Constance Charlotte Elisa Lennox Russell.

The rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance online

. (page 3 of 22)
Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 3 of 22)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

island of Ouessant (Ushant), he reminds the King of the
following facts concerning his pedigree : namely, that Rene de
Rieux de Sourdeac, son of the above and great-great-grand-
father of Louise de Keroualle, " had the honour of being fourth
cousin to Henri IV. ; that since first the de Rieux had made
alliances in France, they had always been related to all the
Kings of France either in the third, fourth, or fifth degree ;
that the family of the de Rieux descends through the women,
and is allied to all the most considerable crowned heads of
Europe ; and lastly, that the family take their origin from the
ancient (royal) Dukes of Bretagne in a direct line and without
any break or change of name."

The descendant of such a line can scarcely be called a

parvenue " !


The Real Louise de Keroualle

In " Court Beauties of Whitehall " we also find the follow-
ing curious statement : " Her father (Louise's) went to Paris
as a boy to seek his fortunes. Of this (sic) he appears to have
amassed in the wool trade sufficient to enable him to retire in
middle life to his native Brittany." Now! it is the author who
must be wool-gathering : as a matter of fact, Guillaume de
Penancoet was a soldier ; he took part in the sieges of
Hesdin (1639) and of Arras (1640), where he was wounded;
and he was also at the sieges of Aire and Bapaume in 1641.
On his return from Perpignan he was made " Guidon de la
Compagnie des Gens d'Armes " of the Cardinal Richelieu,
and later on he commanded " I'arriere ban de I'eveche de

" Revenons a nos moutons," it is quite possible that on
the farms of the Comte de Keroualle the little Breton sheep
throve and were duly shorn and their wool sold, but this
would no more have constituted him a wool-trader than it
does his descendant, the Duke of Richmond, because he is
the owner of the celebrated South Down wethers !

With regard to the several ways of spelling the family
name of the Duchess of Portsmouth, which the author of
" Court Beauties " brings forward as another proof of the
uncertainty of her origin, surely this rather tends to show
its antiquity ! We have found it in old family documents
and historical archives spelt in the following ways : Keroel,
Kerouazle, Kerhouet, Kerhoual, Kerhouent. In England it
was generally written Querouaille, and the common people
called it " Carwel." In the old family papers it is usually
" Keroualle," which rendering we therefore adopt.

Louise's father married, as we have said, Marie-Anne de
Pldeuc, daughter of the Marquis du Timeur. She was dis-


The Real Louise de Keroualle

tinguished for her piety and her ardent love of the Catholic
rehgion, and after she married (in 1645), we find her con-
stantly standing as " marraine " at the " conversion " of
Huguenot soldiers at Brest.

John Evelyn in his Diary writes on the 15th June, 1675,
as follows : " Mr. Querouaille and his lady came to see Sir
Richard Browne (Evelyn's father-in-law), with whom they
were intimately acquainted in Bretagne at the time Sir Richard
was sent to Brest to supervise his Majesty's sea affairs.^ This
gentleman's house was not a mile from Brest. He seemed
a soldierly person and a good fellow. His lady had been
very handsome, and seemed a shrewd understanding woman.
His daughter was Duchess of Portsmouth, and in the height
of favour, but he never made any use of it." According
to Monsieur Walckenaer, Louis XIV., in consequence of the
line that the Comte de Keroualle took with regard to his
daughter, wrote the following letter '^ to him : —

" Les services importants que la duchesse de Portsmouth
a rendues a la France m'ont decide a la creer pairesse, sous le
titre de duchesse d'Aubigny, pour elle et toute sa descendance.
J'espere que vous ne serez pas plus severe que votre roi, et que
vous retirerez la malediction que vous avez cru devoir faire peser
sur votre malheureuse fille. Je vous en prie en ami et vous le
demande en roi. — Louis."

The Comte de Keroualle died in 1690, his wife survived
till 1709, There are portraits of them and their only son at
Goodwood. The son, whose name was Sebastien, was in the

' Sir Richard Browne was Ambassador in Paris during the reij^ns of
Charles I. and Charles II.

2 Published in Monsieur Walckenaer's Mi'iiioircs sur Madame de Scvigm\
vol. iii.



(From a picture in the possession of the Duke of Richmond at Goodwood)

The Real Louise de Keroualle

French navy under the Due de Beaufort, and assisted in the
taking of Candia in 1669 : he died unmarried on his return
from this expedition at the age of twenty-two.

