Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Historic Court Memoirs of France, complete

Part 28 out of 62

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 7.7 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

confidant of his neighbour. We admired--we marvelled--we grieved, we
shrugged our shoulders. However distant may be that scene, it is always
equally present to me. M. de la Rochefoucauld was in a fury, and this
time without being wrong. The chief ecuyer was ready to faint with
affright; I myself examined everybody with my eyes and ears, and was
satisfied with myself for having long since thought that the King loved
and cared for himself alone, and was himself his only object in life.

This strange discourse sounded far and wide-much beyond Marly.

Let me here relate another anecdote of the King--a trifle I was witness
of. It was on the 7th of May, of this year, and at Marly. The King
walking round the gardens, showing them to Bergheyck, and talking with
him upon the approaching campaign in Flanders, stopped before one of the
pavilions. It was that occupied by Desmarets, who had recently succeeded
Chamillart in the direction of the finances, and who was at work within
with Samuel Bernard, the famous banker, the richest man in Europe, and
whose money dealings were the largest. The King observed to Desmarets
that he was very glad to see him with M. Bernard; then immediately said
to this latter:

"You are just the man never to have seen Marly--come and see it now; I
will give you up afterwards to Desmarets."

Bernard followed, and while the walk lasted the King spoke only to
Bergheyck and to Bernard, leading them everywhere, and showing them
everything with the grace he so well knew how to employ when he desired
to overwhelm. I admired, and I was not the only one, this species of
prostitution of the King, so niggard of his words, to a man of Bernard's
degree. I was not long in learning the cause of it, and I admired to see
how low the greatest kings sometimes find themselves reduced.

Our finances just then were exhausted. Desmarets no longer knew of what
wood to make a crutch. He had been to Paris knocking at every door. But
the most exact engagements had been so often broken that he found nothing
but excuses and closed doors. Bernard, like the rest, would advance
nothing. Much was due to him. In vain Desmarets represented to him the
pressing necessity for money, and the enormous gains he had made out of
the King. Bernard remained unshakeable. The King and the minister were
cruelly embarrassed. Desmarets said to the King that, after all was said
and done, only Samuel Bernard could draw them out of the mess, because it
was not doubtful that he had plenty of money everywhere; that the only
thing needed was to vanquish his determination and the obstinacy--even
insolence--he had shown; that he was a man crazy with vanity, and capable
of opening his purse if the King deigned to flatter him.

It was agreed, therefore, that Desmarets should invite Bernard to dinner
--should walk with him--and that the King should come and disturb them as
I have related. Bernard was the dupe of this scheme; he returned from
his walk with the King enchanted to such an extent that he said he would
prefer ruining himself rather than leave in embarrassment a Prince who
had just treated him so graciously, and whose eulogiums he uttered with
enthusiasm! Desmarets profited by this trick immediately, and drew much
more from it than he had proposed to himself..

The Prince de Leon had an adventure just about this time, which made much
noise. He was a great, ugly, idle, mischievous fellow, son of the Duc de
Rohan, who had given him the title I have just named. He had served in
one campaign very indolently, and then quitted the army, under pretence
of ill-health, to serve no more. Glib in speech, and with the manners of
the great world, he was full of caprices and fancies; although a great
gambler and spendthrift, he was miserly, and cared only for himself. He
had been enamoured of Florence, an actress, whom M. d'Orleans had for a
long time kept, and by whom he had children, one of whom is now
Archbishop of Cambrai. M. de Leon also had several children by this
creature, and spent large sums upon her. When he went in place of his
father to open the States of Brittany, she accompanied him in a coach and
six horses, with a ridiculous scandal. His father was in agony lest he
should marry her. He offered to insure her five thousand francs a-year
pension, and to take care of their children, if M. de Leon would quit
her. But M. de Leon would not hear of this, and his father accordingly
complained to the King. The King summoned M. de Leon into his cabinet;
but the young man pleaded his cause so well there, that he gained pity
rather than condemnation. Nevertheless, La Florence was carried away
from a pretty little house at the Ternes, near Paris, where M. de Leon
kept her, and was put in a convent. M. de Leon became furious; for some
time he would neither see nor speak of his father or mother, and repulsed
all idea of marriage.

At last, however, no longer hoping to see his actress, he not only
consented, but wished to marry. His parents were delighted at this, and
at once looked about for a wife for him. Their choice, fell upon the
eldest daughter of the Duc de Roquelaure, who, although humpbacked and
extremely ugly, she was to be very rich some day, and was, in fact, a
very good match. The affair had been arranged and concluded up to a
certain point, when all was broken off, in consequence of the haughty
obstinacy with which the Duchesse de Roquelaure demanded a larger sum
with M. de Leon than M. de Rohan chose to give.

The young couple were in despair: M. de Leon, lest his father should
always act in this way, as an excuse for giving him nothing; the young
lady, because she, feared she should rot in a convent, through the
avarice of her mother, and never marry. She was more than twenty-four
years, of age; he was more than eight-and-twenty. She was in the convent
of the Daughters of the Cross in the Faubourg Saint Antoine.

As soon as M. de Leon learnt that the marriage was broken off, he
hastened to the convent; and told all to Mademoiselle de Roquelaure;
played the passionate, the despairing; said that if they waited for their
parents' consent they would never marry; and that she would rot in her
convent. He proposed, therefore, that, in spite of their parents, they
should marry and be their own guardians. She agreed to this project; and
he went away in order to execute it.

One of the most intimate friends of Madame de Roquelaure was Madame de la
Vieuville, and she was the only person (excepting Madame de Roquelaure
herself) to whom the Superior of the convent had permission to confide
Mademoiselle de Roquelaure. Madame de la Vieuville often came to see
Mademoiselle de Roquelaure to take her out, and sometimes sent for her.
M. de Leon was made acquainted with this, and took his measures
accordingly. He procured a coach of the same size, shape, and fittings
as that of Madame de la Vieuville, with her arms upon it, and with three
servants in her livery; he counterfeited a letter in her handwriting and
with her seal, and sent this coach with a lackey well instructed to carry
the letter to the convent, on Tuesday morning, the 29th of May, at the
hour Madame de la Vieuville was accustomed to send for her.

Mademoiselle de Roquelaure, who had been let into the scheme, carried the
letter to the Superior of the convent, and said Madame de la Vieuville
had sent for her. Had the Superior any message to send?

The Superior, accustomed to these invitations; did not even look at the
letter, but gave her consent at once. Mademoiselle de Roquelaure,
accompanied solely by her governess, left the convent immediately, and
entered the coach, which drove off directly. At the first turning it
stopped, and the Prince de Leon, who had been in waiting, jumped-in. The
governess at this began to cry out with all her might; but at the very
first sound M. de Leon thrust a handkerchief into her mouth and stifled
the noise. The coachman meanwhile lashed his horses, and the vehicle
went off at full speed to Bruyeres near Menilmontant, the country-house
of the Duc de Lorges, my brother-in-law, and friend of the Prince de
Leon, and who, with the Comte de Rieux, awaited the runaway pair.

An interdicted and wandering priest was in waiting, and as soon as they
arrived married them. My brother-in-law then led these nice young people
into a fine chamber, where they were undressed, put to bed, and left
alone for two or three hours. A good meal was then given to them, after
which the bride was put into the coach, with her attendant, who was in
despair, and driven back to the convent.

Mademoiselle de Roquelaure at once went deliberately to the Superior,
told her all that happened, and then calmly went into her chamber, and
wrote a fine letter to her mother, giving her an account of her marriage,
and asking for pardon; the Superior of the convent, the attendants, and
all the household being, meanwhile, in the utmost emotion at what had

The rage of the Duchesse de Roquelaure at this incident may be imagined.
In her first unreasoning fury, she went to Madame de la Vieuville, who,
all in ignorance of what had happened, was utterly at a loss to
understand her stormy and insulting reproaches. At last Madame de
Roquelaure saw that her friend was innocent of all connection with the
matter; and turned the current of her wrath upon M. de Leon, against whom
she felt the more indignant, inasmuch as he had treated her with much
respect and attention since the rupture, and had thus, to some extent,
gained her heart. Against her daughter she was also indignant, not only
for what she had done, but because she had exhibited much gaiety and
freedom of spirit at the marriage repast, and had diverted the company by
some songs.

The Duc and Duchesse de Rohan were on their side equally furious,
although less to be pitied, and made a strange uproar. Their son,
troubled to know how to extricate himself from this affair, had recourse
to his aunt, Soubise, so as to assure himself of the King. She sent him
to Pontchartrain to see the chancellor. M. de Leon saw him the day after
this fine marriage, at five o'clock in the morning, as he was dressing.
The chancellor advised him to do all he could to gain the pardon of his
father and of Madame de Roquelaure. But he had scarcely begun to speak,
when Madame de Roquelaure sent word to say, that she was close at hand,
and wished the chancellor to come and see her. He did so, and she
immediately poured out all her griefs to him, saying that she came not to
ask, his advice, but to state her complaint as to a friend (they were
very intimate), and as to the chief officer of justice to demand justice
of him. When he attempted to put in a word on behalf of M. de Leon, her
fury burst out anew; she would not listen to his words, but drove off to
Marly, where she had an interview with Madame de Maintenon, and by her
was presented to the King.

As soon as she was in his presence, she fell down on her knees before
him, and demanded justice in its fullest extent against M. de Leon. The
King raised her with the gallantry of a prince to whom she had not been
indifferent, and sought to console her; but as she still insisted upon
justice, he asked her if she knew fully what she asked for, which was
nothing less than the head of M. de Leon. She redoubled her entreaties
notwithstanding this information, so that the King at last promised her
that she should have complete justice. With that, and many compliments,
he quitted her, and passed into his own rooms with a very serious air,
and without stopping for anybody.

The news of this interview, and of what had taken place, soon spread
through the chamber. Scarcely had people begun to pity Madame de
Roquelaure, than some, by aversion for the grand imperial airs of this
poor mother,--the majority, seized by mirth at the idea of a creature,
well known to be very ugly and humpbacked, being carried off by such an
ugly gallant,--burst out laughing, even to tears, and with an uproar
completely scandalous. Madame de Maintenon abandoned herself to mirth,
like the rest, and corrected the others at last, by saying it was not
very charitable, in a tone that could impose upon no one.

Madame de Saint-Simon and I were at Paris. We knew with all Paris of
this affair, but were ignorant of the place of the marriage and the part
M. de Lorges had had in it, when the third day after the adventure I was
startled out of my sleep at five o'clock in the morning, and saw my
curtains and my windows open at the same time, and Madame de Saint-Simon
and her brother (M. de Lorges) before me. They related to me all that
had occurred, and then went away to consult with a skilful person what
course to adopt, leaving me to dress. I never saw a man so crestfallen
as M. de Lorges. He had confessed what he had done to a clever lawyer,
who had much frightened him. After quitting him, he had hastened to us
to make us go and see Pontchartrain. The most serious things are
sometimes accompanied with the most ridiculous. M. de Lorges upon
arriving knocked at the door of a little room which preceded the chamber
of Madame de Saint-Simon. My daughter was rather unwell. Madame de
Saint-Simon thought she was worse, and supposing it was I who had
knocked, ran and opened the door. At the sight of her brother she ran
back to her bed, to which he followed her, in order to relate his
disaster. She rang for the windows to be opened, in order that she might
see better. It so happened that she had taken the evening before a new
servant, a country girl of sixteen, who slept in the little room. M. de
Lorges, in a hurry to be off, told this girl to make haste in opening the
windows, and then to go away and close the door. At this, the simple
girl, all amazed, took her robe and her cotillon, and went upstairs to an
old chambermaid, awoke her, and with much hesitation told her what had
just happened, and that she had left by the bedside of Madame de Saint
Simon a fine gentleman, very young, all powdered, curled, and decorated,
who had driven her very quickly out of the chamber. She was all of a
tremble, and much astonished. She soon learnt who he was. The story was
told to us, and in spite of our disquietude, much diverted us.

We hurried away to the chancellor, and he advised the priest, the
witnesses to the signatures of the marriage, and, in fact, all concerned,
to keep out of the way, except M. de Lorges, who he assured us had
nothing to fear. We went afterwards to Chamillart, whom we found much
displeased, but in little alarm. The King had ordered an account to be
drawn up of the whole affair. Nevertheless, in spite of the uproar made
on all sides, people began to see that the King would not abandon to
public dishonour the daughter of Madame de Roquelaure, nor doom to the
scaffold or to civil death in foreign countries the nephew of Madame de

Friends of M. and Madame de Roquelaure tried to arrange matters. They
represented that it would be better to accept the marriage as it was than
to expose a daughter to cruel dishonour. Strange enough, the Duc and
Duchesse de Rohan were the most stormy. They wished to drive a very hard
bargain in the matter, and made proposals so out of the way, that nothing
could have been arranged but for the King. He did what he had never done
before in all his life; he entered into all the details; he begged, then
commanded as master; he had separate interviews with the parties
concerned; and finally appointed the Duc d'Aumont and the chancellor to
draw up the conditions of the marriage.

