Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

man's grief and passion became so intense that he raved and, after the stereotyped continental fashion, tore the hair from off his head. But as M. Fafiaux had sown, so was he destined to reap. He had vowed the ruin of the Lanroses—the father in his honour, the son in his money-but when he had engaged in the latter undertaking, he had not reckoned upon all the moneys which he had so carefully hoarded up for the benefit of Valentine being carried away in the vortex; he did not know that M. de Mably bad engaged every farthing he was worth, and something more, in the affairs of Humbé, directed by Adhémar, Count de Lanrose. When his creature, M. Mouton, who had just returned from that far-off region, announced that, thanks to well-applied advice and abundance of ardent spirits, he had got the African king and his subjects to rise up in revolt and to extirpate the colonists, M. de Fafiaux felt that he had not only brought about the ruin of M. de Lanrose, but also of his dear Valentine. This was a most melancholy dénouement to an undertaking so unwisely begun, and yet so perseveringly carried out. There was, however, no alternative; the ruin of all parties was complete. The brave old Marquis de Lanrose, upon recovering from his wound, sacrificed the whole of his property, and that without a murmur, in paying off the debts of his son; but when the latter, instead of thanking him, taunted him with making away with what was not his own, he disowned him as his child, and repudiated the selfish and unprincipled speculator for ever. It was impossible that, with the lapse of time, Monsieur and Madame de Mably should not become acquainted with the delinquencies of each during their temporary separation. There were too many officious friends, and

among them the Duchess of Haut-Mont was one of the first to sow those seeds of discord between a couple in whose interest M. de Lanrose had made so many sacrifices. There was a brief moment of grievous anger, jealousy, and disappointment, followed by days of estrangement; but the utter ruin of the count, with Adhémar's bankruptcy and flight, brought out Madame de Mably's better feelings, and she pardoned her husband, as she also required to a minor extent being pardoned. When last heard of, Monsieur and Madame de Mably were superintending a large paper factory, situated upon one of those mountain torrents which flow down from the Alps of Dauphiny, in the vicinity of Grenoble—a business acquired for them in their reverses by the forethought of Père Fafiaux—and while the Marchioness of Lanrose was expiating her errors in a convent, the more guilty Count de Mably was the happy father of a promising family, enjoying life to an extent that he never could have known or anticipated as a fashionable idler in Paris; and the good, honesthearted Lambert was installed in the family mansion, upon who se inmates he had settled all that remained of his acquisitions at Lyons and La Grande Balme. The Marquis of Lanrose claimed and received a pension from government, and with that and the assistance of his sister, the Duchess of Haut-Mont, he was enabled to live on in his own old-fashioned way, at his club and at the opera, beloved by all who were acquainted with him, and a subject of admiration to all who knew what he had suffered. He is said to have worn mourning for two long years after the loss of his wife and son, but he never spoke of family matters.

91

THE CONSTABLE DE BOURBON.

BY WILLIAM HARRISON AINSWORTH.

Book the Sixth.

CHARLES V.

I.

HOW PRANÇOIS I. WAS TAKEN TO MADRID, AND CONFINED IN A MOORISH CASTLE.

HAD the Duke de Bourbon been able to follow up the great and decisive victory won at Pavia by an immediate invasion of France, he must inevitably have become master of the destinies of that kingdom.

His march to Paris could scarcely have been opposed. The king was a captive many of his best leaders were slain—others were prisoners—the flower of the French chivalry was destroyed

the gendarmerie annihilated. All that was needed was an army. But this Bourbon could not obtain.

At no previous time was the Imperial army less under the control of its leaders than after the battle of Pavia. Though enriched by the immense booty they had acquired, the insatiate Spaniards absolutely refused to proceed upon any fresh campaign until they received their arrears of

pay;

while the German lanz-knechts and reiters, fully satisfied with their share of the plunder, disbanded, and returned to their own country.

Thus Bourbon was again prevented from reaping the fruits of his victory. The crown of France was within reach, if he could have grasped it. But this was impossible without an army. He had counted upon the aid of Von Frundsberg, but that bold commander, though devoted to him, and ready to accompany him, could not keep together his men, who were determined to place their plunder in the care of their families.

Time was thus given to the Duchess d'Angoulême, Regent of France, who displayed extraordinary courage and activity in the emergency, to prepare for the defence of the kingdom by levying fresh forces in Switzerland, by entering into an alliance with England, and by negotiating with the different Italian states.

All rights reserved.

way across

Immediately after the battle of Pavia the whole of the Milanese was evacuated by the French troops, who made their the Alps with the utmost expedition, and the different cities were at once taken possession of by the Imperialists. Francesco Sforza returned to Milan, and ostensibly resumed his former sway, but being now little better than a vassal of the Emperor, he exercised no real authority in the duchy. Hence he naturally became anxious to throw off the yoke imposed upon him, and entered into a league with the rest of the Italian states for protection against their common enemy.

Meanwhile François I. had been detained a close prisoner within the fortress of Pizzighettone, strictly guarded by the harsh and incorruptible Alarcon. But as it was not unlikely that rescue might be attempted, or that the illustrious captive, though ever so carefully watched, might contrive to effect his escape, it was judged prudent to remove him to Spain, and he was accordingly conducted to Madrid by Alarcon and Lannoy-contrary to the wishes of Bourbon, who desired to keep him in Italy.

On his arrival at Madrid, the unfortunate king was placed in an old Moorish castle, and treated with unbecoming severity: Charles V. refused to see him, hoping that the tediousness of captivity would make him yield to the hard conditions he had proposed to him.

