H. (Henri) Forneron.

The court of Charles II, 1649-1734, comp. from state papers by H. Forneron; online

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London. His judgments of his English con-
temporaries are cold, and his opinions of them
rather charitable than otherwise. He only
betrays his true feelings, in his indifference to
their misfortunes. Nevertheless, he was a
pleasant companion and a steady friend. He
never stirred, when he was in Paris, from the
chimney corner of Madame de S^vigne, to
whom he was so attached that he said to her,
" Those who like you better than I do, love you
far too well." He had also a strong affection
for La Fontaine, and had an exquisite feeling
for the beauties of his Fables. That poet
addressed to him some charming verses, the
occasion, of which was Barrillon's mission to
England,

There never was such a great diplomatic
school as the one formed by Mazarin and
Lionne. Their pupils were sufficiently numer-



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BARRILLON. 195



ous for each to specialize his talents, and to be
brought forward as soon as he was wanted.
Thus, according to the requirements of the
hour, Colbert de Croissy, the austere Ruvigny,
and the honourable and polished Courtin were
sent to London. When they had taken all
soundings, and given faithful pictures of the
men and women who had influence at Court
and in the House of Commons, the unscrupu-
lous Barrillon was sent to enter into close
relation with corrupt politicians, and to bribe
them.

Barrillon began with a check. He had
hardly taken possession of the French em-
bassy, when the Prince of Orange arrived in
London.

William of Nassau, the nephew of Charles,
and great-grandson of Henry IV. and Admiral
Coligny, was the bitter enemy of Louis XIV.
His life passed in a mortal struggle against that
king. William was, by reason of his bad lungs,
always at death's door, and because of the
weakness of his army, always being beaten.
But neither ill-health nor defeat wore him out ;
and he ended by bringing all Europe into a
coalition against France, by bringing out great



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196 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

generals, by uniting the Pope and Protestants,
and by driving against France all the military
and moral forces of the civilized world. He
had taken the sudden resolution to go to Eng-
land, and make a desperate effort to detach
Charles from the French alliance, by asking the
Princess Mary, daughter of the Duke of York
and presumptive heiress to the throne, in mar-
riage. The English people were wild with joy,
when they learned of the proposed union be-
tween the champion of the Reformation and
their possible sovereign. Bonfires were lighted
in the most remote villages, when the news
arrived. Neither Charles nor his brother dared
to struggle against the patriotic and religious
impulse of the whole nation. The marriage
was suddenly decided upon. Barrillon, feeling
that opposition was useless,^ asked Pompon ne
whether it would not be good policy to accept
the inevitable with a good grace, and compli-
ment the Prince of Orange on the success of
his suit, on meeting him in the rooms of the
Queen or the Duchess of Portsmouth, where he
was to be found every day.

The Duchess of Portsmouth felt, with Barril-
1 Barrillon to Pomponne, Nov. i, 1677;



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BARRILLON. 197



Ion, that the Dutch Prince was on the top of
such a high and strong wave of public favour,
as to render quite vain any opposition she
could give to the match. She appeared at the
festivities given in honour of the Prince and
Princess. But they had hardly sailed for Hol-
land than she fell dangerously lU.^ Charles
continued to visit her, and gave audiences to
Barrillon in her room.* For six weeks she
was confined to her bed.' If her illness dis-
turbed the statesmen at Versailles, it set the
prudes there smiling. Madame de Scudery*
in retailing the gossip of the Court and town
to Bussy de Rabutin, Madame de S6vign6's
cousin, told him how K^roualle had, crucifix in
hand, been preaching in her bed to the King of
England to forsake his mistresses and lead a
virtuous life. She was at the last extremity,
when a slight change for the better took place,
and she got up, had herself dressed, and
dragged herself to her Sedan chair, to be car-

1 Barrillon to Pomponne, Dec. 13, 1677.

2 Ibid,, Dec. 16, 1677.

* She took to her bed before Dec. 11, 1677, and was still
confined to it on Jan. 20, 1678.

* Letter to Bussy Rabutin, May 27, 1678, t. iv., p. 114.
It took a long time in those days for news to travel.



