Part 21 out of 62
The King's Selfishness.--Defeat of the Czar.--Death of Catinat.--Last
Days of Vendome.--His Body at the Escurial.--Anecdote of Harlay and the
Jacobins.--Truce in Flanders.--Wolves.
Settlement of the Spanish Succession.--Renunciation of France.--Comic
Failure of the Duc de Berry.--Anecdotes of M. de Chevreuse.--Father
Daniel's History and Its Reward.
The Bull Unigenitus.--My Interview with Father Tellier.--Curious
Inadvertence of Mine.--Peace.--Duc de la Rochefoucauld.--A Suicide in
Public.--Charmel.--Two Gay Sisters.
The King of Spain a Widower.--Intrigues of Madame des Ursins.--Choice of
the Princes of Parma.--The King of France Kept in the Dark.--Celebration
of the Marriage.--Sudden Fall of the Princesse des Ursins.--Her Expulsion
The King of Spain Acquiesces in the Disgrace of Madame des Ursins.--Its
Origin.--Who Struck the Blow.--Her journey to Versailles.--Treatment
There.--My Interview with Her.--She Retires to Genoa.--Then to Rome.--
Sudden Illness of the Duc de Berry--Suspicious Symptoms.--The Duchess
Prevented from Seeing Him.--His Death.--Character.--Manners of the
Duchesse de Berry.
Maisons Seeks My Acquaintance.--His Mysterious Manner.--Increase of the
Intimacy.--Extraordinary News.--The Bastards Declared Princes of the
Blood.--Rage of Maisons and Noailles.--Opinion of the Court and Country.
The King Unhappy and Ill at Ease.--Court Paid to Him.--A New Scheme to
Rule Him.--He Yields.--New Annoyance.--His Will.--Anecdotes Concerning
It.--Opinions of the Court.--M. du Maine
A New Visit from Maisons.--His Violent Project.--My Objections.--He
Persists.--His Death and That of His Wife. --Death of the Duc de
Beauvilliers.--His Character.--Of the Cardinal d'Estrees.--Anecdotes.--
Death of Fenelon.
Character and Position of the Duc d'Orleans--His Manners, Talents, and
Virtues.--His Weakness.--Anecdote Illustrative Thereof.--
The "Debonnaire"--Adventure of the Grand Prieur in England.--Education
of the Duc d'Orleans.--Character of Dubois.--His Pernicious Influence.--
The Duke's Emptiness.--His Deceit.--His Love of Painting.--The Fairies at
His Birth.--The Duke's Timidity.--An Instance of His Mistrustfulness.
The Duke Tries to Raise the Devil.--Magical Experiments.--His Religious
Opinions.--Impiety.--Reads Rabelais at Church.--The Duchesse d'Orleans.--
Her Character.--Her Life with Her Husband.--My Discourses with the Duke
on the Future.--My Plans of Government.--A Place at Choice Offered Me.--
I Decline the Honour.--My Reason.--National Bankruptcy.--The Duke's Anger
at My Refusal.--A Final Decision.
The King's Health Declines.--Bets about His Death.--Lord Stair.--My New
Friend.--The King's Last Hunt.--And Last Domestic and Public Acts.--
Doctors.--Opium.--The King's Diet.--Failure of His Strength.--His Hopes
of Recovery.--Increased Danger.--Codicil to His Will.--Interview with the
Duc d'Orleans.--With the Cardinal de Noailles.--Address to His
Attendants.--The Dauphin Brought to Him.--His Last Words.--
An Extraordinary Physician.--The Courtiers and the Duc d'Orleans.--
Conduct of Madame de Maintenon.--The King's Death.
Early Life of Louis XIV.--His Education.--His Enormous Vanity.--His
Ignorance.--Cause of the War with Holland.--His Mistakes and Weakness in
War.--The Ruin of France.--Origin of Versailles.--The King's Love of
Adulation, and Jealousy of People Who Came Not to Court.--His Spies.--
His Vindictiveness.--Opening of Letters.--Confidence Sometimes Placed in
Him--A Lady in a Predicament.
Excessive Politeness.--Influence of the Valets.--How the King Drove
Out.--Love of magnificence.--His Buildings. --Versailles.--The Supply of
Water.--The King Seeks for Quiet.--Creation of Marly.--Tremendous
Amours of the King.--La Valliere.--Montespan.--Scandalous Publicity.--
Temper of Madame de Montespan.--Her Unbearable Haughtiness.--Other
Mistresses.--Madame de Maintenon.--Her Fortunes.--Her Marriage with
Scarron.--His Character and Society.--How She Lived After His Death.--
Gets into Better Company.--Acquaintance with Madame de Montespan.--
The King's Children.--His Dislike of Widow Scarron.--Purchase of the
Maintenon Estate.--Further Demands.--M. du Maine on His Travels.--
Montespan's Ill--humour.--Madame de Maintenon Supplants Her.--Her Bitter
Annoyance.--Progress of the New Intrigue.--Marriage of the King and
Madame de Maintenon.
Character of Madame de Maintenon.--Her Conversation.--Her Narrow-
mindedness.--Her Devotion.--Revocation of the Edict of Nantes.--Its Fatal
Consequences.--Saint Cyr.--Madame de Maintenon Desires Her Marriage to be
Declared.--Her Schemes.--Counterworked by Louvois.--His Vigorous Conduct
and Sudden Death.--Behaviour of the King.--Extraordinary Death of Seron.
Daily Occupations of Madame de Maintenon.--Her Policy--How She Governed
the King's Affairs.--Connivance with the Ministers.--Anecdote of
Le Tellier.--Behaviour of the King to Madame de Maintenon.--
His Hardness.--Selfishness.--Want of Thought for Others.--Anecdotes.--
Resignation of the King.--Its Causes.--The Jesuits and the Doctors.--The
King and Lay Jesuits.
External Life of Louis XIV.--At the Army.--Etiquette of the King's
Table.--Court Manners and Customs.--The Rising of the King.--Morning
Occupations.--Secret Amours.--Going to Mass.--Councils.--Thursdays.--
Fridays.--Ceremony of the King's Dinner.--The King's Brother.--After
Dinner.--The Drive.--Walks at Marly and Elsewhere.--Stag--hunting.--Play-
tables.--Lotteries.--Visits to Madame de Maintenon.--Supper.--The King
Retires to Rest.--Medicine Days.--Kings Religious Observances.--Fervency
in Lent.--At Mass.--Costume.--Politeness of the King for the Court of
Saint-Germain.--Feelings of the Court at His Death.--Relief of Madame de
Maintenon.--Of the Duchesse d'Orleans.--Of the Court Generally.--Joy of
Paris and the Whole of France.--Decency of Foreigners.--Burial of the
Surprise of M. d'Orleans at the King's Death.--My Interview with Him.--
Dispute about Hats.--M. du Maine at the Parliament.--His Reception.--
My Protest.--The King's Will.--Its Contents and Reception.--Speech of the
Duc d'Orleans.--Its Effect.--His Speech on the Codicil.--Violent
Discussion.--Curious Scene.--Interruption for Dinner.--Return to the
Parliament.--Abrogation of the Codicil.--New Scheme of Government.--
The Regent Visits Madame de Maintenon.--The Establishment of Saint-Cyr.--
The Regent's Liberality to Madame de Maintenon.
The Young King's Cold.--'Lettres des Cachet' Revived.--A Melancholy
Story.--A Loan from Crosat.--Retrenchments.--Unpaid Ambassadors.--Council
of the Regency.--Influence of Lord Stair.--The Pretender.--His Departure
from Bar.--Colonel Douglas.--The Pursuit.--Adventure at Nonancourt.--Its
Upshot.--Madame l'Hospital.--Ingratitude of the Pretender.
Behaviour of the Duchesse de Berry.--Her Arrogance Checked by Public
Opinion.--Walls up the Luxembourg Garden.--La Muette.--Her Strange Amour
with Rion.--Extraordinary Details.--The Duchess at the Carmelites.--
Weakness of the Regent.--His Daily Round of Life.--His Suppers.--
How He Squandered His Time.--His Impenetrability.--Scandal of His Life.--
Public Balls at the Opera.
First Appearance of Law.--His Banking Project Supported by the Regent.--
Discussed by the Regent with Me.--Approved by the Council and Registered.
--My Interviews with Law.--His Reasons for Seeking My Friendship.--
Arouet de Voltaire
Rise of Alberoni.--Intimacy of France and England.--Gibraltar Proposed to
be Given Up.--Louville the Agent.--His Departure.--Arrives at Madrid.--
Alarm of Alberoni.--His Audacious Intrigues.--Louville in the Bath.--
His Attempts to See the King.--Defeated.--Driven out of Spain.--Impudence
of Alberoni.--Treaty between France and England.--Stipulation with
Reference to the Pretender.
The Lieutenant of Police.--Jealousy of Parliament.--Arrest of Pomereu
Resolved On.--His Imprisonment and Sudden Release.--Proposed Destruction
of Marly.--How I Prevented It.--Sale of the Furniture.--I Obtain the
'Grandes Entrees'.--Their Importance and Nature.--Afterwards Lavished
Indiscriminately.--Adventure of the Diamond called "The Regent."--Bought
for the Crown of France.
Death of the Duchesse de Lesdiguieres.--Cavoye and His Wife.--Peter the
Great.--His Visit to France.--Enmity to England.--Its Cause.--Kourakin,
the Russian Ambassador.--The Czar Studies Rome.--Makes Himself the Head
of Religion.--New Desires for Rome--Ultimately Suppressed.--Preparations
to Receive the Czar at Paris.--His Arrival at Dunkerque.--At Beaumont.--
Dislikes the Fine Quarters Provided for Him.--His Singular Manners, and
Those of His Suite.
Personal Appearance of the Czar.--His Meals.--Invited by the Regent.--
His Interview with the King--He Returns the Visit.--Excursion in Paris.--
Visits Madame.--Drinks Beer at the Opera.--At the Invalides.--Meudon.--
Issy.--The Tuileries.--Versailles.--Hunt at Fontainebleau.--Saint--Cyr.--
Extraordinary Interview with Madame de Maintenon.--My Meeting with the
Czar at D'Antin's.--The Ladies Crowd to See Him.--Interchange of
Presents.--A Review.--Party Visits.--Desire of the Czar to Be United to
Courson in Languedoc.--Complaints of Perigueux.--Deputies to Paris.--
Disunion at the Council.--Intrigues of the Duc de Noailles.--Scene.--
I Support the Perigueux People.--Triumph.--My Quarrel with Noailles.--
The Order of the Pavilion.
Policy and Schemes of Alberoni.--He is Made a Cardinal.--Other Rewards
Bestowed on Him.--Dispute with the Majordomo.--An Irruption into the
Royal Apartment.--The Cardinal Thrashed.--Extraordinary Scene.
Anecdote of the Duc d'Orleans.--He Pretends to Reform --Trick Played upon
Me.--His Hoaxes.--His Panegyric of Me.--Madame de Sabran.--How the Regent
Treated His Mistresses.
Encroachments of the Parliament.--The Money Edict.--Conflict of Powers--
Vigorous Conduct of the Parliament.--Opposed with Equal Vigour by the
Regent.--Anecdote of the Duchesse du Maine.--Further Proceedings of the
Parliament.--Influence of the Reading of Memoirs.--Conduct of the
Regent.--My Political Attitude.--Conversation with the Regent on the
Subject of the Parliament.--Proposal to Hang Law.--Meeting at My House.--
Law Takes Refuge in the Palais Royal.
