Part 19 out of 62
all sorts of misfortune if she did not accept his love. He began his
"Ah! ah! ah! Madame, ah! ah! ah! Madame."
The Princess interrupted him: "What do you mean with your ah's?"
He replied, "Ah! the Prince of Modena is under great obligations; I have
made him happy."
He had begun the same follies here, and was in the habit of entering the
Princess's chamber at all times, and he even had the impudence to be
jealous. The Princess complained of him to her husband, and he told his
father of it, begging him to send the rogue away; but the father was so
far from complying that he wanted to make Salvatico his major-domo. Upon
the whole, I think that Salvatico's love for our Princess of Modena is
fortunate for her; for, having learnt all that had passed here,
[Mademoiselle de Valois had an amorous intrigue with the Duc de
Richelieu; and it is said that she only consented to marry the
Prince of Modena upon condition that her father, the Regent, would
set her husband at liberty. Madame had intimated to the Duc de
Richelieu that, if he approached the places where her granddaughter
was with her, his life would be in great peril.]
he might have made inconvenient reports: he would, however, perhaps have
done it in vain, for the Prince would not have believed him. Salvatico
is quite crazy. He is the declared favourite of the Duke of Modena,
which verifies the German proverb, "Like will to like, as the devil said
to the collier."
The Prince and Princess are very fond of each other; but it is said they
join in ridiculing the old father (2nd August, 1720). The Princess goes
about all day from room to room, crying, "How tired I am, how tiresome
everything is here! "She, however, lives a little better with her
husband than at the beginning.
THE ILLEGITIMATE CHILDREN OF THE REGENT, DUC D'ORLEANS.
My son has three illegitimate children, two boys and a girl; but only one
of them is legitimated, that is, his son by Mademoiselle de Seri, a lady
of noble family, and who was my Maid of Honour. The younger Margrave of
Anspach was also in love with her. This son is called the Chevalier
d'Orleans. The other, who is now (1716) about eighteen years old, is an
Abbe; he is the son of La Florence, a dancer at the Opera House. The
daughter is by Desmarets, the actress. My son says that the Chevalier
d'Orleans is more unquestionably his than any of the others; but, to tell
the truth, I think the Abbe has a stronger family likeness to my son than
the Chevalier, who is like none of them. I do not know where my son
found him; he is a good sort of person, but he has neither elegance nor
beauty. It is a great pity that the Abbe is illegitimate: he is well
made; his features are not bad; he has very good talents, and has studied
much.--[Duclos says that this 'eleve' of the Jesuits was, nevertheless,
the most zealous ignoramus that ever their school produced.]--He is a
good deal like the portraits of the late Monsieur in his youth, only that
he is bigger. When he stands near Mademoiselle de Valois it is easy to
see that they belong to the same father. My son purchased for the
Chevalier d'Orleans the office of General of the Galleys from the
Marechal de Tasse. He intends to make him a Knight of Malta, so that he
may live unmarried, for my son does not wish to have the illegitimate
branches of his family extended. The Chevalier does not want wit; but he
is a little satirical, a habit which he takes from his mother.
My son will not recognize the Abbe Saint-Albin, on account of the
irregular life which his mother, La Florence, has led. He fears being
laughed at for acknowledging children so different. The Abbe Dubois was
a chief cause, too, why my son would not acknowledge this son. It was
because the Abbe, aspiring to the Cardinal's hat, was jealous of every
one who might be a competitor with him. I love this Abbe Saint-Albin, in
the first place, because he is attached to me, and, in the second,
because he is really very clever; he has wit and sense, with none of the
mummery of priests. My son does not esteem him half so much as he
deserves, for he is one of the best persons in the world; he is pious and
virtuous, learned in every point, and not vain. It is in vain for my son
to deny him; any one may see of what race he comes, and I am sorry that
he is not legitimated. My son is much more fond of Seri's Son.
The poor Abbe de Saint-Albin is grieved to death at not being
acknowledged; while Fortune smiles upon his elder brother, he is
forgotten, despised, and has no rank; he seeks only to be legitimated.
I console him as well as I can; but why should I tease my son about the
[The Abbe de Saint-Albin was appointed Bishop of Laon, and, after
Dubois' death, Archbishop of Cambrai. When he wished to become a
member of the Parliament he could not give the names either of his
father or mother; he had been baptized in the name of Cauche, the
Regent's valet de chambre and purveyor.]
It would only put him in the way of greater inconveniences, for, as he
has also several children by Parabere, she would be no less desirous that
he should legitimate hers. This consideration ties my tongue.
The daughter of the actress Desmarets is somewhat like her mother, but
she is like no one else. She was educated in a convent at Saint Denis,
but had no liking for a nun's life. When my son had her first brought to
him she did not know who she was. When my son told her he was her
father, she was transported with joy, fancying that she was the daughter
of Seri and sister to the Chevalier; she thought, too, that she would be
legitimated immediately. When my son told her that could not be done,
and that she was Desmarets' daughter, she wept excessively. Her mother
had never been permitted to see her in the convent; the nuns would not
have allowed it, and her presence would have been injurious to the child.
From the time she was born, her mother had not seen her until the present
year (1719), when she saw her in a box at the theatre, and wept for joy.
My son married this girl to the Marquis de Segur.
An actress at the Opera House, called Mdlle. d'Usg, who is since dead,
was in great favour with my son, but that did not last long. At her
death it appeared that, although she had had several children, neither
she nor her mother nor her grandmother had ever been married.
THE CHEVALIER DE LORRAINE.
The Chevalier de Lorraine looked very ill, but it was in consequence of
his excessive debauchery, for he had once been a handsome man. He had a
well-made person, and if the interior had answered to the exterior I
should have had nothing to say against him. He was, however, a very bad
man, and his friends were no better than he. Three or four years before
my husband's death, and for his satisfaction, I was reconciled with the
Chevalier, and from that time he did me no mischief. He was always
before so much afraid of being sent away that he used to tell Monsieur he
ought to know what I was saying and doing, that he might be apprised of
any attempt that should be made against the Chevalier or his creatures.
He died so poor that his friends were obliged to bury him; yet he had
100,000 crowns of revenue, but he was so bad a manager that his people
always robbed him. Provided they would supply him when he wanted them
with a thousand pistoles for his pleasures or his play, he let them
dispose of his property as they thought fit. That Grancey drew large
sums from him. He met with a shocking death. He was standing near
Madame de Mare, Grancey's sister, and telling her that he had been
sitting up at some of his extravagant pleasures all night, and was
uttering the most horrible expressions, when suddenly he was stricken
with apoplexy, lost the power of speech, and shortly afterwards expired.
[He died suddenly in his own house, playing at ombre, as many of his
family had done, and was regretted by no person except Mdlle. de
Lillebonne, to whom he was believed to have been privately married.
--Note to Dangeau's Journal. This man, who was suspected of having
poisoned the King's sister-in-law, was nevertheless in possession of
four abbeys, the revenues of which defrayed the expenses of his
PHILIP V., KING OF SPAIN.
Louis XIV. wept much when his grandson set out for Spain. I could not
help weeping, too. The King accompanied him as far as Sceaux. The tears
and lamentations in the drawing-room were irresistible. The Dauphin was
also deeply affected.
The King of Spain is very hunchbacked, and is not in other respects well
made; but he is bigger than his brothers. He has the best mien, good
features, and fine hair. What is somewhat singular, although his hair is
very light, his eyes are quite black; his complexion is clear red and
white; he has an Austrian mouth; his voice is deep, and he is singularly
slow in speaking. He is a good and peaceable sort of a person, but a
little obstinate when he takes it in his head. He loves his wife above
all things, leaves all affairs to her, and never interferes in anything.
He is very pious, and believes he should be damned if he committed any
matrimonial infidelity. But for his devotion he would be a libertine,
for he is addicted to women, and it is for this reason he is so fond of
his wife. He has a very humble opinion of his own merit. He is very
easily led, and for this reason the Queen will not lose sight of him. He
receives as current truths whatever is told him by persons to whom he is
accustomed, and never thinks of doubting. The good gentleman ought to be
surrounded by competent persons, for his own wit would not carry him far;
but he is of a good disposition, and is one of the quietest men in the
world. He is a little melancholy, and there is nothing in Spain to make
He must know people before he will speak to them at all. If you desire
him to talk you must tease him and rally him a little, or he will not
open his mouth. I have seen Monsieur very impatient at his talking to
me while he could not get a word from him. Monsieur did not take the
trouble to talk to him before he was a King, and then he wished him to
speak afterwards; that did not suit the King. He was not the same with
me. In the apartment, at table, or at the play, he used to sit beside
me. He was very fond of hearing tales, and I used to tell them to him
for whole evenings: this made him well accustomed to me, and he had
always something to ask me. I have often laughed at the answer he made
me when I said to him, "Come, Monsieur, why do not you talk to your
uncle, who is quite distressed that you never speak to him."
"What shall I say to him?" he replied, "I scarcely know him."
It is quite true that the Queen of Spain was at first very fond of the
Princesse des Ursins, and that she grieved much when that Princess was
dismissed for the first time. The story that is told of the Confessor is
also very true; only one circumstance is wanting in it, that is, that the
Duc de Grammont, then Ambassador, played the part of the Confessor, and
it was for this reason he was recalled.
The Queen had one certain means of making the King do whatever she
wished. The good gentleman was exceedingly fond of her, and this
fondness she turned to good account. She had a small truckle-bed in her
room, and when the King would not comply with any of her requests she
used to make him sleep in this bed; but when she was pleased with him he
was admitted to her own bed; which was the very summit of happiness to
the poor King. After the Princesse des Ursins had departed, the King
recalled the Confessor from Rome, and kept him near his own person
The King of Spain can never forgive, and Madame des Ursins has told him
so many lies to my son's disadvantage that the King can never, while he
lives, be reconciled to him.
Rebenac's--[Francois de Feuquieres, Called the Comte de Rebenac,
Extraordinary Ambassador to Spain.]--passion for the late Queen of Spain
was of no disadvantage to her; she only laughed at it, and did not care
for him. It was the Comte de Mansfeld, the man with the pointed nose,
who poisoned her. He bought over two of her French femmes de chambre to
give her poison in raw oysters; and they afterwards withheld from her the
antidote which had been entrusted to their care.
The Queen of Spain, daughter of the first Madame,--[Henrietta of
England.]--died in precisely the same manner as she did, and at the same
age, but in a much more painful manner, for the violence of the poison
was such as to make her nails fall off.
THE DUCHESSE LOUISE-FRANCISQUE, CONSORT OF LOUIS III., DUC DE BOURBON.
