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'de Toulouse.' But the two years that followed this reconciliation, if brilliant and happier for the favourite than any since she had become the King's mistress, did not diminish the consideration of the King for Madame de Maintenon. He talked of her openly as his first or second friend,' and sent Le Nôtre to adjust the beautiful and ugly' grounds of Maintenon. Even Madame de Montespan, seeing the impossibility of turning away the King's liking for Madame de Maintenon, 'sent her each day some present, and sought ' refuge in her house to give birth to Mademoiselle de Blois.' It is the last flickering light of that vicious passion. Madame de Montespan's influence was gone, but she found refuge with the governess of her children away from that palace of Clagny, upon which her royal lover had lavished his wealth, in order that the mother may come in for some of the sympathy which the King's children must command. At this crisis in the favourite's life, Madame de Maintenon is not forgetful of the past or of her real feelings. She may have disliked a triumphant Montespan, but she is all in all to the Montespan distressed and abandoned.
In May, 1677, Madame de Maintenon writes to her brother:
'I have still here Madame de Montespan and M. du Maine. As soon as practicable I shall send for Mademoiselle de Tours, and all this goodly company will remain here till we leave next month for Barèges.... The King arrives at Versailles on Monday, and we go there next Sunday. Although some people may have fancied they had got rid of us, you who know us will believe that we are not so easily got rid of.'
Nor, indeed, was the voluptuous Louis XIV.'s love of other men's wives so easily extinguished; but all has an end, and the beautiful Duchesse de Fontanges, whom people have accused Madame de Montespan of having assassinated, was the last of the Grand Monarch's recognised mistresses. It may be that the criminal suit against La Voisin, which was quashed by order of Louis XIV., revealed to him the part taken in the death of Madame de Fontanges by Madame de Montespan, and indirectly awakened some remorse at being the author of that death through the jealousy he had aroused. Certain is it that, disgusted with the turn matters had taken, and yet bound by habit to seek in woman that companionship without which he could not live, his thoughts turned more and more to Madame de Maintenon, whose gentleness, caution, and soothing friendship appeared to him at that moment full of indescribable charm. In July,
1680, Madame de Sévigné writes: 'Madame de Coulanges is ever more astonished at the favours shown Madame de Maintenon. No friend shows her so much attention; she lays before his eyes a new and, to him, unknown countrythat where friendship and conversation unite without re'straint and without chicanery; he is quite charmed.' In September she adds: 'Courtiers now call Madame de Main'tenon, Madame de Maintenant; she spends every evening from eight to ten with the King. M. de Chamarande fetches 'her and brings her back in the face of the whole Court.' On the other hand, Madame de Maintenon noted exactly the feelings which her rising favour created. In July she writes to her brother: Neither speak well nor ill of me, and ' especially do not get angry; people are furious, and, as you say, they catch at anything to harm me; if they do not 'succeed, we can laugh at their efforts, and if they do we 'must bear the result with courage.' At this time she was lady in waiting to the wife of the Dauphin, and had given up the charge of the King's children.
A point of some importance which M. Geffroy has the credit of raising, by the order in which he has placed the correspondence with her family, respecting their change of religion at this period, ought, however, to be more prominently set forth. M. Geffroy seems to think that Madame de Maintenon's zeal for the conversion of her family was due to the fact that, having at last obtained a position of security, she had leisure to think of it and time to bring it about so as to secure their worldly interests as well. That she wished to befriend them is undoubted; but a phrase in her letter to M. de Villette of April 5, 1681, is indicative of the purport of those nightly two hours' conversation with the King, mentioned above by Madame de Sévigné. If God preserves the King, there will not be a Huguenot left twenty years hence.' This is unquestionably a quotation from the King's own mouth, and as such is very suggestive that she did not play in the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes that inspiring part which many have saddled her with. But that she took it as a warning upon which the King wished her to act, and that his wish became henceforward her will, is only an explanation why she tried at once to convert her family, 'so as to show them the same 'treatment she had received from her aunt, and thus mark to them the tenderness with which she loved that aunt,' and why eventually she never opposed an edict which her common sense told her was iniquitous. The fact is even more
interesting when it is borne in mind that the twenty years predicted turned out to be five years only; and the earnestness of the King in this matter must have sufficiently impressed her to have recourse, as she did, to measures which in these days would be liable to criminal prosecution. Whatever cause, however, produced it, her zeal in the conversion of the Huguenots was indefatigable. I have great pleasure in the conversion of M. de Vaux; Poignette is a good 'Catholic; M. de Marmande also; M. de Souché abjured two 'days ago. You can see nobody in the churches but myself
'leading some Huguenot.'
