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DE GRAMMONT'S CHOICE.
liant exploits of Turenne, and of Condé, on the other, led them to the camp. It was merely the difference of dress between the two that constituted the distinction: the soldier might be as pious as the priest, the priest was sure to be as worldly as the soldier; the soldier might have ecclesiastical preferment; the priest sometimes turned out to fight.
Philibert de Grammont chose to be a soldier. He was styled the Chevalier de Grammont, according to custom, his father being still living. He fought under Turenne, at the siege of Trino. The army in which he served was beleaguering that city when the gay youth from the banks of the Garonne joined it, to aid it not so much by his valor as by the fun, the raillery, the off-hand anecdote, the ready, hearty companionship which lightened the soldier's life in the trenches : adieu to impatience, to despair, even to gravity. The very generals could not maintain their seriousness when the lighthearted De Grammont uttered a repartee
“Sworn enemy to all long speeches,
Lively and brilliant, frank and free,
Remember, over all, that he
Was not renowned for storming breaches." Where he came, all was sunshine, yet there breathed not a colder, graver man than the Calvinist Turenne: modest, serious, somewhat hard, he gave the young nobility who served under him no quarter in their shortcomings; but a word, a look, from De Grammont could make him, malgré lui, unbend. The
gay chevalier's white charger's prancing, its gallant rider foremost in every peril, were not forgotten in after times, when De Grammont, in extreme old age, chatted over the achievements and pleasures of his youth.
Among those who courted his society in Turenne's army was Matta, a soldier of simple manners, hardy habits, and handsome person, joined to a candid, honest nature. He soon persuaded De Grammont to share his quarters, and there they gave splendid entertainments, which, Frenchman-like, DeGrammont paid for out of the successes of the gaming-tables. But chances were against them; the two officers were at the mer
of their maître d'hôtel, who asked for money. One day, when De Grammont came home sooner than usual, he found Matta fast asleep. While De Grammont stood looking at him, he awoke, and burst into a violent fit of laughter.
“ What is the matter ?” cried the chevalier.
“Faith, chevalier," answered Matta, "I was dreaming that we had sent away our maître d'hôtel, and were resolved to live like our neighbors for the rest of the campaign.”
THE CHURCH OR THE ARMY.
“ Poor fellow !” cried De Grammont. So
you are knocked down at once: what would have become of you if you had been reduced to the situation I was in at Lyons, four days before I came here? Come, I will tell you all about it.”
Begin a little farther back," cried Matta, “and tell me about the manner in which you first paid your respects to Cardinal Richelieu. Lay aside your pranks as a child, your genealogy, and all your ancestors together; you can not know any thing about them.”
“Well," replied De Grammont, "it was my father's own fault that he was not Henry IV's son: see what the Grammonts have lost by this cross-grained fellow! Faith, we might have walked before the Counts de Vendôme at this very moment.”
Then he went on to relate how he had been sent to Pau, to the college, to be brought up to the church, with an old servant to act both as his valet and his guardian. How his head was too full of gaming to learn Latin. How they gave him his rank at college, as the youth of quality, when he did not deserve it; how he traveled up to Paris to his brother to be polished, and went to court in the character of an abbé. “Ah, Matta, you know the kind of dress then in vogue. No, I would not change my dress, but I consented to draw over it a cassock. I had the finest head of hair in the world, well curl-. ed and powdered above my cassock, and below were my white buskins and spurs."
Even Richelieu, that hypocrite, he went on to relate, could not help laughing at the parti-colored costume, sacerdotal above, soldier-like below; but the cardinal was greatly offended-not with the absence of decorum, but with the dangerous wit, that could laugh in public at the cowl and shaven crown, points which constituted the greatest portion of Richelieu's sanctity.
De Grammont's brother, however, thus addressed the chevalier :-“Well, my little parson,” said he, as they went home, "you have acted your part to perfection; but now you must choose your career. If you like to stick to the church, you will possess great revenues, and nothing to do; if you choose to go into the army, you will risk your arm or your leg, but in time you may be a major general with a wooden leg and a glass eye, the spectacle of an indifferent, ungrateful court. Make your choice.
The choice, Philibert went on to relate, was made. For the good of his soul, he renounced the church, but for his own advantage, he kept his abbacy. This was not difficult in days when secular abbés were common; nothing would induce him
to change his resolution of being a soldier. Meantime he was perfecting his accomplishments as a fine gentleman, one of the requisites for which was a knowledge of all sorts of games. No matter that his mother was miserable at his decision. Had her son been an abbé, she thought he would have become a saint: nevertheless, when he returned home, with the air of a courtier and a man of the world, boy as he was, and the very impersonation of what might then be termed la jeune France, she was so enchanted with him that she consented to his going to the wars, attended again by Brinon, his valet, equerry, and mentor in one. Next in De Grammont's narrative came his adventure at Lyons, where he spent the 200 louis his mother had given Brinon for him, in play, and very nearly broke the poor old servant's heart; where he had duped å horsedealer; and he ended by proposing plans, similarly honorable, to be adopted for their present emergencies.
