Part 17 out of 62
took the veil. I was deeply affected when this charming person took that
resolution; and, at the moment when the funeral pall was thrown over her,
I shed so many tears that I could see no more. She visited me after the
ceremony, and told me that I should rather congratulate than weep for
her, for that from that moment her happiness was to begin: she added that
she should never forget the kindness and friendship I had displayed
towards her, and which was so much more than she deserved. A short time
afterwards I went to see her. I was curious to know why she had remained
so long in the character of an attendant to Montespan. She told me that
God had touched her heart, and made her sensible of her crimes; that she
felt she ought to perform a penitence, and suffer that which would be
most painful to her, which was to love the King, and to be despised by
him; that for the three years after the King had ceased to love her she
had suffered the torments of the damned, and that she offered her sorrows
to Heaven as the expiation of her sins; and as her sins had been public,
so should be her repentance. She said she knew very well that she had
been taken for a fool, who was not sensible of anything; but that at the
very period she alluded to she suffered most, and continued to do so
until God inspired her with the resolution to abandon everything, and to
serve Him alone, which she had since put into execution; but that now she
considered herself unworthy, on account of her past life, to live in the
society of persons as pure and pious as the Carmelite Sisters. All this
evidently came from the heart.
From the time she became professed, she was entirely devoted to Heaven.
I often told her that she had only transposed her love, and had given to
God that which had formerly been the King's. She has said frequently
that if the King should come into the convent she would refuse to see
him, and would hide herself so that he could not find her. She was,
however, spared this pain, for the King not only never went, but seemed
to have forgotten her, as if he had never known her.
To accuse La Valliere of loving any one besides the King was wicked to
the last degree, but falsehoods cost Montespan but little. The Comte de
Vermandois was a good sort of young man, and loved me as if I had been
his mother. When his irregularities were first discovered,--[A more
particular account of these will be found hereafter.]--I was very angry
with him; and I had caused him to be told very seriously that if he had
behaved ill I should cease to have any regard for him. This grieved him
to the heart; he sent to me daily, and begged permission to say only a
few words to me. I was firm during four weeks; at length I permitted him
to come, when he threw himself at my feet, begged my pardon, promising to
amend his conduct, and beseeching me to restore him my friendship
(without which he said he could not exist), and to assist him again with
my advice. He told me the whole history of his follies, and convinced me
that he had been most grossly deluded.
When the Dauphine lay in of the Duke of Burgundy, I said to the King,
"I hope your Majesty will not upon this occasion refuse a humble request
I have to make to you."
He smiled and said, "What have you to ask, then?"
I replied, "The pardon, Monsieur, of the poor Comte de Vermandois."
He smiled once more, and said, "You are a very good friend; but as for M.
Vermandois, he has not been sufficiently punished for his crimes."
"The poor lad," I rejoined, "is so very penitent for his offence."
The King replied, "I do not yet feel myself inclined to see him; I am too
angry with him still."
Several months elapsed before the King would see him; but the young man
was very grateful to me for having spoken in his behalf; and my own
children could not be more attached to me than he was. He was well made,
but his appearance, though not disagreeable, was not remarkably good; he
squinted a little.
MADAME DE MONTESPAN
The King at first could not bear Madame de Montespan,--[Daughter of
Gabriel de Roche Chouart, first Duc de Mortemart.]--and blamed Monsieur
and even the Queen for associating with her; yet, eventually, he fell
deeply in love with her himself.
She was more of an ambitious than a libertine woman, but as wicked as the
devil himself. Nothing could stand between her and the gratification of
her ambition, to which she would have made any sacrifice. Her figure was
ugly and clumsy, but her eyes bespoke great intelligence, though they
were somewhat too bright. Her mouth was very pretty and her smile
uncommonly agreeable. Her complexion was fairer than La Valliere's, her
look was more bold, and her general appearance denoted her intriguing
temper. She had very beautiful light hair, fine arms, and pretty hands,
which La Valliere had not. But the latter was always very neat, and
Montespan was filthy to the last degree. She was very amusing in
conversation, and it was impossible to be tired in talking with her.
The King did not regret Montespan more than he did La Fontange. The Duc
d'Antin, her only legitimate child, was also the only one who wept at her
death. When the King had the others legitimated, the mother's name was
not mentioned, so that it might appear Madame de Montespan was not their
[Madame de Montespan had eight children by Louis XIV. The Duc du
Maine; Comte Vegin; Mademoiselle de Nantes, married to the Duc de
Bourbon; Mademoiselle de Tours, married to the Regent Duc d'Orleans;
the Comte de Toulouse, and two other sons who died young.]
She was once present at a review, and as she passed before the German
soldiers they called out:
"Konigs Hure! Hure!" When the King asked her in the evening how she
liked the review, she said: "Very well, but only those German soldiers
are so simple as not to call things by their proper names, for I had
their shouts explained to me."
Madame de Montespan and her eldest daughter could drink a large quantity
of wine without being affected by it. I have seen them drink six bumpers
of the strong Turin Rosa Solis, besides the wine which they had taken
before. I expected to see them fall under the table, but, on the
contrary, it affected them no more than a draught of water.
It was Madame de Montespan who invented the 'robes battantes' for the
purpose of concealing her pregnancy, because it was impossible to
discover the shape in those robes. But when she wore them, it was
precisely as if she had publicly announced that which she affected to
conceal, for everybody at the Court used to say, "Madame de Montespan has
put on her robe battante, therefore she must be pregnant." I believe she
did it on purpose, hoping that it commanded more attention for her at
Court, as it really did.
It is quite true that she always had a Royal bodyguard, and it was fit
that she should, because the King was always in her apartments by day and
night. He transacted business there with his Ministers, but, as there
were several chambers, the lady was, nevertheless, quite at liberty to do
as she pleased, and the Marshal de Noailles, though a devout person, was
still a man. When she went out in a carriage, she had guards, lest her
husband should, as he had threatened, offer her some insult.
She caused the Queen great vexation, and it is quite true that she used
to ridicule her; but then she did the same to everybody besides. She,
however, never ventured upon any direct or remarkable impertinence to Her
Majesty, for the King would not have suffered it.
She had married one of her cousins, M. de Montpipeau, to Mademoiselle
Aubry, the daughter of a private citizen who was exceedingly rich. To
convince her that she had made a good match, Madame de Montespan had her
brought into her own small private room. The young lady was not
accustomed to very refined society, and the first time she went she
seated herself upon the table, and, crossing her legs, sat swinging there
as if she had been in her own chamber. The laugh which this excited
cannot be conceived, nor the comical manner in which Madame de Montespan
turned it to the King's amusement. The young lady thought that her new
relation was inclined to be favourable to her, and loaded her with
compliments. In general, Montespan had the skill of representing things
so humourously that it was impossible not to laugh at her.
According to the law of the land, all her children were supposed to be
Monsieur de Montespan's. When her husband was dangerously ill, Madame de
Montespan, who in some degree affected devotion, sent to ask him if he
would allow her to nurse him in his sickness. He replied that he would
very willingly, provided she would bring all his children home with her,
but if she left one behind he would not receive her. After this answer,
she took care not to go, for her husband was a great brute, and would
have said whatever he pleased as soon as she presented herself to him.
With the exception of the Comte de Toulouse, all the children she had by
the King are marked. The Duc du Maine is paralytic, Madame d'Orleans is
crooked, and Madame la Duchesse is lame.
M. de Montespan was not a very estimable person; he did nothing but play.
He was a very sordid man, and I believe if the King had chosen to give
him a good round sum he would have been very quiet. It was amusing
enough to see him and his son, d'Antin, playing with Madame d'Orleans and
Madame la Duchesse, and presenting the cards very politely, and kissing
his hand to the Princesses, who were called his own daughters. He
thought it a joke himself, and always turned aside a little to laugh in
MADAME DE MAINTENON.
The marriage of Louis XIV. with old Maintenon proves how impossible it is
to escape one's fate. The King said one day to the Duc de Crequi and to
M. de La Rochefoucauld, long before he knew Mistress Scarron, "I am
convinced that astrology is false. I had my nativity cast in Italy, and
I was told that, after living to an advanced age, I should be in love
with an old ----- to the last moment of my existence. I do not think
there is any great likelihood of that." He laughed most heartily as he
said this; and yet the thing has taken place.
The history of Theodora, in Procopius, bears a singular resemblance to
that of Maintenon. In the history of Sweden, too, there is a similar
character in the person of Sigbritta, a Dutch woman, who lived during the
reign of Christian IL, King of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, who bears so
great a likeness to Maintenon that I was struck with it as soon as I read
it. I cannot imagine how they came to permit its publication. It is
fortunate for the Abbe Vertot, who is the author, that the King does not
love reading, otherwise he would certainly have been sent to the
Bastille. Several persons thought that the Abbe had invented it by way
of a joke, but he swears by all that is good that he found it in the
annals of Sweden. The old woman cannot have read it either, for she is
too much occupied in reading the letters written to her from Paris,
relating all that is going on there and at the Court. Sometimes the
packets have consisted of twenty or thirty sheets; she kept them or
showed them to the King, according as she liked or disliked the persons.
She was not deficient in wit, and could talk very well whenever she
chose. She did not like to be called La Marquise, but preferred the
simpler and shorter title of Madame de Maintenon.
She did not scruple to display openly the hatred she had for me. For
example, when the Queen of England came to Marly, and went out on foot or
in the carriage with the King, on their return the Queen, the Dauphine,
the Princess of England, and all the Princesses, went into the King's
room; I alone was excluded.
It was with great regret that I gave up my Maids of Honour. I had four,
sometimes five of them, with their governess and sub-governess; they
amused me very much, for they were all very gay. The old woman feared
there might be some among them to whom the King might take a fancy, as he
had done to Ludre and Fontange. I only kept my Maids of Honour a year
after the death of Monsieur.---- The King was always fond of the
sex, and if the old woman had not watched him very narrowly he would have
slipped through her fingers in spite of all his devotion.
She hated the Dauphine because the latter would not let her treat her
like a child, but wished to keep a Court and live as became her rank.
This the old woman could not and would not endure. She loved to set all
things in confusion, as she did afterwards with the second Dauphine, in
the hope of compelling the King to recognize and proclaim her as Queen;
but this the King never would do, notwithstanding all her artifices.--
[Other writers including Madame de Montespan put it just the opposite way
that the King wished to proclaim Maintenon Queen and she refused. D.W.]
Nobody at Court used perfumery except that old woman; her gloves were
always scented with jessamine. The King could not bear scent on any
other person, and only endured it in her because she made him believe
that it was somebody else who was perfumed.
If Madame des Ursins had not been protected by Madame de Maintenon, she
would have been ruined at Court long before the Queen of Spain dismissed
her, for in his heart the King disliked her excessively; but all those
who were supported by Madame de Maintenon were sure to triumph.