Proposed Bed of Justice.--My Scheme.--Interview with the Regent.--
The Necessary Seats for the Assembly.--I Go in Search of Fontanieu.--
My Interview with Hini.--I Return to the Palace.--Preparations.--
Proposals of M. le Duc to Degrade M. du Maine.--My Opposition.--My Joy
and Delight.--The Bed of Justice Finally Determined On.--A Charming
Messenger.--Final Preparations.--Illness of the Regent.--News Given to
M. du Maine.--Resolution of the Parliament.--Military Arrangements.--I Am
Summoned to the Council.--My Message to the Comte de Toulouse.
The Material Preparations for the Bed of Justice--Arrival of the Duc
d'Orleans:--The Council Chamber.--Attitude of the Various Actors.--The
Duc du Maine.--Various Movements.--Arrival of the Duc de Toulouse.--
Anxiety of the Two Bastards.--They Leave the Room.--Subsequent
Proceedings.--Arrangement of the Council Chamber.--Speech of the Regent.
--Countenances of the Members of Council.--The Regent Explains the Object
of the Bed of Justice.--Speech of the Keeper of the Seals.--Taking the
Votes.--Incidents That Followed.--New Speech of the Duc d'Orleans.--
Against the Bastards.--My Joy.--I Express My Opinion Modestly.--Exception
in Favour of the Comte de Toulouse.--New Proposal of M. le Duc.--Its
Effect.--Threatened Disobedience of the Parliament.--Proper Measures.--
The Parliament Sets Out.
Continuation of the Scene in the Council Chamber.--Slowness of the
Parliament.--They Arrive at Last.--The King Fetched.--Commencement of the
Bed of Justice.--My Arrival.--Its Effect.--What I Observed.--Absence of
the Bastards Noticed.--Appearance of the King. The Keeper of the Seals.--
The Proceedings Opened.--Humiliation of the Parliament.--Speech of the
Chief-President.--New Announcement.--Fall of the Duc du Maine Announced.
--Rage of the Chief-President.--My Extreme joy.--M. le Duc Substituted
for M. du Maine.--Indifference of the King.--Registration of the Decrees.
My Return Home.--Wanted for a New Commission.--Go to the Palais Royal.--
A Cunning Page.--My journey to Saint-Cloud.--My Reception.--Interview
with the Duchesse d'Orleans.--Her Grief.--My Embarrassment.--Interview
with Madame.--Her Triumph.--Letter of the Duchesse d'Orleans.--She Comes
to Paris.--Quarrels with the Regent.
Intrigues of M. du Maine.--And of Cellamare, the Spanish Ambassador.--
Monteleon and Portocarrero.--Their Despatches.--How Signed.--The
Conspiracy Revealed.--Conduct of the Regent.--Arrest of Cellamare.--His
House Searched.--The Regency Council.--Speech of the Duc d'Orleans.--
Resolutions Come To.--Arrests.--Relations with Spain.--Alberoni and
Saint-Aignan.--Their Quarrel.--Escape of Saint-Aignan.
The Regent Sends for Me.--Guilt of the Duc de Maine.--Proposed Arrest.--
Discussion on the Prison to Be Chosen.--The Arrest.--His Dejection.--
Arrest of the Duchess.--Her Rage.--Taken to Dijon.--Other Arrests.--
Conduct of the Comte de Toulouse.--The Faux Sauniers.--Imprisonment of
the Duc and Duchesse du Maine.--Their Sham Disagreement.--Their
Anecdote of Madame de Charlus.--The 'Phillippaques'.--La Grange.--
Pere Tellier.--The Jesuits.--Anecdote----Tellier's Banishment.--Death of
Madame de Maintenon.--Her Life at Saint-Cyr.
Mode of Life of the Duchesse de Berry.--Her Illness.--Her Degrading
Amours.--Her Danger Increases.--The Sacraments Refused.--The Cure Is
Supported by the Cardinal de Noailles.--Curious Scene.--The Duchess
Refuses to Give Way.--She Recovers, and Is Delivered.--Ambition of Rion.
--He Marries the Duchess.--She Determines to Go to Meudon.--Rion Sent to
the Army.--Quarrels of Father and Daughter.--Supper on the Terrace of
Meudon.--The Duchess Again Ill.--Moves to La Muette.--Great Danger.--
Receives the Sacrament.--Garus and Chirac.--Rival Doctors.--Increased
Illness.--Death of the Duchess.--Sentiments on the Occasion.--Funeral
Ceremonies.--Madame de Saint-Simon Fails Ill.--Her Recovery.--We Move to
Meudon.--Character of the Duchesse de Berry.
The Mississippi Scheme.--Law Offers Me Shares.--Compensation for Blaye.--
The Rue Quincampoix.--Excitement of the Public.--Increased Popularity of
the Scheme.--Conniving of Law.--Plot against His Life--Disagreement with
Argenson.--Their Quarrel.--Avarice of the Prince de Conti.--His
Audacity.--Anger of the Regent.--Comparison with the Period of Louis
XIV.--A Ballet Proposed.--The Marechal de Villeroy.--The Young King Is to
Dance.--Young Law Proposed.--Excitement.--The Young King's Disgust.--
Extravagant Presents of the Duc d'Orleans.
System of Law in Danger.--Prodigality of the Duc d'Orleans.--Admissions
of Law.--Fall of His Notes.--Violent Measures Taken to Support Them.--
Their Failure.--Increased Extravagance of the Regent.--Reduction of the
Fervour.--Proposed Colonies.--Forced Emigration.--Decree on the Indian
Company.--Scheming of Argenson. Attitude of the Parliament.--Their
Remonstrance.--Dismissal of Law.--His Coolness--Extraordinary Decree of
Council of State.--Prohibition of jewellery.--New Schemes.
The New Edict.--The Commercial Company.--New Edict.--Rush on the Bank.--
People Stifled in the Crowd.--Excitement against Law.--Money of the
Bank.--Exile of the Parliament to Pontoise.--New Operation.--The Place
Vendome.--The Marechal de Villeroy.--Marseilles.--Flight of Law.--
Character of Him and His Wife.--Observations on His Schemes.--Decrees of
Council on the Finances.--Departure of Law--A Strange Dialogue.--M. le
Duc and the Regent.--Crimes Imputed to Law during His Absence.--Schemes
Proposed.--End, of the Council.
Character of Alberoni.--His Grand Projects.--Plots against Him.--The
Queen's Nurse.--The Scheme against the Cardinal.--His Fall.--Theft of a
Will.--Reception in Italy.--His Adventures There.
Meetings of the Council.--A Kitten.--The Archbishopric of Cambrai.--
Scandalous Conduct of Dubois.--The Consecration.--I Persuade the Regent
Not to Go.--He Promises Not.--Breaks His Word.--Madame de Parabere.--The
Ceremony.--Story of the Comte de Horn.
Quarrel of the King of England with His Son.--Schemes of Dubois.--
Marriage of Brissac.--His Death.--Birth of the Young Pretender.--
Cardinalate of Dubois.--Illness of the King.--His Convalescence.--
A Wonderful Lesson.--Prudence of the Regent.--Insinuations against Him.
Projected Marriages of the King and of the Daughter of the Duc d'Orleans_
--How It Was Communicated to Me.--I Ask for the Embassy to Spain.--It Is
Granted to Me.--Jealousy of Dubois.--His Petty Interference.--
Announcement of the Marriages.
Interview with Dubois.--His Singular Instructions to Ale.--His Insidious
Object.--Various Tricks and Manoeuvres.--My Departure for Spain.--Journey
by Way of Bordeaux and Bayonne.--Reception in Spain.--Arrival at Madrid.
Interview in the Hall of Mirrors.--Preliminaries of the Marriages.--
Grimaldo.--How the Question of Precedence Was Settled.--I Ask for an
Audience.--Splendid Illuminations.--A Ball.--I Am Forced to Dance.
Mademoiselle de Montpensier Sets out for Spain.--I Carry the News to the
King.--Set out for Lerma.--Stay at the Escurial.--Take the Small--pox.--
Mode of Life of Their Catholic Majesties.--Their Night.--Morning.--
Toilette.--Character of Philippe V.--And of His Queen.--How She Governed
The King's Taste for Hunting.--Preparations for a Battue.--Dull Work.--
My Plans to Obtain the Grandesse.--Treachery of Dubois.--Friendship of
Marriage of the Prince of the Asturias.--An Ignorant Cardinal.--I Am Made
Grandee of Spain.--The Vidame de Chartres Named Chevalier of the Golden
Fleece.--His Reception--My Adieux.--A Belching Princess.--
Return to France.
Attempted Reconciliation between Dubois and Villeroy.--Violent Scene.--
Trap Laid for the Marechal.--Its Success.--His Arrest.
I Am Sent for by Cardinal Dubois.--Flight of Frejus.--He Is Sought and
Found.--Behaviour of Villeroy in His Exile at Lyons.--His Rage and
Reproaches against Frejus.--Rise of the Latter in the King's Confidence.
I Retire from Public Life.--Illness and Death of Dubois. --Account of His
Riches.--His Wife.--His Character.--Anecdotes.--Madame de Conflans.--
Relief of the Regent and the King.
Death of Lauzun.--His Extraordinary Adventures.--His Success at Court.--
Appointment to the Artillery.--Counter--worked by Louvois.--Lauzun and
Madame de Montespan.--Scene with the King.--Mademoiselle and Madame de
Lauzun's Magnificence.--Louvois Conspires against Him.--He Is
Imprisoned.--His Adventures at Pignerol.--On What Terms He Is Released.--
His Life Afterwards.--Return to Court.
Lauzun Regrets His Former Favour.--Means Taken to Recover It.--Failure.--
Anecdotes.--Biting Sayings.--My Intimacy with Lauzun.--His Illness,
Death, and Character.
Ill-Health of the Regent.--My Fears.--He Desires a Sudden Death.--
Apoplectic Fit.--Death.--His Successor as Prime Minister.--The Duc de
Chartres.--End of the Memoirs.
No library of Court documents could pretend to be representative which
ignored the famous "Memoirs" of the Duc de Saint-Simon. They stand, by
universal consent, at the head of French historical papers, and are the
one great source from which all historians derive their insight into the
closing years of the reign of the "Grand Monarch," Louis XIV: whom the
author shows to be anything but grand--and of the Regency. The opinion
of the French critic, Sainte-Beuve, is fairly typical. "With the Memoirs
of De Retz, it seemed that perfection had been attained, in interest, in
movement, in moral analysis, in pictorial vivacity, and that there was no
reason for expecting they could be surpassed. But the 'Memoirs' of
Saint-Simon came; and they offer merits . . . which make them the most
precious body of Memoirs that as yet exist."
Villemain declared their author to be "the most original of geniuses in
French literature, the foremost of prose satirists; inexhaustible in
details of manners and customs, a word-painter like Tacitus; the author
of a language of his own, lacking in accuracy, system, and art, yet an
admirable writer." Leon Vallee reinforces this by saying: "Saint-Simon
can not be compared to any of his contemporaries. He has an
individuality, a style, and a language solely his own.... Language he
treated like an abject slave. When he had gone to its farthest limit,
when it failed to express his ideas or feelings, he forced it--the result
was a new term, or a change in the ordinary meaning of words sprang forth
from has pen. With this was joined a vigour and breadth of style, very
pronounced, which makes up the originality of the works of Saint-Simon
and contributes toward placing their author in the foremost rank of
Louis de Rouvroy, who later became the Duc de Saint-Simon, was born in
Paris, January 16, 1675. He claimed descent from Charlemagne, but the
story goes that his father, as a young page of Louis XIII., gained favour
with his royal master by his skill in holding the stirrup, and was
finally made a duke and peer of France. The boy Louis had no lesser
persons than the King and Queen Marie Therese as godparents, and made his
first formal appearance at Court when seventeen. He tells us that he was
not a studious boy, but was fond of reading history; and that if he had
been given rein to read all he desired of it, he might have made "some
figure in the world." At nineteen, like D'Artagnan, he entered the
King's Musketeers. At twenty he was made a captain in the cavalry; and
the same year he married the beautiful daughter of the Marechal de
Larges. This marriage, which was purely political in its inception,
finally turned into a genuine love match--a pleasant exception to the
majority of such affairs. He became devoted to his wife, saying: "she
exceeded all that was promised of her, and all that I myself had hoped."
