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By W. CHARLES KENT.
But Yesterday—ah, me! it seems no more
Life came to me with laughter in her eyes,
Sweet flowers of varied dyes.
On all around-on humblest grain and leaf;
A joy from every grief.
All Time one holiday, where, turn by turn,
Alternate skill to learn :
Reality of simplest mien and giant mould;
With nodding plumes and gold. As though 'twere Prospero's isle, the air seemed full
Of delicate sounds-ah! daintiest tones to hearThe Fairy Legends, that with elfin rule
Bade tinselled fays appear. When from the spider's thread wee antics swung,
Or in pale rings upon the moonlit sward
By Oberon's twinkling sword.
The more we grasp it, glides the gold away !
And vanishing in spray !
Dread, doleful, calm, and death-like term of woe! Sound as of mould upon the coffin lid
Dropped on the clay below.
Each dear home love that trembled on a breath : Powerless to pierce-so potent oft of yore!
“ The dull cold ear of Death."
Soft zephyrs toying with the seeded bloom
gloom. Beneath the turf, fresh air, and sunlit flowers
Ah, well I know my mouldering form shall be !
My sight may never see !
This sense of joy and grief, of hope and fear :
Earth rounds but to a tear.
MAZARIN AND HIS NIECES.
The ordinary limits within which biography should confine itself have been much outraged of late by writers who, charmed by those fine figures which stand out in the relief of history, as their portraits do in the gallery of Versailles, have made these great and haughty personages the pleasant means of bringing upon the scene a whole group of brilliant contemporaries. M. Amédée Renée had, however, far too extensive a subject before him when he proposed to himself to write the history of all those seductive daughters of the South whom the wand of the wizard, Cardinal Mazarin, brought to the court of France, to dilate upon extraneous matters ; he had enough in the Martinozzis and the Mancinis, the Lauras, the Anne-Maries, the Olympes, the Maries, the Hortenses, and the MarieAnnes, without encumbering himself with adventitious personages, so, like many another, he makes a virtue of what with him was a necessity.
And truly the subject was a strange one-strange almost to scepticism! It is difficult to believe, in our own times, that so much impropriety of conduct could have been united with talent and beauty in the same persons, and could have ensured for so long a time position and power. It is impossible, our biographer himself avows, to precisely determine even who Mazarin himself was, or whence he came. The thousand pamphlets of the Fronde, known as the “ Mazarinades," delighted to dwell on this tender point, and never omitted to sneer at the unknown origin of this wondrous family. They all, however, agreed upon one point, with slight variations of detail
, and that was that the cardinal was son of a hatter or cap-maker of Palermo, in Sicily, expelled the country by bankruptcy. They all agree, too, with difference of details, that his youth was full of vicissitudes; that in the army he was a gambler and a cheat, and as a member of the Church, he was a creature of servility. One author only-Walckenaer-writes in a different tone.
says, “ that child playing on the shore of Sicily, near the town of Mazarra. His family has not even a name; he is one of the children of Peter, of that fisherman whose humble hut you see beyond there; yet the day will come when that urchin will be Jules de Mazarin, clad in the Roman purple.” Except that the father's name was Peter, the rest of this portrait is mere romance. As to the origin of the family name there seems, however, to be the same amount of unanimity as is to be traced in other points, where all is confusion and obscurity. Scarron writes:
Elle fit du val de Mazare
Le Tourangeau de la Touraine. Count Leon de Laborde, however, confers on Peter letters patent of nobility, and
that the cardinal derived his arms—the fasces and axe
Les Nièces de Mazarin: Etudes de Mæurs et de Caractères au XVII° siècle. Par Amédée Renée.