Of the two daughters of the Comte de Keroualle, the
youngest, Henriette-Mauricette, married firstly, Philip Herbert,
Earl of Pembroke, K.G., and secondly, Timoleon Gouffier,
Marquis de Thois, by whom she left issue. The eldest daughter,
Louise-Renee, the subject of this sketch, was born at Keroualle,
near Brest, in September 1649, and was baptized at Guiler (or
Guylar), for the poor of which place she left money in her
will. Louise was sent for her education to the " Couvent des
Ursulines " at Lesneven, a small town near Brest. Owing to
the poverty of the Keroualle family, it would have been quite
impossible for her parents to give Louise any " dot," and she
was destined to a religious life ; but when she was nineteen,
though then somewhat too thin, she had so much promise of
beauty, as well as such great intelligence and rare charm of
manner, that some relations in power intervened and brought
her to Paris, and in the year 1668, chiefly through the influence
of Monsieur de Chaulnes, Governor of Brittany, a friend of
her father's, she was nominated one of the Maids-of-honour
(" aux appointemens de 150 livres ") to Henriette, Duchesse
d'Orleans, sister of Charles II., and sister-in-law of Louis XIV.,
celebrated in French history as " Madame d'Angleterre." The
Maids-of-honour were under the surveillance of Mademoiselle
Anne de Bourgogne, with Mademoiselle Catherine d'Orville as
" sous-gouvernante," and the other Maids-of-honour were
Mademoiselle Marie-Simone du Bellay, Mademoiselle Helene
Fourre de Dampierre, and " Madame " du Lude, afterwards
Chanoinesse de Poussay. We are distinctly told that at this
time the conduct and demeanour of Mademoiselle de Keroualle


The Real Louise de Keroualle

was most decorous, and that nothing was ever heard against her.

*'Ouoi qu'il en soit par froideur ou par vertu, par ambition ou

par scrupule religieux, Mademoiselle de Keroualle ne fit point

parler d'elle " (Le Moine). Her name only appears in one

document of the time. This was in January 1669, // propos

of a grand reception given to the Venetian Ambassador by the

Duke and Duchess of Orleans, when a ballet took place, and

Charles Robinet addressed some verses to Madame, in which

he alludes to —

" Votre fille d'Honneur nouvelle,
Egalement mignone et belle,
Et gai, par dessus ses appas,
Salt figurer de galans pas,
Ce qui veut dire qu'elle danse,
Et sait a ravir la cadence."

The following year Mademoiselle de Keroualle accompanied

the Duchess of Orleans when she went with Louis XIV. to

visit his new acquisitions in Flanders. The royal progress,

which started in April 1670, was most ostentatious, the King

being attended by an army of 20,000 men, Lauzun riding

at the head of the Royal Guards ; and " le roi Soleil " was

accompanied by the Queen, the Princesses, the Dauphin, La

Grande Mademoiselle, and Madame de Montespan, each with

their respective suites making a colossal retinue. Madame's

alone consisted of 237 persons, amongst whom were the

Comte and Comtesse de Grammont, Anthony Hamilton,

the Marechal de Plesis, and the Duke of Monmouth.

They stayed at Dcuai, Courtrai, Tournay, and Lille. Before

they reached Douai they went through many vicissitudes, and

Mademoiselle de Montpensier, " La Grande Mademoiselle," in

her Memoirs gives a most amusing account of the hardships


The Real Louise de Keroualle

they encountered. The weather was very bad and the roads
were atrocious ; the horses stuck in the mud and sank in the
bogs, and carriages were overturned. The first night the
cavalcade had to cross a river to get to Landrecies, but it
was so swollen as to be practically impassable. Some of the
party attempted it, and had to leave their coaches in the
river, and unharnessing their horses ride back to terra firma.
The Queen refused to go further, and the King's party had
to take refuge at one o'clock in the morning in a miserable
house in a meadow, where there were only two rooms, one
bed, and one candle ! Some mattresses were brought by the
King's servants and laid on the floor side by side, there being
no room for any space between them. The Queen was horrified
at the idea, and said, " Cela serait horrible, quoi coucher tous
ensemble!" but the King replied, "Quoi! etre sur des matelas
tout habilles, il y a du mal .^ " La Grande Demoiselle was
asked her opinion, and said that she saw none ; so the Queen
consented, and the King and Monsieur and len or tv/elve
ladies prepared to rest. The Queen laid on the one bed,
which she had placed so that she could see all round the
room, and the King said to her, " Vous n'avez qu'a tenir
votre rideau ouvert : vous nous verrez tous " ! Amongst
the sleeping party Mademoiselle mentions Madame de Monte-
span and Mademoiselle Louise de la Valliere, and the Queen
and Madame had their respective Maids-of-honour in waiting,
so we may presume that Louise de Keroualle had her share
of the mattresses. In the second room were Monsieur de
Lauzun and " les grands officiers du Roi." Monsieur de
Lauzun was constantly being called away, and each time had
to pass through the room containing the sleeping beauties.