Partly because of this marriage, and also because he felt himself
slighted in certain army appointments, he resigned his commissim after
five years' service, and retired for a time to private life.
Upon his return to Court, taking up apartments which the royal favour had
reserved for him at Versailles, Saint-Simon secretly entered upon the
self-appointed task for which he is now known to fame--a task which the
proud King of a vainglorious Court would have lost no time in terminating
had it been discovered--the task of judge, spy, critic, portraitist, and
historian, rolled into one. Day by day, henceforth for many years, he
was to set down upon his private "Memoirs" the results of his personal
observations, supplemented by the gossip brought to him by his
unsuspecting friends; for neither courtier, statesman, minister, nor
friend ever looked upon those notes which this "little Duke with his
cruel, piercing, unsatisfied eyes" was so busily penning. Says Vallee:
"He filled a unique position at Court, being accepted by all, even by the
King himself, as a cynic, personally liked for his disposition, enjoying
consideration on account of the prestige of his social connections,
inspiring fear in the more timid by the severity and fearlessness of his
criticism." Yet Louis XIV. never seems to have liked him, and Saint-
Simon owed his influence chiefly to his friendly relations with the
Dauphin's family. During the Regency, he tried to restrain the
profligate Duke of Orleans, and in return was offered the position of
governor of the boy, Louis XV., which he refused. Soon after, he retired
to private life, and devoted his remaining years largely to revising his
beloved "Memoirs." The autograph manuscript, still in existence, reveals
the immense labour which he put into it. The writing is remarkable for
its legibility and freedom from erasure. It comprises no less than 2,300
pages in folio.
After the author's death, in 1755, the secret of his lifelong labour was
revealed; and the Duc de Choiseul, fearing the result of these frank
revelations, confiscated them and placed them among the state archives.
For sixty years they remained under lock and key, being seen by only a
few privileged persons, among them Marmontel, Duclos, and Voltaire. A
garbled version of extracts appeared in 1789, possibly being used as a
Revolutionary text. Finally, in 1819, a descendant of the analyst,
bearing the same name, obtained permission from Louis XVIII. to set this
"prisoner of the Bastille" at liberty; and in 1829 an authoritative
edition, revised and arranged by chapters, appeared. It created a
tremendous stir. Saint-Simon had been merciless, from King down to
lady's maid, in depicting the daily life of a famous Court. He had
stripped it of all its tinsel and pretension, and laid the ragged
framework bare. "He wrote like the Devil for posterity!" exclaimed
Chateaubriand. But the work at once became universally read and quoted,
both in France and England. Macaulay made frequent use of it in his
historical essays. It was, in a word, recognised as the chief authority
upon an important period of thirty years (1694-1723).
Since then it has passed through many editions, finally receiving an
adequate English translation at the hands of Bayle St. John, who has been
careful to adhere to the peculiarities of Saint-Simon's style. It is
this version which is now presented in full, giving us not only many
vivid pictures of the author's time, but of the author himself. "I do
not pride myself upon my freedom from prejudice--impartiality," he
confesses--"it would be useless to attempt it. But I have tried at all
times to tell the truth."
Birth and Family.--Early Life.--Desire to join the Army.--Enter the
Musketeers.--The Campaign Commences.--Camp of Gevries.--Siege of Namur.
--Dreadful Weather.--Gentlemen Carrying Corn.--Sufferings during the
Siege.--The Monks of Marlaigne.--Rival Couriers.--Naval Battle.--
Playing with Fire-arms.--A Prediction Verified.
The King's Natural Children.--Proposed Marriage of the Duc de Chartres.--
Influence of Dubois.--The Duke and the King.--An Apartment.--Announcement
of the Marriage.--Anger of Madame.--Household of the Duchess.--Villars
and Rochefort.--Friend of King's Mistresses.--The Marriage Ceremony.--
Toilette of the Duchess.--Son of Montbron.--Marriage of M. du Maine.--
Duchess of Hanover.--Duc de Choiseul.--La Grande Mademoiselle.
Death of My Father.--Anecdotes of Louis XIII.--The Cardinal de
Richelieu.--The Duc de Bellegarde.--Madame de Hautefort.--My Father's
Enemy.--His Services and Reward.--A Duel against Law.--An Answer to a
Libel.--M. de la Rochefoucauld.--My Father's Gratitude to Louis XIII.
Position of the Prince of Orange.--Strange Conduct of the King.--Surprise
and Indignation.--Battle of Neerwinden.--My Return to Paris.--Death of La
Vauguyon.--Symptoms of Madness.--Vauguyon at the Bastille.--Projects of
Marriage.--M. de Beauvilliers.--A Negotiation for a Wife.--My Failure.--
Visit to La Trappe.
M. de Luxembourg's Claim of Precedence.--Origin of the Claim.--Duc de
Piney.--Character of Harlay.--Progress of the Trial.--Luxembourg and
Richelieu.--Double-dealing of Harlay.--The Duc de Gesvres.--Return to the
Seat of War.--Divers Operations.--Origin of These Memoirs.
Quarrels of the Princesses.--Mademoiselle Choin.--A Disgraceful Affair.--
M. de Noyon.--Comic Scene at the Academie.--Anger and Forgiveness of
M. de Noyon.--M. de Noailles in Disgrace.--How He Gets into Favour Again.
--M. de Vendome in Command.--Character of M. de Luxembourg.-- The Trial
for Precedence Again.--An Insolent Lawyer.--Extraordinary Decree.
Harlay and the Dutch.--Death of the Princess of Orange.--Count
Koenigsmarck.--A New Proposal of Marriage.--My Marriage.--That of M. de
Lauzun.--Its Result.--La Fontaine and Mignard.--Illness of the Marechal
de Lorges.--Operations on the Rhine.--Village of Seckenheim.--An Episode
of War.--Cowardice of M. du Maine.--Despair of the King, Who Takes a
Knave in the Act.--Bon Mot of M. d'Elboeuf.
The Abbe de Fenelon.--The Jansenists and St. Sulpice.--Alliance with
Madame Guyon.--Preceptor of the Royal Children.--Acquaintance with Madame
de Maintenon.--Appointment to Cambrai.--Disclosure of Madame Guyon's
Doctrines.--Her Disgrace.--Bossuet and Fenelon.--Two Rival Books.--
Disgrace of Fenelon.
I was born on the night of the 15th of January, 1675, of Claude Duc de
Saint-Simon, Peer of France, and of his second wife Charlotte de
l'Aubepine. I was the only child of that marriage. By his first wife,
Diana de Budos, my father had had only a daughter. He married her to the
Duc de Brissac, Peer of France, only brother of the Duchesse de Villeroy.
She died in 1684, without children,--having been long before separated
from a husband who was unworthy of her--leaving me heir of all her
I bore the name of the Vidame de Chartres; and was educated with great
care and attention. My mother, who was remarkable for virtue,
perseverance, and sense, busied herself continually in forming my mind
and body. She feared for me the usual fate of young men, who believe
their fortunes made, and who find themselves their own masters early in
life. It was not likely that my father, born in 1606, would live long
enough to ward off from me this danger; and my mother repeatedly
impressed on, me how necessary it was for a young man, the son of the
favourite of a King long dead,--with no new friends at Court,--to acquire
some personal value of his own. She succeeded in stimulating my courage;
and in exciting in me the desire to make the acquisitions she laid stress
on; but my aptitude for study and the sciences did not come up to my
desire to succeed in them. However, I had an innate inclination for
reading, especially works of history; and thus was inspired with ambition
to emulate the examples presented to my imagination,--to do something and
become somebody, which partly made amends for my coldness for letters.
In fact, I have always thought that if I had been allowed to read history
more constantly, instead of losing my time in studies for which I had no
aptness, I might have made some figure in the world.
What I read of my own accord, of history, and, above all, of the personal
memoirs of the times since Francis I., bred in me the desire to write
down what I might myself see. The hope of advancement, and of becoming
familiar with the affairs of my time, stirred me. The annoyances I might
thus bring upon myself did not fail to present themselves to my mind; but
the firm resolution I made to keep my writings secret from everybody,
appeared to me to remedy all evils. I commenced my memoirs then in July,
1694, being at that time colonel of a cavalry regiment bearing my name,
in the camp of Guinsheim, upon the old Rhine, in the army commanded by
the Marechal Duc de Lorges.
In 1691 I was studying my philosophy and beginning to learn to ride at an
academy at Rochefort, getting mightily tired of masters and books, and
anxious to join the army. The siege of Mons, formed by the King in
person, at the commencement of the spring, had drawn away all the young
men of my age to commence their first campaign; and, what piqued me most,
the Duc de Chartres was there, too. I had been, as it were, educated
with him. I was younger than he by eight months; and if the expression
be allowed in speaking of young people, so unequal in position,
friendship had united us. I made up my mind, therefore, to escape from
my leading-strings; but pass lightly over the artifices I used in order
to attain success. I addressed myself to my mother. I soon saw that she
trifled with me. I had recourse to my father, whom I made believe that
the King, having led a great siege this year, would rest the next.
I said nothing of this to my mother, who did not discover my plot until
it was just upon the point, of execution.
The King had determined rigidly to adhere to a rule he had laid down--
namely, that none who entered the service, except his illegitimate
children, and the Princes of the blood royal, should be exempt from
serving for a year in one of his two companies of musketeers; and passing
afterwards through the ordeal of being private or subaltern in one of the
regiments of cavalry or infantry, before receiving permission to purchase
a regiment. My father took me, therefore, to Versailles, where he had
not been for many years, and begged of the King admission for me into the
Musketeers. It was on the day of St. Simon and St. Jude, at half-past
twelve, and just as his Majesty came out of the council.
The King did my father the honour of embracing him three times, and then
turned towards me. Finding that I was little and of delicate appearance,
he said I was still very young; to which my father replied, that I should
be able in consequence to serve longer. Thereupon the King demanded in
which of the two companies he wished to put me; and my father named that
commanded by Maupertuis, who was one of his friends. The King relied
much upon the information given him by the captains of the two companies
of Musketeers, as to the young men who served in them. I have reason for
believing, that I owe to Maupertuis the first good opinion that his
Majesty had of me.
Three months after entering the Musketeers, that is to say, in the March
of the following year, the King held a review of his guards, and of the
gendarmerie, at Compiegne, and I mounted guard once at the palace.
During this little journey there was talk of a much more important one.
My joy was extreme; but my father, who had not counted upon this,
repented of having believed me, when I told him that the King would no
doubt rest at Paris this year. My mother, after a little vexation and
pouting at finding me enrolled by my father against her will, did not
fail to bring him to reason, and to make him provide me with an equipment
of thirty-five horses or mules, and means to live honourably.
A grievous annoyance happened in our house about three weeks before my
departure. A steward of my father named Tesse, who had been with him
many years, disappeared all at once with fifty thousand francs due to
various tradesfolk. He had written out false receipts from these people,
and put them in his accounts. He was a little man, gentle, affable, and
clever; who had shown some probity, and who had many friends.
The King set out on the 10th of May, 1692, with the ladies; and I
performed the journey on horseback with the soldiers and all the
attendants, like the other Musketeers, and continued to do so through the
whole campaign. I was accompanied by two gentlemen; the one had been my
tutor, the other was my mother's squire. The King's army was formed at
the camp of Gevries; that of M. de Luxembourg almost joined it: The
ladies were at Mons, two leagues distant. The King made them come into
his camp, where he entertained them; and then showed them, perhaps; the
most superb review which had ever been seen. The two armies were ranged
in two lines, the right of M. de Luxembourg's touching the left of the
King's,--the whole extending over three leagues of ground.
