AN Impartial Character Of that famous POLITITIAN And late admired MINISTER OF STATE, Cardinal Mazarine.

De mortuis nil nisi Bonum.

LONDON, Printed in the year 1661.

An Impartial Character of that fa­mous Politician, and late admi­red Minister of State, Cardnal Mazarine.

WHat need we wonder (whilest we live in an age so envious, that when men find they cannot arrive to those heights of parts or virtues wherewith God, Nature or Industry hath endowed others, they think it a glory to brand their Fame, whose Perfections they cannot reach to) That this worthy Cardinal should be endeavoured, during his whole course of life, to be made the publike scorn and odium of the world, whilst yet certainly no scandals what­soever cast upon him, could make him disesteemed in the minds of any persons, unless those who not having worth in themselves, hoped that envious detraction might bring him so low as to make them shine in the same sphear.

It hath been the folly of the world for many ages past, to represent inimitable Wisdom as absolute Wickedness: Nor have any fallen more under this plague, then those who have been called to be Ministers of State; as if the being endow­ed with a Prudence above other men, and fitted with great­er abilities to serve their King and Countrey, were a crime sufficient to make them odious to all: But England hath been a sad Example to other Nations, and a caveat it will be for[Page 2]them to beware not to esteem Enemies their wisest preser­vers; nor is it (I think) a despicable supposition to imagine, That France had run into the same distractions with us, had she lost a Mazarine by the same violence we lost a Strafford.

Methinks it is a Paradox to me to consider that Ministers of State should be so often subject to the peoples violent love and hatred; so that whilst with one breath they deifie them, the very next air they suck in, shall proclaim them De­vils, or worse; but the Multitude is Bellua multorum Capitum, a Beast of many Heads, and every Head (like so many horns springing out of it) fill'd with various Caprivio's and hu­mours, most of which being bad, must necessarily incline to their Center, and think all like themselves; besides the depra­vity of most Natures hath bred such a corruption in Man­kind, that twenty, nay five hundred good actions are wiped out and forgotten by the remembrance of one lapse, which perhaps proceeded from no other design or cause, but as it is humanum errare.

Yet I endeavour not hereby to justifie all Ministers of State (there may be voluntary errors in some, who instead of being the preservers, may prove the destroyers of their Countrey) but to maintain, that Policy (however esteemed) is justifiable, though by it (to the damage of others) we pro­cure our own safety.

But this may seem too large a deviation; I will therefore descend to my promised purpose: This worthy Cardinal, who for so long time hath steered the Helm of France, was indeed of but an obscure Birth and Extraction, his Coun­trey Sicilie, the people of which Island are observed of all Italians, to bee most sagace and cunning; a Composition as it were, of Spaniard, Italian and French; not so lofty as the first, somewhat more solid then the second, and not so light as the last; not so tedious in their Counsels as the Spaniard, nor so slow in execution as either them or the Italian; yet not so quickly desperate as the French,

The greatness of his spirit appeared in his youth, which made his ingenuous Soul detest confinement to his Native Soile, where the obscurity of his Birth might make him de­spised,[Page 3]and not put him in a capacity to exercise those parts wherewith Nature hath endowed him. This made him re­solve to travel, and the Glories of Rome invited him thither; where he first became Page to a Germane Count, whose being addicted to play; was the Rise of Mazarines fortunes; for hee being both cunning and witty observed those tricks which his Master used, and having perfectly learned them; First practi­sed with his Companions, and after with others, by which means fortune (having designed him great) so favoured him that he soon got a stock of one thousand Crowns.