I knew a German gentleman who has now been dead a long time (1718), who
has sworn to me positively that the Duchess is not the daughter of the
King, but of Marechal de Noailles. He noted the time at which he saw the
Marshal go into Montespan's apartment, and it was precisely nine months
from that time that the Duchess came into the world. This German, whose
name was Bettendorf, was a brigadier in the Body Guard; and he was on
guard at Montespan's when the captain of the first company paid this
visit to the King's mistress.
The Duchess is not prettier than her daughters, but she has more grace;
her manners are more fascinating and agreeable; her wit shines in her
eyes, but there is some malignity in them also. I always say she is like
a very pretty cat, which, while you play with it, lets you feel it has
claws. No person has a better carriage of the head. It is impossible to
dance better than the Duchess and her daughters can; but the mother
dances the best. I do not know how it is, but even her lameness is
becoming to her. The Duchess has the talent of saying things in so
pleasant a manner that one cannot help laughing. She is very amusing and
uncommonly good company; her notions are so very comical. When she
wishes to make herself agreeable to any one she is very insinuating, and
can take all shapes; if she were not also treacherous, one might say
truly that nobody is more amiable than the Duchess; she understands so
well how to accommodate herself to people's peculiar habits that one
would believe she takes a real interest in them; but there is nothing
certain about her. Although her sense is good, her heart is not.
Notwithstanding her ambition, she seems at first as if she thought only
of amusing and diverting herself and others; and she can feign so
skilfully that one would think she had been very agreeably entertained in
the society of persons, whom immediately upon her return home she will
ridicule in all possible ways.
La Mailly complained to her aunt, old Maintenon, that her husband was in
love with the Duchess; but this husband, having afterwards been
captivated by an actress named Bancour, gave up to her all the Duchess's
letters, for which he was an impertinent rascal. The Duchess wrote a
song upon Mailly, in which she reproached her, notwithstanding her airs
of prudery, with an infidelity with Villeroi, a sergeant of the Guard.
In the Duchess's house malice passes for wit, and therefore they are
under no restraint. The three sisters--the Duchess, the Princesse de
Conti, and Madame d'Orleans--behave to each other as if they were not
The Princess is a very virtuous person, and is much displeased at her
daughter-in-law's manner of life, for Lasso is with her by day and by
night; at the play, at the Opera, in visits, everywhere Lasso is seen
THE YOUNGER DUCHESS.
The Duke's wife is not an ill-looking person: she has good eyes, and
would be very well if she had not a, habit of stretching and poking out
her neck. Her shape is horrible; she is quite crooked; her back is
curved into the form of an S. I observed her one day, through curiosity,
when the Dauphine was helping her to dress.
She is a wicked devil; treacherous in every way, and of a very dangerous
temper. Upon the whole, she is not good for much. Her falsehood was the
means of preventing the Duke from marrying one of my granddaughters.
Being the intimate friend of Madame de Berri, who was very desirous that
one of her sisters should marry the Duke and the other the Prince de
Conti, she promised to bring about the marriage, provided Madame de Berri
would say nothing of it to the King or to me. After having imposed this
condition, she told the King that Madame de Berri and my son were
planning a marriage without his sanction; in order to punish them she
begged the King to marry the Duke to herself, which was actually done.
Thanks to her good sense, she lives upon tolerable terms with her
husband, although he has not much affection for her. They follow each
their own inclinations; they are not at all jealous of each other, and it
is said they have separate beds.
She causes a great many troubles and embarrassments to her relation, the
young Princesse de Conti, and perfectly understands tormenting folks.
The young Duchess died yesterday evening (22nd March, 1720). The Duke's
joy at the death of his wife will be greatly diminished when he learns
that she has bequeathed to her sister, Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon,
all her property; and as the husband and wife lived according to the
custom of Paris, 'en communaute', the Duke will be obliged to refund the
half of all he gained by Law's bank.
After the death of the younger Duchess, the Princesse de Conti, her
mother, wrote to a Chevalier named Du Challar, who was the lover of the
deceased, to beg him to come and see her, as he was the only object left
connected with her daughter, and assuring him that he might reckon upon
her services in everything that depended upon her. It was the younger
Duchess who was so fond of Lasse, and who had been so familiar with him
at a masked ball.
I recognized only two good qualities in her: her respect and affection
for her grandmother, the Princess, and the skill with which she concealed
her faults. Beside this, she was good for nothing, in whatever way her
character is regarded. That she was treacherous is quite certain; and
she shortened her life by her improper conduct. She neither loved nor
hated her husband, and they lived together more like brother and sister
than husband and wife.
The Elector of Bavaria, during his stay at Paris, instead of visiting his
nephews and nieces, passed all his time, by day and by night, with the
Duchess and her daughters. As to me, he fled me as he would fly the
plague, and never spoke to me but in the company of M. de Torcy. The
Duchess had three of the handsomest daughters in the world: the one
called Mademoiselle de Clermont is extremely beautiful; but I think her
sister, the Princesse de Conti, more amiable. The Duchess can drink very
copiously without being affected; her daughters would fain imitate her,
but they soon get tipsy, and cannot control themselves as their mother
LOUIS III., DUC DE BOURBON.
It is said that the Duke has solid parts; he does everything with a
certain nobility; he has a good person, but the loss of that eye, which
the Duc de Berri struck out, disfigures him much. He is certainly very
politic, and this quality he has from his mother. He is polite and well-
bred; his mind is not very comprehensive, and he has been badly
instructed. They say he is unfit for business for three reasons:
first, on account of his ignorance; secondly, for his want of
application; and, thirdly, for his impatience. I can see that in
examining him narrowly one would find many defects in him; but he has
also many praiseworthy qualities, and he possesses many friends. He has
a greatness and nobility of soul, and a good deportment.
The Prince is in love with Madame de Polignac; but she is fond of the
Duke, who cannot yet forget Madame de Nesle, although she has dismissed
him to make room for that great calf, the Prince of Soubise. The latter
person is reported to have said, "Why does the Duke complain? Have I not
consented to share Madame de Nesle's favours with him whenever he
Such is the delicacy which prevails here in affairs of love.
The Duke is very passionate. When Madame de Nesle dismissed him he
almost died of vexation; he looked as if he was about to give up the
ghost, and for six months he did not know what to do.
The Marquis de Villequier, the Duc d'Aumont's son, one day visited the
Marquise de Nesle. She took it into her head to ask him if he was very
fond of his wife. Villequier replied, "I am not in love with her; I see
her very little; our humours differ greatly. She is serious, and for my
part I like pleasure and gaiety. I feel for her a friendship founded on
esteem, for she is one of the most virtuous women in France."
Madame de Nesle, of whom no man could say so much, took this for an
insult, and complained of it to the Duke, who promised to avenge her.
Some days afterwards he invited young Villequier to dine with him at the
Marquis de Nesle's; there were, besides Madame de Nesle, the Marquis de
Gevres, Madame de Coligny, and others. During dinner the Duke began
"A great many men fancy they are sure of the fidelity of their wives, but
it is a mistake. I thought to protect myself from this common fate by
marrying a monster, but it served me nought; for a villain named Du
Challar, who was more ugly than I am, played me false. As to the Marquis
de Gevres, as he will never marry * * * , he will be exempt; but you,
Monsieur de Nesle, you are so and so." Nesle, who did not believe it,
although it was very true, only laughed. Then addressing himself to
Villequier, he said, "And you, Villequier, don't you think you are so?"
He was silent. The Duke continued, "Yes, you are befooled by the
Chevalier de Pesay."
Villequier blushed, but at last said, "I confess that up to this moment I
had no reason to believe it; but since you put me into such good company
I have no right to complain."
I do not think Madame de Nesle was well revenged.
I remember that the Duke, who was terribly ill-made, said one day to the
late Monsieur, who was a straight, well-formed person, that a mask had
taken him for Monsieur. The latter, somewhat mortified at such a
mistake, replied, "I lay that, with all other wrongs done to me, at the
foot of the Cross."
Ever since the Duchess espoused the party of her son against her brother
and his nephews, the Duke has displayed a great fondness for his mother,
about whom he never disturbed himself before.
Mdlle. de Polignac made the Duke believe she was very fond of him. He
entertained great suspicions of her, and had her watched, and learnt that
she was carrying on a secret intrigue with the Chevalier of Bavaria. He
reproached her with it, and she denied the accusation. The Duke
cautioned her not to think that she could deceive him. She protested
that he had been imposed upon. As soon, however, as she had quitted him
she went to the Chevalier's house; and the Duke, who had her dogged, knew
whither she had gone. The next day he appointed her to visit him; she
went directly to the bedroom, believing that his suspicions were entirely
lulled. The Duke then opened the door wide, so that she might be seen
from the cabinet, which was full of men; and calling the Chevalier of
Bavaria, he said to him: "Here, Sir Chevalier, come and see your
mistress, who will now have no occasion to go so far to find you."
Although the Duke and the Prince de Conti are brothers-in-law in two
ways, they cannot bear each other.
The Duke is at this moment (1718) very strongly attached to Madame de
Prie. She has already received a good beating on his account from her
husband, but this does not deter her. She is said to have a good deal of
sense; she entirely governs the Duke, who is solely occupied with making
her unfaithful to M. de Prie. She has consoled the Duke for his
dismissal from Madame de Nesle; but it is said that she is unfaithful to
him, and that she has two other lovers. One is the Prince of Carignan,
and the other Lior, the King's first maitre d'hotel, which latter is the
handsomest of the three.
It is impossible that the Duke can now inspire any woman with affection
for him. He is tall, thin as a lath; his legs are like those of a crane;
his body is bent and short, and he has no calves to his legs; his eyes
are so red that it is impossible to distinguish the bad eye from the good
one; his cheeks are hollow; his chin so long that one would not suppose
it belonged to the face; his lips uncommonly large: in short, I hardly
ever saw a man before so ugly. It is said that the inconstancy of his
mistress, Madame de Prie, afflicts him profoundly.
The Marchioness was extremely beautiful, and her whole person was
very captivating. Possessing as many mental as personal charms, she
concealed beneath an apparent simplicity the most dangerous
treachery. Without the least conception of virtue, which, according
to her ideas, was a word void of sense, she affected innocence in
vice, was violent under an appearance of meekness, and libertine by
constitution. She deceived her lover with perfect impunity, who
would believe what she said even against the evidence of his own
eyes. I could mention several instances of this, if they were not
too indecent. It is, however, sufficient to say that she had one
day to persuade him that he was the cause of a libertinism of which
he was really the victim.--Memoires de Duclos, tome ii. It is well
known that, after the Duke assumed the Regency, upon the death of
the Regent, the Marchioness du Prie governed in his name; and that
she was exiled, and died two years afterwards of ennui and vexation.
The Princess of Modena takes nothing by the death of the Duchess; the
Duke has said that he never would have married that Princess, and that
now he will not marry at all.