After stopping ten days at Gevries, the two armies separated and marched.
Two days afterwards the seige of Namur was declared. The King arrived
there in five days. Monseigneur (son of the King); Monsieur (Duc
d'Orleans, brother of the King); M. le Prince (de Conde) and Marechal
d'Humieres; all four, the one under the other, commanded in the King's
army under the King himself. The Duc de Luxembourg, sole general of his
own army, covered the siege operations, and observed the enemy. The
ladies went away to Dinant. On the third day of the march M. le Prince
went forward to invest the place.
The celebrated Vauban, the life and soul of all the sieges the King made,
was of opinion that the town should be attacked separately from the
castle; and his advice was acted upon. The Baron de Bresse, however,
who had fortified the place, was for attacking town and castle together.
He was a humble down-looking man, whose physiognomy promised nothing, but
who soon acquired the confidence of the King, and the esteem of the army.
The Prince de Conde, Marechal d'Humieres, and the Marquis de Boufflers
each led an attack. There was nothing worthy of note during the ten days
the siege lasted. On the eleventh day, after the trenches had been
opened, a parley was beaten and a capitulation made almost as the
besieged desired it. They withdrew to the castle; and it was agreed that
it should not be attacked from the town-side, and that the town was not
to be battered by it. During the siege the King was almost always in his
tent; and the weather remained constantly warm and serene. We lost
scarcely anybody of consequence. The Comte de Toulouse received a slight
wound in the arm while quite close to the King, who from a prominent
place was witnessing the attack of a half-moon, which was carried in
broad daylight by a detachment of the oldest of the two companies of
The siege of the castle next commenced. The position of the camp was
changed. The King's tents and those of all the Court were pitched in a
beautiful meadow about five hundred paces from the monastery of
Marlaigne. The fine weather changed to rain, which fell with an
abundance and perseverance never before known by any one in the army.
This circumstance increased the reputation of Saint Medard, whose fete
falls on the 8th of June. It rained in torrents that day, and it is said
that when such is the case it will rain for forty days afterwards. By
chance it happened so this year. The soldiers in despair at this deluge
uttered many imprecations against the Saint; and looked for images of
him, burning and breaking as many as they could find. The rains sadly
interfered with the progress of the siege. The tents of the King could
only be communicated with by paths laid with fascines which required to
be renewed every day, as they sank down into the soil. The camps and
quarters were no longer accessible; the trenches were full of mud and
water, and it took often three days to remove cannon from one battery to
another. The waggons became useless, too, so that the transport of
bombs, shot, and so forth, could not be performed except upon the backs
of mules and of horses taken from the equipages of the Court and the
army. The state of the roads deprived the Duc de Luxembourg of the use
of waggons and other vehicles. His army was perishing for want of grain.
To remedy this inconvenience the King ordered all his household troops to
mount every day on horseback by detachments, and to take sacks of grain
upon their cruppers to a village where they were to be received and
counted by the officers of the Duc de Luxembourg. Although the household
of the King had scarcely any repose during this siege, what with carrying
fascines, furnishing guards, and other daily services, this increase of
duty was given to it because the cavalry served continually also, and was
reduced almost entirely to leaves of trees for provender.
The household of the King, accustomed to all sorts of distinctions,
complained bitterly of this task. But the King turned a deaf ear to
them, and would be obeyed. On the first day some of the Gendarmes and of
the light horse of the guard arrived early in the morning at the depot of
the sacks, and commenced murmuring and exciting each other by their
discourses. They threw down the sacks at last and flatly refused to
carry them. I had been asked very politely if I would be of the
detachment for the sacks or of some other. I decided for the sacks,
because I felt that I might thereby advance myself, the subject having
already made much noise. I arrived with the detachment of the Musketeers
at the moment of the refusal of the others; and I loaded my sack before
their eyes. Marin, a brigadier of cavalry and lieutenant of the body
guards, who was there to superintend the operation, noticed me, and full
of anger at the refusal he had just met with, exclaimed that as I did not
think such work beneath me, the rest would do well to imitate my example.
Without a word being spoken each took up his sack; and from that time
forward no further difficulty occurred in the matter. As soon as the
detachment had gone, Marin went straight to the King and told him what
had occurred. This was a service which procured for me several obliging
discourses from his Majesty, who during the rest of the siege always
sought to say something agreeable every time he met me.
The twenty-seventh day after opening the trenches, that is, the first of
July, 1692, a parley was sounded by the Prince de Barbanqon, governor of
the place,--a fortunate circumstance for the besiegers, who were worn
out with fatigue; and destitute of means, on account of the wretched
weather which still continued, and which had turned the whole country
round into a quagmire. Even the horses of the King lived upon leaves,
and not a horse of all our numerous cavalry ever thoroughly recovered
from the effects of such sorry fare. It is certain that without the
presence of the King the siege might never have been successful; but he
being there, everybody was stimulated. Yet had the place held out ten
days longer, there is no saying what might have happened. Before the end
of the siege the King was so much fatigued with his exertions, that a new
attack of gout came on, with more pain than ever, and compelled him to
keep his bed, where, however, he thought of everything, and laid out his
plans as though he had been at Versailles.
During the entire siege, the Prince of Orange (William III. of England)
had unavailingly used all his science to dislodge the Duc de Luxembourg;
but he had to do with a man who in matters of war was his superior, and
who continued so all his life. Namur, which, by the surrender of the
castle, was now entirely in our power, was one of the strongest places in
the Low Countries, and had hitherto boasted of having never changed
masters. The inhabitants could not restrain their tears of sorrow. Even
the monks of Marlaigne were profoundly moved, so much so, that they could
not disguise their grief. The King, feeling for the loss of their corn
that they had sent for safety into Namur, gave them double the quantity,
and abundant alms. He incommoded them as little as possible, and would
not permit the passage of cannon across their park, until it was found
impossible to transport it by any other road. Notwithstanding these acts
of goodness, they could scarcely look upon a Frenchman after the taking
of the place; and one actually refused to give a bottle of beer to an
usher of the King's antechamber, although offered a bottle of champagne
in exchange for it!
A circumstance happened just after the taking of Namur, which might have
led to the saddest results, under any other prince than the King. Before
he entered the town, a strict examination of every place was made,
although by the capitulation all the mines, magazines, &c., had to be
shown. At a visit paid to the Jesuits, they pretended to show
everything, expressing, however, surprise and something more, that their
bare word was not enough. But on examining here and there, where they
did not expect search would be made, their cellars were found to be
stored with gunpowder, of which they had taken good care to say no word.
What they meant to do with it is uncertain. It was carried away, and as
they were Jesuits nothing was done.
During the course of this siege, the King suffered a cruel
disappointment. James II. of England, then a refugee in France, had
advised the King to give battle to the English fleet. Joined to that of
Holland it was very superior to the sea forces of France. Tourville, our
admiral, so famous for his valour and skill, pointed this circumstance
out to the King. But it was all to no effect. He was ordered to attack
the enemy. He did so. Many of his ships were burnt, and the victory was
won by the English. A courier entrusted with this sad intelligence was
despatched to the King. On his way he was joined by another courier, who
pressed him for his news. The first courier knew that if he gave up his
news, the other, who was better mounted, would outstrip him, and be the
first to carry it to the King. He told his companion, therefore, an idle
tale, very different indeed from the truth, for he changed the defeat
into a great victory. Having gained this wonderful intelligence, the
second courier put spurs to his horse, and hurried away to the King's
camp, eager to be the bearer of good tidings. He reached the camp first,
and was received with delight. While his Majesty was still in great joy
at his happy victory, the other courier arrived with the real details.
The Court appeared prostrated. The King was much afflicted.
Nevertheless he found means to appear to retain his self-possession, and
I saw, for the first time, that Courts are not long in affliction or
occupied with sadness. I must mention that the (exiled) King of England
looked on at this naval battle from the shore; and was accused of
allowing expressions of partiality to escape him in favour of his
countrymen, although none had kept their promises to him.
Two days after the defeated garrison had marched out, the King went to
Dinant, to join the ladies, with whom he returned to Versailles. I had
hoped that Monseigneur would finish the campaign, and that I should be
with him, and it was not without regret that I returned towards Paris.
On the way a little circumstance happened. One of our halting-places was
Marienburgh, where we camped for the night. I had become united in
friendship with Comte de Coetquen, who was in the same company with
myself. He was well instructed and full of wit; was exceedingly rich,
and even more idle than rich. That evening he had invited several of us
to supper in his tent. I went there early, and found him stretched out
upon his bed, from which I dislodged him playfully and laid myself down
in his place, several of our officers standing by. Coetquen, sporting
with me in return, took his gun, which he thought to be unloaded, and
pointed it at me. But to our great surprise the weapon went off.
Fortunately for me, I was at that moment lying flat upon the bed. Three
balls passed just above my head, and then just above the heads of our two
tutors, who were walking outside the tent. Coetquen fainted at thought
of the mischief he might have done, and we had all the pains in the world
to bring him to himself again. Indeed, he did not thoroughly recover for
several days. I relate this as a lesson which ought to teach us never
to play with fire-arms.
The poor lad,--to finish at once all that concerns him,--did not long
survive this incident. He entered the King's regiment, and when just
upon the point of joining it in the following spring, came to me and said
he had had his fortune told by a woman named Du Perehoir, who practised
her trade secretly at Paris, and that she had predicted he would be soon
drowned. I rated him soundly for indulging a curiosity so dangerous and
so foolish. A few days after he set out for Amiens. He found another
fortune-teller there, a man, who made the same prediction. In marching
afterwards with the regiment of the King to join the army, he wished to
water his horse in the Escaut, and was drowned there, in the presence of
the whole regiment, without it being possible to give him any aid. I felt
extreme regret for his loss, which for his friends and his family was
But I must go back a little, and speak of two marriages that took place
at the commencement of this year the first (most extraordinary) on the
18th February the other a month after.
The King was very anxious to establish his illegitimate children, whom he
advanced day by day; and had married two of them, daughters, to Princes
of the blood. One of these, the Princesse de Conti, only daughter of the
King and Madame de la Valliere, was a widow without children; the other,
eldest daughter of the King and Madame de Montespan, had married Monsieur
le Duc (Louis de Bourbon, eldest son of the Prince de Conde). For some
time past Madame de Maintenon, even more than the King, had thought of
nothing else than how to raise the remaining illegitimate children, and
wished to marry Mademoiselle de Blois (second daughter of the King and of
Madame de Montespan) to Monsieur the Duc de Chartres. The Duc de
Chartres was the sole nephew of the King, and was much above the Princes
of the blood by his rank of Grandson of France, and by the Court that
Monsieur his father kept up.
The marriages of the two Princes of the blood, of which I have just
spoken, had scandalised all the world. The King was not ignorant of
this; and he could thus judge of the effect of a marriage even more
startling; such as was this proposed one. But for four years he had
turned it over in his mind and had even taken the first steps to bring it
about. It was the more difficult because the father of the Duc de
Chartres was infinitely proud of his rank, and the mother belonged to a
nation which abhorred illegitimacy and, misalliances, and was indeed of a
character to forbid all hope of her ever relishing this marriage.
In order to vanquish all these obstacles, the King applied to M. le Grand
(Louis de Lorraine). This person was brother of the Chevalier de
Lorraine, the favourite, by disgraceful means, of Monsieur, father of the
Duc de Chartres. The two brothers, unscrupulous and corrupt, entered
willingly into the scheme, but demanded as a reward, paid in advance, to
be made "Chevaliers of the Order." This was done, although somewhat
against the inclination of the King, and success was promised.
