are
at the Palais Royal!  Why, my good God! have not I, the king, the right
to ask of you all that?"

"Because," said a voice, replying to his, and which sounded from the
other side of the door of the cabinet, "because at the Palais Royal lies
all the gold, - that is to say, all the power of him who desires to
reign."

Louis turned round sharply.  The voice which had pronounced these words
was that of Anne of Austria.  The king started, and advanced towards
her.  "I hope," said he, "you majesty has paid no attention to the vain
declamations which the solitude and disgust familiar to kings suggest to
the happiest dispositions?"

"I only paid attention to one thing, my son, and that was, that you were
complaining."

"Who!  I?  Not at all," said Louis XIV.; "no, in truth, you err, madame."

"What were you doing, then?"

"I thought I was under the ferule of my professor, and developing a
subject of amplification."

"My son," replied Anne of Austria, shaking her head, "you are wrong not
to trust my word; you are wrong not to grant me your confidence.  A day
will come, and perhaps quickly, wherein you will have occasion to
remember that axiom: - 'Gold is universal power; and they alone are kings
who are all-powerful.'"

"Your intention," continued the king, "was not, however, to cast blame
upon the rich men of this age, was it?"

"No," said the queen, warmly; "no, sire; they who are rich in this age,
under your reign, are rich because you have been willing they should be
so, and I entertain against them neither malice nor envy; they have,
without doubt, served your majesty sufficiently well for your majesty to
have permitted them to reward themselves.  That is what I mean to say by
the words for which you reproach me."

"God forbid, madame, that I should ever reproach my mother with anything!"

"Besides," continued Anne of Austria, "the Lord never gives the goods of
this world but for a season; the Lord - as correctives to honor and
riches - the Lord has placed sufferings, sickness, and death; and no
one," added she, with a melancholy smile, which proved she made the
application of the funeral precept to herself, "no man can take his
wealth or greatness with him to the grave.  It results, therefore, that
the young gather the abundant harvest prepared for them by the old."

Louis listened with increased attention to the words which Anne of
Austria, no doubt, pronounced with a view to console him.  "Madame," said
he, looking earnestly at his mother, "one would almost say in truth that
you had something else to announce to me."

"I have absolutely nothing, my son; only you cannot have failed to remark
that his eminence the cardinal is very ill."

Louis looked at his mother, expecting some emotion in her voice, some
sorrow in her countenance.  The face of Anne of Austria appeared a little
changed, but that was from sufferings of quite a personal character.

< < Previous Page     Next Page > >



Other sites:

db3nf.com screen-capture.net floresca.net simonova.net flora-source.com flora-source.com sourcecentral.com sourcecentral.com geocities.com