Part 16 out of 62
part, therefore, to retrace with a firm and vigorous hand this important
epoch of my life, where my destiny, at once kind and cruel, reduced me to
treat the greatest of all Kings both as my equal and as an inconstant
friend, as a treacherous enemy, and as my inferior or subject. He had,
at first, the intention of putting me to death,--of that I am persuaded,
--but soon his natural gentleness got the better of his pride. He
grasped the wounds in my heart from the deplorable commotion of my face.
If his former friend was guilty in her speech, he was far more guilty by
his actions. Like an equitable judge he pardoned neither of us; he did
not forgive himself and he dared not condemn me.
Since this sad time of desertion and sorrow, into which the new state of
things had brought me, MM. de Mortemart, de Nevers, and de Vivonne had
been glad to avoid me. They found my humour altered, and I admit that a
woman who sulks, scolds, or complains is not very attractive company.
One day the poor Marechal de Vivonne came to see me; he opened my
shutters to call my attention to the beauty of the sky, and, my health
seeming to him a trifle poor, he suggested to me to embark at once in his
carriage and to go and dine at Clagny. I had no will left that day, so I
accompanied my brother.
Being come to Clagny, the Marshal, having shut himself up with me in his
closet, said to me the words which follow:
"You know, my, sister, how all along you have been dear to me; the grief
which is wearing you out does me almost as much harm as you. To-day I
wish to hurt you for your own good; and get you away from this locality
in spite of yourself. Kings are not to be opposed as we oppose our
equals; our King, whom you know by heart, has never suffered
contradiction. He has had you asked, two or three times already, to
leave his palace and to go and live on your estates. Why do you delay to
satisfy him, and to withdraw from so many eyes which watch you with
"The King, I am very sure, would like to see me away," I replied to the
Marshal, "but he has never formally expressed himself, and it is untrue
that any such wish has been intimated or insinuated to me."
"What! you did not receive two letters last year, which invited you to
make up your mind and retire!"
"I received two anonymous letters; nothing is more true. Could those two
letters have been sent to me by the King himself?"
"The Marquis de Chamarante wrote them to you, but beneath the eyes, and
at the dictation, of his Majesty."
"All, God! What is it you tell me? What! the Marquis de Chamarante,
whom I thought one of my friends, has lent himself to such an embassy!"
"The Marquis is a good man, a man of honour; and his essential duty is to
please his sovereign, his master. Moreover, at the time when the letters
were sent you, time remained to you for deliberation. To-day, all time
for delay has expired; you must go away of your own free will, or receive
the affront of a command, and a 'lettre de cachet' in form."
"A 'lettre de cachet' for me! for the mother of the Duc du Maine and the
Comte de Toulouse! We shall see that, my brother! We shall see!"
"There is nothing to see or do but to summon here all your people, and
leave to-morrow, either for my chateau of Roissy, or for your palace at
Petit-Bourg; things are pressing, and the day after to-morrow I will
explain all without any secrecy."
"Explain it to me at once, my brother, and I promise to satisfy you."
"Do you give me your word?"
"I give it you, my good and dear friend, with pleasure. Inform me of
what is in progress."
"Madame de Maintenon, whom, having loved once greatly, you no longer
love, had the kindness to have me summoned to her this morning."
"Do not interrupt me--yes, the kindness. From the moment that she is in
favour, all that comes from her requires consideration. She had me taken
into her small salon, and there she charged me to tell you that she has
always loved you, that she always will; that your rupture with her has
displeased the King; that for a long time, and on a thousand occasions,
she has excused you to his Majesty, but that things are now hopeless;
that your retreat is required at all costs, and that it will be joined
with an annual pension of six hundred thousand livres."
"And you advise me--?" I said to my brother.
"I advise you, I implore you, I conjure you, to accept these propositions
which save everything."
My course was clear to me on the instant. Wishing to be relieved of the
importunities of the Marshal (a courtier, if ever there was one), I
embraced him with tears in my eyes. I assured him that, for the honour
of the family and out of complacence, I accepted his propositions. I
begged him to take me back to Versailles, where I had to gather together
my money, jewels, and papers.
The Duc de Vivonne, well as he knew me, did not suspect my trickery; he
applied a score of kisses to my "pretty little white hands," and his
postilions, giving free play to their reins, speedily brought us back to
All beaming with joy and satisfaction, he went to convey his reply to
Madame de Maintenon, who was probably expecting him. Twenty minutes
hardly elapsed. The King himself entered my apartment.
He came towards me with a friendly air, and, hardly remarking my
agitation, which I was suppressing, he dared to address the following
words to me:
"The shortest follies are the best, dear Marquise; you see things at last
as they should be seen. Your determination, which the Marechal de
Vivonne has just informed me of, gives me inexpressible pleasure; you are
going to take the step of a clever woman, and everybody will applaud you
for it. It will be eighteen years to-morrow since we took a fancy for
each other. We were then in that period of life when one sees only that
which flatters, and the satisfaction of the heart surpasses everything.
Our attachment, if it had been right and legitimate, might have begun
with the same ardour, but it could not have endured so long; that is the
property of all contested affections.
"From our union amiable children have been born, for whom I have done,
and will do, all that a father with good intentions can do. The Act
which acknowledged them in full Parliament has not named you as their
mother, because your bonds prevented it, but these respectful children
know that they owe you their existence, and not one of them shall forget
it while I live.
"You have charmed by your wit and the liveliness of your character the
busiest years of my life and reign. That pleasant memory will never
leave me, and separated though we be, as good sense and propriety of
every kind demands, we shall still belong to each other in thought.
Athenais will always be to me the mother of my, dear children. I have
been mindful up to this day, to increase at different moments the amount
of your fortune: I believe it to be considerable, and wish, nevertheless,
to add to it even more. If the pension that Vivonne had just suggested
to you appear insufficient, two lines from your pen will notify me that I
must increase it.
"Your children being proclaimed Princes of France, the Court will be
their customary residence, but you will see them frequently, and can
count on my commands. Here they are coming,--not to say good-bye to you,
but, as of old, to embrace you on the eve of a journey.
"If you are prudent, you will write first to the Marquis de Montespan,
not to annul and revoke the judicial and legal separation which exists,
but to inform him of your return to reasonable ideas, and of your resolve
to be reconciled with the public."
With these words the King ceased speaking. I looked at him with a fixed
gaze; a long sigh escaped from my heaving breast, and I had with him, as
nearly as I can remember, the following conversation:
"I admire the sang-froid with which a prince who believes himself, and is
believed by the whole universe, to be magnanimous, gives the word of
dismissal to the tender friend of his youth,--to that friend who, by a
misfortune which is too well known, knew how to leave all and love him
"From the day when the friendship which had united us cooled and was
dissipated, you have resumed with regard to me that distance which your
rank authorises you, and on my side, I have submitted to see in you only
my King. This revolution has taken effect without any shock, or noise,
or scandal. It has continued for two years already; why should it not
continue in the same manner until the moment when my last two children no
longer require my eyes, and presence, and care? What sudden cause, what
urgent motive, can determine you to exclude me? Does not, then, the
humiliation which I have suffered for two years any longer satisfy your
"What!" cried the prince, in consternation, "is your resolution no longer
the same? Do you go back upon what you promised to your brother?"
"I do not change my resolution," I resumed at once; "the places which you
inhabit have neither charm nor attraction for my heart, which has always
detested treachery and falseness. I consent to withdraw myself from your
person, but on condition that the odious intriguer who has supplanted me
shall follow the unhappy benefactress who once opened to her the doors of
this palace. I took her from a state of misery, and she plunges daggers
into my breast."
"The Kings of Europe," said the prince, white with agitation and anger,
"have not yet laid down the law to me in my palace; you shall not make me
submit to yours, madame. The person whom, for far too long, you have
been offending and humiliating before my eyes, has ancestors who yield in
nothing to your forefathers, and if you have introduced her to this
palace, you have introduced here goodness, sweetness, talent, and virtue
itself. This enemy, whom you defame in every quarter, and who every day
excuses and justifies you, will abide near this throne, which her fathers
have defended and which her good counsel now defends. In sending you
today from a Court where your presence is without motive and pretext,
I wished to keep from your knowledge, and in kindness withdraw from your
eyes an event likely to irritate you, since everything irritates you.
Stay, madame, stay, since great catastrophes appeal to and amuse you;
after to-morrow you will be more than ever a supernumerary in this
At these words I realised that it was a question of the public triumph of
my rival. All my firmness vanished; my heart was, as it were, distorted
with the most rapid palpitations. I felt an icy coldness run through my
veins, and I fell unconscious upon my carpet.
My woman cameo to bring me help, and when my senses returned, I heard the
King saying to my intendant: "All this wearies me beyond endurance; she
must go this very day."
"Yes, I will go," I cried, seizing a dessert-knife which was on my
bureau. I rushed forward with a mechanical movement upon my little Comte
de Toulouse, whom I snatched from the hands of his father, and I was on
the verge of sacrificing this child.
I shudder every time I think of that terrible and desperate scene. But
reason had left me; sorrow filled my soul; I was no longer myself. My
reader must be penetrated by my misfortune and have compassion on me.
Madame de Maintenon, informed probably of this storm, arrived and
suddenly showed herself. To rush forward, snatch away the dagger and my
child was but one movement for her. Her tears coursed in abundance; and
the King, leaning on the marble of my chimney-piece, shed tears and
seemed to feel a sort of suffocation.
My women had removed my children. My intendant alone had remained in the
deep embrasure of a shutter; the poor man had affliction and terror
painted on his face. Madame de Maintenon had slightly wounded herself in
seizing my knife. I saw her tearing her handkerchief, putting on
lavender water in order to moisten the bandage. As she left me she took
my hand with an air of kindness, and her tears began again.
The King, seeing her go out, retired without addressing me a word. I
might call as much as I would; he did not return.
Until nightfall I seemed to be in a state of paralysis. My arms were
like lead; my will could no longer stir them. I was distressed at first,
and then I thanked God, who was delivering me from the torments of
existence. All night my body and soul moved in the torrent and waves of
a fever handed over to phantoms; I saw in turn the smiling plains of
Paradise and the dire domain of Hell. My children, covered with wounds,
asked me for pardon, kneeling before me; and Madame de Maintenon, one
mass of blood, reproached me for having killed her.
On the following day a copious blood-letting, prescribed by my doctor,
relieved my head and heart.
The following week Madame de Maintenon, entirely cured of her scratch,
consented to the King's will, which she had opposed in order to excite
it, and in the presence of the Marquis and Marquise de Montchevreuil, the
Duc de Noailles, the Marquis de Chamarante, M. Bontems, and Mademoiselle
Ninon, her permanent chambermaid, was married to the King of France and
Navarre in the chapel of the chateau.