- from Julius Cæsar! One of the best hits in the Mazarinades occurs à propos of this patrician assumption :
Pour parler avec équité,
Les verges, la corde et la hache. A still more recent authority, one to whom M. Renée appears to attach great credit, determines that Pietro, born in Sicily, and taking his name from his birthplace, Mazarino, went to seek his fortune at Rome, where he became steward to the Connetable Colonna, who married him to his "goddaughter," Ortensia Ruffalini. Jules, their child, brought up by the Jesuits at Rome, charmed every one by the precocity of his talents and the seductive grace of his manners. At seventeen years
he went in the suite of the abbé, afterwards Cardinal Colonna, to Spain. Here he not only gambled, but fell in love with the daughter of a notary; and had it not been for the old Connétable Colonna, who recalled him to Rome and to his studies, Jules might have been for ever lost to history.
On his return to Rome, the future cardinal appears to have gambled and studied alternately with equal success. He also performed the part of Saint Ignatius, patron of the Jesuits, in a drama, with such majesty and eloquence that Rome was filled with wonder. It was at this epoch that Jules, weary of theology, became a soldier. He could gamble then to his heart's content, and would probably have remained for ever a papal officer if the chance, so rare to the papal troops, had not presented itself of active service, and this decided the youth's vocation. “Captain " Mazarini was employed to negotiate, and he did so with such great success that he determined to persevere. So great was his enthusiasm, that this hybrid-half military, half priestly negotiator-once rushed between the ranks of the French and the Spaniards with a cross in his hand, shouting out, “ Peace ! peace!" There is said to have been a picture at the Capitol which represented this incident.
Captain Mazarini returned to Rome, abandoned regimentals, and assumed the cloak and violet stockings. It was at this epoch that he married his sisters advantageously the eldest to Girolama Martinozzi, the youngest to Lorenzo Mancini, a Roman baron. The father, Pietro, wedded at the same epoch, the mother of Jules being dead, a lady of high birth, Portia Orsini. Jules had at the same time been deputed to Avignon as vice-legate, and so successful was he, that he is said to have transmitted both money and jewels to his sisters on the occasion of their marriage.
After residing two years at Avignon, Mazarini was appointed nuncio to Paris, where he arrived in great state. Such was the favour in which he was held by Richelieu, that he soon after this abandoned Rome altogether, changed his name to Mazarin, and devoted himself to the service of France. The minister obtained a cardinal's hat for him, and at the death of Louis XIII. the queen-regent was seen with surprise to invest this favourite of Richelieu's with her confidence.
Mazarin, now prime minister, remained for five years without any member of his family being near his person. But when he deemed his position to be sufficiently firmly established, he sent for, first, the eldest
daughter of Madame Martinozzi, and two daughters and a son of the Mancinis. Madame de Noailles was deputed by his eminence to convoy his nieces from Rome, and Madame de Nogent awaited their arrival at Fontainebleau, whilst the Marquise de Sénecé was appointed their governess. They were at once received by the queen-regent with every mark of kindness, and all parties were anxious to see the children and pay their court to them. The all-powerful minister placed his nephew and nieces at once upon the same footing as princes and princesses of the blood. It was only five years afterwards that Mazarin sent for another batch of nieces. M. Renée insists upon this fact, which, he says, Sismondi, Ræderer, Capefigue, and the Duke de Nivernais, a descendant of the Mancinis, have all been in error upon. Laura Mancini and AnneMarie Martinozzi were pretty girls, but Olympe was very dark, or, as is said in one of the Mazarinades,
Les sourcils d'une âme damnée,
Et le teint d'une cheminée. Anne-Marie was a blonde with soft blue eyes. Laura was olive-complexioned, and pretty. Olympe had expressive eyes, a long face, and a sharp chin. The nephew was sent to the Jesuits' college, but the young ladies were all lodged with the cardinal at the Palais Royal, the queen's own residence. Mazario had formerly resided at the Hôtel de Clèves, but latterly he had taken up his abode with the queen, and herein lies the secret of the power of the wily Italian, of the reception given to his relatives, and of the scandal that found an outlet partly in Mazarinades, and ultimately in that rebellion known to history as La Fronde.
