Part 18 out of 62
Mademoiselle de Montauban and Mademoiselle de Launay, a person of some
wit, who has kept up a correspondence with Fontenelle, and who was 'femme
de chambre' to the Duchesse du Maine, have both been sent to the
The Duc du Maine now repents that he followed his wife's advice; but it
seems that he only followed the worst part of it.
The Duchesse d'Orleans has been for some days past persuading my son to
go masked to a ball. She says that his daughter, the Duchesse de Berri,
and I, make him pass for a coward by preventing him from going to balls
and running about the town by night as he used to do before; and that he
ought not to manifest the least symptom of fear. He replied that he knew
he should give me great pain by doing so, and that the least he could do
was to tranquillize my mind by living prudently. She then said that the
Duchesse de Berri filled me with unfounded fears in order that she might
have more frequent opportunities of being with him, and of governing him
entirely. Can the Devil himself be worse than this bastard? It teaches
me, however, that my son is not secure with her. I must do violence to
myself that my suspicions may not be apparent.
My son has not kept his word; he went to this ball, although he denies
Although it is well known that Maintenon has had a hand in all these
affairs, nothing can be said to her, for her name does not appear in any
When my son is told of persons who hate him and who seek his life, he
laughs and says, "They dare not; I am not so weak that I cannot defend
myself." This makes me very angry.
If the proofs against Malezieux are not manifest, and if they do not put
the rogue upon his trial, it will be because his crime is so closely
connected with that of the Duchesse du Maine that, in order to convict
him before the Parliament, he must be confronted with her. Besides, as
the Parliament is better disposed towards the Duc and Duchesse du Maine
than to my son, they might be acquitted and taken out of his hands, which
would make them worse than they are now. For this reason it is that they
are looking for proofs so clear that the Parliament cannot refuse to
pronounce upon them.
The Duc du Maine writes thus to his sister:
"They ought not to have put me in prison; but they ought to have stripped
me and put me into petticoats for having been thus led by my wife;" and
he wrote to Madame de Langeron that he enjoyed perfect repose, for which
he thanked God; that he was glad to be no longer exposed to the contempt
of his family; and that his sons ought to be happy to be no longer with
The King of Spain and Alberoni have a personal hatred against my son,
which is the work of the Princesse des Ursins.
My son is naturally brave, and fears nothing: death is not at all
terrible to him.
On the 29th of March the young Duc de Richelieu was taken to the
Bastille: this caused a great number of tears to be shed, for he is
universally loved. He had kept up a correspondence with Alberoni, and
had got his regiment placed at Bayonne, together with that of his friend,
M. de Saillant, for the purpose of delivering the town to the Spaniards.
He went on Wednesday last to the Marquis de Biron, and urged him to
despatch him as promptly as possible to join his regiment at Bayonne, and
so prove the zeal which attached him to my son. His comrade, who passes
for a coward and a sharper at play, has also been shut up in the
[On the day that they were arrested, the Regent said he had that in
his pocket which would cut off four heads, if the Duke had so many.
--Memoires de Duclos.]
The Duc de Richelieu had the portraits of his mistresses painted in all
sorts of monastic habits: Mademoiselle de Charolais as a Recollette nun,
and it is said to be very like her. The Marechales de Villars and
d'Estrees are, it is said, painted as Capuchin nuns.
When the Duc de Richelieu was shown his letter to Alberoni, he confessed
all that concerned himself, but would not disclose his accomplices.
Nothing but billets-doux were found in his writing-case. Alberoni in
this affair trusted a man who had formerly been in his service, but who
is now a spy of my son's. He brought Alberoni's letter to the Regent;
who opened it, read it, had a copy made, resealed it, and sent it on to
its destination. The young Duc de Richelieu answered it, but my son can
make no use of this reply because the words in which it is written have a
The Princess has strongly urged my son to permit the Duchesse du Maine to
quit Dijon, under the pretext that the air was unwholesome for her. My
son consented upon condition that she should be conducted in her own
carriage, but under the escort of the King's Guard, from Dijon to
Here she thought she should enjoy comparative liberty, and that the town
would be her prison: she was much astonished to find that she was as
closely confined at Chalons as at Dijon. When she asked the reason for
this rigour she was told that all was discovered, and that the prisoners
had disclosed the particulars of the conspiracy. She was immediately
struck with this; but recovering her self-possession, she said, "The Duc
de Orleans thinks that I hate him; but if he would take my advice, I
would counsel him better than any other person." My son's wife remains
On the 17th of April a rascal was brought in who was near surprising my
son in the Bois de Boulogne a year ago. He is a dismissed colonel; his
name is La Jonquiere. He had written to my son demanding enormous
pensions and rewards; but meeting with a refusal, he went into Spain,
where he promised Alberoni to carry off my son, and deliver him into his
hands, dead or alive. He brought one hundred men with him, whom he put
in ambuscade near Paris. He missed my son only by a quarter of an hour
in the Bois de Boulogne, which the latter had passed through in his way
to La Muette, where he went to dine with his daughter. La Jonquiere
having thus failed, retired in great vexation to the Low Countries, where
he boasted that, although he had missed this once, he would take his
measures so much better in future that people should soon hear of a great
blow being struck. This was luckily repeated to my son, who had him
arrested at Liege. He sent a clever fellow to him, who caught him, and
leading him out of the house where they were, he clapped a pistol to his
throat, and threatened to shoot him on the spot if he did not go with him
and without speaking a word. The rascal, overcome with terror, suffered
himself to be taken to the boat, but when he saw that they were
approaching the French territory he did not wish to go any further; he
said he was ruined, and should be drawn and quartered. They bound him
and carried him to the Bastille.
I have exhorted my son to take care of himself, and not to go out but in
a carriage. He has promised that he will not, but I cannot trust him.
The late Monsieur was desirous that his son's wife should not be a
coquette. This was not the particular which I so much disapproved of;
but I wished the husband not to be informed of it, or that it should get
abroad, which would have had no other effect than that of convincing my
son that his wife had dishonoured him.
I must never talk to my son about the conspiracy in the presence of
Madame d'Orleans; it would be wounding her in the tenderest place; for
all that concerns her brother is to her the law and the prophets.
My son has so satisfactorily disproved the accusations of that old
Maintenon and the Duc du Maine, that the King has believed him, and,
after a minute examination, has done my son justice. But Madame
d'Orleans has not conducted herself well in this affair; she has spread
by means of her creatures many calumnies against my son, and has even
said that he wanted to poison her. By such means she has made her peace
with old Maintenon, who could not endure her before. I have often
admired the patience with which my son suffers all this, when he knows it
just as well as I do. If things had remained as Madame de Maintenon had
arranged them at the death of the King, my son would only have been
nominally Regent, and the Duc du Maine would actually have enjoyed all
the power. She thought because my son was in the habit of running after
women a little that he would be afraid of the labour, and that he would
be contented with the title and a large pension, leaving her and the Duc
du Maine to have their own way. This was her plan, and she fancied that
her calumnies had so far succeeded in making my son generally despised
that no person would be found to espouse his cause. But my son was not
so unwise as to suffer all this; he pleaded his cause so well to the
Parliament that the Government was entrusted to him, and yet the old
woman did not relinquish her hopes until my son had the Duc du Maine
arrested; then she fainted.
The Pope's nuncio thrusts his nose into all the plots against my son; he
may be a good priest, but he is nevertheless a wicked devil.
On the 25th of April M. de Laval, the Duchesse de Roquelaure's brother,
M. de Pompadour has accused the Duc de Laval of acting in concert with
the Prince de Cellamara, to whom, upon one occasion, he acted as
coachman, and drove him to the Duchesse du Maine at the Arsenal. This
Comte de Laval is always sick and covered with wounds; he wears a plaster
which reaches from ear to ear; he is lame, and often has his arm in a
sling; nevertheless, he is full of intrigue, and is engaged night and day
in writing against my son.
Madame de Maintenon is said to have sent large sums of money into the
provinces for the purpose of stirring up the people against my son; but,
thank God, her plan has not succeeded.
The old woman has spread about the report that my son poisoned all the
members of the Royal Family who have died lately. She hired one of the
King's physicians first to spread this report. If Marechal, the King's
surgeon, who was present at the opening of the bodies, had not stated
that there was no appearance of poison, and confirmed that statement to
the King, this infamous creature would have plunged my innocent son into
a most deplorable situation.
Mademoiselle de Charolais says that the affair of Bayonne cannot be true,
for that the Duc de Richelieu did not tell her of it, and he never
concealed anything from her. She says, too, that she will not see my
son, for his having put the Duke into the Bastille.
The Duke walks about on the top of the terrace at the Bastille, with his
hair dressed, and in an embroidered coat. All the ladies who pass stop
their carriages to look at the pretty fellow.
[This young man, says Duclos, thought himself of some consequence
when he was made a State prisoner, and endured his confinement with
the same levity which he had always displayed in love, in business,
or in war. The Regent was much amused with him, and suffered him to
have all he wanted-his valet de chambre, two footmen, music, cards,
etc.; so that, although he was deprived of his liberty, he might be
as licentious as ever.]
Madame d'Orleans has been so little disposed to undertake her husband's
defence in public, that she has pretended to believe the charges against
him, although no person in the world knows better than she does that the
whole is a lie. She sent to her brothers for a counter-poison, so that
my son should not take her off by those means; and thus she reconciled
Maintenon, who was at enmity with her. I learnt this story during the
year, and I do not know whether my son is aware of it. I would not say
anything to him about it, for I did not wish to embroil man and wife.
The Abbe Dubois--[Madame probably means the Duc du Maine]-- seems to
think that we do not know how many times he went by night to Madame de
Maintenon's, to help this fine affair.
My son has been dissuaded from issuing the manifesto.
Madame d'Orleans has at length quite regained her husband; and, following
her advice, he goes about by night in a coach. On Wednesday night he set
off for Anieres, where Parabere has a house. He supped there, and,
getting into his carriage again, after midnight, he put his foot into a
hole and sprained it.
I am very much afraid my son will be attacked by the small-pox. He eats
heavy suppers; he is short and fat, and just one of those persons whom
the disease generally attacks.
The Cardinal de Noailles has been pestering my son in favour of the Duc
de Richelieu; and as it cannot be positively proved that he addressed the
letter to Alberoni, they can do no more to him than banish him to
Conflans, after six months' imprisonment. Mademoiselle de Charolais
procured some one to ask my son secretly by what means she could see the
Duc de Richelieu, and speak with him, before he set off for Conflans.
[This must have been a joke of Mademoiselle de Charolais; for she
had already, together with Mademoiselle Valois, paid the Duke
several visits in the Bastille. When the Duke was sent to Conflans
to the Cardinal de Noailles, he used to escape almost every night,
and come to see his mistresses. It was this that determined the
Regent to send him to Saint-Germain en Laye; but, soon afterwards,
Mademoiselle de Valois obtained from her father a pardon for her
lover.---Memoirs de Richelieu, tome iii., p. 171]
My son replied, "that she had better speak to the Cardinal de Noailles;
for as he was to conduct the Duke to Conflans, and keep him in his own
house, he would know better than any other person how he might be spoken
with." When she learnt that the Duke had arrived at Saint-Germain, she
hastened thither immediately.