The Abbe de Harlay, Archbishop of Paris, assisted by the Bishop of
Chartres and Pere de la Chaise, had the honour of blessing this marriage
and presenting the rings of gold. After the ceremony, which took place
at an early hour, and even by torchlight, there was a slight repast in
the small apartments. The same persons, taking carriages, then repaired
to Maintenon, where the great ceremony, the mass, and all that is
customary in such cases were celebrated.
At her return, Madame de Maintenon took possession of an extremely
sumptuous apartment that had been carefully arranged and furnished for
her. Her people continued to wear her livery, but she scarcely ever rode
any more except in the great carriage of the King, where we saw her in
the place which had been occupied by the Queen. In her interior the
title of Majesty was given her; and the King, when he had to speak of
her, only used the word Madame, without adding Maintenon, that having
become too familiar and trivial.
He was desirous of proclaiming her; she consistently opposed it, and this
prudent and wise conduct regained for her, little by little, the opinions
which had been shocked.
A few days after the marriage, my health being somewhat reestablished,
I went to Petit-Bourg; but the Marechal de Vivonne, his son Louis de
Vivonne, all the Mortemarts, all the Rochehouarts, Thianges, Damas,
Seignelays, Blainvilles, and Colberts,--in a word, counts, marquises,
barons, prelates, and duchesses, came to find me and attack me in my
desert, in order to represent to me that, since Madame de Maintenon was
the wife of the monarch, I owed her my homage and respectful compliments.
The whole family has done so, said these cruel relations; you only have
not yet fulfilled this duty. You must do it, in God's name. She has
neither airs nor hauteur; you will be marvellously well received. Your
resistance would compromise us all.
Not desiring to harm or displease my family, and wishing, above all, to
reinstate myself somewhat in the King's mind, I resolutely prepared for
this distressing journey, and God gave me the necessary strength to
I appeared in a long robe of gold and silver before the new spouse of the
monarch. The King, who was sitting at a table, rose for a moment and
encouraged me by his greeting. I made the three pauses and three
reverences as I gradually approached Madame de Maintenon, who occupied a
large and rich armchair of brocade. She did not rise; etiquette forbade
it, and principally the presence of the all-powerful King of kings. Her
complexion, ordinarily pale, and with a very slight tone of pink, was
animated suddenly, and took all the colours of the rose. She made me a
sign to seat myself on a stool, and it seemed to me that her amiable gaze
apologised to me. She spoke to me of Petit-Bourg, of the waters of
Bourbon, of her country-place, of my children, and said to me, smiling
kindly: "I am going to confide in you. Monsieur le Prince has already
asked Mademoiselle de Names for his grandson, M. le Duc de Bourbon, and
his Highness promises us his granddaughter for our Duc du Maine. Two or
three years more, and we shall see all that."
After half an hour spent thus, I rose from this uncomfortable stool and
made my farewell reverences. Madame de Maintenon, profiting by the King
having leaned over to write, rose five or six inches in her chair, and
said to me these words: "Do not let us cease to love one another,
I implore you."
I went to rest myself in the poor apartment which was still mine, since
the keys had not yet been returned, and I sent for M. le Duc du Maine,
who said to me coldly: "I have much pleasure in seeing you again; we were
going to write to you."
I had come out from Madame de Maintenon by the door of mirrors, which
leads to the great gallery. There was much company there at the moment;
M. le Prince de Salm came to me and said: "Go and put on your peignoir;
you are flushed, and I can perfectly well understand why." He pressed my
hand affectionately. In all the salons they were eager to see me pass.
Some courageous persons came even within touch of my fan; and all were
more or less pleased with my mishap and downfall. I had seen all these
figures at my feet, and almost all were under obligations to me. I left
Versailles again very early. When I was seated in my carriage I noticed
the King, who, from the height of his balcony in the court of marble,
watched me set off and disappear.
I settled at Paris, where my personal interest and my great fortune gave
me an existence which many might have envied. I never returned to
Versailles, except for the weddings of my eldest daughter, and of my son,
the Serious;--[Louis Augusts de Bourbon, Duc du Maine, a good man,
somewhat devout and melancholy. (See the Memoirs of Dubois and
Richelieu.)--EDITOR'S NOTE.]--I always loved him better than he did me.
Pere de Latour, my director, obtained from me then, what I had refused
hitherto to everybody, a letter of reconciliation to M. le Marquis de
Montespan: I had foreseen the reply, which was that of an obstinate, ill-
bred, and evil man.
Pere de Latour, going further, wished to impose hard, not to say
murderous, penances on me; I begged him to keep within bounds, and not to
make me impatient. This Oratorian and his admirers have stated that
I wore a hair shirt and shroud. Pious slanders, every word of them!
I give many pensions and alms, that is to say, I do good to several
families; the good that I bestow about me will be more agreeable to God
than any harm I could do myself, and that I maintain.
The Marquis d'Antin, my son, since my disgrace.......
HERE END THE MEMOIRS OF MADAME DE MONTESPAN.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Ambition puts a thick bandage over the eyes
Says all that he means, and resolutely means all that he can say
Situations in life where we are condemned to see evil done
Women who misconduct themselves are pitiless and severe
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS FOR THE ENTIRE MEMOIRS OF MADAME DE MONTESPAN:
All the death-in-life of a convent
Always sold at a loss which must be sold at a given moment
Ambition puts a thick bandage over the eyes
And then he would go off, laughing in his sleeve
Armed with beauty and sarcasm
Cannot reconcile themselves to what exists
Conduct of the sort which cements and revives attachments
Console me on the morrow for what had troubled me to-day
Cuddlings and caresses of decrepitude
Depicting other figures she really portrays her own
Domestics included two nurses, a waiting-maid, a physician
Extravagant, without the means to be so
Grow like a dilapidated house; I am only here to repair myself
Happy with him as a woman who takes her husband's place can be
Hate me, but fear me
He contradicted me about trifles
He was not fool enough for his place
I myself being the first to make merry at it (my plainness)
In the great world, a vague promise is the same as a refusal
In Rome justice and religion always rank second to politics
In ill-assorted unions, good sense or good nature must intervene
In England a man is the absolute proprietor of his wife
Intimacy, once broken, cannot be renewed
It is easier to offend me than to deceive me
Jealous without motive, and almost without love
Kings only desire to be obeyed when they command
Knew how to point the Bastille cannon at the troops of the King
Laws will only be as so many black lines on white paper
Love-affair between Mademoiselle de la Valliere and the King
Madame de Sevigne
Madame de Montespan had died of an attack of coquetry
Not show it off was as if one only possessed a kennel
Permissible neither to applaud nor to hiss
Poetry without rhapsody
Present princes and let those be scandalised who will!
Respectful without servility
Satire without bitterness
Says all that he means, and resolutely means all that he can say
She awaits your replies without interruption
Situations in life where we are condemned to see evil done
Talent without artifice
That Which Often It is Best to Ignore
The King replied that "too much was too much"
The monarch suddenly enough rejuvenated his attire
The pulpit is in want of comedians; they work wonders there
Then comes discouragement; after that, habit
There is an exaggeration in your sorrow
These liars in surplice, in black cassock, or in purple
Time, the irresistible healer
Trust not in kings
Violent passion had changed to mere friendship
Weeping just as if princes had not got to die like anybody else
Went so far as to shed tears, his most difficult feat of all
What they need is abstinence, prohibitions, thwartings
When women rule their reign is always stormy and troublous
When one has seen him, everything is excusable
When one has been pretty, one imagines that one is still so
Wife: property or of furniture, useful to his house
Wish you had the generosity to show, now and again, less wit
Women who misconduct themselves are pitiless and severe
Won for himself a great name and great wealth by words
Would you like to be a cardinal? I can manage that
You know, madame, that he generally gets everything he wants
MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV. AND OF THE REGENCY, v1
Being the Secret Memoirs of the Mother of the Regent,
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS.
The Duchesse d'Orleans, commonly though incorrectly styled the Princess
of Bavaria, was known to have maintained a very extensive correspondence
with her relations and friends in different parts of Europe. Nearly
eight hundred of her letters, written to the Princess Wilhelmina
Charlotte of Wales and the Duke Antoine-Ulric of Brunswick, were found
amongst the papers left by the Duchess Elizabeth of Brunswick at her
death, in 1767. These appeared to be so curious that the Court of
Brunswick ordered De Praun, a Privy Councillor, to make extracts of such
parts as were most interesting. A copy of his extracts was sent to
France, where it remained a long time without being published.
In 1788, however, an edition appeared, but so mutilated and disfigured,
either through the prudence of the editor or the scissors of the censor,
that the more piquant traits of the correspondence had entirely
disappeared. The bold, original expressions of the German were modified
and enfeebled by the timid translator, and all the names of individuals
and families were suppressed, except when they carried with them no sort
of responsibility. A great many passages of the original correspondence
were omitted, while, to make up for the deficiencies, the editor inserted
a quantity of pedantic and useless notes. In spite of all these faults
and the existence of more faithful editions, this translation was
reprinted in 1807. The existence of any other edition being unknown to
its editor, it differed in nothing from the preceding, except that the
dates of some of the letters were suppressed, a part of the notes cut
out, and some passages added from the Memoirs of Saint-Simon, together
with a life, or rather panegyric, of the Princess, which bore no slight
resemblance to a village homily.
A copy of the extracts made by M. de Praun fell by some chance into the
hands of Count de Veltheim, under whose direction they were published at
Strasburg, in 1789, with no other alterations than the correction of the
obsolete and vicious orthography of the Princess.
In 1789 a work was published at Dantzick, in Germany, entitled,
Confessions of the Princess Elizabeth-Charlotte of Orleans, extracted
from her letters addressed, between the years 1702 and 1722, to her
former governess, Madame de Harling, and her husband. The editor asserts
that this correspondence amounted to nearly four hundred letters. A
great part of these are only repetitions of what she had before written
to the Princess of Wales and the Duke of Brunswick. Since that period no
new collections have appeared, although it is sufficiently well known
that other manuscripts are in existence.
In 1820 M. Schutz published at Leipsig the Life and Character of
Elizabeth-Charlotte, Duchesse d'Orleans, with an Extract of the more
remarkable parts of her Correspondence. This is made up of the two
German editions of 1789 and 1791; but the editor adopted a new
arrangement, and suppressed such of the dates and facts as he considered
useless. His suppressions, however, were not very judicious; without
dates one is at a loss to know to what epoch the facts related by the
Princess ought to be referred, and the French proper names are as
incorrect as in the edition of Strasburg.
