Charlotte Mary Yonge.

Stray pearls. Memoirs of Margaret de Ribaumont, viscountess of Bellaise (Volume 2) online

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Frintod by R. & R. Clakk, Edinburgh.

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Inside Paris {Annora's Narrative) . . ... 1


Condolence {By Margaret) 21


St. Margaret and the Dragon . . . . .38


St. Margaret and the Dragon (By Annora) . . .50

The Lion and the Mouse 70




Family Honour .89

The Hague . 103





The Expedient (^n7iora-'s iVarrai we) , . . .148


The Bceuf Gras {Annom's Narrative) . , . .165


Mad ame's Opportunity (^wiora's iNTarraim) . . . 176


The New Maid of Orleans {Margaret's Narrative) . . 190




Porte St. Antoine {Margarets Narrative) . . 209

Escape {Annorah Narrative) ...... 233

Bridal Pearls 248


Annora's Home 264





Annora's Narrative.

My sister lias asked me to fill up the account of the days
of the Fronde with what I saw within the city. She
must permit me to do so in English, for I have taken
care to forget my French ; and if I write perilous stuff
for French folk to read she need not translate it.

I will begin with that Twelfth-day morning when we
were wakened by more noise and racket than even Paris
could generally produce. There had been a little tumult
about once a week for the last six months, so we could
endure a great deal, but this was plainly a much larger
one. Some of the servants who went out brought word
that the Queen had carried off the King in order to be
revenged on Paris, and that the people, in a rage, were
VOL. II. .^ /^ B


breaking the carriages of her suite to pieces, plundering
the waggons, and beating, if not killing, every one in
them. We were of course mightily troubled for my sister,
and being only two women we could not go out in quest
of her, while each rumour we heard was more terrible than
the last. Some even said that- the Louvre had been
sacked and plundered ; but old Sir Andrew Macniven,
who had made his way through the mob like a brave old
Scottish knight, brought us word that he could assure us
that our own Queen was safe in her own apartments, and
that there had been no attack on the palace.

Still he had himself seen carriages plundered and
broken to pieces by the mob, and the gates were closely
guarded. Seeing our distress, he was about to go with
the Abbe to the Louvre, to learn whether my sister and
her son were there, when one of the servants came up to
tell us that M. Clement Darpent requested to see my
mother, having brought us tidings of Madame la Yicom-

My poor mother never could endure the name of M.
Darpent, because she did not like my brother's friendship
with any one not noble, but she was as glad to see him
then as if he had been a Montmorency or a Coucy.

I always liked his manners, for they were even then
more English than French. Though going through all
due form, he always seemed to respect himself too much
to let any one be supercilious with him ; and however she


miglit begin at a vast distance, she always ended hj
talking to him just as if he were, as she called it, our
equal As if he were not infinitely the superior of the
hundreds of trumpery little apes of nobles who strutted
about the galleries of the Louvre, with nothing to do
but mayhap to carry the Queen's fan, or curl her poodle's

I see I have been writing just as I felt in those
fervent days of my youth, when the quick blood would
throb at my heart and burn in my cheek at any slight
to the real manhood and worth I saw in him, and pre-
ference for the poor cringing courtiers I despised. The
thought of those old days has brought me back to the
story as all then seemed to me — the high- spirited, hot-
tempered maiden, who had missed all her small chances
of even being mild and meek in the troubles at home, and
to whom Paris was a grievous place of banishment, only
tolerable by the aid of my dear brother and my poor Meg,
when she was not too French and too Popish for me.
But that was not her fault, poor thing.

My mother, however, was grateful enough to Clement
Darpent for the nonce, when he told how he had seen
Meg safe beyond the gates. Moreover, he assured us that
so far from 8000 horse being ready to storm the city (I
should like to have seen them ! Who ever took a fortress
with a charge of horse ?) barely 200 had escorted their
Majesties. The Coadjutor had shown M. Blancmesnil a


note from the Queen telling him so, and summoning him
to St. Germain.

