You'll need to add your address to your profile before bidding. You'll need to accept the auction terms and conditions before bidding. Your address has been entered incorrectly or incompletely. You'll need to verify your address before bidding. You'll need to sign in or register for free before bidding. You can't place any bids just yet, as we still need to verify your phone number. Create a free account. The current bid for this lot falls below its reserve price. The reserve price has been met.
Your highest bid was below the reserve price for this lot. As the reserve price was not met, it was not sold. Thank you for bidding on Catawiki! Congratulations on winning this lot. Automatic bids allow you to be one step ahead of other bidders. Keep on bidding to have a chance of winning! This auction is now open for bidding. There is a reserve price on this lot.
Check out our current auctions! Make this lot a favourite and come back later to place your first bid. You now have the unique opportunity to purchase this lot. The full amount of your automatic bid has now been reached. Entering a new maximum amount will help you stay ahead of new bids from others. By setting up an automatic bid, our system will automatically place new bids on your behalf each time you are outbid. All you need to do is enter the maximum price you are willing to bid for an item. Our system will then keep on bidding for you, by the smallest possible increase each time, until your maximum price is reached.
View all 11 bids. One of the 1, numbered copies on wove paper of Boucher de Docelles in a remarkable Art Deco binding signed by A. Good overall condition, back slightly discoloured, other defects are minor. It is regarded by many as the beginning of the modern tradition of the psychological novel, and as a great classic work. The novel recreates that era with remarkable precision. Nearly every character — though not the heroine — is a historical figure. Events and intrigues unfold with great faithfulness to documentary record.
View all reviews. Shipping costs are for mainland destinations only. If you win more than one lot sold by the same seller in the same auction, your shipment will be combined. In this case, only the shipping costs of whichever lot has the highest shipping costs will be applied. Check out our FAQs.
Contact our Customer Support. Place your bids any time, any place? Download the Catawiki Auction App. You can also find us on. Once your payment has been processed, you will immediately be able to place your bids again as normal. If you decide to pay via bank transfer, your payment may take up to 2 working days to be processed.
For my part, I do not believe that he inspired or contributed a line. His imagination was powerful, but its flight was short ; he grasped at everything, but everything slipped through his fin- gers. Moreover, he was weary of life; Preface. Among other matters which she had undertaken, she had for twelve years been governing Savoy by letters, as the secret agent of the Regent.
Huet testifies that he saw her write " Zai'de ; " Madame de Sevigne, her most intimate friend, assigns to her, without a mo- ment's hesitation, both the " Princess of Montpensier" and the "Princess of Cleves ; " and I know no evidence that can be urged against this most prob- able statement except that of Madame de la Fayette herself. The relations of Madame de la Fay- ette to the little court of Savoy were hidden in France from even the most 14 Preface. Sainte- Beuve himself, who seldom went astray, had no suspicion of the political intri- gues which played a prominent part in a life which he supposed thoroughly filled with works of piety, with literature, and with an engrossing affection.
It is not yet twelve years since Monsieur A. Perrero published the letters of Madame de la Fayette which he had discovered in the Turin archives. Doubtless she was working for France, and asked the most trivial 1 Lettere inedite di Madame de Lafayette. I should be unwilling to say that Madame de la Fayette was not candid, but it is very certain that she was extremely reserved and that she deceived every one.
All who had any- thing to do with her imagined her con- tinually lost in day-dreams ; they called her misty: Truthful she was, without doubt ; yet there is one matter in which it is impossible to believe her, and that is when she denies having written the " Princess of Cleves.
We quote the interesting part of this letter: He denies it so strenuously that it is impossible not to believe him, especially about a matter which can be con- fessed without shame. As for me, I am flattered at being suspected, and I think I should acknowledge the book if I was sure that the author would never claim it of me. I find it very agreeable, well-written, with- out being extremely polished, full of very delicate touches, and well worth more than Preface.
It is without romanticism and exag- geration, and so is not a romance; it is more like a book of memoirs, and I hear that was the first title of the book; but it was changed.
La Princesse De Cleves
There you have my opinion on the ' Princess of Cleves ; ' let me ask you for yours, for people have almost come to blows over it. Many blame what others praise ; so, whatever you say, you will not find yourself alone in your views. With one stroke of the pen she disclaims both the " Princess of Cleves " and " Zaide," which had been published fifteen, or, VOL 12 1 8 Preface. Yet she is far from con- demning what she disclaims. She says that if the " Princess of Cleves " is not by her, she would be glad to have writ- ten it, and she is almost tempted to steal it from its true author.
She praises the book more warmly than we should be able to do. Save in sincerity, she re- minds us of the poor girl who sighed and said: What a pity that they bring disgrace! I should be inclined to think that she did. Later, Voltaire was to give us many exam- 1 We have said that "Za'ide " appeared in It was reprinted in and But Voltaire lied with too much pleasure, with an unction that betrayed a natu- ral predisposition to falsehood.
This great enemy of prejudice never hesi- tated to employ a lie in the service of the truth. Sometimes he lied merely for his own pleasure, thereby swerving from the precept of a great master of the art, Monsieur de Talleyrand, who used to say: We are more surprised by Madame de la Fay- ette's disavowal, coming as it does from the most " candid " of women, and it is not easy to see what were her real reasons. Mondes " already cited suggests that possibly Madame de la Fayette was afraid of offending the Regent of Savoy, a Princess of Nemours, by acknowl- edging herself to be the author of a novel in which a Nemours is repre- sented as the handsomest man of his day, but as thoroughly devoted to gallantry This would be an excess of scrupu- lousness for which there was no occa- sion.