Feeling much surprise that in France there should have been no more
authentic edition of the correspondence of the Regent-mother than the
miserable translation of 1788 and 1807, we have set about rendering a
service to the history of French manners by a new and more faithful
edition. The present is a translation of the Strasburg edition, arranged
in a more appropriate order, with the addition of such other passages as
were contained in the German collections. The dates have been inserted
wherever they appeared necessary, and notes have been added wherever the
text required explanation, or where we wished to compare the assertions
of the Princess with other testimonies. The Princess, in the salons of
the Palais Royal, wrote in a style not very unlike that which might be
expected in the present day from the tenants of its garrets. A more
complete biography than any which has hitherto been drawn up is likewise
added to the present edition. In other respects we have faithfully
followed the original Strasburg edition. The style of the Duchess will
be sometimes found a little singular, and her chit-chat indiscreet and
often audacious; but we cannot refuse our respect to the firmness and
propriety with which she conducted herself in the midst of a hypocritical
and corrupt Court. The reader, however, must form his own judgment on
the correspondence of this extraordinary woman; our business is, not to
excite a prejudice in favour of or against her, but merely to present him
with a faithful copy of her letters.
Some doubts were expressed about the authenticity of the correspondence
when the mutilated edition of 1788 appeared; but these have long since
subsided, and its genuineness is no longer questioned.
TABLE OF CONTENTS OF THE ENTIRE SET:
Elizabeth-Charlotte, Duchesse d'Orleans
Mademoiselle de Fontange
Madame de la Valliere
Madame de Montespan
Madame de Maintenon
The Queen-Consort of Louis XIV.
Philippe I., Duc d'Orleans
Philippe II., Duc d'Orleans, Regent of France
The Affairs of the Regency
The Duchesse d'Orleans, Consort of the Regent
The Dauphine, Princess of Bavaria.
Adelaide of Savoy, the Second Dauphine
The First Dauphin
The Duke of Burgundy, the Second Dauphin
Henrietta of England, Monsieur's First Consort
The Due de Berri
The Duchesse de Berri
Mademoiselle d'Orleans, Louise-Adelaide de Chartres
Mademoiselle de Valois, Consort of the Prince of Modena
The Illegitimate Children of the Regent, Duc d'Orleans
The Chevalier de Lorraine
Philip V., King of Spain
The Duchess, Consort of the Duc de Bourbon
The Younger Duchess
Duc Louis de Bourbon
Francois-Louis, Prince de Conti
La Grande Princesse de Conti
The Princess Palatine, Consort of Prince Francois-Louis de Conti
The Princesse de Conti, Louise-Elizabeth, Consort of Louis-Armand
Louis-Armand, Prince de Conti
The Abbe Dubois
Victor Amadeus II.
The Grand Duchess, Consort of Cosimo II. of Florence
The Duchesse de Lorraine, Elizabeth-Charlotte d'Orleans
The Duc du Maine
The Duchesse du Maine
Anecdotes and Historical Particulars of Various Persons
SECRET COURT MEMOIRS.
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D' ORLEANS.
If my father had loved me as well as I loved him he would never have sent
me into a country so dangerous as this, to which I came through pure
obedience and against my own inclination. Here duplicity passes for wit,
and frankness is looked upon as folly. I am neither cunning nor
mysterious. I am often told I lead too monotonous a life, and am asked
why I do not take a part in certain affairs. This is frankly the reason:
I am old; I stand more in need of repose than of agitation, and I will
begin nothing that I cannot, easily finish. I have never learned to
govern; I am not conversant with politics, nor with state affairs, and I
am now too far advanced in years to learn things so difficult. My son, I
thank God, has sense enough, and can direct these things without me;
besides, I should excite too much the jealousy of his wife--[Marie-
Francoise de Bourbon, the legitimate daughter of Louis XIV. and of Madame
de Montespan, Duchesse d'Orleans.]--and his eldest daughter,--[Marie-
Louise-Elizabeth d'Orleans, married on the 17th of July, 1710, to Charles
of France, Duc de Berri.]--whom he loves better than me; eternal quarrels
would ensue, which would not at all suit my views. I have been tormented
enough, but I have always forborne, and have endeavoured to set a proper
example to my, son's wife and his daughter; for this kingdom has long had
the misfortune to be too much governed by women, young and old. It is
high time that men should now assume the sway, and this is the reason
which has determined me not to intermeddle. In England, perhaps, women
may reign without inconvenience; in France, men alone should do so, in
order that things may go on well. Why should I torment myself by day and
by night? I seek only peace and repose; all that were mine are dead.
For whom should I care? My time is past. I must try to live smoothly
that I may die tranquilly; and in great public affairs it is difficult,
indeed, to preserve one's conscience spotless.
I was born at Heidelberg (1652), in the seventh month. I am
unquestionably very ugly; I have no features; my eyes are small, my nose
is short and thick, my lips long and flat. These do not constitute much
of a physiognomy. I have great hanging cheeks and a large face; my
stature is short and stout; my body and my thighs, too, are short, and,
upon the whole, I am truly a very ugly little object. If I had not a
good heart, no one could endure me. To know whether my eyes give tokens
of my possessing wit, they must be examined with a microscope, or it will
be difficult to judge. Hands more ugly than mine are not perhaps to be
found on the whole globe. The King has often told me so, and has made me
laugh at it heartily; for, not being able to flatter even myself that I
possessed any one thing which could be called pretty, I resolved to be
the first to laugh at my own ugliness; this has succeeded as well as I
could have wished, and I must confess that I have seldom been at a loss
for something to laugh at. I am naturally somewhat melancholy; when
anything happens to afflict me, my left side swells up as if it were
filled with water. I am not good at lying in bed; as soon as I awake
I must get up. I seldom breakfast, and then only on bread and butter.
I take neither chocolate, nor coffee, nor tea, not being able to endure
those foreign drugs. I am German in all my habits, and like nothing in
eating or drinking which is not conformable to our old customs. I eat no
soup but such as I can take with milk, wine, or beer. I cannot bear
broth; whenever I eat anything of which it forms a part, I fall sick
instantly, my body swells, and I am tormented with colics. When I take
broth alone, I am compelled to vomit, even to blood, and nothing can
restore the tone to my stomach but ham and sausages.
I never had anything like French manners, and I never could assume them,
because I always considered it an honour to be born a German, and always
cherished the maxims of my own country, which are seldom in favor here.
In my youth I loved swords and guns much better than toys. I wished to
be a boy, and this desire nearly cost me my life; for, having heard that
Marie Germain had become a boy by dint of jumping, I took such terrible
jumps that it is a miracle I did not, on a hundred occasions, break my
neck. I was very gay in my youth, for which reason I was called, in
German, Rauschenplatten-gnecht. The Dauphins of Bavaria used to say, "My
poor dear mamma" (so she used always to address me), "where do you pick
up all the funny things you know?"
I remember the birth of the King of England
[George Louis, Duke of Brunswick Hanover, born the 28th of May,
1660; proclaimed King of England the 12th of August, 1714, by the
title of George I.]
as well as if it were only yesterday (1720). I was curious and
mischievous. They had put a doll in a rosemary bush for the purpose of
making me believe it was the child of which my aunt
[Sophia of Bavaria, married, in 1658, to the Elector of Hanover, was
the paternal aunt of Madame. She was the granddaughter of James I,
and was thus declared the first in succession to the crown of
England, by Act of Parliament, 23rd March, 1707.]
had just lain in; at the same moment I heard the cries of the Electress,
who was then in the pains of childbirth. This did not agree with the
story which I had been told of the baby in the rosemary bush; I
pretended, however, to believe it, but crept to my aunt's chamber as if I
was playing at hide-and-seek with little Bulau and Haxthausen, and
concealed myself behind a screen which was placed before the door and
near the chimney. When the newly born infant was brought to the fire I
issued from my hiding-place. I deserved to be flogged, but in honour of
the happy event I got quit for a scolding.
The monks of the Convent of Ibourg, to revenge themselves for my having
unintentionally betrayed them by telling their Abbot that they had been
fishing in a pond under my window, a thing expressly forbidden by the
Abbot, once poured out white wine for me instead of water. I said, "I do
not know what is the matter with this water; the more of it I put into my
wine the stronger it becomes." The monks replied that it was very good
wine. When I got up from the table to go into the garden, I should have
fallen into the pond if I had not been held up; I threw myself upon the
ground and fell fast asleep immediately. I was then carried into my
chamber and put to bed. I did not awake until nine o'clock in the
evening, when I remembered all that had passed. It was on a Holy
Thursday; I complained to the Abbot of the trick which had been played me
by the monks, and they were put into prison. I have often been laughed
at about this Holy Thursday.
My aunt, our dear Electress (of Hanover), being at the Hague, did not
visit the Princess Royal;
[Maria-Henrietta Stuart, daughter of Charles I. of England, and of
Henriette-Marie of France, married, in 1660, to William of Nassau,
Prince of Orange; she lost her husband in 1660, and was left
pregnant with William-Henry of Nassau, Prince of Orange, and
afterwards, by the Revolution of 1688, King of England. This
Princess was then preceptress of her son, the Stadtholder of
but the Queen of Bohemia
[Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of James I. of England, widow of
Frederic V., Duke of Bavaria, Count Palatine of the Rhine, King of
Bohemia until the year 1621, mother of the Duchess of Hanover.]
did, and took me with her. Before I set out, my aunt said to me,
"Lizette, now take care not to behave as you do in general, and do not
wander away so that you cannot be found; follow the Queen step by step,
so that she may not have to wait for you."
I replied, "Oh, aunt, you shall hear how well I will behave myself."
When we arrived at the Princess Royal's, whom I did not know, I saw her
son, whom I had often played with; after having gazed for a long time at
his mother without knowing who she was, I went back to see if I could
find any one to tell me what was this lady's name. Seeing only the
Prince of Orange, I accosted him thus,--
"Pray, tell me who is that woman with so tremendous a nose?"
He laughed and answered, "That is the Princess Royal, my mother."
I was quite stupefied. That I might compose myself, Mademoiselle Heyde
took me with the Prince into the Princess's bedchamber, where we played
at all sorts of games. I had told them to call me when the Queen should
be ready to go, and we were rolling upon a Turkey carpet when I was
summoned; I arose in great haste and ran into the hall; the Queen was
already in the antechamber. Without losing a moment, I seized the robe
of the Princess Royal, and, making her a low curtsey, at the same moment
I placed myself directly before her, and followed the Queen step by step
to her carriage; everybody was laughing, but I had no notion of what it
was at. When we returned home, the Queen went to find my aunt, and,
seating herself upon the bed, burst into a loud laugh.
"Lizette," said she, "has made a delightful visit." And then she told
all that I had done, which made the Electress laugh even more than the
Queen. She called me to her and said,--
"Lizette, you have done right; you have revenged us well for the
haughtiness of the Princess."