It was likely, M. Darpent said, that the city would
be besieged, but he did not foresee any peril for us, and
he promised to watch over us, as he would over his own
mother, and that he would give us continual intelligence
so that we might provide for our safety. It was amusing
to see how eagerly my mother accepted this offer, though
she had almost forbidden him the house when my brother
left us.

I am sure my mother was as uneasy as any of us
when he did not appear on the morning after he had
gone with his father on the deputation to St. Germain.
However, he did come later on in the afternoon, bringing
a note from Meg. He had not seen her, only Mcolas and
little Gaspard, and he, like all the rest, was greatly in-
censed at the manner in which the madstrates had been
treated. His father had, he said, caught a violent cold,
and had been forced to go to bed at once. In fact it
really was the poor old man's death-stroke, and he never
quitted his chamber, hardly even his bed.

The Parliament, in a rage, put forth a decree, declaring
the Cardinal an enemy to the State, and ordering him to
leave the Court and kingdom on that very day, calling on
all loyal subjects to fall on liim, and forbidding any one
to give him shelter.

We heard loud acclamations, which made us think

L] inside PARIS. 5

something unusual was going on, and it was the publica-
tion of this precious edict. I wondered who they thought
was going to attend to it when M. Darpent brought in a
copy. And my mother began to cry and talk about Lord
Strafford. I had to think of Eustace and bite my tongue
to keep my patience at our noble " thorough " Wentworth
being likened to that base cringing Italian.

Clement Darpent said, however, that every one had
passed it by acclamation, except Bernai, who was a mere
cook, and gave fine dinners to such a set of low, loose
creatures that he was called " le caharetier de la coiirr
Moreover, they proceeded to give orders for levying 4000
horse and 10,000 foot. This really did mean civil

" I knew it," said my mother ; " it is the next step
after denouncing the King's minister. We shall see you
next armed cap-a-ine, like our young advocates at home,
all for the King's behalf, according to them."

Of course she was thinking of Harry Merrycourt, but
she was surprised by the answer.

" ISTo, Madam ; nothing shall induce me to bear arms
against the King. So much have I learned from the two
living persons whom I esteem the most."

" And they are ? " asked my lady.

" My mother and monsieur voire filsl' he replied.

And I could not help crying out —

" Oh sir, you are right. I know that Harry Merry-


court feels noiv that nothing can justify rehellion, and
that he little knew whither he should be led."

" And yet," said he, clasping his hands together with
intensity of fervour, " when all is rotten to the core, venal,
unjust, tyrannical, how endure without an endeavour at
a remedy ? Yet it may be that an- imposing attitude will
prevail ! Self-defence without a blow."

It seemed as if such war as they were likely to wage
could do no one much damage, for they actually chose as
their generalissimo that ridiculous little sickly being, the
Prince de Conty, who had quarrelled with the Court about
a cardinal's hat, and had run away from his mother's
apron string at St. Germain to his sister's at Paris.

On recalling it, all was a mere farce together, and the
people were always stringing together lampoons in rhyme,
and singing them in the streets. One still rings in my
head, about a dissolute impoverished Marquis d'Elbeuf,
one of the house of Lorraine, whom the prospect of pay
induced to offer his services to the Parliament.

" Le pauvre Monseigneur d'Elbeuf,

Qui n'avait aucun ressource,
Et qui lie mangeait que du boeuf.
Le pauvre Monseigneur d'Elbeuf,
A maintenant uii habit neuf

Et quelques justes dans sa bourse.
Le pauvre Monseigneur d'Elbeuf,

Qui n'avait aucun ressource."

