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The Historic Court Memoirs of France, complete

Part 30 out of 62

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Finding that he spoke now the language which everybody spoke, they began
to look upon him as the world had always looked upon him, to find him
ridiculous, silly, impudent, lying, insupportable; to reproach themselves
with having elevated him from nothing, so rapidly and so enormously; they
began to shun him, to put him aside, to make him perceive what they
thought, and to let others perceive it also.

Villars in his turn was frightened. He saw the prospect of losing what
he had gained, and of sinking into hopeless disgrace. With the
effrontery that was natural to him, he returned therefore to his usual
flatteries, artifices, and deceits; laughed at all dangers and
inconveniences, as having resources in himself against everything!
The coarseness of this variation was as plain as possible; but the
difficulty of choosing another general was equally plain, and Villars
thus got out of the quagmire. He set forth for the frontier, therefore,
in his coach, and travelling easy stages, on account of his wound,
arrived in due time at the army.

Neither Prince Eugene nor the Duke of Marlborough wished for peace; their
object was, the first, from personal vengeance against the King, and a
desire to obtain a still greater reputation; the second, to get rich, for
ambition was the prominent passion of one, and avarice of the other--
their object was, I say, to enter France, and, profiting by the extreme
weakness and straitened state of our troops and of our places, to push
their conquests as far as possible.

As for the King, stung by his continual losses, he wished passionately
for nothing so much as a victory, which should disturb the plans of the
enemies, and deliver him from the necessity of continuing the sad and
shameful negotiations for peace he had set an foot at Gertruydemberg.
But the enemies were well posted, end Villars had imprudently lost a good
opportunity of engaging them. All the army had noticed this fault; he
had been warned in time by several general officers, and by the Marechal
de Montesquiou, but he would not believe them. He did not dare to attack
the enemies, now, after having left them leisure to make all their
dispositions. The army cried aloud against so capital a fault. Villars
answered with his usual effrontery. He had quarrelled with his second in
command, the Marechal de Montesquiou, and now knew not what to do.

In this crisis, no engagement taking place, the King thought it fitting
to send Berwick into Flanders to act as mediator, even, to some extent,
as dictator to the army. He was ordered to bring back an account of all
things, so that it might be seen whether a battle could or could not be

I think I have already stated who Berwick was; but I will here add a few
more words about him to signalise his prodigious and rapid advancement.

We were in the golden age of bastards, and Berwick was a man who had
reason to think so. Bastard of James II., of England, he had arrived in
France, at the age of eighteen, with that monarch, after the Revolution
of 1688. At twenty-two he was made lieutenant-general, and served as
such in Flanders, without having passed through any other rank. At
thirty-three he commanded in chief in Spain with a patent of general.
At thirty-four he was made, on account of his victory at Almanza, Grandee
of Spain, and Chevalier of the Golden Fleece. He continued to command in
chief until February, 1706, when he was made Marshal of France, being
then not more than thirty-six years old. He was an English Duke, and
although as such he had no rank in France, the King had awarded it to
him, as to all who came over with James. This was making a rapid fortune
with a vengeance, under a King who regarded people of thirty-odd as
children, but who thought no more of the ages of bastards than of those
of the gods.

For more than a year past Berwick had coveted to be made Duke and Peer;
But he could not obtain his wish. Now, however, that he was to be sent
into Flanders for the; purpose I have just described, it seemed a good
opportunity to try again. He did try, and was successful. He was made
Duke and Peer. He had been twice married. By his first wife he had had
a son. By his second several sons and daughters. Will it be believed,
that he was hardy enough to propose, and that we were weak enough to
accord to him, that his son of the first bed should be formally excluded
from the letters-patent of Duke and Peer, and that those of the second
bed should alone be entered there? Yet so it was. Berwick was, in
respect to England, like the Jews, who await the Messiah. He coaxed
himself always with the hope of a revolution in England, which should put
the Stuarts on the throne again, and reinstate him in his wealth and
honours. He was son of the sister of the Duke of Marlborough, by which
general he was much loved, and with whom, by permission of the King, and
of King James, he kept up a secret intercourse, of which all three were
the dupes, but which enabled Berwick to maintain other intercourses in
England, and to establish his batteries there, hoping thus for his
reinstatement even under the government established. This explains his
motive for the arrangement he made in the letters-patent. He wished his
eldest son to succeed to his English dukedom and his English estates; to
make the second Duke and Peer of France, and the third Grandee of Spain.
Three sons hereditarily elevated to the three chief dignities of the
three, chief realms in Europe, it must be agreed was not bad work for a
man to have achieved at fifty years of age! But Berwick failed in his
English projects. Do what he could all his life to court the various
ministers who came from England, he never could succeed in reestablishing

The scandal was great at the complaisance of the King in consenting to a
family arrangement, by which a cadet was put over the head of his elder
brother; but the time of the monsters had arrived. Berwick bought an
estate that he created under the name of Fitz-James. The King, who
allowed him to do so, was shocked by the name; and, in my presence, asked
Berwick the meaning of it; he, without any embarrassment, thus explained

The Kings of England, in legitimatising their children gave them a name
and arms, which pass to their posterity. The name varies. Thus the Duke
of Richmond, bastard of Charles II., had the name of "Lennox;" the Dukes
of Cleveland and of Grafton, by the same king, that of "Fitz-Roi," which
means "son of the king;" in fine, the Duke of Berwick had the name of
"Fitz-James;" so that his family name for his posterity is thus "Son of
James;" as a name, it is so ridiculous in French, that nobody could help
laughing at it, or being astonished at the scandal of imposing it in
English upon France.

Berwick having thus obtained his recompense beforehand, started off for
Flanders, but not until he had seen everything signed and sealed and
delivered in due form. He found the enemy so advantageously placed, and
so well prepared, that he had no difficulty in subscribing to the common
opinion of the general officers, that an attack could no longer be
thought of. He gathered up all the opinions he could, and then returned
to Court, having been only about three weeks absent. His report dismayed
the King, and those who penetrated it. Letters from the army soon showed
the fault of which Villars had been guilty, and everybody revolted
against this wordy bully.

He soon after was the subject of common talk at the Court, and in the
army, in consequence of a ridiculous adventure, in which he was the hero.
His wound, or the airs that he gave himself in consequence of it, often
forced him to hold his leg upon the neck of his horse, almost in the same
manner as ladies do. One day, he let slip the remark that he was sick to
death of mounting on horseback like those "harlots" in the suite of
Madame de Bourgogne. Those "harlots," I will observe parenthetically,
were all the young ladies of the Court, and the daughters of Madame la
Duchesse! Such a remark uttered by a general not much loved, speedily
flew from one end of the camp to the other, and was not long in making
its way to the Court and to Paris. The young horsewomen alluded to were
offended; their friends took up arms for them, and Madame la Duchesse de
Bourgogne could not help showing irritation, or avoid complaining.

Villars was apprised of all, and was much troubled by this increase of
enemies so redoubtable, of whom just then he assuredly had no need. He
took it into his head to try and discover who had blabbed; and found it
was Heudicourt, whom Villars, to advance his own interests, by means of
Heudicourt's mother (who was the evil genius of Madame de Maintenon,) had
protected; and to whom even, much against his custom, he had actually not
lent, but given money.

This Heudicourt (whom I have previously allluded to, 'a propos' of a song
he wrote) was a merry wag who excelled in making fun of people, in
highly-seasoned pleasantry, and in comic songs. Spoiled by the favour
which had always sustained him, he gave full licence to his tongue, and
by this audacity had rendered himself redoubtable. He was a scurrilous
wretch, a great drunkard, and a debauchee; not at all cowardly, and with
a face hideous as that of an ugly satyr. He was not insensible to this;
and so, unfitted for intrigues himself, he assisted others in them, and,
by this honest trade, had acquired many friends amongst the flower of the
courtiers of both sexes--above all with the ladies. By way of contrast
to his wickedness, he was called "the good little fellow" and "the good
little fellow" was mixed up in all intrigues; the ladies of the Court
positively struggled for him; and not one of them, even of the highest
ranks, would have dared to fall out with him. Thus protected, he was
rather an embarrassing customer for Marechal de Villars, who,
nevertheless, falling back as usual upon his effrontery, hit upon a
bright project to bring home to Heudicourt the expedient he had against

He collected together about fifteen general officers, and Heudicourt with
them. When they had all arrived, he left his chamber, and went to them.
A number of loiterers had gathered round. This was just what Villars
wanted. He asked all the officers in turn, if they remembered hearing
him utter the expression attributed to him. Albergotti said he
remembered to have heard Villars apply the term "harlots" to the sutlers
and the camp creatures, but never to any other woman. All the rest
followed in the same track. Then Villars, after letting out against this
frightful calumny, and against the impostor who had written and sent it
to the Court, addressed himself to Heudicourt, whom he treated in the
most cruel fashion. "The good little fellow" was strangely taken aback,
and wished to defend himself; but Villars produced proofs that could not
be contradicted. Thereupon the ill-favoured dog avowed his turpitude,
and had the audacity to approach Villars in order to speak low to him;
but the Marechal, drawing back, and repelling him with an air of
indignation, said to him, aloud, that with scoundrels like him he wished
for no privacy. Gathering up, his pluck at this, Heudicourt gave rein to
all his impudence, and declared that they who had been questioned had not
dared to own the truth for fear of offending a Marechal; that as for
himself he might have been wrong in speaking and writing about it, but he
had not imagined that words said before such a numerous company; and in
such a public place, could remain secret, or that he had done more harm
in writing about them that so, many others who had acted likewise.