My brother would have had me marry the Margrave of Dourlach, but I had no
inclination towards him because he was affected, which I never could
bear. He knew very well that I was not compelled to refuse him, for he
was married long before they thought of marrying me to Monsieur. Still
he thought fit to send to me a Doctor of Dourlach, for the purpose of
asking me whether he ought to obey his father and marry the Princess of
Holstein. I replied that he could not do better than to obey his father;
that he had promised me nothing, nor had I pledged myself to him; but
that, nevertheless, I was obliged to him for the conduct he had thought
fit to adopt. This is all that passed between us.
Once they wanted to give me to the Duke of Courlande; it was my aunt
d'Hervod who wished to make that match. He was in love with Marianne,
the daughter of Duke Ulric of Wurtemberg; but his father and mother would
not allow him to marry her because they had fixed their eyes on me.
When, however, he came back from France on his way home, I made such an
impression on him that he would not hear of marriage, and requested
permission to join the army.
I once received a very sharp scolding in a short journey from Mannheim to
Heidelberg. I was in the carriage with my late father, who had with him
an envoy, from the Emperor, the Count of Konigseck. At this time I was
as thin and light as I am now fat and heavy. The jolting of the carriage
threw me from my seat, and I fell upon the Count; it was not my fault,
but I was nevertheless severely rebuked for it, for my father was not a
man to be trifled with, and it was always necessary to be very
circumspect in his presence.
When I think of conflagrations I am seized with a shivering fit, for I
remember how the Palatinate was ravaged for more than three months.
Whenever I went to sleep I used to think I saw Heidelberg all in flames;
then I used to wake with a start, and I very narrowly escaped an illness
in consequence of those outrages.
[The burning of the Palatinate in 1674--a horrible devastation
commanded by Louis, and executed by Turenne.]
Upon my arrival in France I was made to hold a conference with three
bishops. They all differed in their creeds, and so, taking the
quintessence of their opinions, I formed a religion of my own.
It was purely from the affection I bore to her that I refused to take
precedence of our late Electress; but making always a wide distinction
between her aid and the Duchess of Mecklenbourg, as well as our Electress
of Hanover, I did not hesitate to do so with respect to both the latter.
I also would not take precedence of my mother. In my childhood I wished
to bear her train, but she would never permit me.
I have been treated ill ever since my marriage this is in some degree the
fault of the Princess Palatine,--[Anne de Gonzague, Princess Palatine,
who took so active a part in the troubles of the Fronde.]--who prepared
my marriage contract; and it is by the contract that the inheritance is
governed. All persons bearing the title of Madame have pensions from the
King; but as they have been of the same amount for a great many years
past they are no longer sufficient.
I would willingly have married the Prince of Orange, for by that union I
might have hoped to remain near my dear Electress (of Hanover).
Upon my arrival at Saint-Germain I felt as if I had fallen from the
clouds. The Princess Palatine went to Paris and there fixed me. I put
as good a face upon the affair as was possible; I saw very well that I
did not please my husband much, and indeed that could not be wondered at,
considering my ugliness; however, I resolved to conduct myself in such a
manner towards Monsieur that he should become accustomed to me by my
attentions, and eventually should be enabled to endure me. Immediately
upon my arrival, the King came to see me at the Chateau Neuf, where
Monsieur and I lived; he brought with him the Dauphin, who was then a
child of about ten years old. As soon as I had finished my toilette the
King returned to the old Chateau, where he received me in the Guards'
hall, and led me to the Queen, whispering at the same time,--"Do not be
frightened, Madame; she will be more afraid of you than you of her." The
King felt so much the embarrassment of my situation that he would not
quit me; he sat by my side, and whenever it was necessary for me to rise,
that is to say, whenever a Duke or a Prince entered the apartment, he
gave me a gentle push in the side without being perceived.
According to the custom of Paris, when a marriage is made, all property
is in common; but the husband has the entire control over it. That only
which has been brought by way of dowry is taken into the account; for
this reason I never knew how much my husband received with me. After his
death, when I expected to gain my cause at Rome and to receive some
money, the disagreeable old Maintenon asked me in the King's name to
promise that if I gained the cause I would immediately cede the half of
the property to my son; and in case of refusal I was menaced with the
King's displeasure. I laughed at this, and replied that I did not know
why they threatened me, for that my son was in the course of nature my
heir, but that it was at least just that he should stay until my death
before he took possession of my property, and that I knew the King was
too equitable to require of me anything but what was consistent with
justice. I soon afterwards received the news of the loss of my cause,
and I was not sorry for it, on account of the circumstance I have just
When the Abby de Tesse had convinced the Pope that his people had decided
without having read our papers, and that they had accepted 50,000 crowns
from the Grand Duke to pronounce against me, he began weeping, and said,
"Am I not an unhappy man to be obliged to trust such persons?" This will
show what sort of a character the Pope was.
When I arrived in France I had only an allowance of a hundred louis d'or
for my pocket-money; and this money was always consumed in advance.
After my mother's death, when my husband received money from the
Palatinate, he increased this allowance to two hundred louis; and once,
when I was in his good graces, he gave me a thousand louis. Besides
this, the King had given me annually one thousand louis up to the year
before the marriage of my son. That supported me, but as I would not
consent to the marriage I was deprived of this sum, and it has never been
restored to me. On my first journey to Fontainebleau, the King would
have given me 2,000 pistoles, but that Monsieur begged him to keep half
of them for Madame, afterwards the Queen of Spain.--[Marie-Louise
d'Orleans, born in 1662, married, in 1679, to Charles IL, King of Spain.]
I cared very little about it, and, nevertheless, went to Fontainebleau,
where I lost all my money at Hoca. Monsieur told me, for the purpose of
vexing me, of the good office he had done me with the King; I only
laughed at it, and told him that, if Madame had chosen to accept the
thousand pistoles from my hands, I would very freely have given them to
her. Monsieur was quite confused at this, and, by way of repairing the
offence he had committed, he took upon himself the payment of 600 louis
d'or, which I had lost over and above the thousand pistoles.
I receive now only 456,000 francs, which is exactly consumed within the
year; if, they could have given me any less they would. I would not be
thought to make claims to which I am not entitled, but it should be
remembered that Monsieur has had the money of my family.
I was very glad when, after the birth of my daughter,
[Elizabeth-Charlotte d'Orleans, born in 1676, married, in 1697, to
the Duc de Lorraine. Philippe d'Orleans, afterwards Regent of
France, was born in 1674; there were no other children by this
my husband proposed separate beds; for, to tell the truth, I was never
very fond of having children. When he proposed it to me, I answered,
"Yes, Monsieur, I shall be very well contented with the arrangement,
provided you do not hate me, and that you will continue to behave with
some kindness to me." He promised, and we were very well satisfied with
each other. It was, besides, very disagreeable to sleep with Monsieur;
he could not bear any one to touch him when he was asleep, so that I was
obliged to lie on the very edge of the bed; whence it sometimes happened
that I fell out like a sack. I was therefore enchanted when Monsieur
proposed to me in friendly terms, and without any anger, to lie in
I obeyed the late Monsieur by not troubling him with my embraces, and
always conducted myself towards him with respect and submission.
He was a good sort of man, notwithstanding his weaknesses, which, indeed,
oftener excited my pity than my anger. I must confess that I did
occasionally express some impatience, but when he begged pardon, it was
Madame de Fiennes had a considerable stock of wit, and was a great joker;
her tongue spared no one but me. Perceiving that she treated the King
and Monsieur with as little ceremony as any other persons, I took her by
the hand one day, and, leading her apart, I said to her, "Madame, you are
very agreeable; you have a great deal of wit, and the manner in which you
display it is pleasant to the King and Monsieur, because they are
accustomed to you; but to me, who am but just arrived, I cannot say that
I like it. When any persons entertain themselves at my expense, I cannot
help being very angry, and it is for this reason that I am going to give
you a little advice. If you spare me we shall be mighty good friends;
but if you treat me as I see you treat others, I shall say nothing to
you; I shall, nevertheless, complain of you to your husband, and if he
does not restrain you I shall dismiss him."
He was my Equerry-in-Ordinary.
She promised never to speak of me, and she kept her word.
Monsieur often said to me, "How does it happen that Madame de Fiennes
never says anything severe of you?"
I answered, "Because she loves me."
I would not tell him what I had done, for he would immediately have
excited her to attack me.
I was called sometimes 'Soeur Pacifique', because I did all in my power
to maintain harmony between Monsieur and his cousins, La Grande
[Anne-Marie-Louise d'Orleans, Duchesse de Montpensier, and
Marguerite-Louise d'Orleans, Duchess of Tuscany, daughters of
Gaston, Duc d'Orleans, but by different wives.]
and La Grande Duchesse:
[Charlotte-Eleonore-Maddleine de la Motte Houdancourt, Duchesse de
Ventadour; she was gouvernante to Louis XV.]
they quarrelled very frequently, and always like children, for the
Madame de Ventadour was my Maid of Honour for at least sixteen years.
She did not quit me until two years after the death of my husband, and
then it was by a contrivance of old Maintenon; she wished to annoy me
because she knew I was attached to this lady, who was good and amiable,
but not very cunning. Old Maintenon succeeded in depriving me of her by
means of promises and threats, which were conveyed by Soubise, whose son
had married Madame de Ventadour's daughter, and who was an artful woman.
By way of recompense she was made gouvernante. They tried, also, to
deprive me of Madame de Chateau Thiers; the old woman employed all her
power there, too, but Madame de Chateau Thiers remained faithful to me,
without telling of these attempts, which I learnt from another source.
Madame de Monaco might, perhaps, be fond of forming very close
attachments of her own sex, and Madame de Maintenon would have put me on
the same footing; but she did not succeed, and was so much vexed at her
disappointment that she wept. Afterwards she wanted to make me in love
with the Chevalier de Vendome, and this project succeeded no better than
the other. She often said she could not think of what disposition I must
be, since I cared neither for men nor women, and that the German nation
must be colder than any other.
I like persons of that cool temperament. The poor Dauphine of Bavaria
used to send all the young coxcombs of the Court to me, knowing that I
detested such persons, and would be nearly choked with laughter at seeing
the discontented air with which I talked to them.
Falsehood and superstition were never to my taste.
The King was in the habit of saying, "Madame cannot endure unequal
marriages; she always ridicules them."
Although there are some most delightful walks at Versailles, no one went
out either on foot or in carriages but myself; the King observed this,
and said, "You are the only one who enjoys the beauties of Versailles."
All my life, even from my earliest years, I thought myself so ugly that I
did not like to be looked at. I therefore cared little for dress,
because jewels and decoration attract attention. As Monsieur loved to be
covered with diamonds, it was fortunate that I did not regard them, for,
otherwise, we should have quarrelled about who was to wear them. On
grand occasions Monsieur used formerly to make me dress in red; I did so,
but much against my inclination, for I always hated whatever was
inconvenient to me. He always ordered my dresses, and even used to paint
my cheeks himself.