As Madame de Rohan, even after this, still refused to give her consent,
the King sent for her, and said that if she and her husband did not at
once give in, he would make the marriage valid by his own sovereign
authority. Finally, after so much noise, anguish, and trouble, the
contract was signed by the two families, assembled at the house of the
Duchesse de Roquelaure. The banns were published, and the marriage took
place at the church of the Convent of the Cross, where Mademoiselle de
Roquelaure had been confined since her beautiful marriage, guarded night
and day by five or six nuns. She entered the church by one door, Prince
de Leon by another; not a compliment or a word passed between them; the
curate said mass; married them; they mounted a coach, and drove off to
the house of a friend some leagues from Paris. They paid for their folly
by a cruel indigence which lasted all their lives, neither of them having
survived the Duc de Rohan, Monsieur de Roquelaure, or Madame de
Roquelaure. They left several children.


The war this year proceeded much as before. M. d'Orleans went to Spain
again. Before taking the field he stopped at Madrid to arrange matters.
There he found nothing prepared, and every thing in disorder. He was
compelled to work day after day, for many hours, in order to obtain the
most necessary supplies. This is what accounted for a delay which was
maliciously interpreted at Paris into love for the Queen. M. le Duc was
angry at the idleness in which he was kept; even Madame la Duchesse, who
hated him, because she had formerly loved him too well, industriously
circulated this report, which was believed at Court, in the city, even in
foreign countries, everywhere, save in Spain, where the truth was too
well known. It was while he was thus engaged that he gave utterance to a
pleasantry that made Madame de Maintenon and Madame des Ursins his two
most bitter enemies for ever afterwards.

One evening he was at table with several French and Spanish gentlemen,
all occupied with his vexation against Madame des Ursins, who governed
everything, and who had not thought of even the smallest thing for the
campaign. The supper and the wine somewhat affected M. d'Orleans. Still
full of his vexation, he took a glass, and, looking at the company, made
an allusion in a toast to the two women, one the captain, the other the
lieutenant, who governed France and Spain, and that in so coarse and yet
humorous a manner, that it struck at once the imagination of the guests.

No comment was made, but everybody burst out laughing, sense of drollery
overcoming prudence, for it was well known that the she-captain was
Madame de Maintenon, and the she-lieutenant Madame des Ursins. The
health was drunk, although the words were not repeated, and the scandal
was strange.

Half an hour at most after this, Madame des Ursins was informed of what
had taken place. She knew well who were meant by the toast, and was
transported with rage. She at once wrote an account of the circumstance
to Madame de Maintenon, who, for her part, was quite as furious. 'Inde
ira'. They never pardoned M. d'Orleans, and we shall see how very nearly
they succeeded in compassing his death. Until then, Madame de Maintenon
had neither liked nor disliked M. d'Orleans. Madame des Ursins had
omitted nothing in order to please him. From that moment they swore the
ruin of this prince. All the rest of the King's life M. d'Orleans did
not fail to find that Madame de Maintenon was an implacable and cruel
enemy. The sad state to which she succeeded in reducing him influenced
him during all the rest of his life. As for Madame des Ursins, he soon
found a change in her manner. She endeavoured that everything should
fail that passed through his hands. There are some wounds that can never
be healed; and it must be admitted that the Duke's toast inflicted one
especially of that sort. He felt this; did not attempt any
reconciliation; and followed his usual course. I know not if he ever,
repented of what he had said, whatever cause he may have had, so droll
did it seem to him, but he has many times spoken of it since to me,
laughing with all his might. I saw all the sad results which might arise
from his speech, and nevertheless, while reproaching M. d'Orleans, I
could not help laughing myself, so well, so simply; and so wittily
expressed was his ridicule of the government on this and the other side
of the Pyrenees.

At last, M. le Duc d'Orleans found means to enter upon his campaign, but
was so ill-provided, that he never was supplied with more than a
fortnight's subsistence in advance. He obtained several small successes;
but these were more than swallowed up by a fatal loss in another
direction. The island of Sardinia, which was then under the Spanish
Crown, was lost through the misconduct of the viceroy, the Duke of
Veragua, and taken possession of by the troops of the Archduke. In the
month of October, the island of Minorca also fell into the hands of the
Archduke. Port Mahon made but little resistance; so that with this
conquest and Gibraltar, the English found themselves able to rule in the
Mediterranean, to winter entire fleets there, and to blockade all the
ports of Spain upon that sea. Leaving Spain in this situation, let us
turn to Flanders.

Early in July, we took Ghent and Bruges by surprise, and the news of
these successes was received with the most unbridled joy at
Fontainebleau. It appeared easy to profit by these two conquests,
obtained without difficulty, by passing the Escaut, burning Oudenarde,
closing the country to the enemies, and cutting them off from all
supplies. Ours were very abundant, and came by water, with a camp that
could not be attacked. M. de Vendome agreed to all this; and alleged
nothing against it. There was only one difficulty in the way; his
idleness and unwillingness to move from quarters where he was
comfortable. He wished to enjoy those quarters as long as possible, and
maintained, therefore, that these movements would be just as good if
delayed. Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne maintained on the contrary,
with all the army--even the favourites of M. de Vendome--that it would be
better to execute the operation at once, that there was no reason for
delay, and that delay might prove disastrous. He argued in vain.
Vendome disliked fatigue and change of quarters. They interfered with
the daily life he was accustomed to lead, and which I have elsewhere
described. He would not move.

Marlborough clearly seeing that M. de Vendome did not at once take
advantage of his position, determined to put it out of his power to do
so. To reach Oudenarde, Marlborough had a journey to make of twenty-five
leagues. Vendome was so placed that he could have gained it in six
leagues at the most. Marlborough put himself in motion with so much
diligence that he stole three forced marches before Vendome had the
slightest suspicion or information of them. The news reached him in
time, but he treated it with contempt according to his custom, assuring
himself that he should outstrip the enemy by setting out the next
morning. Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne pressed him to start that
evening; such as dared represented to him the necessity and the
importance of doing so. All was vain--in spite of repeated information
of the enemy's march. The neglect was such that bridges had not been
thought of for a little brook at the head of the camp, which it was
necessary to cross.

On the next day, Wednesday, the 11th of July, a party of our troops,
under the command of Biron, which had been sent on in advance to the
Escaut, discovered, after passing it as they could, for the bridges were
not yet made, all the army of the enemy bending round towards them, the
rear of their columns touching at Oudenarde, where they also had crossed.
Biron at once despatched a messenger to the Princes and to M. de Vendome
to inform them of this, and to ask for orders. Vendome, annoyed by
information so different to what he expected, maintained that it could
not be true. As he was disputing, an officer arrived from Biron to
confirm the news; but this only irritated Vendome anew, and made him more
obstinate. A third messenger arrived, and then M. de Vendome, still
affecting disbelief of the news sent him, flew in a passion, but
nevertheless mounted his horse, saying that all this was the work of the
devil, and that such diligence was impossible. He sent orders to Biron
to attack the enemy, promising to support him immediately. He told the
Princes, at the same time, to gently follow with the whole of the army,
while he placed himself at the head of his columns, and pushed on briskly
to Biron.

Biron meanwhile placed his troops as well as he could, on ground very
unequal and much cut up. He wished to execute the order he had received,
less from any hopes of success in a combat so vastly disproportioned than
to secure himself from the blame of a general so ready to censure those
who did not follow his instructions. But he was advised so strongly not
to take so hazardous a step, that he refrained. Marechal Matignon, who
arrived soon after, indeed specially prohibited him from acting.

While this was passing, Biron heard sharp firing on his left, beyond the
village. He hastened there, and found an encounter of infantry going on.
He sustained it as well as he could, whilst the enemy were gaining ground
on the left, and, the ground being difficult (there was a ravine there),
the enemy were kept at bay until M. de Vendome came up. The troops he
brought were all out of breath. As soon as they arrived, they threw
themselves amidst the hedges, nearly all in columns, and sustained thus
the attacks of the enemies, and an engagement which every moment grew
hotter, without having the means to arranging themselves in any order.
The columns that arrived from time to time to the relief of these were as
out of breath as the others; and were at once sharply charged by the
enemies; who, being extended in lines and in order, knew well how to
profit by our disorder. The confusion was very great: the new-comers had
no time to rally; there was a long interval between the platoons engaged
and those meant to sustain them; the cavalry and the household troops
were mixed up pell-mell with the infantry, which increased the disorder
to such a point that our troops no longer recognised each other. This
enabled the enemy to fill up the ravine with fascines sufficient to
enable them to pass it, and allowed the rear of their army to make a
grand tour by our right to gain the head of the ravine, and take us in
flank there.

Towards this same right were the Princes, who for some time had been
looking from a mill at so strange a combat, so disadvantageously
commenced. As soon as our troops saw pouring down upon them others much
more numerous, they gave way towards their left with so much promptitude
that the attendants of the Princes became mixed up with their masters,--
and all were hurried away towards the thick of the fight, with a rapidity
and confusion that were indecent. The Princes showed themselves
everywhere, and in places the most exposed, displaying much valour and
coolness, encouraging the men, praising the officers, asking the
principal officers what was to be done, and telling M. de Vendome what
they thought.

The inequality of the ground that the enemies found in advancing, after
having driven in our right, enabled our them to rally and to resist. But
this resistance was of short duration. Every one had been engaged in
hand-to-hand combats; every one was worn out with lassitude and despair
of success, and a confusion so general and so unheard-of. The household
troops owed their escape to the mistake of one of the enemy's officers,
who carried an order to the red coats, thinking them his own men. He was
taken, and seeing that he was about to share the peril with our troops,
warned them that they were going to be surrounded. They retired in some
disorder, and so avoided this.

The disorder increased, however, every moment. Nobody recognised his
troop. All were pell-mell, cavalry, infantry, dragoons; not a battalion,
not a squadron together, and all in confusion, one upon the other.

Night came. We had lost much ground, one-half of the army had not
finished arriving. In this sad situation the Princes consulted with M.
de Vendome as to what was to be done. He, furious at being so terribly
out of his reckoning, affronted everybody. Monseigneur le Duc de
Bourgogne wished to speak; but Vendome intoxicated with choler and
authority; closed his mouth, by saying to him in an imperious voice
before everybody, "That he came to the army only on condition of obeying
him." These enormous words, pronounced at a moment in which everybody
felt so terribly the weight of the obedience rendered to his idleness and
obstinacy, made everybody tremble with indignation. The young Prince to
whom they were addressed, hesitated, mastered himself, and kept silence.
Vendome went on declaring that the battle was not lost--that it could be
recommenced the next morning, when the rest of the army had arrived, and
so on. No one of consequence cared to reply.

From every side soon came information, however, that the disorder was
extreme. Pursegur, Matignon, Sousternon, Cheladet, Purguyon, all brought
the same news. Vendome, seeing that it was useless to resist, all this
testimony, and beside himself with rage, cried, "Oh, very well,
gentlemen! I see clearly what you wish. We must retire, then;" and
looking at Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne, he added, "I know you have
long wished to do so, Monseigneur."

These words, which could not fail to be taken in a double sense, were
pronounced exactly as I relate them, and were emphasized in a manner to
leave no doubt as to their signification. Monseigneur le Duc de
Bourgogne remained silent as before, and for some time the silence was
unbroken. At last, Pursegur interrupted it, by asking how the retreat
was to be executed. Each, then, spoke confusedly. Vendome, in his turn,
kept silence from vexation or embarrassment; then he said they must march
to Ghent, without adding how, or anything else.

The day had been very fatiguing; the retreat was long and perilous. The
Princes mounted their horses, and took the road to Ghent. Vendome set
out without giving any orders, or seeing to anything. The general
officers returned to their posts, and of themselves gave the order to
retreat. Yet so great was the confusion, that the Chevalier Rosel,
lieutenant-general, at the head of a hundred squadrons, received no
orders. In the morning he found himself with his hundred squadrons,
which had been utterly forgotten. He at once commenced his march; but to
retreat in full daylight was very difficult, as he soon found. He had to
sustain the attacks of the enemy during several hours of his march.