Once in doing so his spur caught in the coiffe of Mademoiselle


The Real Louise de Keroualle

de la Valliere, which made every one laugh excepting the
Queen ; but even the latter could not help smiling at a remark
of Madame de Thianges, who said that hearing the cows
and the asses in the adjoining stable made her feel devout.
After this we are told they all slept, and the next morning
at four o'clock Monsieur de Louvois came in to tell the
King a bridge had been made and the journey could be

When the royal party arrived at Lille, Madame said, as if
on the spur of the moment, that she could not be so near
England without going to see her beloved brother, and accord-
ingly, accompanied by her suite, which included Mademoiselle
de Keroualle, she went to Dunkirk, where King Charles sent the
English fleet, commanded by Lord Sandwich, to meet her and
convey her to England. Madame reached Dover on the 25th
May, and the King, who was an expert oarsman, rowed himself
out several miles to meet her at five o'clock in the morning :
he was accompanied by the Duke of York, Prince Rupert, and
the Duke of Monmouth. On the 29th the Queen, for whom
Charles had sent, arrived at Dover, and great rejoicings took
place, that being the tenth anniversary of the Restoration. There
were gay doings also on other days. The King took his sister
to Canterbury, where a ballet and a comedy were acted before
her, and a banquet was given in their honour at St. Augustine's
Abbey. On the 8th June the royal party went for an expedi-
tion in one of the King's yachts.

Happy as she always was to see her brother, and much as she

enjoyed her sight-seeing, Madame's chief object in this visit was

to influence him in the matter of the secret treaty with France

which had been privately discussed between him and Louis XIV.

for nearly two years. Charles had made several attempts to


The Real Louise de Keroualle

arrange a league with France before the Triple Alliance which
that able diplomatist, Sir William Temple, had brought about
in 1668, and on the day that it was signed Charles wrote to his
sister and said, " Finding my proposition to France receave so
cold an answer, which in effect was as good as a refusal, I
thought I had no other way but this to secure my selfe." Very
soon after the Duke of Buckingham commenced to enter
into projects with the Duchess of Orleans for defeating the
ends of the Triple Alliance, and the Duke of York, who had
just joined the Church of Rome, fell in with their plans, out of
zeal for his new religion. Early the next year King Charles,
impatient at the delays of France, took the affair into his own
hands, and continued the correspondence with the Duchess of
Orleans, sending her a cypher " very easy and secure," He
wished she could come to England and " then things might
have been adjusted." Louis wrote to Charles that " he was
happy in the Duchess of Orleans being the mediatrix," and thus
it came about that the meeting at Dover was pre-arranged.
Charles suggested that Turenne should be of the party to fix
the plan of war, but Colbert dissuaded him from this project, as
a thing likely to produce comment. Sir Richard Bellings, the
Queen's secretary, was employed by King Charles to draw up
the treaty.

The English King, who loved the PVench and hated the
Dutch, agreed to support Louis XIV. in his plans against the
United Provinces (the acquisition of Holland having always
been one of the favourite projects of Le Grand Monarque), and
dt the same time to back the French interests in Spain ; Louis
on his side engaging to give Charles such pecuniary aid as
would make him independent of his Parliament, and promising
that, should an insurrection break out in England, he would


The Real Louise de Keroualle

send an army to assist him at his own cost. At this time
there was no standing army in England, and there were
not sufficient troops to protect Whitehall against the rising of
the mob, and Pepys writes soon after the Restoration, "The
King is not able to set out five ships at this time without great
difficulty, we neither having money, credit, nor stores."