On July 30, 1683, the Queen died, aged forty-five, attributing to Madame de Maintenon the great change which had come over the King in the last years of her life. One of the most creditable signs of her benign influence was the fact that she had brought about a degree of harmony and good feeling amongst the members of the royal family, and especially between the King and his much-injured wife, which had never existed before. Her death,' says Madame de Caylus, 'moved the King rather than afflicted him.' At her death Madame de Maintenon wished to withdraw from Court, whereupon M. de la Rochefoucauld took her by the arm and pushed her into the King's presence, remarking: This is not the time to leave the King; he wants you.' In the following week the Court went to Fontainebleau, where, according to Mademoiselle d'Aumale, the King gave Madame de Maintenon the Queen's apartments, held his 'councils in her room, and could not bear her out of his 'sight.' Madame de Maintenon confirms this in a letter to her brother of August 7. The reason you cannot see 'me is so useful and glorious that you can but rejoice ' over it.' Towards the end of the month the world began to gossip, and Madame de Maintenon was not above noticing it. Go and see Mademoiselle de Scudéry and tell 'me all the good and bad you hear.' There is nothing to answer on the subject of Louis and Françoise; it is non'sense. I wonder, however, why she should not wish it; I 'should have thought that in this matter the exclusion would 'have been on the other side.' It may be well to remark that in translating sur l'article de Louis et de Françoise' 'on the subject of we have given M. Geffroy's meaning; but had we ourselves come upon this letter to Madame de Brinon we should have thought that the expression refers to some printed squib of the period, the allusions to Louis XIV. and Françoise de Maintenon being so patent. In September
VOL. CLXVI. NO. CCCXXXIX.
her spirits rise and fall with the King's health: 'You will 'judge by my good spirits that the King's health is not bad.' In the same month the King's return to pious ways has converted the Court. I think the Queen has asked God for the conversion of the whole Court; that of the 'King is admirable, and the ladies who seemed furthest from it now never leave the church. Ordinary Sundays ' are like former Easters.'
It is difficult, on reading this, not to remember La Bruyère's remark: C'est une chose délicate à un prince religieux de réformer la Cour et la rendre pieuse.' But it is undoubted that Louis XIV., under the earnest guidance of Madame de Maintenon, who in January, 1684, became his legitimate wife in the presence of Bontemps, the King's first valet, Harlay, Archbishop of Paris, Louvois, and the Marquis de Montchevreuil, set to work with equal earnestness to obtain his end. In Dangeau's memoirs we read that on May 21, 1684, the King that morning at church reprimanded the Marquis de Gesvres on hearing mass in an unbecoming fashion; and on December 21 the major declared that the King had commanded him to give him the names of all those who talked during mass.' This was carrying conversion to its extreme limit; nor would we notice it except that all this excess of bigoted religion on the part of the King, fanned though its beginnings may have been by the sincere desire of Madame de Maintenon to see him reform those evil ways which had been the scandal of Europe and of France, helps to exonerate her in the only act of her life which to us seems to be tainted with reproach. If to a masterful will, before which all France bowed, bigotry was once added, of what avail could have been any advice tendered against the combination of both, even by one so powerful as Madame de Maintenon? On the whole, therefore, and in the absence of all enlightening correspondence on the subject, we are disposed to believe that on the King's return to a moral life he vowed to repair the past by an act of religious intolerance, upon the wisdom of which he consulted no one till the actual time for bringing it into effect, though to those in whom he took an interest he dropped hints of his determination to extirpate Calvinism once for all from his realm.
M. Geffroy gives a few letters from Madame de Maintenon to her brother, from which we cull the following passages as showing the great change in her condition:
'Do not let my present state poison the joy of your own, since it is
a personal adventure which, as you justly remark, cannot be communicated. . . . I cannot have you made a Marshal even if I wished it, and could I do it I would not, as I am incapable of asking anything unreasonable of him to whom I owe all, and whom I have not allowed to do for myself anything which I felt was above me. You may suffer from these sentiments, but no doubt had I not also the honourable feelings which dictate them I should not be where I am.'
The foundation of St. Cyr, which is the great work of her life, was begun in the very first year of her marriageindeed it was her wedding present. The remembrance of all she had suffered in her early years had made her some years previously enter into the great advantages of an institution for the education of the poorer daughters of the nobility, and with the assistance of many charitable ladies she had founded the religious establishment at Rueil. The increasing demands for admission caused the King, at the instance of Madame de Maintenon, to give her the residence of Noisy, a dependence of Versailles, when the number of inmates was raised to a hundred, the only condition being that the applicants should be demoiselles '-ladies, that is to say, of noble birth. Madame de Brinon was the superioress and the Abbé Gobelin the chaplain. Madame de Maintenon visited this convent almost daily, and reported to the King everything respecting it that could interest him. He ended by being personally interested in its success, and, having taken the institution by surprise, he was so pleased with his visit and with the good it did to so many families that had become impoverished in his service, that he conceived at once the notion of raising the house to much greater proportions by fixing the number of admissions at two hundred and fifty, and St. Cyr, near Versailles, was chosen as a site. Mansard was the architect. The building was commenced on May 1, 1685, and finished in July, 1686, having cost 1,400,000 francs of the time, a sum equal to 56,000l. Madame de Montespan's château of Clagny had altogether cost nearly 120,000l.
We shall not follow Madame de Maintenon's letters at this stage in her career, the first in the spiritual line which we have pointed out, as the constant repetition of good advice, religious caution, governess's instruction, and salutary corrections rather inclines us to Ste.-Beuve's opinion, that 'elle 'devint ennuyeuse par dévotion,' though in one of her letters she pleads guilty to the necessity, and still more lest we should ever exclaim with Madame du Deffand: Que vous 'me faites haïr tant de vertus ! ' But it is impossible to