The author was a priest in the Catholic Church and subsequently left it as he slowly lost faith in its teachings. He then began a life-long literary career until his death in 1955. He translated over 200 books and some 300 titles under Haldeman-Julius Publications and became know as the "world's greatest scholar." Quoted from the author's "Preface."
"THE title of the present work is not a meretricious allusion to the fact that romantic chapters are found in the story of Cardinal Richelieu, but a plain indication of the special point of view maintained in the book. English literature, it is true, does not include a worthy biography of one of the greatest, and assuredly one of the most interesting, of European statesmen. The well-known biography by Robson is for the most part a literal translation of Le Clerc's Vie d'A. J. Cardinal Duc de Richelieu: a work that had already been translated. Comparatively few pages are added by Robson himself, and these are only too apt to take the form of ill-informed enlargements on censures that were already unduly severe. The work has to be read
with great reserve ; yet nothing has since been written in this country to supersede or correct it. The present work, however, does not aspire to occupy that position, desirable as it would be. It is built on very extensive research in the original authorities, but the writer would have it clearly understood that it does not purport to give a complete account of Richelieu's work, even within its limits. The object has been to study Richelieu' s character and career in a particular aspect. Many readers may have felt, with the writer, how wide a gulf there is between the Richelieu of biography and the Richelieu of fiction. A Dumas or a James introduces into his vivid narrative a picturesque character that one almost fails to recognise in the sober pages of Richelieu's reliable biographers. One picture captivates us with the figure of a man who lives in intrigue, amid an army of spies, and betrays an astonishing fertility of resource and stratagems. The other picture offers us a stern and austere cardinal, wrapped in the sombre problems that confront his country and angrily crushing, with a hand of iron, the man or woman who stands in his way."
"It seemed profitable to inquire how far the lavish and romantic details of the novelists were founded on fact. One does not usually examine the work of the novelist in that respect, but a little investigation soon showed that such an inquiry would, in the present instance, prove most fruitful and interesting. Credible writers of the time were found to give episodes that rivalled the most imaginative flights of the writer of fiction, and had indeed often passed with little change into the pages of romance. To describe Richelieu under this aspect — the Richelieu of a thousand spies, the Richelieu of romance and intrigue — is the chief object of the present work. At the same time no important episodes in his career have been omitted,
though his military and diplomatic operations have been treated more briefly; and, on account of their important bearing on the interpretation of his character, his earlier years have been somewhat fully discussed. The book will therefore offer ample material for a fair conception of his personality."
"Every care has been taken to exclude anecdotes and details, however picturesque, that are not entitled to credence. In the rich mythology of that age of unscrupulous writers, when piquancy was so often preferred to truth, and passion had a loose rein, the conscientious writer must pick his way very carefully; and, if he deliberately choose the more picturesque side of Richelieu's life, he must resist many temptations. To this due attention has been given. Broadly speaking, the work is based on the memoirs and letters of the Cardinal himself, the letters of Louis XIII, and the memoirs of Bassompierre, Mme. de Motteville,
Fontenai - Mareuil, La Rochefoucauld, Gaston d'Orleans (so - called), Vittorio Siri, La Porte,
Montchal, Tallemant des Reaux, Arnaud, and others. Other contemporary works and documents that have been used are mentioned in the text."