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198 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

ried to the French play, where she had heard
the king was to be with Madame Mazarin.
The players had come to London for a short
time, and Charles attended all their representa-
tions. He was sitting as close as he possibly
could to the Duchess Mazarin^ when the
Breton came to place herself beside him. She
not only wanted to show herself along with
her great rival, but to assert her power, and
her determination to hold her own against all
those who wanted to take her place. She
knew 5he was regarded as a cast off, and that
Miss Fraser, daughter of the king's head phy-
sician, Mrs. Elliot, and two others, wanted to
succeed her. Lastly, she had to defend and
help her brother-in-law. Lord Pembroke, who,
in one of those orgies into which young Eng-
lish rakes of high family plunged so often
in the reign of Charles, had killed a watch-
man. The Earl was tried by his peers, and
only found guilty of manslaughter, to absolve
him from the penalty of which, the exercise
of the king's prerogative of mercy was re-
quired."

* fiarrillon to Pomponne, Jan. 20, 1678.
» Ibid,, Jan. 13, 1678.



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BARRILLON. 199



The Struggle between the two chief rivals
became less sharp.

The Duchess of Cleveland fell into final
disgrace at about this time. She was not able
to keep within the bounds of external decency,
and her behaviour was a cause of scandal even
at Whitehall. Finding herself shunned, she
returned to London under the pretext of put-
ting a stop to the too great intimacy between
her daughter, the Countess of Suffolk, and the
Duchess Mazarin, and to break the matrimonial
engagement into which her son, the Duke of
Grafton, had entered with Arlington's daughter.^
But the letters addressed to her by the Che-
valier de Chastillon, the lover whom she had
left behind her in quitting France, were inter-
cepted in France and shown to Charles, who,
wishing to get rid of her, took them in bad part."
Chastillon was a captain in the Due d'Orleans*
guard, penniless, without sense or wit, and
professionally handsome. He lived on his
good looks,* nearly every night got implicated
in some low brawl, and had a mania * for in-

^ Barrillon to Potxiponne, Nov. a2, 1677.

• Scudfery to Bussy, July 14, 1678.

• Saint-Simon. ♦ De S£vign£.



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200 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

dulging in ill-natured practical jokes. The
Duchess of Cleveland was not allowed to have
her son with her, and had to hasten back to
France,^ where Charles, — he fearing she thirsted
for vengeance, — placed a close watch upon her
movements.

As to the Duchess Mazarin, she had ceased
to be as dangerous as the Duchess of Ports-
mouth imagined, since the king's lust was no
longer stimulated by resistance. Not only did
the former Duchess make peace with Louise,
but she took care to keep off from the king
all aspirants to the rank of favourite, not ex-
cepting her own bosom friend, the Marquise
de Courcelles, tUe Sidonie de L^noncourt.
This French lady was, in her fifteenth year,
given in marriage to the Marquis de Cour-
celles, who perceived, almost immediately after
their nuptials, that Louvois was her lover, and
ran the greatest risks to obtain meetings with
her. The bride was locked up by her husband
in the convent where she met the Duchess
Mazarin in the quality of a prisoner. Both
captives escaped. When the Marquise was
running away, she chanced to fall in with the
^ Barrillon to Pomponne, Jan. 30, 1678.



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BARRILLON, 201



Marquis du Boulay/ cousin of the Chancellor
Sill^ry. To see her was to adore her ; and he
became her protector and took her to Geneva.
Boulay was as jealous as her husband. " My
poor Boulay," she wrote,* " I am dreadfully
afraid of losing patience I The pleasure of re-
maining innocent does not make up for the pain
of being continually browbeaten and insulted."
If she knew how to analyse her sentiments
with light grace, she was also skilled in the
art of depicting her charms. " I am tall," she
wrote of herself, "and my eyes are anything
but small. But I never open them completely,
which gives them a soft and tender expres-
sion. I have a beautifully moulded bust, divine
hands, fairly good arms — that is to say, arms
that are rather thin ; but I have a compensa-
tion for this misfortune in the pleasure I find
in knowing that my legs are perfect and beat
those of any other woman in existence."
Madame de Courcelles hoped to effect a con-
quest of Charles when she left Du Boulay, to
make her way to England, which was then,

^ Fran9ois Bruslard du Boulay, cousin of the Chancellor
Silldry, and younger brother of the Marquis de Broussin.
* Marquise de Courcelles : Mtmoires^ p. 125.



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202 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

De Courtin said, the refuge of all the ladies
who had quarrelled with their husbands. But
the Duchess Mazarin did not believe in the
perfect sincerity of her conventual fellow-
prisoner, when assured that she merely came
to London to have the happiness of seeing
the Duchess often. The Marquis de Courcelles
dying, Madame Mazarin persuaded the lovely
Sidonie to go back to France, and there she
met with a young captain, whom she married.
She lived miserably with him, and soon died.

