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as far as Lyons incognito, found to his surprise that the Duchess of Modena, aware of his proceedings, had caused a messenger to watch for him at Lyons and warn him of the hopelessness of his mission. The earl, however, encouraged by Louis XIV., still proceeded on his journey, though it was not till the ground had been specially prepared for him at Modena by the Marquis de Dangeau that he ventured to present himself at the ducal court.
The earl gives a rapturous account of the charms of the princess at the time of his first presentation to her. She was tall,' he writes, and * admirably shaped; her complexion was of the last degree of * fairness, her hair black as jet; so were her eyebrows and * her eyes; but the latter so full of light and sweetness, as ' they did dazzle and charm too. There seemed given to them ' by nature a power to kill and a power to save; and in the
whole turn of her face, which was of the most graceful oval, 'there were all the features, all the beauty, all that could be 'great and charming in any human creature.'
To all the compliments, however, of the earl and his excuses for pressing the suit of his master the young princess replied a little indignantly, that she was obliged to the King of England
and the Duke of York for their good opinion, but she could 'not but wonder, when there were so many princesses of more 'merit, who would esteem that honour and be ready to em* brace it, they should persist in endeavouring to force the in
clination of one who had vowed herself, as much as was in her power, to another sort of life, out of which she never * could think she could be happy; and she desired his excel• lency,' even, as he fancied, with tears in her eyes, “if he • had an influence with his master, to avert any further perse
cution of a maid who had an invincible aversion to marriage. • Princesses there were enow in Italy, and even in that house, ' who would not be unworthy of so great an honour, and who, * from the esteem they might have thereof, would deserve it much better than she could do.'
To this rebuff the earl replied with all the seductive arguments which his diplomacy had at command, but with little success. The young princess could not reconcile herself to banishment for ever from her sunny clime, from her relatives, and from the friends of her childhood, to be consigned to a land of strangers, and to the arms of a man of whose existence she had been unaware till she was asked by him in marriage. The English envoy complained the next day of the behaviour of the princess to Nardi, the Chancellor of the Duchy; but Nardi told him he need not be under the least
wonder on that account, since the ladies of Italy, when it came to be in earnest, were accustomed to have no will but that of their friends; and if her mother were satisfied, she would soon be brought to a much more difficult matter than that.
Mary Beatrice nevertheless evinced such invincible antipathy to the marriage, that Charles and James inclined at one time to substitute for her her aunt, who was only ten years older than herself, and instructions were sent to that effect to the Earl of Peterborough. However, by the time these had arrived the earl had such good hopes of bringing the treaty for the niece to a conclusion, that he proceeded with it. The Duchess of Modena was the first to yield, after being beset with solicitations on all sides, from ambassadors of Louis XIV., from cardinals at Rome, and from her own confessor, all praying her to exercise her maternal influence in the matter of a marriage which promised so well for the Church. The resistance of the daughter was finally overcome by a brief from the Pope himself, written in Latin, to the princess, and addressed, ' Di• lectæ in Christo filiæ nobili puellæ Mariæ Principessæ Modi'nensi,' assuring her of the thankfulness to God into which the news of her marriage had affected him, of the deep grief with which he had heard of her opposition, and exhorting her to compliance.
The poor princess, who had declared that she would throw herself in the fire rather than marry at all, and who had lamented with sobs to the abbess of the Convent of the Visitation at Modena that she had not been born in a cottage, must fain yield, but nevertheless not without floods of tears and a last appeal to her mother. Even, however, after the marriage by proxy had taken place, and she had to set forth in state for England, the poor child cried and screamed for two days and nights to put off the detested journey as long as she could ; and it was only at last on condition that her mother should go with her, and that she should go all the way to Calais by land, instead of making use of the galleys sent for her use by Leghorn, by Louis XIV., whose share in bringing about her marriage she was acquainted with, that she consented to start at all.
Notwithstanding, however, the repugnance with which Mary Beatrice had regarded the union, and the childish symptoms of aversion which she is said to have displayed at the first meeting with her husband, she became in time sincerely attached to James; and amid all the misfortunes of dethronement and exile her love remained for him an unfailing refuge
and consolation. Her conduct at the licentious court of Charles II., with the exception of some condescension shown to the mistresses of the king, at the suggestion of a husband twenty-five years her senior, was blameless, and she succeeded in winning the affections of all around her. The evidence of Burnet, who later turned treacherously against her, and has registered in his volumes a string of silly stories about the wife of his early benefactor, may be accepted on this head.
Burnet, who had later formed to himself a vulgar and stercotyped conception of the queen's character, as one of unfathomable Italian duplicity, and never misses an opportunity of reviling her and calling her the revengeful Italian lady,' gives the following account of Mary of Modena :
'She was,' he writes, “a very graceful person with a good measure of beauty, and so much art and cunning that during all this reign she behaved in so obliging a manner, and seemed so innocent and good, that she gained upon all that came near her, and possessed them with such impressions of her, that it was long before her behaviour after she was queen could make them change their thoughts of her. So artificially did this young Italian behave herself that she deceived even the eldest and most jealous persons both in court and in country; only sometimes a satirical temper broke out too much, which was imputed to youth and wit not enough practised in the world. She avoided the appearance of a zenlot or a meddler in business, and gave herself up to innocent cheerfulness, and was universally esteemed and beloved as long as she was a duchess.