Elsewhere, also, the difficulty of retreating was great. Fighting went
on at various points all night, and the enemy were on the alert. Some of
the troops of our right, while debating as to the means of retreat, found
they were about to be surrounded by the enemy. The Vidame of Amiens saw
that not a moment was to be lost. He cried to the light horse, of which
he was captain, "Follow me," and pierced his way through a line of the
enemy's cavalry. He then found himself in front of a line of infantry,
which fired upon him, but opened to give him passage. At the same
moment, the household troops and others, profiting by a movement so bold,
followed the Vidame and his men, and all escaped together to Ghent, led
on by the Vidame, to whose sense and courage the safety of these troops
was owing.

M. de Vendome arrived at Ghent, between seven and eight o'clock in the
morning. Even at this moment he did not forget his disgusting habits,
and as soon as he set foot to ground.... in sight of all the troops as
they came by,--then at once went to bed, without giving any orders, or
seeing to anything, and remained more than thirty hours without rising,
in order to repose himself after his fatigues. He learnt that
Monseigneur de Bourgogne and the army had pushed on to Lawendeghem; but
he paid no attention to it, and continued to sup and to sleep at Ghent
several days running, without attending to anything.


As soon as Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne arrived at Lawendeghem, he
wrote a short letter to the King, and referred him for details to M. de
Vendome. But at the same time he wrote to the Duchess, very clearly
expressing to her where the fault lay. M. de Vendome, on his side, wrote
to the King, and tried to persuade him that the battle had not been
disadvantageous to us. A short time afterwards, he wrote again, telling
the King that he could have beaten the enemies had he been sustained; and
that, if, contrary to his advice, retreat had not been determined on, he
would certainly have beaten them the next day. For the details he
referred to Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne.

I had always feared that some ill-fortune would fall to the lot of
Monseigneur, le Duc de Bourgogne if he served under M. de Vendome at the
army. When I first learned that he was going to Flanders with M. de
Vendome, I expressed my apprehensions to M. de Beauvilliers, who treated
them as unreasonable and ridiculous. He soon had good cause to admit
that I had not spoken without justice. Our disasters at Oudenarde were
very great. We had many men and officers killed and wounded, four
thousand men and seven hundred officers taken prisoners, and a prodigious
quantity missing and dispersed. All these losses were, as I have shown,
entirely due to the laziness and inattention of M. de Vendome. Yet the
friends of that general--and he had many at the Court and in the army--
actually had the audacity to lay the blame upon Monseigneur le Duc de
Bourgogne. This was what I had foreseen, viz., M. de Vendome, in case
any misfortune occurred, would be sure to throw the burden of it upon
Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne.

Alberoni, who, as I have said, was one of M. de Vendome's creatures,
published a deceitful and impudent letter, in which he endeavoured to
prove that M. de Vendome had acted throughout like a good general, but
that he had been thwarted by Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne. This
letter was distributed everywhere, and well served the purpose for which
it was intended. Another writer, Campistron---a poor, starving poet,
ready to do anything to live--went further. He wrote a letter, in which
Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne was personally attacked in the tenderest
points, and in which Marechal Matignon was said to merit a court-martial
for having counselled retreat. This letter, like the other, although
circulated with more precaution, was shown even in the cafes and in the
theatres; in the public places of gambling and debauchery; on the
promenades, and amongst the news-vendors. Copies of it were even shown
in the provinces, and in foreign countries; but always with much
circumspection. Another letter soon afterwards appeared, apologising for
M. de Vendome. This was written by Comte d'Evreux, and was of much the
same tone as the two others.

A powerful cabal was in fact got up against Monseigneur de Bourgogne.
Vaudeville, verses, atrocious songs against him, ran all over Paris and
the provinces with a licence and a rapidity that no one checked; while at
the Court, the libertines and the fashionables applauded; so that in six
days it was thought disgraceful to speak with any measure of this Prince,
even in his father's house.

Madame de Bourgogne could not witness all this uproar against her
husband, without feeling sensibly affected by it. She had been made
acquainted by Monseigneur de Bourgogne with the true state of the case.
She saw her own happiness and reputation at stake. Though very gentle,
and still more timid, the grandeur of the occasion raised her above
herself. She was cruelly wounded by the insults of Vendome to her
husband, and by all the atrocities and falsehoods his emissaries
published. She gained Madame de Maintenon, and the first result of this
step was, that the King censured Chamillart for not speaking of the
letters in circulation, and ordered him to write to Alberoni and D'Evreux
(Campistron, strangely enough, was forgotten), commanding them to keep
silence for the future.

The cabal was amazed to see Madame de Maintenon on the side of Madame de
Bourgogne, while M. du Maine (who was generally in accord with Madame de
Maintenon) was for M. de Vendome. They concluded that the King had been
led away, but that if they held firm, his partiality for M. de Vendome,
for M. du Maine, and for bastardy in general, would bring him round to
them. In point of fact, the King was led now one way, and now another,
with a leaning always towards M. de Vendome.

Soon after this, Chamillart, who was completely of the party of M. de
Vendome, thought fit to write a letter to Monseigneur le Duc de
Bourgogne, in which he counselled him to live on good terms with his
general. Madame de Bourgogne never forgave Chamillart this letter, and
was always annoyed with her husband that he acted upon it. His religious
sentiments induced him to do so. Vendome so profited by the advances
made to him by the young Prince, that he audaciously brought Alberoni
with him when he visited Monseigneur de Bourgogne. This weakness of
Monseigneur de Bourgogne lost him many friends, and made his enemies more
bold than ever: Madame de Bourgogne, however, did not despair. She wrote
to her husband that for M. de Vendome she had more aversion and contempt
than for any one else in the world, and that nothing would make her
forget what he had done. We shall see with what courage she knew how to
keep her word.

While the discussions upon the battle of Oudenarde were yet proceeding,
a league was formed with France against the Emperor by all the states of
Italy. The King (Louis XIV.) accepted, however, too late, a project he
himself ought to have proposed and executed. He lost perhaps the most
precious opportunity he had had during all his reign. The step he at
last took was so apparent that it alarmed the allies, and put them on
their guard. Except Flanders, they did nothing in any other spot, and
turned all their attention to Italy.

Let us return, however, to Flanders.

Prince Eugene, with a large booty gathered in Artois and elsewhere, had
fixed himself at Brussels. He wished to bear off his spoils, which
required more than five thousand waggons to carry it, and which consisted
in great part of provisions, worth three million five hundred thousand
francs, and set out with them to join the army of the Duke of
Marlborough. Our troops could not, of course, be in ignorance of this.
M. de Vendome wished to attack the convoy with half his troops. The
project seemed good, and, in case of success, would have brought results
equally honourable and useful. Monseigneur de Bourgogne, however,
opposed the attack, I know not why; and M. de Vendome, so obstinate until
then, gave in to him in this case. His object was to ruin the Prince
utterly, for allowing such a good chance to escape, the blame resting
entirely upon him. Obstinacy and audacity had served M. de Vendome at
Oudenarde: he expected no less a success now from his deference.

Some anxiety was felt just about this time for Lille, which it was feared
the enemy would lay siege to. Boufflers went to command there, at his
own request, end found the place very ill-garrisoned with raw troops,
many of whom had never smelt powder. M. de Vendome, however, laughed at
the idea of the siege of Lille, as something mad and ridiculous.
Nevertheless, the town was invested on the 12th of August, as the King
duly learned on the 14th. Even then, flattery did its work. The friends
of Vendome declared that such an enterprise was the best, thing that
could happen to France, as the besiegers, inferior in numbers to our
army, were sure to be miserably beaten. M. de Vendome, in the mean time,
did not budge from the post he had taken up near Ghent. The King wrote
to him to go with his army to the relief of Lille. M. de Vendome still
delayed; another courier was sent, with the same result. At this, the
King, losing temper, despatched another courier, with orders to
Monseigneur de Bourgogne, to lead the army to Lille, if M. de Vendome
refused to do so. At this, M. de Vendome awoke from his lethargy. He
set out for Lille, but took the longest road, and dawdled as long as he
could on the way, stopping five days at Mons Puenelle, amongst other

The agitation, meanwhile, in Paris, was extreme. The King demanded news
of the siege from his courtiers, and could not understand why no couriers
arrived. It was generally expected that some decisive battle had been
fought. Each day increased the uneasiness. The Princes and the
principal noblemen of the Court were at the army. Every one at
Versailles feared for the safety of a relative or friend. Prayers were
offered everywhere. Madame de Bourgogne passed whole nights in the
chapel, when people thought her in bed, and drove her women to despair.
Following her example, ladies who had husbands at the army stirred not
from the churches. Gaming, conversation ceased. Fear was painted upon
every face, and seen in every speech, without shame. If a horse passed a
little quickly, everybody ran without knowing where. The apartments of
Chamillart were crowded with lackeys, even into the street, sent by
people desiring to be informed of the moment that a courier arrived; and
this terror and uncertainty lasted nearly a month. The provinces were
even more troubled than Paris. The King wrote to the Bishop, in order
that they should offer up prayers in terms which suited with the danger
of the time. It may be judged what was the general impression and alarm.

It is true, that in the midst of this trepidation, the partisans of M. de
Vendome affected to pity that poor Prince Eugene, and to declare that he
must inevitably fail in his undertaking; but these discourses did not
impose upon me. I knew what kind of enemies we had to deal with, and I
foresaw the worst results from the idleness and inattention of M. de
Vendome. One evening, in the presence of Chamillart and five or six
others, annoyed by the conversation which passed, I offered to bet four
pistoles that there would be no general battle, and that Lille would be
taken without being relieved. This strange proposition excited much
surprise, and caused many questions to be addressed to me. I would
explain nothing at all; but sustained my proposal in the English manner,
and my bet was taken; Cani, who accepted it, thanking me for the present
of four pistoles I was making him, as he said. The stakes were placed in
the hand of Chamillart.

By the next day, the news of my bet had spread a frightful uproar. The
partisans of M. de Vendome, knowing I was no friend to them, took this
opportunity to damage me in the eyes of the King. They so far succeeded
that I entirely lost favour with him, without however suspecting it, for
more than two months. All that I could do then, was to let the storm
pass over my head and keep silent, so as not to make matters worse.
Meanwhile, M. de Vendome continued the inactive policy he had hitherto
followed. In despite of reiterated advice from the King, he took no
steps to attack the enemy. Monseigneur de Bourgogne was for doing so,
but Vendome would make no movement. As before, too, he contrived to
throw all the blame of his inactivity upon Monseigneur de Bourgogne. He
succeeded so well in making this believed, that his followers in the army
cried out against the followers of Monseigneur de Bourgogne wherever they
appeared. Chamillart was sent by the King to report upon the state and
position of our troops, and if a battle had taken place and proved
unfavourable to us, to prevent such sad results as had taken place after
Ramillies. Chamillart came back on the 18th of September. No battle had
been fought, but M. de Vendome felt sure, he said, of cutting off all
supplies from the enemy, and thus compelling them to raise the siege.
The King had need of these intervals of consolation and hope. Master as
he might be of his words and of his features, he profoundly felt the
powerlessness to resist his enemies that he fell into day by day. What I
have related, about Samuel Bernard, the banker, to whom he almost did the
honours of his gardens at Marly, in order to draw from him the assistance
he had refused, is a great proof of this. It was much remarked at
Fontainebleau, just as Lille was invested, that, the city of Paris coming
to harangue him on the occasion of the oath taken by Bignon, new Prevot
des Marchand, he replied, not only with kindness, but that he made use of
the term "gratitude for his good city," and that in doing so he lost
countenance,--two things which during all his reign had never escaped
him. On the other hand, he sometimes had intervals of firmness which
edificed less than they surprised. When everybody at the Court was in
the anxiety I have already described, he offended them by going out every
day hunting or walking, so that they could not know, until after his
return, the news which might arrive when he was out.

As for Monseigneur, he seemed altogether exempt from anxiety. After
Ramillies, when everybody was waiting for the return of Chamillart, to
learn the truth, Monseigneur went away to dine at Meudon, saying he
should learn the news soon enough. From this time he showed no more
interest in what was passing. When news was brought that Lille was
invested, he turned on his heel before the letter announcing it had been
read to the end. The King called him back to hear the rest. He returned
and heard it. The reading finished, he went away, without offering a
word. Entering the apartments of the Princesse de Conti, he found there
Madame d'Espinoy, who had much property in Flanders, and who had wished
to take a trip there.

"Madame," said he, smiling, as he arrived, "how would you do just now to
get to Lille?" And at once made them acquainted with the investment.
These things really wounded the Princesse de Conti. Arriving at
Fontainebleau one day, during the movements of the army, Monseigneur set
to work reciting, for amusement, a long list of strange names of places
in the forest.

"Dear me, Monseigneur," cried she, "what a good memory you have. What a
pity it is loaded with such things only!" If he felt the reproach, he
did not profit by it.