There was more sense in taking the Duke of Bouillon,


though he was not his brother, M. de Turenne. These
young men were in high spirits. You will find no traces
of their feelings in the memoirs of the time, for of course
nothing of the kind would be allowed to pass the censors
of the press. But there was a wonderful sense of liberty
of speech and tongue during that siege. The younger
gens de la rohe, as they were called, who, like Clement
Darpent, had read their Livy and Plutarch, were full of
ideas of public virtue, and had meetings among themselves,
where M. Darpent dwelt on what he had imbibed from
my brother of English notions of duty to God, the King,
and the State. It may seem strange that a cavalier
family like ourselves should have infused notions whicli
were declared to smack of revolution, but the constitution
we had loved and fought for was a very Utopia to these
young French advocates. They, with the sanguine dreams
of youth, hoped that the Fronde was the beginning of a
better state of things, when all offices should be obtained
by merit, never bought and sold, and many of them were
inventions of the Court for the express purpose of sale.
The great Cardinal had actually created forty offices for
counsellors merely in order to sell them and their rever-
sions ! The holders of these were universally laughed at,
and not treated as on a level with the old hereditary office-
bearers, who at least might think themselves of some

We smile sadly now to think of the grand aspirations,


noble visions, and brave words of those young advocates,
each of whom thought himself a very Epaminondas, or
Gracchus, though M. Darpent, on looking back, had to
confess that his most enthusiastic supporters were among
the younger brothers, or those with less fortunate fathers,
for whom the Paulette had never been paid, or who felt
it very hard to raise. He himself brought sincere ardour
for his own part, and was full of soaring hope and self-
devotion, though I suspect his father would soon have
silenced him if the poor man had been able to think of
anything beyond his own sick-chamber.

The real absurdity, or rather the sadness, of it was, as
we two saw, that the fine folk in whom the Parliament
put its trust merely wanted to spite the Cardinal, and
cared not a rush for the Parliament, unlike my Lord
Essex, and our other Eoundhead noblemen, who, right or
wrong, were in honest earnest, and cared as much about
the Bill of Eights and all the rest of their demands as Sir
Harry Vane or General Cromwell himself, whereas these
were traitoi's in heart to the cause they pretended to
espouse. Even the Coadjutor, who was the prime mover
of all, only wanted to be chief of a party.

One part of his comedy, which I should like to have
seen, was the conducting the Duchesses of Longueville
and Bouillon along the Greve to the Hotel de Ville to
ask protection, though I do not know what for.

However, there they were, exquisitely dressed, with


Madame de Longueville's beautiful hair daintily dishevelled,
on foot, and each with a child in her arms. Crowds fol-
lowed them with shouts of ecstasy, and the Coadjutor
further gratified the world by having a shower of pistoles-
thrown from the windows of the Hotel de Yille.

It was good sport to hear Sir Andrew Macniven dis-
course on the sight, declaring that the ladies looked next
door to angels, and kenned it full well too, and that he
marvelled what their gudemen w^ould have said to see
them mak' sic a raree show of themselves to all the loons
in Paris !

The streets soon became as quiet as they ever were,
and we could go about as usual, except when we had
warning of any special cause for disturbance. We were
anxious to know how poor little Madame d'Aubepine was
getting on, and, to our surprise, we found her tolerably
cheerful. In truth, she had really tamed the Croquele-
bois ! As she said afterwards in her little pathetic tone,
so truly French, when they both so truly loved Monsieur
le Comte (wretch that he was) how could they differ ?
You see he was not present to cause jealousies, and when
Madame Croquelebois found that Cecile never blamed
him or murmured she began to be uneasy at his neglect
and unkindness.

Though, of course, at that moment he was out of
reach, being in the army that was blockading us. Not
that we should ever have found out that we were


blockaded, if we could have got any letters from any one,
except for the scarcity of firewood. My mother wanted
much to get to our own Queen, but the approaches to
the Louvre were watched lest she should communicate
with the Eegent; and we were cut off from her till
M. Darpent gave his word for us, and obtained for us a
pass. And, oh ! it was a sad sight to see the great
courts and long galleries left all dreary and empty. It
made me think of Whitehall and of Windsor, though we
little knew that at that very time there was worse there
than even desolation.

And when at last w^e reached our poor Queen's
apartments, there was not a spark of fire in them. She
was a guest there. She had no money, and all the wood
had either been used up or pillaged ; and there we found
her, wrapped in a great fur cloak, sitting by the bed
where was the little Lady Henrietta.

