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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.
The Library of the World’s Best Literature. An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Comparison between Madame de Hautefort and Madame de Chevreuse

By Victor Cousin (1792–1867)

From ‘Life of Madame de Chevreuse’

FATE placed them both in the same century, in the same party, and in the midst of the same events; but far from resembling each other, they illustrate opposite poles of the character and destiny of women. Both were ravishingly beautiful, brilliantly intelligent, unflinchingly courageous: but one was as pure as she was beautiful, uniting grace with majesty and inspiring respect as well as love. The favorite of a king, not a suspicion touched her; proud to haughtiness with the great and powerful, sweet and compassionate to the oppressed; loving greatness and prizing virtue above the esteem of the world; combining the wit of a précieuse, the daintiness of a fashionable beauty, with the intrepidity of a heroine and the dignity of a great lady,—she left an odor of sanctity behind her.

The other possessed even greater powers of fascination and an irresistible charm. Witty but ignorant; thrown into the midst of party excesses and thinking but little of religion; too great a lady to submit to restraint; bowing only to the dictates of honor; abandoned to gallantry and making light of all else; despising danger and public opinion for the sake of the man she loved; restless rather than ambitious, freely risking her life and that of others; and after spending her youth in intrigues and plots, and strewing her path with victims, traveling through Europe as captive and conqueror and turning the heads of kings; having seen Chalais ascend the scaffold, Châteauneuf dismissed from the ministry, the Duc de Lorraine stripped of his possessions, Buckingham assassinated, the King of Spain launched upon a disastrous war, Queen Anne humiliated, and Richelieu triumphant; defiant to the last, always ready to play a part in that game of politics which had become a passion with her, to descend to the lowest intrigues or to take the most reckless course of action; seeing the weakness of her enemy, and daring enough to undertake his ruin:—Madame de Chevreuse was a devoted friend, an implacable enemy, the most redoubtable adversary of both Richelieu and Mazarin.