The Regent, Marie de Nemours, commonly called Madame Royale, was also notorious for her many love affairs, which, indeed, she took no pains to con- ceal ; and Monsieur de Nemours would no more have shocked her by his con- duct than he would have displeased her by his appearance. Moreover, even if she had assumed a prudery which in no way belonged to her, no woman Preface.
I rather incline to think that Madame de la Fayette, who took pleasure in writ- ing because she wrote well, was unwill- ing to be known as an author, especially at courts. It was she, we must say, who was prudish and pious. Now, about women writers enjoyed no very high repute. By her epoch and by her friendships Madame de la Fayette be- longed to the brilliant society of the Fronde. Ever since she had been Mademoiselle de la Vergne, and showed Menage how much more Latin she knew than he, the Hotel de Rambouil- let had set the fashion for a society very eager for fame, and no less criti- cal in matters of feeling than in those of the intellect.
At that time it was 2 2 Preface. To be learned was to be virtuous ; and wisdom in the ancient sense, as it was then understood, implied rhetoric, as- tronomy, and chastity. That is the way that Mademoiselle de la Vergne under- stood it, and she was very anxious to be thought learned.
After her mar- u riage, which brought her no happiness, she became intimate with the pre- cieuses, who dealt in subtilties and affected to scorn the pleasures of the senses. Then it was that she brought out the "Princess of Montpensier; " but at that very moment public opinion was changing. The new generation showed itself severe toward those once famous women, and with some rudeness ordered them back to their domestic duties. The pr'ecieuses were ridiculed Preface. Madame de la Fayette, like a discreet woman, concealed her Latin and yielded to the new cur- rent of thought, although she felt that O O she had a genius for writing.
While she risked "ZaTde" in the face of this reaction, when even Madeleine de Scudery, that illustrious Sappho, passed for a tolerably ridiculous person, it was with the precautions we have men- tioned, and behind the mask of Mon- sieur de Segrais. Eighteen years later, a woman as sensitive of her reputation as was Madame de la Fayette had still to be cautious about appearing in print. Women who wrote were looked upon as improper characters, and not wholly without reason. Madame Deshoulieres had been loose in her life, Madame de 24 Preface.
Learned women like Madame de la Sabliere made great concessions to the emo- tions. Madame de la Fayette was un- willing to seem learned, and entered the republic of letters only behind a triple veil. Besides, she was a woman of piety, and belonged to the little co- terie of Port Royal, in which novels were an abomination. Monsieur Nicole, the gentlest of men, said at that time: For a whole season every one was talking about it.
Madame de la Fayette scarcely exaggerated when she spoke of people " coming to blows " about it. Young Valincour, the friend of Racine, wrote a criticism of it which was ascribed to Father Bouhours, and an Abbe de Charmes replied with an apology which appeared under the name of Barbier d'Aucour. Boursault made a tragedy out of it, for in France everything that acquires notoriety comes at last upon the stage.
Never was success better deserved. Madame de la Fayette was the first to introduce naturalness into fiction, the first to draw human beings and real 26 Preface. The " Princess of Cleves " is the first French novel in which the interest de- pends on the truth of the passions. But we must not forget that if this novel shows, by the charming simplicity of its style and thought, that Racine had appeared, introducing Monime and Be- renice, yet Madame de la Fayette, by the very spirit of her work, belongs to the generation of the Fronde and of Corneille.
She remains heroic in her simplicity, and, like the author of " Cinna," preserves a proud and noble Preface. In the essential points of her character her heroine is, like Emilie, an "adorable fury," a fury of modesty, it may be ; but none the less a few ser- pents' heads appear to be concealed in her beautiful blond hair. The philoso- phy of Madame de la Fayette is like that of Corneille, and she held to the past as do women no longer young. Racine and it was the great success of this genius, who was both charming and pow- erful represented his tragic heroines as pathetic victims of their heart and of their senses.
Corneille had exalted the will to a point of absurdity; Racine showed the omnipotence of the passions, and, without knowing it, he was in this respect the boldest of innovators. He introduced into poetry a new, unheard- of, profound truth. His contemporaries had no very clear vision of this ; even 28 Preface. Hence we need not be sur- prised that Madame de Sevigne felt a frivolous contempt for works so great that she was incompetent to understand them.
Her intimate friend, Madame de la Fayette, was far more thoughtful and of keener intellect ; she understood things whose existence the marchioness never even suspected. Nevertheless, in her study of the passions she clung, and insisted on clinging, to the psychology of Corneille and of the precieuses. What did she really think? No one will ever know. Her real personality was impenetrable ; even her confessor did not know her. A prude, pious, with a high position at court, I can almost suspect her of having doubted of Preface.
I am convinced that she was a great freethinker. She never told her secret, not even in the " Prin- cess of Cleves. It is well known that the scene is laid in the court of Henri II. Writers of the seven- teenth century had no true sense of the past, and unconsciously delineated themselves under ancient or foreign names: I do not say that she was not familiar with the epoch of the Valois, I do say that she but dimly understood it ; and we should be glad that she did not undertake to describe it, that would have been only a work of erudi- tion, while, as it was, she gave free play to her genius.