The Marechal, outraged upon hearing so bold and so truthful a reply, let
out with, greater violence than ever against Heudicourt, accused him of
ingratitude and villainy, drove him away, and a few minutes after had him
arrested and conducted as a prisoner to the chateau at Calais. This
violent scene made as much stir at the Court and in the army as that
which had caused it. The consistent and public conduct of Villars was
much approved. The King declared that he left Heudicourt in his hands:
Madame de Maintenon and, Madame de Bourgogne, that they abandoned him;
and his friends avowed that his fault was inexcusable. But the tide soon
turned. After the first hubbub, the excuse of "the good little fellow"
appeared excellent to the ladies who had their reasons for liking him and
for fearing to irritate him; and also to the army, where the Marechal was
not liked. Several of the officers who had been publicly interrogated by
Villars, now admitted that they had been taken by surprise, and had not
wished to compromise themselves. It was even, going into base details,
argued that the Marechal's expression could not apply to the vivandieres
and the other camp women, as they always rode astride, one leg on this
side one leg on the other, like men, a manner very different from that of
the ladies of Madame de Bourgogne. People contested the power of a
general to deal out justice upon his inferiors for personal matters in
which the service was in nowise concerned; in a word, Heudicourt was soon
let out of Calais, and remained "the good little fellow" in fashion in
spite of the Marechal, who, tormented by so many things this campaign,
sought for and obtained permission to go and take the waters; and did so.
He was succeeded by Harcourt, who was himself in weak health. Thus one
cripple replaced another. One began, the other ended, at Bourbonne.
Douai, Saint-Venant, and Aire fell into the hands of the enemy during
this 'campaign, who thus gained upon us more and more, while we did
little or nothing. This was the last campaign in Flanders of the Duke of
Marlborough. On the Rhine our troops observed and subsisted: nothing
more; but in Spain there was more movement, and I will therefore turn my
glances towards that country, and relate what took place there.


Before I commence speaking of the affairs of Spain, let me pass lightly
over an event which, engrafted upon some others, made much noise,
notwithstanding the care taken to stifle it.

Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne supped at Saint-Cloud one evening with
Madame la Duchesse de Berry and others--Madame de Saint-Simon absenting
herself from the party. Madame la Duchesse de Berry and M. d'Orleans--
but she more than he--got so drunk, that Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans,
Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, and the rest of the numerous company
there assembled, knew not what to do. M. le Duc de Berry was there, and
him they talked over as well as they could; and the numerous company was
amused by the Grand Duchess as well as she was able. The effect of the
wine, in more ways than one, was such, that people were troubled. In
spite of all, the Duchesse de Berry could not be sobered, so that it
became necessary to carry her, drunk as she was; to Versailles. All the
servants saw her state, and did not keep it to themselves; nevertheless,
it was hidden from the King, from Monseigneur, and from Madame de

And now, having related this incident, let me turn to Spain.

The events which took place in that country were so important, that I
have thought it best to relate them in a continuous narrative without
interruption. We must go back to the commencement of the year, and
remember the dangerous state which Spain was thrown into, delivered up to
her own weakness, France being too feeble to defend her; finding it
difficult enough, in fact, to defend herself, and willing to abandon her
ally entirely in the hope by this means to obtain peace.

Towards the end of March the King of Spain set out from Madrid to put
himself at the head of his army in Aragon. Villadatias, one of his best
and oldest general officers, was chosen to command under him. The King
of Spain went from Saragossa to Lerida, where he was received with
acclamations by the people and his army. He crossed the Segre on the
14th of May, and advanced towards Balaguier; designing to lay siege to
it. But heavy rains falling and causing the waters to rise, he was
obliged to abandon his project. Joined a month afterwards by troops
arrived from Flanders, he sought to attack the enemy, but was obliged to
content himself for the moment by scouring the country, and taking some
little towns where the Archduke had established stores. All this time
the Count of Staremberg, who commanded the forces of the Archduke, was
ill; this circumstance the King of Spain was profiting by. But the Count
grew well again quicker than was expected; promptly assembled his forces;
marched against the army of the King of Spain; engaged it, and obliged
it, all astonished, to retire under Saragossa. This ill-success fell
entirely on Villadarias, who was accused of imprudence and negligence.
The King of Spain was desperately in want of generals, and M. de Vendome,
knowing this, and sick to death of banishment, had asked some little time
before to be allowed to offer his services. At first he was snubbed.
But the King of Spain, who eagerly wished for M. de Vendome, despatched a
courier, after this defeat, begging the King to allow him to come and
take command. The King held out no longer.

The Duc de Vendome had prepared everything in advance; and having got
over a slight attack of gout, hastened to Versailles. M. du Maine had
negotiated with Madame de Maintenon to obtain permission to take Vendome
to the Duchesse de Bourgogne. The opportunity seemed favourable to them.
Vendome was going to Spain to serve the brother and sister of the
Duchess; and his departure without seeing her would have had a very
disagreeable effect. The Duc du Maine, followed by Vendome, came then
that day to the toilette of the Duchesse de Bourgogne. There happened
that there was a very large company of men and ladies. The Duchess rose
for them, as she always did for the Princes of the blood and others, and
for all the Dukes and Duchesses, and sat down again as usual; but after
this first glance, which could not be refused, she, though usually very
talkative and accustomed to look round, became for once attentive to her
adornment, fixed her eyes on her mirror, and spoke no more to any one.
M. du Maine, with M. de Vendome stuck by his side, remained very
disconcerted; and M. du Maine, usually so free and easy, dared not utter
a single word. Nobody went near them or spoke to them. They remained
thus about half a quarter of an hour, with an universal silence
throughout the chamber--all eyes being fixed on them; and not being able
to stand this any longer, slunk away. This reception was not
sufficiently agreeable to induce Vendome to pay his respects at parting;
for it would have been more embarrassing still if, when according to
custom he advanced to kiss the Duchesse de Bourgogne, she had given him
the unheard-of affront of a refusal. As for the Duc de Bourgogne, he
received Vendome tolerably politely, that is to say, much too well.

Staremberg meanwhile profited by the advantage he had gained; he attacked
the Spanish army under Saragossa and totally defeated it. Artillery,
baggage, all was lost; and the rout was complete. This misfortune
happened on the 20th of August. The King, who had witnessed it from
Saragossa, immediately afterwards took the road for Madrid. Bay, one of
his generals, gathered together eighteen thousand men, with whom he
retired to Tudela, without any impediment on the part of the enemy.

M. de Vendome learnt the news of this defeat while on his way to Spain.
Like a prudent man as he was, for his own interests, he stopped at once
so as to see what turn affairs were taking, and to know how to act.
He waited at Bayonne, gaining time there by sending a courier to the King
for instructions how to act, and remaining until the reply came. After
its arrival he set out to continue his journey, and joined the King of
Spain at Valladolid.

Staremberg, after his victory, was joined by the Archduke, and a debate
soon took place as to the steps next to be taken. Staremberg was for
giving battle to the army of eighteen thousand men under Bay, which I
have just alluded to, beating it, and then advancing little by little
into Spain, to make head against the vanquished army of the King. Had
this advice been acted on, it could scarcely have failed to ruin the King
of Spain, and the whole country must have fallen into the hands of the
enemy. But it was not acted on. Stanhope, who commanded the English and
Dutch troops, said that his Queen had ordered him to march upon Madrid
when possible, in preference to every other place. He therefore proposed
that they should go straight to Madrid with the Archduke, proclaim him
King there, and thus terrify all Spain by seizing the capital.
Staremberg, who admitted that the project was dazzling, sustained,
however, that it was of little use, and of great danger. He tried all in
his power to shake the inflexibility of Stanhope, but in vain, and at
last was obliged to yield as being the feebler of the two. The time lost
in this dispute saved the wreck of the army which had just been defeated.
What was afterwards done saved the King of Spain.

When the plan of the allies became known, however, the consternation at
Madrid, which was already great, was extreme. The King resolved to
withdraw from a place which could not defend itself, and to carry away
with him the Queen, the Prince, and the Councils. The grandees declared
that they would follow the King and his fortune everywhere, and very few
failed to do so; the departure succeeded the declaration in twenty-four
hours. The Queen, holding the Prince in her arms, at a balcony of the
palace, spoke to the people assembled beneath, with so much grace, force,
and courage, that the success she had is incredible. The impression that
the people received was communicated everywhere, and soon gained all the
provinces. The Court thus left Madrid for the second time in the midst
of the most lamentable cries, uttered from the bottom of their hearts, by
people who came from town and country, and who so wished to follow the
King and Queen that considerable effort was required in order to induce
them to return, each one to his home.

Valladolid was the retreat of this wretched Court, which in the most
terrible trouble it had yet experienced, lost neither judgment nor
courage. Meanwhile the grandest and rarest example of attachment and of
courage that had ever been heard of or seen was seen in Spain. Prelates
and the humblest of the clergy, noblemen and the poorest people, lawyers
and artisans all bled themselves of the last drop of their substance,
in order to form new troops and magazines, and to provide all kinds of
provisions for the Court, and those who had followed it. Never nation
made more efforts so surprising, with a unanimity and a concert which
acted everywhere at once. The Queen sold off all she possessed, received
with her own hands sometimes even as little as ten pistoles, in order to
content the zeal of those; who brought, and thanked them with as much
affection as they themselves displayed. She would continually say that
she should like to put herself at the head of her troops, with her son in
her arms. With this language and her conduct, she gained all hearts, and
was very useful in such a strange extremity.

The Archduke meanwhile arrived in Madrid with his army. He entered there
in triumph, and caused himself to be proclaimed King of Spain, by the
violence of his troops, who dragged the trembling Corregidor through the
streets, which for the most part were deserted, whilst the majority of
the houses were without inhabitants, the few who remained having
barricaded their doors and windows, and shut themselves up in the most
remote places, where the troops did not dare to break in upon them, for
fear of increasing the visible and general despair, and in the hope of
gaining by gentleness. The entry of the Archduke was not less sad than
his proclamation. A few scarcely audible and feeble acclamations were
heard, but were so forced that the Archduke, sensibly astonished, made
them cease of himself. He did not dare to lodge in the palace, or in the
centre of Madrid, but slept at the extremity of the city, and even there
only for two or three nights. Scarcely any damage was inflicted upon the
town. Staremberg was careful to gain over the inhabitants by
conciliation and clemency; yet his army perished of all kinds of misery.

Not a single person could be found to supply it with subsistence for man
or beast--not even when offered money. Prayers, menaces, executions, all
were perfectly useless. There was not a Castilian who would not have
believed himself dishonourable in selling the least thing to the enemies,
or in allowing them to take it. It is thus that this magnanimous people,
without any other help than their courage and their fidelity, sustained
themselves in the midst of their enemies, whose army they caused to
perish; while at the same time; by inconceivable prodigies, they formed a
new army for themselves, perfectly equipped and furnished, and put thus,
by themselves; alone, and for the second time, the crown upon the head of
their King; with a glory for ever an example to all the people of Europe;
so true it is that nothing approaches the strength which is found in the
heart of a nation for the succour and re-establishment of kings!