The young Duc de Chartres had at that time for teacher Dubois (afterwards
the famous Cardinal Dubois), whose history was singular. He had formerly
been a valet; but displaying unusual aptitude for learning, had been
instructed by his master in literature and history, and in due time
passed into the service of Saint Laurent, who was the Duc de Chartres'
first instructor. He became so useful and showed so much skill, that
Saint Laurent made him become an abbe. Thus raised in position, he
passed much time with the Duc de Chartres, assisting him to prepare his
lessons, to write his exercises, and to look out words in the dictionary.
I have seen him thus engaged over and over again, when I used to go and
play with the Duc de Chartres. As Saint Laurent grew infirm, Dubois
little by little supplied his place; supplied it well too, and yet
pleased the young Duke. When Saint Laurent died Dubois aspired to
succeed him. He had paid his court to the Chevalier de Lorraine, by
whose influence he was much aided in obtaining his wish. When at last
appointed successor to Saint Laurent, I never saw a man so glad, nor with
more reason. The extreme obligation he was under to the Chevalier de
Lorraine, and still more the difficulty of maintaining himself in his new
position, attached him more and more to his protector.
It was, then, Dubois that the Chevalier de Lorraine made use of to gain
the consent of the young Duc de Chartres to the marriage proposed by the
King. Dubois had, in fact, gained the Duke's confidence, which it was
easy to do at that age; had made him afraid of his father and of the
King; and, on the other hand, had filled him with fine hopes and
expectations. All that Dubois could do, however, when he broke the
matter of the marriage to the young Duke, was to ward off a direct
refusal; but that was sufficient for the success of the enterprise.
Monsieur was already gained, and as soon as the King had a reply from
Dubois he hastened to broach the affair. A day or two before this,
however, Madame (mother of the Duc de Chartres) had scent of what was
going on. She spoke to her son of the indignity of this marriage with
that force in which she was never wanting, and drew from him a promise
that he would not consent to it. Thus, he was feeble towards his
teacher, feeble towards his mother, and there was aversion on the one
hand and fear on the other, and great embarrassment on all sides.
One day early after dinner I saw M. de Chartres, with a very sad air,
come out of his apartment and enter the closet of the King. He found his
Majesty alone with Monsieur. The King spoke very obligingly to the Duc
de Chartres, said that he wished to see him married; that he offered him
his daughter, but that he did not intend to constrain him in the matter,
but left him quite at liberty. This discourse, however, pronounced with
that terrifying majesty so natural to the King, and addressed to a timid
young prince, took away his voice, and quite unnerved him. He, thought
to escape from his slippery position by throwing himself upon Monsieur
and Madame, and stammeringly replied that the King was master, but that a
son's will depended upon that of his parents. "What you say is very
proper," replied the King; "but as soon as you consent to my proposition
your father and mother will not oppose it." And then turning to Monsieur
he said, "Is this not true, my brother? "Monsieur consented, as he had
already done, and the only person remaining to consult was Madame, who
was immediately sent for.
As soon as she came, the King, making her acquainted with his project,
said that he reckoned she would not oppose what her husband and her son
had already agreed to. Madame, who had counted upon the refusal of her
son, was tongue-tied. She threw two furious glances upon Monsieur and
upon the Duc de Chartres, and then said that, as they wished it, she had
nothing to say, made a slight reverence, and went away. Her son
immediately followed her to explain his conduct; but railing against him,
with tears in her eyes, she would not listen, and drove him from her
room. Her husband, who shortly afterwards joined her, met with almost
the same treatment.
That evening an "Apartment" was held at the palace, as was customary
three times a week during the winter; the other three evenings being set
apart for comedy, and the Sunday being free. An Apartment as it was
called, was an assemblage of all the Court in the grand saloon, from
seven o'clock in the evening until ten, when the King sat down to table;
and, after ten, in one of the saloons at the end of the grand gallery
towards the tribune of the chapel. In the first place there was some
music; then tables were placed all about for all kinds of gambling; there
was a 'lansquenet'; at which Monsieur and Monseigneur always played; also
a billiard-table; in a word, every one was free to play with every one,
and allowed to ask for fresh tables as all the others were occupied.
Beyond the billiards was a refreshment-room. All was perfectly lighted.
At the outset, the King went to the "apartments" very often and played,
but lately he had ceased to do so. He spent the evening with Madame de
Maintenon, working with different ministers one after the other. But
still he wished his courtiers to attend assiduously.
This evening, directly after the music had finished, the King sent for
Monseigneur and Monsieur, who were already playing at 'lansquenet';
Madame, who scarcely looked at a, party of 'hombre' at which she had
seated herself; the Duc de Chartres, who, with a rueful visage, was
playing at chess; and Mademoiselle de Blois, who had scarcely begun to
appear in society, but who this evening was extraordinarily decked out,
and who, as yet, knew nothing and suspected nothing; and therefore, being
naturally very timid, and horribly afraid of the King, believed herself
sent for in order to be reprimanded, and trembled so that Madame de
Maintenon took her upon her knees, where she held her, but was scarcely
able to reassure her. The fact of these royal persons being sent for by
the King at once made people think that a marriage was in contemplation.
In a few minutes they returned, and then the announcement was made
public. I arrived at that moment. I found everybody m clusters, and
great astonishment expressed upon every face. Madame was walking in the
gallery with Chateauthiers--her favourite, and worthy of being so.
She took long strides, her handkerchief in her hand, weeping without
constraint, speaking pretty loudly, gesticulating; and looking like Ceres
after the rape of her daughter Proserpine, seeking her in fury, and
demanding her back from Jupiter. Every one respectfully made way to let
her pass. Monsieur, who had returned to 'lansquenet', seemed overwhelmed
with shame, and his son appeared in despair; and the bride-elect was
marvellously embarrassed and sad. Though very young, and likely to be
dazzled by such a marriage, she understood what was passing, and feared
the consequences. Most people appeared full of consternation.
The Apartment, which, however heavy in appearance, was full of interest
to, me, seemed quite short. It finished by the supper of the King. His
Majesty appeared quite at ease. Madame's eyes were full of tears, which
fell from time to time as she looked into every face around, as if in
search of all our thoughts. Her son, whose eyes too were red, she would
not give a glance to; nor to Monsieur: all three ate scarcely anything.
I remarked that the King offered Madame nearly all the dishes that were
before him, and that she refused with an air of rudeness which did not,
however, check his politeness. It was furthermore noticeable that, after
leaving the table, he made to Madame a very marked and very low
reverence, during which she performed so complete a pirouette, that the
King on raising his head found nothing but her back before him, removed
about a step further towards the door.
On the morrow we went as usual to wait in the gallery for the breaking-up
of the council, and for the King's Mass. Madame came there. Her son
approached her, as he did every day, to kiss her hand. At that very
moment she gave him a box on the ear, so sonorous that it was heard
several steps distant. Such treatment in presence of all the Court
covered with confusion this unfortunate prince, and overwhelmed the
infinite number of spectators, of whom I was one, with prodigious
That day the immense dowry was declared; and on Sunday there was a grand
ball, that is, a ball opened by a 'branle' which settled the order of the
dancing throughout the evening. Monseigneur the Duc de Bourgogne danced
on this occasion for the first time; and led off the 'branle' with
Mademoiselle. I danced also for the first time at Court. My partner was
Mademoiselle de Sourches, daughter of the Grand Prevot; she danced
excellently. I had been that morning to wait on Madame, who could not
refrain from saying, in a sharp and angry voice, that I was doubtless
very glad of the promise of so many balls--that this was natural at my
age; but that, for her part, she was old, and wished they were well over.
A few days after, the contract of marriage was signed in the closet of
the King, and in the presence of all the Court. The same day the
household of the future Duchesse de Chartres was declared. The King gave
her a first gentleman usher and a Dame d'Atours, until then reserved to
the daughters of France, and a lady of honour, in order to carry out
completely so strange a novelty. I must say something about the persons
who composed this household.
M. de Villars was gentleman usher; he was grandson of a recorder of
Coindrieu, and one of the best made men in France. There was a great
deal of fighting in his young days, and he had acquired a reputation for
courage and skill. To these qualities he owed his fortune. M. de
Nemours was his first patron, and, in a duel which he had with M. de
Beaufort, took Villars for second. M. de Nemours was killed; but Villars
was victorious against his adversary, anal passed into the service of the
Prince de Conti as one of his gentlemen. He succeeded in gaining
confidence in his new employment; so much so, that the marriage which
afterwards took place between the Prince de Conti and the niece of
Cardinal Mazarin was brought about in part by his assistance. He became
the confidant of the married pair, and their bond: of union with the
Cardinal. His position gave him an opportunity of mixing in society much
above him; but on this he never presumed. His face was his, passport
with the ladies: he was gallant, even discreet; and this means was not
unuseful to him. He pleased Madame Scarron, who upon the throne never
forgot the friendships of this kind, so freely intimate, which she had
formed as a private person. Villars was employed in diplomacy; and from
honour to honour, at last reached the order of the Saint Esprit, in 1698.
His wife was full of wit, and scandalously inclined. Both were very
poor--and always dangled about the Court, where they had many powerful
The Marechale de Rochefort was lady of honour. She was of the house of
Montmorency--a widow--handsome--sprightly; formed by nature to live at
Court--apt for gallantry and intrigues; full of worldly cleverness, from
living much in the world, with little cleverness of any other kind,
nearly enough for any post and any business. M. de Louvois found her
suited to his taste, and she accommodated herself very well to his purse,
and to the display she made by this intimacy. She always became the
friend of every new mistress of the King; and when he favoured Madame de
Soubise, it was at the Marechale's house that she waited, with closed
doors, for Bontems, the King's valet, who led her by private ways to his
Majesty. The Marechale herself has related to me how one day she was
embarrassed to get rid of the people that Madame de Soubise (who had not
had time to announce her arrival) found at her house; and how she most
died of fright lest Bontems should return and the interview be broken off
if he arrived before the company had departed. The Marechale de
Rochefort was in this way the friend of Mesdames de la Valliere, de
Montespan, and de Soubise; and she became the friend of Madame de
Maintenon, to whom she attached herself in proportion as she saw her
favour increase. She had, at the marriage of Monseigneur, been made Dame
d'Atours to the new Dauphiness; and, if people were astonished at that,
they were also astonished to see her lady of honour to an "illegitimate
grand-daughter of France."
The Comtesse de Mailly was Dame d'Atours. She was related to Madame de
Maintenon, to whose favour she owed her marriage with the Comte de
Mailly. She had come to Paris with all her provincial awkwardness, and,
from want of wit, had never been able to get rid of it. On the contrary,
she grafted thereon an immense conceit, caused by the favour of Madame de
Maintenon. To complete the household, came M. de Fontaine-Martel, poor
and gouty, who was first master of the horse.
On the Monday before Shrove Tuesday, all the marriage party and the bride
and bridegroom, superbly dressed, repaired, a little before mid-day, to
the closet of the King, and afterwards to the chapel. It was arranged,
as usual, for the Mass of the King, excepting that between his place and
the altar were two cushions for the bride and bridegroom, who turned
their backs to the King. Cardinal de Bouillon, in full robes, married
them, and said Mass. From the chapel all the company went to table: it
was of horse-shoe shape. The Princes and Princesses of the blood were
placed at the right and at the left, according to their rank, terminated
by the two illegitimate children of the King, and, for the first time,
after them, the Duchesse de Verneuil; so that M. de Verneuil,
illegitimate son of Henry IV., became thus "Prince of the blood" so many
years after his death, without having ever suspected it. The Duc d'Uzes
thought this so amusing that he marched in front of the Duchess, crying
out, as loud as he could--"Place, place for Madame Charlotte Seguier!"