It is scarcely worth while to recall the simple story that is the basis of this charming book. Madame de Cleves, the most beautiful woman of the court, is loved by Monsieur de Ne- mours, the most accomplished gentle- man of the whole kingdom. Monsieur de Nemours, though he had led a life of gallantry, becomes timid as soon as he is really in love. He hides his pas- sion, but Madame de Cleves detects it, and involuntarily shares it. To defend herself from the danger to which her Preface. Her husband at first reassures and consoles her ; but through the imprudence and an indiscretion of the Duke of Nemours he imagines him- self wronged, and dies of grief.
His widow does not judge that she has there- by regained her liberty ; she remains faithful to the memory of a husband whom she had never lovect. That in many ways seems admirable. It is true that Madame de Cleves sets a high value on virtue, for she does not think it is paid too high a price by the death of the husband and the despair of a lover, taking this last word in the sense that it had in the seventeenth century.
- Product details.
- La princesse de Clèves by Madame de La Fayette.
- Catalog Record: The Princess of Cleves. By Madame de La | Hathi Trust Digital Library.
- File usage on Commons.
This was what she was good enough to reply: She is divine like Clelie and Arthe- nice. Her beauty is unrivalled, her soul knows no weakness. But Madame de Cleves is no artificial heroine, and the motives that inspire her have their roots in reality, and do not depend on fiction.
Her principles are very human, and wholly without any ideal; propriety and reason, which are transient virtues, control her life and regulate her feel- ings. And even more than propriety, the notion of her worldly position fills and pro- tects her. She has the pr foundest respect for appearances, and her aristocratic pride mitigates many of her secret sufferings.
I fancy that to this woman, whose psychology, and especially whose moral nature, was so much less complicated than ours, the world must have seemed like a well-lighted drawing- Preface. It is the triumph of etiquette, and of etiquette which may amount to heroism ; for it sometimes takes more courage and more firmness to smile in the midst of a ball than on the battle-field.
The Princess of Cleves possesses that sort of courage, she possesses it to such an extent that she forgets herself and sacrifices herself; she has no weakness, but she also has no pity. She gives over to despair and death two men, one of whom at least she loves. She has no remorse, because she has given no cause for scandal, and noth- ing has seriously marred the happy harmony of her conduct. She is an excellent example of what is produced by very rigid social principles and a very severe rule of life with nothing higher than these principles.
She is also an edifying, though discouraging, instance of what morality and virtue can do for men's happiness. In contrast with this loyal and VOL. This cannot be regarded as a kind action, for this con- fession is the primary cause of the death of Monsieur de Cleves. If she had not spoken, Monsieur de Cleves would not have died ; he would have lived on, tran- quilly, happily, in an agreeable delusion: This was also the opinion of a famous woman who a hundred years later re- peated this confession.
Madame Roland, when thirty-nine years old, felt " the Preface. He was the Deputy Buzot. They loved, but that was all. Madame Roland had a husband twenty years older than she, and decrepit. She thought it her duty, following the example of Madame de Cleves, to confess to him that she loved another man ; but the confession once made, this half-dead husband could not take it tragically, so that perhaps in this respect Madame Roland will seem less imprudent than Madame de Cleves. In spite of that, she had no reason to be satisfied with her confession of the state of affairs to him, as she acknowl- edges in her Memoirs: My husband, whose susceptibility and self-love were both easily roused, could not endure the idea of the slightest modification in sway ; he imagined dark things ; his jealousy annoyed me ; happiness fled far from us.
He adored me ; I sacrificed myself to him, and we were wretched. Were I free, I would follow him anywhere, to soothe his sufferings and to console his old age: But Roland detests the thought of a sacrifice ; and having once perceived that I am making one for him, the knowledge destroys all his hap- piness. It pains him to receive such a sacri- fice, and yet he cannot do without it.
Every one says that he was sublime ; and he promised some time to make way for Preface. Ma- dame Roland was also sublime, and refused to hear of this generous sacri- fice. But sublime as they were, they quarrelled and grew more bitter. The household was most unhappy when the 3ist of May brought them other cares, and swept away their domestic bicker- ings in the public disaster. So far as I know, the cruel frank- ness of Madame de Cleves has been imitated by no other woman than Madame Roland.
I do not dare to say that this is to be regretted ; but however it may be, we must in jus- tice remember that for acting as she did, Madame Roland had not such good reasons as Madame de Cleves. Madame de Cleves when she confided in her husband asked for his aid in 38 Preface. As for Madame de la Fayette, she was so delighted with these tragic confessions that she afterward wrote a novel simply to show another woman making the same con- fession under still more painful circum- stances ; for she is guilty, and confesses to her husband that she has deceived him.
The Countess of Tende, who takes her husband for the confidant of her weaknesses, outdoes even Madame Roland in heroic sincerity. She is another candid woman. It is amusing that these candid women should have sprung from the imagina- tion of a woman who never confessed even to her confessor. I thought that I had kept within bounds, that I had justly admired the " Prin- cess of Cleves " and justly esteemed Madame de la Fayette ; but justice is not everything. To a masterpiece, to a woman, something besides justice is due, and I became uneasy.
I feared that I had been deficient in that politeness, that courtesy, without which even the belles-lettres remain rude and unpol- ished. Hence, remembering that Auguste Comte had admitted the "Princess of Cleves" into the Positivist Library, I took the lib- erty of asking the heir of the founder, the venerable leader of the Positivists, to be good enough to write for me a few words about this princess, which he admires, as I know, with an intelligent fervor.