Stanhope, who had not failed to see the excellence of Staremberg's advice
from the first moment of their dispute, now said insolently, that having
executed the orders of his Queen, it was for Staremberg to draw the army
out of its embarrassment. As for himself, he had nothing more to do in
the matter! When ten or twelve days had elapsed, it was resolved to
remove from Madrid towards Toledo. From the former place nothing was
taken away, except same of the king's tapestry; which Stanhope was not
ashamed to carry off, but which he did not long keep. This act of
meanness was blamed even by his own countrymen. Staremberg did not make
a long stay at Toledo, but in quitting the town, burnt the superb palace
in the Moorish style that Charles Quint had built there, and that, was
called the Alcazar. This was an irreparable damage, which he made
believe happened accidentally.

As nothing now hindered the King of Spain from going to see his faithful
subjects at Madrid, he entered that city on the 2nd of December, in the
midst of an infinite crowd and incredible acclamations. He descended at
the church of Notre Dame d'Atocha, and was three hours in arriving at the
palace, so prodigious was the crowd. The city made a present to him of
twenty thousand pistoles. On the fourth day after his arrival at Madrid,
the King left, in order to join M. de Vendeme and his army.

But a little while before, this monarch was a fugitive wanderer, almost
entirely destroyed, without troops, without money, and without
subsistence. Now he found himself at the head of ten or fifteen thousand
men well armed, well clad, well paid, with provisions, money, and
ammunition in abundance; and this magical change was brought about by the
sudden universal conspiracy of the unshakable fidelity and attachment--
without example, of all the orders of his subjects; by their efforts and
their industry, as prodigious the one as the other.

Vendome, in the utmost surprise at a change so little to be hoped for,
wished to profit by it by joining the army under Bay, which was too weak
itself to appear before Staremberg. Vendome accordingly set about making
this junction, which Staremberg thought only how to hinder. He knew well
the Duc de Vendome. In Savoy he had gained many a march upon him; had
passed five rivers in front of him; and in spite of him had led his
troops to M. de Savoie. Staremberg thought only therefore in what manner
he could lay a trap for M. de Vendome, in which he, with his army, might
fall and break his neck without hope of escape. With this view he put
his army into quarters access to which was easy everywhere, which were
near each other, and which could assist each other in case of need. He
then placed all his English and Dutch, Stanhope at their head, in
Brighuega, a little fortified town in good condition for defence. It was
at the head of all the quarters of Staremberg's army, and at the entrance
of a plain over which M. de Vendome had to pass to join Bay.

Staremberg was on the point of being joined by his army of Estremadura,
so that in the event of M. de Vendeme attacking Brighuega, as he hoped,
he had a large number of troops to depend upon.

Vendome, meanwhile, set out on his march. He was informed of
Staremberg's position, but in a manner just such as Staremberg wished;
that is to say, he was led to believe that Stanhope had made a wrong move
in occupying Brighuega, that he was too far removed from Staremberg to
receive any assistance from him, and that he could be easily overpowered.
That is how matters appeared to Vendome. He hastened his march,
therefore, made his dispositions, and on the 8th of December, after mid-
day, approached Brighuega, called upon it to surrender, and upon its
refusal, prepared to attack it.

Immediately afterwards his surprise was great, upon discovering that
there were so many troops in the town, and that instead of having to do
with a mere outpost, he was engaged against a place of some consequence.
He did not wish to retire, and could not have done so with impunity. He
set to therefore, storming in his usual manner, and did what he could to
excite his troops to make short work, of a conquest so different from
what he had imagined, and so dangerous to delay.

Nevertheless, the weight of his mistake pressed upon him as the hours
passed and he saw fresh enemies arrive. Two of his assaults had failed:
he determined to play at double or quits, and ordered a third assault.
While the dispositions were being made, on the 9th of December he learnt
that Staremberg was marching against him with four or five thousand men,
that is to say, with just about half of what he really led. In this
anguish, Vendome did not hesitate to stake even the Crown of Spain upon
the hazard of the die. His third attack was made with all the force of
which he was capable. Every one of the assailants knew the extremity of
the danger, and behaved with so much valour and impetuosity, that the
town was carried in spite of an obstinate resistance. The besieged were
obliged to yield, and to the number of eight battalions and eight
squadrons, surrendered themselves prisoners of war, and with them,
Stanhope, their general, who, so triumphant in Madrid, was here obliged
to disgorge the King's tapestries that he had taken from the palace.

While the capitulation was being made, various information came to
Vendome of Staremberg's march, which it was necessary, above all, to hide
from the prisoners, who, had they known their liberator was only a league
and a half distant from them, as he was then, would have broken the
capitulation; and defended themselves. M. de Vendome's embarrassment was
great. He had, at the same time, to march out and meet Staremberg and to
get rid of, his numerous prisoners. All was done, however, very
successfully. Sufficient troops were left in Brighuega to attend to the
evacuation, and when it was at an end, those troops left the place
themselves and joined their comrades, who, with M. de Vendome, were
waiting for Staremberg outside the town, at Villaviciosa, a little place
that afterwards gave its name to the battle. Only four hundred men were
left in Brighuega.

M. de Vendome arranged his army in order of battle in a tolerably open
plain, but embarrassed by little knolls in several places; very
disadvantageous for the cavalry. Immediately afterwards the cannon began
to fire on both sides, and almost immediately the two links of the King
of Spain prepared to charge. After the battle had proceeded some time,
M. de Vendome perceived that his centre began to give way, and that the
left of his cavalry could not break the right of the enemies. He thought
all was lost, and gave orders accordingly to his men to retire towards
Torija. Straightway, too, he directed himself in that direction, with
the King of Spain and a good part of his troops. While thus retreating,
he learnt that two of his officers had charged the enemy's infantry with
the cavalry they had at their orders, had much knocked it about and had
rendered themselves masters, on the field of battle, of a large number
of-prisoners, and of the artillery that the enemy had abandoned. News so
agreeable and so little expected determined the Duc de Vendome and the
King of Spain to return to the battle with the troops that had followed
them. The day was, in fact, won just as night came on. The enemies
abandoned twenty pieces of cannon, two mortars, their wounded and their
equipages; and numbers of them were taken prisoners. But Staremberg,
having all the night to himself, succeeded in retiring in good order with
seven or eight thousand men. His baggage and the majority of his waggons
fell a prey to the vanquisher. Counting the garrison of Brighuega, the
loss to the enemy was eleven thousand men killed or taken, their
ammunition, artillery, baggage, and a great number of flags and

When we consider the extreme peril the Crown of Spain ran in these
engagements, and that this time, if things had gone ill there was no
resource, we tremble still. Had a catastrophe happened, there was
nothing to hope from France. Its exhaustion and its losses would not
have enabled it to lend aid. In its desire for peace, in fact, it would
have hailed the loss of the Spanish Crown as a relief. The imprudence,
therefore, of M. de Vendome in so readily falling into the snare laid for
him, is all the more to be blamed. He takes no trouble to inform himself
of the dispositions of the enemy; he comes upon a place which he believes
a mere post, but soon sees it contains a numerous garrison, and finds
that the principal part of the enemy's army is ready to fall upon him as
he makes the attack. Then he begins to see in what ship he has embarked;
he sees the double peril of a double action to sustain against Stanhope,
whom he must overwhelm by furious assault, and against Staremberg, whom
he must meet and defeat; or, leave to the enemies the Crown of Spain, and
perhaps the person of Philip V., as price of his folly. Brighuega is
gained, but it is without him. Villaviciosa is gained, but it is also
without him. This hero is not sharp-sighted enough to see success when
it comes. He thinks it defeat, and gives orders for retreat. When
informed that the battle is gained, he returns to the field, and as
daylight comes perceives the fact to be so. He is quite without shame
for his stupid mistake, and cries out that he has vanquished, with an
impudence to which the Spaniards were not accustomed; and, to conclude,
he allows Staremberg's army to get clean off, instead of destroying it at
once, as he might have done, and so finished the war. Such were the
exploits of this great warrior, so desired in Spain to resuscitate it,
and such, were the first proofs of his capacity upon arriving in that

At the moment that the King of Spain was led back to the battle-field by
Vendome, and that they could no longer doubt their good fortune, he sent
a courier to the Queen. Her mortal anguish was on the instant changed
into so great a joy, that she went out immediately on foot into the
streets of Vittoria, where all was delight; as it soon was over all
Spain. The news of the victory was brought to the King (of France) by
Don Gaspard de Zuniga, who gave an exact account of all that had
occurred, hiding nothing respecting M. de Vendome, who was thus unmasked
and disgraced, in spite of every effort on the part of his cabal to
defend him.

Among the allies, all the blame, of this defeat fell upon Stanhope.
Seven or eight hours more of resistance on his part at Brighuega would
have enabled Staremberg to come up to his assistance, and all the
resources of Spain would then have been annihilated. Staremberg,
outraged at the ill-success of his undertaking, cried out loudly against
Stanhope. Some of the principal officers who had been at Brighuega
seconded these complaints. Stanhope even did not dare to deny his fault.
He was allowed to demand leave of absence to go home and defend himself.
He was badly received, stripped of all military rank in England and
Holland, and (as well as the officers under him) was not without fear of
his degradation, and was even in danger of his life.

This recital of the events that took place in Spain has led me away from
other matters of earlier date. It is time now that I should return to


Found it easier to fly into a rage than to reply





State of the Country.--New Taxes.--The King's Conscience Troubled.--
Decision of the Sorbonne.--Debate in the Council.--Effect of the Royal
Tithe.--Tax on Agioteurs.--Merriment at Court.--Death of a Son of
Marechal Boufflers.--The Jesuits.


My Interview with Du Mont.--A Mysterious Communication. --Anger of
Monseigneur against Me.--Household of the Duchesse de Berry.--Monseigneur
Taken Ill of the Smallpox.--Effect of the News.--The King Goes to
Meudon.--The Danger Diminishes.--Madame de Maintenon at Meudon.--The
Court at Versailles.--Hopes and Fears.--The Danger Returns.--Death of
Monseigneur.--Conduct of the King.