Thus having money to set forth & imbellish his wit judge­ment, the knowledge he had of his own parts made him as­pire to some higher preferment then Page, to one who lived only by his Wits, and his abilities too compasse what he de­sired, encouraged him to get into the service of Cardinal Bar­barino then cheif Favorite to his Holiness the Pope, which by the help of his money and a pleasing and affable carriage, he soon effected, and so behaved himself in his service that before many years were past, the Cardinall began to take notice of the sagacity and greatnesse of his spirit, and to look upon him as a person fit to be intrusted with the most important affairs: yet such was Barbarino's wisedom, that before he would imploy him in those; he made use of him in business of smaller moment

The performance of these in such a manner as suited with the Cardinalls liking, made him at length resolve to imploy him in greater, as a reward of his being faithfull and carefull in the lesse; he had observed that during the time of his service he made it his businesse at spare times to study State-affaires, and that with a kind of greediness he listned after and strove to keep in memory; those State maxims which he often oferved to fall from his so well-skil'd Master; & as the Excellency of the one made the other ambitious to learn of him, so the others willing­ness and aptnesse to learn was a Prompter to the Teacher to instruct him.

Without doubt, as the Sudy of State-policies, is of all the most difficult, so the most delightfull: for besides the pro­mise which a man makes to himself by being well versed in the Government and Politick-Rules of ordering and sway­ing[Page 4]Kingdomes and States: there is a kind of delight in the thing it self, just like the Alchymist, who though he makes the Elixar his chief hopes and design, yet he finds pleasure in those severall operations, by which he thinks to attain it.

But to proceed, our Politician, having with care and in­dustry sucked in those rules which were given him by his wise and understanding Master; 'twas thought fit that his Theory should be turned into practice, which is the life of all Learn­nings or Doctrines watsoever, for still then all the rest seems but a Chaos, a thing confused, and indeed nothing.

Yet is he not at first trusted to himself, lest Phaeton-like, his too young experienced Judgement might prove rash, and so overthrow him; for young heads [though they may well understand the management of a business before they are put upon it] are to a Subject to a prove fiery, and ruine both themselves and what they undertake, it hath therefore al­ways been held as a constant maxime, That experience is best gained by degrees.

He is therefore first made Coadjutor or Deputy to the Flo­rentine Nuncio; and after some time of experience under him used rather as a Spye upon him, then associate to him: his Let­ters continually informing his master Cardinal Barberino of the Legates transactions, whereby he not onely had the op­portunity to give proofe of the abilities of his pen, but like­wise to improve that knowledge he had already attained.

For there is nothing more enlightens any man, whether imployed in Merchandize or State-Affairs, then the having the happinesse of a good and able Correspondent, for his Epistles are like so many flowers; out of which we may suck honey to return in answer, whilst our knowledge of his abili­ties makes us endeavour to retort the purest and clearest.

But the Abilities of our Politicians pen was not the only thing that made him so much respected, his Carriage on both sides made him more deservedly be wondered at; for though he was placed as a soe over the Florentine Nuntio, yet he com­ported himself with that Strange Kind of affection towards him, that he rather deemed him his bosome friend, whilst yet[Page 5]he let nothing either in favour or prejudice of him passe with which he acquainted not his Master Barbarino.

And indeed it was now his time to play his Cards well, or throw up the Game; for should he have been at first discovered to have been but a weak Gamester, 'tis ten to one, whether any more Stakes would have been ventured on his head, whilst managing his prime imployments wel he madeway to himself, for those greater and more glorious that attended him.

For not long was it e're the Florentine Nuntio dying? 'twas no difficult thing for his Master Cardinal Barbarino to procure his holinesse, the Pope, to declare Mazarin, Nuntio, which he did; so that from Coadjutor to a Legat he became to be an absolute Legatt; and from being Substitute to others to steer himself no small Helm in the management of State affairs; but such was the Excellency of his knowledge, Industry and Inge­nuity; that in the transacting of these affairs he came off with greater honour and applause then ever.

For he continually made that his care (which should be the duty of every Legatt or Embassadour, to wit, that the sole aim of his actions should be to benefit those that imployed him; nor would he only take occasions to do it when they were proffered, but from the Abysse of his politick judgment would fetch up occasions to serve them.

These prudent managements of businesse in this small State were the motives which made him be called to Rome, there to attend som higher Imployment; where he for some time waited the pleasure of his holinesse, who now undertook no Counsels, at least determined on nothing till he made Mazarini privy to it, so that he began to shine like a Star in the Popes Court.