Mazarin was at that epoch forty years of age, “ l'un des beaux hommes de la cour, et le plus séduisant de tous par sa grâce, son élégance italienne, et le soin le plus exquis de toute sa personne.”. Such was the man whose fortune depended upon the favours of a Spanish lady, idle, passionate, who had been handsome, nursed in flattery, and trained to gallantry and romantic love. As to the connexion between the cardinal and Anne of Austria, its nature is attested by existing letters. The only question that history has still to solve is, were they married? This view of the subject is maintained in the Mazarinades and by La Palatine. It was said that “Captain” Mazarin was only a lay cardinal, a very convenient subterfuge. Upon this delicate subject, our author says: “It is possible that Mazarin, a lay cardinal, adopted this plan of a secret marriage in order to tranquillise the queen's scruples. It is true that nothing in their letters alludes to this matrimonial tie; but it explains their amorous correspondence, and as the admission would cut short all scandal, nous ne demandons pas mieux !” A very convenient way also of writing history.
Nothing shows better the perfect feeling of security which the cardinal had arrived at—whether by the ties of marriage or of a more Platonic affection, matters little than that, weary of the part he had to play with the queen, he established himself in a palace of his own, only, however, at the end of the garden, and he adorned it with everything that was most exquisite in Italian art-painting and sculpture. The Fronde alone came to disturb the tastes and pleasures of his eminence. When the court had to quit Paris for Saint-Germain, his three pieces were entrusted
to the care of the nuns of Val de Grâce. Mazarin was obliged to come to an agreement with Condé that he would not marry his nieces without his consent. The subsequent arrest of the prince and of his brother at the Palais Royal, after the court and cardinal had returned thither, did not stay the disorders; the revolt had spread to the provinces, parliament had declared itself opposed to him, Gaston was at the head of the Fronde, and no alternative was left to the minister but to quit the country.
Mazarinades were now at their height. The attention that the cardinal paid to his person, his hands, his moustache, daily curled, his pomatums, his lemonades, his made dishes, his pastry, even his bread, were made matters of ridicule. The nephew and nieces were expelled from France by parliament; they joined their uncle at Peronne, and together took refuge at Bruhl; near Cologne. One of the most curious results of this exile was the marriage of Laura. She had been affianced to the Duc de Mercoeur, brother to the “Roi des Halles," and the duke gallantly followed the exiles, and carried out his engagements, to the infinite annoyance and vexation of Condé. Mazarin, like the Medicis, always looked to the matrimonial alliances of his nieces as a means of attaining or securing power. He knew whence came his own successes, so he established an escadron volant to affirm and to consolidate them. He had already caught the Duke of Candale, the wealthy heir of the Epernon family, but the prize had been removed by death.
Mazarin did not cease to correspond with the queen during his exile, and at the expiration of a year, having sold the place of steward to the Marquis de la Vieuville, she sent him money enough to raise six thousand men, with whom he was enabled to penetrate through the enemy, and to join the queen and the king at Poitiers. He was accompanied on this occasion by his nephew Mancini, who is said to have been a youth of great promise, but who unfortunately fell in the fight that subsequently took place in the Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Notwithstanding the setting in of winter, Mazarin, assisted by Turenne, carried on hostilities with great vigour. He seemed to have entered heart and soul into his old profession.
When at length success attended upon his efforts, and he had once more established the queen at Paris, he sent for three more nieces, two Mancinis and one Martinozzi, besides a nephew, in order to extend his alliances. The eldest was Laura Martinozzi, who wedded the Prince of Modena ; the second, Marie Mancini, who wedded the Condétable Colonna ; and the third, Hortense, who became Duchess of Mazarin. The youngest, Marie-Anne, did not come from Rome till some time afterwards, and she became Duchess of Bouillon.
The first surprise that Mazarin reserved for the good Parisians on his restoration to power was the marriage of Anne-Marie Martinozzi with the Prioce of Conti, and that at the very moment when parliament, in red robes assembled, was condemning his brother Condé to death. He effected, indeed, an alliance with one royal prince at the very moment that he was carrying out the destruction of another.
Deaths and marriages kept constantly succeeding one another in the cardinal's family. Madame Mancini died in Paris at the age of forty-two. Her death, as well as that of her son, who was slain in the Faubourg VOL. XLIV.