I made the Countess of Soissons laugh very heartily once. She said to
me, "How is it, Madame, that you never look in a mirror when you pass it,
as everybody else does?"
I answered, "Because I have too great a regard for myself to be fond of
seeing myself look as ugly as I really am."
I was always attached to the King; and when he did anything disagreeable
to me it was generally to please Monsieur, whose favourites and my
enemies did all they could to embroil me with him, and through his means
with the King, that I might not be able to denounce them. It was natural
enough that the King should be more inclined to please his brother than
me; but when Monsieur's conscience reproached him, he repented of having
done me ill offices with the King, and he confessed this to the King; His
Majesty would then come to us again immediately, notwithstanding the
malicious contrivances of old Maintenon.
I have always had my own household, although during Monsieur's life I was
not the mistress of it, because all his favourites derived a share of
profit from it. Thus no one could buy any employment in my establishment
without a bribe to Grancey, to the Chevalier de Lorraine, to Cocard, or
to M. Spied. I troubled myself little about these persons; so long as
they continued to behave with proper respect towards me, I let them
alone; but when they presumed to ridicule me, or to give me any trouble,
I set them to rights without hesitation and as they deserved.
Finding that Madame la Marechale de Clerambault was attached to me, they
removed her, and they placed my daughter under the care of Madame la
Marechale de Grancey, the creature of my, bitterest enemy, the Chevalier
de Lorraine, whose mistress was the elder sister of this very, Grancei.
It may be imagined how fit an example such a woman was for my daughter;
but all my prayers, all my, remonstrances, were in vain.
Madame de Montespan said to me one day that it was a shame I had no
ambition, and would not take part in anything.
I replied, "If a person should have intrigued assiduously to become
Madame, could not her son permit her to enjoy that rank peaceably? Well,
then, fancy that I have become so by such means, and leave me to repose."
"You are obstinate," said she.
"No, Madame," I answered; "but I love quiet, and I look upon all your
ambition to be pure vanity."
I thought she would have burst with spite, so angry was she. She,
"But make the attempt and we will assist you."
"No," I replied, "Madame, when I think that you, who have a hundred times
more wit than I, have not been able to maintain your consequence in that
Court which you love so much, what hope can I, a poor foreigner, have of
succeeding, who know nothing of intrigue, and like it as little?"
She was quite mortified. "Go along," she said, "you are good for
Old Maintenon and her party had instilled into the Dauphine a deep hatred
against me; by their direction she often said very impertinent things to
me. They hoped that I should resent them to the Dauphine in such manner
as to afford her reason to complain to the King of me, and thus draw his
displeasure upon me. But as I knew the tricks of the old woman and her
coterie, I resolved not to give them that satisfaction; I only laughed at
the disobliging manner in which they treated me, and I gave them to
understand that I thought the ill behaviour of the Dauphine was but a
trick of her childhood, which she would correct as she grew older. When
I spoke to her she made me no reply, and laughed at me with the ladies
attendant upon her.
"Ladies," she once said to them, "amuse me; I am tired;" and at the same
time looked at me disdainfully. I only smiled at her, as if her
behaviour had no effect upon me.
I said, however, to old Maintenon, in a careless tone, "Madame la
Dauphine receives me ungraciously; I do not intend to quarrel with her,
but if she should become too rude I shall ask the King if he approves of
The old woman was alarmed, because she knew very well that the King had
enjoined the Dauphine always to behave politely to me; she begged me
immediately not to say a word to the King, assuring me that I should soon
see the Dauphine's behaviour changed; and indeed, from that time, the
Dauphine altered her conduct, and lived upon much better terms with me.
If I had complained to the King of the ill treatment I received from the
Dauphine he would have been very angry; but she would not have hated me
the less, and she and her old aunt would have formed means to repay me
Ratzenhausen has the good fortune to be sprung from a very good family;
the King was always glad to see her, because she made him laugh; she also
diverted the Dauphine, and Madame de Berri liked her much, and made her
visit her frequently. It is not surprising that we should be good
friends; we have been so since our infancy, for I was not nine years old
when I first became acquainted with her. Of all the old women I know,
there is not one who keeps up her gaiety like Linor.
I often visited Madame de Maintenon, and did all in my power to gain her
affections, but could never succeed. The Queen of Sicily asked me one
day if I did not go out with the King in his carriage, as when she was
with us. I replied to her by some verses (from Racine's Phedre).
Madame de Torci told this again to old Maintenon, as if it applied to
her, which indeed it did, and the King was obliged to look coldly on me
for some time.
During the last three years of his life I had entirely gained my husband
to myself, so that he laughed at his own weaknesses, and was no longer
displeased at being joked with. I had suffered dreadfully before; but
from this period he confided in me entirely, and, always took my part.
By his death I saw the result of the care and pains of thirty years
vanish. After Monsieur's decease, the King sent to ask me whither I
wished to retire, whether to a convent in Paris, or to Maubuisson, or
elsewhere. I replied that as I had the honour to be of the royal house
I could not live but where the King was, and that I intended to go
directly to Versailles. The King was pleased at this, and came to see
me. He somewhat mortified me by saying that he sent to ask me whither I
wished to go because he had not imagined that I should choose to stay
where he was. I replied that I did not know who could have told His
Majesty anything so false and injurious, and that I had a much more
sincere respect and attachment for His Majesty than those who had thus
falsely accused me. The King then dismissed all the persons present,
and we had a long explanation, in the course of which the King told me
I hated Madame de Maintenon. I confessed that I did hate her, but only
through my attachment for him, and because she did me wrong to His
Majesty; nevertheless, I added that, if it were agreeable to him that I
should be reconciled to her, I was ready to become so. The good lady was
not prepared for this, or she would not have suffered the King to come to
me; he was, however, so satisfied that he remained favourable to me up to
his last hour. He made old Maintenon come, and said to her, "Madame is
willing to make friends with you." He then caused us to embrace, and
there the scene ended. He required her also to live upon good terms with
me, which she did in appearance, but secretly played me all sorts of
tricks. It was at this time a matter of indifference to me whether I
went to live at Montargis or not, but I would not have the appearance of
doing so in consequence of any disgrace, and as if I had committed some
offence for which I was driven from the Court. I had reason to fear,
besides, that at the end of two days' journey I might be left to die of
hunger, and to avoid this risk I chose rather to be reconciled to the
King. As to going into a convent, I never once thought of it, although
it was that which old Maintenon most desired. The Castle of Montargis is
my jointure; at Orleans there is no house. St. Cloud is not a part of
the hereditary property, but was bought by Monsieur with his own money.
Therefore my jointure produces nothing; all that I have to live on comes
from the King and my son. At the commencement of my widowhood I was left
unpaid, and there was an arrear of 300,000 francs due to me, which were
not paid until after the death of Louis XIV. What, then, would have
become of me if I had chosen to retire to Montargis? My household
expenses amounted annually to 298,758 livres.
Although Monsieur received considerable wealth with me, I was obliged,
after his death, to give up to my son the jewels, movables, pictures--in
short, all that had come from my family; otherwise I should not have had
enough to live according to my rank and to keep up my establishment,
which is large. In my opinion, to do this is much better than to wear
My income is not more than 456,000 livres; and yet, if it please God, I
will not leave a farthing of debt. My son has just made me more rich by
adding 150,000 livres to my pension (1719). The cause of almost all the
evil which prevails here is the passion of women for play. I have often
been told to my face, "You are good for nothing; you do not like play."
If by my influence I can serve any unfortunate persons with the different
branches of the Government, I always do so willingly; in case of success
I rejoice; in a less fortunate event I console myself by the belief that
it was not the will of God.
After the King's death I repaired to St. Cyr to pay a visit to Madame de
Maintenon. On my entering the room she said to me, "Madame, what do you
come here for?"
I replied, "I come to mingle my tears with those of her whom the King I
so much deplore loved most.--that is yourself, Madame."
"Yes, indeed," she said, "he loved me well; but he loved you, also."
I replied, "He did me the honour to say that, he would always distinguish
me by his friendship, although everything was done to make him hate me."
I wished thus to let her understand that I was, quite aware of her
conduct, but that, being a Christian, I could pardon my enemies. If she
possessed any sensibility she must have felt some pain at thus.
receiving the forgiveness of one whom she had incessantly persecuted.
The affair of Loube is only a small part of what I have suffered here.
I have now no circle, for ladies a tabouret--[Ladies having the
privilege of seats upon small stools in the presence.]--seldom come to
me, not liking to appear but in full dress. I begged them to be present
as usual at an audience, which I was to give to the ambassador of Malta,
but not one of them came. When the late Monsieur and the King were
alive, they were more assiduous; they were not then so much accustomed to
full dresses, and when they did not come in sufficient numbers Monsieur
threatened to tell the King of it.
But this is enough, as M. Biermann said, after having preached four hours
When the King pleased he could be one of the most agreeable and amiable
men in the world; but it was first necessary that he should be intimately
acquainted with persons. He used to joke in a very comical and amusing
The King, though by no means perfect, possessed some great and many fine
qualities; and by no means deserved to be defamed and despised by his
subjects after his death.
While he lived he was flattered, even to idolatry.
He was so much tormented on my account that I could not have wondered if
he had hated me most cordially. However, he did not; but, on the
contrary, he discovered that all which was said against me sprang from
malice and jealousy.
If he had not been so unfortunate as to fall into the hands of two of the
worst women in the world Montespan, and that old Maintenon, who was even
worse than the other, he would have been one of the best kings that ever
lived; for all the evil that he ever did proceeded from those two women,
and not from himself.
Although I approved of many things he did, I could not agree with him
when he maintained that it was vulgar to love one's relations. Montespan
had instilled this into him, in order that she might get rid of all his
legitimate blood connections, and might suffer none about him but her
bastards; she had even carried matters so far as to seek to confine the
royal favour to her offspring or her creatures.
Our King loved the chase passionately; particularly hawking and stag
One day all the world came to Marly to offer their compliments of
condolence; Louis XIV., to get rid of the ceremony, ordered that no
harangues should be made, but that all the Court should enter without
distinction and together at one door, and go out by the other. Among
them came the Bishop of Gap, in a sort of dancing step, weeping large,
hot tears, and smiling at the same moment, which gave to his face the
most grotesque appearance imaginable. Madame, the Dauphine, and I, were
the first who could not restrain ourselves; then the Dauphin and the Duc
de Berri, and at last the King, and everybody who was in the chamber
burst out into loud laughter.
The King, it must be allowed, gave occasion to great scandal on account
of his mistresses; but then he very sincerely repented of these offences.
