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Famous Affinities of History — Volume 1 by Orr

By subtle means Bourdelot undermined her principles


gathered at her court distinguished persons from all countries. She repelled those who sought her hand, and she was pure and truthful and worthy of all men's admiration. Had she died at this time history would rank her with the greatest of women sovereigns. Naude, the librarian of Cardinal Mazarin, wrote of her to the scientist Gassendi in these words:

To say truth, I am sometimes afraid lest the common saying should be verified in her, that short is the life and rare the old age of those who surpass the common limits. Do not imagine that she is learned only in books, for she is equally so in painting, architecture, sculpture, medals, antiquities, and all curiosities. There is not a cunning workman in these arts but she has him fetched. There are as good workers in wax and in enamel, engravers, singers, players, dancers here as will be found anywhere.

She has a gallery of statues, bronze and marble, medals of gold, silver, and bronze, pieces of ivory, amber, coral, worked crystal, steel mirrors, clocks and tables, bas-reliefs and other things of the kind; richer I have never seen even in Italy; finally, a great quantity of pictures. In short, her mind is open to all impressions.

But after she began to make her court a sort of home for art and letters it ceased to be the sort of court that Sweden was prepared for. Christina's subjects were still rude and lacking in accomplishments;

therefore she had to summon men of genius from other countries, especially from France and Italy. Many of these were illustrious artists or scholars, but among them were also some who used their mental gifts for harm.

Among these latter was a French physician named Bourdelot--a man of keen intellect, of winning manners, and of a profound cynicism, which was not apparent on the surface, but the effect of which last lasting. To Bourdelot we must chiefly ascribe the mysterious change which gradually came over Queen Christina. With his associates he taught her a distaste for the simple and healthy life that she had been accustomed to lead. She ceased to think of the welfare of the state and began to look down with scorn upon her unsophisticated Swedes. Foreign luxury displayed itself at Stockholm, and her palaces overflowed with beautiful things.

By subtle means Bourdelot undermined her principles. Having been a Stoic, she now became an Epicurean. She was by nature devoid of sentiment. She would not spend her time in the niceties of love-making, as did Elizabeth; but beneath the surface she had a sort of tigerish, passionate nature, which would break forth at intervals, and which demanded satisfaction from a series of favorites. It is probable that Bourdelot was her first lover, but there were many others whose names are recorded in the annals of the time.

When she threw aside her virtue Christina ceased to care about appearances. She squandered her revenues upon her favorites. What she retained of her former self was a carelessness that braved the opinion of her subjects. She dressed almost without thought, and it is said that she combed her hair not more than twice a month. She caroused with male companions to the scandal of her people, and she swore like a trooper when displeased.

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