In order that Mademoiselle de la Roche-sur-Yon may enjoy the millions
that belong to her of right, in consequence of her sister's death, it is
necessary first for her to receive them; but the Duke, it is reported, as
the good Duc de Crequi used to say, "Holds back as tight as the trigger
of the Cognac cross-bow;" and in fact he has not only refused to give up
to his sister what she should take under her sister's will, but he
disputes her right to the bank-notes which she had given to the Duchess
to take care of for her, when she herself was dangerously ill.
The Duke and his mother are said to have gained each two hundred and
The Duke, who is looked upon as Law's very good friend, has been ill-
treated by the people, who have passed all kinds of insults upon him,
calling him even a dog. His brother, the Marquis de Clermont, too, has
fared little better; for they cried after him at the Port Royal, "Go
along, dog! you are not much better than your brother." His tutor
alighted for the purpose of haranguing the mob; but they picked up some
stones, and he soon found it expedient to get into the carriage again,
and make off with all speed.
FRANCOIS-LOUIS, PRINCE DE CONTI.
The Prince de Conti, who died lately (in 1709), had good sense, courage,
and so many agreeable qualities as to make himself generally beloved.
But he had also some bad points in his character, for he was false, and
loved no person but himself.
It is said that he caused his own death by taking stimulating medicines,
which destroyed a constitution naturally feeble. There had been some
talk of making him King of Poland.--[In 1696, after the death of John
THE GREAT PRINCESSE DE CONTI, DAUGHTER OF LA VALLIERE.
This is of all the King's illegitimate daughters the one he most loves.
She is by far the most polite and well-bred, but she is now totally
absorbed by devotion.
THE PRINCESS PALATINE, MARIE-THERESE DE BOURBON, WIFE OF FRANCOIS-LOUIS,
PRINCE DE CONTI.
This Princess is the only one of the House of Conde who is good for
anything. I think she must have some German blood in her veins. She is
little, and somewhat on one side, but she is not hunchbacked. She has
fine eyes, like her father; with this exception, she has no pretensions
to beauty, but she is virtuous and pious. What she has suffered on
account of her husband has excited general compassion; he was as jealous
as a fiend, though without the slightest cause. She never knew where she
was to pass the night. When she had made arrangements to sleep at
Versailles, he would take her from Paris to Chantilly, where she supposed
she was going to stay; then she was obliged to set out for Versailles.
He tormented her incessantly in all possible ways, and he looked,
moreover, like a little ape. The late Queen had two paroquets, one of
which was the very picture of the Prince, while the other was as much
like the Marechal de Luxembourg as one drop of water is like another.
Notwithstanding all that the Princess has suffered, she daily regrets the
loss of her husband. I am often quite angry to see her bewailing her
widowhood instead of enjoying the repose which it affords her; she wishes
that her husband were alive again, even although he should torment her
again as much as before.
She was desirous that Mademoiselle de Conde should marry the late
Margrave; this lady was incomparably more handsome than her sister; but I
think he had a greater inclination for Mademoiselle de Vendome, because
she seemed to be more modest and quiet.
The Princess, who has been born and educated here, had not the same
dislike that I felt to her son's marrying an illegitimate child, and yet
she has repented it no less. She is exceedingly unhappy with respect to
her children. The Princesse de Conti, mother of the Prince de Conti, who
is rather virtuous than otherwise, is nevertheless a little simpleton,
and is something like the Comtesse Pimbeche Orbeche, for she is always
wishing to be engaged in lawsuits against her mother; who, on her part,
has used all possible means, but without success, to be reconciled to
her. On Thursday last (10th March, 1720) she lost her cause, and I am
very glad of it, for it was an unjust suit. The younger Princess wished
the affair to be referred to arbitration; but the son would have the
business carried through, and made his counsel accuse his mother of
falsehood. The advocate of the Princess replied as follows:
"The sincerity of the Princesse de Conti and of the Princess her daughter
are so well known that all the world can judge of them." This has amused
the whole palace.
LOUISE-ELIZABETH, PRINCESSE DE CONTI, CONSORT OF LOUIE-ARMAND DE CONTI.
She is a person full of charms, and a striking proof that grace is
preferable to beauty. When she chooses to make herself agreeable, it is
impossible to resist her. Her manners are most fascinating; she is full
of gentleness, never displaying the least ill-humour, and always saying
something kind and obliging. It is greatly to be regretted that she is
not in the society of more virtuous persons, for she is herself naturally
very good; but she is spoiled by bad company. She has an ugly fool for
her husband, who has been badly brought up; and the examples which are
constantly before her eyes are so pernicious that they have corrupted her
and made her careless of her reputation. Her amiable, unaffected manners
are highly delightful to foreigners. Among others, some Bavarians have
fallen in love with her, as well as the Prince Ragotzky; but she
disgusted him with her coquetry.
She does not love her husband, and cannot do so, no less on account of
his ugly person than for his bad temper. It is not only his face that is
hideous, but his whole person is frightful and deformed. She terrified
him by placing some muskets and swords near her bed, and assuring him
that if he came there again with his pistols charged, she would take the
gun and fire upon him, and if she missed, she would fall upon him with
the sword. Since this time he has left off carrying his pistols.
Her husband teased her, and made her weep so much that she has lost her
child, and her health is again injured.
LOUIE-ARMAND, PRINCE DE CONTI.
It cannot be denied that his whole appearance is extremely repulsive. He
is a horribly ill-made little man, and is always absent-minded, which
gives him a distracted air, as if he were really crazy. When it could be
the least expected, too, he will fall over his own walking-stick. The
folks in the palace were so much accustomed to this in the late King's
time, that they used always to say, when they heard anything fall,
"It's nothing; only the Prince de Conti tumbling down."
He has sense, but he has been brought up like a scullion boy; he has
strange whimsies, of which he is quite aware himself, but which he cannot
control. His wife is a charming woman, and is much to be pitied for
being in fear of her life from this madman, who often threatens her with
loaded pistols. Fortunately, she has plenty of courage and does not fear
him. Notwithstanding this, he is very fond of her; and this is the more
surprising, because his love for the sex is not very strong; and although
he visits improper places occasionally, it is only for the purpose of
tormenting the poor wretches who are to be found there. Before he was
married he felt no, affection for any woman but his mother, who also
loved him very tenderly. She is now vexed at having no longer the same
ascendency over her son, and is jealous of her daughter-in-law because
the Prince loves her alone. This occasions frequent disturbances in the
house. The mother has had a house: built at some distance from her son.
When they are good friends, she dismisses the workmen; but when they
quarrel, she doubles the number and hastens the work, so that one may
always tell, upon a mere inspection of the building, upon what terms the
Princesse de Conti and her son are living. The mother wished to have her
grandson to educate; her daughter-in-law opposed it because she preferred
taking care of him herself; and then ensued a dog-and-cat quarrel. The
wife, who is cunning enough, governs her husband entirely, and has gained
over his favourites to be her creatures. She is the idol of the-whole
In order to prevent the Prince de Conti from going to Hungary, the
government of Poitou has been bought for him, and a place in the Council
of the Regency allotted to him; by this means they have retained the wild
Our young Princess says her husband has a rheum in his eyes.
To amuse her, he reads aloud Ovid in the original; and although she does
not understand one word of Latin, she is obliged to listen and to remain
silent, even though any one should come in; for if anybody interrupts him
he is angry, and scolds all who are in the apartment.
At the last masked ball (4th March, 1718) some one who had dressed
himself like the Prince de Conti, and wore a hump on his back, went and
sat beside him. "Who are you, mask?" asked the Prince.
The other replied, "I am the Prince de Conti."
Without the least ill-temper, the Prince took off his mask, and,
laughing, said, "See how a man may be deceived. I have been fancying for
the last twenty years that I was the Prince de Conti." To keep one's
temper on such an occasion is really an uncommon thing.
The Prince thought himself quite cured, but he has had a relapse in
Spain, and, although he is a general of cavalry, he cannot mount his
horse. I said on Tuesday last (17th July, 1719) to the young Princesse
de Conti that I heard her husband was not entirely recovered. She
laughed and whispered to me,--
"Oh, yes, he is quite well; but he pretends not to be so that he may
avoid going to the siege, where he may be killed, for he is as cowardly
as an ape." I think if I had as little inclination for war as he has, I
would not engage in the campaign at all; there is nothing to oblige him
to do so-it is to reap glory, not to encounter shame, that men go into
the army. His best friends, Lanoue and Cleremont, for example, have
remonstrated with him on this subject, and he has quarrelled with them in
consequence. It is an unfortunate thing for a man not to know himself.
The Prince is terribly afflicted with a dysentery. They wanted to carry
him to Bayonne, but he has so violent a fever that he would not be able
to support the journey. He is therefore obliged to stay with the army
(25th August, 1719).
He has been back nine or ten days, but I have heard nothing of him yet;
he is constantly engaged in the Rue de Quincampoix, trying to gain money
among the stock-jobbers (19th September, 1719).
At length he has been to see me. Perhaps there was this morning less
stock-jobbing than usual in the Rue de Quincampoix, for there he has been
ever since his return. His cousin, the Duke, is engaged in the same
pursuit. The Prince de Conti has not brought back much honour from the
campaign; he is too much addicted to debauchery of all kinds.
Although he can be polite when he chooses, no one can behave more
brutally than he does occasionally, and he becomes more and more mad
At one of the last opera balls he seized a poor little girl just come
from the country, took her from her mother's side, and, placing her
between his own legs, amused himself by slapping and filliping her until
he made her nose and mouth bleed. The young girl, who had done nothing
to offend him, and who did not even know him, wept bitterly; but he only
laughed, and said, "Cannot I give nice fillips?" All who were witnesses
of this brutal scene pitied her; but no one dared come to the poor
child's assistance, for they were afraid of having anything to do with
this violent madman. He makes the most frightful grimaces, and I, who am
extremely frightened at crazy people, tremble whenever I happen to be
alone with him.
His wicked pranks remind me of my own. When I was a child I used to take
touchwood, and, placing pieces of it over my eyes and in my mouth, I hid
myself upon the staircase for the purpose of terrifying the people; but I
was then much afraid of ghosts, so that I was always the first to be
frightened. It is in the same way that the Prince de Conti does; he
wishes to make himself feared, and he is the most timid person in the
The Duke and his mother, as well as Lasse, the friend of the latter, have
gained several millions. The Prince has gained less, and yet his
winnings, they say, amount to millions.
[He had four wagons loaded with silver carried from Law's bank, in
exchange for his paper money; and this it was that accelerated Law's
disgrace, and created a kind of popularity for the Prince de Conti.]
The two cousins do not stir from the Rue de Quincampoix, which has given
rise to the following epigram:
Prince dites nous vos exploits
Que faites vous pour votre gloire?
Taisez-vous sots!--Lisez l'histoire
De la rue de Quincampoix.