He had good natural wit, but was extremely ignorant; and was so much
ashamed of it that it became the fashion for his courtiers to turn
learned men into ridicule. Louis XIV. could not endure to hear politics
talked; he was what they call in this country, 'franc du collier'.
At Marly he did not wish the slightest ceremony to prevail. Neither
ambassadors nor other envoys were ever permitted to come here; he never
gave audience; there was no etiquette, and the people went about 'pele-
mele'. Out of doors the King made all the men wear their hats; and in
the drawing-room, everybody, even to the captains, lieutenants, and
sublieutenants of the foot-guards, were permitted to be seated. This
custom so disgusted me with the drawing-room that I never went to it.
The King used to take off his hat to women of all descriptions, even, the
When he liked people he would tell them everything he had heard; and for
this reason it was always dangerous to talk to him of that old Maintenon.
Although he loved flattery, he was very often ready to ridicule it.
Montespan and the old woman had spoiled him and hardened his heart
against his relations, for he was naturally of a very affectionate
Louis XIV., as well as all the rest of his family, with the exception of
my son, hated reading. Neither the King nor Monsieur had been taught
anything; they scarcely knew how to read and write. The King was the
most polite man in his kingdom, but his son and his grandchildren were
the most rude.
In his youth he had played in the comedy of 'Les Visionnaires', which he
knew by heart, and in which he acted better than the comedians. He did
not know a note of music; but his ear was so correct that he could play
in a masterly style on the guitar, and execute whatever he chose.
It is not astonishing that the King and Monsieur were brought up in
ignorance. The Cardinal (Mazarin) wished to reign absolutely; if the
princes had been better instructed, he would neither have been trusted
nor employed, and this it was his object to prevent, hoping that he
should live much longer than he did. The Queen-mother found all that the
Cardinal did perfectly right; and, besides, it suited her purpose that he
should be indispensable. It is almost a miracle that the King should
have become what he afterwards was.
I never saw the King beat but two men, and they both well deserved it.
The first was a valet, who would not let him enter the garden during one
of his own fetes. The other was a pickpocket, whom the King saw emptying
the pocket of M. de Villars. Louis XIV., who was on horseback, rode
towards the thief and struck him with his cane; the rascal cried out,
"Murder! I shall be killed!" which made us all laugh, and the King
laughed, also. He had the thief taken, and made him give up the purse,
but he did not have him hanged.
The Duchesse de Schomberg was a good deal laughed at because she asked
the King a hundred questions, which is not the fashion here. The King
was not well pleased to be talked to; but he never laughed in any one's
When Louvois proposed to the King for the first time that he should
appoint Madame Dufresnoy, his mistress, a lady of the Queen's bedchamber,
His Majesty replied, "Would you, then, have them laugh at both of us?"
Louvois, however, persisted so earnestly in his request that the King at
length granted it.
The Court of France was extremely agreeable until the King had the
misfortune to marry that old Maintenon; she withdrew him from company,
filled him with ridiculous scruples respecting plays, and told him that
he ought not to see excommunicated persons. In consequence of this she
had a small theatre erected in her own apartments, where plays were acted
twice a week before the King. Instead of the dismissed comedians,
[These dismissed comedians had, as appears by the edition of 1788,
renounced their profession, and had been admitted to the communion.
After that, Madame de Maintenon no longer saw any sin in them.]
she had the Dauphine, my son, the Duc de Berri, and her own nieces, to
play; in her opinion this was much better than the real comedians. The
King, instead of occupying his usual place, was seated behind me in a
corner, near Madame de Maintenon. This arrangement spoilt all, for the
consequence was that few people saw him, and the Court was almost
Maintenon told me that the King said to her, "Now that I am old my
children get tired of me and are delighted to find any opportunity of
fixing me here and going elsewhere for their own amusement; Madame alone
stays, and I see that she is glad to be with me still." But she did not
tell me that she had done all in her power to persuade him of the
contrary, and that the King spoke thus by way of reproaching her for the
lies she had invented about me. I learned that afterwards from others.
If the King had been my father I could not have loved him more than I
did; I was always pleased to be with him.
He was fond of the German soldiers, and said that the German horsemen
displayed more grace in the saddle than those of any other nation.
When the King had a design to punish certain libertines, Fagon--[Guy
Crescent Fagon, appointed the King's chief physician in 1693, died in
1718.]--had an amusing conversation with him. He said,--
"Folks made love long before you came into the world, and they will
always continue to do so. You cannot prevent them; and when I hear
preachers talking in the pulpit and railing against such as yield to the
influence of passion, I think it is very much as if I should say to my
phthisical patients, 'You must not cough; it is very wrong to spit.'
Young folks are full of humours, which must be dispersed by one way or
The King could not refrain from laughing.
He was only superstitious in religious matters; for example, with respect
to the miracles of the Virgin, etc.
He had been taught to believe that to make friends with his brother was a
great political stroke and a fine State device; that it made a part of
what is called to reign well.
Since the time of this King it has not been the custom for ladies to talk
of the affairs of the State.
If the King heard that any one had spoken ill of him, he displayed a
proud resentment towards the offender; otherwise it was impossible to be
more polite and affable than he was. His conversation was pleasing in a
high degree. He had the skill of giving an agreeable turn to everything.
His manner of talking was natural, without the least affectation, amiable
and obliging. Although he had not so much courage as Monsieur, he was
still no coward. His brother said that he had always behaved well in
occasions of danger; but his chief fault lay in being soon tired of war,
and wishing to return home.
From the time of his becoming so outrageously devout, all amusements were
suspended for three weeks (at Easter); and before, they were only
discontinued a fortnight.
The King had a peculiarity of disposition which led him easily to behave
harshly to persons who were disagreeable to such as he loved. It was
thus that La Valliere was so ill-treated at the instigation of Montespan.
He was much amused with the Comte de Grammont,--[Philibert, Comte de
Grammont, St. Evremond's hero, and so well known by means of the Memoirs
of Count Antoine Hamilton, his brother-in-law.]--who was very pleasant.
He loaded him with proofs of his kindness, and invited him to join in all
the excursions to Marly, a decided mark of great favour.
The King frequently complained that in his youth he had not been allowed
to converse with people generally, but it was the fault of his natural
temper; for Monsieur, who had been brought up with him, used to talk to
Louis XIV. used to say, laughingly, to Monsieur that his eternal
chattering had put him out of conceit with talking. "Ah, mon Dieu!" he
would say, "must I, to please everybody, say as many silly things as my
In general, they would not have been taken for brothers. The King was a
large man, and my husband a small one: the latter had very effeminate
inclinations; he loved dress, was very careful of his complexion, and
took great interest in feminine employments and in ceremonies. The King,
on the contrary, cared little about dress, loved the chase and shooting,
was fond of talking of war, and had all manly tastes and habits.
Monsieur behaved well in battle, but never talked of it; he loved women
as companions, and was pleased to be with them. The King loved to see
them somewhat nearer, and not entirely en honneur, as Monsieur
[Madame is not a good authority on this point. The memoirs of the
time will show either that she cannot have known or must have
wilfully concealed the intrigues of various kinds in which her
husband was engaged.]
did. They nevertheless loved one another much, and it was very
interesting to see them together. They joked each other sensibly and
pleasantly, and without ever quarrelling.
I was never more amused than in a journey which I took with the King to
Flanders. The Queen and the Dauphine were then alive. As soon as we
reached a city, each of us retired to our own quarters for a short time,
and afterwards we went to the theatre, which was commonly so bad that we
were ready to die with laughing. Among others, I remember that at
Dunkirk we saw a company playing Mithridates. In speaking to Monimia,
Mithridates said something which I forget, but which was very absurd.
He turned round immediately to the Dauphine and said, "I very humbly beg
pardon, Madame, I assure you it was a slip of the tongue." The laugh
which followed this apology may be imagined, but it became still greater
when the Prince of Conti,
[Louis-Armaud de Bourbon, Prince de Conti, married in 1780 to Marie-
Anne, commonly called Mademoiselle de Blois, one of the legitimated
daughters of Louis XIV. by Madame de la Valliere. She was called at
Court La Grande Princesse, on account of her beauty and her
the husband of La Grande Princesse, who was sitting above the orchestra,
in a fit of laughing, fell into it. He tried to save himself by the
cord, and, in doing so, pulled down the curtain over the lamps, set it on
fire, and burnt a great hole in it. The flames were soon extinguished,
and the actors, as if they were perfectly indifferent, or unconscious of
the accident, continued to play on, although we could only see them
through the hole. When there was no play, we took airings and had
collations; in short, every day brought something new. After the King's
supper we went to see magnificent artificial fireworks given by the
cities of Flanders. Everybody was gay; the Court was in perfect
unanimity, and no one thought of anything but to laugh and seek
If the King had known the Duchess of Hanover, he would not have been
displeased at her calling him "Monsieur." As she was a Sovereign
Princess, he thought it was through pride that she would not call him
"Sire," and this mortified him excessively, for he was very sensitive on
One day, before Roquelaure was made a Duke, he was out when it rained
violently, and he ordered his coachman to drive to the Louvre, where the
entrance was permitted to none but Ambassadors, Princes and Dukes. When
his carriage arrived at the gate they asked who it was.
"A Duke," replied he.
"What Duke?" repeated the sentinel.
"The Duc d'Epernon," said he.
"Which of them?"
"The one who died last." And upon this they let him enter. Fearing
afterwards that he might get into a scrape about it, he went directly to
the King. "Sire," said he, "it rains so hard that I came in my coach
even to the foot of your staircase."
The King was displeased. "What fool let you enter?" he asked.
"A greater fool than your Majesty can imagine," replied Roquelaure, "for
he admitted me in the name of the Duc d'Epernon who died last."
This ended the King's anger and made him laugh very heartily.
So great a fear of hell had been instilled into the King that he not only
thought everybody who did not profess the faith of the Jesuits would be
damned, but he even thought he was in some danger himself by speaking to
such persons. If any one was to be ruined with the King, it was only
necessary to say, "He is a Huguenot or a Jansenist," and his business was
immediately settled. My son was about to take into his service a
gentleman whose mother was a professed Jansenist. The Jesuits, by way of
embroiling my son with the King, represented that he was about to engage
a Jansenist on his establishment.
The King immediately sent for him and said "How is this, nephew?
I understand you think of employing a Jansenist in your service."
"Oh, no!" replied my son, laughing, "I can assure your Majesty that he is
not a Jansenist, and I even doubt whether he believes in the existence of
"Oh, well, then!" said the King, "if that be the case, and you are sure
that he is no Jansenist, you may take him."
