Twenty Years After
Duc de Beaufort
Describes How The Duc De Beaufort Amused His Leisure Hours In The Donjon Of
The captive who was the source of so much alarm to the cardinal and whose means of
escape disturbed the repose of the whole court, was wholly unconscious of the terror he
caused at the Palais Royal.
He had found himself so strictly guarded that he soon perceived the fruitlessness of any
attempt at escape. His vengeance, therefore, consisted in coining curses on the head of
Mazarin; he even tried to make some verses on him, but soon gave up the attempt, for
Monsieur de Beaufort had not only not received from Heaven the gift of versifying, he
had the greatest difficulty in expressing himself in prose.
The duke was the grandson of Henry VI. and Gabrielle d'Estrees -- as good-natured, as
brave, as proud, and above all, as Gascon as his ancestor, but less elaborately educated.
After having been for some time after the death of Louis XIII. the favorite, the confidant,
the first man, in short, at the court, he had been obliged to yield his place to Mazarin and
so became the second in influence and favor; and eventually, as he was stupid enough to
be vexed at this change of position, the queen had had him arrested and sent to Vincennes
in charge of Guitant, who made his appearance in these pages in the beginning of this
history and whom we shall see again. It is understood, of course, that when we say "the
queen," Mazarin is meant.
During the five years of this seclusion, which would have improved and matured the
intellect of any other man, M. de Beaufort, had he not affected to brave the cardinal,
despise princes, and walk alone without adherents or disciples, would either have
regained his liberty or made partisans. But these considerations never occurred to the
duke and every day the cardinal received fresh accounts of him which were as unpleasant
as possible to the minister.
After having failed in poetry, Monsieur de Beaufort tried drawing. He drew portraits,
with a piece of coal, of the cardinal; and as his talents did not enable him to produce a
very good likeness, he wrote under the picture that there might be little doubt regarding
the original: "Portrait of the Illustrious Coxcomb, Mazarin." Monsieur de Chavigny, the
governor of Vincennes, waited upon the duke to request that he would amuse himself in
some other way, or that at all events, if he drew likenesses, he would not put mottoes
underneath them. The next day the prisoner's room was full of pictures and mottoes.
Monsieur de Beaufort, in common with many other prisoners, was bent upon doing
things that were prohibited; and the only resource the governor had was, one day when
the duke was playing at tennis, to efface all these drawings, consisting chiefly of profiles.
M. de Beaufort did not venture to draw the cardinal's fat face.