I never doubted for a moment that my son's marriage was in every respect
unfortunate; but my advice was not listened to. If the union had been a
good one, that old Maintenon would not have insisted on it.
Nothing less than millions are talked of on all sides: my sun has made me
also richer by adding 130,000 livres to my pension.
By what we hear daily of the insurrection in Bretagne, it seems that my
son's enemies are more inveterate against him than ever. I do not know
whether it is true, as has been said, that there was a conspiracy at
Rochelle, and that the governor intended to give up the place to the
Spaniards, but has fled; that ten officers were engaged in the plot, some
of whom have been arrested, and the others have fled to Spain.
I always took the Bishop of Soissons for an honest man. I knew him when
he was only an Abbe, and the Duchess of Burgundy's almoner; but the
desire to obtain a Cardinal's hat drives most of the Bishops mad. There
is not one of them who does not believe that the more impertinently he
behaves to my son about the Constitution, the more he will improve his
credit with the Court of Rome, and the sooner become a Cardinal.
My son, although he is Regent, never comes to see me, and never quits me,
without kissing my hand before he embraces me; and he will not even take
a chair if I hand it to him. He is not, however, at all timid, but chats
familiarly with me, and we laugh and talk together like good friends.
While the Dauphin was alive La Chouin behaved very ill to my son; she
embroiled him with the Dauphin, and would neither speak to nor see him;,
in short, she was constantly opposed to him. And yet, when he learnt
that she had fallen into poverty, he sent her money, and secured her a
pension sufficient to live upon.
My son gave me actions to the amount of two millions, which I distributed
among my household. The King also took several millions for his own,
household; all the Royal Family have had them; all the enfans and petits
enfans de France, and the Princes of the blood.
[This may be stock the M. Law floated in the Mississippi Company. D.W.]
The old Court is doing its utmost to put people, out of conceit with
I do not think that Lord Stair praises my son so much as he used to do,
for they do not seem to be very good friends. After having received all
kinds of civilities from my son, who has made him richer than ever he
expected to be in his life, he has turned his back upon him, caused him
numerous little troubles, and annoys him so much that my son would gladly
be rid of him.
My son was obliged to make a speech at the Bank, which was applauded.
They have been obliged to adopt severe measures in Bretagne; four persons
of quality have been beheaded. One of them, who might have escaped by
flying to Spain, would not go. When he was asked why, he said it had
been predicted that he should die by sea (de la mer). Just before he was
executed he asked the headsman what his name was.
"My name is Sea (La Mer)," replied the man.
"Then," said the nobleman, "I am undone."
All Paris has been mourning at the cursed decree which Law has persuaded
my son to make. I have received anonymous letters, stating that I have
nothing to fear on my own account, but that my son shall be pursued with
fire and sword; that the plan is laid and the affair determined on. From
another quarter I have learnt that knives are sharpening for my son's
assassination. The most dreadful news is daily reaching me. Nothing
could appease the discontent until, the Parliament having assembled, two
of its members were deputed to wait upon my son, who received them
graciously, and, following their advice, annulled the decree, and so
restored things to their former condition. This proceeding has not only
quieted all Paris, but has reconciled my son (thank God) to the
My son wished by sending an embassy to give a public proof how much he
wished for a reconciliation between the members of the Royal Family of
England, but it was declined.
The goldsmiths will work no longer, for they charge their goods at three
times more than they are worth, on account of the bank-notes. I have
often wished those bank-notes were in the depths of the infernal regions;
they have given my son much more trouble than relief. I know not how
many inconveniences they have caused him. Nobody in France has a penny;
but, saving your presence, and to speak in plain palatine, there is
plenty of paper
It is singular enough that my son should only become so firmly attached
to his black Parabere, when she had preferred another and had formally
Excepting the affair with Parabere, my son lives upon very good terms
with his wife, who for her part cares very little about it; nothing is so
near to her heart as her brother, the Duc du Maine. In a recent quarrel
which she had with my son on this subject, she said she would retire to
Rambouillet or Montmartre. "Wherever you please," he replied; "or
wherever you think you will be most comfortable." This vexed her so mach
that she wept day and night about it.
On the 17th of June, while I was at the Carmelites, Madame de Chateau-
Thiers came to see me, and said to me, "M. de Simiane is come from the
Palais Royal; and he thinks it fit you should know that on your return
you will find all the courts filled with the people who, although they do
not say anything, will not disperse. At six o'clock this morning they
brought in three dead bodies which M. Le Blanc has had removed. M. Law
has taken refuge in the Palais Royal: they have done him no harm; but his
coach man was stoned as he returned, and the carriage broken to pieces.
It was the coachman's fault, who told them 'they were a rabble, and ought
to be hanged.'" I saw at once that it would not do to seem to be
intimidated, so I ordered the coach to be driven to the Palais Royal.
There was such a press of carriages that I was obliged to wait a full
hour before I reached the rue Saint-Honore; then I heard the people
talking: they did not say anything against my son; they gave me several
benedictions, and demanded that Law should be hanged. When I reached the
Palais Royal all was calm again. My son came to me, and in the midst of
my anxiety he was perfectly tranquil, and even made me laugh.
M. Le Blanc went with great boldness into the midst of the irritated
populace and harangued them. He had the bodies of the men who had been
crushed to death in the crowd brought away, and succeeded in quieting
My son is incapable of being serious and acting like a father with his
children; he lives with them more like a brother than a father.
The Parliament not only opposed the edict, and would not allow it to
pass, but also refused to give any opinion, and rejected the affair
altogether. For this reason my son had a company of the footguard placed
on Sunday morning at the entrance of the palace to prevent their
assembling; and, at the same time, he addressed a letter to the Premier-
President, and to the Parliament a 'lettre-de-cachet', ordering them to
repair to Pontoise to hold their sittings. The next day, when the
musketeers had relieved the guards, the young fellows, not knowing what
to do to amuse themselves, resolved to play at a parliament. They
elected a chief and other presidents, the King's ministers, and the
advocates. These things being settled, and having received a sausage and
a pie for breakfast, they pronounced a sentence, in which they condemned
the sausage to be cooked and the pie to be cut up.
All these things make me tremble for my son. I receive frequently
anonymous letters full of dreadful menaces against him, assuring me that
two hundred bottles of wine have been poisoned for him, and, if this
should fail, that they will make use of a new artificial fire to burn him
alive in the Palais Royal.
It is too true that Madame d'Orleans loves her brother better than her
The Duc du Maine says that if, by his assistance, the King should obtain
the direction of his own affairs, he would govern him entirely, and would
be more a monarch than the King, and that after my son's death he would
reign with his sister.
A week ago I received letters in which they threatened to burn my son at
the Palais Royal and me at Saint Cloud. Lampoons are circulated in
My son has already slept several times at the Tuileries, but I fear that
the King will not be able to accustom himself to his ways, for my son
could never in his life play with children: he does not like them.
He was once beloved, but since the arrival of that cursed Law he is hated
more and more. Not a week passes without my receiving by the post
letters filled with frightful threats, in which my son is spoken of as a
bad man and a tyrant.
I have just now received a letter in which he is threatened with poison.
When I showed it to him he did nothing but laugh, and said the Persian
poison could not be given to him, and that all that was said about it was
To-morrow the Parliament will return to Paris, which will delight the
Parisians as much as the departure of Law.
That old Maintenon has sent the Duc du Maine about to tell the members of
the Royal Family that my son poisoned the Dauphin, the Dauphine, and the
Duc de Berri. The old woman has even done more she has hinted to the
Duchess that she is not secure in her husband's house, and that she
should ask her brother for a counter-poison, as she herself was obliged
to do during the latter days of the King's life.
The old woman lives very retired. No one can say that any imprudent
expressions have escaped her. This makes me believe that she has some
plan in her head, but I cannot guess what it is.
THE DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS, WIFE OF THE REGENT.
If, by shedding my own blood, I could have prevented my son's marriage,
I would willingly have done so; but since the thing was done, I have had
no other wish than to preserve harmony. Monsieur behaved to her with
great attention during the first month, but as soon as he suspected that
she looked with too favourable an eye upon the Chevalier du Roye,
[Bartholemi de La Rochefoucauld, at first Chevalier de Roye, but
afterwards better known by the title of Marquis de La Rochefoucauld.
He was Captain of the Duchesse de Berri's Body-Guards, and he died
he hated her as the Devil. To prevent an explosion, I was obliged daily
to represent to him that he would dishonour himself, as well as his son,
by exposing her conduct, and would infallibly bring upon himself the
King's displeasure. As no person had been less favourable to this
marriage than I, he could not suspect but that I was moved, not from any
love for my daughter-in-law, but from the wish to avoid scandal and out
of affection to my son and the whole family. While all eclat was
avoided, the public were at least in doubt about the matter; by an
opposite proceeding their suspicions would have been confirmed.
Madame d'Orleans looks older than she is; for she paints beyond all
measure, so that she is often quite red. We frequently joke her on this
subject, and she even laughs at it herself. Her nose and cheeks are
somewhat pendant, and her head shakes like an old woman: this is in
consequence of the small-pox. She is often ill, and always has a
fictitious malady in reserve. She has a true and a false spleen;
whenever she complains, my son and I frequently rally her about it.
I believe that all the indispositions and weaknesses she has proceed from
her always lying in bed or on a sofa; she eats and drinks reclining,
through mere idleness; she has not worn stays since the King's death;
she never could bring herself to eat with the late King, her own father,
still less would she with me. It would then be necessary for her to sit
upon a stool, and she likes better to loll upon a sofa or sit in an arm-
chair at a small table with her favourite, the Duchess of Sforza. She
admits her son, and sometimes Mademoiselle d'Orleans. She is so indolent
that she will not stir; she would like larks ready roasted to drop into
her mouth; she eats and walks slowly, but eats enormously. It is
impossible to be more idle than she is: she admits this herself; but she
does not attempt to correct it: she goes to bed early that she may lie
the longer. She never reads herself, but when she has the spleen she
makes her women read her to sleep. Her complexion is good, but less so
than her second daughter's. She walks a little on one side, which Madame
de Ratzenhausen calls walking by ear. She does not think that there is
her equal in the world for beauty, wit, and perfection of all kinds. I
always compare her to Narcissus, who died of self-admiration. She is so
vain as to think she has more sense than her husband, who has a great
deal; while her notions are not in the slightest degree elevated. She
lives much in the femme-de-chambre style; and, indeed, loves this society
better than that of persons of birth. The ladies are often a week
together without seeing her; for without being summoned they cannot
approach her. She does not know how to live as the wife of a prince
should, having been educated like the daughter of a citizen. A long time
had elapsed before she and her younger brother were legitimated by the
King; I do not know for what reason.
[This legitimation presented great difficulties during the life of
the Marquis de Montespan. M. Achille de Harlai, Procureur-General
du Parliament, helped to remove them by having the Chevalier de
Longueville, son of the Duke of that name and of the Marechale de la
Feste, recognized without naming his mother. This once done, the
children of the King and of Madame de Montespan were legitimated in
the same manner.]