The old woman took great pains to conceal from the King all that could
give him pain; but she did not scruple to torment him incessantly about
the Constitution and those illegitimate children, whom she wished to
raise higher than the King desired. She teased him also with her hatred
of my son and myself, for he had no dislike to us.
Neither the Queen nor the first Dauphine nor myself ever received a
farthing; but this old Maintenon took money on all sides, and taught the
second Dauphine to do the same. Her example was followed by all the
In the time of the Queen and the first Dauphine, everything at Court was
conducted with modesty and dignity. Those persons who indulged in secret
debaucheries at least kept up a respect for appearances; but from the
time that Maintenon's reign began, and the King's illegitimate children
were made a part of the Royal Family, all was turned topsy-turvy.
When she once conceived a hatred against any person it was for life, and
she never ceased secretly to persecute them, as I have personally
experienced. She has laid many snares for me, which by the help of
Providence I have always avoided. She was terribly annoyed by her first
husband, who kept her always shut up in his chamber. Many people say,
too, that she hastened the passage of poor Mansart into the other world.
It is quite certain that he was poisoned by means of green peas, and that
he died within three hours of eating them. She had learnt that on the
same day M. de Torcy was going to show the King certain papers
containing an account of the money which she had received from the post
unknown to His Majesty. The King never knew anything of this adventure
nor of that of Louvois, because, as people had no fancy for being
poisoned, they held their tongues.
Before she got into power, the Church of France was very reasonable;
but she spoiled everything by encouraging such follies and superstitions
as the rosaries and other things. When any reasonable men appeared, the
old woman and the Confessor had them banished or imprisoned. These two
persons were the causes of all the persecutions which the Lutherans and
those of the reformed religion underwent in France. Pere La Chaise, with
his long ears, began this worthy enterprise, and Pere Letellier completed
it; France was thus ruined in every way.
The Duchesse de Bourbon was taught by her mother and her aunt, Mesdames
de Montespan and De Thiange, to ridicule everybody, under the pretext of
diverting the King. The children, who were always present, learnt
nothing else; and this practice was the universal dread of all persons in
the Court; but not more so than that of the gouvernante of the children
(Madame de Maintenon). Her habit was to treat things very seriously, and
without the least appearance of jesting. She used to speak ill of
persons to the King through charity and piety, for the sole purpose of
correcting the faults of her neighbours; and under this pretext she
filled the King with a bad opinion of the whole Court, solely that he
might have no desire for any other company than that of herself and her
creatures, who were alone perfect and without the slightest defect. What
rendered her disclosures the more dangerous was that they were frequently
followed by banishment, by 'lettres-de-cachet', and by imprisonment.
When Montespan was in power, at least there was nothing of this sort.
Provided she could amuse herself at the expense of all around her, she
I have often heard Madame de Maintenon say, jestingly, "I have always
been either too far from, or too near to, greatness, to know exactly what
She could not forgive the King for not having proclaimed her Queen. She
put on such an appearance of humility and piety to the Queen of England
that she passed for a saint with her. The old woman knew very well that
I was a right German, and that I never could endure unequal alliances.
She fancied, therefore, that it was on my account the King was reluctant
to acknowledge his marriage with her, and this it was that made her hate
me so profoundly. From the time of the King's death and our departure
from Versailles my son has never once seen her.
She would never allow me to meddle with anything, because she feared it
would give me an opportunity of talking to the King. It was not that she
was jealous lest he should be fond of me, but she feared that, in
speaking according to my usual custom, freely and without restraint,
I should open the King's eyes and point out to him the folly of the life
he was leading. I had, however, no such intention.
All the mistresses the King had did not tarnish his reputation so much as
the old woman he married; from her proceeded all the calamities which
have since befallen France. It was she who excited the persecution
against the Protestants, invented the heavy taxes which raised the price
of grain so high, and caused the scarcity. She helped the Ministers to
rob the King; by means of the Constitution she hastened his death; she
brought about my son's marriage; she wanted to place bastards upon the
throne; in short, she ruined and confused everything.
Formerly the Court never went into mourning for children younger than six
years of age; but the Duc du Maine having lost a daughter only one year
old, the old woman persuaded the King to order a mourning, and since that
time it has been always worn for children of a year old.
The King always hated or loved as she chose to direct; it was not,
therefore, surprising that he could not bear Montespan, for all her
failings were displayed to him by the old woman, who was materially
assisted in this office by Montespan's eldest son, the Duc du Maine.
In her latter years she enjoyed a splendour which she could never have
dreamed of before; the Court looked upon her as a sort of divinity.
The old lady never failed to manifest her hatred of my son on all
occasions. She liked my husband no better than myself; and my son and my
daughter and her husband were equally objects of her detestation. She
told a lady once that her greatest fault was that of being attached to
me. Neither my son nor I had ever done her any injury. If Monsieur
thought fit to tell his niece, the Duchess of Burgundy, a part of
Maintenon's history, in the vexation he felt at her having estranged the
Princess from him, and not choosing that she should behave affectionately
to her great-uncle, that was not our fault. She was as jealous of the
Dauphine as a lover is of his mistress.
She was in the habit of saying, "I perceive there is a sort of vertigo at
present affecting the whole world." When she perceived that the harvest
had failed, she bought up all the corn she could get in the markets, and
gained by this means an enormous sum of money, while the poor people were
dying of famine. Not having a sufficient number of granaries, a large
quantity of this corn became rotten in the boats loaded with it, and it
was necessary to throw it into the river. The people said this was a
just judgment from Heaven.
My son made me laugh the other day. I asked him how Madame de Maintenon
"Wonderfully well," he replied.
"That is surprising at her age," I said.
"Yes," he rejoined, "but do you not know that God has, by way, of
punishing the devil, doomed him to exist a certain number of years in
that ugly body?"
Montespan was the cause of the King's love for old Maintenon. In the
first place, when she wished to have her near her children, she shut her
ears to the stories which were told of the irregular life which the hussy
had been leading; she made everybody who spoke to the King about her,
praise her; her virtue and piety were cried up until the King was made to
think that all he had heard of her light conduct were lies, and in the
end he most firmly believed it. In the second place, Montespan was a
creature full of caprice, who had no control over herself, was
passionately fond of amusement, was tired whenever she was alone with the
King, whom she loved only, for the purposes of her own interest or
ambition, caring very little for him personally. To occupy him, and to
prevent him from observing her fondness for play and dissipation, she
brought Maintenon. The King was fond of a retired life, and would
willingly have passed his time alone with Montespan; he often reproached
her with not loving him sufficiently, and they quarrelled a great deal
occasionally. Goody Scarron then appeared, restored peace between them,
and consoled the King. She, however, made him remark more and more the
bitter temper of Montespan; and, affecting great devotion, she told the
King that his affliction was sent him by Heaven, as a punishment for the
sins he had committed with Montespan. She was eloquent, and had very
fine eyes; by degrees the King became accustomed to her, and thought she
would effect his salvation. He then made a proposal to her; but she
remained firm, and gave him to understand that, although he was very
agreeable to her, she would not for the whole world offend Heaven. This
excited in the King so great an admiration for her, and such a disgust to
Madame de Montespan, that he began to think of being converted. The old
woman then employed her creature, the Duc du Maine, to insinuate to his
mother that, since the King had taken other mistresses, for example,
Ludres and Fontange, she had lost her authority, and would become an
object of contempt at Court. This irritated her, and she was in a very
bad humour when the King came. In the meantime, Maintenon was
incessantly censuring the King; she told him that he would be damned if
he did not live on better terms with the Queen. Louis XIV. repeated this
to his wife, who considered herself much obliged to Madame de Maintenon:
she treated her with marks of distinction, and consented to her being
appointed second dame d'atour to the Dauphine of Bavaria; so that she had
now nothing to do with Montespan. The latter became furious, and related
to the King all the particulars of the life of Dame Scarron. But the
King, knowing her to be an arrant fiend, who would spare no one in her
passion, would not believe anything she said to him. The Duc du Maine
persuaded his mother to retire from Court for a short time in order that
the King might recall her. Being fond of her son, and believing him to
be honest in the advice he gave her, she went to Paris, and wrote to the
King that she would never come back. The Duc du Maine immediately sent
off all her packages after her without her knowledge; he even had her
furniture thrown out of the window, so that she could not come back to
Versailles. She had treated the King so ill and so unkindly that he was
delighted at being rid of her, and he did not care by what means. If she
had remained longer, the King, teased as he was, would hardly have been
secure against the transports of her passion. The Queen was extremely
grateful to Maintenon for having been the means of driving away Montespan
and bringing back the King to the marriage-bed; an arrangement to which,
like an honest Spanish lady, she had no sort of objection. With that
goodness of heart which was so remarkable in her, she thought she was
bound to do something for Madame de Maintenon, and therefore consented to
her being appointed dame d'atour. It was not until shortly before her
death that she learnt she had been deceived by her. After the Queen's
death, Louis XIV. thought he had gained a triumph over the very
personification of virtue in overcoming the old lady's scruples; he used
to visit her every afternoon, and she gained such an influence over him
as to induce him to marry.
Madame la Marechale de Schomberg had a niece, Mademoiselle d'Aumale, whom
her parents had placed at St. Cyr during the King's life. She was ugly,
but possessed great wit, and succeeded in amusing the King so well that
the old Maintenon became disturbed at it. She picked a quarrel with her,
and wanted to send her again to the convent. But the King opposed this,
and made the old lady bring her back. When the King died, Mademoiselle
d'Aumale would not stay any longer with Madame de Maintenon.
When the Dauphine first arrived, she did not know a soul. Her household
was formed before she came. She did not know who Maintenon was; and when
Monsieur explained it to her a year or two afterwards, it was too late to
resist. The Dauphin used at first to laugh at the old woman, but as he
was amorous of one of the Dauphine's Maids of Honour, and consequently
was acquainted with the gouvernante of the Maids of Honour,
Montchevreuil, a creature of Maintenon's, that old fool set her out in
very fair colours. Madame de Maintenon did not scruple to estrange the
Dauphin from the Dauphine, and very piously to sell him first Rambure and
afterwards La Force.
18th April, 1719--To-day I will begin my letter with the story of Madame
de Ponikau, in Saxony. One day during her lying-in, as she was quite
alone, a little woman dressed in the ancient French fashion came into the
room and begged her to permit a party to celebrate a wedding, promising
that they would take care it should be when she was alone. Madame de
Ponikau having consented, one day a company of dwarfs of both sexes
entered her chamber. They brought with them a little table, upon which a
good dinner, consisting of a great number of dishes, was placed, and
round which all the wedding guests took their seats. In the midst of the
banquet, one of the little waiting-maids ran in, crying,
"Thank Heaven, we have escaped great perplexity. The old ----- is dead."
It is the same here, the old is dead. She quitted this world at St.