But the person who had gained most by this affair is Dantin, who is
The Princesse de Conti told me that she had had her son examined in his
infancy by Clement, for the purpose of ascertaining whether he was in
every respect well made; and that he, having found the child perfectly
well made, went to the Prince de Conti, and said to him: "Monseigneur, I
have examined the shape of the young Prince who is just born: he is at
all points well formed, let him sleep without a bolster that he may
remain so; and only imagine what grief it would occasion to the Princesse
de Conti, who has brought him into the world straight, if you should make
The Prince de Conti wished to speak of something else, but Clement still
returned to the same topic, saying, "Remember, Monseigneur, he is
straight as a wand, and do not make him crooked and hunchbacked."
The Prince de Conti, not being able to endure this, ran away.
THE ABBE DUBOIS.
My son had a sub-governor, and he it was who appointed the Abbe, a very
learned person, to be his tutor. The sub-governor's intention was to
have dismissed the Abbe as soon as he should have taught my son
sufficiently, and, excepting during the time occupied by the lessons,
he never suffered him to remain with his pupil. But this good gentleman
could not accomplish his design; for being seized with a violent colic,
he died, unhappily for me, in a few hours. The Abbe then proposed
himself to supply his place. There was no other preceptor near at hand,
so the Abbe remained with my son, and assumed so adroitly the language of
an honest man that I took him for one until my son's marriage; then it
was that I discovered all his knavery. I had a strong regard for him,
because I thought he was tenderly attached to my son, and only desired to
promote his advantage; but when I found that he was a treacherous person,
who thought only of his own interest, and that, instead of carefully
trying to preserve my son's honour, he plunged him into ruin by
permitting him to give himself up to debauchery without seeming to
perceive it, then my esteem for this artful priest was changed into
disgust. I know, from my son himself, that the Abbe, having one day met
him in the street, just as he was about to enter a house of ill-fame, did
nothing but laugh at him, instead of taking him by the arm and leading
him home again. By this culpable indulgence, and by the part he took in
my son's marriage, he has proved that there is neither faith nor honesty
in him. I know that I do him no wrong in suspecting him to have
contributed to my son's marriage; what I say I have from my son himself,
and from people who were living with that old Maintenon at the time, when
the Abbe used to go nightly for the purpose of arranging that intrigue
with her, the object of which was to sell and betray his master. He
deceives himself if he fancies that I do not know all this. At first he
had declared in my favour, but after the old woman had sent for him two
or three times he suddenly changed his conduct. It was not, however, on
this that the King afterwards took a dislike to him, but for a nefarious
scheme in which he was engaged with the Pere La Chaise. Monsieur was as
much vexed as I. The King and the old woman threatened to dismiss all
his favourites, which made him consent to everything; he repented
afterwards, but it was then too late.
I would to God that the Abbe Dubois had as much religion as he has
talent! but he believes in nothing--he is treacherous and wicked--his
falsehood may be seen in his very eyes. He has the look of a fox; and
his device is an animal of this sort, creeping out of his hole and
watching a fowl. He is unquestionably a good scholar, talks well, and
has instructed my son well; but I wish he had ceased to visit his pupil
after his tuition was terminated. I should not then have to regret this
unfortunate marriage, to which I can never reconcile myself. Excepting
the Abbe Dubois there is no priest in my son's favour. He has a sort of
indistinctness in his speech, which makes it sometimes necessary for him
to repeat his words; and this often annoys me.
If there is anything which detracts from the Abbe's good sense it is his
extreme pride; it is a weak side upon which he may always be successfully
attacked. I wish my son had as little confidence in him as I have; but
what astonishes me most is that, knowing him as he does, better than I
do, he will still trust him. My son is like the rest of his family; he
cannot get rid of persons to whom he is accustomed, and as the Abbe has
been his tutor, he has acquired a habit of suffering him to say anything
he chooses. By his amusing wit, too, he always contrives to restore
himself to my son's good graces, even when the latter has been displeased
If the Abbe had been choked with his first lie he had been dead long ago.
Lying is an art in which he excels, and the more eminently where his own
interest is concerned; if I were to enumerate all the lies I have known
him to utter I should have a long list to write. He it was who suggested
to the King all that was necessary to be said to him respecting my son's
marriage, and for this purpose he had secret interviews with Madame de
Maintenon. He affects to think we are upon good terms, and whatever I
say to him, however disagreeable, he takes it all with a smile.
My son has most amply recompensed the Abbe Dubois; he has given him the
place of Secretary of the King's Cabinet, which M. Calieres formerly
held, and which is worth 22,000 livres; he has also given him a seat in
the Council of Regency for the Foreign Affairs.
My son assures me that it is not his intention to make the Abbe Dubois a
Cardinal, and that the Abbe himself does not think about it (17th August,
On the 6th of March, this disagreeable priest came to me and said,
"Monseigneur has just nominated me Archbishop of Cambrai." I replied,
"I congratulate you upon it; but has this taken place today? I heard of
it a week ago; and, since you were seen to take the oaths on your
appointment, no one has doubted it." It is said that the Duc de Mazarin
said, on the Abbe's first Mass, "The Abbe Dubois is gone to his first
communion;" meaning that he had never before taken the communion in all
his life. I embarrassed my son by remarking to him that he had changed
his opinion since he told me the Abbe should never become Bishop or
Archbishop, and that he did not think of being Cardinal. My son blushed
and answered, "It is very true; but I had good reason for changing my
intention." "Heaven grant it may be so," I said, "for it must be by
God's mercy, and not from the exercise of your own reason."
The Archbishop of Cambrai is the declared enemy of our Abbe Saint-Albin.
The word arch is applicable to all his qualities; he is an arch-cheat, an
arch-hypocrite, an arch-flatterer, and, above all, an arch-knave.
It is reported that a servant of the Archbishop of Rheims said to a
servant of the Archbishop of Cambrai, "Although my master is not a
Cardinal, he is still a greater lord than yours, for he consecrates the
"Yes," replied the Abbe Dubois' servant, "but my master consecrates the
real God, who is still greater than all Kings."
Mr. Law is a very honest and a very sensible man; he is extremely polite
to everybody, and very well bred. He does not speak French ill--at
least, he speaks it much better than Englishmen in general. It is said
that when his brother arrived in Paris, Mr. Law made him a present of
three millions (of livres); he has good talents, and has put the affairs
of the State in such good order that all the King's debts have been paid.
He is admirably skilled in all that relates to finance. The late King
would have been glad to employ him, but, as Mr. Law was not a Catholic,
he said he ought not to confide in him (19th Sept., 1719).
He (Law) says that, of all the persons to whom he has explained his
system, there have been only two who have properly comprehended it, and
these are the King of Sicily and my son; he was quite astonished at their
having so readily understood it. He is so much run after, that he has no
repose by day or by night. A Duchess even kissed his hand publicly.
If a Duchess can do this, what will not other ladies do?
Another lady, who pursued him everywhere, heard that he was at Madame de
Simiane's, and immediately begged the latter to permit her to dine with
her. Madame de Simiane went to her and said she must be excused for that
day, as Mr. Law was to dine with her. Madame de Bouchu replied that it
was for this reason expressly she wished to be invited. Madame de
Simiane only repeated that she did not choose to have Mr. Law troubled,
and so quitted her. Having, however, ascertained the dinner-hour, Madame
de Bouchu passed before the house in her coach, and made her coachman and
footman call out "Fire!" Immediately all the company quitted the table
to know where the fire was, and among them Mr. Law appeared. As soon as
Madame de Bouchu saw him, she jumped out of her carriage to speak to him;
but he, guessing the trick, instantly disappeared.
Another lady ordered her carriage to be driven opposite to Mr. Law's
hotel and then to be overturned. Addressing herself to the coachman, she
said, "Overturn here, you blockhead--overturn!" Mr. Law ran out to her
assistance, when she confessed to him that she had done this for the sole
purpose of having an interview with him.
A servant had gained so much in the Rue de Quincampoix, that he was
enabled to set up his equipage. When his coach was brought home, he
forgot who he was, and mounted behind. His servant cried out, "Ah, sir!
what are you doing? this is your own carriage."
"That is true," said the quondam servant; "I had forgotten."
Mr. Law's coachman having also made a very considerable sum, demanded
permission to retire from his service. His master gave it him, on
condition of his procuring him another good coachman. On the next day,
the wealthy coachman made his appearance with two persons, both of whom
were, he said, good coachmen; and that Mr. Law had only to choose which
of them he liked, while he, the coachman, would take the other.
People of all nations in Europe are daily coming to Paris; and it has
been remarked that the number of souls in the capital has been increased
by 250,000 more than usual. It has been necessary to make granaries into
bedrooms; there is such a profusion of carriages that the streets are
choked up with them, and many persons run great danger.
Some ladies of quality seeing a well-dressed woman covered with diamonds,
and whom nobody knew, alight from a very handsome carriage, were curious
to know who it was, and sent to enquire of the lackey. He replied, with
a sneer, "It is a lady who has recently tumbled from a garret into this
carriage." This lady was probably of the same sort as Madame Bejon's
cook. That lady, being at the opera, some days back, saw a person in
a costly dress, and decorated with a great quantity of jewels, but very
ugly, enter the theatre. The daughter said, "Mamma, unless I am very
much deceived, that lady so dressed out is Mary, our cook-maid."
"Hold your tongue, my dear," said the mother, "and don't talk such
Some of the young people, who were in the amphitheatre, began to cry out,
"Mary, the cook-maid! Mary, the cook-maid!"
The lady in the fine dress rose and said, "Yes, madam, I am Mary, the
cook-maid; I have gained some money in the Rue de Quincampoix; I like to
be well-dressed; I have bought some fine gowns, and I have paid for them.
Can you say so much for your own?"
Mr. Law is not the only person who has bought magnificent jewels and
extensive estates. The Duke, too, has become immensely rich, as well as
all those who have held stock. Mr. Law has made his abjuration at Melun;
he has embraced the Catholic religion, with his children, and his wife is
in utter despair at it.
[The abjuration did not take place at Paris, because the jokes of
the Parisians were to be dreaded. The Abbe Tencin was so fortunate
as to have the office of converting Mr. Law. "He gained by this
pious labour," says Duclos, "a large sum in bank-notes and stock."]
It is amusing enough to see how the people run after him in crowds only
to be looked at by him or his son. He has had a terrible quarrel with
the Prince de Conti, who wished Mr. Law to do at the bank a thing which
my son had forbidden. The Prince de Conti said to Mr. Law, "Do you know
who I am?"
"Yes, Prince," replied Law, "or I should not treat you as I have done."
"Then," said the Prince, "you ought to obey me."
"I will obey you," replied Law, "when you shall be Regent;" and he
The Princesse de Leon would be taken to the bank, and made her footmen
cry out, "Room for the Princesse de Lion." At the same time she, who is
very little, slipped into the place where the bankers and their clerks
"I want some stock," said she.