But Mesdames Harvey and Middleton were
in no humour to put up with the Duchess of
Portsmouth, and were indefatigable in goading
on the Duchess Mazarin against her. They
went so far as to conjure her to get the king
"to honour Mrs. Middleton's daughter with
his attentions.^ The Duchess of Portsmouth
had caused access to the king's cabinet to be
refused to Mrs. Middleton, " who went there
with Miss Middleton, intent on pleasing his
majesty," a design which, in the eyes of Louise,
was nothing short of criminal. Meanwhile
the Duchess Mazarin paid assiduous court to
the Duchess of York, to whose rooms she
^ Barrillon to Pomponne, July 25, 1678.



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BARRILLON. 203



went every day to play at romping games.
Lady Hyde, the governess of the Princess
Anne,^ was also intimate with the French
Duchess. A cabal against Louise de Keroualle
was thus formed. The Duke of York spoke
fair to her, but in the bottom of his heart
disliked her. She knew this well. Notwith-
standing, she kept her head so well above water,
after the Orange marriage, as to be respect-
fully used by the whole Court. The king was
regular in his visits ; and he spoke to her of
everything that was on his mind, and received
all her insinuations. The Lord Treasurer
Danby made use of her to attain his ends ;
and she aided the French Embassy, by making
Charles think that Barrillon was devoted to
him. Secretly, she deplored the danger of a
war between England and France. The
highest courtiers, Sunderland amongst others,
were still her fast friends. But the lovely
Countess of Sunderland, who had formerly,
at the mock marriage at Euston, undressed
the insignificant Breton girl in the king's
chamber, and cut up his and her garters, was
seized with the most implacable hatred for
* Barrillon to Pomponne.



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204 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

her, and spoke of her as "that abominable
harlot and cheat."

Unfortunately, political influence was not the
sole object of these feuds. Money was a
constant cause of bickering. The Exchequer
archives still show the preponderance of Louise
as a horseleech. The paymaster s clerk ^ set
down in reverential verbiage the sums paid
her. Her regular pension was ;^ 12,000 ster-
ling a year, which was swollen up by supple-
ments to ;^40,ooo a year. In the year 1681
"the French slut" drew from the Treasury
;^i 36,668. She had a business man, one
Taylor, who invested for her and gave receipts
in her name. One of her hangers-on, a certain
Timothy Hall, trafficked for her profit, in royal
pardons granted to rich convicts. Poor ones
were sold to West India planters.

One of the treasury clerks made an entry in
two columns on the same page of the sums
paid to " Madam Carwell, now Dutchesse of
Portsmouth," and to " Nelly Gwynn." * From
June 3 to December 30, 1676, the Duchess was
paid by this clerk ;^8,773, and Nell ;^2,862 ;

^ John Yonge Akermann : Moneys received and paid for,
' MS. British Museum addal, 28,004, ToL 54.



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BARRILLON, 205



in 1677 the Duchess ;^2 7,300, and Gwynn only
;^5,250. But the Duchess grasped and gnawed
in many other directions, and was always eating
into secret funds, whereas Nell was satisfied with
her regular pension, A tradesman's account*
of bills she ran up at his shop shows that if
she clutched at money with one hand, she flung
it away with her other like a modern French
demi-mondaine. This bill contains the follow-
ing entries :

'* Madame Carwell, now Dutchess of Portsmouth,

Dr. to W. Watts :—

" A coat of pigeon-breast and silver brocade ; breeches k
la rhingrave with canons.* A coat faced with white taffety
and lined with camlet ; breeches also faced at pockets and
knees with taffeta; breeches having at the thigh slashed
seams, to show red and silver lace, canons ideniy idem with
deep frill of point lace. A coat enriched with plain satin
and watered ribbons and red and silver cord with red, silver,
and point lace at the cuffs. A linen collar embroidered
over with needle open-work ; silk pockets of chamois leather
for coat and breeches. Six dozen buttons of red and silver
cloth ; eight ells of taffeta for lining sleeves and breeches.
A pair of silk stockings. A belt and embroidered pair of
garters. A black beaver hat laced with red and silver."

1 List of assets furnished by the executors of W. Watts,
mercer to the Duchess of Portsmouth.

* Canons were the frills worn at the knees. One still
sees them at the Thidtre Franfats^ in Molibre's Prideuses
Ridicules and other plays.



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2o6 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE,

Nell Gwynn had had such success on the
stage in " Florimel," and other masculine
characters, that men's clothes, which in the
seventeenth century were bright in colour and
very dressy, became the rage among the ladies
at Whitehall. They did not want the pretext of
a masquerade to don them there. The honest
W. Watts charged " Madam Carwell " twice for
the same taffety lining for her coat and inex*
pressibles, which must have eclipsed in spruce
elegance the stage habiliments of Nelly.