As for Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne, Monseigneur (his father) was ill-
disposed towards him, and readily swallowed all that was said in his
dispraise. Monseigneur had no sympathy with the piety of his son; it
constrained and bothered him. The cabal well profited by this. They
succeeded to such an extent in alienating the father from the son, that
it is only strict truth to say that no one dared to speak well of
Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne in the presence of Monseigneur. From
this it may be imagined what was the licence and freedom of speech
elsewhere against this Prince. They reached such a point, indeed, that
the King, not daring to complain publicly against the Prince de Conti,
who hated Vendome, for speaking in favour of Monseigneur de Bourgogne,
reprimanded him sharply in reality for having done so, but ostensibly
because he had talked about the affairs of Flanders at his sister's.
Madame de Bourgogne did all she could to turn the current that was
setting in against her husband; and in this she was assisted by Madame de
Maintenon, who was annoyed to the last degree to see that other people
had more influence over the King than she had.

The siege of Lille meanwhile continued, and at last it began to be seen
that, instead of attempting to fight a grand battle, the wisest course
would be to throw assistance into the place. An attempt was made to do
so, but it was now too late.

The besieged, under the guidance of Marechal Boufflers, who watched over
all, and attended to all, in a manner that gained him all hearts, made a
gallant and determined resistance. A volume would be necessary in order
to relate all the marvels of capacity and valour displayed in this
defence. Our troops disputed the ground inch by inch. They repulsed,
three times running, the enemy from a mill, took it the third time, and
burnt it. They sustained an attack, in three places at once, of ten
thousand men, from nine o'clock in the evening to three o'clock in the
morning, without giving way. They re-captured the sole traverse the
enemy had been able to take from them. They drove out the besiegers from
the projecting angles of the counterscarp, which they had kept possession
of for eight days. They twice repulsed seven thousand men who attacked
their covered way and an outwork; at the third attack they lost an angle
of the outwork; but remained masters of all the rest.

So many attacks and engagements terribly weakened the garrison. On the
28th of September some assistance was sent to the besieged by the daring
of the Chevalier de Luxembourg. It enabled them to sustain with vigour
the fresh attacks that were directed against them, to repulse the enemy,
and, by a grand sortie, to damage some of their works, and kill many of
their men. But all was in vain. The enemy returned again and again to
the attack. Every attempt to cut off their supplies failed. Finally, on
the 23rd of October, a capitulation was signed. The place had become
untenable; three new breaches had been made on the 20th and 21st; powder
and ammunition were failing; the provisions were almost all eaten up
there was nothing for it but to give in.

Marechal Boufflers obtained all he asked, and retired into the citadel
with all the prisoners of war, after two months of resistance. He
offered discharge to all the soldiers who did not wish to enter the
citadel. But not one of the six thousand he had left to him accepted it.
They were all ready for a new resistance, and when their chief appeared
among them their joy burst out in the most flattering praises of him. It
was on Friday, the 26th of October, that they shut themselves up in the

The enemy opened their trenches before the citadel on the 29th of
October. On the 7th of November they made a grand attack, but were
repulsed with considerable loss. But they did not flinch from their
work, and Boufflers began to see that he could not long hold out. By the
commencement of December he had only twenty thousand pounds of powder
left; very little of other munitions, and still less food. In the town
and the citadel they had eaten eight hundred horses. Boufflers, as soon
as the others were reduced to this food, had it served upon his own
table, and ate of it like the rest. The King, learning in what state
these soldiers were, personally sent word to Boufflers to surrender, but
the Marechal, even after he had received this order, delayed many days to
obey it.

At last, in want of the commonest necessaries, and able to protract his
defence no longer, he beat a parley, signed a capitulation on the 9th of
December, obtaining all he asked, and retired from Lille. Prince Eugene,
to whom he surrendered, treated him with much distinction and friendship,
invited him to dinner several times,--overwhelmed him, in fact, with
attention and civilities. The Prince was glad indeed to have brought to
a successful issue such a difficult siege.


The position of Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne at the army continued to
be equivocal. He was constantly in collision with M. de Vendome. The
latter, after the loss of Lille, wished to defend the Escaut, without any
regard to its extent of forty miles. The Duc de Bourgogne, as far as he
dared, took the part of Berwick, who maintained that the defence was
impossible. The King, hearing of all these disputes, actually sent
Chamillart to the army to compose them; and it was a curious sight to
behold this penman, this financier, acting as arbiter between generals on
the most delicate operations of war. Chamillart continued to admire
Vendome, and treated the Duc de Bourgogne with little respect, both at
the army, and, after his return, in conversation with the King. His
report was given in presence of Madame de Maintenon, who listened without
daring to say a word, and repeated everything to the Duchesse de
Bourgogne. We may imagine what passed between them, and the anger of the
Princess against the minister. For the present, however, nothing could
be done. Berwick was soon afterwards almost disgraced. As soon as he
was gone, M. de Vendome wrote to the King, saying, that he was sure of
preventing the enemy from passing the Escaut--that he answered for it on
his head. With such a guarantee from a man in such favour at Court, who
could doubt? Yet, shortly after, Marlborough crossed the Escaut in four
places, and Vendome actually wrote to the King, begging him to remember
that he had always declared the defence of the Escaut to be, impossible!

The cabal made a great noise to cover this monstrous audacity, and
endeavoured to renew the attack against the Duc de Bourgogne. We shall
see what success attended their efforts. The army was at Soissons, near
Tournai, in a profound tranquillity, the opium of which had gained the
Duc de Bourgogne when news of the approach of the enemy was brought.
M. de Vendome advanced in that direction, and sent word to the Duke, that
he thought he ought to advance on the morrow with all his army. The Duke
was going to bed when he received the letter; and although it was too
late to repulse the enemy, was much blamed for continuing to undress
himself, and putting off action till the morrow.

To this fault he added another. He had eaten; it was very early; and it
was no longer proper to march. It was necessary to wait fresh orders
from M. de Vendome. Tournai was near. The Duc de Bourgogne went there
to have a game at tennis. This sudden party of pleasure strongly
scandalized the army, and raised all manner of unpleasant talk.
Advantage was taken of the young Prince's imprudence to throw upon him
the blame of what was caused by the negligence of M. de Vendome.

A serious and disastrous action that took place during these operations
was actually kept a secret from the King, until the Duc de la Tremoille,
whose son was engaged there, let out the truth. Annoyed that the King
said nothing to him on the way in which his son had distinguished
himself, he took the opportunity, whilst he was serving the King, to talk
of the passage of the Escaut, and said that his son's regiment had much
suffered. "How, suffered?" cried the King; "nothing has happened."
Whereupon the Duke related all to him. The King listened with the
greatest attention, and questioned him, and admitted before everybody
that he knew nothing of all this. His surprise, and the surprise it
occasioned, may be imagined. It happened that when the King left table,
Chamillart unexpectedly came into his cabinet. He was soon asked about
the action of the Escaut, and why it had not been reported. The
minister, embarrassed, said that it was a thing of no consequence. The
king continued to press him, mentioned details, and talked of the
regiment of the Prince of Tarento. Chamillart then admitted that what
happened at the passage was so disagreeable, and the combat so
disagreeable, but so little important, that Madame de Maintenon, to whom
he had reported all, had thought it best not to trouble the King upon the
matter, and it had accordingly been agreed not to trouble him. Upon this
singular answer the King stopped short in his questions, and said not a
word more.

The Escaut being forced, the citadel of Lille on the point of being
taken, our army exhausted with fatigue was at last dispersed, to the
scandal of everybody; for it was known that Ghent was about to be
besieged. The Princes received orders to return to Court, but they
insisted on the propriety of remaining with the army. M. de Vendome, who
began to fear the effect of his rashness and insolence, tried to obtain
permission to pass the winter with the army on the frontier.

He was not listened to. The Princes received orders most positively to
return to Court, and accordingly set out.

The Duchesse de Bourgogne was very anxious about the way in which the
Duke was to be received, and eager to talk to him and explain how matters
stood, before he saw the King or anybody else. I sent a message to him
that he ought to contrive to arrive after midnight, in order to pass two
or three hours with the Duchess, and perhaps see Madame de Maintenon
early in the morning. My message was not received; at any rate not
followed. The Duc de Bourgogne arrived on the 11th of December, a little
after seven o'clock in the evening, just as Monseigneur had gone to the
play, whither the Duchess had not gone, in order to wait for her husband.
I know not why he alighted in the Cour des Princes, instead of the Great
Court. I was put then in the apartments of the Comtesse de Roncy, from
which I could see all that passed. I came down, and saw the Prince
ascending the steps between the Ducs de Beauvilliers and De la
Rocheguyon, who happened to be there. He looked quite satisfied, was
gay, and laughing, and spoke right and left. I bowed to him. He did me
the honour to embrace me in a way that showed me he knew better what was
going on than how to maintain his dignity. He then talked only to me,
and whispered that he knew what I had said. A troop of courtiers met
him. In their midst he passed the Great Hall of the Guards, and instead
of going to Madame de Maintenon's by the private door, though the nearest
way, went to the great public entrance. There was no one there but the
King and Madame de Maintenon, with Pontchartrain; for I do not count the
Duchesse de Bourgogne. Pontchartrain noted well what passed at the
interview, and related it all to me that very evening.

As soon as in Madame de Maintenon's apartment was heard the rumour which
usually precedes such an arrival, the King became sufficiently
embarrassed to change countenance several times. The Duchesse de
Bourgogne appeared somewhat tremulous, and fluttered about the room to
hide her trouble, pretending not to know exactly by which door the Prince
would arrive. Madame de Maintenon was thoughtful. Suddenly all the
doors flew open: the young Prince advanced towards the King, who, master
of himself, more than any one ever was, lost at once all embarrassment,
took two or three steps towards his grandson, embraced him with some
demonstration of tenderness, spoke of his voyage, and then pointing to
the Princess, said, with a smiling countenance: "Do you say nothing to
her?" The Prince turned a moment towards her, and answered respectfully,
as if he dared not turn away from the King, and did not move. He then
saluted Madame de Maintenon, who received him well. Talk of travel,
beds, roads, and so forth, lasted, all standing, some half-quarter of an
hour; then the King said it would not be fair to deprive him any longer
of the pleasure of being alone with Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, and
that they would have time enough to see each other. The Prince made a
bow to the King, another to Madame de Maintenon, passed before the few
ladies of the palace who had taken courage to put their heads into the
room, entered the neighbouring cabinet, where he embraced the Duchess,
saluted the ladies who were there, that is, kissed them; remained a few
moments, and then went into his apartment, where he shut himself up with
the Duchesse de Bourgogne.

Their tete-a-tete lasted two hours and more: just towards the end, Madame
d'O was let in; soon after the Marechal d'Estrees entered, and soon after
that the Duchesse de Bourgogne came out with them, and returned into the
great cabinet of Madame de Maintenon. Monseigneur came there as usual,
on returning from the comedy. Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, troubled
that the Duke did not hurry himself to come and salute his father, went
to fetch him, and came back saying that he was putting on his powder; but
observing that Monseigneur was little satisfied with this want of
eagerness, sent again to hurry him. Just then the Marechale d'Estrees,
hair-brained and light, and free to say just what came into her head,
began to attack Monseigneur for waiting so tranquilly for his son,
instead of going himself to embrace him. This random expression did not
succeed. Monseigneur replied stiffly that it was not for him to seek the
Duc de Bourgogne; but the duty of the Duc de Bourgogne to seek him. He
came at last. The reception was pretty good, but did not by any means
equal that of the King. Almost immediately the King rang, and everybody
went to the supper-room.

During the supper, M. le Duc de Berry arrived, and came to salute the
King at table. To greet him all hearts opened. The King embraced him
very tenderly. Monseigneur only looked at him tenderly, not daring to
embrace his (youngest) son in presence of the King. All present courted
him. He remained standing near the King all the rest of the supper, and
there was no talk save of post-horses, of roads, and such like trifles.
The King spoke sufficiently at table to Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne;
but to the Duc de Berry, he assumed a very different air. Afterwards,
there was a supper for the Duc de Berry in the apartments of the Duchesse
de Bourgogne; but the conjugal impatience of the Duc de Bourgogne cut it
rather too short.