In the afternoon the King and Queen of England came to Versailles with
their Court. There was a great concert; and the play-tables were set
out. The supper was similar to the dinner. Afterwards the married
couple were led into the apartment of the new Duchesse de Chartres. The
Queen of England gave the Duchess her chemise; and the shirt of the Duke
was given to him by the King, who had at first refused on the plea that
he was in too unhappy circumstances. The benediction of the bed was
pronounced by the Cardinal de Bouillon, who kept us all waiting for a
quarter of an hour; which made people say that such airs little became a
man returned as he was from a long exile, to which he had been sent
because he had had the madness to refuse the nuptial benediction to
Madame la Duchesse unless admitted to the royal banquet.
On Shrove Tuesday, there was a grand toilette of the Duchesse de
Chartres, to which the King and all the Court came; and in the evening a
grand ball, similar to that which had just taken place, except that the
new Duchesse de Chartres was led out by the Duc de Bourgogne. Every one
wore the same dress, and had the same partner as before.
I cannot pass over in silence a very ridiculous adventure which occurred
at both of these balls. A son of Montbron, no more made to dance at
Court than his father was to be chevalier of the order (to which however,
he was promoted in 1688), was among the company. He had been asked if he
danced well; and he had replied with a confidence which made every one
hope that the contrary was the case. Every one was satisfied. From the
very first bow, he became confused, and he lost step at once. He tried
to divert attention from his mistake by affected attitudes, and carrying
his arms high; but this made him only more ridiculous, and excited bursts
of laughter, which, in despite of the respect due to the person of the
King (who likewise had great difficulty to hinder himself from laughing),
degenerated at length into regular hooting. On the morrow, instead of
flying the Court or holding his tongue, he excused himself by saying that
the presence of the King had disconcerted him; and promised marvels for
the ball which was to follow. He was one of my friends, and I felt for
him, I should even have warned him against a second attempt, if the very
indifferent success I had met with had not made me fear that my advice
would be taken in ill part. As soon as he began to dance at the second
ball, those who were near stood up, those who were far off climbed
wherever they could get a sight; and the, shouts of laughter were mingled
with clapping of hands. Every one, even the King himself, laughed
heartily, and most of us quite loud, so that I do not think any one was
ever treated so before. Montbron disappeared immediately afterwards, and
did not show himself again for a long time, It was a pity he exposed
himself to this defeat, for he was an honourable and brave man.
Ash Wednesday put an end to all these sad rejoicings by command, and only
the expected rejoicings were spoken of. M. du Maine wished to marry.
The King tried to turn him from it, and said frankly to him, that it was
not for such as he to make a lineage. But pressed M. by Madame de
Maintenon, who had educated Maine; and who felt for him as a nurse the
King resolved to marry him to a daughter of the Prince de Conde. The
Prince was greatly pleased at the project. He had three daughters for
M. du Maine to choose from: all three were extremely little. An inch of
height, that the second had above the others, procured for her the
preference, much to the grief of the eldest, who was beautiful and
clever, and who dearly wished to escape from the slavery in which her
father kept her. The dignity with which she bore her disappointment was
admired by every one, but it cost her an effort that ruined her health.
The marriage once arranged, was celebrated on the 19th of March; much in
the same manner as had been that of the Duc de Chartres. Madame de
Saint-Vallery was appointed lady of honour to Madame du Maine, and M. de
Montchevreuil gentleman of the chamber. This last had been one of the
friends of Madame de Maintenon when she was Madame Scarron.
Montchevreuil was a very honest man, modest, brave, but thick-headed.
His wife was a tall creature, meagre, and yellow, who laughed sillily,
and showed long and ugly teeth; who was extremely devout, of a compassed
mien, and who only wanted a broomstick to be a perfect witch. Without
possessing any wit, she had so captivated Madame de Maintenon, that the
latter saw only with her eyes. All the ladies of the Court were under
her surveillance: they depended upon her for their distinctions, and
often for their fortunes. Everybody, from the ministers to the daughters
of the King, trembled before her. The King himself showed her the most
marked consideration. She was of all the Court journeys, and always with
Madame de Maintenon.
The marriage of M. du Maine caused a rupture between the Princess de
Conde and the Duchess of Hanover her sister, who had strongly desired
M. du Maine for one of her daughters, and who pretended that the Prince
de Conde had cut the grass from under her feet. She lived in Paris,
making a display quite unsuited to her rank, and had even carried it so
far as to go about with two coaches and many liveried servants. With
this state one day she met in the streets the coach of Madame de
Bouillon, which the servants of the German woman forced to give way to
their mistress's. The Bouillons, piqued to excess, resolved to be
revenged. One day, when they knew the Duchess was going to the play,
they went there attended by a numerous livery. Their servants had orders
to pick a quarrel with those of the Duchess. They executed these orders
completely; the servants of the Duchess were thoroughly thrashed--the
harness of her horses cut--her coaches maltreated. The Duchess made a
great fuss, and complained to the King, but he would not mix himself in
the matter. She was so outraged, that she resolved to retire into
Germany, and in a very few months did so.
My year of service in the Musketeers being over, the King, after a time,
gave me, without purchase, a company of cavalry in the Royal Roussillon,
in garrison at Mons, and just then very incomplete. I thanked the King,
who replied to me very obligingly. The company was entirely made up in a
fortnight. This was towards the middle of April.
A little before, that is, on the 27th of March, the King made seven new
marechals of France. They were the Comte de Choiseul, the Duc de
Villeroy, the Marquis de Joyeuse, Tourville, the Duc de Noailles, the
Marquis de Boufllers, and Catinat. These promotions caused very great
discontent. Complaint was more especially made that the Duc de Choiseul
had not been named. The cause of his exclusion is curious. His wife,
beautiful, with the form of a goddess--notorious for the number of her
gallantries--was very intimate with the Princess de Conti. The King, not
liking such a companion for his daughter, gave the Duc de Choiseul to
understand that the public disorders of the Duchess offended him. If the
Duke would send her into a convent, the Marechal's baton would be his.
The Duc de Choiseul, indignant that the reward of his services in the war
was attached to a domestic affair which concerned himself alone, refused
promotion on such terms. He thus lost the baton; and, what was worse for
him, the Duchess soon after was driven from Court, and so misbehaved
herself, that at last he could endure her no longer, drove her away
himself, and separated from her for ever.
Mademoiselle la grande Mademoiselle, as she was called, to distinguish
her from the daughter of Monsieur--or to call her by her name,
Mademoiselle de Montpensier, died on Sunday the 5th of April, at her
palace in the Luxembourg, sixty-three years of age, and the richest
private princess in Europe. She interested herself much in those who
were related to her, even to the lowest degree, and wore mourning for
them, however far removed. It is well known, from all the memoirs of the
time, that she was greatly in love with M. de Lauzun, and that she
suffered much when the King withheld his permission to their marriage.
M. de Lauzun was so enraged, that he could not contain himself, and at
last went so far beyond bounds, that he was sent prisoner to Pignerol,
where he remained, extremely ill-treated, for ten years. The affection
of Mademoiselle did not grow cold by separation. The King profited by
it, to make M. de Lauzun buy his liberty at her expense, and thus
enriched M. du Maine. He always gave out that he had married
Mademoiselle, and appeared before the King, after her death, in a long
cloak, which gave great displeasure. He also assumed ever afterwards a
dark brown livery, as an external expression of his grief for
Mademoiselle, of whom he had portraits everywhere. As for Mademoiselle,
the King never quite forgave her the day of Saint Antoine; and I heard
him once at supper reproach her in jest, for having fired the cannons of
the Bastille upon his troops. She was a little embarrassed, but she got
out of the difficulty very well.
Her body was laid out with great state, watched for several days, two
hours at a time, by a duchess or a princess, and by two ladies of
quality. The Comtesse de Soissons refused to take part in this watching,
and would not obey until the King threatened to dismiss her from the
Court. A very ridiculous accident happened in the midst of this
ceremony. The urn containing the entrails fell over, with a frightful
noise and a stink sudden and intolerable. The ladies, the heralds, the
psalmodists, everybody present fled, in confusion. Every one tried to
gain the door first. The entrails had been badly embalmed, and it was
their fermentation which caused the accident. They were soon perfumed
and put in order, and everybody laughed at this mishap. These entrails
were in the end carried to the Celestins, the heart to Val de Grace, and
the body to the Cathedral of Saint Denis, followed by a numerous company.
On May 3d 1693, the King announced his intention of placing himself at
the head of his army in Flanders, and, having made certain alterations in
the rule of precedence of the marechale of France, soon after began the
campaign. I have here, however, to draw attention to my private affairs,
for on the above-mentioned day, at ten o'clock in the morning, I had the
misfortune to lose my father. He was eighty-seven years of age, and had
been in bad health for some time, with a touch of gout during the last
three weeks. On the day in question he had dined as usual with his
friends, had retired to bed, and, while talking to those around him
there, all at once gave three violent sighs. He was dead almost before
it was perceived that he was ill; there was no more oil in the lamp.
I learned this sad news after seeing the King to bed; his Majesty was to
purge himself on the morrow. The night was given to the just sentiments
of nature; but the next day I went early to visit Bontems, and then the
Duc de Beauvilliers, who promised to ask the King, as soon as his
curtains were opened, to grant me the--offices my father had held. The
King very graciously complied with his request, and in the afternoon said
many obliging things to me, particularly expressing his regret that my
father had not been able to receive the last sacraments. I was able to
say that a very short time before, my father had retired for several days
to Saint Lazare, where was his confessor, and added something on the
piety of his life. The King exhorted me to behave well, and promised to
take care of me. When my father was first taken ill; several persons,
amongst others, D'Aubigne, brother of Madame de Maintenon, had asked for
the governorship of Blaye. But the King refused them all, and said very
bluntly to D'Aubigne, "Is there not a son?" He had, in fact, always
given my father to understand I should succeed him, although generally he
did not allow offices to descend from father to son.
Let me say a few words about my father. Our family in my grandfather's
time had become impoverished; and my father was early sent to the Court
as page to Louis XIII. It was very customary then for the sons of
reduced gentlemen to accept this occupation. The King was passionately
fond of hunting, an amusement that was carried on with far less state,
without that abundance of dogs, and followers, and convenience of all
kinds which his successor introduced, and especially without roads
through the forests. My father, who noticed the impatience of the King
at the delays that occurred in changing horses, thought of turning the
head of the horse he brought towards the crupper of that which the King
quitted. By this means, without putting his feet to the ground, his
Majesty, who was active, jumped from one horse to another. He was so
pleased that whenever he changed horses he asked for this same page.
From that time my father grew day by day in favour. The King made him
Chief Ecuyer, and in course of years bestowed other rewards upon him,
created him Duke and peer of France, and gave him the Government of
Blaye. My father, much attached to the King, followed him in all his
expeditions, several times commanded the cavalry of the army, was
commander-in-chief of all the arrierebans of the kingdom, and acquired
great reputation in the field for his valour and skill. With Cardinal
Richelieu he was intimate without sympathy, and more than once, but
notably on the famous Day of the Dupes, rendered signal service to that
minister. My father used often to be startled out of his sleep in the
middle of the night by a valet, with a taper in his hand, drawing the
curtain--having behind him the Cardinal de Richelieu, who would often
take the taper and sit down upon the bed and exclaim that he was a lost
man, and ask my father's advice upon news that he had received or on
quarrels he had had with the King. When all Paris was in consternation
at the success of the Spaniards, who had crossed the frontier, taken
Corbie, and seized all the country as far as Compiegne, the King insisted
on my father being present at the council which was then held. The
Cardinal de Richelieu maintained that the King should retreat beyond the
Seine, and all the assembly seemed of that opinion. But the King in a
speech which lasted a quarter of an hour opposed this, and said that to
retreat at such a moment would be to increase the general disorder. Then
turning to my father he ordered him to be prepared to depart for Corbie
on the morrow, with as many of his men as he could get ready. The
histories and the memoirs of the time show that this bold step saved the
state. The Cardinal, great man as he was, trembled, until the first
appearance of success, when he grew bold enough to join the King. This
is a specimen of the conduct of that weak King governed by that first
minister to whom poets and historians have given the glory they have
stripped from his master; as, for instance, all the works of the siege of
Rochelle, and the invention and unheard-of success of the celebrated
dyke, all solely due to the late King!