When my mother cried out with grief that the child
should be ill, the poor Queen replied with that good-
humoured laugh with which she met all the inconveni-
ences that concerned herself alone : " Oh no, Madame,
not ill, only cold ! We cannot get any firewood, and so
bed is the safest place for my little maid, who cares not
if she can have her mother to play with her ! Here is a
new playfellow for thee, ma mie. Sweet Xan will sit
by thee, and make thee sport, while I talk to her

l] inside PARIS. 11

So the child made the big four-post bed, all curtained
round, into a fortress, and I besieged her there, till she
screamed with glee, while the Queen took my mother's
arm, and they paced the rooms together, sadly discussing
the times and the utter lack of news from home, when
the last tidings had been most alarming. Poor lady ! I
think it was a comfort to her, for she loved my mother ;
but we could not but grieve to see her in such a plight.
As we went home we planned that we would carry a
faggot in the carriage the next day, and that I would
take it upstairs to her. And so I actually did, but the
sentry insisted on knowing what I was carrying hidden
in a cloak, and when he saw it, the honest man actually
burst into tears that the daughter of Henri IV. should
be in such straits. The Queen kissed me for it, and
said I was like the good girl in Madame d'Aulnoy's tales,
and she would fain be the benevolent fairy to reward
me. And then the little Princess insisted that I was
Capuchon Eouge, and that she was my Grandmother
Wolf, and after making her great eyes at me, she ate me
up with kisses over and over again ! Ah ! how happy
children can be. It was strange to remember that this
was the way King Charles's little daughter spent that
30 th of January 1

We had told M. Darpent of the condition in which
we found the Queen, and he told the Coadjutor, who
went himself to see her, and then stirred up the Parlia-


ment to send her regular supplies both of firing and
provisions, so that she never suffered again in the same

Each day increased our anxiety for His Sacred Majesty.
Lord Jermyn made his way into Paris, and came to con-
sult with my mother, telling her that he had little doubt
that the iniquitous deed had been consummated, and
between them, by way of preparing the unhappy Queen,
they made up a story that the King had been led out to
execution, but had been rescued by the populace. I
could not see that this would be of much use in soften-
ing the blow ; in fact, I thought all these delicate false-
hoods only made the suspense worse, but I was told that
I was a mere downright English country lass, with no
notion of the refinements such things required with
persons of sensibility.

So I told them, if ever I were in trouble, all I asked
of them was to let me know the worst at once. One
great pleasure came to the Queen at this time in the
arrival of the Duke of York, who made his way into
Paris, and arriving in the midst of dinner, knelt before
his mother. He knew no more of his father than we
did, and the next day. Sir Andrew Macniven, at the
Queen's urgent entreaty, undertook to go to St. Germain
with a letter from her, asking what Queen Anne had
heard from England.

The siege was not so strait but that unsuspected


persons could get in and out, but after all, the poor
Queen's anxiety and suspense were such that Lord
Jermyn was forced to disclose the truth to her before Sir
Andrew came back with the letters. She stood like a
statue, and could neither move nor speak till night, when
the Duchess of Vendome came and caressed her until at
last the tears broke forth, and she sobbed and wept
piteously all night. The next day she retired into the
Carmelite convent in the Faubourg St. Jaques, taking
my mother with her. As, according to French fashion,
I was not to be left to keep house myself, my mother
invited Sir Francis and Lady Ommaney to come and take
charge of me, and a very good thing it was, for we at
least had food enough, and my dear good friends had
very little.

We were all stunned by the dreadful news from
England. It was very sad to see old Sir Francis, who
had borne without complaint the loss of land, honours,
and home, nay, who had stood by to see his only son die
at Naseby, sitting like one crushed, and only able to
mutter now and then : " My Master, my good Master."
You might know an English exile in those days by the
mourning scarf and sad countenance. I remember a
poor wild cavalier whom my mother and Meg never
liked to admit when Eustace was not at home, ooiuoj
down on his knees to Lady Ommaney for a bit of black
silk, when he looked as if he was starving?.