On his accession Charles found himself in a state of great
embarrassment, and all his adherents, and those who had helped
him in his long wanderings, as well as many who had done
nothing for him, were expecting to be recouped for moneys
they had either lost or paid. His first Parliament did little
to remove his difficulties, notwithstanding their fervent ex-
pressions of loyalty. It was to relieve himself from these
worries that he became the husband of Catherine of Braganza,
but the funds which this alliance placed in his hands were in
great part swallowed up by the expense of the armament
despatched to assist the Portuguese fleet, and by the preparations
for taking possession of Bombay, ceded to the King on his
marriage. The financial embarrassment was as bad as ever in
a few months. Carte declared he " proved to demonstration
that Charles's revenue, even though it had been managed with
economy, was inadequate to the expenses of his government."
The Commons alone could legally make him grants, and this
they would not do without interfering with all his prerogatives,
and he was bent on emancipating himself from their control.
Dalrymple says : " In an evil hour for Charles, Clarendon had
taught him in the very first years of his reign to receive money
from France unknov/n to his people." These were the
inducements which led to the ignominious treaty which has
been called the " Traite de Madame." It was signed at Dover
on the 1st of June, 1670, by Colbert and the four English


The Real Louise de Keroualie

Commissioners, Clifford, Arlington, Arundel, and Bellings, and
was soon after ratified by the private seals of the two kings.
A stipulation was made in the treaty that Charles should
avow himself a Catholic ; he suggested that he should do so
before he declared war against the Dutch, but the French King
wished the declaration of war to come first. It was left to
the Duchess of Orleans to negotiate concerning this matter,
with the result that Charles gave way.

Ten days later Madame left Dover, but not before she had
her portrait painted by Henri Gascar, a French portrait-painter
then visiting England. This picture, which represents her as
Diana, and is seven feet three by five feet, was painted for her
brother the King : it now belongs to the Duke of Richmond,
his descendant, and is at Goodwood House.

Madame had a profusion of fair hair, bright blue eyes, a
beautiful nose, perfect teeth, and a complexion " petri de lis
et de roses," which Lord Chesterfield said was unparalleled.
Benserade the poet writes : " Madame brillait comme une
rose panachee dans un parterre de fleurs " ; but it Vv'as not so
much for beauty that she was celebrated as for her indescribable
charm and that "je ne sais quoi " which is more than beauty.
Her infinite grace and the winning sv\'eetness of her manners,
combined with much wit and great intelligence, gained all hearts.
The best description of her is given by Cosnac, Bishop of
Valence, who summed up by saying she was the most perfect of
women and had divine qualities.^ She was undoubtedly a great
flirt, and many lovers were attributed to her ; she had had none
of the usual pleasures of youth when at sixteen years of age
she was married to a man whom no right-minded woman could

^ Cosnac went to Holland to buy up the whole edition of a libel which was
published there called llistoire galante de M. et du Comte de G.


The Real Louise de Keroualle

do anything but loathe and despise, so that she threw herself,
sometimes rather recklessly, into the manners and customs of
the day. But Lord Chesterfield said that, though her discourses
would charm an anchorite, something of majesty about her
would stifle the breath of any unruly thought, and on her
deathbed she solemnly averred to her worthless husband that she
had never been unfaithful to him.

When she left Dover she wept bitterly at parting from her
brother, who loaded her with presents and three times bid his
dear " Minette," as he called her, a fond farewell, as if he could
not let her go. The poet Waller wrote an ode on her departure
from Dover, and presented it to her as she was about to sail.
It ended with these words : —

" Eut we must see our glory snatched away,
And with wann tears increase the guilty sea ;
No wind can favour us, howe'er it blows,
We must be wretched, and our dear treasure lose ;
Sighs will not let us half our sorrows tell.
Fair, lovely, great and best of nymphs, farewell."

Little did any of her friends at Dover think how soon these
prophetic words would be realised : in three weeks' time this
enchanting creature was snatched away for ever, to the infinite
grief not only of France but of all Europe. Her end was very
sudden. She was only seriously ill for nine hours, but during
that time had the most agonising pain,^ which gave rise to the
belief that she had been poisoned. This, however, was certainly
not the case. A post-mortem examination took place before the
English Ambassador, at which, besides the French doctors, Dr.

' The Conite de Trcville, who was a witness of her death, was in such a terrible
state of mind that he had to be taken away from St. Cloud, and iie ultimately
became a monk.