The first step was to go to head-quarters, to dine with a certain Count de Cameran, a Savoyard, and invite him to supper. Here Matta interposed, “ Are you mad ?” he exclaimed. “Invite him to supper! we have neither money nor credit; we are ruined; and to save us you intend to give a
"Stupid fellow !" cried De Grammont. “Cameran plays at quinze: so do I: we want money. He has more than he knows what to do with : we give a supper, he pays for it. However,” he added, “it is necessary to take certain precautions. You command the guards: when night comes on, order your Sergent-de-place to have fifteen or twenty men under arms, and let them lay themselves flat on the ground between this and head-quarters. Most likely we shall win this stupid fellow's money. Now the Piedmontese are suspicious, and he commands the horse. Now you know, Matta, you can not hold your tongue, and are very likely to let out some joke that will vex him. Supposing he takes it into his head that he is being cheated ? He has always eight or ten horsemen: we must be prepared.”
“Embrace me!" cried Matta, “ embrace me! for thou art unparalleled. I thought you only meant to prepare a pack of cards and some false dice. But the idea of protecting a man who plays at quinze by a detachment of foot is excellent; thine own, dear chevalier !"
Thus, like some of Dumas' heroes, hating villainy as a matter of course, but being by no means ashamed to acknowledge it, the Piedmontese was asked to supper. He came. Nevertheless, in the midst of the affair, when De Cameran was losing as fast as he could, Matta's conscience touched him: he
DE GRAMMONT'S GENEROSITY.
awoke from a deep sleep, heard the dice shaking, saw the poor Savoyard losing, and advised him to play no more.
“Don't you know, count, you can not win ?” “Why?" asked the count. “Why, faith, because we are cheating you,” was the reply.
The chevalier turned round impatiently, “Sieur Matta,” he cried, you suppose it can be any amusement to Monsieur le Comte to be plagued with your ill-timed jests? For my part, I am so weary of the game that I swear by Jupiter I can scarcely play any more.” Nothing is more distasteful to a
. losing gamester than a hint of leaving off; so the count entreated the chevalier to continue, and assured him that “Monsieur Matta might say what he pleased, for it did not give him the least uneasiness to continue.”
The chevalier allowed the count to play upon credit, and that act of courtesy was taken very kindly: the dupe lost 1500 pistoles, which he paid the next morning, when Matta was sharply reprimanded for his interference.
“Faith,” he answered, “it was a point of conscience with me; besides it would have given me pleasure to have seen his horse engaged with my infantry, if he had taken any thing amiss."
The sum thus gained set the spendthrifts up; and De Grammont satisfied his conscience by giving it away, to a certain extent, in charity. It is singular to perceive in the history of this celebrated man that moral taint of character which the French have never lost: this total absence of right reasoning on all points of conduct, is coupled in our Gallic neighbors with the greatest natural benevolence, with a generosity only kept back by poverty, with impulsive, impressionable dispositions, that require the guidance of a sound Protestant faith to elevate and correct them.
The chevalier hastened, it is related, to find out distressed comrades, officers who had lost their baggage, or who had been ruined by gaming; or soldiers who had been disabled in the trenches; and his manner of relieving them was as graceful and as delicate as the bounty he distributed was welcome. He was the dailing of the army. The poor soldier knew him personally, and adored him; the general was sure to meet him in the scenes of action, and to seek his company in those of security.
And, having thus retrieved his finances, the gay-hearted chevalier used, henceforth, to make De Cameran go halves with him in all games in which the odds were in his own favor. Even the staid Calvinist, Turenne, who had not then renounced, as he did in after life, the Protestant faith, delight
ed in the off-hand merriment of the chevalier. It was toward the end of the siege of Trino, that De Grammont went to visit that general in some new quarters, where Turenne received him, surrounded by fifteen or twenty officers. According to
, the custom of the day, cards were introduced, and the general asked the chevalier to play.
“Sir," returned the young soldier, “my tutor taught me that when a man goes to see his friends it is neither prudent to leave his own money behind him nor civil to take theirs."
Well," answered Turenne, “I can tell you you will find neither much money nor deep play among us; but that it can not be said that we allowed you to go off without playing, suppose we each of us stake a horse."
De Grammont agreed, and, lucky as ever, won from the officers some fifteen or sixteen horses, by way of a joke; but seeing several faces pale, he said, “Gentlemen, I should be sorry to see you go away from your general's quarters on foot; it will do very well if
all send me to-morrow your horses, except one, which I give for the cards."
The valet-de-chambre thought he was jesting. “I am serious,” cried the chevalier. “ Parole d'honneur I give a horse for the cards; and what's more, take which you please, only don't take mine."
“Faith," said Turenne, pleased with the novelty of the affair, “I don't believe a horse was ever before given for the cards."
Young people, and indeed old people, can perhaps hardly remember the time when, even in England, money used to be . put under the candlesticks“ for the cards,” as it was said, but in fact for the servants, who waited. Winner or loser, the tax was to be paid, and this custom of vails was also prevalent in France.
Trino at last surrendered, and the two friends rushed from their campaigning life to enjoy the gayeties of Turin, at that time the centre of pleasure; and resolved to perfect their characters as military heroes—by falling in love, if respectably, well; if disreputably, well too, perhaps all the more agreeable, and venturesome, as they thought.
The court of Turin was then presided over by the Duchess of Savoy, Madame Royale, as she was called in France, the daughter of Henry IV. of France, the sister of Henrietta Maria of England. She was a woman of talent and spirit, worthy of her descent, and had certain other qualities which constituted a point of resemblance between her and her father ; she was, like him, more fascinating than respectable.
The customs of Turin were rather Italian than French. At