TWENTY YEARS AFTER

TWENTY YEARS AFTER

3.6 49
by Alexandre Dumas
     
 

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1. The Shade of Cardinal Richelieu.


In a splendid chamber of the Palais Royal, formerly styled the Palais
Cardinal, a man was sitting in deep reverie, his head supported on
his hands, leaning over a gilt and inlaid table which was covered with
letters and papers. Behind this figure glowed a vast fireplace alive
with leaping flames; great… See more details below

Overview

1. The Shade of Cardinal Richelieu.


In a splendid chamber of the Palais Royal, formerly styled the Palais
Cardinal, a man was sitting in deep reverie, his head supported on
his hands, leaning over a gilt and inlaid table which was covered with
letters and papers. Behind this figure glowed a vast fireplace alive
with leaping flames; great logs of oak blazed and crackled on the
polished brass andirons whose flicker shone upon the superb habiliments
of the lonely tenant of the room, which was illumined grandly by twin
candelabra rich with wax-lights.

Any one who happened at that moment to contemplate that red simar--the
gorgeous robe of office--and the rich lace, or who gazed on that
pale brow, bent in anxious meditation, might, in the solitude of that
apartment, combined with the silence of the ante-chambers and the
measured paces of the guards upon the landing-place, have fancied that
the shade of Cardinal Richelieu lingered still in his accustomed haunt.

It was, alas! the ghost of former greatness. France enfeebled, the
authority of her sovereign contemned, her nobles returning to their
former turbulence and insolence, her enemies within her frontiers--all
proved the great Richelieu no longer in existence.

In truth, that the red simar which occupied the wonted place was his
no longer, was still more strikingly obvious from the isolation which
seemed, as we have observed, more appropriate to a phantom than a living
creature--from the corridors deserted by courtiers, and courts crowded
with guards--from that spirit of bitter ridicule, which, arising from
the streets below, penetrated through the very casements of the room,
which resounded with the murmurs of a whole city leagued against the
minister; as well as from the distant and incessant sounds of guns
firing--let off, happily, without other end or aim, except to show to
the guards, the Swiss troops and the military who surrounded the Palais
Royal, that the people were possessed of arms.

The shade of Richelieu was Mazarin. Now Mazarin was alone and
defenceless, as he well knew.

"Foreigner!" he ejaculated, "Italian! that is their mean yet mighty
byword of reproach--the watchword with which they assassinated, hanged,
and made away with Concini; and if I gave them their way they would
assassinate, hang, and make away with me in the same manner, although
they have nothing to complain of except a tax or two now and then.
Idiots! ignorant of their real enemies, they do not perceive that it
is not the Italian who speaks French badly, but those who can say fine
things to them in the purest Parisian accent, who are their real foes.

"Yes, yes," Mazarin continued, whilst his wonted smile, full of
subtlety, lent a strange expression to his pale lips; "yes, these noises
prove to me, indeed, that the destiny of favorites is precarious; but ye
shall know I am no ordinary favorite. No! The Earl of Essex, 'tis
true, wore a splendid ring, set with diamonds, given him by his royal
mistress, whilst I--I have nothing but a simple circlet of gold, with a
cipher on it and a date; but that ring has been blessed in the chapel of
the Palais Royal, * so they will never ruin me, as they long to do, and
whilst they shout, 'Down with Mazarin!' I, unknown, and unperceived by
them, incite them to cry out, 'Long live the Duke de Beaufort' one day;
another, 'Long live the Prince de Conde;' and again, 'Long live the
parliament!'" And at this word the smile on the cardinal's lips assumed
an expression of hatred, of which his mild countenance seemed incapable.
"The parliament! We shall soon see how to dispose," he continued, "of
the parliament! Both Orleans and Montargis are ours. It will be a work
of time, but those who have begun by crying out: Down with Mazarin! will
finish by shouting out, Down with all the people I have mentioned, each
in his turn.

* It is said that Mazarin, who, though a cardinal, had not
taken such vows as to prevent it, was secretly married to
Anne of Austria.--La Porte's Memoirs.

"Richelieu, whom they hated during his lifetime and whom they now praise
after his death, was even less popular than I am. Often he was driven
away, oftener still had he a dread of being sent away. The queen will
never banish me, and even were I obliged to yield to the populace she
would yield with me; if I fly, she will fly; and then we shall see how
the rebels will get on without either king or queen.

"Oh, were I not a foreigner! were I but a Frenchman! were I but of
gentle birth!"

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940012859938
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
03/10/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
1 MB

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