A Rumour Reaches Versailles.--Aspect of the Court.--Various Forms of
Grief.--The Duc d'Orleans.--The News Confirmed at Versailles.--Behaviour
of the Courtiers.--The Duc and Duchesse de Berry.--The Duc and Duchesse
de Bourgogne.--Madame.--A Swiss Asleep.--Picture of a Court.--The Heir-
Apparent's Night.--The King Returns to Marly.--Character of Monseigneur.
--Effect of His Death.


State of the Court at Death of Monseigneur.--Conduct of the Dauphin and
the Dauphine.--The Duchesse de Berry.--My Interview with the Dauphin.--
He is Reconciled with M. d'Orleans.


Warnings to the Dauphin and the Dauphine.--The Dauphine Sickens and
Dies.--Illness of the Dauphin.--His Death.--Character and Manners of the
Dauphine.--And of the Dauphin.


Certainty of Poison.--The Supposed Criminal.--Excitement of the People
against M. d'Orleans.--The Cabal.--My Danger and Escape.--The Dauphin's


Although, as we have just seen, matters were beginning to brighten a
little in Spain, they remained as dull and overcast as ever in France.
The impossibility of obtaining peace, and the exhaustion of the realm,
threw, the King into the most cruel anguish, and Desmarets into the
saddest embarrassment. The paper of ail kinds with which trade was
inundated, and which had all more or less lost credit, made a chaos for
which no remedy could be perceived. State-bills, bank-bills, receiver-
general's-bills, title-bills, utensil-bills, were the ruin of private
people, who were forced by the King to take them in payment, and who lost
half, two-thirds, and sometimes more, by the transaction. This
depreciation enriched the money people, at the expense of the public; and
the circulation of money ceased, because there was no longer any money;
because the King no longer paid anybody, but drew his revenues still; and
because all the specie out of his control was locked up in the coffers of
the possessors.

The capitation tax was doubled and trebled, at the will of the Intendants
of the Provinces; merchandise and all kinds of provision were taxed to
the amount of four times their value; new taxes of all kinds and upon all
sorts of things were exacted; all this crushed nobles and roturiers,
lords and clergy, and yet did not bring enough to the King, who drew the
blood of all his subjects, squeezed out their very marrow, without
distinction, and who enriched an army of tax-gatherers and officials of
all kinds, in whose hands the best part of what was collected remained.

Desmarets, in whom the King had been forced to put all his confidence in
finance matters, conceived the idea of establishing, in addition to so
many taxes, that Royal Tithe upon all the property of each community and
of each private person of the realm, that the Marechal de Vauban, on the
one hand, and Boisguilbert on the other, had formerly proposed; but, as I
have already described, as a simple and stile tax which would suffice for
all, which would all enter the coffers of the King, and by means of which
every other impost would be abolished.

We have seen what success this proposition met with; how the fanciers
trembled at it; how the ministers blushed at it, with what anathemas it
was rejected, and to what extent these two excellent and skilful citizens
were disgraced. All this must be recollected here, since Desmarets, who
had not lost sight of this system (not as relief and remedy--unpardonable
crimes in the financial doctrine), now had recourse to it.

He imparted his project to three friends, Councillors of State, who
examined it well, and worked hard to see how to overcome the obstacles
which arose in the way of its execution. In the first place, it was
necessary, in order to collect this tax, to draw from each person a clear
statement of his wealth, of his debts, and so on. It was necessary to
demand sure proofs on these points so as not to be deceived. Here was
all the difficulty. Nothing was thought of the desolation this extra
impost must cause to a prodigious number of men, or of their despair upon
finding themselves obliged to disclose their family secrets; to hate a
lamp thrown, as it were, upon their most delicate parts; all these
things, I say, went for nothing. Less than a month sufficed these humane
commissioners to render an account of this gentle project to the Cyclops
who had charged them with it. Desmarets thereupon proposed it to the
King, who, accustomed as he was to the most ruinous imposts, could not
avoid being terrified at this. For a long while he had heard nothing
talked of but the most extreme misery; this increase saddened him in a
manner so evident, that his valets perceived it several days running, and
were so disturbed at it, that Marechal (who related all this curious
anecdote to me) made bold to speak to the King upon this sadness, fearing
for his health. The King avowed to him that he felt infinite trouble,
and threw himself vaguely upon the state of affairs. Eight or ten days.
after (during which he continued to feel the same melancholy), the King
regained his usual calmness, and called Marechal to explain the cause of
his trouble.

The King related to Marechal that the extremity of his affairs had forced
him to put on furious imposts; that setting aside compassion, scruples
had much tormented him for taking thus the wealth of his subjects; that
at last he had unbosomed himself to the Pere Tellier, who had asked for a
few days to think upon the matter, and that he had returned after having
had a consultation with some of the most skilful doctors of the Sorbonne,
who had decided that all the wealth of his subjects was his, and that
when he took it he only took what belonged to him! The King added, that
this decision had taken away all his scruples, and had restored to him
the calm and tranquillity he had lost. Marechal was so astonished, so
bewildered to hear, this recital, that he could not offer one word.
Happily for him, the King quitted him almost immediately, and Marechal
remained some time in the same place, scarcely knowing where he was.

After the King had been thus satisfied by his confessor, no time was lost
in establishing the tax. On Tuesday, the 30th of September, Desmarets
entered the Finance Council with the necessary edict in his bag.

For some days everybody had known of this bombshell in the air, and had
trembled with that remnant of hope which is founded only upon desire; all
the Court as well as all Paris waited in a dejected sadness to see what
would happen. People whispered to each other, and even when the project
was rendered public, no one dared to talk of it aloud.

On the day above-named, the King brought forward this measure in the
Council, by saying, that the impossibility of obtaining peace, and the
extreme difficulty of sustaining the war, had caused Desmarets to look
about in order to discover some means, which should appear good, of
raising money; that he had pitched upon this tax; that he (the King),
although sorry to adopt such a resource, approved it, and had no doubt
the Council would do so likewise, when it was explained to them.
Desmarets, in a pathetic discourse, then dwelt upon the reasons which had
induced him to propose this tax, and afterwards read the edict through
from beginning to end without interruption.

No one spoke, moreover, when it was over, until the King asked
D'Aguesseau his opinion. D'Aguesseau replied, that it would be necessary
for him to take home the edict and read it through very carefully before
expressing an opinion. The King said that D'Aguesseau was right--it
would take a long time to examine the edict--but after all, examination
was unnecessary, and would only be loss of time. All remained silent
again, except the Duc de Beauvilliers, who, seduced by the nephew of
Colbert, whom he thought an oracle in finance, said a few words in favour
of the project.

Thus was settled this bloody business, and immediately after signed,
sealed, and registered, among stifled sobs, and published amidst the most
gentle but most piteous complaints. The product of this tax was nothing
like so much as had been imagined in this bureau of Cannibals; and the
King did not pay a single farthing more to any one than he had previously
done. Thus all the fine relief expected by this tax ended in smoke.

The Marechal de Vauban had died of grief at the ill-success of his task
and his zeal, as I have related in its place. Poor Boisguilbert, in the
exile his zeal had brought him, was terribly afflicted, to find he had
innocently given advice which he intended for the relief of the State,
but which had been made use of in this frightful manner. Every man,
without exception, saw himself a prey to the tax-gatherers: reduced to
calculate and discuss with them his own patrimony, to receive their
signature and their protection under the most terrible pains; to show in
public all the secrets of his family; to bring into the broad open
daylight domestic turpitudes enveloped until then in the folds of
precautions the wisest and the most multiplied. Many had to convince the
tax agents, but vainly, that although proprietors, they did not enjoy the
tenth part of them property. All Languedoc offered to give up its entire
wealth, if allowed to enjoy, free from every impost, the tenth part of
it. The proposition not only was not listened to, but was reputed an
insult and severely blamed.

Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne spoke openly against this tax; and
against the finance people, who lived upon the very marrow of the people;
spoke with a just and holy anger that recalled the memory of Saint-Louis,
of Louis XII., Father of the People, and of Louis the Just. Monseigneur,
too, moved by this indignation, so unusual, of his son, sided with him,
and showed anger at so many exactions as injurious as barbarous, and at
so many insignificant men so monstrously enriched with the nation's
blood. Both father and son infinitely surprised those who heard them,
and made themselves looked upon, in some sort as resources from which
something might hereafter be hoped for. But the edict was issued, and
though there might be some hope in the future, there was none in the
present. And no one knew who was to be the real successor of Louis XIV.,
and how under the next government we were to be still more overwhelmed
than under this one.

One result of this tax was, that it enabled the King to augment all his
infantry with five men per company.

A tax was also levied upon the usurers, who had much gained by
trafficking in the paper of the King, that is to say, had taken advantage
of the need of those to whom the King gave this paper in payment. These
usurers are called 'agioteurs'. Their mode was, ordinarily, to give, for
example, according as the holder of paper was more or less pressed, three
or four hundred francs (the greater part often in provisions), for a bill
of a thousand francs! This game was called 'agio'. It was said that
thirty millions were obtained from this tax. Many people gained much by
it; I know not if the King was the better treated.

Soon after this the coin was re-coined, by which much profit was made for
the King, and much wrong done to private people and to trade. In all
times it has, been regarded as a very great misfortune to meddle with
corn and money. Desmarets has accustomed us to tricks with the money;
M. le Duc and Cardinal Fleury to interfere with corn and to fictitious

At the commencement of December, the King declared that he wished there
should be, contrary to custom, plays and "apartments" at Versailles even
when Monseigneur should be at Meudon. He thought apparently he must keep
his Court full of amusements, to hide, if it was possible, abroad and at
home, the disorder and the extremity of affairs. For the same reason,
the carnival was opened early this season, and all through the winter
there were many balls of all kinds at the Court, where the wives of the
ministers gave very magnificent displays, like fetes, to Madame la
Duchesse de Bourgogne and to all the Court.

But Paris did not remain less wretched or the provinces less desolated.

And thus I have arrived at the end of 1710.