It is impossible for a man to be more ignorant of religion than the King
was. I cannot understand how his mother, the Queen, could have brought
him up with so little knowledge on this subject. He believed all that
the priests said to him, as if it came from God Himself. That old
Maintenon and Pere la Chaise had persuaded him that all the sins he had
committed with Madame de Montespan would be pardoned if he persecuted and
extirpated the professors of the reformed religion, and that this was the
only path to heaven. The poor King believed it fervently, for he had
never seen a Bible in his life; and immediately after this the
persecution commenced. He knew no more of religion than what his
confessors chose to tell him, and they had made him believe that it was
not lawful to investigate in matters of religion, but that the reason
should be prostrated in order to gain heaven. He was, however, earnest
enough himself, and it was not his fault that hypocrisy reigned at Court.
The old Maintenon had forced people to assume it.
It was formerly the custom to swear horridly on all occasions; the King
detested this practice, and soon abolished it.
He was very capable of gratitude, but neither his children nor his
grandchildren were. He could not bear to be made to wait for anything.
He said that by means of chains of gold he could obtain anything he
wished from the ministers at Vienna.
He could not forgive the French ladies for affecting English fashions.
He used often to joke about it, and particularly in the conversation
which he addressed to me, expecting that I would take it up and tease the
Princesses. To amuse him, I sometimes said whatever came into my head,
without the least ceremony, and often made him laugh heartily.
Reversi was the only game at which the King played, and which he liked.
When he did not like openly to reprove any person, he would address
himself to me; for he knew that I never restrained myself in
conversation, and that amused him infinitely. At table, he was almost
obliged to talk to me, for the others scarcely said a word. In the
cabinet, after supper, there were none but the Duchess--[Anne of
Bavaria, wife of Henri-Jules, Duc de Bourbon, son of the great Conde; she
bore the title of Madame la Princesse after his death.]--and I who spoke
to him. I do not know whether the Dauphine used to converse with the
King in the cabinets, for while she was alive I was never permitted to
enter them, thanks to Madame de Maintenon's interference; the Dauphine
objected to it; the King would willingly have had it so; but he dare not
assert his will for fear of displeasing the Dauphine and the old woman.
I was not therefore suffered to enter until after the death of the
Dauphine, and then only because the King wished to have some one who
would talk to him in the evening, to dissipate his melancholy thoughts,
in which I did my best. He was dissatisfied with his daughters on both
sides, who, instead of trying to console him in his grief, thought only
of amusing themselves, and the good King might often have remained alone
the whole evening if I had not visited his cabinet. He was very sensible
of this, and said to Maintenon, "Madame is the only one who does not
Louis XIV. spoiled the Jesuits; he thought whatever came from them must
be admirable, whether it was right or wrong.
The King did not like living in town; he was convinced that the people
did not love him, and that there was no security for him among them.
Maintenon had him, besides, more under her sway at Versailles than at
Paris, where there was certainly no security for her. She was
universally detested there; and whenever she went out in a carriage the
populace shouted loud threats against her, so that at last she dared not
appear in public.
At first the King was in the habit of dining with Madame de Montespan and
his children, and then no person went to visit him but the Dauphin and
Monsieur. When Montespan was dismissed, the King had all his
illegitimate children in his cabinet: this continued until the arrival of
the last Dauphine; she intruded herself among the bastards to their great
affliction. When the Duchess--
[Louise-Francoise, commonly called Mademoiselle de Nantes, the
legitimated daughter of Madame de Montespan and the King, was
married to the Duc de Bourbon in 1685.]
became the favourite of the Dauphin, she begged that no other persons of
the royal house might have access to the cabinet; and therefore my
request for admission, although not refused, was never granted until
after the death of the Dauphin and Dauphine. The latter accompanied the
King to places where I did not, and could not go, for she even, went with
him upon occasions when decency ought to have forbidden her presence.
Maintenon did the same thing, for the purpose of having an opportunity of
talking to the King in secret.
Louis XIV. loved the young Dauphine so well that he dared refuse her
nothing; and Maintenon had so violent a hatred against me that she was
ready to do me all the mischief in her power. What could the King do
against the inclinations of his son and his granddaughter? They would
have looked cross, and that would have grieved him. I had no inclination
to cause him any vexation, and therefore preferred exercising my own
patience. When I had anything to say to the King, I requested a private
audience, which threw them all into despair, and furnished me with a good
laugh in my sleeve.
The King was so much devoted to the old usages of the Royal Palace that
he would not for the world have departed from them. Madame de Fiennes
was in the habit of saying that the Royal Family adhered so strictly to
their habits and customs that the Queen of England died with a toguet on
her head; that is, a little cap which is put upon children when they go
When the King denied anything it was not permitted to argue with him;
what he commanded must be done quickly and without reply. He was too
much accustomed to "such is our good pleasure," to endure any
He was always kind and generous when he acted from his own impulses.
He never thought that his last will would be observed; and he said to
several people, "They have made me sign a will and some other papers;
I have done it for the sake of being quiet, but I know very well that it
will not stand good."
The good King was old; he stood in need of repose, and he could not enjoy
it by any other means than by doing whatever that old Maintenon wished;
thus it was that this artful hussy always accomplished her ends.
The King used always to call the Duc de Verneuil his uncle.
It has been said and believed that Louis XIV. retired from the war
against Holland through pure generosity; but I know, as well as I know my
own name that he came back solely for the purpose of seeing Madame de
Montespan, and to stay with her. I know also many examples of great
events, which in history have been attributed to policy or ambition, but
which have originated from the most insignificant trifles. It has been
said it was our King's ambition that made him resolve to become the
master of the world, and that it was for this he commenced the Dutch war;
but I know from an indisputable source that it was entered upon only
because M. de Lionne, then Minister of State, was jealous of Prince
William of Furstenberg, who had an intrigue with his wife, of which he
had been apprised. It was this that caused him to engage in those
quarrels which afterwards produced the war.
It was not surprising that the King was insensible to the scarcity which
prevailed, for in the first place he had seen nothing of it, and, in the
second, he had been told that all the reports which had reached him were
falsehoods, and that they were in no respect true. Old Maintenon
invented this plan for getting money, for she had bought up all the corn,
for the purpose of retailing it at a high price. [This does not sound
like M. Maintenon. D.W.] Everybody had been requested to say nothing
about it to the King, lest it should kill him with vexation.
The King loved my son as well as his own, but he cared little for the
girls. He was very fond of Monsieur, and he had reason to be so; never
did a child pay a more implicit obedience to its parents than did
Monsieur to the King; it was a real veneration; and the Dauphin, too, had
for him a veneration, affection and submission such as never son had for
a father. The King was inconsolable for his death. He never had much
regard for the Duke of Burgundy; the old sorceress (Maintenon) had
slandered him to the King, and made the latter believe that he was of an
ambitious temper, and was impatient at the King's living so long. She
did this in order that if the Prince should one day open his eyes, and
perceive the manner in which his wife had been educated, his complaints
might have no effect with the King, which really took place. Louis XIV.
at last thought everything that the Dauphine of Burgundy did was quite
charming; old Maintenon made him believe that her only aim was to divert
him. This old woman was to him both the law and the prophets; all that
she approved was good, and what she condemned was bad, no matter how
estimable it really was. The most innocent actions of the first Dauphine
were represented as crimes, and all the impertinences of the second were
A person who had been for many years in immediate attendance upon the
King, who had been engaged with him every evening at Maintenon's, and
who must consequently have heard everything that was said, is one of my
very good friends, and he has told me that although while the old lady
was living he dare not say a word, yet, she being dead, he was at liberty
to tell me that the King had always professed a real friendship for me.
This person has often heard with his own ears Maintenon teasing the King,
and speaking ill of me for the purpose of rendering me hateful in his
eyes, but the King always took my part. It was in reference to this,
I have no doubt, that the King said to me on his death-bed:
"They have done all they could to make me hate you, Madame, but they have
not succeeded." He added that he had always known me too well to believe
their calumnies. While he spoke thus, the old woman stood by with so
guilty an air that I could not doubt they had proceeded from her.
Monsieur often took a pleasure in diminishing or depriving me of the
King's favour, and the King was not sorry for some little occasions to
blame Monsieur. He told me once that he had embroiled me with Monsieur
I was alarmed, and said immediately, "Perhaps your Majesty may do the
same thing again."
The King laughed, and said, "No, if I had intended to do so I should not
have told you of it; and, to say the truth, I had some scruples about it,
and have resolved never to do so again."
Upon the death of one of his children, the King asked of his old medical
attendant, M. Gueneau: "Pray, how does it happen that my illegitimate
children are healthy and live, while all the Queen's children are so
delicate and always die?" "Sire," replied Gueneau, "it is because the
Queen has only the rinsings of the glass."
He always slept in the Queen's bed, but did not always accommodate
himself to the Spanish temperament of that Princess; so that the Queen
knew he had been elsewhere. The King, nevertheless, had always great
consideration for her, and made his mistresses treat her with all
becoming respect. He loved her for her virtue, and for the sincere
affection she bore to him, notwithstanding his infidelity. He was much
affected at her death; but four days afterwards, by the chattering of old
Maintenon, he was consoled. A few days afterwards we went to
Fontainebleau, and expected to find the King in an ill-humour, and that
we should be scolded; but, on the contrary, he was very gay.
When the King returned from a journey we were all obliged to be at the
carriage as he got out, for the purpose of accompanying him to his
While Louis XIV. was young all the women were running after him; but he
renounced this sort of life when he flattered himself that he had grown
devout. His motive was, Madame de Maintenon watched him so narrowly that
he could not, dare not, look at any one. She disgusted him with
everybody else that she might have him to herself; and this, too, under
the pretext of taking care of his soul.
Madame de Colonne had a great share of wit, and our King was so much in
love with her, that, if her uncle, the Cardinal, had consented, he would
certainly have married her. Cardinal Mazarin, although in every other
respect a worthless person, deserved to be praised for having opposed
this marriage. He sent his niece into Italy. When she was setting out,
the King wept violently. Madame de Colonne said to him, "You are a King;
you weep, and yet I go." This was saying a great deal in a few words.
As to the Comtesse de Soissons, the King had always more of friendship
than of love for her. He made her very considerable presents, the least
of which was to the amount of 2,000 louis.
Madame de Ludres, the King's mistress, was an agreeable person; she had
been Maid of Honour to Monsieur's first wife,--[Henrietta of England.]--
and after her death she entered the Queen's service, but when these
places were afterwards abolished, Monsieur took back Ludres and
Dampierre, the two Ladies of Honour he had given to the Queen. The
former was called Madame, because she was canoness of a chapter at
It is said that the King never observed her beauty while she was with the
Queen, and that it was not until she was with me that he fell in love
with her. Her reign lasted only two years. Montespan told the King that
Ludres had certain ringworms upon her body, caused by a poison that had
been given her in her youth by Madame de Cantecroix. At twelve or
thirteen years of age, she had inspired the old Duc de Lorraine with so
violent a passion that he resolved to marry her at all events. The
poison caused eruptions, covered her with ringworms from head to foot,
and prevented the marriage. She was cured so well as to preserve the
beauty of her figure, but she was always subject to occasional eruptions.