Monsieur Pierre Laffitte was kind enough to reply; and here is his letter, which will correct my preface. This letter is just what I expected from a philosopher animated, like the ancient Epicu- rus, by an ardent enthusiasm for reason. What has always struck me in reading this dis- tinguished product of the female mind is the complete absence of everything supernatural. The name of God is not once mentioned ; and yet the inner working of human life, and more especially of a woman's life, is portrayed without any appear- ance of strangeness or want of logic ; and that is so true that no one before me, so far as I know, has ever noticed this absence of God.
Read more particularly that wonderful discussion in which Madame de Cleves sets forth her reasons for refus- ing to marry Monsieur de Nemours. The reasons influencing her in forming this most important decision are all of a perfectly natural sort ; she Preface. The absence of the supernatural is all the more striking here, from the fact that human motives assure the supe- riority of reason over the passions, and not their mere brutal victory. It is evident that a work of this sort portrays a new state of mental equilibrium attained by a woman, it is true, by a very superior woman, in whom life is controlled by the appreciation of the consequences of our actions, without thought of any supernatural interference.
Women of a rare type have reached this lofty state, in which life has become wise, dignified, and delicate, void of fear as well as of what, for the sake of politeness, I will not call a chimerical, but at least a doubt- ful, hope. For this is not peculiar to Madame de la Fayette ; read Madame de Lambert's "Advice to my Son," and you will see that, with the excep- tion of a few formulas of politeness toward God, every motive for living with dignity is of a human sort.
Is not this a practical demonstration of the possibility of conceiving of a life, not only honor- able but lofty and delicate, by considerations of a 42 Preface. The demonstration is all the more striking because it is in no way systema- tic, no attempt is made to prove anything ; it is merely described.
The slow evolution of human- ity has produced such a condition in superior souls, which, after all, are only in advance of the rest ; the systematization will follow later. Doubtless I shall be told that the supernatural scaffolding was necessary at first. I grant it ; but they at least have succeeded in doing without it.
Thus man does not really belong to the ani- mal kingdom. This becomes serious in large societies ; consequently, the leaders of our race sought at first to provide against it. But they had to invoke both a God and a Devil to per- suade men to act nobly. At the present time the West gets along without fear of hell or hope of paradise. Why may not the evolution accom- plished by civilized peoples in a simple case be also attained in more complicated cases?
The " Princess of Cleves " furnishes us with the demon- stration, not by scholastic rules, but by a living figure, in an aesthetic masterpiece ; and this ab- sence of God helps to portray the final victory Preface. But let us consider the opposite opinion, and by discussing art, not science. Jean- Jacques Rousseau, in a period of reaction, introduced God again ; read the " Nouvelle Heloise," and see what a part he makes him play there: God intervenes to justify tender weak- nesses, or at least to accept them with a smiling tolerance. And in the nineteenth century how this tendency has developed!
In George Sand, when women wish to yield gracefully, God is always there to make things easy for them. He has to play a singular part. We are very far from those momentous decisions in which the soul exercises control, such as Madame de la Fayette described with a thorough knowledge of human nature. On the whole, the " Princess of Cleves " seems to me the most perfect work that ever issued from a woman's hand. She did not try works of vast strength in any direction, but in her own field Madame de la Fayette had complete mastery.
Her book will be read so long as there shall sur- vive men of taste and intelligence ; it is a pleas- ure to feel one's self m communion with the chosen spirits who, since the seventeenth century, have enjoyed this delightful masterpiece, and to think of the others who, after us, will still enjoy it. This monarch was gallant, hand- some, and susceptible; although his love for Diane de Poitiers, Duchess of Valentinois, had lasted twenty years, its ardor had not diminished, as his conduct testified. He was remarkably skilful in physical ex- ercises, and devoted much attention to them ; every day was filled with hunting and tennis, 48 The Princess of Cleves.
The favorite colors and the initials of Madame de Valentinois were to be seen everywhere, and she herself used to appear dressed as richly as Mademoiselle de la Marck, her granddaughter, who was then about to be married. The fact that the queen was there, accounted for her presence.
This princess, although she had passed her first youth, was still beautiful ; she was fond of splendor, magnificence, and pleasure. The king had married her while still Duke of Orleans, in the lifetime of his elder brother, the dauphin, who afterward died at Tournon, mourned as a worthy heir to the position of Francis I.
The queen's ambition made her like to reign. She seemed indifferent to the king's attachment to the Duchess of Valentinois, and never betrayed any jealousy; but she was so skilled a dissembler that it was hard to discover her real feelings, and she was compelled by policy to keep the duchess The Princess of Cloves. As for him, he liked the society of women, even of those with whom he was not at all in love. He was with the queen every day at her audience, when all the most at- tractive lords and ladies were sure to appear.
At no court had there ever been gathered together so many lovely women and brave men. It seemed as if Nature had made an effort to show her highest beauty in the greatest lords and ladies. Madame Elisa- beth of France, afterwards queen of Spain, began to show her wonderful intelligence and that unrivalled beauty which was so fatal to her.