We coiikl not, of course, have evening receptions for
our poor hungry countrymen in the absence of my
mother, and with such sorrow upon us all, but Lady
Ommaney and I did contrive pies and pasties, and all
sorts of food that could be sent as gifts without offence
to the families we thought most straitened.

The poor of Paris itself were not so very ill-off, for
there were continual distributions of money and flour
10 keep them in good humour, and there were songs

" Le bon tenis que c'etait
A Paris durant la famine,
Tout le monde s'entrebaisait
A Paris durant la famine,
La plus belle se contentait
D'un simple boisseau de farine."

La plus belle was the Duchess of Longueville, who
tried hard to persuade the people that she was one with
them. Her second son had been born only a few days
after her expedition to the Hotel de Ville, and she asked
tlie City of Paris to stand godmother to him in the person
of the provosts and dchevins. Afterwards she had a
great reception, which Clement Darpent attended, and
he told us the next morning that it had been the most
wonderful mixture of black gowns and cassocks, with
blue scarfs and sword-knots, lawyers, ladies, warriors,
and priests.

He continued to bring us tidings every day, and Sir


Francis and Lady Ommaney really liked him, and said
he was worthy to be an Englishman.

His father remained very ill, and day by day he told
of the poor old man's pain and shortness of breath.
Xow Lady Ommaney had great skill in medicine, indeed
there wxre those w^ho said she had done the work of
three surgeons in the war ; and she had been of great
service to my dear brother. Lord Walwyn, when he first
came to Paris. She thought little or nothing of the
French doctors, and waxed eloquent in describing to
Clement Darpent how she would make a poultice of bran
or of linseed. Now he had learned of my brother to
read English easily, and to converse in it on all great
matters of state and policy, but the household terms and
idioms were still far beyond him, and dear good Lady
Ommaney had never learned more French than enabled
her to say " Coiiibien " when she made a purchase. Or if
they had understood one another's tongue, I doubt me if
any one could have learned the compounding of a poultice
through a third person, and that a man !

So, while I was labouring to interpret, Lady Ommaney
exclaimed, " But why should I not come and show your
mother ?"

" Ah ! if you would, ^ladame, that w^ould verily be
goodness," returned Clement in his best English.

Well, I knew Eustace and Meg would have called me
self-willed, when my mother had once made such a noise


about our taking shelter from Broussel's mob at the
Maison Darpent ; but this was a mere visit of charity
and necessity, for it was quite certain that the two good
ladies could never have understood one another without
me to interpret for them. Moreover, when Clement
Darpent had rescued my sister from the mob, and was
always watching to protect us, we surely owed him some
return of gratitude, and it would have been mere cruelty
in me to have stayed away because they were bourgeois.

So I went with Lady Ommaney, and was refreshed
by the sight of that calm face of Madame Darpent, which
she always seemed to me to have borrowed from the
angels, and which only grew the sweeter and more exalted
the greater was her trouble, as if she imbibed more and
more of heavenly grace in proportion to her needs.

We did our best, Lady Ommaney and I, to show and
explain, but I do not think it was to much purpose.
The materials were not like our English ones, and though
mother and son were both full of thanks and gratitude,
Madame Darpent was clearly not half convinced that
what was good for an Englishman was good for a French-
man, and even if she had been more fully persuaded, I
do not think her husband would have endured any
foreign treatment.

When we took leave she said, " Permettez moi, ma
cJidrc demoiselle'' and would have kissed my hand, but I
threw my arms round her neck and embraced her, for


there was something in her face that won my heart more
than it had ever gone out to any woman I ever saw ; and
I saw by Lady Ommaney's whole face and gesture that
she thought a great sorrow was coming on the good
woman. I believe she was rather shocked, for she was a
Huguenot by birth, and a Jansenist by conviction, and
thus she did not approve of any strong signs of affection
and emotion ; but nevertheless she was touched and very
kind and good, and she returned my embrace by giving
me her sweet and solemn blessing.

And as he put me into the carriage, Clement, that
foolish Clement, must needs thank me, with tears in his
eyes, for my goodness to her.

" Wliat do you mean, sir," said I, " by thanking me
for what I delight in and value as a daughter ? "

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