Although now (1718) more than seventy years old, she is still beautiful;
she has as fine features as can be seen, but a very disagreeable manner
of speaking; she lisps horribly. She is, however, a good sort of person.
Since she has been converted she thinks of nothing but the education of
her nieces, and limits her own expenses that she may give the more to her
brother's children. She is in a convent at Nancy, which she is at
liberty to quit when she pleases. She, as well as her nieces, enjoy
pensions from the King.
I have seen Beauvais, that femme de chambre of the Queen-mother, a one-
eyed creature, who is said to have first taught the King the art of
intriguing. She was perfectly acquainted with all its mysteries, and had
led a very profligate life; she lived several years after my arrival in
Louis XIV. carried his gallantries to debauchery. Provided they were
women, all were alike to him peasants, gardeners' girls, femmes de
chambre, or ladies of quality. All that they had to do was to seem to be
in love with him.
For a long time before his death, however, he had ceased to run after
women; he even exiled the Duchesse de la Ferte, because she pretended to
be dying for him. When she could not see him, she had his portrait in
her carriage to contemplate it. The King said that it made him
ridiculous, and desired her to retire to her own estate. The Duchesse de
Roquelaure, of the house of Laval, was also suspected of wishing to
captivate the King; but his Majesty was not so severe with her as with La
Ferte. There was great talk in the scandalous circles about this
intrigue; but I did not thrust my nose into the affair.
I am convinced that the Duchesse de la Valliere always loved the King
very much. Montespan loved him for ambition, La Soubise for interest,
and Maintenon for both. La Fontange loved him also, but only like the
heroine of a romance; she was a furiously romantic person. Ludres was
also very much attached to him, but the King soon got tired of her. As
for Madame de Monaco, I would not take an oath that she never intrigued
with the King. While the King was fond of her, Lauzun, who had a regular
though a secret arrangement with his cousin, fell into disgrace for the
first time. He had forbidden his fair one to see the King; but finding
her one day sitting on the ground, and talking with His Majesty, Lauzun,
who, in his place as Captain of the guard, was in the chamber, was so
transported with jealousy that he could not restrain himself, and,
pretending to pass, he trod so violently on the hand which Madame de
Monaco had placed upon the ground, that he nearly crushed it. The King,
who thus guessed at their intrigue, reprimanded him. Lauzun replied
insolently, and was sent for the first time to the Bastille.
Madame de Soubise was cunning, full of dissimulation, and very wicked.
She deceived the good Queen cruelly; but the latter rewarded her for this
in exposing her falsehood and in unmasking her to the world. As soon as
the King had undeceived Her Majesty with respect to this woman, her
history became notorious, and the Queen amused herself in relating her
triumph, as she called it, to everybody.
The King and Monsieur had been accustomed from their childhood to great
filthiness in the interior of their houses; so much so, that they did not
know it ought to be otherwise, and yet, in their persons, they, were
Madame de la Motte, who had been at Chaillot, preferred the old Marquis
de Richelieu to the King. She declared to His Majesty that her heart was
no longer disposable, but that it was at length fixed.
I can never think, without anger, of the evil which has been spoken of
the late King, and how little His Majesty has been regretted by those to
whom he had done so much good.
I hardly dare repeat what the King said to me on his death-bed. All
those who were usually in his cabinet were present, with the exception of
the Princess, his daughter, the Princesse de Conti, and Madame de
Vendome, who, alone, did not see the King. The whole of the Royal Family
was assembled. He recommended his legitimated daughters to live together
in concord, and I was the innocent cause of his saying something
disagreeable to them. When the King said, "I recommend you all to be
united," I thought he alluded to me and my son's daughter; and I said,
"Yes, Monsieur, you shall be obeyed." He turned towards me, and said in
a stern voice, "Madame, you thought I spoke of you. No, no; you are a
sensible person, and I know you; it is to the Princesses, who are not so,
that I speak:"
Louis XIV. proved at his death that he was really a great man, for it
would be impossible to die with more courage than he displayed. For
eight days he had incessantly the approach of death before his eyes
without betraying fear or apprehension; he arranged everything as if he
had only been going to make a journey.
Eight or ten days before his death a disease had appeared in his leg; a
gangrene ensued, and it was this which caused his death. But for three
months preceding he had been afflicted with a slow fever, which had
reduced him so much that he looked like a lath. That old rogue, Fagon,
had brought him to this condition, by administering purgatives and
sudorifics of the most violent kind. At the instigation of Pere
Letellier, he had been tormented to death by the cursed constitution,
--[The affair of the Bull Unigenitus]-- and had not been allowed to rest
day or night. Fagon was a wicked old scoundrel, much more attached to
Maintenon than to the King. When I perceived how much it was sought to
exault the Duc du Maine, and that the old woman cared so little for the
King's death, I could not help entertaining unfavourable notions of this
It cannot be denied that Louis XIV. was the finest man in his kingdom.
No person had a better appearance than he. His figure was agreeable, his
legs well made, his feet small, his voice pleasant; he was lusty in
proportion; and, in short, no fault could be found with his person.
Some folks thought he was too corpulent for his height, and that Monsieur
was too stout; so that it was said, by way of a joke at Court, that there
had been a mistake, and that one brother had received what had been
intended for the other. The King was in the habit of keeping his mouth
open in an awkward way.
An English gentleman, Mr. Hammer, found him an expert fencer.
He preserved his good looks up to his death, although some of my ladies,
who saw him afterwards, told me that he could scarcely be recognized.
Before his death, his stature had been diminished by a head, and he
perceived this himself.
His pronunciation was very distinct, but all his children, from the
Dauphin to the Comte de Toulouse, lisped. They used to say, Pahi,
instead of Paris.
In general, the King would have no persons at his table but members of
the Royal Family. As for the Princesses of the blood, there were so many
of them that the ordinary table would not have held them; and, indeed,
when we were all there, it was quite full.
The King used to sit in the middle, and had the Dauphin and the Duke of
Burgundy at his right, and the Dauphine and the Duchesse de Berri on his
left; on one of the sides Monsieur and I sat; and on the other, my son
and his wife; the other parts of the table were reserved for the noblemen
in waiting, who did not take their places behind the King, but opposite
to him. When the Princesses of the blood or any other ladies were
received at the King's table, we were waited on, not by noblemen, but by
other officers of the King's household, who stood behind like pages.
The King upon such occasions was waited on by his chief Maitre d'Hotel.
The pages never waited at the King's table, but on journeys; and then
upon no person but the King. The Royal Family had persons to attend them
who were not noble. Formerly all the King's officers, such as the
butler, the cupbearer, etc., etc., were persons of rank; but afterwards,
the nobility becoming poor could not afford to buy the high offices; and
they fell, of necessity, into the hands of more wealthy citizens who
could pay for them.
The King, the late Monsieur, the Dauphin, and the Duc de Berri were great
eaters. I have often seen the King eat four platefuls of different
soups, a whole pheasant, a partridge, a plateful of salad, mutton hashed
with garlic, two good-sized slices of ham, a dish of pastry, and
afterwards fruit and sweetmeats. The King and Monsieur were very fond of
Louis XIV. understood perfectly the art of satisfying people even while
he reproved their requests. His manners were most affable, and he spoke
with so much politeness as to win all hearts.
MADEMOISELLE DE FONTANGE.
I had a Maid of Honour whose name was Beauvais; she was a very well-
disposed person: the King fell in love with her, but she remained firm
against all his attempts. He then turned his attention to her companion,
Fontange, who was also very pretty, but not very sensible. When he first
saw her he said, "There is a wolf that will not eat me;" and yet he
became very fond of her soon afterwards. Before she came to me she had
dreamt all that was to befall her, and a pious Capuchin explained her
dream to her. She told me of it herself long before she became the
King's mistress. She dreamt that she had ascended a high mountain, and,
having reached the summit, she was dazzled by an exceedingly bright
cloud; then on a sudden she found herself in such profound darkness that
her terror at this accident awoke her. When she told her confessor he
said to her: "Take care of yourself; that mountain is the Court, where
some distinction awaits you; it will, however, be but of short duration;
if you abandon your God He will forsake you and you will fall into
There is no doubt that Fontange died by poison; she accused Montespan of
being the cause of her death. A servant who had been bribed by that
favourite destroyed her and some of her people by means of poison mixed
with milk. Two of them died with her, and said publicly that they had
Fontange was a stupid little creature, but she had a very good heart.
She was very red-haired, but, beautiful as an angel from head to foot.
MADAME DE LA VALLIERE.
When one of Madame de Montespan's children died, the King was deeply
affected; but he was not so at the death of the poor Comte de Vermandois
(the son of La Valliere). He could not bear him, because Montespan and
that old Maintenon had made him believe the youth was not his but the Duc
de Lauzun's child. It had been well if all the King's reputed children
had been as surely his as this was. Madame de La Valliere was no light
mistress, as her unwavering penitence sufficiently proved. She was an
amiable, gentle, kind and tender woman. Ambition formed no part of her
love for the King; she had a real passion for him, and never loved any
other person. It was at Montespan's instigation that the King behaved so
ill to her. The poor creature's heart was broken, but she imagined that
she could not make a sacrifice more agreeable to God than that which had
been the cause of her errors; and thought that her repentance ought to
proceed from the same source as her crime. She therefore remained, by
way of self-mortification, with Montespan, who, having a great portion of
wit, did not scruple to ridicule her publicly, behaved extremely ill to
her, and obliged the King to do the same.
He used to pass through La Valliere's chamber to go to Montespan's; and
one day, at the instigation of the latter, he threw a little spaniel,
which he had called Malice, at the Duchesse de La Valliere, saying:
"There, Madam, is your companion; that's all."
This was the more cruel, as he was then going direct to Montespan's
chamber. And yet La Valliere bore everything patiently; she was as
virtuous as Montespan was vicious. Her connection with the King might be
pardoned, when it was remembered that everybody had not only advised her
to it, but had even assisted to bring it about. The King was young,
handsome and gallant; she was, besides, very young; she was naturally
modest, and had a very good heart. She was very much grieved when she
was made a Duchess, and her children legitimated; before that she thought
no one knew she had had children. There was an inexpressible charm in
her countenance, her figure was elegant, her eyes were always in my
opinion much finer than Montespan's, and her whole deportment was
unassuming. She was slightly lame, but not so much as to impair her
When I first arrived in France she had not retired to the convent, but
was still in the Court. We became and continued very intimate until she