The clerk replied, "You must have patience, madame, the certificates are
delivered in rotation, and you must wait until those who applied before
you are served."
At the same time he opened the drawer where the stock-papers were kept;
the Princess snatched at them; the clerk tried to prevent her, and a
fight ensued. The clerk was now alarmed at having beaten a lady of
quality, and ran out to ask the servants who the Princesse de Leon was.
One of the footmen-said, "She is a lady of high rank, young and
"Well, then," said the clerk, "it cannot be she."
Another footman said, "The Princesse de Leon is a little woman with a
hunch before and another behind, and with arms so long that they nearly
reach the ground."
"Then," replied the clerk, "that is she."
Mr. Law is not avaricious; he gives away large soma in charity, and
assists many indigent people.
When my son wanted some Duchess to accompany my daughter to Geneva, some
one, who heard him speaking about it, said, "if, Monsieur, you would like
to select from a number of Duchesses, send to Mr. Law's; you will find
them all there."
Lord Stair cannot conceal his hatred of Mr. Law, and yet he has gained at
least three millions by him.
Mr. Law's son was to have danced in the King's ballet, but he has been
attacked by the small-pox (9th Feb., 1720).
My son has been obliged to displace Mr. Law. This person, who was
formerly worshipped like a god, is now not sure of his life; it is
astonishing how greatly terrified he is. He is no longer Comptroller-
General, but continues to hold the place of Director-General of the Bank
and of the East India Company; certain members of the Parliamentary
Council have, however, been joined with him to watch over the business
of the Bank.
[In the Council of the Regency, the Duc d'Orleans was obliged to:
admit that Law issued papers to the amount of 1,200 millions above
the legal sum; and that he (the Regent) had protected him from all
responsibility by decrees of the Council which had been ante-dated.
The total, amount of bank-notes in circulation was 2,700,000,000
His friend, the Duc d'Antin wanted to get the place of Director.
The Duke at first spoke strongly against Law; but it is said that a sum
of four millions, three of which went to him and one to Madame de Prie,
has engaged him to undertake Law's defence. My son is not timid,
although he is threatened on all sides, and is very much amused with
Law's terrors (25th June, 1720).
At length the latter is somewhat recovered, and continues to be great
friends with the Duke: this is very pleasant to the Duc de Conti, and
makes him behave so strangely that his infirmity is observed by the
people. It is fortunate for us that Law is so great a coward, otherwise
he would be very troublesome to my son, who, learning that he was joining
in a cabal against him, told his wife of it. "Well, Monsieur," said she,
"what would you have him do? He likes to be talked of, and he has no
other way of accomplishing it. What would people have to say of him if
he did not?"
On the 17th of June, while I was at the Carmelites, Madame de Chateau-
Thiers came to me in my chamber, and said, "M. de Simiane is just come in
from the Palais Royal, and he thinks it fit you should know that upon
your return you will find the court of the Palais Royal filled with
people, who, though they do not say anything, will not disperse."
At six o'clock this morning they brought in three dead bodies, which M.
Le Blanc ordered to be carried away immediately.
Mr. Law has taken refuge in the Palais Royal. The populace have done him
no harm, but his coachman has been pelted on his return, and the carriage
broken to pieces. It was the coachman's own fault, who said aloud that
the people were rabble, and ought to be all hanged. I saw immediately
that it would not do to display any fear, and I set off. There was such
a stoppage of the carriages that I was obliged to wait half an hour
before I could get into the Palais Royal. During this time I heard the
people talking; they said nothing against my son, and bestowed
benedictions upon me, but they all wished Law to be hanged. When I
reached the Palais Royal all was calm again; my son came to me
immediately, and, notwithstanding the alarm I had felt, he made me laugh;
as for himself, he had not the least fear. He told me that the first
president had made a good impromptu upon this affair. Having occasion to
go down into the court, he heard what the people had done with Law's
carriage, and, upon returning to the Salon, he said with great gravity:
"Messieurs, bonne nouvelle,
Le carrosse de Law est en canelle."
Is not this a becoming jest for such serious personages? M. Le Blanc
went into the midst of the people with great firmness, and made a speech
to them; he afterwards had Law escorted home and all became tranquil.
It is almost impossible that Law should escape, for the same soldiers who
protect him from the fury of the people will not permit him to go out of
their hands. He is by no means at his ease, and yet I think the people
do not now intend to pursue him any farther, for they have begun to make
all kinds of songs about him.
Law is said to be in such an agony of fear that he has not been able to
venture to my son's at Saint Cloud, although he sent a carriage to fetch
him. He is a dead man; he is as pale as a sheet, and it is said can
never get over his last panic. The people's hatred of the Duke arises
from his being the friend of Law, whose children he carried to Saint
Maur, where they are to remain.
M. Boursel, passing through the Rue Saint Antoine in his way from the
Jesuits' College, had his carriage stopped by a hackney coachman, who
would neither come on nor go back. M. Boursel's footman, enraged at his
obstinacy, struck the coachman, and, M. Boursel getting out of his coach
to restrain his servant's rage, the coachman resolved to be avenged of
both master and man, and so began to cry out, "Here is Law going to kill
me; fall upon him."
The people immediately ran with staves and stones, and attacked Boursel,
who took refuge in the church of the Jesuits. He was pursued even to the
altar, where he found a little door opened which led into the convent.
He rushed through and shut it after him, by which means he saved his
M. de Chiverni, the tutor of the Duc de Chartres, was going into the
Palais Royal in a chair, when a child about eight years old cried out,
"There goes Law!" and the people immediately assembled. M. Chiverni, who
is a little, meagre-faced, ugly old man, said pleasantly enough, "I knew
very well I had nothing to fear when I should show them my face and
As soon as they saw him they suffered him to get quietly into his chair
and to enter the gates of the palace.
On the 10th of December (1720), Law withdrew; he is now at one of his
estates about six miles from Paris. The Duke, who wished to visit him,
thought proper to take Mdlle. de Prie's post-chaise, and put his footman
into a grey livery, otherwise the people would have known and have
Law is gone to Brussels; Madame de Prie lent him her chaise. When he
returned it, he wrote thanking her, and at the same time sent her a ring
worth 100,000 livres. The Duke provided him with relays, and made four
of his own people accompany him. When he took leave of my son, Law said
to him, "Monsieur, I have committed several great faults, but they are
merely such as are incident to humanity; you will find neither malice nor
dishonesty in my conduct." His wife would not go away until she had paid
all their debts; he owed to his rotisseur alone 10,000 livres.
[Mr. Law retired to Venice, and there ended his days. Some memoirs
state that he was not married to the Englishwoman who passed for his
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Bad company spoils good manners
Duc de Grammont, then Ambassador, played the Confessor
Frequent and excessive bathing have undermined her health
It is an unfortunate thing for a man not to know himself
Like will to like
MEMOIRS OF THE COURT OF LOUIS XIV. AND OF THE REGENCY, v4
Being the Secret Memoirs of the Mother of the Regent,
MADAME ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE OF BAVARIA, DUCHESSE D'ORLEANS.
Victor Amadeus II.
The Grand Duchess, Consort of Cosimo II. of Florence
The Duchesse de Lorraine, Elizabeth-Charlotte d'Orleans
The Duc du Maine
The Duchesse du Maine
Anecdotes and Historical Particulars of Various Persons
VICTOR AMADEUS, KING OF SICILY.
It is said that the King of Sicily is always in ill humour, and that he
is always quarrelling with his mistresses. He and Madame de Verrue have
quarrelled, they say, for whole days together. I wonder how the good
Queen can love him with such constancy; but she is a most virtuous person
and patience itself. Since the King had no mistresses he lives upon
better terms with her. Devotion has softened his heart and his temper.
Madame de Verrue is, I dare say, forty-eight years of age (1718). I
shared some of the profits of her theft by buying of her 160 medals of
gold, the half of those which she stole from the King of Sicily. She had
also boxes filled with silver medals, but they were all sold in England.
[The Comtesse de Verrue was married at the age of thirteen years.
Victor Amadeus, then King of Sardinia, fell in love with her. She
would have resisted, and wrote to her mother and her husband, who
were both absent. They only joked her about it. She then took that
step which all the world knows. At the age of eighteen, being at a
dinner with a relation of her husband's, she was poisoned. The
person she suspected was the same that was dining with her; he did
not quit her, and wanted to have her blooded. Just at this time the
Spanish Ambassador at Piedmont sent her a counter-poison which had a
happy effect: she recovered, but never would mention whom she
suspected. She got tired of the King, and persuaded her brother,
the Chevalier de Lugner, to come and carry her off, the King being
then upon a journey. The rendezvous was in a chapel about four
leagues distant from Turin. She had a little parrot with her. Her
brother arrived, they set out together, and, after having proceeded
four leagues on her journey, she remembered that she had forgotten
her parrot in the chapel. Without regarding the danger to which she
exposed her brother, she insisted upon returning to look for her
parrot, and did so. She died in Paris in the beginning of the reign
of Louis XV. She was fond of literary persons, and collected about
her some of the best company of that day, among whom her wit and
grace enabled her to cut a brilliant figure. She was the intimate
friend of the poet La Faye, whom she advised in his compositions,
and whose life she made delightful. Her fondness for the arts and
pleasure procured for her the appellation of 'Dame de Volupte', and
she wrote this epitaph upon herself:
"Ci git, dans un pais profonde,
Cette Dame de Volupte,
Qui, pour plus grande surete,
Fit son Paradis dans ce monde."]
THE GRAND DUCHESS, WIFE OF COSMO II. OF FLORENCE.
The Grand Duchess has declared to me, that, from the day on which she set
out for Florence, she thought of nothing but her return, and the means of
executing this design as soon as she should be able.
No one could approve of her deserting her husband, and the more
particularly as she speaks very well of him, and describes the manner of
living at Florence as like a terrestrial paradise.
She does not think herself unfortunate for having travelled, and looks
upon all the grandeur she enjoyed at Florence as not to be compared with
the unrestrained way of living in which she indulges here. She is very
amusing when she relates her own history, in the course of which she by
no means flatters herself.
"Indeed, cousin," I say to her often, "you do not flatter yourself, but
you really tell things which make against you."
"Ah, no matter," she replies, "I care not, provided I never see the Grand
She cannot be accused of any amorous intrigue.
Her husband furnishes her with very little money; and at this moment
(April, 1718) he owes her fifteen months of her pension. She is now
really in want of money to enable her to take the waters of Bourbon.
The Grand Duke, who is very avaricious, thinks she will die soon, and
therefore holds back the payments that he may take advantage of that
event when it shall happen.
THE DUCHESSE DE LORRAINE, ELIZABETH-CHARLOTTE PHILIPPINE D'ORLEANS,
CONSORT OF LEOPOLD JOSEPH-CHARLES DE LORRAINE.