But at length an Imployment was thought of worthy his great Spirit, because none other was thought fit for it but him self; The cunning Plots, Windings and Artifices of Cardinal Richlieu in France, made not onely the Austrian Princes, but the Church it self stand in fear whither his designs might tend: 'Twas therefore thought fit that some person or other should be sent to counter-plot him, and if possibly to fathom the bottom of his intentions; and this Employment by a general Voice is cast on Mazarine, who having a Cap given him by the Pope, is sent.

[Page 6]Being arrived at Paris, and setled in his Employment there, he first scrues himself into a familiarity with Richlieu, that he might have the better opportunity to draw his de­signs out of him: he uses all the artifices that awel experien­ced Politician or Statesman could imagine to dive into his intentions; but finding that the farther he waded, the far­ther he was to seek, and that all his endeavours would prove as vain as the fathoming a bottomless sea; he thinks to desist farther pursuit, yet knows not what to do.

To have returned to Rome, and there given an account of his ill success and inabilities to finish what he had under­taken, would for ever have blasted that Honour and Re­pute he had formerly gotten; and that being forgotten, he should for ever after live obscure: His ambitious thoughts therefore prompt him to a piece of infidelity, finding that he cannot thrive and be faithful to Rome; he resolves to turn unfaithful, that he might still rise higher; and therefore instead of searching out the depth of the French Cardinals Councils against the Church, he declares to him the depth of the Churches Councils against him.

I confess this was a piece of infidelity which can no way be justified or excused, to betray the secrets of his Embas­sie to an Enemy, and worse of all it was to join with him; for Richlieu finding him to be a man of an excellent, sa­gace and subtil understanding, in requital of his having betrayed the Popes Counsels to him, receives him into his favour, makes him his Creature, and instills into him all his Plots and Devices; so that during his life he was his Coadjutor, and after his death his Successor: which Place that he hath managed with an unimaginable Discretion, Prudence and Policy, the Christian World is judge.

Thus from an obscure Sicilian was our Cardinal advan­ced by steps and degrees to be the chief Minister of State in France, and proved indeed the Support of that Kingdom. His first entrance unto this Employment was in the time of Lewis the 13th. but during his Reign he was but Coadjutor to Richlieu, or at least had but to follow his steps; who from a weak and Imbecil Prince, had made that King the fear of[Page 7]Christendom: But after the death of Richlieu and Lewis, he was chief of Council to the Queen Regent, who being a Woman of a deep searching, had during the life of Richlieu, received him into favour, as perceiving in how great need she should stand of such a Counsellor at Richlieu's death, who was then aged; and these were the chief Reasons of her cast­ing so benevolent a countenance upon him, rather then that he was received into her bed, as many fondly have imagined.

During the Infancy of the young King Lewis the 14th. his Prudence and Policy kept the State & Kingdom of France from any considerable disturbances, though he had continu­ally the envy of the Princes of the blood, who though they could comport Richlieu, as being their own Countreyman, yet could not endure that a stranger should be advanced to the chief Manage of the State, which they thought of right did belong to them, as persons upon whom in time the Crown it self might justly descend: The chief of his Ene­mies indeed was the Prince of Conde, who left no way unat­tempted to rid bim out of the way; which made many un­derstanding men, who lookt upon the inside of things to imagine, that if Conde could remove so faithful a Counsel­lor, he would next attempt to thrust the young King out of his Throne.

But such was the Wisdom and Prudence of our Politick Cardinal, that he not onely frustrated all his designs, but at length drave him out of France, and made him flye to the Enemies of his Countrey, the Spaniards, for relief and suc­cour; but especially at that time he shewed himself a true Po­litician, when Conde had so much incensed the Princes and People of Paris against him, that the King being but now arrived at the age to take the Government of the State in­to his own hands, was with the Cardinal forced to depart from Paris, and Arms ready to be raised on both sides; the Duke of Lorain who had then an Army standing, being called into the assistance of the Princes, whom nothing but either the Death or Banishment of the Cardinal could satisfie; but Mazarine by his cunning artifices drew Lorain from aiding hem, so that the Princes came to an agreement with the King, and left Conde to shift for himself.