I expressed to the Duc de Beauvilliers, with my accustomed freedom, that
the Duc de Bourgogne seemed to me very gay on returning from so sad a
campaign. He could not deny this, and made up his mind to give a hint on
the subject. Everybody indeed blamed so misplaced a gaiety. Two or
three days after his arrival the Duc de Bourgogne passed three hours with
the King in the apartments of Madame de Maintenon. I was afraid that,
his piety would withhold him from letting out on the subject of M. de
Vendome, but I heard that he spoke on that subject without restraint,
impelled by the advice of the Duchesse de Bourgogne, and also by the Duc
de Beauvilliers, who set his conscience at ease. His account of the
campaign, of affairs, of things, of advices, of proceedings, was
complete. Another, perhaps, less virtuous, might have used weightier
terms; but at any rate everything was said with a completeness beyond all
hope, if we consider who spoke and who listened. The Duke concluded with
an eager prayer to be given an army in the next campaign, and with the
promise of the King to that effect. Soon after an explanation took place
with Monseigneur at Meudon, Mademoiselle Choin being present. With the
latter he spoke much more in private: she had taken his part with
Monseigneur. The Duchesse de Bourgogne had gained her over. The
connection of this girl with Madame de Maintenon was beginning to grow
very close indeed.

Gamaches had been to the army with the Duc do Bourgogne, and being a
free-tongued man had often spoken out very sharply on the puerilities in
which he indulged in company with the Duc de Berry, influenced by his
example. One day returning from mass, in company with the Duke on a
critical day, when he would rather have seen him on horseback; he said
aloud, "You will certainly win the kingdom of heaven; but as for the
kingdom of the earth, Prince Eugene and Marlborough know how to seek it
better than you." What he said quite as publicly to the two Princes on
their treatment of the King of England, was admirable. That Prince
(known as the Chevalier de Saint George) served incognito, with a modesty
that the Princes took advantage of to treat him with the greatest
indifference and contempt. Towards the end of the campaign, Gamaches,
exasperated with their conduct, exclaimed to them in the presence of
everybody: "Is this a wager? speak frankly; if so, you have won, there
can be no doubt of that; but now, speak a little to the Chevalier de
Saint George, and treat him more politely." These sallies, however, were
too public to produce any good effect. They were suffered, but not
attended to.

The citadel of Lille capitulated as we have seen, with the consent of the
King, who was obliged to acknowledge that the Marechal de Boufflers had
done all he could, and that further defence was impossible. Prince
Eugene treated Boufflers with the greatest possible consideration. The
enemy at this time made no secret of their intention to invest Ghent,
which made the dispersal of our army the more shameful; but necessity
commanded, for no more provisions were to be got.

M. de Vendome arrived at Versailles on the morning of December 15th, and
saluted the King as he left table. The King embraced him with a sort of
enthusiasm that made his cabal triumph. He monopolised all conversation
during the dinner, but only trifles were talked of. The King said he
would talk to him next day at Madame de Maintenon's. This delay, which
was new to him, did not seem of good augury. He went to pay his respects
to M. de Bourgogne, who received him well in spite of all that had
passed. Then Vendome went to wait on Monseigneur at the Princesse de
Coriti's: here he thought himself in his stronghold. He was received
excellently, and the conversation turned on nothings. He wished to take
advantage of this, and proposed a visit to Anet. His surprise and that
of those present were great at the uncertain reply of Monseigneur, who
caused it to be understood, and rather stiffly too, that he would not go.
Vendome appeared embarrassed, and abridged his visit. I met him at the
end of the gallery of the new wing, as I was coming from M. de
Beauvilliers, turning towards the steps in the middle of the gallery. He
was alone, without torches or valets, with Alberoni, followed by a man I
did not know. I saw him by the light of my torches; we saluted each
other politely, though we had not much acquaintance one with the other.
He seemed chagrined, and was going to M. du Maine, his counsel and
principal support.

Next day he passed an hour with the King at Madame de Maintenon's. He
remained eight or ten days at Versailles or at Meudon, and never went to
the Duchesse de Bourgogne's. This was nothing new for him. The mixture
of grandeur and irregularity which he had long affected seemed to him to
have freed him from the most indispensable duties. His Abbe Alberoni
showed himself at the King's mass in the character of a courtier with
unparalleled effrontery. At last they went to Anet. Even before he went
he perceived some diminution in his position, since he lowered himself so
far as to invite people to come and see him, he, who in former years made
it a favour to receive the most distinguished persons. He soon perceived
the falling-off in the number of his visitors. Some excused themselves
from going; others promised to go and did not. Every one made a
difficulty about a journey of fifteen leagues, which, the year before,
was considered as easy and as necessary as that of Marly. Vendome
remained at Anet until the first voyage to Marly, when he came; and he
always came to Marly and Meudon, never to Versailles, until the change of
which I shall soon have occasion to speak.

The Marechal de Boufflers returned to Court from his first but
unsuccessful defence of Lille, and was received in a triumphant manner,
and overwhelmed with honours and rewards. This contrast with Vendome was
remarkable: the one raised by force of trickery, heaping up mountains
like the giants, leaning on vice, lies, audacity, on a cabal inimical to
the state and its heirs, a factitious hero, made such by will in despite
of truth;--the other, without cabal, with no support but virtue and
modesty, was inundated with favours, and the applause of enemies was
followed by the acclamations of the public, so that the nature of even
courtiers changed, and they were happy in the recompenses showered upon

Some days after the return of the Duc de Bourgogne Cheverny had an
interview with him, on leaving which he told me what I cannot refrain
from relating here, though it is necessarily with confusion that I write
it. He said that, speaking freely with him on what had been circulated
during the campaign, the Prince observed that he knew how and with what
vivacity I had expressed myself, and that he was informed of the manner
in which the Prince de Conti had given his opinion, and added that with
the approval of two such men, that of others might be dispensed with.
Cheverny, a very truthful man, came full of this to tell it to me at
once. I was filled with confusion at being placed beside a man as
superior to me in knowledge of war as he was in rank and birth; but I
felt with gratitude how well M. de Beauvilliers had kept his word and
spoken in my favour.

The last evening of this year (1708) was very remarkable, because there
had not yet been an example of any such thing. The King having retired
after supper to his cabinet with his family, as usual, Chamillart came
without being sent for. He whispered in the King's ear that he had a
long despatch from the Marechal de Boufflers. Immediately the King said
good-night to Monseigneur and the Princesses, who went out with every one
else; and the King actually worked for an hour with his minister before
going to bed, so excited was he by the great project for retaking Lille!

Since the fall of Lille, in fact, Chamillart, impressed with the
importance of the place being in our possession, had laid out a plan by
which he were to lay siege to it and recapture it. One part of his plan
was, that the King should conduct the siege in person. Another was that,
as money was so difficult to obtain, the ladies of the Court should not
accompany the King, as their presence caused a large increase of expense
for carriages, servants, and so on. He confided his project to the King,
under a strict promise that it would be kept secret from Madame de
Maintenon. He feared, and with reason, that if she heard of it she would
object to being separated from the King for such a long time as would be
necessary for the siege: Chamillart was warned that if he acted thus,
hiding his plant from Madame de Maintenon, to whom he owed everything,
she would assuredly ruin him, but he paid no attention to the warning.
He felt all the danger he ran, but he was courageous; he loved the State,
and, if I may say so, he loved the King as a mistress. He followed his
own counsels then, and made the King acquainted with his project.

The King was at once delighted with it. He entered into the details
submitted to him by Chamillart with the liveliest interest, and promised
to carry out all that was proposed. He sent for Boufflers, who had
returned from Lille, and having, as I have said, recompensed him for his
brave defence of that place with a peerage and other marks of favour,
despatched him privately into Flanders to make preparations for the
siege. The abandonment of Ghent by our troop, after a short and
miserable defence, made him more than ever anxious to carry out this

But the King had been so unused to keep a secret from Madame de
Maintenon, that he felt himself constrained in attempting to do so now.
He confided to her, therefore, the admirable plan of Chamillart. She had
the address to hide her surprise, and the strength to dissimulate
perfectly her vexation; she praised the project; she appeared charmed
with it; she entered into the details; she spoke of them to Chamillart;
admired his zeal, his labour, his diligence, and, above all, his ability,
in having conceived and rendered possible so fine and grand a project.

From that moment, however, she forgot nothing in order to ensure its
failure. The first sight of it had made her tremble. To be separated
from the King during a long siege; to abandon him to a minister to whom
he would be grateful for all the success of that siege; a minister, too,
who, although her creature, had dared to submit this project to the King
without informing her; who, moreover, had recently offended her by
marrying his son into a family she considered inimical to her, and by
supporting M. de Vendome against Monseigneur de Bourgogne! These were
considerations that determined her to bring about the failure of
Chamillart's project and the disgrace of Chamillart himself.

She employed her art so well, that after a time the project upon Lille
did not appear so easy to the King as at first. Soon after, it seemed
difficult; then too hazardous and ruinous; so that at last it was
abandoned, and Boufflers had orders to cease his preparations and return
to France! She succeeded thus in an affair she considered the most
important she had undertaken during all her life. Chamillart was much
touched, but little surprised: As soon as he knew his secret had been
confided to Madame de Maintenon he had feeble hope for it. Now he began
to fear for himself.


One of the reasons Madame de Maintenon had brought forward, which much
assisted her in opposing the siege of Lille, was the excessive cold of
this winter. The winter was, in fact, terrible; the memory of man could
find no parallel to it. The frost came suddenly on Twelfth Night, and
lasted nearly two months, beyond all recollection. In four days the
Seine and all the other rivers were frozen, and,--what had never been
seen before,--the sea froze all along the coasts, so as to bear carts,
even heavily laden, upon it. Curious observers pretended that this cold
surpassed what had ever been felt in Sweden and Denmark. The tribunals
were closed a considerable time. The worst thing was, that it completely
thawed for seven or eight days, and then froze again as rudely as before.
This caused the complete destruction of all kinds of vegetation--even
fruit-trees; and others of the most hardy kind, were destroyed. The
violence of the cold was such, that the strongest elixirs and the most
spirituous liquors broke their bottles in cupboards of rooms with fires
in them, and surrounded by chimneys, in several parts of the chateau of
Versailles. As I myself was one evening supping with the Duc de
Villeroy, in his little bedroom, I saw bottles that had come from a well-
heated kitchen, and that had been put on the chimney-piece of this bed-
room (which was close to the kitchen), so frozen, that pieces of ice fell
into our glasses as we poured out from them. The second frost ruined
everything. There were no walnut-trees, no olive-trees, no apple-trees,
no vines left, none worth speaking of, at least. The other trees died in
great numbers; the gardens perished, and all the grain in the earth. It
is impossible to imagine the desolation of this general ruin. Everybody
held tight his old grain. The price of bread increased in proportion to
the despair for the next harvest. The most knowing resowed barley where
there had been wheat, and were imitated by the majority. They were the
most successful, and saved all; but the police bethought themselves of
prohibiting this, and repented too late! Divers edicts were published
respecting grain, researches were made and granaries filled;
commissioners were appointed to scour the provinces, and all these steps
contributed to increase the general dearness and poverty, and that, too,
at a time when, as was afterwards proved, there was enough corn in the
country to feed all France for two years, without a fresh ear being

Many people believed that the finance gentlemen had clutched at this
occasion to seize upon all the corn in the kingdom, by emissaries they
sent about, in order to sell it at whatever price they wished for the
profit of the King, not forgetting their own. The fact that a large
quantity of corn that the King had bought, and that had spoiled upon the
Loire, was thrown into the water in consequence, did not shake this
opinion, as the accident could not be hidden. It is certain that the
price of corn was equal in all the markets of the realm; that at Paris,
commissioners fixed the price by force, and often obliged the vendors to
raise it in spite of themselves; that when people cried out, "How long
will this scarcity last?" some commissioners in a market, close to my
house, near Saint Germain-des-Pres, replied openly, "As long as you
please," moved by compassion and indignation, meaning thereby, as long as
the people chose to submit to the regulation, according to which no corn
entered Paris, except on an order of D'Argenson. D'Argenson was the
lieutenant of police. The bakers were treated with the utmost rigour in
order to keep up the price of bread all over France. In the provinces,
officers called intendents did what D'Argenson did at Paris. On all the
markets, the corn that was not sold at the hour fixed for closing was
forcibly carried off; those who, from pity, sold their corn lower than
the fixed rate were punished with cruelty!

Marechal, the King's surgeon, had the courage and the probity to tell all
these things to the King, and to state the sinister opinions it gave rise
to among all classes, even the most enlightened. The King appeared
touched, was not offended with Marechal, but did nothing.