My daughter is ugly; even more so than she was, for the fine complexion
which she once had has become sun-burnt. This makes a great difference
in the appearance, and causes a person to look old. She has an ugly
round nose, and her eyes are sunken; but her shape is preserved, and, as
she dances well, and her manners are easy and polished, any one may see
that she is a person of breeding. I know many people who pique
themselves upon their good manners, and who still have not so much reason
as she has. At all events I am content with my child as she is; and I
would rather see her ugly and virtuous than pretty and profligate like
Whenever the time of her accouchement approaches, she never fails to bid
her friends adieu, in the notion that she will die. Fortunately she has
hitherto always escaped well.
When jealousy is once suffered to take root, it is impossible to
extirpate it--therefore it is better not to let it gain ground. My
daughter pretends not to be affected by hers, but she often suffers great
affliction from it. This is not astonishing, because she is very fond of
her children; and the woman with whom the Duke is infatuated, together
with her husband, do not leave him a farthing; they completely ruin his
household. Craon is an accursed cuckold and a treacherous man. The Duc
de Lorraine knows that my daughter is acquainted with everything, and I
believe he likes her the better that she does not remonstrate with him,
but endures all patiently. He is occasionally kind to her, and, provided
that he only says tender things to her, she is content and cheerful.
I should almost believe that the Duke's mistress has given him a philtre,
as Neidschin did to the Elector of Saxony. When he does not see her, it
is said he perspires copiously at the head, and, in order that the
cuckold of a husband may say nothing about the affair, the Duke suffers
him to do whatever he pleases. He and his wife, who is gouvernante, rule
everything, although neither the one nor the other has any feeling of
honour. She is to come hither, it seems, with the Duke and Duchess.
The Duc de Lorraine is here incog.
[He came to Paris for the purpose of soliciting an arrondissement in
Champagne and the title of Royal Highness. Through the influence of
his mother-in-law he obtained both the one and the other. By virtue
of a treaty very disadvantageous for France, but which was
nevertheless registered by the Parliament, he increased his states
by adding to them a great number of villages.]
under the title of the Comte de Blamont. Formerly the chase was his
greatest passion; but now, it seems, the swain is wholly amorous. It is
in vain for him to attempt to conceal it; for the more he tries, the more
apparent it becomes. When you would suppose he is about to address you,
his head will turn round, and his eyes wander in search of Madame Craon;
it is quite diverting to see him. I cannot conceive how my daughter can
love her husband so well, and not display more jealousy. It is
impossible for a man to be more amorous than the Duke is of Craon (19th
of April, 1718).
It cannot be denied that she (Madame de Craon) is full of agreeable
qualities. Although she is not a beauty, she has a good shape, a fine
skin, and a very white complexion; but her greatest charms are her mouth
and teeth. When she laughs it is in a very pleasing and modest manner;
she behaves properly and respectfully in my daughter's presence; if she
did the same when she is not with her, one would have nothing to complain
of. It is not surprising that such a woman should be beloved; she really
deserves it. But she treats her lover with the utmost haughtiness, as if
she were the Duchesse de Lorraine and he M. de Luneville. I never saw a
man more passionately attached than he appears to be; when she is not
present, he fixes his eyes upon the door with an expression of anxiety;
when she appears, he smiles and is calm; it is really very droll to
observe him. She, on the contrary, wishes to prevent persons from
perceiving it, and seems to care nothing about him. As the Duke was
crossing a hall here with her upon his arm, some of the people said
aloud, "That is the Duc de Lorraine with his mistress." Madame Craon
wept bitterly, and insisted upon the Duke complaining of it to his
brother. The Duke did in fact complain; but my son laughed at him, and
replied, "that the King himself could not prevent that; that he should
despise such things, and seem not to hear them."
Madame Craon was my daughter's fille d'honneur; she was then called
Mademoiselle de Ligneville, and there it was that the Duke fell in love
with her. M. Craon was in disgrace with the Duke, who was about to
dismiss him as a rascal, for having practised a sharping trick at play;
but, as he is a cunning fellow, he perceived the Duke's love for
Mademoiselle de Ligneville, although he pretended to make a great mystery
of it. About this time Madame de Lenoncourt, my daughter's dame d'atour,
happened to die. The Duke managed to have Mademoiselle de Ligneville
appointed in her room; and Craon, who is rich, offered to marry this poor
lady. The Duke was delighted with the plan of marrying her to one who
would lend himself to the intrigue; and thus she became Madame de Craon,
and dame d'atour. The old gouvernante dying soon afterwards, my daughter
thought to gratify her husband, as well as Madame de Craon, by appointing
her dame d'honneur; and this it is that has brought such disgrace upon
My daughter is in despair. Craon and his wife want to take a journey of
ten days, for the purpose of buying a marquisate worth 800,000 livres.
The Duke will not remain during this time with his wife, but chooses it
for an opportunity to visit all the strong places of Alsatia. He will
stay away until the return of his mistress and her husband; and this it
is which makes my poor daughter so unhappy. The Duke now neither sees
nor hears anything but through Craon, his wife, and their creatures.
I do not think that my daughter's attachment to her husband is so strong
as it used to be, and yet I think she loves him very much; for every
proof of fondness which he gives her rejoices her so much that she sends
me word of it immediately. He can make her believe whatever he chooses;
and, although she cannot doubt the Duke's passion for Madame de Craon,
yet, when he says that he feels only friendship for her, that he is quite
willing to give up seeing her, only that he fears by doing so he would
dishonour her in the eyes of the public, and that there is nothing he is
not ready to do for his wife's repose, she receives all he says
literally, beseeches him to continue to see Madame de Craon as usual, and
fancies that her husband is tenderly attached to her, while he is really
laughing at her. If I were in my daughter's place, the Duke's falsehood
would disgust me more than his infidelity.
What appears to me the most singular in this intrigue is that the Duke is
as fond of the husband as of the wife, and that he cannot live without
him. This is very difficult to comprehend; but M. de Craon understands
it well, and makes the most of it; he has already bought an estate for
[The Marquis de Craon was Grand Chamberlain and Prime Minister of
the Duc de Lorraine; who, moreover, procured for him from the
Emperor of Germany the title of Prince. This favourite married one
of his daughters to the Prince de Ligin, of the House of Lorraine.]
The burning of Lundville was not the effect of an accident; it is well
known that some of the people stopped a woman's mouth, who was crying out
"Fire!" A person was also heard to say, "It was not I who set it on
fire." My daughter thinks that Old Maintenon would have them all burnt;
for the person who cried out has been employed, it seems, in the house of
the Duc de Noailles. For my part, I am rather disposed to believe it was
the young mistress, Madame de Craon, who had a share in this matter; for
Luneville is my daughter's residence and dowry.
THE DUC DU MAINE, LOUIS-AUGUSTUS.
The Duc du Maine flattered himself that he would marry my daughter.
Madame de Maintenon and Madame de Montespan were arranging this project
in presence of several merchants, to whom they paid no attention, but the
latter, engaging in the conversation, said, "Ladies, do not think of any
such thing, for it will cost you your lives if you bring about that
Madame de Maintenon was dreadfully frightened at this, and immediately
went to the King to persuade him to relinquish the affair.
The Duc du Maine possesses talent, which he displays particularly in his
manner of relating anything. He knows very well who is his mother, but
he has never had the least affection for any one but his gouvernante,
against whom he never bore ill-will, although she displaced his mother
and put herself in her room. My son will not believe that the Duc du
Maine is the King's son. He has always been treacherous, and is feared
and hated at Court as an arch tale-bearer. He has done many persons very
ill offices with the King; and those in particular to whom he promised
most were those who have had the greatest reason to complain of him. His
little wife is worse even than he, for the husband is sometimes
restrained by fear; but she mingles the pathetic occasionally in her
comedies. It is certain that there does not exist a more false and
wicked couple in the whole world than they are.
I can readily believe that the Comte de Toulouse is the King's son; but I
have always thought that the Duc du Maine is the son of Terme, who was a
false knave, and the greatest tale-bearer in the Court.
That old Maintenon had persuaded the King that the Duc du Maine was full
of piety and virtue. When he reported evil tales of any persons, she
pretended that it was for their good, and to induce the King to correct
them. The King was, therefore, induced to fancy everything he did
admirable, and to take him for a saint. The confessor, Le Pere
Letellier, contributed to keep up this good opinion in order to pay court
to the old woman; and the late Chancellor, M. Voisin, by her orders
continued to aid the King's delusion.
The Duc du Maine fancied that, since he had succeeded in getting himself
declared a Prince of the blood, he should not find it difficult on that
account to attain the royal dignity, and that he could easily arrange
everything with respect to my son and the other Princes of the blood.
For this reason he and the old woman industriously circulated the report
that my son had poisoned the Dauphine and the Duc de Berri. The Duc du
Maine was instigated by Madame de Montespan and Madame de Maintenon to
report things secretly to the King; at first for the purpose of making
him bark like a cur at all whom they disliked, and afterwards for the
King's diversion, and to make themselves beloved by him.
These bastards are of so bad a disposition that God knows who was their
Yesterday the Parliament presented its remonstrance to my, son. It is
not difficult to guess whence this affair proceeds. They were closeted
for four hours together with the Duc and Duchesse du Maine, who had the
Councillors brought thither in their coach, and attended by their own
livery servants (20th June, 1718).
I believe that my son is only, restrained from acting rigorously against
the Duc du Maine because he fears the tears and anger of his wife; and,
in the second place, he, has an affection for his other brother-in-law,
the Comte de Toulouse.
That old woman must surely think herself immortal, for she still hopes to
reign, though at the age of eighty-three years. The Duc du Maine's
affair is a severe blow for her. She is, nevertheless, not without hope,
and it is said not excessively grieved. This fills me with anxiety, for
I know too well how expert the wicked old hussy is in the use of poison.
The first President of Mesmes ought to be friendly towards the Duc du
Maine, to whom he is indebted for the office he holds. The Duke keeps
all his places; as to that of Grand Master of Artillery, they could not
take it away unless they had proceeded to extremities with him.
The Duke became so devout in his prison, and during Passion week he
fasted so rigorously, that he fell sick in consequence. He says that he
is innocent and that he has gained heaven by the purity of his conduct;
this renders him gay and contented. He is not, besides, of a sorrowful
temper, but, on the contrary, is fond of jests and merry tales. He does
not speak ill of persons publicly; it was only to the King he used to
Yesterday my son was requested to permit the Duc du Maine to be
reconciled with his wife. His answer was, "They might have been
reconciled without speaking to me about it, for whether they become
friends again or not, I know what to think of them."
THE DUCHESSE DU MAINE, LOUISE-BENOITE, DAUGHTER OF HENRI-JULES DE CONDE.