At the commencement of the following year, 1711, that is to say, a few
days after the middle of March, a cruel misfortune happened to the
Marechal de Boufflers. His eldest son was fourteen years of age,
handsome, well made, of much promise, and who succeeded marvellously at
the Court, when his father presented him there to the King to thank his
Majesty for the reversion of the government of Flow and of Lille. He
returned afterwards to the College of the Jesuits, where he was being
educated. I know not what youthful folly he was guilty of with the two
sons of D'Argenson; but the Jesuits, wishing to show that they made no
distinction of persons, whipped the little lad, because, to say the
truth, they had nothing to fear from the Marechal de Boufflers; but they
took good care to left the others off, although equally guilty, because
they had to reckon with D'Argenson, lieutenant of the police, of much
credit in book matters, Jansenism, and all sorts of things and affairs in
which they were interested.

Little Boufflers, who was full of courage, and who had done no more than
the two Argensons, and with them, was seized with such despair, that he
fell ill that same day. He was carried to the Marechal's house, but it
was impossible to save him. The heart was seized, the blood diseased,
the purples appeared; in four days all was over. The state of the father
and mother may be imagined! The King, who was much touched by it, did
not let them ask or wait for him. He sent one of his gentlemen to
testify to them the share he had in their loss, and announced that he
would give to their remaining son 'what he had already given to the
other. As for the Jesuits, the universal cry against them was
prodigious; but that was all. This would be the place, now that I am
speaking of the Jesuits, to speak of another affair in which they were
concerned. But I pass over, for the present, the dissensions that broke
out at about this time, and that ultimately led to the famous Papal Bull
Unigenitus, so fatal to the Church and to the State, so shameful far
Rome, and so injurious to religion; and I proceed to speak of the great
event of this year which led to others so memorable and so unexpected.


But in Order to understand the part I played in the event I have alluded
to and the interest I took in it, it is necessary for me to relate some
personal matters that occurred in the previous year. Du Mont was one of
the confidants of Monseigneur; but also had never forgotten what his
father owed to mine. Some days after the commencement of the second
voyage to Marly, subsequently to the marriage of the Duchesse de Berry,
as I was coming back from the King's mass, the said Du Mont, in the crush
at the door of the little salon of the chapel, took an opportunity when
he was not perceived, to pull me by my coat, and when I turned round put
a finger to his lips, and pointed towards the gardens which are at the
bottom of the river, that is to say, of that superb cascade which the
Cardinal Fleury has destroyed, and which faced the rear of the chateau.
At the same time du Mont whispered in my car: "To the arbours!" That part
of the garden was surrounded with arbours palisaded so as to conceal what
was inside. It was the least frequented place at Marly, leading to
nothing; and in the afternoon even, and the evening, few people within

Uneasy to know what Du Mont wished to communicate with so much mystery,
I gently went towards the arbours where, without being seen, I looked
through one of the openings until I saw him appear. He slipped in by the
corner of the chapel, and I went towards him. As he joined me he begged
me to return towards the river, so as to be still more out of the way;
and then we set ourselves against the thickest palisades, as far as
possible from all openings, so as to be still more concealed. All this
surprised and frightened me: I was still more so when I learned what was
the matter.

Du Mont then told me, on condition that I promised not to show that I
knew it, and not to make use of my knowledge in any way without his
consent, that two days after the marriage of the Duc de Berry, having
entered towards the end of the morning the cabinet of Monseigneur, he
found him alone, looking very serious. He followed Monseigneur, through
the gardens alone, until he entered by the window the apartments of the
Princesse de Conti, who was also alone. As he entered Monseigneur said
with an air not natural to him, and very inflamed--as if by way of
interrogation--that she "sat very quietly there." This frightened her
so, that she asked if there was any news from Flanders, and what had
happened. Monseigneur answered, in a tone of great annoyance, that there
was no news except that the Duc de Saint-Simon had said, that now that
the marriage of the Duc de Berry was brought about, it would be proper to
drive away Madame la Duchesse and the Princesse de Conti, after which it
would be easy to govern "the great imbecile," meaning himself. This was
why he thought she ought not to be so much at her ease. Then, suddenly,
as if lashing his sides to get into a greater rage, he spoke in a way
such a speech would have deserved, added menaces, said that he would have
the Duc de Bourgogne to fear me, to put me aside, and separate himself
entirely from me. This sort of soliloquy lasted a long time, and I was
not told what the Princesse de Conti said to it; but from the silence of
Du Mont, her annoyance at the marriage, I had brought about, and other
reasons, it seems to me unlikely that she tried to soften Monseigneur.

Du Mont begged me not, for a long time at least, to show that I knew what
had taken place, and to behave with the utmost prudence. Then he fled
away by the path he had come by, fearing to be seen. I remained walking
up and down in the arbour all the time, reflecting on the wickedness of
my enemies, and the gross credulity of Monseigneur. Then I ran away, and
escaped to Madame de Saint-Simon, who, as astonished and frightened as I,
said not a word of the communication I had received.

I never knew who had served me this ill-turn with Monseigneur, but I
always suspected Mademoiselle de Lillebonne. After a long time, having
obtained with difficulty the consent of the timid Du Mont, I made Madame
de Saint-Simon speak to the Duchesse de Bourgogne, who undertook to
arrange the affair as well as it could be arranged. The Duchesse spoke
indeed to Monseigneur, and showed him how ridiculously he had been
deceived, when he was persuaded that I could ever have entertained the
ideas attributed to me. Monseigneur admitted that he had been carried
away by anger; and that there was no likelihood that I should have
thought of anything so wicked and incredible.

About this time the household of the Duc and Duchesse de Berry was
constituted. Racilly obtained the splendid appointment of first surgeon,
and was worthy of it; but the Duchesse de Berry wept bitterly, because
she did not consider him of high family enough. She was not so delicate
about La Haye, whose appointment she rapidly secured. The fellow looked
in the glass more complaisantly than ever. He was well made, but stiff,
and with a face not at all handsome, and looking as if it had been
skinned. He was happy in more ways than one, and was far more attached
to his new mistress than to his master. The King was very angry when he
learned that the Duc de Berry had supplied himself with such an

Meantime, I continued on very uneasy terms with Monseigneur, since I had
learned his strange credulity with respect to me. I began to feel my
position very irksome, not to say painful, on this account. Meudon I
would not go to--for me it was a place infested with demons--yet by
stopping away I ran great risks of losing the favour and consideration I
enjoyed at Court. Monseigneur was a man so easily imposed upon, as I had
already experienced, and his intimate friends were so unscrupulous that
there was no saying what might be invented on the one side and swallowed
on the other, to my discredit. Those friends, too, were, I knew, enraged
against me for divers weighty reasons, and would stop at nothing, I was
satisfied, to procure my downfall. For want of better support I
sustained myself with courage. I said to myself, "We never experience
all the evil or all the good that we have apparently the most reason to
expect." I hoped, therefore, against hope, terribly troubled it must be
confessed on the score of Meudon. At Easter, this year, I went away to
La Ferme, far from the Court and the world, to solace myself as I could;
but this thorn in my side was cruelly sharp! At the moment the most
unlooked-for it pleased God to deliver me from it.

At La Ferme I had but few guests: M. de Saint-Louis, an old brigadier of
cavalry, and a Normandy gentleman, who had been in my regiment, and who
was much attached to me. On Saturday, the 11th of the month, and the day
before Quasimodo, I had been walking with them all the morning, and I had
entered all-alone into my cabinet a little before dinner, when a courier
sent by Madame de Saint-Simon, gave me a letter from her, in which I was
informed that Monseigneur was ill!

I learnt afterwards that this Prince, while on his way to Meudon for the
Easter fetes, met at Chaville a priest, who was carrying Our Lord to a
sick person. Monseigneur, and Madame de Bourgogne, who was with him,
knelt down to adore the Host, and then Monseigneur inquired what was the
malady of the patient. "The small-pox," he was told. That disease was
very prevalent just then. Monseigneur had had it, but very lightly, and
when young. He feared it very much, and was struck with the answer he
now received. In the evening he said to Boudin, his chief doctor, "I
should not be surprised if I were to have the small-pox." The, day,
however, passed over as usual.

On the morrow, Thursday, the 9th, Monseigneur rose, and meant to go out
wolf-hunting; but as he was dressing, such a fit of weakness seized him,
that he fell into his chair. Boudin made him get into bed again; but all
the day his pulse was in an alarming state. The King, only half informed
by Fagon of what had taken place, believed there was nothing the matter,
and went out walking at Marly after dinner, receiving news from time to
time. Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne and Madame de Bourgogne dined at
Meudon, and they would not quit Monseigneur for one moment. The Princess
added to the strict duties of a daughter-in-law all that her gracefulness
could suggest, and gave everything to Monseigneur with her own hand. Her
heart could not have been troubled by what her reason foresaw; but,
nevertheless, her care and attention were extreme, without any airs of
affectation or acting. The Duc de Bourgogne, simple and holy as he was,
and full of the idea of his duty, exaggerated his attention; and although
there was a strong suspicion of the small-pox, neither quitted
Monseigneur, except for the King's supper.

The next day, Friday, the 10th, in reply to his express demands, the King
was informed of the extremely dangerous state of Monseigneur. He had
said on the previous evening that he would go on the following morning to
Meudon, and remain there during all the illness of Monseigneur whatever
its nature might be. He was now as good as his word. Immediately after
mass he set out for Meudon. Before doing so, he forbade his children,
and all who had not had the small-pox, to go there, which was suggested
by a motive of kindness. With Madame de Maintenon and a small suite, he
had just taken up his abode in Meudon, when Madame de Saint-Simon sent me
the letter of which I have just made mention.

I will continue to speak of myself with the same truthfulness I speak of
others, and with as much exactness as possible. According to the terms
on which I was with Monseigneur and his intimates, may be imagined the
impression made upon me by this news. I felt that one way or other, well
or ill, the malady of Monseigneur would soon terminate. I was quite at
my ease at La Ferme. I resolved therefore to wait there until I received
fresh particulars. I despatched a courier to Madame de Saint-Simon,
requesting her to send me another the next day, and I passed the rest of
this day, in an ebb and flow of feelings; the man and the Christian
struggling against the man and the courtier, and in the midst of a crowd
of vague fancies catching glimpses of the future, painted in the most
agreeable colours.

The courier I expected so impatiently arrived the next day, Sunday, after
dinner. The small-pox had declared itself, I learnt, and was going on as
well as could be wished. I believed Monseigneur saved, and wished to
remain at my own house; nevertheless I took advice, as I have done all my
life, and with great regret set out the next morning. At La queue, about
six leagues from Versailles, I met a financier of the name of La
Fontaine, whom I knew well. He was coming from Paris and Versailles, and
came up to me as I changed horses. Monseigneur, he said, was going on
admirably; and he added details which convinced me he was out of all
danger. I arrived at Versailles, full of this opinion, which was
confirmed by Madame de Saint-Simon and everybody I met, so that nobody
any longer feared, except on account of the treacherous nature of this
disease in a very fat man of fifty.

The King held his Council, and worked in the evening with his ministers
as usual. He saw Monseigneur morning and evening, oftentimes in the
afternoon, and always remained long by the bedside. On the Monday I
arrived he had dined early, and had driven to Marly, where the Duchesse
de Bourgogne joined him. He saw in passing on the outskirts of the
garden of Versailles his grandchildren, who had come out to meet him, but
he would not let them come near, and said, "good day" from a distance.
The Duchesse de Bourgogne had had the small-pox, but no trace was left.

The King only liked his own houses, and could not bear to be anywhere
else. This was why his visits to Meudon were few and short, and only
made from complaisance. Madame de Maintenon was still more out of her
element there. Although her chamber was everywhere a sanctuary, where
only ladies entitled to the most extreme familiarity entered, she always
wanted another retreat near at hand entirely inaccessible except to the
Duchesse de Bourgogne alone, and that only for a few instants at a time.
Thus she had Saint-Cyr for Versailles and for Marly; and at Marly also a
particular retiring place; at Fontainebleau she had her town house.
Seeing therefore that Monseigneur was getting on well, and that a long
sojourn it Meudon would be necessary, the upholsterers of the King were
ordered to furnish a house in the park which once belonged to the
Chancellor le Tellier, but which Monseigneur had bought.

When I arrived at Versailles, I wrote to M. de Beauvilliers at Meudon
praying him to apprise the King that I had returned on account of the
illness of Monseigneur, and that I would have gone to see him, but that,
never having had the small-pox, I was included in the prohibition. M. de
Beauvilliers did as I asked, and sent word back to me that my return had
been very well timed, and that the King still forbade me as well as
Madame de Saint-Simon to go to Meudon. This fresh prohibition did not
distress me in the least. I was informed of all that was passing there;
and that satisfied me.

There were yet contrasts at Meudon worth noticing. Mademoiselle Choin
never appeared while the King was with Monseigneur, but kept close in her
loft. When the coast was clear she came out, and took up her position at
the sick man's bedside. All sorts of compliments passed between her and
Madame de Maintenon, yet the two ladies never met. The King asked Madame
de Maintenon if she had seen Mademoiselle Choin, and upon learning that
she had not, was but ill-pleased. Therefore Madame de Maintenon sent
excuses and apologies to Mademoiselle Choin, and hoped she said to see
her soon,--strange compliments from one chamber to another under the same
roof. They never saw each other afterwards.

It should be observed, that Pere Tellier was also incognito at Meudon,
and dwelt in a retired room from which he issued to see the King, but
never approached the apartments of Monseigneur.

Versailles presented another scene. Monseigneur le Duc and Madame la
Duchesse de Bourgogne held their Court openly there; and this Court
resembled the first gleamings of the dawn. All the Court assembled
there; all Paris also; and as discretion and precaution were never French
virtues, all Meudon came as well. People were believed on their word
when they declared that they had not entered the apartments of
Monseigneur that day, and consequently could not bring the infection.
When the Prince and Princess rose, when they weft to bed, when they dined
and supped with the ladies,--all public conversations--all meals--all
assembled--were opportunities of paying court to them. The apartments
could not contain the crowd. The characteristic features of the room
were many. Couriers arrived every quarter of an hour, and reminded
people of the illness of Monseigneur--he was going on as well as could be
expected; confidence and hope were easily felt; but there was an extreme
desire to please at the new Court. The young Prince and the Princess
exhibited majesty and gravity, mixed with gaiety; obligingly received
all, continually spoke to every one; the crowd wore an air of
complaisance; reciprocal satisfaction showed in every face; the Duc and
Duchesse de Berry ware treated almost as nobody. Thus five days fled
away in increasing thought of future events--in preparation to be ready
for whatever might happen.

On Tuesday, the 14th of April, I went to see the chancellor, and asked
for information upon the state of Monseigneur. He assured me it was
good, and repeated to me the words Fagon had spoken to him, "that things
were going an according to their wishes, and beyond their hopes." The
Chancellor appeared to me very confident, and I had faith in him, so much
the more, because he was on extremely good footing with Monseigneur. The
Prince, indeed, had so much recovered, that the fish-women came in a body
the self-same day to congratulate him, as they did after his attack of
indigestion. They threw the themselves at the foot of his bed, which
they kissed several times, and in their joy said they would go back to
Paris and have a Te Deum sung. But Monseigneur, who was not insensible
to these marks of popular affection, told them it was not yet time,
thanked them, and gave them a dinner and some money.

As I was going home, I saw the Duchesse d'Orleans walking on a terrace.
She called to me; but I pretended not to notice her, because La Montauban
was with her, and hastened home, my mind filled with this news, and
withdrew to my cabinet. Almost immediately afterwards Madame la Duchesse
d'Orleans joined me there. We were bursting to speak to each other
alone, upon a point on which our thoughts were alike. She had left
Meudon not an hour before, and she had the same tale to tell as the
Chancellor. Everybody was at ease there she said; and then she extolled
the care and capacities of the doctors, exaggerating their success; and,
to speak frankly and to our shame, she and I lamented together to see
Monseigneur, in spite of his age and his fat, escape from so dangerous an
illness. She reflected seriously but wittily, that after an illness of
this sort, apoplexy was not to be looked for; that an attack of
indigestion was equally unlikely to arise, considering the care
Monseigneur had taken not to over-gorge himself since his recent danger;
and we concluded more than dolefully, that henceforth we must make up our
minds that the Prince would live and reign for a long time. In a word,
we let ourselves loose in this rare conversation, although not without an
occasional scruple of conscience which disturbed it. Madame de Saint-
Simon all devoutly tried what she could to put a drag upon our tongues,
but the drag broke, so to speak, and we continued our free discourse,
humanly speaking very reasonable on our parts, but which we felt,
nevertheless, was not according to religion. Thus two hours passed,
seemingly very short. Madame d'Orleans went away, and I repaired with
Madame de Saint-Simon to receive a numerous company.

While thus all was tranquillity at Versailles, and even at Meudon,
everything had changed its aspect at the chateau. The King had seen
Monseigneur several times during the day; but in his after-dinner visit
he was so much struck with the extraordinary swelling of the face and of
the head, that he shortened his stay, and on leaving the chateau, shed
tears. He was reassured as much as possible, and after the council he
took a walk in the garden.

Nevertheless Monseigneur had already mistaken Madame la Princesse de
Conti for some one else; and Boudin, the doctor, was alarmed.
Monseigneur himself had been so from the first, and he admitted, that for
a long time before being attacked, he had been very unwell, and so much
on Good Friday, that he had been unable to read his prayer-book at

Towards four o'clock he grew worse, so much so that Boudin proposed to
Fagon to call in other doctors, more familiar with the disease than they
were. But Fagon flew into a rage at this, and would call in nobody. He
declared that it would be better to act for themselves, and to keep
Monseigneur's state secret, although it was hourly growing worse, and
towards seven o'clock was perceived by several valets and courtiers. But
nobody dared to open his mouth before Fagon, and the King was actually
allowed to go to supper and to finish it without interruption, believing
on the faith of Fagon that Monseigneur was going on well.

While the King supped thus tranquilly, all those who were in the sick-
chamber began to lose their wits. Fagon and the others poured down
physic on physic, without leaving time for any to work. The Cure, who
was accustomed to go and learn the news every evening, found, against all
custom, the doors thrown wide open, and the valets in confusion. He
entered the chamber, and perceiving what was the matter, ran to the
bedside, took the hand of Monseigneur, spoke to him of God, and seeing
him full of consciousness, but scarcely able to speak, drew from him a
sort of confession, of which nobody had hitherto thought, and suggested
some acts of contrition. The poor Prince repeated distinctly several
words suggested to him, and confusedly answered others, struck his
breast, squeezed the Cure's hand, appeared penetrated with the best
sentiments, and received with a contrite and willing air the absolution
of the Cure.

As the King rose from the supper-table, he well-nigh fell backward when
Fagon, coming forward, cried in great trouble that all was lost. It may
be imagined what terror seized all the company at this abrupt passage
from perfect security to hopeless despair. The King, scarcely master of
himself, at once began to go towards the apartment of Monseigneur, and
repelled very stiffly the indiscreet eagerness of some courtiers who
wished to prevent him, saying that he would see his son again, and be
quite certain that nothing could be done. As he was about to enter the
chamber, Madame la Princesse de Conti presented herself before him, and
prevented him from going in. She pushed him back with her hands, and
said that henceforth he had only to think of himself. Then the King,
nearly fainting from a shock so complete and so sudden, fell upon a sofa
that stood near. He asked unceasingly for news of all who passed, but
scarce anybody dared to reply to him. He had sent for here Tellier, who
went into Monseigneur's room; but it was no longer time. It is true the
Jesuit, perhaps to console the King, said that he gave him a well-founded
absolution. Madame de Maintenon hastened after the King, and sitting
down beside him on the same sofa, tried to cry. She endeavoured to lead
away the King into the carriage already waiting for him in the
courtyard, but he would not go, and sat thus outside the door until
Monseigneur had expired.

The agony, without consciousness, of Monseigneur lasted more than an hour
after the King had come into the cabinet. Madame la Duchesse and Madame
la Princesse de Conti divided their cares between the dying man and the
King, to whom they constantly came back; whilst the faculty confounded,
the valets bewildered, the courtiers hurrying and murmuring, hustled
against each other, and moved unceasingly to and fro, backwards and
forwards, in the same narrow space. At last the fatal moment arrived.
Fagon came out, and allowed so much to be understood.