The heavy pensions and emoluments, as it
has been shown, were for Louise, and the small
ones for Nell. Below these charmers there
was a mob of rampant harlots, bastards, pimps
and bawds, who all figure in the Treasury
account books. Mistress Chiffinch, for showing
ladies of easy virtue up the back stairs to the
king's assignation rooms at Whitehall, had a
pension of ;^ 1,200 a year. Catherine Crofts
had one of ;^ 1,500. Frances Stuart, the stupid,
but it cannot be said very mercenary, beauty,
who married the Duke of Richmond, put up
with ;^i50 a year. The pretty Bulkely had
;^400 a year. A crowd of lesser concubines
were only given sums of ;^50 each.



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BARRILLON. 207



It was French money * that Charles scattered
with such a loose hand ; and England was to
pay for it in the arrest of national evolution and
development The valet de chambre, Chiffinch,
went to receive the instalments of subsidies
at the French Embassy ; and his wife, a seam-
stress by trade, gave the occasional mistresses
their allowances. But the cash- box was opened
for many others. All Barrillon's account-books
have been preserved at the Ministry for Foreign
Affairs. One learns in them, at what prices
English patriots sold themselves, and under the
stress of what temptation austere Puritans be-
trayed their principles. Algernon Sidney is still
in English eyes surrounded with the nimbus of
a pure-souled martyr. He received ;^500 for
each parliamentary session, from the King of
France.* The friends of Government did not
stay empty-handed. Lord Berkshire was
given ;^ 1,000, and Coleman ;^36o. He was
also entrusted with ;^700 to buy members of

^ Not so. The Treasury clerks who paid Louise de
Keroualle the vast sums abready mentioned, never fingered
a stiver of French money. {Translatof^s Note,)

•See Aff. Etr, Angleterre^ tome cxxx., foL 68; tome
cxxxi., foL 146, for 1678.



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2o8 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

fhe House of Commons, as his receipts ^n.d
memoranda, show. :One Scott, a knight,
according to his receipt, hs^d ;^200 for the
same kitjd of work. ' Barrillon gave into the
hands of different persdns of note, for the ia-
f<?Mrmation they: tommunicated to him, one
hundred and ei^ht pounds six and eightpence.
fie furthermore' spent four hundred pounds in
obtaining secret reports from officers . of the
anfty, tfeasury* clerks, and secretaries of state.

before the year 1678 had expired^ Barrillcai
found it ex:pedient to renew his largesses. He
was frightened at . the drain on the French
exchequer; and yet he did not dare, from a
fear of compromising a long-laid scheme of
policy, to put a stop to it. No bribe was care-
lessly gi veil. Sir John Baber^ was engaged
by him jto sound Littleton, and bfiiig hini and
Poole into close relations with the French
Embassy. . Poole was ' one of the leaders of
the: Puritan: party, and distinguished himself by

^ This Baber constaptly appears m the- secret service
accounts t^, Ban-illon^ who attached. great importance to his
information. He was doubtless the person whose reserve
and reticence Pepys eulogizes in the Diary\ March 14,
1660.



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BARRILLON. 209



his virulence against the honest Strafford.
Littleton received a bribe, direct from Barrillon.
It would be difficult, the latter reported to his
Government, to find two men who had more
credit for patriotism and austere virtue in the
House of Commons. It was impossible to with-
hold from Montagu fifteen hundred guineas for
which he asked to bribe obscure country mem-
bers, whose votes would tell at a division.

This intervention of Montagu was an odd
complication of the ties which bound Louis
XIV. to Charles.

Montagu was the brother of Lady Harvey,
and had long been ambassador in France. AH
the political men regarded him as belonging
to the French party, when he suddenly de-
nounced the Treasurer Danby as having been
for many months engaged in secret negotia-
tions with the Court of Versailles, and that, at
a time when frightened by the strong tide of
Opposition, he talked in public the loudest
against France, and prepared with much noise
a treaty of alliance between England and the
Netherlands.