Madame du Maine is not taller than a child ten years old, and is not well
made. To appear tolerably well, it is necessary for her to keep her
mouth shut; for when she opens it, she opens it very wide, and shows her
irregular teeth. She is not very stout, uses a great quantity of paint,
has fine eyes, a white skin, and fair hair. If she were well disposed,
she might pass, but her wickedness is insupportable.
She has good sense, is accomplished, and can talk agreeably on most
subjects. This brings about her a host of learned men and wits. She
flatters the discontented very adroitly, and says all ill things of my
son. This is the secret by which she has made her party. Her husband is
fond of her, and she in turn piques herself upon her love for him; but I
should be sorry to swear to her sincerity. This at least is certain,
that she rules the Duc du Maine absolutely. As he holds several offices,
he can provide for a great number of persons, either in the regiment of
Guards, of which he is General; or in the Artillery, of which he is Grand
Master; or in the Carabineers, where he appoints all the officers;
without reckoning his regiments, by which he attracts a great number of
Madame du Maine's present lover is the Cardinal de Polignac; but she has,
besides, the first Minister and some young men. The Cardinal is accused
of having assisted in the refutation of Fitz-Morris's letters, although
he has had this very year (1718) a long interview with my son, and has
sworn never to engage in anything against his interests, notwithstanding
his attachment to the Duchesse du Maine.
The Comte d'Albert, who was here last winter, took some pains to make
himself agreeable to Madame du Maine, and succeeded so well as to make
the Cardinal de Polignac very jealous. He followed them masked to a
ball; but upon seeing the Duchess and the Count tete-a-tete, he could not
contain his anger this betrayed him; and when the people learned that a
Cardinal had been seen at a masked ball it caused them great diversion.
Her being arrested threw Madame du Maine into such a transport of rage
that she was near choking, and only recovered herself by slow degrees.
[The Marquis d'Ancenis, Captain of the Guards, who came early in the
morning to arrest the Princess, had supped with her on the preceding
evening, when he entered, the. Duchess cried out to him, "Mon Dieu!
what have I done to you, that you should wake me so early?" The
chief domestics of the household were taken to the Bastille or to
Vincennes; the Prince of Dombes and the Comte d'Eu were carried to
She is now said to be quite calm, and, it is added, she plays at cards
all day long. When the play is over, she grows angry again, and falls
upon her husband, his children, or her servants, who do not know how to
appease her. She is dreadfully violent, and, it is said, has often
beaten her husband.
All the time of her residence at Dijon she was playing the Orlando
Furioso: sometimes she was not treated with the respect due to her rank;
sometimes she complains of other things; she will not understand that she
is a prisoner, and that she has deserved even a worse fate. She had
flattered herself that when she should reach Chalons-sur-Saone she would
enjoy more liberty, and have the whole city for her prison; but when she
learnt that she was to be locked up in the citadel, as at Dijon, she
would not set out. Far from repenting her treason, she fancies she has
done something very praiseworthy.
Melancholy as I am, my son has made me laugh by telling me what has been
found in Madame du Maine's letters, seized at the Cardinal de Polignac's.
In one of her letters, this very discreet and virtuous personage writes,
"We are going into the country tomorrow; and I shall so arrange the
apartments that your chamber shall be next to mine. Try to manage
matters as well as you did the last time, and we shall be very happy."
The Princess knows very well that her daughter has had an intrigue with
the Cardinal, and has endeavoured to break it off. For this purpose she
has convinced her by the Cardinal's own letters that he is unfaithful to
her, and prefers a certain Montauban to her. This, however, has had no
effect. The Duc du Maine has been informed of everything, and he writes
to her sister, "I ought not to be put into prison, but into petticoats,
for having suffered myself to be so led by the nose."
He has resolved never to see his wife again, although he does not yet
know of the Duchess's letter to the Cardinal, nor of the other measures
she has taken for the purpose of decorating her husband's brows.
Madame du Maine will eventually become really crazy, for she is
dreadfully troubled with the vapours. Her mother has entreated my son
to let her daughter be brought to her house at Anet, where she will be
answerable for her conduct and suffer her to speak with no one.
My son replied, "that if Madame du Maine had only conspired against his
life, he would have pardoned her with all his heart; but that, as her
offence had been committed against the State, he was obliged, in spite of
himself, to keep her in prison."
It is not true that the Duc du Maine has permission to hunt; he is only
allowed to ride upon a hired horse round the citadel, to take the air,
in the company of four persons.
The Abbe de Maulevrier and Mademoiselle de Langeron persuaded the
Princess that Madame du Maine was at the point of death, and was only
desirous of seeing her dear mother before she expired, to receive her
last benediction, as she should die innocent. The Princess immediately
set out in great anxiety and with deep grief; but was strangely
surprised, on arriving at her daughter's house, to see her come to meet
her in very good health. Mademoiselle de Langeron said that the Duchess
concealed her illness that she might not make her mother unhappy.
After the confession which Madame du Maine thought proper to make, which
she has confirmed by writing, my son has set her at liberty, and has
permitted her to come to Sceaux. She is terribly mortified at her letter
being read in the open Council. As she has declared in her confession
that she had done everything without her husband's knowledge, although in
his name, he, too, has been permitted to return to his estate of
Chavigny, near Versailles.
Madame du Maine had written to my son that, in the event of her having
omitted anything in her declaration, he would only have to ask
Mademoiselle de Launay about it. He sent in consequence for that lady,
to ask her some questions. Mademoiselle de Launay replied: "I do not
know whether her imprisonment may have turned my mistress's brain, but it
has not had the same effect upon me; I neither know, nor will I say
Madame du Maine had gained over certain gentlemen in all the Provinces,
and had tampered with them to induce them to revolt; but none of them
would swallow the bait excepting in Brittany.
She has not been at the theatre yet; meaning, by this, to intimate that
she is still afflicted at lying under her husband's displeasure. It is
said that she has written to him, but that he has returned her letter
She came some days ago to see my son, and to request him not to oppose a
reconciliation between herself and her husband. My son laughed and said,
"I will not interfere in it; for have I not learned from Sganarelle that
it is not wise to put one's finger between the bark and the tree?"
The town says they will be reconciled. If this really should take place,
I shall say as my father used: "Agree together, bad ones!"
My son tells me that the little Duchess has again besought him to
reconcile her with her husband. My son replied, "that it depended much
more upon herself than upon him." I do not know whether she took this
for a compliment, or what crotchet she got in her head, but she suddenly
jumped up from the sofa, and clung about my son's neck, kissing him on
both cheeks in spite of himself (18th June, 1720).
The Duc du Maine is entirely reconciled to his dear moiety. I am not
surprised, for I have been long expecting it.
M. de Louvois was a person of a very wicked disposition; he hated his
father and brother, and, as they were my very good friends, this minister
made me feel his dislike of them. His hatred was also increased, because
he knew that I was acquainted with his ill-treatment of my father, and
that I had no reason in the world to like him. He feared that I should
seek to take vengeance upon him, and for this reason he was always
exciting the King against me. Upon this point alone did he agree with
that old, Maintenon.
I believe that Louvois had a share in the conspiracy by which Langhans
and Winkler compassed my poor brother's death. When the King had taken
the Palatinate, I required him to arrest the culprits; the King gave
orders for it, and they were in fact seized, but afterwards liberated by
a counter-order of Louvois. Heaven, however, took care of their
punishment for the crime which they had committed upon my poor brother;
for Langhans died in the most abject wretchedness, and Winkler went mad
and beat his own brains out.
There is no doubt that the King spoke very harshly to Louvois, but
certainly he did not treat him as has been pretended, for the King was
incapable of such an action. Louvois was a brute and an insolent person;
but he served the King faithfully, and much better than any other person.
He did not, however, forget his own interest, and played his cards very
well. He was horribly depraved, and by his impoliteness and the
grossness of his replies made himself universally hated. He might,
perhaps, believe in the Devil; but he did not believe in God. He had
faith in all manner of predictions, but he did not scruple to burn,
poison, lie and cheat.
If he did not love me very well, I was at least even with him; and, for
the latter part of his time, he conducted himself somewhat better. I was
one of the last persons to whom he spoke, and I was even shocked when it
was announced that the man with whom I had been conversing a quarter of
an hour before, and who did not look ill, was no more.
They have not yet learnt, although I have resided so long in France, to
respect my seal. M. de Louvois used to have all my letters opened and
read; and M. Corey, following his noble example, has not been more
courteous to me. Formerly they used to open them for the purpose of
finding something to my prejudice, and now (1718) they open them through
It is impossible for any child to be more agreeable than our young King;
he has large, dark eyes and long, crisp eyelashes; a good complexion, a
charming little mouth, long and thick dark-brown hair, little red cheeks,
a stout and well-formed body, and very pretty hands and feet; his gait is
noble and lofty, and he puts on his hat exactly like the late King. The
shape of his face is neither too long nor too short; but the worst thing,
and which he inherits from his mother, is, that he changes colour very
frequently. Sometimes he looks ill, but in half an hour his colour will
have returned. His manners are easy, and it may be said, without
flattery, that he dances very well. He is quick and clever in all that
he attempts; he has already (1720) begun to shoot at pheasants and
partridges, and has a great passion for shooting.
He is as like his mother as one drop of water is to another; he has sense
enough, and all that he seems to want is a little more affability. He is
terribly haughty, and already knows what respect is. His look is what
may be called agreeable, but his air is milder than his character, for
his little head is rather an obstinate and wilful one.
The young King was full of grief when Madame de Ventadour quitted him.
She said to him, "Sire, I shall come back this evening; mind that you
behave very well during my absence."
"My dear mamma," replied he, "if you leave me I cannot behave well."
He does not care at all for any of the other women.
The Marechal de Villeroi teases the young King sometimes about not
speaking to me enough, and sometimes about not walking with me. This
afflicts the poor child and makes him cry. His figure is neat, but he
will speak only to persons he is accustomed to.
On the 12th August (1717), the young King fell out of his bed in the
morning; a valet de chambre, who saw him falling, threw himself adroitly
on the ground, so that the child might tumble upon him and not hurt
himself; the little rogue thrust himself under the bed and would not
speak, that he might frighten his attendants.
The King's brother died of the small-pox in consequence of being
injudiciously blooded; this one, who is younger than his brother, was
also attacked, but the femme de chambre concealed it, kept him warm, and
continued to give him Alicant wine, by which means they preserved his
The King has invented an order which he bestows: upon the boys with whom
he plays. It is a blue and white ribbon, to which is suspended an
enamelled oval plate, representing a star and the tent or pavilion in
which he plays on the terrace (1717).
ANECDOTES AND HISTORICAL PARTICULARS RELATING TO VARIOUS PERSONS.