In several places large stores of corn were collected; by the government
authorities, but with the greatest possible secrecy. Private people were
expressly forbidden to do this, and informers were encouraged to; betray
them. A poor fellow, having bethought himself of informing against one
of the stores alluded to above, was severely punished for his pains. The
Parliament assembled to debate upon these disorders. It came to the
resolution of submitting various proposals to the King, which it deemed
likely to improve the condition of the country, and offered to send its
Conseillers to examine into the conduct of the monopolists. As soon as
the King heard of this, he flew into a strange passion, and his first
intention was to send a harsh message to the Parliament to attend to law
trials, and not to mix with matters that did not concern it. The
chancellor did not dare to represent to, the King that what the
Parliament wished to do belonged to its province, but calmed him by
representing the respect and affection with which the Parliament regarded
him, and that he was master either to accept or refuse its offers. No
reprimand was given, therefore, to the Parliament, but it was informed
that the King prohibited it from meddling with the corn question.
However accustomed the Parliament, as well as all the other public
bodies, might be to humiliations, it was exceedingly vexed by this
treatment, and obeyed with the greatest grief. The public was,
nevertheless, much affected by the conduct of the Parliament, and felt
that if the Finance Ministry had been innocent in the matter, the King
would have been pleased with what had taken place, which was in no
respect an attack on the absolute and unbounded authority of which he was
so vilely jealous.

In the country a somewhat similar incident occurred. The Parliament of
Burgundy, seeing the province in the direst necessity, wrote to the
Intendant, who did not bestir himself the least in the world. In this
pressing danger of a murderous famine, the members assembled to debate
upon the course to adopt. Nothing was said or done more than was
necessary, and all with infinite discretion, yet the King was no sooner
informed of it than he grew extremely irritated. He sent a severe
reprimand to this Parliament; prohibited it from meddling again in the
matter; and ordered the President, who had conducted the assembly, to
come at once to Court to explain his conduct. He came, and but for the
intervention of M. le Duc would have been deprived of his post,
irreproachable as his conduct had been. He received a sharp scolding
from the King, and was then allowed to depart. At the end of a few weeks
he returned to Dijon, where it had been resolved to receive him in
triumph; but, like a wise and experienced man, he shunned these
attentions, arranging so that he arrived at Dijon at four o'clock in the
morning. The other Parliaments, with these examples before them, were
afraid to act, and allowed the Intendants and their emissaries to have it
all their own way. It was at this time that those commissioners were
appointed, to whom I have already alluded, who acted under the authority
of the Intendants, and without dependence of any kind upon the
Parliaments. True, a court of appeal against their decisions was
established, but it was a mere mockery. The members who composed it did
not set out to fulfil their duties until three months after having been

Then, matters had been so arranged that they received no appeals, and
found no cases to judge. All this dark work remained, therefore, in the
hands of D'Argenson and the Intendants, and it continued to be done with
the same harshness as ever.

Without passing a more definite judgment on those who invented and
profited by this scheme, it may be said that there has scarcely been a
century which has produced one more mysterious, more daring, better
arranged, and resulting in an oppression so enduring, so sure, so cruel.
The sums it produced were innumerable; and innumerable were the people
who died literally of hunger, and those who perished afterwards of the
maladies caused by the extremity of misery; innumerable also were the
families who were ruined, whose ruin brought down a torrent of other

Despite all this, payments hitherto most strictly made began to cease.
Those of the customs, those of the divers loans, the dividends upon the
Hotel de Ville--in all times so sacred--all were suspended; these last
alone continued, but with delays, then with retrenchments, which
desolated nearly all the families of Paris and many others. At the same
time the taxes--increased, multiplied, and exacted with the most extreme
rigour--completed the devastation of France.

Everything rose incredibly in price, while nothing was left to buy with,
even at the cheapest rate; and although--the majority of the cattle had
perished for want of food, and by the misery of those who kept them, a
new monopoly was established upon, horned beasts. A great number of
people who, in preceding years, used to relieve the poor, found,
themselves so reduced as to be able to subsist only with great
difficulty, and many of them received alms in secret. It is impossible
to say how many others laid siege to the hospitals, until then the ,
shame and punishment of the poor; how many ruined hospitals revomited
forth their inmates to the public charge--that is to say, sent them away
to die actually of hunger; and how many decent families shut themselves
up in garrets to die of want.

It is impossible to say, moreover, how all this misery warmed up zeal and
charity, or how immense were the alms distributed. But want increasing
each instant, an indiscreet and tyrannical charity imagined new taxes for
the benefit of the poor. They were imposed, and, added to so many
others, vexed numbers of people, who were annoyed at being compelled to
pay, who would have preferred giving voluntarily. Thus, these new taxes,
instead of helping the poor, really took away assistance from them, and
left them worse off than before. The strangest thing of all is, that
these taxes in favour of the poor were, perpetuated and appropriated by
the King, and are received by the financiers on his account to this day
as a branch of the revenue, the name of them not having even been
changed. The same thing has happened with respect to the annual tax for
keeping up the highways and thoroughfares of the kingdom. The majority
of the bridges were broken, and the high roads had become impracticable.
Trade, which suffered by this, awakened attention. The Intendant of
Champagne determined to mend the roads by parties of men, whom he
compelled to work for nothing, not even giving them bread. He was
imitated everywhere, and was made Counsellor of State. The people died
of hunger and misery at this work, while those who overlooked them made
fortunes. In the end the thing was found to be impracticable, and was
abandoned, and so were the roads. But the impost for making them and
keeping them up did not in the least stop during this experiment or
since, nor has it ceased to be appropriated as a branch of the King's

But to return to the year 1709. People never ceased wondering what had
become of all the money of the realm. Nobody could any longer pay,
because nobody was paid: the country-people, overwhelmed with exactions
and with valueless property, had become insolvent: trade no longer
yielded anything--good faith and confidence were at an end. Thus the
King had no resources, except in terror and in his unlimited power,
which, boundless as it was, failed also for want of having something to
take and to exercise itself upon. There was no more circulation, no
means of re-establishing it. All was perishing step by step; the realm
was entirely exhausted; the troops, even, were not paid, although no one
could imagine what was done with the millions that came into the King's
coffers. The unfed soldiers, disheartened too at being so badly
commanded, were always unsuccessful; there was no capacity in generals or
ministers; no appointment except by whim or intrigue; nothing was
punished, nothing examined, nothing weighed: there was equal impotence to
sustain the war and bring about peace: all suffered, yet none dared to
put the hand to this arch, tottering as it was and ready to fall.

This was the frightful state to which we were reduced, when envoys were
sent into Holland to try and bring about peace. The picture is exact,
faithful, and not overcharged. It was necessary to present it as it was,
in order to explain the extremity to which we were reduced, the enormity
of the concessions which the King made to obtain peace, and the visible
miracle of Him who sets bounds to the seas, by which France was allowed
to escape from the hands of Europe, resolved and ready to destroy her.

Meanwhile the money was re-coined; and its increase to a third more than
its intrinsic value, brought some profit to the King, but ruin to private
people, and a disorder to trade which completed its annihilation.

Samuel Bernard, the banker, overthrew all Lyons by his prodigious
bankruptcy, which caused the most terrible results. Desmarets assisted
him as much as possible. The discredit into which paper money had
fallen, was the cause of his failure. He had issued notes to the amount
of twenty millions, and owed almost as much at Lyons. Fourteen millions
were given to him in assignats, in order to draw him out of his
difficulties. It is pretended that he found means to gain much by his
bankruptcy, but this seems doubtful.

The winter at length passed away. In the spring so many disorders took
place in the market of Paris, that more guards than usual were kept in
the city. At Saint Roch there was a disturbance, on account of a poor
fellow who had fallen, and been trampled under foot; and the crowd, which
was very large, was very insolent to D'Argenson, Lieutenant of Police,
who had hastened there. M. de la Rochefoucauld, who had retired from the
Court to Chenil, on account of his loss of sight, received an atrocious
letter against the King, in which it was plainly intimated that there
were still Ravaillacs left in the world; and to this madness was added an
eulogy of Brutus. M. de la Rochefoucauld at once went in all haste to
the King with this letter. His sudden appearance showed that something
important had occurred, and the object of his visit, of course, soon
became known. He was very ill received for coming so publicly on such an
errand. The Ducs de Beauvilliers and de Bouillon, it seems, had received
similar letters, but had given them to the King privately. The King for
some days was much troubled, but after due reflection, he came to the
conclusion that people who menace and warn have less intention of
committing a crime than of causing alarm.

What annoyed the King more was, the inundation of placards, the most
daring and the most unmeasured, against his person, his conduct, and his
government--placards, which for a long time were found pasted upon the
gates of Paris, the churches, the public places; above all upon the
statues; which during the night were insulted in various fashions, the
marks being seen the next morning, and the inscriptions erased. There
were also, multitudes of verses and songs, in which nothing was spared.

We were in this state until the 16th of May. The procession of Saint
Genevieve took place. This procession never takes place except in times
of the direst necessity; and then, only in virtue of orders from the
King, the Parliament, or the Archbishop of Paris. On the one hand, it
was hoped that it would bring succour to the country; on the other, that
it would amuse the people.

It was shortly after this, when the news of the arrogant demands of the
allies, and the vain attempts of the King to obtain an honourable peace
became known, that the Duchesse de Grammont conceived the idea of
offering her plate to the King, to replenish his impoverished exchequer,
and to afford him means carry on the war. She hoped that her example
would be followed by all the Court, and that she alone would have the
merit and the profit of suggesting the idea. Unfortunately for this
hope, the Duke, her husband, spoke of the project to Marechal Boufflers,
who thought it so good, that he noised it abroad, and made such a stir,
exhorting everybody to adopt it, that he passed for the inventor, and; no
mention was made of the Duke or the old Duchesse de Grammont, the latter
of whom was much enraged at this.

The project made a great hubbub at the Court. Nobody dared to refuse to
offer his plate, yet each offered it with much regret. Some had been
keeping it as a last resource, which they; were very sorry to deprive
themselves of; others feared the dirtiness of copper and earthenware;
others again were annoyed at being obliged to imitate an ungrateful
fashion, all the merit of which would go to the inventor. It was in vain
that Pontchartrain objected to the project, as one from which only
trifling benefit could be derived, and which would do great injury to
France by acting as a proclamation of its embarrassed state to all the
world, at home and abroad. The King would not listen to his reasonings,
but declared himself willing to receive all the plate that was sent to
him as a free-will offering. He announced this; and two means were
indicated at the same time, which all good citizens might follow. One
was, to send their plate to the King's goldsmith; the other, to send it
to the Mint. Those who made an unconditional gift of their plate, sent
it to the former, who kept a register of the names and of the number of
marks he received. The King regularly looked over this list; at least at
first, and promised in general terms to restore to everybody the weight
of metal they gave when his affairs permitted--a promise nobody believed
in or hoped to see executed. Those who wished to be paid for their plate
sent it to the Mint. It was weighed on arrival; the names were written,
the marks and the date; payment was made according as money could be
found. Many people were not sorry thus to sell, their plate without
shame. But the loss and the damage were inestimable in admirable
ornaments of all kinds, with which much of the plate of the rich was
embellished. When an account came to be drawn up, it was found that not
a hundred people were upon the list of Launay, the goldsmith; and the
total product of the gift did not amount to three millions. I confess
that I was very late in sending any plate. When I found that I was
almost the only one of my rank using silver, I sent plate to the value of
a thousand pistoles to the Mint, and locked up the rest. All the great
people turned to earthenware, exhausted the shops where it was sold, and
set the trade in it on fire, while common folks continued to use their
silver. Even the King thought of using earthenware, having sent his gold
vessels to the Mint, but afterwards decided upon plated metal and silver;
the Princes and Princesses of the blood used crockery.

Ere three months were over his head the King felt all the shame and the
weakness of having consented to this surrendering of plate, and avowed
that he repented of it. The inundations of the Loire, which happened at
the same time, and caused the utmost disorder, did not restore the Court
or the public to good humour. The losses they caused, and the damage
they did, were very considerable, and ruined many private people, and
desolated home trade.

Summer came. The dearness of all things, and of bread in particular,
continued to cause frequent commotions all over the realm. Although, as
I have said, the guards of Paris were much increased, above all in the
markets and the suspected places, they were unable to hinder disturbances
from breaking out. In many of these D'Argenson nearly lost his life.

Monseigneur arriving and returning from the Opera, was assailed by the
populace and by women in great numbers crying, "Bread! Bread!" so that
he was afraid, even in the midst of his guards, who did not dare to
disperse the crowd for fear of worse happening. He got away by throwing
money to the people, and promising wonders; but as the wonders did not
follow, he no longer dared to go to Paris.

The King himself from his windows heard the people of Versailles crying
aloud in the street. The discourses they held were daring and continual
in the streets and public places; they uttered complaints, sharp, and but
little measured, against the government, and even against the King's
person; and even exhorted each other no longer to be so enduring, saying
that nothing worse could happen to them than what they suffered, dying as
they were of starvation.