When they arrived at Court their conversation was exactly like that of
the common people.
In my opinion my son's wife has no charms at all; her physiognomy does
not please me. I don't know whether my son loves her much, but I know
she does what she pleases with him. The populace and the femmes de
chambre are fond of her; but she is not liked elsewhere. She often goes
to the Salut at the Quinze Vingts; and her women are ordered to say that.
she is a saint, who suffers my son to be surrounded by mistresses without
complaining. This secures the pity of the populace and makes her pass
for one of the best of wives, while, in fact; she is, like her elder
brother, full of artifice.
She is very superstitious. Some years ago a nun of Fontevrault, called
Madame de Boitar, died. Whenever Madame d'Orleans loses anything she
promises to this nun prayers for the redemption of her soul from
purgatory, and then does not doubt that she shall find what she has lost.
She piques herself upon being extremely pious; but does not consider
lying and deceit are the works of the Devil and not of God. Ambition,
pride and selfishness have entirely spoilt her. I fear she will not make
a good end. That I may live in peace I seem to shut my eyes to these
things. My son often, in allusion to her pride, calls her Madame
Lucifer. She is not backward in believing everything complimentary that
is said to her. Montespan, old Maintenon, and all the femmes de chambre
have made her believe that she did my son honour in marrying him; and she
is so vain of her own birth and that of her brothers and sisters that she
will not hear a word said against them; she will not see any difference
between legitimate and illegitimate children.
She wishes to reign; but she knows nothing of true grandeur, having been
educated in too low a manner. She might live well as a simple duchess;
but not as one of the Royal Family of France. It is too true that she
has always been ambitious of possessing, not my son's heart, but his
power; she is always in fear lest some one else should govern him. Her
establishment is well regulated; my son has always let her be mistress in
this particular. As to her children, I let them go on in their own way;
they were brought here without my consent, and it is for others to take
care of them. Sometimes she displays more affection for her brother than
even for her children. An ambitious woman as she is, having it put into
her head by her brother that she ought to be the Regent, can love none
but him. She would like to see him Regent better than her husband,
because he has persuaded her that she shall reign with him; she believes
it firmly, although every one else knows that his own wife is too
ambitious to permit any one but herself to reign. Besides her ambition
she has a great deal of ill-temper. She will never pardon either the nun
of Chelles or Mademoiselle de Valois, because they did not like her
nephew with the long lips. Her anger is extremely bitter, and she will
never forgive. She loves only her relations on the maternal side.
Madame de Sforza, her favourite, is the daughter of Madame de Thianges,
Madame de Montespan's sister, and therefore a cousin of Madame d'Orleans,
who hates her sister and her nephew worse than the Devil.
I could forgive her all if she were not so treacherous. She flatters me
when I am present, but behind my back she does all in her power to set
the Duchesse de Berri against me; she tells her not to believe that I
love her, but that I wish to have her sister with me. Madame d'Orleans
believes that her daughter, Madame de Berri, loves her less than her
father. It is true that the daughter has not a very warm attachment to
her mother, but she does her duty to her; and yet the more they are full
of mutual civilities the more they quarrel. On the 4th of October, 1718,
Madame de Berri having invited her father to go and sleep at La Muette,
to see the vintage feast and dance which were to be held on the next day.
Madame d'Orleans wrote to Madame de Berri, and asked her if she thought
it consistent with the piety of the Carmelites that she should ask her
father to sleep in her house. Madame de Berri replied that it had never
been thought otherwise than pious that a parent should sleep in his
daughter's house. The mother did this only to annoy her husband and
daughter, and when she chooses she has a very cutting way. It may be
imagined how this letter was received by the father and daughter. I
arrived at La Muette just as it had come. My son dare not complain to
me, for as often as he does, I say to him, "George Dandin, you would have
it so:"--[Moliere]--he therefore only laughed and said nothing. I did
not wish to add to the bitterness which this had occasioned, for that
would have been to blow a fire already too hot; I confined myself,
therefore, to observing that when she wrote it she probably had the
She is not very fond of her children, and, as I think, she carries her
indifference too far; for the children see she does not love them, and
this makes them fond of being with me. This angers the mother, and she
reproaches them for it, which only makes them like her less.
Although she loves her son, she does not in general care so much for her
children as for her brothers, and all who belong to the House of
I was the unintentional cause of making a quarrel between her and the nun
of Chelles. At the commencement of the affair of the Duc du Maine, I
received a letter from my daughter addressed to Madame d'Orleans; and not
thinking that it was for the Abbess, who bears the same title with her
mother, I sent it to the latter. This letter happened, unluckily, to be
an answer to one of our Nun's, in which she had very plainly said what
she thought of the Duc and Duchesse du Maine, and ended by pitying her
father for being the Duke's brother-in-law, and for having contracted an
alliance so absurd and injurious. It may be guessed whether my
daughter's answer was palatable to my daughter-in-law. I am very sorry
that I made the mistake; but what right had she to read a letter which
was not meant for her?
The new Abbess of Chelles has had a great difference with her mother,
who says she will never forgive her for having agreed with her father to
embrace the religious profession without her knowledge. The daughter
said that, as her mother had always taken the side of the former Abbess
against her, she had not confided this secret to her, from a conviction
that she would oppose it to please the Abbess. This threw the mother
into a paroxysm of grief. She said she was very unhappy both in her
husband and her children; that her husband was the most unjust person in
the world, for that he kept her brother-in-law in prison, who was one of
the best and most pious of men--in short, a perfect saint; and that God
would punish such wickedness. The daughter replied it was respect for
her mother that kept her silent; and the latter became quite furious.
This shows that she hates us like the very Devil, and that she loves none
but her lame brother, and those who love him or are nearly connected with
She thinks there never was so perfect a being in the world as her mother.
She cannot quite persuade herself that she was ever Queen, because she
knew the Queen too well, who always called her daughter, and treated her
better than her sisters; I cannot tell why, because she was not the most
amiable of them.
It is quite true that there is little sympathy between my son's wife and
me; but we live together as politely as possible. Her singular conduct
shall never prevent me from keeping that promise which I made to the late
King in his last moments. He gave some good Christian exhortations to
Madame d'Orleans; but, as the proverb says, it is useless to preach to
those who have no heart to act.
In the spring of this year (1718) her brothers and relations said that
but for the antidotes which had been administered to Madame d'Orleans,
without the knowledge of me or my son, she must have perished.
I had resolved not to interfere with anything respecting this affair; but
had the satisfaction of speaking my mind a little to Madame du Maine.
I said to her: "Niece" (by which appellation I always addressed her),
"I beg you will let me know who told you that Madame d'Orleans had taken
a counterpoison unknown to us. It is the greatest falsehood that ever
was uttered, and you may say so from me to whoever told it you."
She looked red, and said, "I never said it was so."
"I am very glad of it, niece," I replied; "for it would be very
disgraceful to you to have said so, and you ought not to allow people to
bring you such tales." When she heard this she went off very quickly.
Madame d'Orleans is a little inconstant in her friendship. She is very
fond of jewels, and once wept for four-and-twenty hours because my son
gave a pair of beautiful pendants to Madame de Berri.
My son has this year (1719) increased his wife's income by 160,000
livres, the arrears of which have been paid to her from 1716, so that she
received at once the sum of 480,000 livres. I do not envy her this
money, but I cannot bear the idea that she is thus paid for her
infidelity. One must, however, be silent.
MARIE-ANNE CHRISTINE VICTOIRE OF BAVARIA, THE FIRST DAUPHINE.
She was ugly, but her extreme politeness made her very agreeable. She
loved the Dauphin more like a son than a husband. Although he loved her
very well, he wished to live with her in an unceremonious manner, and she
agreed to it to please him. I used often to laugh at her superstitious
devotion, and undeceived her upon many of her strange opinions. She
spoke Italian very well, but her German was that of the peasants of the
country. At first, when she and Bessola were talking together, I could
not understand a word.
She always manifested the greatest friendship and confidence in me to the
end of her days. She was not haughty, but as it had become the custom to
blame everything she did, she was somewhat disdainful. She had a
favourite called Bessola--a false creature, who had sold her to
Maintenon. But for the infatuated liking she had for this woman, the
Dauphine would have been much happier. Through her, however, she was
made one of the most wretched women in the world.
This Bessola could not bear that the Dauphine should speak to any person
but herself: she was mercenary and jealous, and feared that the
friendship of the Dauphine for any one else would discredit her with
Maintenon, and that her mistress's liberality to others would diminish
that which she hoped to experience herself. I told this person the truth
once, as she deserved to be told, in the presence of the Dauphine; from
which period she has neither done nor said anything troublesome to me.
I told the Dauphine in plain German that it was a shame that she should
submit to be governed by Bessola to such a degree that she could not
speak to whom she chose. I said this was not friendship, but a slavery,
which was the derision of the Court.
Instead of being vexed at this, she laughed, and said, "Has not everybody
some weakness? Bessola is mine."
This wench often put me in an ill-humour: at last I lost all patience,
and could no longer restrain myself. I would often have told her what I
thought, but that I saw it would really distress the poor Dauphine: I
therefore restrained myself, and said to her, "Out of complaisance to
you, I will be silent; but give such orders that Bessola may not again
rouse me, otherwise I cannot promise but that I may say something she
will not like."
The Dauphine thanked me affectionately, and thus more than ever engaged
When the Dauphine arrived from Bavaria, the fine Court of France was on
the decline: it was at the commencement of Maintenon's reign, which
spoilt and degraded everything. It was not, therefore, surprising that
the poor Dauphine should regret her own country. Maintenon annoyed her
immediately after her marriage in such a manner as must have excited
pity. The Dauphine had made her own marriage; she had hoped to be
uncontrolled, and to become her own mistress; but she was placed in that
Maintenon's hands, who wanted to govern her like a child of seven years
old, although she was nineteen. That old Maintenon, piqued at the
Dauphine for wishing to hold a Court, as she should have done, turned the
King against her. Bessola finished this work by betraying and selling
her; and thus was the Dauphine's misery accomplished! By selecting me
for her friend, she filled up the cup of Maintenon's hatred, who was
paying Bessola; because she knew she was jealous of me, and that I had
advised the Dauphine not to keep her, for I was quite aware that she had
secret interviews with Maintenon.
That lady had also another creature in the Dauphine's household: this was
Madame de Montchevreuil, the gouvernante of the Dauphine's filles
d'honneur. Madame de Maintenon had engaged her to place the Dauphin upon
good terms with the filles d'honneur, and she finished by estranging him
altogether from his wife. During her pregnancy, which, as well as her
lying-in, was extremely painful, the Dauphine could not go out; and this
Montchevreuil took advantage of the opportunity thus afforded her to
introduce the filles d'honneur to the Dauphin to hunt and game with him.
He became fond, in his way, of the sister of La Force, who was afterwards
compelled to marry young Du Roure. The attachment continued,
notwithstanding this marriage; and she procured the Dauphin's written
promise to marry her in case of the death of the Dauphine and her
husband. I do not know how the late King became acquainted with this
fact; but it is certain that he was seriously angered at it, and that he
banished Du Roure to Gascony, his native country. The Dauphin had an
affair of gallantry with another of his wife's filles d'honneur called
Rambures. He did not affect any dissimulation with his wife; a great
uproar ensued; and that wicked Bessola, following the directions of old
Maintenon, who planned everything, detached the Dauphin from his wife
more and more. The latter was not very fond of him; but what displeased
her in his amours was that they exposed her to be openly and constantly
ridiculed and insulted. Montchevreuil made her pay attention to all that
passed, and Bessola kept up her anger against her husband.
Maintenon had caused it to be reported among the people by her agents
that the Dauphine hated France, and that she urged the imposition of new
The Dauphine was so ill-treated in her accouchement of the Duc de Berri
that she became quite deformed, although previous to this her figure had
been remarkably good. On the evening before she died, as the little Duke
was sitting on her bed, she said to him, "My dear Berri, I love you very
much, but I have paid dearly for you." The Dauphin was not grieved at
her death; old Montchevreuil had told him so many lies of his wife that
he could not love her. That old Maintenon hoped, when this event
happened, that she should be able to govern the Duke by means of his
mistresses, which could not have been if he had continued to be attached
to his wife. This old woman had conceived so violent a hatred against
the poor Princess, that I do believe she prevailed on Clement, the
accoucheur, to treat her ill in her confinement; and what confirms me in
this is that she almost killed her by visiting her at that time in
perfumed gloves. She said it was I who wore them, which was untrue.
I would not swear that the Dauphine did not love Bessola better than her
husband; she deserved no such attachment. I often apprised her mistress
of her perfidy, but she would not believe me.
The Dauphine used to say, "We are two unhappy persons, but there is this
difference between us: you endeavoured, as much as you could, to avoid
coming here; while I resolved to do so at all events. I have therefore
deserved my misery more than you."
They wanted to make her pass for crazy, because she was always
complaining. Some hours before her death she said to me, "I shall
convince them to-day that I was not mad in complaining of my sufferings."
She died calmly and easily; but she was as much put to death as if she
had been killed by a pistol-shot.
When her funeral service was performed I carried the taper (nota bene)
and some pieces of gold to the Bishop who performed the grand mass, and
who was sitting in an arm-chair near the altar. The prelate intended to
have given them to his assistants, the priests of the King's chapel; but
the monks of Saint Denis ran to him with great eagerness, exclaiming that
the taper and the gold belonged to them. They threw themselves upon the
Bishop, whose chair began to totter, and made his mitre fall from his
head. If I had stayed there a moment longer the Bishop, with all the
monks, would have fallen upon me. I descended the four steps of the
altar in great haste, for I was nimble enough at that time, and looked on
the battle at a distance, which appeared so comical that I could not but
laugh, and everybody present did the same.
That wicked Bessola, who had tormented the Dauphine day and night, and
had made her distrust every one who approached her, and thus separated
her from all the world, returned home a year after her mistress's death.
Before her departure she played another trick by having a box made with a
double bottom, in which she concealed jewels and ready money to the
amount of 100,000 francs; and all this time she went about weeping and
complaining that, after so many years of faithful service, she was
dismissed as poor as a beggar. She did not know that her contrivance had
been discovered at the Customhouse and that the King had been apprised of
it. He ordered her to be sent for, showed her the things which she had
prepared to carry away, and said he thought she had little reason to
complain of the Dauphine's parsimony. It may be imagined how foolish she
looked. The King added that, although he might withhold them from her,
yet to show her that she had done wrong in acting clandestinely, and in
complaining as she had done, he chose to restore her the whole.
ADELAIDE OF SAVOY, THE SECOND DAUPHINE.
The Queen of Spain stayed longer with her mother than our Dauphine, and
therefore was better educated. Maintenon, who understood nothing about
education, permitted her to do whatever she pleased, that she might gain
her affections and keep her to herself. This young lady had been well
brought up by her virtuous mother; she was genteel and humorous, and
could joke very pleasantly: when she had a colour she did not look ugly.
No one can imagine what mad-headed people were about this Princess, and
among the number was the Marechale d'Estrees. Maintenon was very
properly recompensed for having given her these companions; for the
consequence was that the Dauphine no longer liked her society. Maintenon
was very desirous to know the reason of this, and teased the Princess to
tell her. At length she did; and said that the Marechale d'Estrees was
continually asking her, "What are you always doing with that old woman?
Why do you not associate with folks who would amuse you more than that
old skeleton?" and that she said many other uncivil things of her.
Maintenon told me this herself, since the death of the Dauphine, to prove
that it was only the Marechale's fault that the Dauphine had been on such
bad terms with me. This may be partly true; but it is no less certain
that Maintenon had strongly prepossessed her against me. Almost all the
foolish people who were about her were relations or friends of the old
woman; and it was by her order that they endeavoured to amuse her and
employ her, so that she might want no other society.
The young Dauphine was full of pantomime tricks. * * * * She was fond,
too, of collecting a quantity of young persons about her for the King's
amusement, who liked to see their sports; they, however, took care never
to display any but innocent diversions before him: he did not learn the
rest until after her death. The Dauphine used to call old Maintenon her
aunt, but only in jest; the fines d'honneur called her their gouvernante,
and the Marechale de La Mothe, mamma; if the Dauphine had also called
the old woman her mamma, it would have been regarded as a declaration of
the King's marriage; for this reason she only called her aunt.
It is not surprising that the Dauphine, even when she was Duchess of
Burgundy, should have been a coquette. One of Maintenon's maxims was
that there was no harm in coquetry, but that a grande passion only was a
sin. In the second place, she never took care that the Duchess of
Burgundy behaved conformably to her rank; she was often left quite alone
in her chateau with the exception of her people; she was permitted to run
about arm-in-arm with one of her young ladies, without esquires, or dames
d'honneur or d'atour. At Marly and Versailles she was obliged to go to
chapel on foot and without her stays, and seat herself near the femmes de
chambre. At Madame de Maintenon's there was no observance of ranks;
every one sat down there promiscuously; she did this for the purpose of
avoiding all discussion respecting her own rank. At Marly the Dauphine
used to run about the garden at night with the young people until two or
three o'clock in the morning. The King knew nothing of these nocturnal
sports. Maintenon had forbidden the Duchesse de Lude to tease the
Duchess of Burgundy, or to put her out of temper, because then she would
not be able to divert the King. Maintenon had threatened, too, with her
eternal vengeance whoever should be bold enough to complain of the
Dauphine to the King. It was for this reason that no one dared tell the
King what the whole Court and even strangers were perfectly well
acquainted with. The Dauphine liked to be dragged along the ground by
valets, who held her feet. These servants were in the habit of saying to
each other, "Come, shall we go and play with the Duchess of Burgundy?"
for so she was at this time. She was dreadfully nasty,
She made the Dauphin believe whatever she chose, and he was so fond of
her that one of her glances would throw him into an ecstacy and make him
forget everything. When the King intended to scold her she would put on
an air of such deep dejection that he was obliged to console her instead;
the aunt, too, used to affect similar sorrow, so that the King had enough
to do with consoling them both. Then, for quietness' sake, he used to
lean upon the old aunt, and think nothing more about the matter.
The Dauphine never cared for the Duc de Richelieu, although he boasted of
the contrary, and was sent to the Bastille for it. She was a coquette,
and chatted with all the young men; but if she loved any of them it was
Nangis, who commanded the King's regiment. She had commanded him to
pretend to be in love with little La Vrilliere, who, though not so pretty
nor with so good a presence as the Dauphine, had a better figure and was
a great coquette. This badinage, it is said, afterwards became reality.
The good Dauphin was like the husbands of all frail wives, the last to
perceive it. The Duke of Burgundy never imagined that his wife thought
of Nangis, although it was visible to all the world besides that she did.
As he was very much attached to Nangis, he believed firmly that his wife
only behaved civilly to him on his account; and he was besides convinced
that his favourite had at the same time an affair of gallantry with
Madame la Vrilliere.
The Dauphin had good sense, but he suffered his wife to govern him; he
loved only such persons as she loved, and he hated all who were
disagreeable to her. It was for this reason that Nangia enjoyed so much
of his favour, that he, with all his sense, became so perfectly
The Dauphine of Burgundy was the person whom the King loved above all
others, and whom Maintenon had taught to do whatever was agreeable to
him. Her natural wit made her soon learn and practise everything. The
King was inconsolable for her death; and when La Maintenon saw that all
she could say had no effect upon his grief, it is said that she told the
King all that she had before concealed with respect to the Dauphine's
life, and by this means dissipated his great affliction.
[This young lady, so fascinating and so dear to the King, betrayed,
nevertheless, the secrets of the State by informing her father, then
Duke of Savoy, and our enemy, of all the military projects which she
found means to read. The King had the proofs of this by the letters
which were found in the Princess's writing case after her death.
"That little slut," said he to Madame Maintenon, "has deceived us."
Memoires de Duclos, tome i.]
Three years before her death, however, the Dauphine changed greatly for
the better; she played no more foolish tricks, and left off drinking to
excess. Instead of that untameable manner which she had before, she
became polite and sensible, kept up her dignity, and did not permit the
younger ladies to be too familiar with her, by dipping their fingers into
her dish, rolling upon the bed, and other similar elegancies. She used
to converse with people, and could talk very well. It was the marriage
of Madame de Berri that effected this surprising change in the Dauphine.
Seeing that young lady did not make herself beloved, and began things in
the wrong way, she was desirous to make herself more liked and esteemed
than she was. She therefore changed her behaviour entirely; she became
reserved and reasonable, and, having sense enough to discover her
defects, she set about correcting them, in which she succeeded so as to
excite general surprise. Thus she continued until her death, and often
expressed regret that she had led so irregular a life. She used to
excuse herself by saying it was mere childishness, and that she had
little to thank those young ladies for who had given her such bad advice
and set her such bad examples. She publicly manifested her contempt for
them, and prevailed on the King not to invite them to Marly in future.
By this conduct she gained everybody's affection.
She was delicate and of rather a weak constitution. Dr. Chirac said in
her last illness that she would recover; and so she probably would have
done if they had not permitted her to get up when the measles had broken
out upon her, and she was in a copious perspiration. Had they not
blooded her in the foot she might have been alive now (1716).
Immediately after the bleeding, her skin, before as red as fire, changed
to the paleness of death, and she became very ill. When they were
lifting her out of bed I told them it was better to let the perspiration
subside before they blooded her. Chirac and Fagon, however, were
obstinate and laughed at me.
Old Maintenon said to me angrily, "Do you think you know better than all
these medical men?"
"No, Madame," I replied; "and one need not know much to be sure that the
inclination of nature ought to be followed; and since that has displayed
itself it would be better to let it have way, than to make a sick person
get up in the midst of a perspiration to be blooded."
She shrugged up her shoulders ironically. I went to the other side and
THE FIRST DAUPHIN.
All that was good in the first Dauphin came from his preceptor; all that
was bad from himself. He never either loved or hated any one much, and
yet he was very wicked. His greatest pleasure was to do something to vex
a person; and immediately afterwards, if he could do something very
pleasing to the same person, he would set about it with great
willingness. In every respect he was of the strangest temper possible:
when one thought he was good-humoured, he was angry; and when one
supposed him to be ill-humoured, he was in an amiable mood. No one could
ever guess him rightly, and I do not believe that his like ever was or
ever will be born. It cannot be said that he had much wit; but still
less was he a fool. Nobody was ever more prompt to seize the ridiculous
points of anything in himself or in others; he told stories agreeably;
he was a keen observer, and dreaded nothing so much as to be one day
King: not so much from affection for his father, as from a dread of the
trouble of reigning, for he was so extremely idle that he neglected all
things; and he would have preferred his ease to all the kingdoms and
empires of the earth. He could remain for a whole day, sitting on a sofa
or in an arm-chair, beating his cane against his shoes, without saying a
word; he never gave an opinion upon any subject; but when once, in the
course of the year, he did speak, he could express himself in terms
sufficiently noble. Sometimes when he spoke one would say he was
stupidity itself; at another time he would deliver himself with
astonishing sense. At one time you would think he was the best Prince in
the world; at another he would do all he could to give people pain.
Nobody seemed to be so ill with him but he would take the trouble of
making them laugh at the expense of those most dear to him. His maxim
was, never to seem to like one man in the Court better than another.
He had a perfect horror of favourites, and yet he sought favour himself
as much as the commonest courtier could do. He did not pride himself
upon his politeness, and was enraged when any one penetrated his
intentions. As I had known him from his infancy I could sometimes guess
his meaning, which angered him excessively. He was not very fond of
being treated respectfully; he liked better not to be put to any trouble.
He was rather partial than just, as may be shown by the regulations he
made as to the rank of my son's daughter. He never liked or hated any
Minister. He laughed often and heartily. He was a very obedient son,
and never opposed the King's will in any way, and was more submissive to
Maintenon than any other person. Those who say that he would have
retired, if the King had declared his marriage with that old woman, did
not know him; had he not an old mistress of his own, to whom he was
believed to be privately married? What prevented Maintenon from being
declared Queen was the wise reasons which the Archbishop of Cambray, M.
de Fenelon, urged to the King, and for which she persecuted that worthy
man to the day of his death.
If the Dauphin had chosen, he might have enjoyed greater credit with his
father. The King had offered him permission to go to the Royal Treasury
to bestow what favours he chose upon the persons of his own Court; and at
the Treasury orders were given that he should have whatever he asked for.
The Dauphin replied that it would give him so much trouble. He would
never know anything about State affairs lest he should be obliged to
attend the Privy Councils, and have no more time to hunt. Some persons
thought he did this from motives of policy and to make the King believe
he had no ambition; but I am persuaded it was from nothing but indolence
and laziness; he loved to live a slothful life, and to interfere with
At the King of Spain's departure our King wept a good deal; the Dauphin
also wept much, although he had never before manifested the least
affection for his children. They were never seen in his apartment
morning and evening. When he was not at the chase the Dauphin passed his
time with the great Princesse de Conti, and latterly with the Duchess.
One must have guessed that the children belonged to him, for he lived
like a stranger among them. He never called them his sons, but the Duke
of Burgundy, the Duc d'Anjou, the Duc de Berri; and they, in turn, always
called him Monseigneur.
I lived upon a very good understanding with him for more than twenty
years, and he had great confidence in me until the Duchess got possession
of him; then everything with regard to me was changed: and as, after my
husband's death, I never went to the chase with the Dauphin, I had no
further relation with him, and he behaved as if he had never seen or
known me. If he had been wise he would have preferred the society of the
Princesse de Conti to that of the Duchess, because the first, having a
good heart, loved him for himself; while the other loved nothing in the
world, and listened to nothing but her taste for pleasure, her interest,
and her ambition. So that, provided she attained her ends, she cared
little for the Dauphin, who by his condescension for this Princess gave a
great proof of weakness.
In general, his heart was not correct enough to discern what real
friendship was; he loved only those who afforded him amusement, and
despised all others. The Duchess was very agreeable and had some
pleasant notions; she was fond of eating, which was the very thing for
the Dauphin, because he found a good breakfast at her house every morning
and a collation in the afternoon. The Duchess's daughters were of the
same character as their mother; so that the Dauphin might be all the day
in the company of gay people.
He was strongly attached to his son's wife; but when she quarrelled with
the Duchess her father-in-law changed his opinion of her. What
displeased him besides was that the Duchess of Burgundy married his
younger son, the Duc de Berri, against his inclination. He was not wrong
in that, because, although the marriage was to our advantage, I must
confess that the Dauphin was not even treated with decency in the
Neither of the two Dauphins or the Dauphines ever interested themselves
much about their children. The King had them educated without consulting
them, appointed all their servants, and was even displeased if they
interfered with them in any way. The Dauphin knows nothing of good
breeding; he and his sons are perfect clowns.
The women of La Halle had a real passion for the first Dauphin; they had
been made to believe that he would take the part of the people of Paris,
in which there was not a word of truth. The people believed that he was
better hearted than he was. He would not, in fact, have been wicked if
the Marechal d'Uxelles, La Chouin and Montespan, with whom he was in his
youth, as well as the Duchess, had not spoiled him, and made him believe
that malice was a proof of wit.
He did not grieve more than a quarter of an hour at the death of his
mother or of his wife; and when he wrapped himself up in his long
mourning cloak he was ready to choke with laughter.
He had followed his father's example in taking an ugly, nasty mistress,
who had been fille d'honneur to the elder Princess de Conti: her name is
Mademoiselle de Chouin, and she is still living at Paris (1719). It was
generally believed that he had married her clandestinely; but I would lay
a wager he never did. She had the figure of a duenna; was of very small
stature; had very short legs; large rolling eyes; a round face; a short
turned-up nose; a large mouth filled with decayed teeth, which made her
breath so bad that the room in which she sat could hardly be endured.
And yet this short, fat woman had a great deal of wit; and I believe the
Dauphin accustomed himself to take snuff that he might not be annoyed by
her bad teeth. He was very civil to the Marechal d'Uxelles, because he
pretended to be the intimate with this lady; but as soon as the Dauphin
was caught, the Marechal ceased to see her, and never once set foot in
her house, although before that he had been in the habit of visiting her
The Dauphin had a daughter by Raisin the actress, but he would never
acknowledge her, and after his death the Princess Conti took care of her,
and married her to a gentleman of Vaugourg. The Dauphin was so tired of
the Duc du Maine that he had sworn never to acknowledge any of his
illegitimate children. This Raisin must have had very peculiar charms to
make an impression upon a heart so thick as that of the Dauphin, who
really loved her. One day he sent for her to Choisy, and hid her in a
mill without anything to eat or drink; for it was a fast day, and the
Dauphin thought there was no greater sin than to eat meat on a fast day.
After the Court had departed, all that he gave her for supper was some
salad and toast with oil. Raisin laughed at this very much herself, and
told several persons of it. When I heard of it I asked the Dauphin what
he meant by making his mistress fast in this manner.
"I had a mind," he said, "to commit one sin, but not two."
I cannot bear that any one should touch me behind; it makes me so angry
that I do not know what I do. I was very near giving the Dauphin a blow
one day, for he had a wicked trick of coming behind one for a joke, and
putting his fist in the chair just where one was going to sit down. I
begged him, for God's sake, to leave off this habit, which was so
disagreeable to me that I would not answer for not one day giving him a
sound blow, without thinking of what I was doing. From that time he left
The Dauphin was very much like the Queen; he was not tall, but good-
looking enough. Our King was accustomed to say: "Monseigneur (for so he
always called him) has the look of a German prince." He had, indeed,
something of a German air; but it was only the air; for he had nothing
German besides. He did not dance well. The Queen-Dowager of Spain
flattered herself with the hope of marrying him.
He thought he should recommend himself to the King by not appearing to
care what became of his brothers.
When the Dauphin was lying sick of the small-pox, I went on the Wednesday
to the King.
He said to me, sarcastically, "You have been frightening us with the
great pain which Monseigneur would have to endure when the suppuration
commences; but I can tell you that he will not suffer at all, for the
pustules have already begun to dry."
I was alarmed at this, and said, "So much the worse; if he is not in pain
his state is the more dangerous, and he soon will be."
"What!" said the King, "do you know better than the doctors?"
"I know," I replied, "what the small-pox is by my own experience, which
is better than all the doctors; but I hope from my heart that I may be
On the same night, soon after midnight, the Dauphin died.
THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY, THE SECOND DAUPHIN.
He was quite humpbacked. I think this proceeded from his having been
made to carry a bar of iron for the purpose of keeping himself upright,
but the weight and inconvenience of which had had a contrary effect.
I often said to the Duke de Beauvilliers he had very good parts, and was
sincerely pious, but so weak as to let his wife rule him like a child.
In spite of his good sense, she made him believe whatever she chose.
She lived upon very good terms with him, but was not outrageously fond,
and did not love him better than many other persons; for the good
gentleman had a very disagreeable person, and his face was not the most
beautiful. I believe, however, she was touched with his great affection
for her; and indeed it would be impossible for a man to entertain a more
fervent passion than he did for his wife. Her wit was agreeable, and she
could be very pleasant when she chose: her gaiety dissipated the
melancholy which sometimes seized upon the devout Dauphin. Like almost
all humpbacked men, he had a great passion for women; but at the same
time was so pious that he feared he committed a grievous sin in looking
at any other than his own wife; and he was truly in love with her.
I saw him once, when a lady had told him that he had good eyes, squint
immediately that he might appear ugly. This was really an unnecessary
trouble; for the good man was already sufficiently plain, having a very
ill-looking mouth, a sickly appearance, small stature, and a hump at his
He had many good qualities: he was charitable, and had assisted several
officers unknown to any one. He certainly died of grief for the loss of
his wife, as he had predicted. A learned astrologer of Turin, having
cast the nativity of the Dauphine, told her that she would die in her
She often spoke of it, and said one day to her husband, "The time is
approaching when I shall die; you cannot remain without a wife as well on
account of your rank as your piety; tell me, then, I beg of you, whom you
"I hope," he replied, "that God will not inflict so severe a punishment
on me as to deprive me of you; but if this calamity should befall me, I
shall not marry again, for I shall follow you to the grave in a week."
This happened exactly as he said it would; for, on the seventh day after
his wife's death, he died also. This is not a fiction, but perfectly
While the Dauphine was in good health and spirits she often said, "I must
enjoy myself now. I shall not be able to do so long, for I shall die
I thought it was only a joke, but it turned out to be too true. When she
fell sick she said she should never recover.
A cautery which had been improperly made in the nape of the neck had
drawn her mouth all on one side, so that it was almost entirely in her
left cheek. For this reason talking was very painful to her, and she
said very little. It was necessary to be accustomed to her way of
speaking to understand her. Just when she was about to die her mouth
resumed its proper place, and she did not seem at all ugly. I was
present at her death. She did not say a word to her father, although a
convulsion had restored her mouth. The King, who had a good heart and
was very fond of his children, wept excessively and made me weep also.
The Queen was not present, for, being pregnant, they would not let her
It is totally false that the Queen was delivered of a black child. The
late Monsieur, who was present, said that the young Princess was ugly,
but not black. The people cannot be persuaded that the child is not still
alive, and say that it is in a convent at Moret, near Fontainebleau. It
is, however, quite certain that the ugly child is dead, for all the Court
saw it die.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Always has a fictitious malady in reserve
I had a mind, he said, to commit one sin, but not two
I wished the husband not to be informed of it
Provided they are talked of, they are satisfied
That what he called love was mere debauchery
MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV. AND OF THE REGENCY, v3
Being the Secret Memoirs of the Mother of the Regent,
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS.
Henrietta of England, Monsieur's First Consort
The Due de Berri
The Duchesse de Berri
Mademoiselle d'Orleans, Louise-Adelaide de Chartres
Mademoiselle de Valois, Consort of the Prince of Modena
The Illegitimate Children of the Regent, Duc d'Orleans
The Chevalier de Lorraine
Philip V., King of Spain
The Duchess, Consort of the Duc de Bourbon
The Younger Duchess
Duc Louis de Bourbon
Francois-Louis, Prince de Conti
La Grande Princesse de Conti
The Princess Palatine, Consort of Prince Francois-Louis de Conti
The Princesse de Conti, Louise-Elizabeth, Consort of Louis-Armand
Louis-Armand, Prince de Conti
The Abbe Dubois
HENRIETTA OF ENGLAND, THE FIRST WIFE OF MONSIEUR, BROTHER OF LOUIS XIV.
It is true that the late Madame was extremely unhappy; she confided too
much in people who betrayed her: she was more to be pitied than blamed,
being connected with very wicked persons, about whom I could give some
particulars. Young, pretty and gay, she was surrounded by some of the
greatest coquettes in the world, the mistresses of her bitterest foes,
and who sought only to thrust her into some unfortunate situation and to
embroil her with Monsieur. Madame de Coetquen was the Chevalier de
Lorraine's mistress, although Madame did not know it; and she contrived
that the Marechal de Turenne should become attached to her. Madame
having told the Marshal all her secrets respecting the negotiations with
England, he repeated them to his mistress, Madame de Coetquen, whom he
believed to be devoted to his mistress. This woman went every night to
the Chevalier de Lorraine and betrayed them all. The Chevalier used this
opportunity to stir up Monsieur's indignation against Madame, telling him
that he passed with the King for a simpleton, who could not hold his
tongue; that he would lose all confidence, and that his wife would have
everything in her own hand. Monsieur wished to know all the particulars
from Madame; but she refused to tell him her brother's secrets, and this
widened the breach between them. She became enraged, and had the
Chevalier de Lorraine and his brother driven away, which in the end cost
her own life; she, however, died with the consciousness of never having
done her husband any harm. She was the confidante of the King, to whom
it had been hinted that it might be expedient to give some employment to
Monsieur, who might otherwise make himself beloved in the Court and in
the city. For this reason the King assisted Madame in her affairs of
gallantry, in order to occupy his brother. I have this from the King
himself. Madame was besides in great credit with her brother, Charles
II. (of England). Louis XIV. wished to gain him over through his sister,
wherefore it was necessary to take part with her, and she was always
better treated than I have been. The late Monsieur never suspected his
wife of infidelity with the King, her brother-in-law, he told me, all her
life, and would not have been silent with respect to this intrigue if he
had believed it. I think that with respect to this great injustice is
done to Madame. It would have been too much to deceive at once the
brother and the nephew, the father and the son.
The late Monsieur was very much disturbed at his wife's coquetry; but he
dared not behave ill to her, because she was protected by the King.
The Queen-mother of England had not brought up her children well: she at
first left them in the society of femmes de chambre, who gratified all
their caprices; and having afterwards married them at a very early age,
they followed the bad example of their mother. Both of them met with
unhappy deaths; the one was poisoned, and the other died in child-birth.
Monsieur was himself the cause of Madame's intrigue with the Comte de
Guiche. He was one of the favourites of the late Monsieur, and was said
to have been handsome once. Monsieur earnestly requested Madame to shew
some favour to the Comte de Guiche, and to permit him to wait upon her at
all times. The Count, who was brutal to every one else, but full of
vanity, took great pains to be agreeable to Madame, and to make her love
him. In fact, he succeeded, being seconded by his aunt, Madame de
Chaumont, who was the gouvernante of Madame's children. One day Madame
went to this lady's chamber, under the pretence of seeing her children,
but in fact to meet De Guiche, with whom she had an assignation. She had
a valet de chambre named Launois, whom I have since seen in the service
of Monsieur; he had orders to stand sentinel on the staircase, to give
notice in case Monsieur should approach. This Launois suddenly ran into
the room, saying, "Monsieur is coming downstairs."
The lovers were terrified to death. The Count could not escape by the
antechamber on account of Monsieur's people who were there. Launois
said, "I know a way, which I will put into practice immediately; hide
yourself," he said to the Count, "behind the door." He then ran his head
against Monsieur's nose as he was entering, and struck him so violently
that he began to bleed. At the same moment he cried out, "I beg your
pardon, Monsieur, I did not think you were so near, and I ran to open you
Madame and Madame de Chaumont ran in great alarm to Monsieur, and covered
his face with their handkerchiefs, so that the Comte de Guiche had time
to get out of the room, and escape by the staircase. Monsieur saw some
one run away, but he thought it was Launois, who was escaping through
fear. He never learnt the truth.
What convinces me of the late Madame's innocence is that, after having
received the last sacraments, she begged pardon of Monsieur for all
disquiets she had occasioned, and said that she hoped to reach heaven
because she had committed no crime against her husband.
I think M. de Monmouth was much worse than the Comte de Guiche; because,
although a bastard, he was the son of Madame's own brother; and this
incest doubled the crime. Madame de Thiange, sister of Madame de
Montespan, conducted the intrigue between the Duke of Monmouth and
It is said here that Madame was not a beauty, but that she had so
graceful a manner as to make all she did very agreeable. She never
forgave. She would have the Chevalier de Lorraine dismissed; he was so,
but he was amply revenged of her. He sent the poison by which she was
destroyed from Italy by a nobleman of Provence, named Morel: this man was
afterwards given to me as chief maitre d'hotel, and after he had
sufficiently robbed me they made him sell his place at a high price.
This Morel was very clever, but he was a man totally void of moral or
religious principle; he confessed to me that he did not believe in
anything. At the point of death he would not hear talk of God. He said,
speaking of himself, "Let this carcass alone, it is now good for
nothing." He would steal, lie and swear; he was an atheist and.....
It is too true that the late Madame was poisoned, but without the
knowledge of Monsieur. While the villains were arranging the plan of
poisoning the poor lady, they deliberated whether they should acquaint
Monsieur with it or not. The Chevalier de Lorraine said "No, don't tell
him, for he cannot hold his tongue. If he does not tell it the first
year he may have us hanged ten years afterwards;" and it is well known
that the wretches said, "Let us not tell Monsieur, for he would tell the
King, who would certainly hang us all." They therefore made Monsieur
believe that Madame had taken poison in Holland, which did not act until
she arrived here.
[It is said that the King sent for the maitre d'hotel, and that,
being satisfied that Monsieur had not been a party to the crime, he
said, "Then I am relieved; you may retire." The Memoirs of the day
state also that the King employed the Chevalier de Lorraine to
persuade Monsieur to obey his brother's wishes.]
It appears, therefore, that the wicked Gourdon took no part in this
affair; but she certainly accused Madame to Monsieur, and calumniated and
disparaged her to everybody.
It was not Madame's endive-water that D'Effial had poisoned; that report
must have been a mere invention, for other persons might have tasted it
had Madame alone drank from her own glass. A valet de chambre who was
with Madame, and who afterwards was in my service (he is dead now), told
me that in the morning, while Monsieur and Madame were at Mass, D'Effial
went to the sideboard and, taking the Queen's cup, rubbed the inside of
it with a paper. The valet said to him, "Monsieur, what do you do in
this room, and why do you touch Madame's cup?" He answered, "I am dying
with thirst; I wanted something to drink, and the cup being dirty, I was
wiping it with some paper." In the afternoon Madame asked for some
endive-water; but no sooner had she swallowed it than she exclaimed she
was poisoned. The persons present drank some of the same water, but not
the same that was in the cup, for which reason they were not
inconvenienced by it. It was found necessary to carry Madame to bed.
She grew worse, and at two o'clock in the morning she died in great pain.
When the cup was sought for it had disappeared, and was not found until
long after. It seems it had been necessary to pass it through the fire
before it could be cleaned.
A report prevailed at St. Cloud for several years that the ghost of the
late Madame appeared near a fountain where she had been accustomed to sit
during the great heats, for it was a very cool spot. One evening a
servant of the Marquis de Clerambault, having gone thither to draw water
from the fountain, saw something white sitting there without a head. The
phantom immediately arose to double its height. The poor servant fled in
great terror, and said when he entered the house that he had seen Madame.
He fell sick and died. Then the captain of the Chateau, thinking there
was something hidden beneath this affair, went to the fountain some days
afterwards, and, seeing the phantom, he threatened it with a sound
drubbing if it did not declare what it was.
The phantom immediately said, "Ah, M. de Lastera, do me no harm; I am
poor old Philipinette."
This was an old woman in the village, seventy-seven years old, who had
lost her teeth, had blear eyes, a great mouth and large nose; in short,
was a very hideous figure. They were going to take her to prison, but I
interceded for her. When she came to thank me I asked her what fancy it
was that had induced her to go about playing the ghost instead of
She laughed and said, "I cannot much repent what I have done. At my time
of life one sleeps little; but one wants something to amuse one's mind.
In all the sports of my youth nothing diverted me so much as to play the
ghost. I was very sure that if I could not frighten folks with my white
dress I could do so with my ugly face. The cowards made so many grimaces
when they saw it that I was ready to die with laughing. This nightly
amusement repaid me for the trouble of carrying a pannier by day."
If the late Madame was better treated than I was it was for the purpose
of pleasing the King of England, who was very fond of his sister.
Madame de La Fayette, who has written the life of the late Madame, was
her intimate friend; but she was still more intimately the friend of M.
de La Rochefoucauld, who remained with her to the day of his death. It
is said that these two friends wrote together the romance of the
Princesse de Cloves.
THE DUC DE BERRI.
It is not surprising that the manners of the Duc de Berri were not very
elegant, since he was educated by Madame de Maintenon and the Dauphine as
a valet de chambre. He was obliged to wait upon the old woman at table,
and at all other times upon the Dauphine's ladies, with whom he was by
day and night. They made a mere servant of him, and used to talk to him
in a tone of very improper familiarity, saying, "Berri, go and fetch me
my work; bring me that table; give me my scissors."
Their manner of behaving to him was perfectly shameful. This had the
effect of degrading his disposition, and of giving him base propensities;
so that it is not surprising he should have been violently in love with
an ugly femme de chambre. His good father was naturally of rather a
But for that old Maintenon, the Duc de Berri would have been humpbacked,
like the rest who had been made to carry iron crosses.
The Duc de Berri's character seemed to undergo a total change; it is said
to be the ordinary lot of the children in Paris that, if they display any
sense in their youth, they become stupid as they grow older.
It was in compliance with the King's will that he married. At first he
was passionately fond of his wife; but at the end of three months he fell
in love with a little, ugly, black femme de chambre. The Duchess, who
had sufficient penetration, was not slow in discovering this, and told
her husband immediately that, if he continued to live upon good terms
with her, as he had done at first, she would say nothing about it, and
act as if she were not acquainted with it; but if he behaved ill, she
would tell the whole affair to the King, and have the femme de chambre
sent away, so that he should never hear of her again. By this threat she
held the Duke, who was a very simple man, so completely in check, that he
lived very well with her up to his death, leaving her to do as she
pleased, and dying himself as fond as ever of the femme de chambre. A
year before his death he had her married, but upon condition that the
husband should not exercise his marital rights. He left her pregnant as
well as his wife, both of whom lay-in after his decease. Madame de
Berri, who was not jealous, retained this woman, and took care of her and
The Duke abridged his life by his extreme intemperance in eating and
drinking. He had concealed, besides, that in falling from his horse he
had burst a blood-vessel. He threatened to dismiss any of his servants
who should say that he had lost blood. A number of plates were found in
the ruelle of his bed after his death. When he disclosed the accident it
was too late to remedy it. As far as could be judged his illness
proceeded from gluttony, in consequence of which emetics were so
frequently administered to him that they hastened his death.
He himself said to his confessor, the Pere de la Rue, "Ah, father, I am
myself the cause of my death!"
He repented of it, but not until too late.
THE DUCHESSE DE BERRI.
My son loves his eldest daughter better than all the rest of his
children, because he has had the care of her since she was seven years
old. She was at that time seized with an illness which the physicians
did not know how to cure. My son resolved to treat her in his own way.
He succeeded in restoring her to health, and from that moment his love
seemed to increase with her years. She was very badly educated, having
been always left with femmes de chambre. She is not very capricious, but
she is haughty and absolute in all her wishes.
[Her pride led her into all sorts of follies. She once went through
Paris preceded by trumpets and drama; and on another occasion she
appeared at the theatre under a canopy. She received the Venetian
Ambassador sitting in a chair elevated upon a sort of a platform.
This haughtiness, however, did not prevent her from keeping very bad
company, and she would sometimes lay aside her singularities and
break up her orgies to pass some holy days at the Carmelites.]
From the age of eight years she has had entirely her own way, so that it
is not surprising she should be like a headstrong horse. If she had been
well brought up, she would have been a worthy character, for she has very
good sense and a good natural disposition, and is not at all like her
mother, to whom, although she was very severely treated, she always did
her duty. During her mother's last illness, she watched her like a hired
nurse. If Madame de Berri had been surrounded by honest people, who
thought more of her honour than of their own interest, she would have
been a very admirable person. She had excellent feelings; but as that
old woman (Maintenon) once said, "bad company spoils good manners." To
be pleasing she had only to speak, for she possessed natural eloquence,
and could express herself very well.
Her complexion is very florid, for which she often lets blood, but
without effect; she uses a great quantity of paint, I believe for the
purpose of hiding the marks of the small-pox. She cannot dance, and
hates it; but she is well-grounded in music. Her voice is neither strong
nor agreeable, and yet she sings very correctly. She takes as much
diversion as possible; one day she hunts, another day she goes out in a
carriage, on a third she will go to a fair; at other times she frequents
the rope-dancers, the plays, and the operas, and she goes everywhere
'en echarpe', and without stays. I often rally her, and say that she
fancies she is fond of the chase, but in fact she only likes changing her
place. She cares little about the result of the chase, but she likes
boar-hunting better than stag-hunting, because the former furnishes her
table with black puddings and boars' heads.
I do not reckon the Duchesse de Berri among my grandchildren. She is
separated from me, we live like strangers to each other, she does not
disturb herself about me, nor I about her. (7th January, 1716.)
Madame de Maintenon was so dreadfully afraid lest the King should take a
fancy to the Duchesse de Berri while the Dauphine was expected, that she
did her all sorts of ill offices. After the Dauphine's death she
repaired the wrong; but then, to tell the truth, the King's inclination
was not so strong.
If the Duchesse de Berri was not my daughter-in-law, I should have no
reason to be dissatisfied with her; she behaves politely to me, which is
all that I can say. (25th Sept., 1716.)
She often laughs at her own figure and shape. She has certainly good
sense, and is not very punctilious. Her flesh is firm and healthy, her
cheeks are as hard as stone. I should be ungrateful not to love her, for
she does all sorts of civil things towards me, and displays so great a
regard for me that I am often quite amazed at it. (12th April, 1718.)
She is magnificent in her expenditure; to be sure she can afford to be
so, for her income amounts to 600,000 livres. Amboise was her jointure,
but she preferred Meudon.
She fell sick on the 28th March, 1719. I went to see her last Sunday,
the 23rd May, and found her in a sad state, suffering from pains in her
toes and the soles of her feet until the tears came into her eyes. I
went away because I saw that she refrained from crying out on my account.
I thought she was in a bad way. A consultation was held by her three
physicians, the result of which was that they determined to bleed her in
the feet. They had some difficulty in persuading her to submit to it,
because the pain in her feet was so great that she uttered the most
piercing screams if the bedclothes only rubbed against them. The
bleeding, however, succeeded, and she was in some degree relieved. It
was the gout in both feet.
The feet are now covered with swellings filled with water, which cause
her as much pain as if they were ulcers; she suffers day and night.
Whatever they may say, there has been no other swelling of the feet since
those blisters appeared. (13th June.)
The swelling has now entirely disappeared, but the pain is greater than
before. All the toes are covered with transparent blisters; she cries
out so that she may be heard three rooms off. The doctors now confess
they do not know what the disorder is. (20th June.) The King's surgeon
says it is rheumatic gout. (11th July.) I believe that frequent and
excessive bathing and gluttony have undermined her health. She has two
fits of fever daily, and the disease does not abate. She is not
impatient nor peevish; the emetic given to her the day before yesterday
causes her much pain; it seems that from time to time rheumatic pains
have affected her shoulders without her taking much notice of them. From
being very fat, as she was, she has become thin and meagre. Yesterday
she confessed, and received the communion. (18th July.) She was bled
thrice before she took the emetic. (Tuesday, 18th July.) She received
the last Sacrament with a firmness which deeply affected her attendants.
Between two and three o'clock this night (19th July) she died. Her end
was a very easy one; they say she died as if she had gone to sleep. My
son remained with her until she lost all consciousness, which was about
an hour before her death. She was his favourite daughter. The poor
Duchesse de Berri was as much the cause of her own death as if she had
blown her brains out, for she secretly ate melons, figs and milk; she
herself confessed, and her doctor told me, that she had closed her room
to him and to the other medical attendants for a fortnight that she might
indulge in this way. Immediately after the storm she began to die.
Yesterday evening she said to me: "Oh, Madame! that clap of thunder has
done me great harm;" and it was evident that it had made her worse.
My son has not been able to sleep. The poor Duchesse de Berri could not
have been saved; her brain was filled with water; she had an ulcer in the
stomach and another in the groin; her liver was affected, and her spleen
full of disease. She was taken by night to St. Denis, whither all her
household accompanied her corse. They were so much embarrassed about her
funeral oration that it was resolved ultimately not to pronounce one.
With all her wealth she has left my son 400,000 livres of debt to pay.
This poor Princess was horribly robbed and pillaged. You may imagine
what a race these favourites are; Mouchi, who enjoyed the greatest
favour, did not grieve for her mistress a single moment; she was playing
the flute at her window on the very day that the Princess was borne to
St. Denis, and went to a large dinner party in Paris, where she ate and
drank as if nothing had happened, at the same time talking in so
impertinent a manner as disgusted all the guests. My son desired her and
her husband to quit Paris.
My son's affliction is so much the greater since he perceives that,
if he had been less complying with his beloved daughter, and if he had
exercised somewhat more of a parent's authority, she would have been
alive and well at this time.
That Mouchi and her lover Riom have been playing fine tricks; they had
duplicate keys, and left the poor Duchess without a sou. I cannot
conceive what there is to love in this Riom; he has neither face nor
figure; he looks, with his green-and-yellow complexion, like a water
fiend; his mouth, nose and eyes are like those of a Chinese. He is more
like a baboon than a Gascon, which he is. He is a very dull person,
without the least pretensions to wit; he has a large head, which is sunk
between a pair of very broad shoulders, and his appearance is that of a
low-minded person; in short, he is a very ugly rogue.
And yet the toad does not come of bad blood; he is related to some of
the best families. The Duc de Lauzun is his uncle, and Biron his nephew.
He is, nevertheless, unworthy of the honour which was conferred on him;
for he was only a captain in the King's Guard. The women all ran after
him; but, for my part, I find him extremely disagreeable; he has an
unhealthy air and looks like one of the Indian figures upon a screen.
He was not here when Madame de Berri died, but was with the army, in the
regiment which had been bought for him. When the news of the Duchess's
death reached him the Prince de Conti went to seek Riom, and sang a
ridiculous song, my son was a little vexed at this, but he did not take
any notice of it.
There can be no doubt that the Duchess was secretly married to Riom; this
has consoled me in some degree for her loss. I had heard it said before,
and I made a representation upon the subject to my granddaughter.
She laughed, and replied: "Ah, Madame, I thought I had the honour of
being so well known to you that you could not believe me guilty of so
great a folly; I who am so much blamed for my pride."
This answer lulled my suspicions, and I no longer believed the story.
The father and mother would never have consented to this marriage; and
even if they had sanctioned such an impertinence I never would!
[The Duchess, with her usual violence, teased her father to have her
marriage made public; this was also Riom's most ardent desire, who
had married her solely from ambitious motives. The Regent had
despatched Riom to the army for the purpose of gaining time. One
daughter was the result of the connection between Riom and the
Duchesse de Berri, who was afterwards sent into a convent at
The toad had made the Princess believe that he was a Prince of the House
of Aragon, and that the King of Spain unjustly withheld from him his
kingdom; but that if she would marry him he could sue for his claim
through the treaties of peace. Mouchi used to talk about this to the
Duchess from morning to night; and it was for this reason that she was so
greatly in favour.
That Mouchi is the granddaughter of Monsieur's late surgeon. Her mother,
La Forcade, had been appointed by my son the gouvernante of his daughter
and son, and thus the young Forcade was brought up with the Duchesse de
Berri, who married her to Monsieur Mouchi, Master of the Wardrobe to the
Duke, and gave her a large marriage-portion. While the King lived the
Princess could not visit her much; and it was not until after his death
that she became the favourite, and was appointed by the Duchess second
MADEMOISELLE D'ORLEANS, LOUISE-ADELAIDE DE CHARTRES.