Cyr, on Saturday last, the 15th day of April, between four and five
o'clock in the evening. The news of the Duc du Maine and his wife being
arrested made her faint, and was probably the cause of her death, for
from that time she had not a moment's repose or content. Her rage, and
the annihilation of her hopes of reigning with him, turned her blood.
She fell sick of the measles, and was for twenty days in great fever.
The disorder then took an unfavourable turn, and she died. She had
concealed two years of her age, for she pretended to be only eighty-four,
while she was really eighty-six years old. I believe that what grieved
her most in dying was to quit the world, and leave me and my son behind
her in good health. When her approaching death was announced to her, she
said, "To die is the least event of my life." The sums which her nephew
and niece De Noailles inherited from her were immense; but the amount
cannot be ascertained, because she had concealed a large part of her
A cousin of hers, the Archbishop of Rouen, who created so much trouble
with respect to the Constitution, followed his dear cousin into the other
world exactly a week afterwards, on the same day, and at the same hour.
Nobody, knows what the King said to Maintenon on his death bed. She had
retired to St. Cyr before he died. They fetched her back, but she did
not stay, to the end. I think the King repented of his folly in having
married her, and, indeed, notwithstanding all her contrivances, she could
not persuade him to declare their marriage. She wept for the King's
death, but was not so deeply afflicted as she ought to have been. She
always flattered herself with the hope of reigning together with the Duc
From the beginning to the end of their connection, the King's society was
always irksome to her, and she did not scruple to say so to her own
relations. She had before been much accustomed to the company of men,
but afterwards dared see none but the King, whom she never loved, and his
Ministers. This made her ill-tempered, and she did not fail to make
those persons who were within her power feel its effects. My son and I
have had our share of it. She thought only of two things, her ambition
and her amusement. The old sorceress never loved any one but her
favourite, the Duc du Maine. Perceiving that the Dauphine was desirous
of acting for herself and profiting by the king's favour, that she
ridiculed her to her attendants, and seemed not disposed to yield to her
domination, she withdrew her attention from her; and if the Dauphine had
not possessed great influence with the King, Maintenon would have turned
round upon her former favourite; she was therefore very soon consoled for
this Princess's death. She thought to have the King entirely at her
disposal through the Duc du Maine, and it was for this reason that she
relied so much upon him, and was so deeply afflicted at his imprisonment.
She was not always so malicious, but her wickedness increased with her
years. For us it had been well that she had died twenty years before,
but for the honour of the late King that event ought to have taken place
thirty-three years back, for, if I do not mistake, she was married to the
King two years after the Queen's death, which happened five-and-thirty
If she had not been so outrageously inveterate against me, she could have
done me much more injury with the King, but she set about it too
violently; this caused the King to perceive that it was mere malice, and
therefore it had no effect. There were three reasons why she hated me
horribly. The first was, that the King treated me favourably. I was
twenty-five years of age when she came into power; she saw that, instead
of suffering myself to be governed by her, I would have my own way, and,
as the King was kind to me, that I should undeceive him and counsel him
not to suffer himself to be blindly led by so worthless a person. The
second reason was that, knowing how much I must disapprove of her
marriage with the King, she imagined I should always be an obstacle to
her being proclaimed Queen; and the third was, that I had always taken
the Dauphine's part whenever Maintenon had mortified her. The poor
Dauphine did not know what to do with Maintenon, who possessed the King's
heart, and was acquainted with all his intentions. Notwithstanding all
the favour she enjoyed, the old lady was somewhat timid. If the Dauphine
could have summoned courage to threaten Maintenon, as I advised her, to
hint that her previous life was well known, and that unless she behaved
better to the Dauphine the latter would expose her to the King, but that
if, on the contrary, she would live quietly and on good terms, silence
should be kept, then Maintenon would have pursued a very different
conduct. That wicked Bessola always prevented this, because then she
would have had no more tales to tell.
One day I found the Dauphine in the greatest distress and drowned in
tears, because the old woman had threatened to make her miserable, to
have Madame du Maine preferred to her, to make her odious to the whole
Court and to the King besides. I laughed when she told me all this.
"Is it possible," I said, "with so much sense and courage as you possess
that you will suffer this old hag to frighten you thus? You can have
nothing to fear: you are the Dauphine, the first person in the kingdom;
no one can do you any mischief without the most serious cause. When,
therefore, they threaten you, answer boldly: 'I do not fear pour menaces;
Madame de Maintenon is too much beneath me, and the King is too just to
condemn without hearing me. If you compel me I will speak to him myself,
and we shall see whether he will protect me or not.'"
The Dauphine was not backward in repeating this word for word. The old
woman immediately said, "This is not your own speech; this proceeds from
Madame's bad advice; you have not courage enough to think thus for
yourself; however, we shall see whether Madame's friendship will be
profitable to you or not." But from that time forth she never threatened
the Princess. She had introduced the name of the Duchesse du Maine
adroitly enough in her threats to the Dauphine, because, having educated
the Duke, she thought her power at Court unlimited, and wished to chew
that she could prefer the last Princess of the blood before the first
person in France, and that therefore it was expedient to submit to her
and obey her. But Bessola, who was jealous of me, and could not bear
that the Dauphine should confide in me, had been bought over by the old
woman, to whom she betrayed us, and told her all that I had said to
console the Princess; she was commissioned, besides, to torment and
intimidate her mistress as much as possible, and acquitted herself to
a miracle, terrifying her to death, and at the same time seeming to act
only from attachment, and to be entirely devoted to her. The poor
Dauphine never distrusted this woman, who had been educated with her, and
had accompanied her to France; she did not imagine that falsehood and
perfidy existed to such an extent as this infernal creature carried them.
I was perfectly amazed at it. I opposed Bessola, and did all I could to
console the Dauphine and to alleviate her vexation. She told me when she
was dying that I had prolonged her life by two years by inspiring her
with courage. My exertions, however, procured for me Maintenon's cordial
hatred, which lasted to the end of her life. Although the Dauphine might
have something to reproach herself with, she was not to be taken to task
for it by that old woman, for who had ever led a less circumspect life
than she? In public, or when we were together, she never said anything
unpleasant to me, for she knew that I would not have failed to answer her
properly, as I knew her whole life. Villarceaux had told me more of her
than I desired to know.
When the King was talking to me on his death-bed she turned as red as
"Go away, Madame," said she; "the King is too much affected while he
talks to you; it may do him harm. Pray go away."
As I went out she followed me and said, "Do not think, Madame, that I
have ever done you an ill turn with the King."
I answered her with tears, for I thought I should choke with grief:
"Madame, do not let us talk upon that subject," and so quitted her.
That humpbacked old Fagon, her favourite, used to say that he disliked
Christianity because it would not allow him to build a temple to
Maintenon and an altar to worship her.
The only trait in her character that I can find to praise is her conduct
to Montchevreuil; although she was a wicked old devil, Maintenon had
reason to love her and be kind to her, for she had fed and clothed her
when Maintenon was in great want.
I believe the old woman would not procure for Madame de Dangeau the
privilege of the tabouret, only because she was a German and of good
family. She once had two young girls from Strasbourg brought to Court,
and made them pass for Countesses Palatine, placing them in the office of
attendants upon her nieces. I did not know a word of it until the
Dauphine came to tell it me with tears in her eyes.
I said to her, "Do not disturb yourself, leave me alone to act; when I
have a good reason for what I do, I despise the old witch."
When I saw from my window the niece walking with these German girls,
I went into the garden and met them. I called one of them, and asked her
who she was. She told me, boldly, that she was a Countess Palatine of
"By the left hand?" I asked.
"No," she replied, "I am not illegitimate; the young Count Palatine
married my mother, who is of the house of Gehlen."
"In that case," I said, "you cannot be Countess Palatine; for we never
allow such unequal marriages to hold good. I will tell you, moreover,
that you lie when you say that the Count Palatine married your mother;
she is a -----, and the Count has married her no more than a hundred
others have done; I know her lawful husband is a hautboy-player. If you
presume, in future, to pass yourself off as a Countess Palatine I will
have you stripped; let me never again hear anything of this; but if you
will follow my advice, and take your proper name, I shall not reproach
you. And now you see what you have to choose between."
The girl took this so much to heart that she died some days afterwards.
As for the second, she was sent to a boarding-house in Paris, where she
became as bad as her mother; but as she changed her name I did not
trouble myself any further about her.
I told the Dauphine what I had done, who was very much obliged to me,
and confessed she should not have had courage enough to do it herself.
She feared that the King would be displeased with me;, but he only said
to me, jestingly, "One must not play tricks with you about your family,
for it seems to be a matter of life or death with you."
I replied, "I hate lies."
There was a troop of Italian players who had got up a comedy called "The
Pretended Prude." When I learnt they were going to represent it, I sent
for them and told them not to do so. It was in vain; they played it, and
got a great deal of money by it; but they were afterwards sent away in
consequence. They then came to me and wanted me to intercede for them;
but I said, "Why did you not take my advice?" It was said they hit off
the character of Maintenon with the most amusing fidelity. I should have
liked to see it, but I would not go lest the old woman should have told
the King that I had planned it out of ill-will to her.
THE QUEEN--CONSORT OF LOUIS XIV.
Our Queen was excessively ignorant, but the kindest and most virtuous
woman in the world; she had a certain greatness in her manner, and knew
how to hold a Court extremely well. She believed everything the King
told her, good or bad. Her teeth were very ugly, being black and broken.
It was said that this proceeded from her being in the constant habit of
taking chocolate; she also frequently ate garlic. She was short and fat,
and her skin was very white. When she was not walking or dancing she
seemed much taller. She ate frequently and for a long time; but her food
was always cut in pieces as small as if they were for a singing bird.
She could not forget her country, and her manners were always remarkably
Spanish. She was very fond of play; she played basset, reversis, ombre,
and sometimes a little primero; but she never won because she did not
know how to play.
She had such as affection for the King that she used to watch his eyes to
do whatever might be agreeable to him; if he only looked at her kindly
she was in good spirits for the rest of the day. She was very glad when
the King quitted his mistresses for her, and displayed so much
satisfaction that it was commonly remarked. She had no objection to
being joked upon this subject, and upon such occasions used to laugh and
wink and rub her little hands.
One day the Queen, after having conversed for half-an-hour with the
Prince Egon de Furstemberg,--[Cardinal Furstemberg, Bishop of
Strasbourg.]--took me aside and said to me, "Did you know what M. de
Strasbourg has been saying? I have not understood him at all."
A few minutes afterwards the Bishop said to me, "Did your Royal Highness
hear what the Queen said to me? I have not comprehended a single word."
"Then," said I, "why did you answer her."
"I thought," he replied, "that it would have been indecorous to have
appeared not to understand Her Majesty."
This made me laugh so much that I was obliged precipitately to quit the
The Queen died of an abscess under her arm. Instead of making it burst,
Fagon, who was unfortunately then her physician, had her blooded; this
drove in the abscess, the disorder attacked her internally, and an
emetic, which was administered after her bleeding, had the effect of
killing the Queen.
The surgeon who blooded her said, "Have you considered this well, Sir?
It will be the death of my Mistress!"
Fagon replied, "Do as I bid you."
Gervais, the surgeon, wept, and said to Fagon, "You have resolved, then,
that my Mistress shall die by my hand!"
Fagon had her blooded at eleven o'clock; at noon he gave her an emetic,
and three hours afterwards she was dead. It may be truly said that with
her died all the happiness of France. The King was deeply grieved by
this event, which that old villain Fagon brought about expressly for the
purpose of confirming that mischievous old woman's fortune.
After the Queen's death I also happened to have an abscess. Fagon did
all he could to make the King recommend me to be blooded; but I said to
him, in His Majesty's presence, "No, I shall do no such thing. I shall
treat myself according to my own method; and if you had done the same to
the Queen she would have been alive now. I shall suffer the abscess to
gather, and then I shall have it opened." I did so, and soon got well.
The King said very kindly to me, "Madame, I am afraid you will kill
I replied, laughing, "Your Majesty is too good to me, but I am quite
satisfied with not having followed my physician's advice, and you will
soon see that I shall do very well."
After my convalescence I said at table, in presence of my two doctors,
Daguin, who was then first physician, and Fagon, who succeeded him upon
his being disgraced, "Your Majesty sees that I was right to have my own
way; for I am quite well, notwithstanding all the wise sayings and
arguments of these gentlemen."
They were a little confused, but put it off with a laugh; and Fagon said
"When folks are as robust as you, Madame, they may venture to risk
I replied, "If I am robust, it is because I never take medicine but on
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A pious Capuchin explained her dream to her
Art of satisfying people even while he reproved their requests
Asked the King a hundred questions, which is not the fashion
Because the Queen has only the rinsings of the glass
Duplicity passes for wit, and frankness is looked upon as folly
Even doubt whether he believes in the existence of a God
Follies and superstitions as the rosaries and other things
Formerly the custom to swear horridly on all occasions
Great filthiness in the interior of their houses
Great things originated from the most insignificant trifles
He always slept in the Queen's bed
He had good natural wit, but was extremely ignorant
He was a good sort of man, notwithstanding his weaknesses
Her teeth were very ugly, being black and broken (Queen)
I am unquestionably very ugly
I formed a religion of my own
I have seldom been at a loss for something to laugh at
I never take medicine but on urgent occasions
It was not permitted to argue with him
Jewels and decoration attract attention (to the ugly)
Louis XIV. scarcely knew how to read and write
Made his mistresses treat her with all becoming respect
My husband proposed separate beds
No man more ignorant of religion than the King was
Nobility becoming poor could not afford to buy the high offices
Not lawful to investigate in matters of religion
Robes battantes for the purpose of concealing her pregnancy
Seeing myself look as ugly as I really am (in a mirror)
So great a fear of hell had been instilled into the King
Soon tired of war, and wishing to return home (Louis XIV)
The old woman (Madame Maintenon)
To die is the least event of my life (Maintenon)
To tell the truth, I was never very fond of having children
You are a King; you weep, and yet I go
You never look in a mirror when you pass it
MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV. AND OF THE REGENCY, v2
Being the Secret Memoirs of the Mother of the Regent,
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS.
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
PHILIPPE I., DUC D'ORLEANS.
Cardinal Mazarin perceiving that the King had less readiness than his
brother, was apprehensive lest the latter should become too learned; he
therefore enjoined the preceptor to let him play, and not to suffer him
to apply to his studies.
"What can you be thinking of, M. la Mothe le Vayer," said the Cardinal;
"would you try to make the King's brother a clever man? If he should be
more wise than his brother, he would not be qualified for implicit
Never were two brothers more totally different in their appearance than
the King and Monsieur. The King was tall, with light hair; his mien was
good and his deportment manly. Monsieur, without having a vulgar air,
was very small; his hair and eye-brows were quite black, his eyes were
dark, his face long and narrow, his nose large, his mouth small, and his
teeth very bad; he was fond of play, of holding drawing-rooms, of eating,
dancing and dress; in short, of all that women are fond of. The King
loved the chase, music and the theatre; my husband rather affected large
parties and masquerades: his brother was a man of great gallantry, and I
do not believe my husband was ever in love during his life. He danced
well, but in a feminine manner; he could not dance like a man because his
shoes were too high-heeled. Excepting when he was with the army, he
would never get on horseback. The soldiers used to say that he was more
afraid of being sun-burnt and of the blackness of the powder than of the
musket-balls; and it was very true. He was very fond of building.
Before he had the Palais Royal completed, and particularly the grand
apartment, the place was, in my opinion, perfectly horrible, although in
the Queen-mother's time it had been very much admired. He was so fond of
the ringing of bells that he used to go to Paris on All Souls' Day for
the purpose of hearing the bells, which are rung during the whole of the
vigils on that day he liked no other music, and was often laughed at for
it by his friends. He would join in the joke, and confess that a peal of
bells delighted him beyond all expression. He liked Paris better than
any other place, because his secretary was there, and he lived under less
restraint than at Versailles. He wrote so badly that he was often
puzzled to read his own letters, and would bring them to me to decipher
"Here, Madame," he used to say, laughing, "you are accustomed to my
writing; be so good as to read me this, for I really cannot tell what I
have been writing." We have often laughed at it.
He was of a good disposition enough, and if he had not yielded so
entirely to the bad advice of his favourites, he would have been the best
master in the world. I loved him, although he had caused me a great deal
of pain; but during the last three years of his life that was totally
altered. I had brought him to laugh at his own weakness, and even to
take jokes without caring for them. From the period that I had been
calumniated and accused, he would suffer no one again to annoy me; he had
the most perfect confidence in me, and took my part so decidedly, that
his favourites dared not practise against me. But before that I had
suffered terribly. I was just about to be happy, when Providence thought
fit to deprive me of my poor husband. For thirty years I had been
labouring to gain him to myself, and, just as my design seemed to be
accomplished, he died. He had been so much importuned upon the subject
of my affection for him that he begged me for Heaven's sake not to love
him any longer, because it was so troublesome. I never suffered him to
go alone anywhere without his express orders.
The King often complained that he had not been allowed to converse
sufficiently with people in his youth; but taciturnity was a part of his
character, for Monsieur, who was brought up with him, conversed with
everybody. The King often laughed, and said that Monsieur's chattering
had put him out of conceit with talking. We used to joke Monsieur upon
his once asking questions of a person who came to see him.
"I suppose, Monsieur," said he, "you come from the army?"
"No, Monsieur," replied the visitor, "I have never joined it."
"You arrive here, then, from your country house?"
"Monsieur, I have no country house."
"In that case, I imagine you are living at Paris with your family?"
"Monsieur, I am not married."
Everybody present at this burst into a laugh, and Monsieur in some
confusion had nothing more to say. It is true that Monsieur was more
generally liked at Paris than the King, on account of his affability.
When the King, however, wished to make himself agreeable to any person,
his manners were the most engaging possible, and he won people's hearts
much more readily than my husband; for the latter, as well as my son, was
too generally civil. He did not distinguish people sufficiently, and
behaved very well only to those who were attached to the Chevalier de
Lorraine * and his favourites.
Monsieur was not of a temper to feel any sorrow very deeply. He loved
his children too well even to reprove them when they deserved it; and if
he had occasion to make complaints of them, he used to come to me with
"But, Monsieur," I have said, "they are your children as well as mine,
why do you not correct them?"
He replied, "I do not know how to scold, and besides they would not care
for me if I did; they fear no one but you."
By always threatening the children with me, he kept them in constant fear
of me. He estranged them from me as much as possible, but he left me to
exercise more authority over my elder daughter and over the Queen of
Sicily than over my son; he could not, however, prevent my occasionally
telling them what I thought. My daughter never gave me any cause to
complain of her. Monsieur was always jealous of the children, and was
afraid they would love me better than him: it was for this reason that he
made them believe I disapproved of almost all they did. I generally
pretended not to see this contrivance.
Without being really fond of any woman, Monsieur used to amuse himself
all day in the company of old and young ladies to please the King: in
order not to be out of the Court fashion, he even pretended to be
amorous; but he could not keep up a deception so contrary to his natural
inclination. Madame de Fiennes said to him one day, "You are in much
more danger from the ladies you visit, than they are from you." It was
even said that Madame de Monaco had attempted to give him some violent
proofs of her affection. He pretended to be in love with Madame de
Grancey; but if she had had no other lover than Monsieur she might have
preserved her reputation. Nothing culpable ever passed between them; and
he always endeavoured to avoid being alone with her. She herself said
that whenever they happened to be alone he was in the greatest terror,
and pretended to have the toothache or the headache. They told a story
of the lady asking him to touch her, and that he put on his gloves before
doing so. I have often heard him rallied about this anecdote, and have
often laughed at it.
Madame de Grancey was one of the most foolish women in the world. She
was very handsome at the time of my arrival in France, and her figure was
as good as her face; besides, she was not so much disregarded by others
as by my husband; for, before the Chevalier de Lorraine became her lover,
she had had a child. I knew well that nothing had passed between
Monsieur and Grancey, and I was never jealous of them; but I could not
endure that she should derive a profit from my household, and that no
person could purchase an employment in it without paying a douceur to
her. I was also often indignant at her insolence to me, and at her
frequently embroiling me with Monsieur. It was for these reasons, and
not from jealousy, as was fancied by those who knew nothing about it,
that I sometimes sharply reprimanded her. The Chevalier de Lorraine,
upon his return from Rome, became her declared lover. It was through his
contrivances, and those of D'Effiat, that she was brought into the house
of Monsieur, who really cared nothing about her. Her continued
solicitations and the behaviour of the Chevalier de Lorraine had so much
disgusted Monsieur, that if he had lived he would have got rid of them
He had become tired of the Chevalier de Lorraine because he had found out
that his attachment to him proceeded from interested motives. When
Monsieur, misled by his favourites, did something which was neither just
nor expedient, I used to say to him, "Out of complaisance to the
Chevalier de Lorraine, you put your good sense into your pocket, and
button it up so tight that it cannot be seen."
After my husband's death I saw Grancey only once; I met her in the
garden. When she ceased to be handsome, she fell into utter despair;
and so great a change took place in her appearance that no one would have
known her. Her nose, before so beautiful, grew long and large, and was
covered with pimples, over each of which she put a patch; this had a very
singular effect; the red and white paint, too, did not adhere to her
face. Her eyes were hollow and sunken, and the alteration which this had
caused in her face cannot be imagined. In Spain they, lock up all the
ladies at night, even to the septuagenary femmes de chambre. When
Grancey followed our Queen to Spain as dame d'atour, she was locked up in
the evening, and was in great grief about it.