To amuse the people, the idle and the poor were employed to level a
rather large hillock which remained upon the Boulevard, between the
Portes Saint Denis and Saint Martin; and for all salary, bad bread in
small quantities was distributed to these workers. If happened that on
Tuesday morning, the 20th of August, there was no bread for a large
number of these people. A woman amongst others cried out at this, which
excited the rest to do likewise. The archers appointed to watch over
these labourers, threatened the woman; she only cried the louder;
thereupon the archers seized her and indiscreetly put her in an adjoining
pillory. In a moment all her companions ran to her aid, pulled down the
pillory, and scoured the streets, pillaging the bakers and pastrycooks.
One by one the shops closed. The disorder increased and spread through
the neighbouring streets; no harm was done anybody, but the cry was
"Bread! Bread!" and bread was seized everywhere.

It so fell out that Marechal Boufflers, who little thought what was
happening, was in the neighbourhood, calling upon his notary. Surprised
at the fright he saw everywhere, and learning, the cause, he wished of
himself to appease it. Accompanied by the Duc de Gramont, he directed
himself towards the scene of the disturbance, although advised not to do
so. When he arrived at the top of the Rue Saint Denis, the crowd and the
tumult made him judge that it would be best to alight from his coach. He
advanced, therefore, on foot with the Duc de Grammont among the furious
and infinite crowd of people, of whom he asked the cause of this uproar,
promised them bread, spoke his best with gentleness but firmness, and
remonstrated with them. He was listened to. Cries, several times
repeated, of "Vive M. le Marechal de Boufflers!" burst from the crowd.
M. de Boufflers walked thus with M. de Grammont all along the Rue aux
Ours and the neighbouring streets, into the very centre of the sedition,
in fact. The people begged him to represent their misery to the King,
and to obtain for them some food. He promised this, and upon his word
being given all were appeased and all dispersed with thanks and fresh
acclamations of "Vive M. le Marechal de Boufflers!" He did a real service
that day. D'Argenson had marched to the spot with troops; and had it not
been for the Marechal, blood would have been spilt, and things might have
gone very far.

The Marechal had scarcely reached his own house in the Place Royale than
he was informed that the sedition had broken out with even greater force
in the Faubourg Saint Antoine. He ran there immediately, with the Duc de
Grammont, and appeased it as he had appeased the other. He returned to
his own home to eat a mouthful or two, and then set out for Versailles.
Scarcely had he left the Place Royale than the people in the streets and
the shopkeepers cried to him to have pity on them, and to get them some
bread, always with "Vive M. le Marechal de Boufflers!" He was conducted
thus as far as the quay of the Louvre.

On arriving at Versailles he went straight to the King, told him what had
occurred, and was much thanked. He was even offered by the King the
command of Paris,--troops, citizens, police, and all; but this he
declined, Paris, as he said, having already a governor and proper
officers to conduct its affairs. He afterwards, however, willingly lent
his aid to them in office, and the modesty with which he acted brought
him new glory.

Immediately after, the supply of bread was carefully looked to. Paris
was filled with patrols, perhaps with too many, but they succeeded so
well that no fresh disturbances took place.


After his return from the campaign, M. de Vendome continued to be paid
like a general serving in winter, and to enjoy many other advantages.
From all this, people inferred that he would serve during the following
campaign; nobody dared to doubt as much, and the cabal derived new
strength therefrom. But their little triumph was not of long
continuance. M. de Vendome came to Versailles for the ceremony of the
Order on Candlemas-Day. He then learned that he was not to serve, and
that he was no longer to receive general's pay. The blow was violent,
and he felt it to its fullest extent; but, with a prudence that equalled
his former imprudence, he swallowed the pill without making a face,
because he feared other more bitter ones, which he felt he had deserved.
This it was that, for the first time in his life, made him moderate. He
did not affect to conceal what had taken place, but did not say whether
it was in consequence of any request of his, or whether he was glad or
sorry,--giving it out as an indifferent piece of news; and changed
nothing but his language, the audacity of which he diminished as no
longer suited to the times. He sold his equipages.

M. le Prince de Conti died February 22, aged not quite forty-five. His
face had been charming; even the defects of his body and mind had
infinite graces. His shoulders were too high; his head was a little on
one side; his laugh would have seemed a bray in any one else; his mind
was strangely absent. He was gallant with the women, in love with many,
well treated by several; he was even coquettish with men. He endeavoured
to please the cobbler, the lackey, the porter, as well as the Minister of
State, the Grand Seigneur, the General, all so naturally that success was
certain. He was consequently the constant delight of every one, of the
Court, the armies; the divinity of the people, the idol of the soldiers,
the hero of the officers, the hope of whatever was most distinguished,
the love of the Parliament, the friend of the learned, and often the
admiration of the historian, of jurisconsults, of astronomers, and
mathematicians, the most profound. He was especially learned in
genealogies, and knew their chimeras and their realities. With him the
useful and the polite, the agreeable and the deep, all was distinct and
in its place. He had friends, knew how to choose them, cultivate them,
visit them, live with them, put himself on their level without
haughtiness or baseness. But this man, so amiable, so charming, so
delicious, loved nothing. He had and desired friends, as other people
have and desire articles of furniture. Although with much self-respect
he was a humble courtier, and showed too much how greatly he was in want
of support and assistance from all sides; he was avaricious, greedy of
fortune, ardent and unjust. The King could not bear him, and was grieved
with the respect he was obliged to show him, and which he was careful
never to trespass over by a single jot. Certain intercepted letters had
excited a hatred against him in Madame de Maintenon, and an indignation
in the King which nothing could efface. The riches, the talents, the
agreeable qualities, the great reputation which this Prince had acquired,
the general love of all, became crimes in him. The contrast with M. du
Maine excited daily irritation and jealousy. The very purity of his
blood was a reproach to him. Even his friends were odious, and felt that
this was so. At last, however, various causes made him to be chosen, in
the midst of a very marked disgrace, to command the army in Flanders. He
was delighted, and gave himself up to the most agreeable hopes. But it
was no longer time: he had sought to drown his sorrow at wearing out his
life unoccupied in wine and other pleasures, for which his age and his
already enfeebled body were no longer suited. His health gave way. He
felt it soon. The tardy return to favour which he had enjoyed made him
regret life more. He perished slowly, regretting to have been brought to
death's door by disgrace, and the impossibility of being restored by the
unexpected opening of a brilliant career.

The Prince, against the custom of those of his rank, had been very well
educated. He was full of instruction. The disorders of his life had
clouded his knowledge but not extinguished it, and he often read to brush
up his learning. He chose M. de la Tour to prepare him, and help him to
die well. He was so attached to life that all his courage was required.
For three months crowds of visitors filled his palace, and the people
even collected in the place before it. The churches echoed with prayers
for his life. The members of his family often went to pay for masses for
him; and found that others had already done so. All questions were about
his health. People stopped each other in the street to inquire; passers-
by were called to by shopmen, anxious to know whether the Prince de Conti
was to live or to die. Amidst all this, Monseigneur never visited him;
and, to the indignation of all Paris, passed along the quay near the
Louvre going to the Opera, whilst the sacraments were being carried to
the Prince on the other side. He was compelled by public opinion to make
a short visit after this. The Prince died at last in his arm-chair,
surrounded by a few worthy people. Regrets were universal; but perhaps
he gained by his disgrace. His heart was firmer than his head. He might
have been timid at the head of an army or in the Council of the King if
he had entered it. The King was much relieved by his death; Madame de
Maintenon also; M. le Duc much more; for M. du Maine it was a
deliverance, and for M. de Vendome a consolation. Monseigneur learned it
at Meudon as he was going out to hunt, and showed no feeling of any kind.

The death of M. le Prince de Conti seemed to the Duc de Vendome a
considerable advantage, because he was thus delivered from a rival most
embarrassing by the superiority of his birth, just when he was about to
be placed in a high military position. I have already mentioned
Vendome's exclusion from command. The fall of this Prince of the Proud
had been begun we have now reached the second step, between which and the
third there was a space of between two and three months; but as the third
had no connection with any other event, I will relate it at once.

Whatever reasons existed to induce the King to take from M. de Vendome
the command of his armies, I know not if all the art and credit of Madame
de Maintenon would not have been employed in vain, together with the
intrigues of M. du Maine, without an adventure, which I must at once
explain, to set before the reader's eyes the issue of the terrible
struggle, pushed to such extremes, between Vendome, seconded by his
formidable cabal, and the necessary, heir of the Crown, supported by his
wife, the favourite of the King, and Madame de Maintenon, which last; to
speak clearly, as all the Court saw, for thirty years governed him

When M. de Vendome returned from Flanders, he had a short interview with
the King, in which he made many bitter complaints against Pursegur, one
of his lieutenant-generals, whose sole offence was that he was much
attached to M. de Bourgogne. Pursegur was a great favourite with the
King, and often, on account of the business of the infantry regiment, of
which the thought himself the private colonel, had private interviews
with him, and was held in high estimation for his capacity and virtue.
He, in his turn, came back from Flanders, and had a private audience of
the King. The complaints that had been made against him by M. de Vendome
were repeated to him by the King, who, however, did not mention from whom
they came. Pursegur defended himself so well, that the King in his
surprise mentioned this latter fact. At the name of Vendome, Pursegur
lost all patience. He described, to the King all the faults, the
impertinences; the obstinacy, the insolence of M. de Vendome, with a
precision and clearness which made his listener very attentive and very
fruitful in questions. Pursegur, seeing that he might go on, gave
himself rein, unmasked M. de Vendome from top to toe, described his
ordinary life at the army, the incapacity of his body, the incapacity of
his judgment, the prejudice of his mind, the absurdity and crudity of his
maxims, his utter ignorance of the art of war, and showed to
demonstration, that it was only by a profusion of miracles France had not
been ruined by him--lost a hundred times over.

The conversation lasted more than two hours. The' King, long since
convinced of the capacity, fidelity, and truthfulness of Pursegur, at
last opened his eyes to the truth respecting this Vendome, hidden with so
much art until then, and regarded as a hero and the tutelary genius of
France. He was vexed and ashamed of his credulity, and from the date of
this conversation Vendome fell at once from his favour.

Pursegur, naturally humble, gentle, and modest, but truthful, and on this
occasion piqued, went out into the gallery after his conversation, and
made a general report of it to all, virtuously, braving Vendome and all
his cabal. This cabal trembled with rage; Vendome still more so. They
answered by miserable reasonings, which nobody cared for. This was what
led to the suppression of his pay, and his retirement to Anet, where he
affected a philosophical indifference.

Crestfallen as he was, he continued to sustain at Meudon and Marly the
grand manners he had usurped at the time of his prosperity. After having
got over the first embarrassment, he put on again his haughty air, and
ruled the roast. To see him at Meudon you would have said he was
certainly the master of the saloon, and by his free and easy manner to
Monseigneur, and, when he dared, to the King, he would have been thought
the principal person there. Monseigneur de Bourgogne supported this--his
piety made him do so--but Madame de Bourgogne was grievously offended,
and watched her opportunity to get rid of M. de Vendome altogether.

It came, the first journey the King made to Marly after Easter. 'Brelan'
was then the fashion. Monseigneur, playing at it one day with Madame de
Bourgogne and others, and being in want of a fifth player, sent for M. de
Vendome from the other end of the saloon, to come and join the party.
That instant Madame de Bourgogne said modestly, but very intelligibly, to
Monseigneur, that the presence of M. de Vendome at Marly was sufficiently
painful to her, without having him at play with her, and that she begged
he might be dispensed with. Monseigneur, who had sent for Vendome
without the slightest reflection, looked round the room, and sent for
somebody else. When Vendome arrived, his place was taken, and he had to
suffer this annoyance before all the company. It may be imagined to what
an extent this superb gentleman was stung by the affront. He served no
longer; he commanded no longer; he was no longer the adored idol; he
found himself in the paternal mansion of the Prince he had so cruelly
offended, and the outraged wife of that Prince was more than a match for
him. He turned upon his heel, absented himself from the room as soon as
he could, and retired to his own chamber, there to storm at his leisure.

Other and more cruel annoyances were yet in store for him, however.
Madame de Bourgogne reflected on what had just taken place. The facility
with which she had succeeded in one respect encouraged her, but she was a
little troubled to know how the King would take what she had done, and
accordingly, whilst playing, she resolved to push matters still further,
both to ruin her guest utterly and to get out of her embarrassment; for,
despite her extreme familiarity, she was easily embarrassed, being gentle
and timid. The 'brelan' over, she ran to Madame de Maintenon; told her
what had just occurred; said that the presence of M. de Vendome at Marly
was a continual insult to her; and begged her to solicit the King to
forbid M. de Vendome to come there. Madame de Maintenon, only too glad.
to have an opportunity of revenging herself upon an enemy who had set her
at defiance, and against whom all her batteries had at one time failed,
consented to this request. She spoke out to the King, who, completely
weary of M. de Vendome, and troubled to have under his eyes a man whom he
could not doubt was discontented, at once granted what was asked. Before
going to bed, he charged one of his valets to tell M. de Vendome the next
morning, that henceforth he was to absent himself from Marly, his
presence there being disagreeable to Madame de Bourgogne.