Mademoiselle de Chartres, Madame d'Orleans' second daughter, is well
made, and is the handsomest of my granddaughters. She has a fine skin, a
superb complexion, very white teeth, good eyes, and a faultless shape,
but she stammers a little; her hands are extremely delicate, the red and
white are beautifully and naturally mingled in her skin. I never saw
finer teeth; they are like a row of pearls; and her gums are no less
beautiful. A Prince of Auhalt who is here is very much in love with her;
but the good gentleman is ugly enough, so that there is no danger. She
dances well, and sings better; reads music at sight, and understands the
accompaniment perfectly; and she sings without any grimace. She persists
in her project of becoming a nun; but I think she would be better in the
world, and do all in my power to change her determination: it seems,
however, to be a folly which there is no eradicating. Her tastes are all
masculine; she loves dogs, horses, and riding; all day long she is
playing with gunpowder, making fusees and other artificial fireworks.
She has a pair of pistols, which she is incessantly firing; she fears
nothing in the world, and likes nothing which women in general like; she
cares little about her person, and for this reason I think she will make
a good nun.
She does not become a nun through jealousy of her sister, but from the
fear of being tormented by her mother and sister, whom she loves very
much, and in this she is right. She and her sister are not fond of their
mother's favourites, and cannot endure to flatter them. They have no
very reverent notions, either, of their mother's brother, and this is the
cause of dissensions. I never saw my granddaughter in better spirits
than on Sunday last; she was with her sister, on horseback, laughing, and
apparently in great glee. At eight o'clock in the evening her mother
arrived; we played until supper; I thought we were afterwards going to
play again, but Madame d'Orleans begged me to go into the cabinet with
her and Mademoiselle d'Orleans; the child there fell on her knees, and
begged my permission, and her mother's, to go to Chelles to perform her
devotions. I said she might do that anywhere, that the place mattered
not, but that all depended upon her own heart, and the preparation which
she made. She, however, persisted in her desire to go to Chelles. I
said to her mother:
"You must decide whether your daughter shall go to Chelles or not."
She replied, "We cannot hinder her performing her devotions."
[In the Memoirs of the time it is said that Mademoiselle de
Chartres, being at the Opera with her mother, exclaimed, while
Caucherau was singing a very tender air," Ah! my dear Caucherau!"
and that her mother, thinking this rather too expressive, resolved
to send her to a convent.]
So yesterday morning at seven o'clock she set off in a coach; she
afterwards sent back the carriage, with a letter to her father, her
mother, and myself, declaring that she will never more quit that accursed
cloister. Her mother, who has a liking for convents, is not very deeply
afflicted; she looks upon it as a great blessing to be a nun, but, for my
part, I think it is one of the greatest misfortunes.
My son went yesterday to Chelles, and took with him the Cardinal de
Noailles, to try for the last time to bring his daughter away from the
convent. (20th July, 1718.)
My heart is full when I think that our poor Mademoiselle d'Orleans has
made the profession of her vows. I said to her all I could, in the hope
of diverting her from this diabolical project, but all has been useless.
(23rd August, 1718.) I should not have restrained my tears if I had been
present at the ceremony of her profession. My son dreaded it also. I
cannot tell for what reason Mademoiselle d'Orleans resolved to become a
nun. Mademoiselle de Valois wanted to do the same thing, but she could
not prevail upon her mother. In the convent they assume the names of
saints. My granddaughter has taken that of Sister Bathilde; she is of
the Benedictine order.
Madame d'Orleans has long wished her daughter to take this step, and it
was on her account that the former Abbess, Villars' sister, was prevailed
upon to quit the convent. He is in the interest of the Duc du Maine. I
do not see, however, that his sister has much to complain of, for they
gave her a pension of 12,000 livres until the first abbey should become
vacant. Madame d'Orleans is, however, vexed at the idea of Villars'
sister being obliged to yield to my son's daughter, which is,
nevertheless, as it should be.
Our Abbess is upon worse terms than ever with her mother. She complains
that the latter never comes but to scold her. She does not envy her
sister her marriage, for she finds herself very happy, and in this she
displays great good sense.
MADEMOISELLE DE VALOIS, CHARLOTTE-AGLAE, CONSORT OF THE PRINCE OF MODENA.
Mademoiselle de Valois is not, in my opinion, pretty, and yet
occasionally she does not look ugly. She has something like charms,
for her eyes, her colour and her skin are good. She has white teeth,
a large, ill-looking nose, and one prominent tooth, which when she laughs
has a bad effect. Her figure is drawn up, her head is sunk between her
shoulders, and what, in my opinion, is the worst part of her appearance,
is the ill grace with which she does everything. She walks like an old
woman of eighty. If she were a person not very anxious to please, I
should not be surprised at the negligence of her gait; but she likes to
be thought pretty. She is fond of dress, and yet she does not understand
that a good mien and graceful manners are the most becoming dress, and
that where these are wanting all the ornaments in the world are good for
nothing. She has a good deal of the Mortemart family in her, and is as
much like the Duchess of Sforza, the sister of Montespan, as if she were
her daughter; the falsehood of the Mortemarts displays itself in her
eyes. Madame d'Orleans would be the most indolent woman in the world but
for Madame de Valois, her daughter, who is worse than she. To me nothing
is more disgusting than a young person so indolent. She cares little for
me, or rather cannot bear me, and, for my part, I care as little for a
person so educated.
She is not upon good terms with her mother, because she wanted to marry
her to the Prince de Dombes, the Duc du Maine's eldest son. The mother
says now reproachfully to her daughter that, if she had married her
nephew, neither his father's nor his own misfortunes would have taken
place. She cannot bear to have her daughter in her sight, and has begged
me to keep her with me.
My son has agreed to give his daughter to the Prince of Modem, at which I
very sincerely rejoice. On the day before yesterday (28th November,
1719) she came hither with her mother to tell me that the courier had
arrived. Her eyes were swollen and red, and she looked very miserable.
The Duchess of Hanover tells me that the intended husband fell in love
with Mademoiselle de Valois at the mere sight of her portrait. I think
her rather pretty than agreeable. Her hawk nose spoils all, in my
opinion. Her legs are long, her body stout and short, and her gait
shows that she has not learnt to dance; in fact, she never would learn.
Still, if the interior was as good as the exterior, all might pass; but
she has as much of the father as of the mother in her, and this it is
that I dislike.
Our bride-elect is putting, as we say here, as good a face as she can
upon a bad bargain; although her language is gay her eyes are swollen,
and it is suspected that she has been weeping all night. The Grand
Prior, who is also General of the Galleys, will escort his sister into
Italy. The Grand Duchess of Tuscany says that she will not see
Mademoiselle de Valois nor speak to her, knowing very well what Italy is,
and believing that Mademoiselle de Valois will not be able to reconcile
herself to it. She is afraid that if her niece should ever return to
France they will say, "There is the second edition of the Grand Duchess;
"and that for every folly she may commit towards her father-in-law and
husband they will add, "Such are the instructions which her aunt, the
Grand Duchess, has given her." For this reason she said she would not go
to see her.
The present has come from Modena; it does not consist of many pieces;
there is a large jewel for the bride, with some very fine diamonds, in
the midst of which is the portrait of the Prince of Modena, but it is
badly executed. This present is to be given on the day of the marriage
and at the signature of the contract in the King's presence; this
ceremony will take place on the 11th (of February, 1720). The nuptial
benediction will be pronounced on Monday, and on Thursday she will set
off. I never in my life saw a bride more sorrowful; for the last three
days she has neither eaten nor drunk, and her eyes are filled with tears.
I have been the prophetess of evil, but I have prophesied too truly.
When our Princess of Modena told me that she wished to go to Chelles to
bid her sister farewell, I told her that the measles had been in the
convent a short time before, that the Abbess herself had been attacked by
this disease, which was contagious. She replied that she would seek it.
I said such things are more easily found than anything good; you run a
risk of your life, and I recommend you to take care. Notwithstanding my
advice, she went on Sunday morning to Chelles, and passed the whole of
the day with her sister. Soon afterwards she found herself unwell, and
was laid up with the measles. Her consolation is that this illness
retards her journey.
On the 12th of March (1720) my son brought his daughter to bid me
farewell. She could not articulate a word. She took my hands, kissed
and pressed them, and then clasped her own. My son was much affected
when he brought her. They thought at first of marrying her to the Prince
of Piedmont. Her father had given her some reason to hope for this
union, but he afterwards retracted.
[According to Duclos it was Madame herself who prevented this
marriage by writing to the Queen of Sicily that she was too much her
friend to make her so worthless a present as Mademoiselle de Valois.
Duclos adds that the Regent only laughed at this German blunder of
She would have preferred marrying the Duke or the Comte de Charolois,
because then she would have remained with her friends. Her father has
given her several jewels. The King's present is superb. It consists of
fourteen very large and fine diamonds, to each of which are fastened
round pearls of the first water, and together they form a necklace. The
Grand Duchess advised her niece well in telling her not to follow her
example, but to endeavour to please her husband and father-in-law.
[The same author (Duclos) says, on the contrary, that the Duchess
had given her niece the following advice: "My dear, do as I have
done. Have one or two children and try to get back to France; there
is nothing good for us out of that country."]
The Prince of Modena will repair to Genoa incognito, because the Republic
has declared that they will pay due honours to his bride as a Princess of
the blood, but not as Princess of Modena. They have already begun to
laugh here at the amusements of Modena. She has sent to her father from
Lyons an harangue which was addressed to her by a curate. In spite of
her father, she will visit the whole of Provence. She will go to Toulon,
La Ste. Beaume, and I know not what. I believe she wishes to see
everything or anything except her husband.
[She performed her journey so slowly that the Prince complained of
it, and the Regent was obliged to order his daughter to go directly
to the husband, who was expecting her.]
It may truly be said of this Princess that she has eaten her white bread
All goes well at Modena at present, but the too charming brother-in-law
is not permitted to be at the petite soupers of his sister. The husband,
it is said, is delighted with his wife; but she has told him that he must
not be too fond of her, for that is not the fashion in France, and would
seem ridiculous. This declaration has not, as might be guessed, given
very great satisfaction in this country.
The Grand Duchess says, in the time of the Queen-mother's regency, when
the Prince and his brother, the Prince de Conti, were taken to the
Bastille, they were asked what books they would have to amuse themselves
with? The Prince de Conti said he should like to have "The Imitation of
Jesus Christ;" and the Prince de Condo said he would rather like "The
Imitation of the Duc de Beaufort," who had then just left the Bastille.
"I think," added the Duchess, "that the Princess of Modena will soon be
inclined to ask for 'The Imitation of the Grand Duchess.'"
[The Princess of Modena did, in fact, go back to France, and
remained there for the rest of her life.]
Our Princess of Modena has found her husband handsomer and likes him
better than she thought she should; she has even become so fond of him,
that she has twice kissed his hands; a great condescension for a person
so proud as she is, and who fancies that, there is not her equal on the
The Duke of Modena is a very strange person in all matters. His son and
his son's wife have requested him to get rid of Salvatico, who has been
here in the quality of envoy. This silly person made on the journey a
declaration in form of his love for the Princess, and threatened her with