When she was dying, she cried, "Ah, mon Dieu, must I die, who have never
once thought of death?"
She had never done anything but sit at play with her lovers until five or
six o'clock in the morning, feast, and smoke tobacco, and follow
uncontrolled her natural inclinations.
When she reached her climacteric, she said, in despair, "Alas, I am
growing old, I shall have no more children."
This was exceedingly amusing; and her friends, as well as her enemies,
laughed at it. She once had a high dispute with Madame de Bouillon. One
evening, Grancey chose to hide herself in one of the recesses formed by
the windows in the chamber of the former lady, who, not thinking she was
heard, conversed very freely with the Marquise d'Allure, respecting the
libertine life of Grancey; in the course of which she said several
strange things respecting the treatment which her lovers had experienced
from her. Grancey at length rushed out, and fell to abusing Madame de
Bouillon like a Billingsgate. The latter was not silent, and some
exceedingly elegant discourse passed between them. Madame de Bouillon
made a complaint against Grancey; in the first place, for having listened
to her conversation; and in the second, for having insulted her in her
own house. Monsieur reproved Grancey; told her that she had brought this
inconvenience upon herself by her own indiscretion, and ordered her to be
reconciled with her adversary.
"How can I," said Grancey, "be reconciled to Madame de Bouillon, after
all the wicked things she has said about me?" But after a moment's
reflection she added, "Yes, I can, for she did not say I was ugly."
They afterwards embraced, and made it up.
Monsieur was taken ill at ten o'clock at night, but he did not die until
the next day at noon. I can never think of this night without horror.
I remained with him from ten at night until five the next morning, when
he lost all consciousness.--[The Duc d'Orleans died of apoplexy on the
9th June, 1701]
The Electors of Germany would not permit Monsieur to write to them in the
same style as the King did.
PHILIPPE II., DUC D' ORLEANS, REGENT OF FRANCE.
From the age of fourteen to that of fifteen years, my son was not ugly;
but after that time he became very much sun-burnt in Italy and Spain.
Now, however, he is too ruddy; he is fat, but not tall, and yet he does
not seem disagreeable to me. The weakness of his eyes causes him
sometimes to squint. When he dances or is on horseback he looks very
well, but he walks horridly ill. In his childhood he was so delicate
that he could not even kneel without falling, through weakness; by
degrees, however, his strength improved. He loads his stomach too much
at table; he has a notion that it is good to make only one meal; instead
of dinner, he takes only one cup of chocolate, so that by supper he is
extremely hungry and thirsty. In answer to whatever objections are made
to this regimen, he says he cannot do business after eating. When he
gets tipsy, it is not with strong potations, but with Champagne or Tokay.
He is not very fond of the chase. The weakness of his sight arose from
an accident which befell him at the age of four years, and which was
something like an apoplexy. He sees well enough near, and can read the
smallest writing; but at the distance of half the room he cannot
distinguish persons without a glass. He had an application of a powder
to that eye which is worst, and, although it had caused intolerable pain
to every other person who had used it, it seemed to have no effect upon
him, for he laughed and chatted as usual. He found some benefit from
this; but W. Gendron was too severe for him. That physician forbade the
petits-soupers and the amusements which usually followed them; this was
not agreeable to my son, and those who used to frequent them to their own
advantage; they therefore persuaded him to adopt some other remedies
which almost deprived him of sight. For the last forty years (1719),
that is to say since the accident happened, the month of October has
never elapsed without his health and eyesight being affected towards the
21st in some way or other.
He was only seventeen years old when he was married. If he had not been
threatened with imprisonment in the old castle of Villers-Cotterets, and
if hopes had not been given him of seeing the Duchesse de Bourbon as he
wished, they could not have induced him to form this accursed marriage.
It is my son's unlucky destiny to have for a wife a woman who is desirous
of ruling everything with her brothers. It is commonly said, that where
one sins there one suffers; and thus it has happened to my son with
respect to his wife and his brothers-in-law. If he had not inflicted
upon me the deepest vexation by uniting himself with this low race, he
might now speak to them boldly. I never quarrelled with my son; but he
was angry with me about this marriage, which he had contracted against my
As I sincerely love him, I have forgotten it; and I do not believe that
we shall ever quarrel in future. When I have anything to say about his
conduct, I say it openly, and there is an end of it. He behaves to me
very respectfully. I did all in my power to prevent his marriage; but
since it did take place, and with his consent, though without mine, I
wish now only for his tranquillity. His wife fancies that she has done
him an honour in marrying him, because he is only the son of the brother
of a king, while she is the daughter of a king; but she will not perceive
that she is also the daughter of a -----. He was obliged to put down all
his feelings of nobility; and if I had a hundred crowns for as many times
as he has since repented it, I could almost buy France for the King, and
pay his debts. My son visits his wife every day, and when she is in good
humour he stays with her a long time; but when she is ill-tempered,
which, unfortunately, happens too often, he goes away without saying
anything. I have every reason to be satisfied with him; he lives on very
good terms with me, and I have no right to complain of his conduct; but I
see that he does not repose much confidence in me, and I know many
persons to whom he is more communicative.
I love my son with all my heart; but I cannot see how any one else can,
for his manners are little calculated to inspire love. In the first
place, he is incapable of the passion, or of being attached to any one
for a long time; in the second, he is not sufficiently polished and
gallant to make love, but sets about it rudely and coarsely; in the
third, he is very indiscreet, and tells plainly all that he has done.
I have said to him a hundred times, "I wonder how any woman can run after
you, whom they ought rather to fly from."
He would reply, laughing, "Ah! you do not know the libertine women of the
present day; provided they are talked of, they are satisfied."
There was an affair of gallantry, but a perfectly honourable one, between
him and the Queen of Spain. I do not know whether he had the good
fortune to be agreeable to her, but I know he was not at all in love with
her. He thought her mien and figure good, but neither her manners nor
her face were agreeable to him.
He was not in any degree romantic, and, not knowing how to conduct
himself in this affair, he said to the Duc de Grammont, "You understand
the manner of Spanish gallantry; pray tell me a little what I ought to
say and do."
He could not, however, suit the fancy of the Queen, who was for pure
gallantry; those who were less delicate he was better suited for, and for
this reason it was said that libertine women used to run after him.
He never denied that he was indiscreet and inconstant. Being one day
with me at the theatre, and hearing Valere say he was tired of his
mistress, "That has been my case often," he cried. I told him he never
was in love in his life, and that what he called love was mere
He replied, "It is very true that I am not a hero of romance, and that I
do not make love like a Celadon, but I love in my way."
"Your way," I said, "is an extremely gross one." . . . This made him
He likes the business of his gallantry to be conducted with beat of drum,
without the least refinement. He reminds me of the old Patriarchs, who
were surrounded by women.
All women do not please him alike. He does not like fine airs so well as
profligate manners: the opera-house dancers are his favourites. The
women run after him from mere interest, for he pays them well. A
pleasant enough adventure happened last winter:
A young and pretty woman visited my son in his cabinet; he presented her
with a diamond of the value of 2,000 Louis and a box worth 200. This
woman had a jealous husband, but she had effrontery enough to shew him
the jewels which she said had been offered to her a great bargain by
persons who wanted the money, and she begged him not to let such an
opportunity slip. The credulous husband gave her the money she asked
for. She thanked him, put the box in her dressing-case and the diamond
on her finger, and displayed it in the best company.
When she was asked where she got the ring and the bog, "M. de Parabere
gave them to me," she said; and he, who happened to be present, added,
"Yes, I gave them to her; can one do less when one has for a wife a lady
of quality who loves none but her husband?"
This caused some mirth; for other people were not so simple as the
husband, and knew very well where the presents came from. If my son has
a queen-sultana, it is this Madame de Parabere. Her mother, Madame de la
Vieuville, was dame d'atour to the Duchesse de Berri.--[Marie-Madeline de
la Vieuville, Comtesse de la Parabere; it was she whom the Regent used to
call "his little black crow."]--It was there that my son first became
acquainted with the daughter, who is now a widow: she is of a slight
figure, dark complexion, and never paints; her eyes and mouth are pretty;
she is not very sensible, but is a desirable little person. My son says
he likes her because she thinks of nothing but amusing herself, and never
interferes with other affairs. That would be very well if she were not a
drunkard, and if she did not make my son eat and drink so much, and take
him to a farm which she has at Anieres, and where he sometimes sups with
her and the country folks. It is said that he becomes a little jealous
of Parabere, in which case he must love her more than he has done yet.
I often tell him that, if he really loved, he would not suffer his
mistresses to run after others, and to commit such frequent infidelities.
He replied that there was no such thing as love except in romances. He
broke with Seri, because, as he said, she wanted him to love her like an
Arcadian. He has often made me laugh at his complaining of this
seriously, and with an air of great affliction.
"Why do you disturb yourself?" I have said to him; "if that is not
agreeable to you, leave her alone. You are not obliged to feign a love
which you do not feel."
This convinces me, however, that my son is incapable of love. He
willingly eats, drinks, sings, and amuses himself with his mistresses,
but to love one of them more than another is not his way. He is not
afraid of application; but when he has been actively engaged from morning
till night he is glad to divert himself at supper with such persons. It
is for this reason that Parabere, who is said to be a great fool, is so
agreeable to him. She eats and drinks astonishingly, and plays absurd
tricks, which divert him and make him forget his labour.
My son, it must be allowed, possesses some great qualities. He has good
sense, understands several languages, is fond of reading, speaks well,
has studied much, is learned and acquainted with most of the arts,
however difficult. He is a musician, and does not compose badly; he
paints well, he understands chemistry, is well versed in history, and is
quick of comprehension. He soon, however, gets tired of everything. He
has an excellent memory, is expert in war, and fears nothing in the
world; his intentions are always just and fair, and if his actions are
ever otherwise, it is the fault of others. His only faults are that he
is too kind, not sufficiently reserved, and apt to believe people who
have less sense than himself; he is, therefore, often deceived, for the
knaves who know his easiness of temper will run all risks with him. All
the misfortunes and inconveniences which befall him spring from that
cause. His other fault is one not common to Frenchmen, the easiness with
which women can persuade him, and this often brings him into domestic
quarrels. He can refuse them nothing, and even carries his complaisance
so far as to give them marks of affection without really liking them.
When I tell him that he is too good, he says, "Is it not better to be
good than bad?"
He was always extremely weak, too, with respect to lovers, who chose to
make him their confidant.
The Duc de Saint Simon was one day exceedingly annoyed at this weakness
of my son, and said to him, angrily, "Ah! there you are; since the days
of Louis le Debonnaire there has been nobody so debonnaire as yourself."
My son was much amused at it.