Henriette, DucHiissi-: d'Oklhaxs (■ .Madami:.")
From a pictuic in possession of the Duke of Riclimond)

The Real Louise de Keroualle

Hugh Chamberlain, and Boscher a surgeon, both sent by King
Charles, assisted. Boscher, though he found no traces of poison,
thought that Madame had been very unskilfully treated. She
was always delicate, the circumstances of her birth being enough
to account for this. She came into the world in the midst of
terrors, being born at Exeter soon after the Queen her mother,
more dead than alive, had taken refuge there for fear of falling
into the hands of the Parliamentarians, and it was then that
King Charles I. wrote the pathetic little note to Sir Theodore
iMayerne, his chief physician, which still exists : " Mayerne, for
the love of me go to my wife.— C.R." Sir Theodore, though
very ill himself, went at once to Exeter, and took with him Sir
Martin Lister. They found Henrietta Maria with fever and a
sort of paralysis, and it was then that Madame first saw the
light. She never was strong, and had a slight though imper-
ceptible curvature of the spine. The fatigue of the royal
progress through Flanders had greatly tried her, and it was
noticed at the time how ill she looked, but her wonderful
vivacity and high spirits deceived many of those around her.
On her return to St. Cloud she had, greatly against the advice
of her doctor, taken to bathing in the river, which had very bad
results, and her death was due to what would now be called
"acute peritonitis."

St. Simon, in his AUmoires, maintains that she was poisoned,
but his testimony cannot weigh against those of magistrates,'
bishops, and all the doctors who were present at the time and
at the post-mortem examination, whereas St. Simon was not then
born, and wrote his account seventy years after the event.

Madame bore her sufferings with the greatest patience and
fortitude. Almost her last words were, that the only regret
she had in quitting this world was leaving her brother Charles.

Z2 c

The Real Louise de Keroualle

"Je Tai toujours aime plus que ma vie, et je n'ai nulle autre
regret en la perdant que celui de le quitter." When all hope
was over Mademoiselle de Montpensier went to Madame's
husband, and asked that she might have another confessor, as the
Cure of St. Cloud, who had been in to see her, only remained
with the dying woman such a short time. " Vous avez raison,"
said the heartless man. "Son confesseur est un Capucin, qui
n'etait bon qu'a faire figure dans un carosse aux voyages pour
dire qu'il y en avait un ; mais il faut autre chose a la mort ;
qui enverrons-nous chercher qui eut un bon air a mettre dans
la Gazette qui eut assiste Madame a la mort ^ Ah ! j'ai trouve
le fait : I'Abbe Bossuet, qui est nomme a I'Eveche de Condom,
est habile homme, homme de bien. Madame lui parlait quelque-
fois, cela sera tout a fait bien." When Bossuet was suggested,
Madame expressed great eagerness to see him. She had been
deeply impressed, the year before, by the sermon he had preached
at her mother Queen Henrietta Maria's funeral at Chaillot,
and ever since then had gone to him regularly three times a
week for religious instruction. Meanwhile her friend Madame
de la Fayette had sent for Monsieur Feuillet, a stern Jansenist
priest, who was with Madame for a long time, and spoke to her
of her mode of life in very severe terms. After she had
received Extreme Unction, Bossuet arrived. He was far more
tender and sympathetic. His first words were " L'esperance,
I'esperance," and he brought great comfort to the poor troubled
soul and remained with her for an hour till the end came. In
writing to his brother he gave a touching account of her last
moments, in which she showed such courage and fervent piety
that he was greatly overcome. She gave him on her deathbed
a large emerald ring, which he ever after wore. It remained for
him to immortalise her by the magnificent " Oraison P'unebre,"


The Real Louise de Keroualle

which he so eloquently delivered at her funeral — his masterpiece,
many passages of which have often been quoted. "Madame,
cependant, a passe du matin au soir ainsi que I'herbe des champs.
Le matin elle fleurissait ; avec quelle grace, vous le savez, le
soir nous la vimes sechee " ; and again, " Madame fut douce
envers la mort, comme elle I'etait envers tout le monde " ; and
again, " O nuit desastreuse ! O nuit efFroyable ou retentit tout
a coup comme un eclat de tonnerre cette etonnante nouvelle,
' Madame se meurt, Madame est morte.' "

The Duchess of Orleans was buried with greater state, it
is said, than any previous royal personage, and Madame de
Sevigne wrote that " Heaven could not have more exquisite
music than Lulli and his violins provided for the ceremony."

The news of Madame's death was in the first instance con-
veyed to King Charles by Sir Thomas Armstrong, a young
Englishman who happened to be in Paris at the time,^ and who
relates with what a violent outburst of grief the King received
the intelligence. Charles loved his sister better than any one
else, and had always from his earliest childhood kept up a most
loving correspondence with her, and at the news of her death
he took to his bed for many days. At first he believed the
rumour that she had been poisoned, but after he had seen the
Marechal de Bellefonds, who was with Madame till her death
and her special friend, he was quite disabused of his erroneous

1 3 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

Online LibraryConstance Charlotte Elisa Lennox RussellThe rose goddess and other sketches of mystery & romance → online text (page 3 of 22)