Louis XIII. loved my father; but he could scold him at times. On two
occasions he did so. The first, as my father has related to me, was on
account of the Duc de Bellegarde. The Duke was in disgrace, and had been
exiled. My father, who was a friend of his, wished to write to him one
day, and for want of other leisure, being then much occupied, took the
opportunity of the King's momentary absence to carry out his desire.
Just as he was finishing his letter, the King came in; my father tried to
hide the paper, but the eyes of the King were too quick for him. "What
is that paper?" said he. My father, embarrassed, admitted that it was a
few words he had written to M. de Bellegarde.
"Let me see it," said the King; and he took the paper and read it.
"I don't find fault with you," said he, "for writing to your friends,
although in disgrace, for I know you will write nothing improper; but
what displeases me is, that you should fail in the respect you owe to a
duke and peer, in that, because he is exiled, you should omit to address
him as Monseigneur;" and then tearing the letter in two, he added, "Write
it again after the hunt, and put, Monseigneur, as you ought." My father
was very glad to be let off so easily.
The other reprimand was upon a more serious subject. The King was really
enamoured of Mademoiselle d'Hautefort. My father, young and gallant,
could not comprehend why he did not gratify his love. He believed his
reserve to arise from timidity, and under this impression proposed one
day to the King to be his ambassador and to bring the affair to a
satisfactory conclusion. The King allowed him to speak to the end, and
then assumed a severe air. "It is true," said he, "that I am enamoured
of her, that I feel it, that I seek her, that I speak of her willingly,
and think of her still more willingly; it is true also that I act thus in
spite of myself, because I am mortal and have this weakness; but the more
facility I have as King to gratify myself, the more I ought to be on my
guard against sin and scandal. I pardon you this time, but never address
to me a similar discourse again if you wish that I should continue to
love you." This was a thunderbolt for my father; the scales fell from
his eyes; the idea of the King's timidity in love disappeared before the
display of a virtue so pure and so triumphant.
My father's career was for a long time very successful, but unfortunately
he had an enemy who brought it to an end. This enemy was M. de Chavigny:
he was secretary of state, and had also the war department. Either from
stupidity or malice he had left all the towns in Picardy badly supported;
a circumstance the Spaniards knew well how to profit by when they took
Corbie in 1636. My father had an uncle who commanded in one of these
towns, La Capelle, and who had several times asked for ammunition and
stores without success. My father spoke upon this subject to Chavigny,
to the Cardinal de Richelieu, and to the King, but with no good effect.
La Capelle, left without resources, fell like the places around. As I
have said before, Louis XIII. did not long allow the Spaniards to enjoy
the advantages they had gained. All the towns in Picardy were soon
retaken, and the King, urged on by Chavigny, determined to punish the
governors of these places for surrendering them so easily. My father's
uncle was included with the others. This injustice was not to be borne.
My father represented the real state of the case and used every effort,
to save his uncle, but it was in vain. Stung to the quick he demanded
permission to retire, and was allowed to do so. Accordingly, at the
commencement of 1637, he left for Blaye; and remained there until the
death of Cardinal Richelieu. During this retirement the King frequently
wrote to him, in a language they had composed so as to speak before
people without being understood; and I possess still many of these
letters, with much regret that I am ignorant of their contents.
Chavigny served my father another ill turn. At the Cardinal's death my
father had returned to the Court and was in greater favour than ever.
Just before Louis XIII. died he gave my father the place of first master
of the horse, but left his name blank in the paper fixing the
appointment. The paper was given into the hands of Chavigny. At the
King's death he had the villainy, in concert with the Queen-regent, to
fill in the name of Comte d'Harcourt, instead of that the King had
instructed him of. The indignation of my father was great, but, as he
could obtain no redress, he retired once again to his Government of
Blaye. Notwithstanding the manner in which he had been treated by the
Queen-regent, he stoutly defended her cause when the civil war broke out,
led by M. le Prince. He garrisoned Blaye at his own expense, incurring
thereby debts which hung upon him all his life, and which I feel the
effects of still, and repulsed all attempts of friends to corrupt his
loyalty. The Queen and Mazarin could not close their eyes to his
devotion, and offered him, while the war was still going on, a marechal's
baton, or the title of foreign prince. But he refused both, and the
offer was not renewed when the war ended. These disturbances over, and
Louis XIV. being married, my father came again to Paris, where he had
many friends. He had married in 1644, and had had, as I have said, one
only daughter. His wife dying in 1670, and leaving him without male
children, he determined, however much he might be afflicted at the loss
he had sustained, to marry again, although old. He carried out his
resolution in October of the same year, and was very pleased with the
choice he had made. He liked his new wife so much, in fact, that when
Madame de Montespan obtained for her a place at the Court, he declined it
at once. At his age--it was thus he wrote to Madame de Montespan, he had
taken a wife not for the Court, but for himself. My mother, who was
absent when the letter announcing the appointment was sent, felt much
regret, but never showed it.
Before I finish this account of my father, I will here relate adventures
which happened to him, and which I ought to have placed before his second
marriage. A disagreement arose between my father and M. de Vardes, and
still existed long after everybody thought they were reconciled. It was
ultimately agreed that upon an early day, at about twelve o'clock, they
should meet at the Porte St. Honore, then a very deserted spot, and that
the coach of M. de Vardes should run against my father's, and a general
quarrel arise between masters and servants. Under cover of this quarrel,
a duel could easily take place, and would seem simply to arise out of the
broil there and then occasioned. On the morning appointed, my father
called as usual upon several of his friends, and, taking one of them for
second, went to the Porte St. Honore. There everything fell out just as
had been arranged. The coach of M. de Vardes struck against the other.
My father leaped out, M. de Vardes did the same, and the duel took place.
M. de Vardes fell, and was disarmed. My father wished to make him beg
for his life; he would not do this, but confessed himself vanquished.
My father's coach being the nearest, M. de Vardes got into it. He
fainted on the road. They separated afterwards like brave people, and
went their way. Madame de Chatillon, since of Mecklenburg, lodged in one
of the last houses near the Porte St. Honore, and at the noise made by
the coaches, put, her head to the window, and coolly looked at the whole
of the combat. It soon made a great noise. My father was complimented
everywhere. M. de Vardes was sent for ten or twelve days to the
Bastille. My father and he afterwards became completely reconciled to
The other adventure was of gentler ending. The Memoirs of M. de la
Rochefoucauld appeared. They contained certain atrocious and false
statements against my father, who so severely resented the calumny, that
he seized a pen, and wrote upon the margin of the book, "The author has
told a lie." Not content with this, he went to the bookseller, whom he
discovered with some difficulty, for the book was not sold publicly at
first. He asked to see all the copies of the work, prayed, promised,
threatened, and at last succeeded in obtaining them. Then he took a pen
and wrote in all of them the same marginal note. The astonishment of the
bookseller may be imagined. He was not long in letting M. de la
Rochefoucauld know what had happened to his books: it may well be
believed that he also was astonished. This affair made great noise. My
father, having truth on his side, wished to obtain public satisfaction
from M. de la Rochefoucauld. Friends, however, interposed, and the
matter was allowed to drop. But M. de la Rochefoucauld never pardoned my
father; so true it is that we less easily forget the injuries we inflict
than those that we receive.
My father passed the rest of his long life surrounded by friends, and
held in high esteem by the King and his ministers. His advice was often
sought for by them, and was always acted upon. He never consoled himself
for the loss of Louis XIII., to whom he owed his advancement and his
fortune. Every year he kept sacred the day of his death, going to Saint-
Denis, or holding solemnities in his own house if at Blaye. Veneration,
gratitude, tenderness, ever adorned his lips every time he spoke of that
After having paid the last duties to my father I betook myself to Mons to
join the Royal Roussillon cavalry regiment, in which I was captain. The
King, after stopping eight or ten days with the ladies at Quesnoy, sent
them to Namur, and put himself at the head of the army of M. de
Boufflers, and camped at Gembloux, so that his left was only half a
league distant from the right of M. de Luxembourg. The Prince of Orange
was encamped at the Abbey of Pure, was unable to receive supplies, and
could not leave his position without having the two armies of the King to
grapple with: he entrenched himself in haste, and bitterly repented
having allowed himself to be thus driven into a corner. We knew
afterwards that he wrote several times to his intimate friend the Prince
de Vaudemont, saying that he was lost, and that nothing short of a
miracle could save him.
We were in this position, with an army in every way infinitely superior
to that of the Prince of Orange, and with four whole months before us to
profit by our strength, when the King declared on the 8th of June that he
should return to Versailles, and sent off a large detachment of the army
into Germany. The surprise of the Marechal de Luxembourg was without
bounds. He represented the facility with which the Prince of Orange
might now be beaten with one army and pursued by another; and how
important it was to draw off detachments of the Imperial forces from
Germany into Flanders, and how, by sending an army into Flanders instead
of Germany, the whole of the Low Countries would be in our power. But
the King would not change his plans, although M. de Luxembourg went down
on his knees and begged him not to allow such a glorious opportunity to
escape. Madame de Maintenon, by her tears when she parted from his
Majesty, and by her letters since, had brought about this resolution.
The news had not spread on the morrow, June 9th. I chanced to go alone
to the quarters of M. de Luxembourg, and was surprised to find not a soul
there; every one had gone to the King's army. Pensively bringing my
horse to a stand, I was ruminating on a fact so strange, and debating
whether I should return to my tent or push on to the royal camp, when up
came M. le Prince de Conti with a single page and a groom leading a
horse. "What are you doing there?" cried he, laughing at my surprise.
Thereupon he told me he was going to say adieu to the King, and advised
me to do likewise. "What do you mean by saying Adieu?" answered I.
He sent his servants to a little distance, and begged me to do the same,
and with shouts of laughter told me about the King's retreat, making
tremendous fun of him, despite my youth, for he had confidence in me.
I was astonished. We soon after met the whole company coming back;
and the great people went aside to talk and sneer. I then proceeded to
pay my respects to the King, by whom I was honourably received.
Surprise, however, was expressed by all faces, and indignation by some.
The effect of the King's retreat, indeed, was incredible, even amongst
the soldiers and the people. The general officers could not keep silent
upon it, and the inferior officers spoke loudly, with a license that
could not be restrained. All through the army, in the towns, and even at
Court, it was talked about openly. The courtiers, generally so glad to
find themselves again at Versailles, now declared that they were ashamed
to be there; as for the enemy, they could not contain their surprise and
joy. The Prince of Orange said that the retreat was a miracle he could
not have hoped for; that he could scarcely believe in it, but that it had
saved his army, and the whole of the Low Countries. In the midst of all
this excitement the King arrived with the ladies, on the 25th of June, at
We gained some successes, however, this year. Marechal de Villeroy took
Huy in three days, losing only a sub-engineer and some soldiers. On the
29th of July we attacked at dawn the Prince of Orange at Neerwinden, and
after twelve hours of hard fighting, under a blazing sun, entirely routed
him. I was of the third squadron of the Royal Roussillon, and made five
charges. One of the gold ornaments of my coat was torn away, but I
received no wound. During the battle our brigadier, Quoadt, was killed
before my eyes. The Duc de Feuillade became thus commander of the
brigade. We missed him immediately, and for more than half an hour saw
nothing of him; he had gone to make his toilette. When he returned he
was powdered and decked out in a fine red surtotxt, embroidered with
silver, and all his trappings and those of his horse were magnificent; he
acquitted himself with distinction.
