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Political Women, Vol. 2

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The second-rate actors in this shifting drama presented no less diversity in the motives of their actions. Beaufort, who commanded the troops of Gaston, and Nemours those of Condé, although brothers-in-law, weakened by their dissentions an army which their concord would have rendered formidable. The necessity of military operations required their absence from Paris; but they preferred rather to there exhibit themselves to their mistresses, decked out in a general’s uniform, and grasping the truncheon of command. No greater harmony existed between the Prince de Conti and Madame de Longueville than when La Rochefoucauld severed them. At Bordeaux they favoured opposite parties, and contributed to augment the discord prevailing, and to weaken the party of the Princes by dividing it. The Duchess de Longueville, when no longer guided by La Rochefoucauld, did not fail to lose herself in aimless projects, and to compromise herself in intrigues without result. On Nemours being wounded, his wife repaired to the army to tend him, and the Duchess de Châtillon, under pretext of visiting one of her châteaux, accompanied her as far as Montargis; thence she went to the convent of Filles de Sainte-Marie, where, believing herself quite incognita, she went, under various disguises, to see him whom she had never ceased to love. These mysterious visits soon became no longer a secret to any one; and then Condé and his sister could convince themselves how different are the sentiments which love inspires and those which self-interest and vanity simulate. The great Condé, by his intelligence and bearing, had all the means of pleasing women; but obtained small success notwithstanding. Mademoiselle Vigean excepted, he appears to have been incapable of inspiring the tender passion, in the truest acceptation of the phrase. He went further than his sister, it seems, in the neglect of his person. It was his habit of life to be almost always badly dressed, and only appeared radiant on the field of battle. So that the Duke de Nemours was not the only rival with whom Condé had to contend for the favours of that beauty for whom Louis XIV. in his boyish amusements had shown a preference, and which has furnished a theme for some agreeable trifling to the sparkling muse of Benserade. An abbé, named Cambiac, in the service of the house of Condé, balanced for some time the passion to which Nemours had given birth in the bosom of the Duchess de Châtillon, and the jealousy of Nemours failed to expel Cambiac. The Duchess kept fair with him as the man who had obtained the greatest sway over her relation, the Princess-dowager de Condé. The condescension of the Duchess de Châtillon towards this intriguing and licentious priest procured her, on the part of the Princess-dowager, a legacy of more than a hundred thousand crowns in Bavaria, and the usufruct of an estate worth twenty thousand livres in rent per annum. Cambiac, however, retired, when he knew that Condé was his rival. But the victor of Rocroy had more address in winning battles than in conducting a love intrigue....