Thus, Louis, abandoned by Charles, and be-
trayed by Danby, at the moment that he was

p



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2IO LOUISE DE KEROUALLE,

about to enter upon a new campaign in
Flanders, found himself obliged, at no matter
what price, to paralyse the action of England
for at least another summer. He struck out a
course with quick decision ; and did not hesi-
tate, in paying Charles to adjourn or pro-
rogue Parliament, to employ Montagu to attack
Danby, whom he was also bribing. He entered
into the game of each of his adversaries, and
supplied them with money, on the condition
that they were not to make up and unite
against France, but to prolong agitation, and
reduce England to the condition of an impo-
tent State. By his orders, his worst enemies
in Parliament were encouraged by Montagu.
Barrillon was delighted at this double intrigue ;
and, while he egged on the King of England
against the Opposition, he seconded the Russells,
Lord Holies, ^ and Buckingham in opposing
Charles. Louis, in an autograph letter, in-
structed him to make use of the king's authority

^ Barrillon was mistaken in bis estimate of Holies, who
was second son of the Earl of Clare, was created Baron
Denzil in 1661, sent as ambassador to France in 1663, as
plenipotentiary to the Hague in 1662, and who died in 1680,
before he could receive a splendid gift Lous XIV. intended
sending him.



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BARRILLON. 211



and friendly feeling against the House of- Com-
mons, and of the Parliament to prevent effect
being given to resolutions which Charles might
be brought to take against him.

Danby's treaty with Holland reconciled
Charles and his Parliament ; but party divisions
were sufficiently prolonged to enable Louis to
strike a decisive blow in his campaign of 1678.
He went to war early in that year. On March
1 2th, Ghent fell into his hands. Ypres yielded
a few days later, and Mons was invested. The
Dutch plenipotentiaries hastened to sign the
peace of Nimeguen. Spain followed their
example in the next month, and the German
Empire gave in at the beginning of winter.
Louis issued triumphantly from his struggle
with coalesced Europe. This triumph of
France was due to the long neutrality of
England. The English people beheld with
rage the crippling of Protestant Holland by
a Catholic power. They were carried away
against the Catholics by one of those frenzies
of contagious hatred which sometimes take
hold of a nation like an epidemic. When a
nation is possessed by a fit of such fury, there
is always a statesman ready to pander to it



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212 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

Shaftesbury, in this instance, came forward to
throw fuel on the raging fire.

Ashley Cooper, Earl of Shaftesbury, had in
his youth fought for Charles I. against the
Parliament ; and turned round to serve the
Parliament, when he saw it was the strongest
He flattered the Republicans, by celebrating
the fall of the Malignants ; and was " the
loudest bagpipe of the noisy crew." When
monarchy was restored, he cast off the sanc-
timonious mask, and, to please Charles, pos-
tured as a libertine. He played each part so
well, as to be successively lauded as a patriot
and a God-fearing man by the Puritans, and
to deserve being called by Charles " the most
vicious dog in England." A daughter of the
Protector Cromwell, whom he courted, refused
to marry him. He was incapable either of
piety or libertinage, because a bom sceptic and
of a feeble constitution. He had in youth the
body of an old man, was ghastly, wrinkled, and
his hands shook from palsy. When a minister
of Charles, he courted the Opposition, and
prepared to avenge himself, not only on Danby,
whose head he wanted, but on Charles himself,
whom he longed to humiliate.



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BARRILLON. 213



Shaftesbury was never so humble and ob-
sequious as when he was meditating vengeance.
He wrote to the king, that all he wanted was
" to lye at his feet, and make publicly, in the
House of Lords, any acknowledgment and
submission that his Majesty demanded." But
while he cringed, he was suborning the crew of
false witnesses who were gathered together by
Titus Oates. That monster announced that
the English Catholics had hatched a plot for
the assassination of the king and all the Pro-
testants. The people, who were in a state of
frenzied anger at the impunity granted to
Louis, swallowed Oates' fable with a credulity
which had no parallel in history. They wanted
victims to satisfy their rage ; and nobody sus
pected of sympathizing with the Papists was in
safety.

The first victim was the knave Coleman,^
the Secretary of State, whose receipts figure
in Barrillon's accounts. The French ambas-
sador wrote coolly to Versailles : " Coleman has
sent me word to be in no wise uneasy, because
nobody can find in his papers a scrap of
writing to testify to his transactions with me,"
^ Affaires Etranglres^ tome cxxxi. fol. 53.



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214 LOUISE DE KEROUALLE.

We now know that Coleman was a traitor to
his country. But those who accused him and
those who found him guilty had nothing to go
upon. He was charged with not having shown
horror at the Papist Plot, and with having ne-
glected to keep minutes of the letters that he
wrote. " Don't be afraid," said the Lord Chief
Justice to him. " There will be no condemna-
tion if your crimes are not brought home to


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Online LibraryH. (Henri) ForneronThe court of Charles II, 1649-1734, comp. from state papers by H. Forneron; → online text (page 12 of 19)