The King, much afflicted, and very grieved that Monseigneur's confession
had been so tardily made, abused Fagon a little; and went away led by
Madame de Maintenon and the two Princesses. He was somewhat struck by
finding the vehicle of Monseigneur outside; and made a sign that he would
have another coach, for that one made him suffer, and left the chateau.
He was not, however, so much occupied with his grief that he could not
call Pontchartrain to arrange the hour of the council on the next day.
I will not comment on this coolness, and shall merely say it surprised
extremely all present; and that if Pontchartrain had not said the council
could be put off, no interruption to business would have taken place.
The King got into his coach with difficulty, supported on both sides.
Madame de Maintenon seated herself beside him. A crowd of officers of
Monseigneur lined both sides of the court on their knees, as he passed
out, crying to him with strange howlings to have compassion on them, for
they had lost all, and must die of hunger.


While Meudon was filled with horror, all was tranquil at Versailles,
without the least suspicion. We had supped. The company some time after
had retired, and I was talking with Madame de Saint-Simon, who had nearly
finished undressing herself to go to bed, when a servant of Madame la
Duchesse de Berry, who had formerly belonged to us, entered, all
terrified. He said that there must be some bad news from Meudon, since
Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne had just whispered in the ear of M. le
Duc de Berry, whose eyes had at once become red, that he left the table,
and that all the company shortly after him rose with precipitation. So
sudden a change rendered my surprise extreme. I ran in hot haste to
Madame la Duchesse de Berry's. Nobody was there. Everybody had gone to
Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne. I followed on with all speed.

I found all Versailles assembled on arriving, all the ladies hastily
dressed--the majority having been on the point of going to bed--all the
doors open, and all in trouble. I learnt that Monseigneur had received
the extreme unction, that he was without consciousness and beyond hope,
and that the King had sent word to Madame de Bourgogne that he was going
to Marly, and that she was to meet him as he passed through the avenue
between the two stables.

The spectacle before me attracted all the attention I could bestow. The
two Princes and the two Princesses were in the little cabinet behind the

The bed toilette was as usual in the chamber of the Duchesse de
Bourgogne, which was filled with all the Court in confusion. She came
and went from the cabinet to the chamber, waiting for the moment when she
was to meet the King; and her demeanour, always distinguished by the same
graces, was one of trouble and compassion, which the trouble and
compassion of others induced them to take for grief. Now and then, in
passing, she said a few rare words. All present were in truth expressive
personages. Whoever had eyes, without any knowledge of the Court, could
see the interests of all interested painted on their faces, and the
indifference of the indifferent; these tranquil, the former penetrated
with grief, or gravely attentive to themselves to, hide their
emancipation and their joy.

For my part, my first care was to inform myself thoroughly of the state
of affairs, fearing lest there might be too much alarm for too trifling a
cause; then, recovering myself, I reflected upon the misery common to all
men, and that I myself should find myself some day at the gates of death.
Joy, nevertheless, found its way through the momentary reflections of
religion and of humanity, by which I tried to master myself. My own
private deliverance seemed so great and so unhoped for, that it appeared
to me that the State must gain everything by such a loss. And with these
thoughts I felt, in spite of myself, a lingering fear lest the sick man
should recover, and was extremely ashamed of it.

Wrapped up thus in myself, I did not fail, nevertheless, to cast
clandestine looks upon each face, to see what was passing there. I saw
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans arrive, but her countenance, majestic and
constrained, said nothing. She went into the little cabinet, whence she
presently issued with the Duc d'Orleans, whose activity and turbulent air
marked his emotion at the spectacle more than any other sentiment. They
went away, and I notice this expressly, on account of what happened
afterwards in my presence.

Soon afterwards I caught a distant glimpse of the Duc de Bourgogne, who
seemed much moved and troubled; but the glance with which I probed him
rapidly, revealed nothing tender, and told merely of a mind profoundly
occupied with the bearings of what had taken place.

Valets and chamber-women were already indiscreetly crying out; and their
grief showed well that they were about to lose something!

Towards half-past twelve we had news of the King, and immediately after
Madame de Bourgogne came out of the little cabinet with the Duke, who
seemed more touched than when I first saw him. The Princess took her
scarf and her coifs from the toilette, standing with a deliberate air,
her eyes scarcely wet--a fact betrayed by inquisitive glances cast
rapidly to the right and left--and, followed only by her ladies, went to
her coach by the great staircase.

I took the opportunity to go to the Duchesse d'Orleans, where I found
many people. Their presence made me very impatient; the Duchess, who was
equally impatient, took a light and went in. I whispered in the ear of
the Duchesse de Villeroy, who thought as I thought of this event. She
nudged me, and said in a very low voice that I must contain myself.
I was smothered with silence, amidst the complaints and the narrative
surprises of these ladies; but at last M. le Duc d'Orleans appeared at
the door of his cabinet, and beckoned me to come to him.

I followed him into the cabinet, where we were alone. What was my
surprise, remembering the terms on which he was with Monseigneur, to see
the tears streaming from his eyes.

"Sir!" exclaimed I, rising: He understood me at once; and answered in a
broken voice, really crying: "You are right to be surprised--I am
surprised myself; but such a spectacle touches. He was a man with whom I
passed much of my life, and who treated me well when he was uninfluenced.
I feel very well that my grief won't last long; in a few days I shall
discover motives of joy; at present, blood, relationship, humanity,--all
work; and my entrails are moved." I praised his sentiments, but repeated
my surprise. He rose, thrust his head into a corner, and with his nose
there, wept bitterly and sobbed, which if I had not seen I could not have

After a little silence, however, I exhorted him to calm himself. I
represented to him that, everybody knowing on what terms he had been with
Monseigneur, he would be laughed at, as playing a part, if his eyes
showed that he had been weeping. He did what he could to remove the
marks of his tears, and we then went back into the other room.

The interview of the Duchesse de Bourgogne with the King had not been
long. She met him in the avenue between the two stables, got down, and
went to the door of the carriage. Madame de Maintenon cried out, "Where
are you going? We bear the plague about with us." I do not know what
the King said or did. The Princess returned to her carriage, and came
back to Versailles, bringing in reality the first news of the actual
death of Monseigneur.

Acting upon the advice of M. de Beauvilliers, all the company had gone
into the salon. The two Princes, Monseigneur de Bourgogne and M. de
Berry, were there, seated on one sofa, their Princesses at their sides;
all the rest of the company were scattered about in confusion, seated or
standing, some of the ladies being on the floor, near the sofa. There
could be no doubt of what had happened. It was plainly written on every
face in the chamber and throughout the apartment. Monseigneur was no
more: it was known: it was spoken of: constraint with respect to him no
longer existed. Amidst the surprise, the confusion, and the movements
that prevailed, the sentiments of all were painted to the life in looks
and gestures.

In the outside rooms were heard the constrained groans and sighs of the
valets--grieving for the master they had lost as well as for the master
that had succeeded. Farther on began the crowd of courtiers of all
kinds. The greater number--that is to say the fools--pumped up sighs as
well as they could, and with wandering but dry eyes, sung the praises of
Monseigneur--insisting especially on his goodness. They pitied the King
for the loss of so good a son. The keener began already to be uneasy
about the health of the King; and admired themselves for preserving so
much judgment amidst so much trouble, which could be perceived by the
frequency of their repetitions. Others, really afflicted--the
discomfited cabal--wept bitterly, and kept themselves under with an
effort as easy to notice as sobs. The most strong-minded or the wisest,
with eyes fixed on the ground, in corners, meditated on the consequences
of such an event--and especially on their own interests. Few words
passed in conversation--here and there an exclamation wrung from grief
was answered by some neighbouring grief--a word every quarter of an hour
--sombre and haggard eyes--movements quite involuntary of the hands--
immobility of all other parts of the body. Those who already looked upon
the event as favourable in vain exaggerated their gravity so as to make
it resemble chagrin and severity; the veil over their faces was
transparent and hid not a single feature. They remained as motionless as
those who grieved most, fearing opinion, curiosity, their own
satisfaction, their every movement; but their eyes made up for their
immobility. Indeed they could not refrain from repeatedly changing their
attitude like people ill at ease, sitting or standing, from avoiding each
other too carefully, even from allowing their eyes to meet--nor repress a
manifest air of liberty--nor conceal their increased liveliness--nor put
out a sort of brilliancy which distinguished them in spite of themselves.

The two Princes, and the two Princesses who sat by their sides, were more
exposed to view than any other. The Duc de Bourgogne wept with
tenderness, sincerity, and gentleness, the tears of nature, of religion,
and patience. M. le Duc de Berry also sincerely shed abundance of tears,
but bloody tears, so to speak, so great appeared their bitterness; and he
uttered not only sobs, but cries, nay, even yells. He was silent
sometimes, but from suffocation, and then would burst out again with such
a noise, such a trumpet sound of despair, that the majority present burst
out also at these dolorous repetitions, either impelled by affliction or
decorum. He became so bad, in fact, that his people were forced to
undress him then and there, put him to bed, and call in the doctor,
Madame la Duchesse de Berry was beside herself, and we shall soon see
why. The most bitter despair was painted with horror on her face. There
was seen written, as it were, a sort of furious grief, based on interest,
not affection; now and then came dry lulls deep and sullen, then a
torrent of tears and involuntary gestures, yet restrained, which showed
extreme bitterness of mind, fruit of the profound meditation that had
preceded. Often aroused by the cries of her husband, prompt to assist
him, to support him, to embrace him, to give her smelling-bottle, her
care for him was evident; but soon came another profound reverie--then a
gush of tears assisted to suppress her cries. As for Madame la Duchesse
de Bourgogne she consoled her husband with less trouble than she had to
appear herself in want of consolation. Without attempting to play a
part, it was evident that she did her best to acquit herself of a
pressing duty of decorum. But she found extreme difficulty in keeping up
appearances. When the Prince her brother-in-law howled, she blew her
nose. She had brought some tears along with her and kept them up with
care; and these, combined with the art of the handkerchief, enabled her
to redden her eyes, and make them swell, and smudge her face; but her
glances often wandered on the sly to the countenances of all present.

Madame arrived, in full dress she knew not why, and howling she knew not
why, inundated everybody with her tears in embracing them, making the
chateau echo with renewed cries, and furnished the odd spectacle of a
Princess putting on her robes of ceremony in the dead of night to come
and cry among a crowd of women with but little on except their night-
dresses,--almost as masqueraders.