Some horrible books had been written against Cardinal Mazarin, with which
he pretended to be very much enraged, and had all the copies bought up to
be burnt. When he had collected them all, he caused them to be sold in
secret, and as if it were unknown to him, by which contrivance he gained
10,000 crowns. He used to laugh and say, "The French are delightful
people; I let them sing and laugh, and they let me do what I will."
In Flanders it is the custom for the monks to assist at all fires. It
appeared to me a very whimsical spectacle to see monks of all colours,
white, black and brown, running hither and thither with their frocks
tucked up and carrying pails.
The Chevalier de Saint George is one of the best men in the world, and
complaisance itself. He one day said to Lord Douglas, "What should I do
to gain the good-will of my countrymen?" Douglas replied, "Only embark
hence with twelve Jesuits, and as soon as you land in England hang every
one of them publicly; you can do nothing so likely to recommend you to
the English people."
It is said that at one of the masked balls at the opera, a mask entered
the box in which were the Marechals de Villars and d'Estrees. He said to
the former, "Why do you not go below and dance?" The Marshal replied,
"If I were younger I could, but not crippled as you see I am."--"Oh, go
down," rejoined the mask, "and the Marechal d'Estrees too; you will cut
so brilliant a figure, having both of you such large horns." At the same
time he put up his fingers in the shape of horns. The Marechal d'Estrees
only laughed, but the other was in a great rage and said, "You are a most
insolent mask, and I do not know what will restrain me from giving you a
good beating."--"As to a good beating;" replied the mask, "I can do a
trifle in that way myself when necessary; and as for the insolence of
which you accuse me, it is sufficient for me to say that I am masked."
He went away as he said this, and was not seen again.
The King of Denmark has the look of a simpleton; he made love to my
daughter while he was here. When they were dancing he used to squeeze
her hand, and turn up his eyes languishingly. He would begin his minuet
in one corner of the hall and finish it in another. He stopped once in
the middle of the hall and did not know what to do next. I was quite
uneasy at seeing him, so I got up and, taking his hand, led him away, or
the good gentleman might have strayed there until this time. He has no
notion of what is becoming or otherwise.
The Cardinal de Noailles is unquestionably a virtuous man; it would be a
very good thing if all the others were like him. We have here four of
them, and each is of a different character. Three of them resemble each
other in a certain particular--they are as false as counterfeit coin; in
every other respect they are directly opposite. The Cardinal de Polignac
is well made, sensible, and insinuating, and his voice is very agreeable;
but he meddles too much with politics, and is too much occupied with
seeking favour. The Cardinal de Rohan has a handsome face, as his
mother had, but his figure is despicable. He is as vain as a peacock,
and fancies that there is not his equal in the whole world. He is a
tricking intriguer, the slave of the Jesuits, and fancies he rules
everything, while in fact he rules nothing. The Cardinal de Bissi is as
ugly and clumsy as a peasant, proud, false and wicked, and yet a most
fulsome flatterer; his falsehood may be seen in his very eyes; his talent
he turns to mischievous purposes. In short, he has all the exterior of a
Tartuffe. These Cardinals could, if they chose, sell the Cardinal de
Noailles in a sack, for they are all much more cunning than he is.
With respect to the pregnancy of the Queen of England, the consort of
James II., whom we saw at Saint-Germain, it is well known that her
daughter-in-law maintains that she was not with child; but it seems to
me that the Queen might easily have taken measures to prove the contrary.
I spoke about it to Her Majesty myself. She replied "that she had begged
the Princess Anne to satisfy herself by the evidence of her own senses,
and to feel the motion of the child;" but the latter refused, and the
Queen added "that she never could have supposed that the persons who had
been in the habit of seeing her daily during her pregnancy could doubt
the fact of her having been delivered."
[On the dethronement of James II., the party of William, Prince of
Orange, asserted that the Prince of Orange was a supposititious
child, and accused James of having spirited away the persona who
could have proved the birth of the Queen's child, and of having made
the midwife leave the kingdom precipitately, she being the only
person who had actually seen the child born.]
A song has been made upon Lord Bolingbroke on the subject of his passion
for a young girl who escaped from her convent. Some persons say that the
girl was a professed nun. She ran after the Duke Regent a long time, but
could not accomplish her intention.
Lady Gordon, the grandaunt of Lord Huntley, was my dame d'atour for a
considerable period. She was a singular person, and always plunged into
reveries. Once when she was in bed and going to seal a letter, she
dropped the wax upon her own thigh and burnt herself dreadfully. At
another time, when she was also in bed and engaged in play, she threw the
dice upon the ground and spat in the bed. Once, too, she spat in the
mouth of my first femme de chambre, who happened to be passing at the
moment. I think if I had not interposed they would have come to blows,
so angry was the femme de chambre. One evening when I wanted my head-
dress to go to Court, she took off her gloves and threw them in my face,
putting on my head-dress at the same time with great gravity. When she
was speaking to a man she had a habit of playing with the buttons of his
waistcoat. Saving one day some occasion to talk to the Chevalier Buveon,
a Captain in the late Monsieur's Guard, and he being a very tall man, she
could only reach his waistband, which she began to unbutton. The poor
gentleman was quite horror-stricken, and started back, crying, "For
Heaven's sake, madame, what are you going to do?" This accident caused a
great laugh in the Salon of Saint Cloud.
They say that Lord Peterborough, speaking of the two Kings of Spain,
said, "What fools we are to cut each other's throats for two such apes."
Monteleon has good reason to be fond of the Princesse des Ursins, for she
made his fortune: he was an insignificant officer in the troop, but he
had talents and attached himself to this lady, who made of him what he
now is (1716).
The Abbess of Maubuisson, Louise Hollandine, daughter of Frederic V.,
Elector-Palatine of the days of Henri IV., had had so many illegitimate
children, that she commonly swore by her body, which had borne fourteen
Cardinal Mazarin could not bear to have unfortunate persons about him.
When he was requested to take any one into his service, his first
question was, "Is he lucky?"
My son has never assisted the Pretender (Prince Edward Stuart), either
publicly or privately; and if my Lord Stair had chosen to contract a more
close alliance, as my son wished, he would have prevented the Pretender's
staying in France and collecting adherents; but as that alliance was
declined, he merely confined himself to the stipulations contained in the
treaty of peace. He neither furnished the Pretender with arms nor money.
The Pope and some others gave him money, but my son could not, for he was
too much engaged in paying off the late King's debts, and he would not on
account of that treaty. There can be no doubt that an attempt has been
made to embroil my son with the King of England; for, at the same time
that they were making the King believe my son was sustaining the
Pretender's cause, they told my son that Lord Stair had interviews with
M. Pentenriedez, the Emperor's Envoy, as well as with the Sicilian
Ambassador, the object of which was to make a league with those powers to
drive out the King of Spain and to set up the King of France in his
place, at the same time that Sicily should be given up to the Emperor--
in short, to excite all Europe against France. My son said himself,
that, since he was to confine himself to the articles of the treaty of
peace, he did not think he had any right to prevent the Pretender's
passage through his kingdom; and as the army had been reduced, he could
not hinder the disbanded soldiers from taking service wherever they
chose. My son had no intention whatever to break with England, although
he has been told that there was a majority of two voices only in that
nation against declaring it at war with France. He thinks Lord Stair is
not his friend, and that he has not faithfully reported to his monarch
the state of things here, but would rather be pleased to kindle the
flames of a war. If that Minister had honestly explained to the King my
son's intentions, the King would not have refused to agree with them.
It is said here that the present Queen of Spain (1716), although she is
more beloved by her husband than was the last, has less influence over
him. The Abbe Alberoni has them both in his power, and governs them like
The English gentlemen and ladies who are here tell horrible stories of
Queen Anne. They say she gets quite drunk, and that besides but that she
is inconstant in her affections, and changes often. Lady Sandwich has
not told this to me, but she has to my son. I have seen her but seldom,
on account of the repugnance I felt at learning she had confessed she had
been present at such orgies.
I do not know whether it is true that Louvois was poisoned by that old
Maintenon, but it is quite certain that he was poisoned, as well as his
physician who committed the crime, and who said when he was dying, "I die
by poison, but I deserve it, for having poisoned my master, M. de
Louvois; and I did this in the hope of becoming the King's physician, as
Madame de Maintenon had promised me." I ought to add that some persons
pretend to think this story of Doctor Seron is a mere invention. Old
Piety (Maintenon) did not commit this crime without an object; but if she
really did poison Louvois, it was because he had opposed her designs and
endeavoured to undeceive the King. Louvois, the better to gain his
object, had advised the King not to take her with him to the army. The
King was weak enough to repeat this to her, and this it was that excited
her against Louvois. That the latter was a very bad man, who feared
neither heaven nor hell, no man can deny; but it must be confessed that
he served his King faithfully.
The Duke de Noailles' grandfather was one of the ugliest men in the
world. He had one glass eye, and his nose was like an owl's, his mouth
large, his teeth ugly and decayed, his face and head very small, his body
long and bent, and he was bitter and ill-tempered. His name was Gluinel.
Madame de Cornuel one day was reading his grandson's genealogy, and, when
she came to his name, exclaimed, "I always suspected, when I saw the Duc
de Noailles, that he came out of the Book of the Lamentations of
When James II. took refuge in France from England, Madame de Cornuel went
to Saint-Germain to see him. Some time afterwards, she was told of the
pains our King was taking to procure his restoration to the throne.
Madame de Cornuel shook her head, and said, "I have seen this King James;
our monarch's efforts are all in vain; he is good for nothing but to make
poor man's sauce. (La sauce au pauvre homme.)"
She went to Versailles to see the Court when M. de Torcy and M. de
Seignelay, both very young, had just been appointed Ministers. She saw
them, as well as Madame de Maintenon, who had then grown old. When she
returned to Paris, some one asked her what remarkable things she had
seen. "I have seen," she said, "what I never expected to see there; I
have seen love in its tomb and the Ministry in its cradle."
The elder Margrave of Anspach was smitten with Mademoiselle d'Armagnac,
but he would not marry her, and said afterwards that he had never
intended to do so, because the familiarities which had passed between
her and the Marquis de Villequier (1716) had disgusted him. The lady's
mother would have liked nothing better than to surprise the Margrave with
her daughter in some critical situation: for this purpose he had
sufficient opportunities given him, but he was prudent, and conducted
himself with so much modesty, that he avoided the snare. To tell the
truth, I had given him a hint on the subject, for I was too well
acquainted with the mother, who is a very bad woman.
The Cardinal de Richelieu, notwithstanding his wit, had often fits of
distraction. Sometimes he would fancy himself a horse, and run jumping
about a billiard-table, neighing and snorting; this would last an hour,
at the end of which his people would put him to bed and cover him up
closely to induce perspiration; when he awoke the fit had passed and did
not appear again.
The Archbishop of Paris reprimanded the Bishop of Gap on the bad
reputation which he had acquired in consequence of his intercourse with