When he is under the necessity of saying anything harsh, he is much more
pained at it than the person who experiences the disgrace.
He is not fond of the country, but prefers living in town. He is in this
respect like Madame de Longueville, who was tired to death of being in
Normandy, where her husband was.
[The Duc de Longueville was Governor of Normandy; and after the
reduction of Bordeaux, in 1652, the Duchesse de Longueville received
an order from the Court to repair to her husband.]
Those who were about her said, "Mon Dieu, Madame, you are eaten up with
ennui; will you not take some amusement? There are dogs and a beautiful
forest; will you hunt?"
"No," she replied, "I don't like hunting."
"Will you work?"
"No, I don't like work."
"Will you take a walk, or play at some game?"
"No, I like neither the one nor the other."
"What will you do, then?" they asked.
"What can I do?" she said; "I hate innocent pleasures."
My son understands music well, as all the musicians agree. He has
composed two or three operas, which are pretty. La Fare, his Captain of
the guards, wrote the words. He had them played in his palace, but never
would permit them to be represented on the public stage.
When he had nothing to do he painted for one of the Duchess's cabinets
all the pastoral romance of "Daphnis and Chloe."
[The designs for the romance of "Daphnis and Chloe" were composed by
the Regent, with the advice, and probably the assistance, of Claude
Audran, a distinguished painter, whom Lebrun often employed to help
him with his large pictures. He painted a part of the battles of
Alexander. These designs were engraved by Benoit Audran; they
embellish what is called "the Regent's edition" of the Pastoral of
Longus, which was printed under his inspection in the year 1718. It
is somewhat surprising that Madame should speak so disdainfully of
so eminent an artist as Benoit Audran.]
With the exception of the first, he invented and painted all the
subjects. They have been engraved by one Audran. The Duchess thought
them so pretty that she had them worked in a larger size in tapestry; and
these, I think, are better than the engravings.
My son's learning has not the least tinge of pedantry. He knows a
quantity of facetious stories, which he learnt in Italy and in Spain.
He does not tell them badly, but I like him better in his more serious
moods, because they are more natural to him. When he talks upon learned
topics it is easy to see that they are rather troublesome to him than
otherwise. I often blamed him for this; but he used to reply that it was
not his fault, that he was ready enough to learn anything, but that when
he once knew it he no longer took pleasure in it.
He is eloquent enough, and when he chooses he can talk with dignity. He
has a Jesuit for his confessor, but he does not suffer himself to be
ruled by him. He pretends that his daughter has no influence over him.
He was delighted when he obtained the command of the Spanish army, and
was pleased with everything in that country; this procured him the hatred
of the Princesse des Ursins, who feared that my son would diminish her
authority and gain more of the confidence of the Spaniards than she
He learned to cook during his stay with the army in Spain.
I cannot tell where he learned so much patience; I am sure it was neither
from Monsieur nor from me.
When he acted from himself I always found him reasonable; but he too
often confided in rogues, who had not half his sense, and then all went
My son is like all the rest of his family; when they had become
accustomed to a thing they suffered it to go its own way. It was for
this reason he could not persuade himself to shake off the Abbe Dubois,
although he knew him to be a rascal. This Abbe had the impudence to try
to persuade even me that the marriage he had brought about was an
"But the honour which is lost in it," said I, "how will you repair that?"
Old Maintenon had made immense promises to him, as well as to my son;
but, thank God, she kept neither the one nor the other.
It is intolerable that my son will go about day and night with that
wicked and impertinent Noce I hate that Noce as I hate the devil. He and
Brogue run all risks, because they are thus enabled to sponge upon my
son. It is said that Noce is jealous of Parabere, who has fallen in love
with some one else. This proves that my son is not jealous. The person
with whom she has fallen in love has long been a sort of adventurer: it
is Clermont, a captain in my son's Swiss Guard; the same who preferred
Chouin to the great Princesse de Conti. It is said that Noce utters
whatever comes into his head, and about any persons; this makes my son
laugh, and amuses him, for Noce has wit and can do this pleasantly,
enough. His father was under-governor to my son, who has thus been
accustomed from his infancy to this wicked rascal, and who is very fond
of him. I do not know for what reason, for he is a person who fears
neither God nor man, and has not a single good point about him; he is
green, black, and deep yellow; he is ten years older than my son; it is
incredible how many, millions this mercenary rogue has drawn from him.
Madame de Berri has told me that Broglie's jokes consist only in saying
openly, the most horrible things. The Broglii are of Italian extraction,
but have been long settled in France. There were three brothers, the
elder of whom died in the army; the second was an Abbe, but he cast aside
his gown, and he is the knave of whom I have been speaking. The third is
still serving in the army, and, according to common report, is one of the
best gentlemen in the world. My, son does not like him so well as his
good-for-nothing brother, because he is too serious, and would not become
his buffoon. My son excuses himself by saying that when he quits
business he wants something to make him laugh, and that young Broglie is
not old enough for this; that if he had a confidential business, or a
warlike expedition to perform, he would prefer him; but that for laughing
and dissipation of all sorts, his elder brother is more fit.
My son has three natural children, two boys and a girl, of whom only one
has been legitimated; that is his son by Mademoiselle de Seri,
[N. de Seri de la Boissiere; the father had been ambassador in
Holland. Mademoiselle de Seri was the Regent's first mistress; he
gave her the title of Comtesse d'Argenton. Her son, the Chevalier
d'Orleans, was Grand-Prieur of France.]
who was my Maid of Honour; she was genteel and gay, but not pretty nor of
a good figure. This son was called the Chevalier d'Orleans. The other,
who is now a lad of eighteen years, is the Abbe de Saint Albin; he had
this child by Florence, an opera dancer, of a very neat figure, but a
fool; although to look at her pretty face one would not have thought so.
She is since dead. The third of my son's illegitimate children is a girl
of fourteen years old, whom he had by Desmarets, an actress, who is still
on the stage. This child has been educated at a convent at Saint Denis,
but has not much inclination for a monastic life. When my son sent for
her she did not know who she was.
Desmarets wanted to lay another child to my son's account; but he
replied, "No, that child is too much of a harlequin."
When some one asked him what he meant, he said it was of so many
different pieces, and therefore he renounced it.
I do not know whether the mother did not afterwards give it to the
Elector of Bavaria, who had some share in it, and who sacrificed to her
the most beautiful snuff-box that ever was seen; it was covered with
My first son was called the Duc de Valois; but as this name was one of
[Alesandre-Louis d'Orleans, Duc de Valois, died an infant on the
16th of March, 1676; the Regent was born on the 4th of August, 1674.
It is unnecessary to mention the unhappy ends of Henri III. and of
the three Kings, his sons, who all died without issue.]
Monsieur would not suffer my other son to be called so; he took,
therefore, the title of Duc de Chartres. After Monsieur's death my son
took the name of Orleans, and his son that of Chartres.
My son is too much prejudiced in favour of his nation; and although he
sees daily that his countrymen are false and treacherous, he believes
there is no nation comparable to them. He is not very lavish of his
praise; and when he does approve of anything his sincerity gives it an
As he is now in his forty-second year the people of Paris do not forgive
him for running about at balls, like a young fool, for the amusement of
women, when he has the cares of the kingdom upon his shoulders. When the
late King ascended the throne he had reason to take his diversion; it is
not so now. Night and day it is necessary to labour in order to repair
the mischief which the late King, or rather his Ministers, did to the
When my son gently reproached that old Maintenon for having maligned him,
and asked her to put her hand upon her heart, and say whether her
calumnies were true, she replied, "I said it because I believed it."
My son replied, "You could not believe it, because you knew the
She said arrogantly, and yet my son kept his temper, "Is not the Dauphine
"Is it my fault," he rejoined, "that she is dead? Was she immortal?"
"Well," she replied, "I was so much distressed at the loss that I could
not help detesting him whom I was told was the cause of it."
"But, Madame," said my son, "you know, from the report which has been
made to the King, that I was not the cause, and that the Dauphine was not
"I do know it," she replied, "and I will say nothing more about it."
THE AFFAIRS OF THE REGENCY.
The old Maintenon wished to have the Duc du Maine made Regent; but my
son's harangue to the Parliament frustrated her intention.
He was very angry with Lord Stair because he believed that he had done
him an ill office with the King of England, and prevented the latter from
entering into the alliance with France and Holland. If that alliance had
taken place my son could have prevented the Pretender from beginning his
journey; but as England refused to do so, the Regent was obliged to do
nothing but what was stipulated for by the treaty of peace: that is to
say, not to succour the Pretender with money nor arms, which he
faithfully performed. He sent wherever Lord Stair requested.
[The Duc d'Orleans ordered, in Lord Stair's presence, Contades,
Major of the Guard, to arrest the Pretender on his passage through
Chateau-Thierry; but, adds Duclos, Contades was an intelligent man,
and well acquainted with the Regent's secret intentions, and so he
set out resolved not to find what he went in search of.]
He believed that the English people would not be well pleased to see
their King allied to the Crown of France.
The Baron Goertz thought to entrap my son, who, however, did not trust
him; he would not permit him to purchase a single ship, and it was upon
this that the Baron had built all his hopes of success.
That tall Goertz, whom I have seen, has an unlucky physiognomy; I do not
believe that he will die a fair death.
The Memoir of the thirty noblemen has so much angered my son that he will
hasten to pronounce sentence.
[Goertz was the Swedish minister, and had been sent into Holland and
France to favour the cause of the Pretender. He was arrested in
Holland in 1717, and remained in prison for several months. He was
a very cunning person, and a great political intriguer. On the
death of Charles XII. he was taken before an extraordinary
tribunal, and condemned in an unjust and arbitrary manner to be
beheaded, which sentence was executed in, May, 1719.]
The whole of the Parliament was influenced against him. He made a
remonstrance against this, which was certainly effected at the
instigation of the eldest bastard and his wife.--[The Duc and Duchesse du
Maine.]--If any one spoke ill of my son, and seemed dissatisfied, the
Duchesse du Maine: invited them to Sceaux, and pitied and caressed them
to hear them abuse my son. I wondered at his patience. He has great
courage, and went steadily on without disturbing himself about anything.
Although the Parliament of Paris sent to all the other parliaments in the
kingdom to solicit them to unite with it, none of them did so, but all
remained faithful to my son. The libels which were dispersed for the
purpose of exciting the people against him had scarcely any effect. I
believe the plot would have succeeded better if the bastard and his wife
had not engaged in it, for they were extraordinarily hated at Paris. My
son told the Parliament they had nothing to do with the coinage; that he
would maintain the royal authority, and deliver it to the King when he
should be of age in the same state as he had found it on his becoming
The Marechale d'Uxelles hated my son mortally;, but after the King's
death he played the fawning dog so completely that my son forgave him and
took him into favour again. In the latter affair he was disposed once
more to follow his natural inclination, but my son, having little value
for whatever he could do, said, "Well, if he will not sign he may let it
When the Marshal saw my son was serious and did not care at all for his
bravadoes, he became submissive and did what my son desired.