Mary Stuart, the queen of Scotland, who had just married the dauphin and was called the crown princess, or dau- phiness, was faultless in mind and body. She had been brought up at the French court and had acquired all its polish; she was endowed by Nature with so strong a love for the softer graces that in spite of her youth she admired and understood them VOL. Her mother-in-law, the queen, and Madame, the king's sister, were also fond of poetry, of comedy, and of music.
The interest which King Francis I. But what rendered the court especially fine and majestic was the great number of princes and lords of excep- tional merit ; those I am about to name were, in their different ways, the ornament and the admiration of their age. The King of Navarre inspired universal re- spect by his exalted rank and his royal bearing.
He excelled in the art of war; but the Duke of Guise had shown himself so strong a rival that he had often laid aside his command to enter the duke's service as a private soldier in the most dangerous battles. This duke had manifested such admirable bravery with such remarkable success that he was an object of envy to every great The Princess of Cleves. He had many conspicuous qualities besides his personal courage, he possessed a vast and profound intelligence, a noble, lofty mind, and equal capacity for war and affairs.
His brother, the Cardinal of Lorraine, was born with an unbridled am- bition, and had acquired vast learning; this he turned to his profit by using it in defence of Catholicism, which had begun to be attacked. The Chevalier de Guise, afterwards known as the Grand Prior, was loved by all ; he was handsome, witty, clever, and his courage was renowned throughout Europe.
The short, ill-favored body of the Prince of Conde held a great and haughty soul, and an intelligence that endeared him to even the most beautiful women. The Duke of Nevers, famous for his military prowess and his important ser- vices to the state, though somewhat advanced in years was adored by all the court.
He had three handsome sons, the second, known as the Prince of Cleves, was worthy to bear that proud title; he was brave and grand, and 52 The Princess of Cloves. The Vidame of Chartres, a scion of the old house of Vend6me, a name not de- spised by princes of the blood, had won equal triumphs in war and gallantry ; he was hand- some, attractive, brave, hardy, generous ; all his good qualities were distinct and striking, in short, he was the only man fit to be com- pared, if such comparison be possible, with the Duke of Nemours.
This nobleman was a masterpiece of Nature ; the least of his fas- cinations was his extreme beauty; he was the handsomest man in the world. What made him superior to every one else was his un- rivalled courage and a charm manifested in his mind, his expression, and his actions, such as no other showed.
He possessed a certain playfulness that was equally attractive to men and women ; he was unusually skil- ful in physical exercises; and he dressed in a way that every one tried in vain to imi- tate ; moreover, his bearing was such that all eyes followed him wherever he appeared. The Princess of C I eves. He was so gentle and courteous that he could not refuse some attentions to those who tried to please him, hence he had many mis- tresses; but it was hard to say whom he really loved. He was often to be seen with the dauphiness; her beauty, her gentleness, her desire to please every one, and the es- pecial regard she showed for this prince, made some imagine that he dared to raise his eyes to her.
The Guises, whose niece she was, had acquired influence and position by her marriage ; they aspired to an equality with the princes of the blood and to a share of the power exercised by the Constable of Montmorency. It was to the constable that the king confided the greater part of the cares of state, while he treated the Duke of Guise 54 The Princess of C I eves. But those attached to his person by favor or position could only keep their place by submitting to the Duchess of Valentinois, who, although no longer young or beautiful, ruled him so despotically that she may be said to have been the mistress of his person and of the state.
The king had always loved the constable, and at the beginning of his reign had sum- moned him from the exile into which he had been sent by Francis I. The court was divided between the Guises and the constable, who was the favorite of the princes of the blood. Both parties had always struggled for the favor of the Duchess of Valentinois.
The Duke of Au- male, brother of the Duke of Guise, had married one of her daughters. The con- stable aspired to the same alliance, not sat- isfied with having married his eldest son to Madame Diane, a daughter of the king by a lady of Piedmont who entered a convent The Princess of Cleves. The promises which Monsieur de Montmorency had made to Mademoiselle de Piennes, one of the queen's maids-of-honor, had proved a seri- ous obstacle to this match ; and although the king had removed it with extreme pa- tience and kindness, the constable still felt insecure until he had won over the Duchess of Valentinois and had separated her from the Guises, whose greatness had begun to alarm her.
She had delayed in every way in her power the marriage between the dauphin and the Queen of Scotland; this young queen's beauty and intelligence, and the position given to the Guises by this mar- riage, were very odious to her. She espe- cially detested the Cardinal of Lorraine, who had addressed her in bitter, even contemptu- ous terms. She saw that he was intriguing with the queen ; hence the constable found her ready to join forces with him by bringing about the marriage of Mademoiselle de la Marck, her granddaughter, to Monsieur d'Anville, 56 The Princess of Cleves.
The constable did not expect that Monsieur d'Anville would have any objections to this marriage, as had been the case with Monsieur de Montmo- rency ; but though the reasons were more hidden, the difficulties were no less obstinate. Monsieur d'Anville was desperately in love with the crown princess; and although his passion was hopeless, he could not persuade himself to contract other ties.
The Marshal of Saint-Andre" was almost the only courtier who had taken sides with neither faction ; he was one of the favorites, but this position he held simply by his own merits. Ever since he had been the dauphin, the king had been attached to this nobleman, and later had made him marshal of France, at an age when men are satisfied with lesser honors.