Our cavalry stood so well against the fire from the enemy's guns, that
the Prince of Orange lost all patience, and turning away, exclaimed--
"Oh, the insolent nation!" He fought until the last, and retired with
the Elector of Hanover only when he saw there was no longer any hope.
After the battle my people brought us a leg of mutton and a bottle of
wine, which they had wisely saved from the previous evening, and we
attacked them in good earnest, as may be believed.
The enemy lost about twenty thousand men, including a large number of
officers; our loss was not more than half that number. We took all their
cannon, eight mortars, many artillery waggons, a quantity of standards,
and some pairs of kettle-drums. The victory was complete.
Meanwhile, the army which had been sent to Germany under the command of
Monseigneur and of the Marechal de Lorges, did little or nothing. The
Marechal wished to attack Heilbronn, but Monseigneur was opposed to it;
and, to the great regret of the principal generals and of the troops, the
attack was not made. Monseigneur returned early to Versailles.
At sea we were more active. The rich merchant fleet of Smyrna was
attacked by Tourville; fifty vessels were burnt or sunk, and twenty-seven
taken, all richly freighted. This campaign cost the English and Dutch
dear. It is believed their loss was more than thirty millions of ecus.
The season finished with the taking of Charleroy. On the 16th of
September the Marechal de Villeroy, supported by M. de Luxembourg, laid
siege to it, and on the 11th of October, after a good defence, the place
capitulated. Our loss was very slight. Charleroy taken, our troops went
into winter-quarters, and I returned to Court, like the rest. The roads
and the posting service were in great disorder. Amongst other adventures
I met with, I was driven by a deaf and dumb postillion, who stuck me fast
in the mud when near Quesnoy. At Pont Saint-Maxence all the horses were
retained by M. de Luxembourg. Fearing I might be left behind, I told the
postmaster that I was governor (which was true), and that I would put him
in jail if he did not give me horses. I should have been sadly puzzled
how to do it; but he was simple enough to believe me, and gave the
horses. I arrived, however, at last at Paris, and found a change at the
Court, which surprised me.
Daquin--first doctor of the King and creature of Madame de Montespan--had
lost nothing of his credit by her removal, but had never been able to get
on well with Madame de Maintenon, who looked coldly upon all the friends
of her predecessor. Daquin had a son, an abbe, and wearied the King with
solicitations on his behalf. Madame de Maintenon seized the opportunity,
when the King was more than usually angry with Daquin, to obtain his
dismissal: it came upon him like a thunderbolt. On the previous evening
the King had spoken to him for a long time as usual, and had never
treated him better. All the Court was astonished also. Fagon, a very
skilful and learned man, was appointed in his place at the instance of
Madame de Maintenon.
Another event excited less surprise than interest. On Sunday, the 29th
of November, the King learned that La Vauguyon had killed himself in his
bed, that morning, by firing twice into his throat. I must say a few
words about this Vauguyon. He was one of the pettiest and poorest
gentlemen of France: he was well-made, but very swarthy, with Spanish
features, had a charming voice, played the guitar and lute very well, and
was skilled in the arts of gallantry. By these talents he had succeeded,
in finding favour with Madame de Beauvais, much regarded at the Court as
having been the King's first mistress. I have seen her--old, blear-eyed,
and half blind,--at the toilette of the Dauphiness of Bavaria, where
everybody courted her, because she was still much considered by the King.
Under this protection La Vauguyon succeeded well; was several times sent
as ambassador to foreign countries; was made councillor of state, and to
the scandal of everybody, was raised to the Order in 1688. Of late
years, having no appointments, he had scarcely the means of living, and
endeavoured, but without success, to improve his condition.
Poverty by degrees turned his brain; but a long time passed before it was
perceived. The first proof that he gave of it was at the house of Madame
Pelot, widow of the Chief President of the Rouen parliament. Playing at
brelan one evening, she offered him a stake, and because he would not
accept it bantered him, and playfully called him a poltroon. He said
nothing, but waited until all the rest of the company had left the room;
and when he found himself alone with Madame Pelot, he bolted the door,
clapped his hat on his head, drove her up against the chimney, and
holding her head between his two fists, said he knew no reason why he
should not pound it into a jelly, in order to teach her to call him
poltroon again. The poor woman was horribly frightened, and made
perpendicular curtseys between his two fists, and all sorts of excuses.
At last he let her go, more dead than alive. She had the generosity to
say no syllable of this occurrence until after his death; she even
allowed him to come to the house as usual, but took care never to be
alone with him.
One day, a long time after this, meeting, in a gallery, at Fontainebleau,
M. de Courtenay, La Vauguyon drew his sword, and compelled the other to
draw also, although there had never been the slightest quarrel between
them. They were soon separated and La Vauguyon immediately fled to the
King, who was just then in his private closet, where nobody ever entered
unless expressly summoned. But La Vauguyon turned the key, and, in spite
of the usher on guard, forced his way in. The King in great emotion
asked him what was the matter. La Vauguyon on his knees said he had been
insulted by M. de Courtenay and demanded pardon for having drawn his
sword in the palace. His Majesty, promising to examine the matter, with
great trouble got rid of La Vauguyon. As nothing could be made of it, M.
de Courtenay declaring he had been insulted by La Vauguyon and forced to
draw his sword, and the other telling the same tale, both were sent to
the Bastille. After a short imprisonment they were released, and
appeared at the Court as usual.
Another adventure, which succeeded this, threw some light upon the state
of affairs. Going to Versailles, one day, La Vauguyon met a groom of the
Prince de Conde leading a saddled horse, he stopped the man, descended
from his coach, asked whom the horse belonged to, said that the Prince
would not object to his riding it, and leaping upon the animal's back,
galloped off. The groom, all amazed, followed him. La Vauguyon rode on
until he reached the Bastille, descended there, gave a gratuity to the
man, and dismissed him: he then went straight to the governor of the
prison, said he had had the misfortune to displease the King, and begged
to be confined there. The governor, having no orders to do so, refused;
and sent off an express for instructions how to act. In reply he was
told not to receive La Vauguyon, whom at last, after great difficulty, he
prevailed upon to go away. This occurrence made great noise. Yet even
afterwards the King continued to receive La Vauguyon at the Court, and to
affect to treat him well, although everybody else avoided him and was
afraid of him. His poor wife became so affected by these public
derangements, that she retired from Paris, and shortly afterwards died.
This completed her husband's madness; he survived her only a month, dying
by his own hand, as I have mentioned. During the last two years of his
life he carried pistols in his carriage, and frequently pointed them at
his coachman and postilion. It is certain that without the assistance of
M. de Beauvais he would often have been brought to the last extremities.
Beauvais frequently spoke of him to the King; and it is inconceivable
that having raised this man to such a point; and having always shown him
particular kindness, his Majesty should perseveringly have left him to
die of hunger and become mad from misery.
The year finished without any remarkable occurrence.
My mother; who had been much disquieted for me during the campaign,
desired strongly that I should not make another without being married.
Although very young, I had no repugnance to marry, but wished to do so
according to my own inclinations. With a large establishment I felt very
lonely in a country where credit and consideration do more than all the
rest. Without uncle, aunt, cousins-German, or near relatives, I found
myself, I say, extremely solitary.
Among my best friends, as he had been the friend of my father; was the
Duc de Beauvilliers. He had always shown me much affection, and I felt a
great desire to unite myself to his family: My mother approved of my
inclination, and gave me an exact account of my estates and possessions.
I carried it to Versailles, and sought a private interview with M. de
Beauvilliers. At eight o'clock the same evening he received me alone in
the cabinet of Madame de Beauvilliers. After making my compliments to
him, I told him my wish, showed him the state of my affairs, and said
that all I demanded of him was one of his daughters in marriage, and that
whatever contract he thought fit to draw up would be signed by my mother
and myself without examination.
The Duke, who had fixed his eyes upon me all this time, replied like a
man penetrated with gratitude by the offer I had made. He said, that of
his eight daughters the eldest was between fourteen and fifteen years
old; the second much deformed, and in no way marriageable; the third
between twelve and thirteen years of age, and the rest were children: the
eldest wished to enter a convent, and had shown herself firm upon that
point. He seemed inclined to make a difficulty of his want of fortune;
but, reminding him of the proposition I had made, I said that it was not
for fortune I had come to him, not even for his daughter, whom I had
never seen; that it was he and Madame de Beauvilliers who had charmed me,
and whom I wished to marry!
"But," said he, "if my eldest daughter wishes absolutely to enter a
"Then," replied I, "I ask the third of you." To this he objected, on the
ground that if he gave the dowry of the first to the third daughter, and
the first afterwards changed her mind and wished to marry, he should be
thrown into an embarrassment. I replied that I would take the third as
though the first were to be married, and that if she were not, the
difference between what he destined for her and what he destined for the
third, should be given to me. The Duke, raising his eyes to heaven,
protested that he had never been combated in this manner, and that he was
obliged to gather up all his forces in order to prevent himself yielding
to me that very instant.
On the next day, at half-past three, I had another interview with M. de
Beauvilliers. With much tenderness he declined my proposal, resting his
refusal upon the inclination his daughter had displayed for the convent,
upon his little wealth, if, the marriage of the third being made, she
should change her mind--and upon other reasons. He spoke to me with much
regret and friendship, and I to him in the same manner; and we separated,
unable any longer to speak to each other. Two days after, however, I had
another interview with him by his appointment. I endeavoured to overcome
the objections that he made, but all in vain. He could not give me his
third daughter with the first unmarried, and he would not force her, he
said, to change her wish of retiring from the world. His words, pious
and elevated, augmented my respect for him, and my desire for the
marriage. In the evening, at the breaking up of the appointment, I could
not prevent myself whispering in his ear that I should never live happily
with anybody but his daughter, and without waiting for a reply hastened
away. I had the next evening, at eight o'clock, an interview with Madame
de Beauvilliers. I argued with her with such prodigious ardor that she
was surprised, and, although she did not give way, she said she would be
inconsolable for the loss of me, repeating the same tender and flattering
things her husband had said before, and with the same effusion of
I had yet another interview with M. de Beauvilliers. He showed even more
affection for me than before, but I could not succeed in putting aside
his scruples. He unbosomed himself afterwards to one of our friends, and
in his bitterness said he could only console himself by hoping that his
children and mine might some day intermarry, and he prayed me to go and
pass some days at Paris, in order to allow him to seek a truce to his
grief in my absence. We both were in want of it. I have judged it
fitting to give these details, for they afford a key to my exceeding
intimacy with M. de Beauvilliers, which otherwise, considering the
difference in our ages, might appear incomprehensible.
There was nothing left for me but to look out for another marriage. One
soon presented itself, but as soon fell to the ground; and I went to La
Trappe to console myself for the impossibility of making an alliance with
the Duc de Beauvilliers.
La Trappe is a place so celebrated and so well known, and its reformer so
famous, that I shall say but little about it. I will, however, mention
that this abbey is five leagues from La Ferme-au-Vidame, or Arnold, which
is the real distinctive name of this Ferme among so many other Fetes in
France, which have preserved the generic name of what they have been,
that is to say, forts or fortresses ('freitas'). My father had been very
intimate with M. de la Trappe, and had taken me to him.
Although I was very young then, M. de la Trappe charmed me, and the
sanctity of the place enchanted me. Every year I stayed some days there,
sometimes a week at a time, and was never tired of admiring this great
and distinguished man. He loved me as a son, and I respected him as
though he were any father. This intimacy, singular at my age, I kept
secret from everybody, and only went to the convent clandestinely.
On my return from La Trappe, I became engaged in an affair which made a
great noise, and which had many results for me.
M. de Luxembourg, proud of his successes, and of the applause of the
world at his victories, believed himself sufficiently strong to claim