The wife of the cripple, the Duchesse du Maine, resolved to have an
explanation with my son. She made a sententious speech, just as if she
had been on the stage; she asked how he could think that the answer to
Fitz-Morris's book should have proceeded from her, or that a Princess of
the blood would degrade herself by composing libels? She told him, too,
that the Cardinal de Polignac was engaged in affairs of too much
importance to busy himself in trifles like this, and M. de Malezieux was
too much a philosopher to think of anything but the sciences. For her
own part, she said she had sufficient employment in educating her
children as became that royal dignity of which she had been wrongfully
deprived. My son only replied to her thus:--
"I have reason to believe that these libels have been got up at your
house, and by you, because that fact has been attested by persons who
have been in your service, and who have seen them in progress; beyond
this no one makes me believe or disbelieve anything."
He made no reply to her last observation, and so she went away. She
afterwards boasted everywhere of the firmness with which she had spoken
to my son.
My son this day (26th of August) assembled the Council of the Regency.
He had summoned the Parliament by a 'lettre-de-cachet': they repaired to
the Tuileries in a procession on foot, dressed in scarlet robes, hoping
by this display to excite the people in their favour; but the mob only
called out, "Where are these lobsters going?" The King had caused the
Keeper of the Seals to make a remonstrance to the Parliament for having
infringed upon his authority in publishing decrees without his sanction.
He commanded them to quash the decree, which was done; and to confirm the
authority of the Keeper of the Seals, which they did also. He then
ordered them with some sternness not to interfere with the affairs of the
Government beyond their province; and as the Duc du Maine had excited the
Parliament against the King, he was deprived of the care of His Majesty's
education, and he with his brothers were degraded from the rank of
Princes of the blood, which had been granted to them. They will in
future have no other rank than that of their respective peerages; but the
Duc du Maine alone, for the fidelity he has always manifested towards the
King, will retain his rank for his life, although his issue, if he should
have any, will not inherit it.
[Saint-Simon reports that it was the Comte de Toulouse who was allowed
to retain his rank.--See The Memoirs of Saint-Simon, Chapter XCIII.--D.W.]
Madame d'Orleans was in the greatest despair, and came to Paris in such a
condition as moved my pity for her. Madame du Maine is reported to have
said, three weeks ago, at a grand dinner, "I am accused of having caused
the Parliament to revolt against the Duc d'Orleans, but I despise him too
much to take so noble a vengeance; I will be revenged in another manner."
The Parliament had very notable projects in hand. If my son had delayed
four-and-twenty hours longer in removing the Duc du Maine from the King
it would have been decided to declare His Majesty of full age; but my son
frustrated this by dismissing the Duke, and degrading him at the same
time. The Chief President is said to have been so frightened that he
remained motionless, as if he had been petrified by a gaze at the head of
Medusa. That celebrated personage of antiquity could not have been more
a fury than Madame du Maine; she threatened dreadfully, and did not
scruple to say, in the presence of her household, that she would yet find
means to give the Regent such a blow as should make him bite the dust.
That old Maintenon and her pupil have also had a finger in the pie.
The Parliament asked pardon of my son, which proves that the Duc and
Duchesse du Maine were the mainsprings of the plot.
There is reason to believe that the old woman and the former Chancellor
were also implicated in it. The Chancellor, who would have betrayed my
son in so shameful a manner, was under the heaviest obligations to him.
What has happened is a great mortification to Maintenon, and yet she has
not given up all hopes. This makes me very anxious, for I know how
expertly she can manage poison. My son, instead of being cautious, goes
about the town at night in strange carriages, sometimes supping with one
or another of his people, none of whom are worthy of being trusted, and
who, excepting their wit, have not one good quality.
Different reports respecting the Duchesse du Maine are abroad; some say
she has beaten her husband and broken the glasses and everything brittle
in her room. Others say she has not spoken a word, and has done nothing
but weep. The Duc de Bourbon has undertaken the King's education. He
said that, not being himself of age, he did not demand this office
before, but that being so now he should solicit it, and it was
immediately given to him.
One president and two counsellors have been arrested. Before the close
of the session, the Parliament implored my son to use his good offices
with the King for the release of their members, and promised that they
should, if found culpable, be punished by the Parliament itself. My son
replied that they could not doubt he should always advise the King to the
most lenient measures; that His Majesty would not only be gracious to
them as a body, while they merited it, but also to each individual; that,
as to the prisoners, they would in good time be released.
That old Maintenon has fallen sick of grief that her project for the Duc
du Maine has miscarried.
The Duke and the Parliament had resolved to have a bed of justice held,
where my son should be dismissed, and the Regency be committed to the
Duke, while at the same time the King's household should be under arms.
The Duke and the Prince de Conti had long been urging my son without
knowing all the particulars. The Duc du Maine has not been banished to
the country, but has permission to go with his family wherever he
pleases; he will not, however, remain at Paris, because he no longer
enjoys his rank; he chooses rather to live at Sceaux, where he has an
elegant mansion and a fine park.
The little dwarf (the Duchesse du Maine) says she has more courage than
her husband, her son, and her brother-in-law put together; and that, like
another Jael, she would kill my son with her own hand, and would drive a
nail into his head. When I implored my son to be on his guard against
her, and told him this, he laughed at my fears and shook his head
I do not believe that the Devil, in his own person, is more wicked than
that old Maintenon, the Duc du Maine, and the Duchess. The latter said
openly that her husband and her brother-in-law were no better than
cowards; that, woman as she was, she was ready to demand an audience of
my son and to plunge a dagger in his heart. Let any one judge whether I
have not reason to fear such persons, and particularly, when they, have
so strong a party. Their cabal is very considerable; there are a dozen
persons of consideration, all great noblemen at Court. The richest part
of the people favour the Spanish pretensions, as well as the Duc and
Duchesse du Maine; they wish to call in the King of Spain. My, brother
has too much sense for them; they want a person who will suffer himself
to be led as they, please; the King of Spain is their man; and, for this
reason, they are trying all means to induce him to come. It is for these
reasons that I think my son is in so great danger.
My son has not yet released the three rogues of the Parliament, although
their liberation has been twice petitioned for.
The Duc du Maine and the cabal have made his sister believe that if my
son should die they would make her Regent, and would aid her with their
counsel to enable her to become one of the greatest persons in the world.
They say they mean no violence towards my son, who cannot live long on
account of his irregularities; that he must soon die or lose his sight;
and in the latter event he would consent to her becoming Regent. I know
a person to whom the Duc du Maine said so. This put an end to one's
astonishment, that she should have wished to force her daughter to marry
the Duc du Maine.
All this gave me great anxiety. I foresaw it all and said to my son,
"You are committing a folly, for which I shall have to suffer all my
He has made great changes; instead of a great number of Councils he has
appointed Secretaries of State. M. d'Armenouville is Secretary of State
for the Navy; M. le Blanc, for the Army; M. de la Vrilliere, for the Home
Department; the Abbe Dubois, for Foreign Affairs; M. de Maurepas, for the
Royal Household; and a Bishop for the Church Benefices.
Malezieux and the Cardinal de Polignac had probably as great a share in
the answer to Fitz-Morris as the Duchesse du Maine.
The Duc de Bourbon and the Prince de Conti assisted very zealously in the
disgrace of the Duc du Maine. My son could not bring himself to resolve
upon it until the treachery had been clearly demonstrated to him, and he
saw that he should lend himself to his own dishonour if he did not
prevent the blow.
My son is very fond of the Comte de Toulouse, whom he finds a sensible
person on all occasions: if the latter had followed the advice of the Duc
du Maine he would have shared his fate; but he despised his brother's
advice and followed that of his wife.
My son believes as firmly in predestination as if he had been, like me, a
Calvinist, for nineteen years. I do not know how he learnt the affair of
the Duc du Maine; he has always kept it a great secret. But what appears
the most singular to me is that he does not hate his brother-in-law, who
has endeavoured to procure his death and dishonour. I do not believe his
like was ever seen: he has no gall in his composition; I never knew him
to hate any one.
He says he will take as much care as he can; but that if God has ordained
that he shall perish by the hands of his enemies he cannot change his
destiny, and that therefore he shall go on tranquilly.
He has earnestly requested Lord Stair to speak to the King of England on
your account.--[This passage is addressed to the Princess of Wales.]--
He says no one can be more desirous than he is that you should be
reinstated in your father's affection, and that he will neglect no
opportunity of bringing it about, being persuaded that it is to the
advantage of the King of England, as well as of yourself, that you should
M. Law must be praised for his talent, but there is an astonishing number
of persons who envy him in this country. My son is delighted with his
cleverness in business.
He has been compelled to arrest the Spanish Ambassador, the Prince of
Cellamara, because letters were found upon his courier, the Abbe Porto
Carero, who was his nephew, and who has also been arrested, containing
evidence of a plot against the King and against my son. The Ambassador
was arrested by two Counsellors of State. It was time that this
treachery should be made public. A valet of the Abbe Porto Carero having
a bad horse, and not being able to get on so quick as his master, stayed
two relays behind, and met on his way the ordinary courier from Poitiers.
The valet asked him, "What news?"
"I don't know any," replied the postilion, "except that they have
arrested at Poitiers an English bankrupt and a Spanish Abbe who was
carrying a packet."
When the valet heard this he instantly took a fresh horse, and, instead
of following his master, he came back full gallop to Paris. So great was
his speed, that he fell sick upon his arrival in consequence of the
exertion. He outstripped my son's courier by twelve hours, and so had
time to apprise the Prince of Cellamara twelve hours before his arrest,
which gave him time to burn his most important letters and papers. My
son's enemies pretend to treat this affair as insignificant to the last
degree; but I cannot see anything insignificant in an Ambassador's
attempting to cause a revolt in a whole kingdom, and among the
Parliament, against my son, and meditating his assassination as well as
that of his son and daughter. I alone was to have been let live.
That Des Ursins must have the devil in her to have stirred up Pompadour
against my son. He is not any very great personage; but his wife is a
daughter of the Duc de Navailles, who was my son's governor. Madame de
Pompadour was the governess of the young Duc d'Alencon, the son of Madame
de Berri. As to the Abbe Brigaut, I know him very well. Madame de
Ventadour was his godmother, and he was baptized at the same time with
the first Dauphin, when he received the name of Tillio. He has talent,
but he is an intriguer and a knave. He pretended at first to be very
devout, and was appointed Pere de l'Oratoire; but, getting tired of this
life, he took up the trade of catering for the vices of the Court, and
afterwards became the secretary and factotum of Madame du Maine, for whom
he used to assist in all the libels and pasquinades which were written
against my son. It would be difficult to say which prated most, he or
Madame d'Orleans has great influence over my son. He loves all his
children, but particularly his eldest daughter. While still a child, she
fell dangerously ill, and was given over by her physicians. My son was
in deep affliction at this, and resolved to attempt her cure by treating
her in his own way, which succeeded so well that he saved her life, and
from that moment has loved her better than all his other children.