His advance gave him a distinction which he maintained by his personal worth and charm, by a costly table and rich surround- ings, and by more splendor than any private The Princess of Cloves. The king's generosity warranted this sumptuousness. There was no limit to this monarch's gen- erosity to those he loved. He did not pos- sess every great quality, but he had many, and among them the love of war and a good knowledge of it.
This accounted for his many successes ; and if we except the battle of St. Quentin, his reign was an un- broken series of victories. He had won the battle of Renty in person, Piedmont had been conquered, the English had been driven from France, and the Emperor Charles V. Nevertheless, since the defeat of St. Quentin had diminished our hope of conquest, and fortune seemed to favor one king as much as the other, they were gradually led to favor peace.
At last Cercamp, in the Pro- vince of Artois, was chosen as the place of meeting. The Duke and Duchess of Lorraine were the mediators. Meanwhile the king remained on the fron- tier, and there heard of the death of Mary, queen of England. He sent the Count of Randan to Elizabeth to congratulate her on ascending the throne. She was very glad to receive him, because her rights were so inse- cure that it was of great service to her to have them acknowledged by the king.
The count found her well informed about the The Princess of Cleves. She spoke of this nobleman so often and with such warmth that when Mon- sieur de Randan returned and recounted his journey to the king, he told him that there was nothing to which Monsieur de Nemours could not aspire, and that she would be capable of marrying him. That very eve- ning the king spoke to this nobleman, and made Monsieur de Randan repeat to him his conversation with Elizabeth, urging him to essay this great fortune.
At first Mon- sieur de Nemours thought that the king was jesting; but when he saw his mistake he said, " At any rate, sire, if I undertake a fan- tastic enterprise under the advice and in behalf of your Majesty, I beg of you to keep it secret until success shall justify me before the public, and to guard me from appearing vain enough to suppose that a 60 The Princess of Cloves. Monsieur de Randan advised Monsieur de Nemours to visit England as a simple trav- eller; but the latter could not make up his mind to do this. He sent Lignerolles, an in- telligent young man, one of his favorites, to ascertain the queen's feeling and to try to open the matter.
The death of Mary of England raised great obstacles to any treaty of peace ; the commission broke up at the end of November, and the king returned to Paris. At that moment there appeared at court a young lady to whom all eyes were turned, and we may well believe that she was possessed of faultless beauty, since she aroused admiration where all were well accustomed to the sight The Princess of Cloves.
Of the same family as the Vidame of Chartres, she was one of the greatest heiresses in France. Her father had died young, leaving her under the charge of his wife, Madame de Chartres, whose kindness, virtue, and worth were beyond praise. After her husband's death she had withdrawn from court for many years ; during this period she had devoted herself to the education of her daughter, not merely culti- vating her mind and her beauty, but also seeking to inspire her with the love of virtue and to make her attractive.
Most mothers imagine that it is enough never to speak of gallantry to their daughters to guard them from it forever. Madame de Chartres was of a very different opinion ; she often drew pictures of love to her daughter, showing her its fascinations, in order to give her a better understanding of its perils. She told her how insincere men are, how false and de- ceitful ; she described the domestic miseries which illicit love-affairs entail, and, on the 62 The Princess of Cloves. She taught her, too, how hard it was to preserve this virtue without extreme care, and with- out that one sure means of securing a wife's happiness, which is to love her husband and to be loved by him.
This heiress was, then, one of the greatest matches in France, and although she was very young, many propositions of marriage had been made to her. Madame de Chartres, who was extremely proud, found almost nothing worthy of her daughter, and the girl being in her sixteenth year, she was anxious to take her to court. The Vidame went to welcome her on her arrival, and was much struck by the marvellous beauty of Mademoiselle de Chartres, and with good reason: The day after her arrival she went to match some precious stones at the house of an Italian who dealt in them.
He had come from Florence with the queen, and had grown so rich by his business that his house seemed that of some great nobleman rather than of a merchant. The Prince of Cleves happened to come in while she was there ; he was so struck by her beauty that he could not conceal his surprise, and Made- moiselle de Chartres could not keep from blushing when she saw his astonishment: Monsieur de Cleves gazed at her admiringly, wondering who this beauty was whom he did not know.
He perceived from her bearing and her suite that she must be a lady of high rank. She was so young that he thought she must be 64 The Princess of Cleves. He saw that his glances embarrassed her, unlike most young women, who always take pleasure in seeing the effect of their beauty ; it even seemed to him that his presence made her anxious to go away, and in fact she left very soon.
Mon- sieur de Cleves consoled himself for her de- parture with the hope of finding out who she was, and was much disappointed to learn that no one knew. He was so struck by her beauty and evident modesty that from that moment he conceived for her the greatest love and esteem. That evening he called on Madame, the king's sister. This princess was held in high esteem on account of her influence with the king, her brother; and this influence was so great that when the king made peace he consented to restore Piedmont to enable her to marry The Princess of Cleves.
Although she had always meant to marry, she had determined to give her hand to none but a sovereign, and had for that reason refused the King of Navarre when he was Duke of Vend6me, and had always felt an interest in Monsieur de Savoie after seeing him at Nice on the oc- casion of the interview between Francis I. Since she possessed great intelligence and a fine taste, she drew pleasant persons about her, and at certain hours the whole court used to visit her. Thither Monsieur de Cleves went, as was his habit.
He was so full of the wit and beauty of Mademoiselle de Chartres that he could speak of nothing else ; he talked freely of his adventure, and set no limit to his praise of the young woman he had seen but did not know. Madame said to him that there was no such person as he described, and that if there were, every one would have known about her. Madame turned towards him and said that if he would return the next day, she would show him this beauty who had so impressed him. Made- moiselle de Chartres made her appearance the next day.
The queen received her with every imaginable attention, and she was greeted with such admiration by every one that she heard around her nothing but praise. This she re- ceived with such noble modesty that she seemed not to hear it, or at least not to be affected by it. Then she visited the apart- ments of Madame, the king's sister. The princess, after praising her beauty, told her the surprise she had given to Monsieur de Cleves.
A moment after, that person appeared. He went up to her and asked her to remember that he had been the first to admire her, and that without knowing her he had felt all the respect and esteem that were her due. The Chevalier de Guise, his friend, and he left the house together.
At first they praised Mademoiselle de Chartres without stint ; then they found that they were praising her too much, and both stopped saying what they thought of her: This new beauty was for a long time the general subject of conversation. It was not that this new beauty gave her any uneasiness, her long experience had made her sure of the king, but she so hated the Vidame of Chartres, whom she had desired to ally with herself by the marriage of one of her daughters, while he had joined the queen's party, that she could not look with favor on any one who bore his name and seemed to enjoy his friendship.
The Prince of Cloves fell passionately in love with Mademoiselle de Chartres, and was eager to marry her; but he feared lest the pride of Madame de Chartres should prevent her from giving her daughter to a man who was not the eldest of his family. Yet this family was so distinguished, and the Count of Eu, who was the head of the house, had just married a woman so near to royalty, that The Princess of Cloves. He had many rivals ; the Chevalier de Guise seemed to him the most formidable, on account of his birth, his ability, and the brilliant position of his family.
This prince had fallen in love with Mademoiselle de Chartres the first day he saw her; he had noticed the passion of Monsieur de Cleves just as the latter had noticed his. Though the two men were friends, the separation which resulted from this rivalry gave them no chance to explain themselves, and their friendship cooled without their having cour- age to come to an understanding. The good fortune of Monsieur de Cleves in being the first to see Mademoiselle de Chartres seemed to him a happy omen, and to promise him some advantage over his rivals ; but he foresaw serious obstacles on the part of the Duke of Nevers, his father.
This duke was bound to the Duchess of Valentinois by many ties ; she was an 70 The Princess of Cleves. Madame de Chartres, who had already taken such pains to fill her daughter with a love of virtue, did not remit them in this place where they were still so necessary, and bad examples were so frequent. Ambi- tion and gallantry were the sole occupation of the court, busying men and women alike.
There were so many interests and so many different intrigues in which women took part that love was always mingled with politics, and politics with love. No one was calm or indifferent; every one sought to rise, to please, to serve, or to injure; no one was weary or idle, every one was taken up with pleasure or intrigue. The ladies had their special interest in the queen, in the crown princess, in the Queen of Navarre, in Madame the king's sister, or in the Duchess of Va- lentinois, according to their inclinations, their The Princess of Cloves. Those who had passed their first youth and assumed an austere virtue, were devoted to the queen ; those who were younger and sought pleasure and gallantry, paid their court to the crown princess.
The Queen of Navarre had her favorites; she was young, and had much influence over her husband the king, who was allied with the constable, and hence highly esteemed. Madame the king's sister still preserved some of her beauty, and gathered several ladies about herself. The Duchess of Valentinois was sought by all those whom she deigned to regard ; but the women she liked were few, and with the exception of those who enjoyed her inti- macy and confidence, and whose disposi- tion bore some likeness to her own, she received only on the days when she as- sumed to hold a court like the queen.
All these different cliques were separated by rivalry and envy. Then, too, the women who belonged to each one of them were 72 The Princess of Cloves. Hence there was in this court a sort of well-ordered agitation, which rendered it very charming, but also very dangerous, for a young woman. Madame de Chartres saw this peril, and thought only of protecting her daughter from it.
She besought her, not as a mother, but as a friend, to confide to her all the sweet speeches that might be made to her, and promised her aid in all those matters which so often embarrass the young. The Chevalier de Guise made his feelings for Mademoiselle de Chartres and his intentions so manifest that every one could see them; yet he well knew the very grave difficulties that stood in his way.
He was aware that he was not a desirable match, because his fortune was too small for his rank. He knew, too, that his brothers would disapprove of his The Princess of Cleves. The Cardinal of Lorraine soon proved to him that his fears were well grounded, for he de- nounced the chevalier's love for Mademoiselle de Chartres very warmly, though he concealed his true reasons. The cardinal nourished a hatred for the Vidame, which was hidden at the time, and only broke out later.
He would have preferred to see his brother ally himself with any other family than that of the Vidame, and gave such public expression to his dislike that Madame de Chartres was plainly offended. She took great pains to show that the Cardinal of Lorraine had no cause for fear, and that she herself never con- templated the match.
The Vidame adopted the same course, and with a better under- standing of the cardinal's objection, because he knew the underlying reason. The Duke of Nevers was sorry to hear of this attachment, but thought that his son would forget it at a word from him ; great was his surprise when he found him determined to marry Mademoiselle de Char- tres. He opposed this determination with a warmth so ill concealed that the whole court soon had wind of it, and it came to the knowledge of her mother. She had never doubted that Monsieur de Nevers would regard this match as an advantageous one for his son, and was much surprised that both the house of Cleves and that of Guise dreaded the alliance instead of desiring it.
She was so chagrined that she sought to marry her daughter to some one who could raise her above those who fancied them- selves superior to her; and after carefully going over the ground, pitched on the prince dauphin, the son of the Duke of Montpen- sier. He was of the right age to marry, and held the highest position at court. The Vidame, though aware of Monsieur d'Anville's devotion to the crown princess, still thought that he might make use of the in- fluence which she had over him to induce him to speak well of Mademoiselle de Chartres to the king and to the Prince of Montpensier, whose intimate friend he was.
He men- tioned this to the princess, who took up the matter eagerly, since it promised advance- ment to a young woman of whom she had be- come very fond. This she told the Vidame, assuring him that though she knew she should offend her uncle, the Cardinal of Lorraine, this would be no objection, be- cause she had good grounds for disliking 7 6 The Princess of C I eves. Persons in love are always glad of any ex- cuse for talking about the object of their affection.
As soon as the Vidame had gone, the crown princess ordered Chatelart, the favorite of Monsieur d'Anville and the confi- dant of his love for her, to tell him to be at the queen's reception that evening. Chatelart received this command with great delight. He belonged to a good family of Dauphin6, but his merit and intelligence had raised him to a higher place than his birth warranted. He was received and treated with kindness by all the great lords at the court, and the favor of the family of Montmorency had at- tached him especially to Monsieur d'Anville.
He was handsome and skilled in all physical exercises; he sang agreeably, wrote verses, and had a gallant, ardent nature, which so at- tracted Monsieur d'Anville that he made him a confidant of his love for the crown princess. The confidence brought him into the society The Princess of C lives. Monsieur d'Anville did not fail to make his appearance that evening in the queen's drawing-room ; he was pleased that the dauphiness had chosen him to aid her, and he promised faithfully to obey her commands. But Madame de Valentinois had heard of the contemplated marriage and had laid her plans to thwart it; she had been so success- ful in arousing the king's opposition that when Monsieur d'Anville spoke of it, he showed his disapproval, and commanded him to apprise the Prince of Montpensier of it.
It is easy to imagine the feelings of Ma- dame de Chartres at the failure of a plan she had so much desired, especially when her ill-success gave so great an advantage to her enemies and did so much harm to her daughter. The crown princess kindly expressed to Mademoiselle de Chartres her regrets at not 78 The Princess of Cleves.
Still," she added, " I have always tried to please them, and they hate me only on account of my mother, who used to fill them with uneasiness and jealousy. The king had been in love with her before he loved Madame de Valentinois, and in his early married life, before he had any children, though he loved this duchess, he seemed bent on dissolving that marriage to marry the queen my mother.
Madame de Valentinois dreaded the woman he had loved so well, lest her wit and beauty should diminish her own power, and entered into an alliance with the constable, who was also op- posed to the king's marrying a sister of the Guises.
La princesse de Clèves by Madame de La Fayette - Free Ebook
They won over the late king; and though he hated the Duchess of Valentinois as much as he loved the queen, he joined with The Princess of Cloves. In order to make this impos- sible, they arranged my mother's marriage with the King of Scotland, whose first wife had been Madame Magdeleine, the king's sister, this they did because it was the first thing that offered; though they broke the promises that had been made to the King of England, who was deeply in love with her.
In fact, this matter nearly caused a falling out between the two kings. It is true that my mother was a perfect beauty, and it is remarkable that when she was the widow of a duke of Longueville, three kings should have wanted to marry her. It was her mis- fortune to be married to the least important of them all, and to be sent to a kingdom where she has found nothing but unhappi- 8o The Princess of Cleves.
I am told that I am like her ; I dread the same sad fate, and whatever happiness seems to be awaiting me, I doubt if I ever enjoy it. Henceforth no one dared to think of Mademoiselle de Chartres, through fear of displeasing the king or of not succeeding in winning a young woman who had aspired to a prince of the blood. None of these con- siderations moved Monsieur de Cleves. The death of his father, the Duke of Nevers, 'vhich happened at that time, left him free to follow his own inclinations, and as soon as the period of mourning had passed, he thought of nothing but marrying Mademoi- selle de Chartres.
He was glad to make his proposal at a time when circumstances had The Princess of C I eves. What dimmed his joy was the fear of not being agreeable to her ; and he would have preferred the happiness of pleasing her to the certainty of marrying her when she did not love him. The Chevalier de Guise had somewhat aroused his jealousy; but since this was in- spired more by his rival's merits than by the conduct of Mademoiselle de Chartres, he thought of nothing but ascertaining whether by good fortune she would approve of his designs.
He met her only at the queen's rooms or in company, yet he managed to speak to her of his intentions and hopes in the most respectful way; he begged her to let him know how she felt towards him, and told her that his feelings for her were such that he should be forever unhappy if she obeyed her mother only from a sense of duty.
This gratitude lent to her answer a certain gentleness, which was quite sufficient to feed the hope of a man as much in love as he was, and he counted on attaining at least a part of what he desired. Mademoiselle repeated this conversation to her mother, who said that Monsieur de Cleves was of such high birth, possessed so many fine qualities, and seemed so discreet for a man of his age, that if she inclined to marry him she would herself gladly give her consent.
Mademoiselle de Chartres replied that she had noticed the same fine qualities, and that she would rather marry him than any one else, but that she had no special love for him.