[Page 8]This was the grand difference in which his Majesty of Eng­land is said to have enterposed, and sensible of the miseries he and his Countreys and Kingdoms suffered by a Civil War, perswaded them to a Mediation and Reconciliation, where­by he is said to have gained to himselfe an odium from both Parties, each believing him to be against them; but especially the Cardinall is said to have been possessed, that he should advise the King of France, rather to let him be banished from his Court and Kingdom, them hazard the embruing his Countrey in a Civil War, from whence so many evils must necessarily ensue; which some affirm made him ever after an implacable Ene­my to his Majesty of England.

But indeed I do neither believe him to be his Enemy, nor either friend or enemy to any Prince or Country, any farther then at it stood with the interest of France, whose faithful Mi­nister of State he was, and whose interest he pursued. accor­ding indeed to his duty, without respect either to Alliance or Consanguinity. That this sufficiently appears by his making Peace and League with that Tyrant & Traytor Oliver Crom­wel, upon connection of banishing all the Royal Progeny of England out of France; which though it were an action that sounded with a great deal of dishonor in the ears of all Chri­stian Princes, yet was it a League very much for the Interest of France, and therefore correspondent to his duty as a Statesman, whose care was not to preserve the King of Eng­land, but the Kingdom of France, and by it himself in his Power and Glory. And self-preservation we all know to be the first Maxim of Policy.

And that this League was absolutely beneficial and ne­cessary for France, as the state of that Kingdome then stood, who can doubt, when they consider what Potent Enemies she had then to wage War withall, the Spaniards daily and hourly intrenching upon the French Domini­ons, besides a Faction to oppose within it self; so that without some assistance, she seemed to be in a sinking con­dition; and how by that assistance she again sprung up, and shooted out her branches, is so lately done, that it can­not be forgotten.

[Page 9]Nor must we account it among the least of his policies, that of contracting the Match between the King of France and Infanta of Spain, which seems to me just as it were the period of this Labours, that as he had maintained that Kingdom flourishing during his whole life-time by his Wisdom and Policy, so he would at death leave it in a firm and entire peace; and who knows but that he inten­ded by this Peace to have endeavoured (had not God re­stored him by better means before it was perfected) the instating of our King into his Crowns and Kingdoms, in recompence of those wrongs the Interest of France had before swayed him to.

Should I enumerate all his Politick transactions, I should swell this intended short Character of him into a Volume: I shall therefore give an account of his Person and par­ticular Virtues; and so conclude.

He was neither of a tall stature, nor very Corpulent; of a Mercurial Complexion, Sanguine, yet somewhat incli­ning to a melancholly constitution, adorned with very handsome features in his face, without doubt excellent in his youth; yet in his oldest age so clear, that a man might guess by them the greatness of his Soul.

His Carriage and Discourse were generally affable to all; yet so extreamly reserved and close in all his designs, as was admirable, though he would often seem to disclose or discover what he kept most secret; A man every way fitted for a Statesman, and such a one whose Foxes Tail being pieced to the Lyon-like strength of France, might in time (had it not been for her Civil and intestine Facti­ons) have made her the terror of the World.

I never could hear that his worst Enemies could ever brand him with ony peculiar Vice: Covetous he was not; for though he must needs have gotten great sums of mo­ney, yet he expended so freely, and chiefly in Curiosi­ties fetched from Italy; my self have seen fiften hundred ancient Roman Statuaes in his Palace at Paris, which in all inward glories, far exceeded that of the Kings of France.

[Page 1]He was a Person of whom I cannot believe any other reason for his being made odious, but that he exceeded others in Prudence and Policy. In sum, he was to the Kingdom of France what the Lord H. is to our present So­veraign, A faithful Counsellor, and prudent Minister of State.

An Advertisement.

THere is lately publisht an excellent piece, Intituled, Mo­dern Policy completed; or, The Actions and Counsels, Civil and Military of his Excellency the Lord General MONCK, un­der all Revolutions since 1640, to 1660; with the Principles mo­ral and Political upon which they were grounded; illustred out of the best Masters of Policy, Antient and Modern. Sold by Henry Marsh at the Princes Arms in Chancery-lane. 1661.


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