The Abbe Dubois has an insinuating manner towards every one; but more
particularly towards those of whom he had the care in their childhood.
Two Germans were implicated in the conspiracy; but I am only surprised at
one of them, the Brigadier Sandrazky, who was with me daily, and in whose
behalf I have often spoken, because his father served my brother as
commandant at Frankendahl; he died in the present year. The other is the
Count Schlieben, who has only one arm. I am not astonished at him; for,
in the first place, I know how he lost his arm; and, in the second, he is
a friend and servant of the Princesse des Ursins: they expect to take him
at Lyons. Sandrazky was at my toilette the day before yesterday; as he
looked melancholy, I asked him what was the matter? He replied, "I am
ill with vexation: I love my wife, who is an Englishwoman, very tenderly,
and she is no less fond of me; but, as we have not the means of keeping
up an establishment, she must go into a convent. This distresses me so
much that I am really very unwell."
I was grieved to hear this, and resolved to solicit my son for him.
My son sometimes does as is said in Atys,--[The opera of Atys, act ii.,
scene 3.]--"Vous pourriez aimer et descendre moins bas;" for when Jolis
was his rival, he became attached to one of his daughter's 'filles de
chambre', who hoped to marry Jolis because he was rich; for this reason
she received him better than my son, who, however, at last gained her
favour. He afterwards took her away from his daughter, and had her
taught to sing, for she had a fine voice.
The printed letters of Cellamara disclose the whole of the conspiracy.
The Abbe Brigaut, too, it is said, begins to chatter about it. This
affair has given me so much anxiety that I only sleep through mere
exhaustion. My heart beats incessantly; but my son has not the least
care about it. I beseech him, for God's sake, not to go about in coaches
at night, and he promises me he will not; but he will no more keep that
promise than he did when he made it to me before.
It is now eight days since the Duc du Maine and his wife were arrested
(29th December). She was at Paris, and her husband at Sceaux in his
chateau. One of the four captains of the King's Guard arrested the
Duchess, the Duke was arrested only by a lieutenant of the Body Guard.
The Duchess was immediately taken to Dijon and her husband to the
fortress of Doullens. I found Madame d'Orleans much more calm than I had
expected. She was much grieved, and wept bitterly; but she said that,
since her brother was convicted, she must confess he had done wrong; that
he was, with his wife, the cause of his own misfortune, but that it was
no less painful to her to know that her own brother had thus been
plotting against her husband. His guilt was proved upon three points:
first, in a paper under the hand of the Spanish Ambassador, the Prince of
Cellamara, in which he imparted to Alberoni that the Duchesse and the Duc
du Maine were at the head of the conspiracy; he tells him how many times
he has seen them, by whose means, and in what place; then he says that he
has given money to the Duc du Maine to bribe certain persons, and he
mentions the sum. There are already two men in the Bastille who confess
to have received money, and others who have voluntarily stated that they
conducted the Ambassador to the Duke and Duchess, and negotiated
everything between the parties. The greater part of their servants have
been sent to the Bastille. The Princess is deeply afflicted; and,
although the clearest proofs are given of her children's crime, she
throws all the blame upon the Duke, her grandson, who, she says, has
accused them falsely, because he hates them, and she has refused to see
him. The Duchess is more moderate in her grief. The little Princesse de
Conti heartily pities her sister and weeps copiously, but the elder
Princess does not trouble herself about her uncle and aunt.
The Cardinals cannot be arrested, but they may be exiled; therefore the
Cardinal de Polignac has been ordered to retire to one of his abbeys and
to remain there. It was love that turned his head. He was formerly a
great friend of my son's, and he did not change until he became attached
to that little hussy.
[Foucault de Magni, introducteur des ambassadeurs, and son of a
Counsellor of State. Duclos says he was a silly fellow, who never
did but, one wise thing, which was to run away.]
has not yet been taken; he flies from one convent to another. He stayed
with the Jesuits a long time.
They say that the Duchesse du Maine used all her persuasions to induce
her husband to fly; but that he replied, as neither of them had written
anything with their own hands, nothing could be proved against them;
while, by flying, they would confess their guilt. They did not consider
that M. de Pompadour could say enough to cause their arrest.
The Duchess's fraternal affection is a much stronger passion than her
love for her children.
A letter of Alberoni's to the lame bastard has been intercepted, in which
is the following passage: "As soon as you declare war in France spring
all your mines at once."
What enrages me is that Madame d'Orleans and the Princess would still
make one believe that the Duc and Duchesse du Maine are totally innocent,
although proofs of their guilt are daily appearing. The Duchess came to
me to beg I would procure an order for her daughter's people, that is,
her dames d'honneur, her femmes de chambre, and her hair-dresser, to be
sent to her. I could not help laughing, and I said, "Mademoiselle de
Launay is an intriguer and one of the persons by whom the whole affair
But she replied, "The Princess is at the Bastille."--"I know it," I said;
"and well she has deserved it." This almost offended the Princess.
The Duchesse du Maine said openly that she should never be happy until
she had made an end of my son. When her mother reproached her with it,
she did not deny it, but only replied, "One says things in a passion
which one does not mean to do."
Although the plot has been discovered, the conspirators have not yet been
all taken. My son says, jokingly, "I have hold of the monster's head and
tail, but I have not yet got his body"
I can guess how it happened that the mercantile letters stated my son to
have been arrested; it is because the conspirators intended to have done
so, and two days later it would have taken place. It must have been
persons of this party, therefore, who wrote to England.
When Schlieben was seized, he said, "If Monsieur the Regent does not take
pity upon me, I am ruined."
He was for a long time at the Spanish Court, where he was protected by
the Princesse des Ursins. He has some wit, can chatter well, and is an
excellent spy for such a lady. The persons who had arrested him took him
to Paris by the diligence, without saying a word. On reaching Paris the
diligence was ordered to the Bastille; the poor travellers not knowing
why, were in a great fright, and expected all to be locked up, but were
not a little pleased at being set free. Sandrazky is not very clever; he
is a Silesian. He married an Englishwoman, whose fortune he soon
dissipated, for he is a great gambler.
The Duchesse du Maine has fallen sick with rage, and that old Maintenon
is said to be afflicted by the affair more than any other person. It was
by her fault that they fell into this scrape, for she put it into their
heads that it was unjust they should not reign, and that the kingdom
belonged as much to them as King Solomon's did to him.
Madame d'Orleans weeps for her brother by day and night.
They tried to arrest the Duc de Saint-Aignan at Pampeluna; but he
effected his escape with his wife, and in disguise.
When they carried away the Duc du Maine, he said, "I shall soon return,
for my innocence will be speedily manifested; but I only speak for
myself, my wife may not come back quite so soon."
Madame d'Orleans cannot believe that her brother has been engaged in a
conspiracy; she says it must have been his wife who acted in his name.
The Princess, on the other hand, believes that her daughter is innocent,
and that the Duc du Maine alone has carried on the plot.
The factum is not badly drawn up. Our priest can write well enough when
he likes; he drew it up, and my son corrected it.
The more the affair is examined, the more clearly does the guilt of the
Duke and Duchess appear; for three days ago, Malezieux, who is in the
Bastille, gave up his writing-desk. The first thing that was found in it
was a projet, which Malezieux had written at the Duchess's bedside, and
which Cardinal de Polignac had corrected with his own hand. Malezieux
pretends that it is a Spanish letter, addressed to the Duchess, and that
he had translated it for her, with the assistance of the Cardinal de
Polignac; and yet the letters of Alberoni to the Prince de Cellamara
refer so directly to this projet that it is easy to see that they spring
from the same source.
The Duchesse du Maine has made the Princess believe that the Duke (of
Bourbon) was the cause of all this business, so that now he dare not
appear before the latter, although he has always behaved with great
respect and friendship towards her; while the Duc and Duchesse du Maine,
on the contrary, have been engaged in a law-suit against her for five
years. It was not until after the Princess had inherited the property of
Monsieur de Vendome, that this worthy couple insinuated themselves into
her good graces.
The Parliament is reconciled to my son, and has pronounced its decree,
which is favourable to him, and which is another proof that the Duc du
Maine had excited it against him.
The Jesuits have probably been also against my son; for all those who
have declared against the Constitution cannot be friendly to him; they
have, however, kept so quiet that nothing can be brought against them.
They are cunning old fellows.
Madame d'Orleans begins to recover her spirits and to laugh again,
particularly since I learn she has consulted the Premier President and
other persons, to know whether, upon my son's death, she would become the
Regent. They told her that could not be, but that the office would fall
upon the Duke. This answer is said to have been very unpalatable to her.
If my son would have paid a price high enough to the Cardinal de
Polignac, he would have betrayed them all. He is now consoling himself
in his Abbey with translating Lucretius.
The King of Spain's manifesto, instead of injuring my son, has been
useful to him, because it was too violent and partial. Alberoni must
needs be a brutal and an intemperate person. But how could a journeyman
gardener know the language which ought to be addressed to crowned heads?
Several thousand copies of this manifesto have been transmitted to Paris,
addressed to all the persons in the Court, to all the Bishops, in short,
to everybody; even to the Parliament, which has taken the affair up very
properly, from Paris to Bordeaux, as the decree shows. I thought it
would have been better to burn this manifesto in the post-office instead
of suffering it to be spread about; but my son said they should all be
delivered, for the express purpose of discovering the feelings of the
parties to whom they were addressed, and a register of them was kept at
the post-office. Those who were honest brought them of their own accord;
the others kept them, and they are marked, without the public knowing
anything about it. The manifesto is the work of Malezieux and the
Cardinal de Polignac.
A pamphlet has been cried about the streets, entitled, "Un arret contre
les poules d'Inde." Upon looking at it, however, it seems to be a decree
against the Jesuits, who had lost a cause respecting a priory, of which
they had taken possession. Everybody bought it except the partisans of
the Constitution and of the Spanish faction.
My son is more fond of his daughters, legitimate and illegitimate, than
The Duc and Duchesse du Maine rely upon nothing having been found in
their writing; but Mademoiselle de Montauban and Malezieux have written.
in their name; and is not what Pompadour has acknowledged voluntarily
quite as satisfactory a proof as even their own writing?
They have got the pieces of all the mischievous Spanish letters written
by the same hand, and corrected by that of the Cardinal de Polignac, so
that there can be no doubt of his having composed them.
A manifesto, too, has been found in Malezieux's papers. It is well
written, but not improved by the translation. Malezieux pretends that he
only translated it before it was sent hence to Spain.