The theory of Burnet, that this gentle demeanour of Mary Beatrice before her elevation to the throne was mere dissimulation which she threw off on becoming queen, or the assumption of Lord Macaulay, based on a coarse pasquinade of the time, that she was one of those characters which are better fitted for adversity than for prosperity, receives no confirmation in the documents now before us; neither do we believe is there the slightest trace of the revengeful Italian lady' to be found in any portion of her life.
On the contrary, we find unvarying proof of gentleness and submissiveness of disposition, of the tenderness of her love as wife and as mother, of the deepest life-long affection to the relatives she had left behind in Italy, and especially to her brother with whom she had been reared, and whom she never saw after leaving her country, signs also of warm attachment to friends, and of saintly resignation in adversity,
The most remarkable quality in her letters is the absence of all spirit of political rancour, and they may be searched through in vain for any expression of malevolence to those whom she might well consider the enemies of herself and her husband, and owing to whom when she was duchess she was, with James, driven no less than four times from England, twice to Brussels and the Hague, and twice to Edinburgh, and was obliged to perform the journeys to this latter city at inclement seasons and at the risk of life. James, indeed, on one occasion narrowly escaped shipwreck.*
Although she acquiesced in the political views of her husband, yet her good sense made her aware of the imprudent part he was playing by acting upon the counsels of Peters, and she opposed the influence of the Jesuit so far as her unassuming disposition would permit. The only distinct charge which has ever been alleged against her, is that she was induced to use her authority to secure some of the rich harvest which Sunderland was making in the sale of pardons to those concerned in Monmouth's rebellion ; but it is extremely doubtful whether she was aware of the way in which her name was being used, and very doubtful also whether any of the money reached the pockets of any of her maids of honour, except that of Lady Anna Spencer, Sunderland's daughter. After the death of James ÎI. at St. Germains, notwithstanding her aversion to political intrigue, she felt it her duty, during the minority of her son, to act as the head of the Jacobite party. Her wish had been to retire into the convent of Chaillot; but this she was prevented from doing by the remonstrances of her confessor and political adviser.
Among the letters which we have in these volumes of Mary Beatrice, the most interesting are those written to her brother, whose premature loss was not the least of the
afflictions which fell to her lot. Year by year after she quitted Modena she lived in the hopes of seeing again this much-cherished brother, but they never met from the time that they parted as children. It will be seen in the following letter, written immediately after her flight from England in 1688, how passionately, in the midst
* James himself writes in his Journal :—' The duchess, notwithstanding her late illness and vomiting blood at sea, the short time it was designed the duke should stay in Scotland, and the king pressing her ' for that reason to remain at court, would nevertheless accompany
him. And though she was twenty years old, chose rather, even at the hazard of her life, to be a constant companion of the duke her husband's misfortunes and hardships, than to enjoy her ease in any part of the world • without him. But it was a sensible trouble to his royal highness to
see the duchess thus obliged to undergo a sort of martyrdom for her • affection to him, and him, to humour the peevish and timorous dispositions of some counsellors, to be thus sent a sort of vagabond about the world.
of her troubles, she yearned for the consolation of fraternal affection.
• Boulogne, 27 December, 1688. Dear Brother,—You will be astonished with reason when you learn that I am in this country and the manner in which I am come. Having escaped by night with my son, and having had a very strong but favourable wind, in less than twenty-four hours we passed from London to Calais, from whence I came to this place, where I find myself in unspeakable anxiety on account of having no news of the king since I left him now eight days ago. He said he should start the day after me, but all the seaports are closed, and I can neither see him nor have news of him, since they will not even let letters come through. You can imagine in what condition I find myself, and I am sure if you saw me, I should excite your commiseration ; my only consolation is to see that my son is well and grows every day in our afflictions. He alone is happy in not knowing his own misfortunes and to what state he and his parents are reduced. Pray God for me, dear brother, that He may give me patience and resignation, since without the especial help of God I think I should go mad.
* I am persuaded by all to go to Paris and to see personally the King of France, from whom I receive a thousand favours; but I am not able to decide to leave the sea, and until I have some news of my king, I am able to think of nothing else. I am here with very few of my people, and I have none with me in whom I have confidence but Donna Vittoria (Montecuccoli), and she with la Pellegrina (Turini) is the only person I have brought with me.
M. Rangoni and the Abbé Rizzini must have stayed on the other side of the Channel, otherwise they would be here. I have no news of M. Cattaneo, but I hope I shall in Paris. I thank you a thousand times that you have sent him to me. How great a consolation it would be for me to have you near me in so hard a conjuncture; but I have desired this so often without being able to attain it that I do not dare to hope for it even now. Dear brother, have pity on me, counsel me, and with your
affection sustain your poor afflicted sister, who, in whatever state she may fall, will always love you from her heart, and will be in all sincerity and affection wholly yours,
M. R.' *
• Saint Germains, 12 January, 1689. * Dear Brother,—'If I should undertake to tell you all that has happened to me and the king since our departure from London I should write a volume rather than a letter. Content yourself
if I only give you news by this courier, which M. Rangoni is sending off, of what is most importance, of our happy arrival in this place.
My son and I arrived here on the 6th, and the king on the 7th, after having made me sigh for him and weep much, and not without cause. But God be thanked we are now safe and receive from this king many favours.
* Vol. ii. pp. 428, 429.