Bourbon followed the royal prisoner to Madrid, and was received with the greatest distinction by the Emperor, but neither his brilliant achievements nor his princely rank could reconcile the haughty Castilian nobles to his presence at the court. They regarded him as a rebel and a traitor, and could scarcely refrain from manifesting their scorn and aversion. He came attended by a large retinue, and as the Emperor did not desire to assign him apartments in the royal palace, he begged the Marquis de Villena to lend him his mansion-one of the largest and most magnificent in Madrid.

“Sire,” replied the proud marquis, “I can refuse you nothing. But I declare that as soon as the Duke de Bourbon has quitted my house I will burn it to the ground as a place infected with treason, and unworthy to be inhabited by men of honour.”

“ As you please, my lord,” said Charles V., smiling sternly. “ But as I have instigated the duke to his treason, I must share the reproach, and since you will not lend him your house, I must perforce lodge him in the Alcazar.”

Bourbon expected that the treaty for the liberation of the captive monarch would be speedily concluded, but such was not the Emperor's policy. Months elapsed, and François still languished in confinement. On one point only the Emperor relaxed his severity. He permitted the Duchess d’Alençon to enter Spain, and soothe her royal brother in his captivity.

Marguerite de Valois was now a widow, the Duke d’Alençon having died shortly after his ignominious flight from the battle of Pavia, and it was the hope of the intriguing Duchess d'Angoulême that the charms of her daughter might

captivate the Emperor, who was still unmarried. The death of Queen Claude, which occurred immediately after his departure for Italy, had likewise set François I. free, and he intimated his willingness to espouse the Emperor's sister, Leanor of Austria; the princess, it will be remembered, who had already been promised to the Duke de Bourbon. To this alliance Charles V. was favourably inclined-he had long since manifested his disinclination to full his promise to Bourbon ---but he had not yet given his assent to the proposal. In fact, he intended that the marriage between François I. and Leanor should form one of the conditions of the king's liberation.

To the charms of the lovely Marguerite de Valois, who produced a great effect at the court of Madrid, and enchanted the grandees by her beauty and accomplishments, the Emperor was insensible, his choice being already fixed upon the fair Isabella of Portugala princess to whom he was subsequently united.

At this time Charles V., whose power and successes alarmed all the sovereigns of Europe, was still in the prime of early manhood, not having completed his twenty-fifth year, but the gravity of his deportment and the sternness of his aspect made him look much older. Young as he was, however, he had already crowded the events of a long life into his term of existence, and had all the sagacity, prudence, and caution which years alone are generally supposed to confer. His mode of life offered a perfect contrast to that of François I. Little addicted to pleasure, he devoted himself laboriously to affairs of state. Bigoted in religion, he was ever ready to manifest his zeal for the Catholic Church by the persecution of heresy. In manner he was serious and reserved in disposition obstinate and inflexible. He was a profound hypocrite, as was exemplified by his conduct after the battle of Pavia, when he feigned the greatest humility, and forbad any public demonstrations of joy at so important a victory. “It seems,” says Voltaire, " that at this juncture he was wanting to his fortune. Instead of entering France, and profiting by the victory gained by his generals in Italy, he remained inactive in Spain.” But he could not follow up his success. Lacking the means of carrying on the war, he resolved to impose the hardest conditions possible upon his royal captive, and extort a heavy ransom from him. With this view, the unfortunate king was treated with the unjustifiable severity we have described.

A more remarkable countenance than that of Charles V. has seldom been seen. At the period in question, his physiognomy had not acquired the sternness, almost grimness, which characterised it in later life, but even then it was cold and severe. His eyes were

grey, searching in expression, and seemed to read the thoughts of those he gazed upon. His brow was lofty, and indeed the upper part of his face was extremely handsome. The nose was well formed, though not set quite straight, but the main defect of the countenance was the chin, the lower jaw protruding so much beyond the upper that the teeth could not meet properly. Notwithstanding this drawback, which was transmitted to all his descendants, and formed a characteristic of the House of Austria, his face was cast in a noble mould, and power, inflexibility, and wisdom could be read in every lineament.

In stature Charles V. was not above the middle height, but his port was erect and stately. His limbs were strong and well proportioned, and if his movements lacked lightness and grace, they were never deficient in majesty.

Nearly a year had elapsed since the unfortunate François had been brought to Madrid, and he was still kept

a close prisoner in the Moorish castle, when one morning the Duke de Bourbon solicited an audience of the Emperor, which was immediately granted. Charles V. was in his cabinet at the time, and with him were the Viceroy of Naples and his chancellor Gattinara.

The Emperor was attired, as usual, in habiliments of a sombre hue. His doublet and hose were of black taffety. His black damask mantle was trimmed with sable, and embroidered with the cross of Santiago. Over his shoulders he wore the collar of the Toison d'Or, and his black velvet cap was simply ornamented with a golden chain.

To the Emperor's surprise Bourbon was accompanied by the Duchess d'Alençon, and a look of displeasure crossed the monarch's brow on beholding her. From his manner he appeared disinclined to receive her.

“ Sire,” said Bourbon, approaching him, “ I beseech you not to dismiss the duchess unheard.” Then lowering his voice, he added, “I have it on the physician's authority that the king's life is in imminent danger. He cannot survive many days unless he is allowed more freedom. If he dies, your majesty will lose your ransom.'

The Emperor appeared much struck with what was said, and he inquired somewhat anxiously, “Have you seen him?"

No, sire,” replied Bourbon, “but I have conversed with the physician. I pray you listen to the Duchess d’Alençon. Approach, madame,” he added to her, “his majesty will hear you."

Thus invited, the beautiful princess, whose countenance bespoke her affliction, came forward and threw herself at the Emperor's feet. Charles endeavoured to raise her, but she would not move from her suppliant posture till she had spoken.

Sire,” she said, in accents well calculated to move the Em

« ПредишнаНапред »