It may be imagined into what an excess of despair M. de Vendome fell, at
a message so unexpected, and which sapped the foundations of all his
hopes. He kept silent, however, for fear of making matters worse, did
not venture attempting, to speak to the King, and hastily retired to
Clichy to hide his rage and shame. The news of his banishment from Marly
soon spread abroad, and made so much stir, that to show it was not worth
attention, he returned two days before the end of the visit, and stopped
until the end in a continual shame and embarrassment. He set out for
Anet at the same time that the King set out for Versailles, and has never
since put his foot in Marly.

But another bitter draught was to be mixed for him. Banished from Marly,
he had yet the privilege of going to Meudon. He did not fail to avail
himself of this every time Monseigneur was there, and stopped as long as
he stopped, although in the times of his splendour he had never stayed
more than one or two days. It was seldom that Monseigneur visited Meudon
without Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne going to see him. And yet M. de
Vendome never failed audaciously to present himself before her, as if to
make her feel that at all events in Monseigneur's house he was a match
for her. Guided by former experience, the Princess gently suffered this
in silence, and watched her opportunity. It soon came.

Two months afterwards it happened that, while Monseigneur was at Meudon,
the King, Madame de Maintenon; and Madame de Bourgogne, came to dine with
him. Madame de Maintenon wished to talk with Mademoiselle Choin without
sending for her to Versailles, and the King, as may be believed, was in
the secret. I mention this to account for the King's visit.
M. de Vendome;: who was at Meudon as usual, was stupid enough to present
himself at the coach door as the King and his companions descended.
Madame de Bourgogne was much offended, constrained herself less than
usual, and turned away her head with affectation, after a sort of sham
salute. He felt the sting, but had the folly to approach her again after
dinner, while she was playing. He experienced the same treatment, but
this time in a still more marked manner. Stung to the quick and out of
countenance, he went up to his chamber, and did not descend until very
late. During this time Madame de Bourgogne spoke to Monseigneur of the
conduct of M. de Vendorne, and the same evening she addressed herself to
Madame de Maintenon, and openly complained to the King. She represented
to him how hard it was to her to be treated by Monseigneur with less
respect than by the King: for while the latter had banished M. de Vendome
from Marly, the former continued to grant him an asylum at Meudon.

M. de Vendome, on his side, complained bitterly to Monseigneur of the
strange persecution that he suffered everywhere from Madame de Bourgogne;
but Monseigneur replied to him so coldly that he withdrew with tears in
his eyes, determined, however, not to give up until he had obtained some
sort of satisfaction. He set his friends to work to speak to
Monseigneur; all they could draw from him was, that M. de Vendome must
avoid Madame de Bourgogne whenever she came to Meudon, and that it was
the smallest respect he owed her until she was reconciled to him. A
reply so dry and so precise was cruelly felt; but M. de Vendome was not
at the end of the chastisement he had more than merited. The next day
put an end to all discussion upon the matter.

He was card-playing after dinner in a private cabinet, when D'Antin
arrived from Versailles. He approached the players, and asked what was
the position of the game, with an eagerness which made M. de Vendome
inquire the reason. D'Antin said he had to render an account to him of
the matter he had entrusted him with.

"I!" exclaimed Vendome, with surprise, "I have entrusted you with

"Pardon me," replied D'Antin; "you do not recollect, then, that I have an
answer to make to you?"

From this perseverance M. de Vendome comprehended that something was
amiss, quitted his game, and went into an obscure wardrobe with D'Antin,
who told him that he had been ordered by the King to beg Monseigneur not
to invite M. de Vendome to Meudon any more; that his presence there was
as unpleasant to Madame de Bourgogne as it had been at Marly. Upon this,
Vendome, transported with fury, vomited forth all that his rage inspired
him with. He spoke to Monseigneur in the evening, but was listened to as
coldly as before. Vendome passed the rest of his visit in a rage and
embarrassment easy to conceive, and on the day Monseigneur returned to
Versailles he hurried straight to Anet.

But he was unable to remain quiet anywhere; so went off with his dogs,
under pretence of going a hunting, to pass a month in his estate of La
Ferme-Aleps, where he had no proper lodging and no society, and gave
there free vent to his rage. Thence he returned again to Anet, where he
remained abandoned by every one. Into this solitude, into this startling
and public seclusion, incapable of sustaining a fall so complete, after a
long habit of attaining everything, and doing everything he pleased, of
being the idol of the world, of the Court, of the armies, of making his
very vices adored, and his greatest faults admired, his defects
commended, so that he dared to conceive the prodigious design of ruining
and destroying the necessary heir of the Crown, though he had never
received anything but evidences of tenderness from him, and triumphed
over him for eight months with the most scandalous success; it was, I
say, thus that this Colossus was overthrown by the breath of a prudent
and courageous princess, who earned by this act merited applause. All
who were concerned with her, were charmed to see of what she was capable;
and all who were opposed to her and her husband trembled. The cabal, so
formidable, so lofty, so accredited, so closely united to overthrow them,
and reign, after the King, under Monseigneur in their place--these
chiefs, male and female, so enterprising and audacious, fell now into
mortal discouragement and fear. It was a pleasure to see them work their
way back with art and extreme humility, and turn round those of the
opposite party who remained influential, and whom they had hitherto
despised; and especially to see with what embarrassment, what fear, what
terror, they began to crawl before the young Princess, and wretchedly
court the Duc de Bourgogne and his friends, and bend to them in the most
extraordinary manner.

As for M. de Vendome, without any resource, save what he found in his
vices and his valets, he did not refrain from bragging among them of the
friendship of Monseigneur for him, of which he said he was well assured.
Violence had been done to Monseigneur's feelings. He was reduced to this
misery of hoping that his words would be spread about by these valets,
and would procure him some consideration from those who thought of the
future. But the present was insupportable to him. To escape from it, he
thought of serving in Spain, and wrote to Madame des Ursins asking
employment. The King was annoyed at this step, and flatly refused to let
him go to Spain. His intrigue, therefore, came to an end at once.

Nobody gained more by the fall of M. de Vendome than Madame de Maintenon.
Besides the joy she felt in overthrowing a man who, through M. du Maine,
owed everything to her, and yet dared to resist her so long and
successfully, she felt, also, that her credit became still more the
terror of the Court; for no one doubted that what had occurred was a
great example of her power. We shall presently see how she furnished
another, which startled no less.


It is time now to retrace my steps to the point from which I have been
led away in relating all the incidents which arose out of the terrible
winter and the scarcity it caused.

The Court at that time beheld the renewal of a ministry; which from the
time it had lasted was worn down to its very roots, and which was on
that account only the more agreeable to the King. On the 20th of
January, the Pere La Chaise, the confessor of the King, died at a very
advanced age. He was of good family, and his father would have been rich
had he not had a dozen children. Pere La Chaise succeeded in 1675 to
Pere Ferrier as confessor of the King, and occupied that post thirty-two
years. The festival of Easter often caused him politic absences during
the attachment of the King for Madame de Montespan. On one occasion he
sent in his place the Pere Deschamps, who bravely refused absolution.
The Pere La Chaise was of mediocre mind but of good character, just,
upright, sensible, prudent, gentle, and moderate, an enemy of informers,
and of violence of every kind. He kept clear of many scandalous
transactions, befriended the Archbishop of Cambrai as much as he could,
refused to push the Port Royal des Champs to its destruction, and always
had on his table a copy of the New Testament of Pere Quesnel, saying that
he liked what was good wherever he found it. When near his eightieth
year, with his head and his health still good, he wished to retire, but
the King would not hear of it. Soon after, his faculties became worn
out, and feeling this, he repeated his wish. The Jesuits, who perceived
his failing more than he did himself, and felt the diminution of his
credit, exhorted him to make way for another who should have the grace
and zeal of novelty. For his part he sincerely desired repose, and he
pressed the King to allow him to take it, but all in vain. He was
obliged to bear his burthen to the very end. Even the infirmities and
the decrepitude that afflicted could not deliver him. Decaying legs,
memory extinguished, judgment collapsed, all his faculties confused,
strange inconveniences for a confessor--nothing could disgust the King,
and he persisted in having this corpse brought to him and carrying on
customary business with it. At last, two days after a return from
Versailles, he grew much weaker, received the sacrament, wrote with his
own hand a long letter to the King, received a very rapid and hurried one
in reply, and soon after died at five o'clock in the morning very
peaceably. His confessor asked him two things, whether he had acted
according to his conscience, and whether he had thought of the interests
and honour of the company of Jesuits; and to both these questions he
answered satisfactorily.

The news was brought to the King as he came out of his cabinet. He
received it like a Prince accustomed to losses, praised the Pere La
Chaise for his goodness, and then said smilingly, before all the
courtiers, and quite aloud, to the two fathers who had come to announce
the death: "He was so good that I sometimes reproached him for it, and he
used to reply to me: 'It is not I who am good; it is you who are hard.'"

Truly the fathers and all the auditors were so surprised at this that
they lowered their eyes. The remark spread directly; nobody was able to
blame the Pere La Chaise. He was generally regretted, for he had done
much good and never harm except in self-defence. Marechal, first surgeon
of the King, and possessed of his confidence, related once to me and
Madame de Saint-Simon, a very important anecdote referring to this time.
He said that the King, talking to him privately of the Pere La Chaise,
and praising him for his attachment, related one of the great proofs he
had given of it. A few years before his death the Pere said that he felt
getting old, and that the King might soon have to choose a new confessor;
he begged that that confessor might be chosen from among the Jesuits,
that he knew them well, that they were far from deserving all that had
been said against them, but still--he knew them well--and that attachment
for the King and desire for his safety induced him to conjure him to act
as he requested; because the company contained many sorts of minds and
characters which could not be answered for, and must not be reduced to
despair, and that the King must not incur a risk--that in fact an unlucky
blow is soon given, and had been given before then. Marechal turned pale
at this recital of the King, and concealed as well as he could the
disorder it caused in him. We must remember that Henry IV. recalled the
Jesuits, and loaded them with gifts merely from fear of them. The King
was not superior to Henry IV. He took care not to forget the
communication of the Pere La Chaise, or expose himself to the vengeance
of the company by choosing a confessor out of their limits. He wanted to
live, and to live in safety. He requested the Ducs de Chevreuse and de
Beauvilliers to make secret inquiries for a proper person. They fell
into a trap made, were dupes themselves, and the Church and State the

The Pere Tellier, in fact, was chosen as successor of Pere La Chaise, and
a terrible successor he made. Harsh, exact, laborious, enemy of all
dissipation, of all amusement, of all society, incapable of associating
even with his colleagues, he demanded no leniency for himself and
accorded none to others. His brain and his health were of iron; his
conduct was so also; his nature was savage and cruel. He was profoundly
false, deceitful, hidden under a thousand folds; and when he could show
himself and make himself feared, he yielded nothing, laughed at the most
express promises when he no longer cared to keep to them, and pursued
with fury those who had trusted to them. He was the terror even of the
Jesuits, and was so violent to them that they scarcely dared approach
him. His exterior kept faith with his interior. He would have been
terrible to meet in a dark lane. His physiognomy was cloudy, false,
terrible; his eyes were burning, evil, extremely squinting; his aspect
struck all with dismay. The whole aim of his life was to advance the
interests of his Society; that was his god; his life had been absorbed in
that study: surprisingly ignorant, insolent, impudent, impetuous, without
measure and without discretion, all means were good that furthered his

The first time Pere Tellier saw the King in his cabinet, after having
been presented to him, there was nobody but Bloin and Fagon in a corner.
Fagon, bent double and leaning on his stick, watched the interview and
studied the physiognomy of this new personage his duckings, and
scrapings, and his words. The King asked him if he were a relation of
MM. le Tellier. The good father humbled himself in the dust. "I, Sire!"
answered he, "a relative of MM. le Tellier! I am very different from
that. I am a poor peasant of Lower Normandy, where my father was a
farmer." Fagon, who watched him in every movement, twisted himself up to
look at Bloin, and said, pointing to the Jesuit: "Monsieur, what a cursed
--------!" Then shrugging his shoulders, he curved over his stick again.

Book of the day: