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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Madame de Chevreuse
By Victor Cousin (1792–1867)
 
From ‘Life of Madame de Chevreuse’

MADAME DE CHEVREUSE was endowed with almost all the qualities constituting political genius. One alone was wanting, and this was precisely the master quality without which all the others lead but to the ruin of their possessor. She was incapable of keeping in view a steady aim, or rather of choosing her own aim; some one else always directed her choice. She had an essentially feminine temperament; therein lay the secret of her strength and weakness. Her spring of action was love, or rather gallantry; and the interest of the man she loved became for the time being her main object in life. This accounts for the wonderful sagacity, subtlety and energy she expended in the pursuit of a chimerical aim which constantly eluded her grasp, and which seemed to charm her by the spell of its difficulty and danger. La Rochefoucauld accuses her of bringing misfortune upon all who loved her. It were more just to say that all whom she loved drew her into foolhardy enterprises.  1
  Richelieu and Mazarin left no stone unturned to attach Madame de Chevreuse to their interests. Richelieu considered her an enemy worthy of his steel; he exiled her several times, and when after his death the doors of France were opened to the men he had proscribed, the Cardinal’s implacable resentment survived in the soul of the dying Louis XIII., who closed them to her.  2
  If you turn to Mazarin’s confidential letters you will see what intense anxiety this beautiful conspirator caused him in 1643. During the Fronde, he had reason to congratulate himself on having effected a reconciliation with her and followed her wise advice. In 1660, when the victorious Mazarin signed the treaties of Westphalia and the Pyrenees, and Don Luis de Haro congratulated him on the peace which was about to succeed to years of storms, the Cardinal answered that peace was not possible in a country where even women were to be feared. “You Spaniards can speak lightly of such matters, since your women are interested in love alone; but things are different in France, where there are three women quite capable of upsetting the greatest kingdom in the world; namely, the Duchess of Longueville, the Princess Palatine, and the Duchess of Chevreuse.”  3
 
 
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