In the gallery several ladies, Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, Madame de
Castries, and Madame de Saint-Simon among the rest, finding no one close
by, drew near each other by the side of a tent-bedstead, and began to
open their hearts to each other, which they did with the more freedom,
inasmuch as they had but one sentiment in common upon what had occurred.
In this gallery, and in the salon, there were always during the night
several beds, in which, for security's sake, certain Swiss guards and
servants slept. These beds had been put in their usual place this
evening before the bad news carne from Meudon. In the midst of the
conversation of the ladies, Madame de Castries touched the bed, felt
something move, and was much terrified. A moment after they saw a sturdy
arm, nearly naked, raise on a sudden the curtains, and thus show them a
great brawny Swiss under the sheets, half awake, and wholly amazed. The
fellow was a long time in making out his position, fixing his eyes upon
every face one after the other; but at last, not judging it advisable to
get up in the midst of such a grand company, he reburied himself in his
bed, and closed the curtains. Apparently the good man had gone to bed
before anything had transpired, and had slept so soundly ever since that
he had not been aroused until then. The saddest sights have often the
most ridiculous contrasts. This caused some of the ladies to laugh, and
Madame d'Orleans to fear lest the conversation should have been
overheard. But after reflection, the sleep and the stupidity of the
sleeper reassured her.

I had some doubts yet as to the event that had taken place; for I did not
like to abandon myself to belief, until the word was pronounced by some
one in whom I could have faith. By chance I met D'O, and I asked him.
He answered me clearly that Monseigneur was no more. Thus answered, I
tried not to be glad. I know not if I succeeded well, but at least it is
certain, that neither joy nor sorrow blunted my curiosity, and that while
taking due care to preserve all decorum, I did not consider myself in any
way forced to play the doleful. I no longer feared any fresh attack from
the citadel of Meudon, nor any cruel charges from its implacable
garrison. I felt, therefore, under no constraint, and followed every
face with my glances, and tried to scrutinise them unobserved.

It must be admitted, that for him who is well acquainted with the
privacies of a Court, the first sight of rare events of this nature, so
interesting in so many different respects, is extremely satisfactory.
Every countenance recalls the cares, the intrigues, the labours employed
in the advancement of fortunes--in the overthrow of rivals: the
relations, the coldness, the hatreds, the evil offices done, the baseness
of all; hope, despair, rage, satisfaction, express themselves in the
features. See how all eyes wander to and fro examining what passes
around--how some are astonished to find others more mean, or less mean
than was expected! Thus this spectacle produced a pleasure, which,
hollow as it may be, is one of the greatest a Court can bestow.

The turmoil in this vast apartment lasted about an hour, at the end of
which M. de Beauvilliers thought it was high time to deliver the Princes
of their company. The rooms were cleared. M. le Duc de Berry went away
to his rooms, partly supported by his wife. All through the night he
asked, amid tears and cries, for news from Meudon; he would not
understand the cause of the King's departure to Marly. When at length
the mournful curtain was drawn from before his eyes, the state he fell
into cannot be described. The night of Monseigneur and Madame de
Bourgogne was more tranquil. Some one having said to the Princess, that
having--no real cause to be affected, it would be terrible to play a
part, she replied, quite naturally, that without feigning, pity touched
her and decorum controlled her; and indeed she kept herself within these
bounds with truth and decency. Their chamber, in which they invited
several ladies to pass the night in armchairs, became immediately a
palace of Morpheus. All quietly fell asleep. The curtains were left
open, so that the Prince and Princess could be seen sleeping profoundly.
They woke up once or twice for a moment. In the morning the Duke and
Duchess rose early, their tears quite dried up. They shed no more for
this cause, except on special and rare occasions. The ladies who had
watched and slept in their chamber, told their friends how tranquil the
night had been. But nobody was surprised, and as there was no longer a
Monseigneur, nobody was scandalised. Madame de Saint-Simon and I
remained up two hours before going to bed, and then went there without
feeling any want of rest. In fact, I slept so little that at seven in
the morning I was up; but it must be admitted that such restlessness is
sweet, and such re-awakenings are savoury.

Horror reigned at Meudon. As soon as the King left, all the courtiers
left also, crowding into the first carriages that came. In an instant
Meudon was empty. Mademoiselle Choin remained alone in her garret, and
unaware of what had taken place. She learned it only by the cry raised.
Nobody thought of telling her. At last some friends went up to her,
hurried her into a hired coach, and took her to Paris. The dispersion
was general. One or two valets, at the most, remained near the body.
La Villiere, to his praise be it said, was the only courtier who, not
having abandoned Monseigneur during life, did not abandon him after his
death. He had some difficulty to find somebody to go in search of
Capuchins to pray over the corpse. The decomposition became so rapid and
so great, that the opening of the windows was not enough; the Capuchins,
La Vrilliere, and the valets, were compelled to pass the night outside.

At Marly everybody had felt so confident that the King's return there was
not dreamt of. Nothing was ready, no keys of the rooms, no fires,
scarcely an end of candle. The King was more than an hour thus with
Madame de Maintenon and other ladies in one of the ante-chambers. The
King retired into a corner, seated between Madame de Maintenon and two
other ladies, and wept at long intervals. At last the chamber of Madame
de Maintenon was ready. The King entered, remained there an hour, and
then 'went to bed at nearly four o'clock in the morning.

Monseigneur was rather tall than short; very fat, but without being
bloated; with a very lofty and noble aspect without any harshness; and he
would have had a very agreeable face if M. le Prince de Conti had not
unfortunately broken his nose in playing while they were both young. He
was of a very beautiful fair complexion; he had a face everywhere covered
with a healthy red, but without expression; the most beautiful legs in
the world; his feet singularly small and delicate. He wavered always in
walking, and felt his way with his feet; he was always afraid of falling,
and if the path was not perfectly even and straight, he called for
assistance. He was a good horseman, and looked well when mounted; but he
was not a bold rider. When hunting--they had persuaded him that he liked
this amusement--a servant rode before him; if he lost sight of this
servant he gave himself up for lost, slicked his pace to a gentle trot,
and oftentimes waited under a tree for the hunting party, and returned to
it slowly. He was very fond of the table, but always without indecency.
Ever since that great attack of indigestion, which was taken at first for
apoplexy, he made but one real meal a day, and was content,--although a
great eater, like the rest of the royal family. Nearly all his portraits
well resemble him.

As for his character he had none; he was without enlightenment or
knowledge of any kind, radically incapable of acquiring any; very idle,
without imagination or productiveness; without taste, without choice,
without discernment; neither seeing the weariness he caused others, nor
that he was as a ball moving at hap-hazard by the impulsion of others;
obstinate and little to excess in everything; amazingly credulous and
accessible to prejudice, keeping himself, always, in the most pernicious
hands, yet incapable of seeing his position or of changing it; absorbed
in his fat and his ignorance; so that without any desire to do ill he
would have made a pernicious King.

His avariciousness, except in certain things, passed all belief. He kept
an account of his personal expenditure, and knew to a penny what his
smallest and his largest expenses amounted to. He spent large sums in
building, in furniture, in jewels, and in hunting, which he made himself
believe he was fond of.

It is inconceivable the little he gave to La Choin, whom he so much
loved. It never exceeded four hundred Louis a quarter in gold, or
sixteen hundred Louis a year, whatever the Louis might be worth. He gave
them to her with his own hand, without adding or subtracting a pistole,
and, at the most, made her but one present a year, and that he looked at
twice before giving. It was said that they were married, and certain
circumstances seemed to justify this rumour. As for instance, during the
illness of Monseigneur, the King, as I have said, asked Madame de
Maintenon if she had seen Mademoiselle Choin, and upon receiving negative
reply, was displeased. Instead of driving her away from the chateau he
inquired particularly after her! This, to say the least, looked as
though Mademoiselle Choin was Monseigneur's Maintenon--but the matter
remained incomprehensible to the last. Mademoiselle Choin threw no light
upon it, although she spoke on many other things concerning Monseigneur.
In the modest home at Paris, to which she had retired for the rest of her
days. The King gave her a pension of twelve thousand livres.

Monseigneur was, I have said, ignorant to the last degree, and had a
thorough aversion for learning; so that, according to his own admission,
ever since he had been released from the hands of teachers he had never
read anything except the article in the "Gazette de France," in which
deaths and marriages are recorded. His timidity, especially before the
King, was equal to his ignorance, which indeed contributed not a little
to cause it. The King took advantage of it, and never treated him as a
son, but as a subject. He was the monarch always, never the father.
Monseigneur had not the slightest influence with the King. If he showed
any preference for a person it was enough! That person was sure to be
kept back by the King. The King was so anxious to show that Monseigneur
could do nothing, that Monseigneur after a time did not even try. He
contented himself by complaining occasionally in monosyllables, and by
hoping for better times.

The body of Monseigneur so soon grew decomposed; that immediate burial
was necessary. At midnight on Wednesday he was carried, with but little
ceremony, to Saint-Denis, and deposited in the royal vaults. His funeral
services were said at Saint-Denis on the 18th of the following June, and
at Notre Dame on the 3rd of July. As the procession passed through Paris
nothing but cries, acclamations, and eulogiums of the defunct were heard.
Monseigneur had, I know not how, much endeared himself to the common
people of Paris, and this sentiment soon gained the provinces; so true it
is, that in France it costs little to its Princes to make themselves
almost adored!

The King soon got over his affliction for the loss of this son of fifty.
Never was a man so ready with tears, so backward with grief, or so
promptly restored to his ordinary state. The morning after the death of
Monseigneur he rose late, called M. de Beauvilliers into his cabinet,
shed some more tears, and then said that from that time Monseigneur le
Duc de Bourgogne and Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne were to enjoy the
honours, the rank, and the name of Dauphin and of Dauphine. Henceforth I
shall call them by no other names.

My joy at this change may be imagined. In a few days all my causes of
disquietude had been removed, and I saw a future opening before me full
of light and promise. Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne become Dauphin,
heir to the throne of France; what favour might I not hope for? I could
not conceal or control my satisfaction.

But alas! it was soon followed by sad disappointment and grievous


The death of Monseigneur, as we have seen, made a great change in the
aspect of the Court and in the relative positions of its members. But
the two persons to whom I must chiefly direct attention are the Duchesse
de Bourgogne and the Duchesse de Berry. The former, on account of her
husband's fall in the opinion of his father, had long been out of favour
likewise. Although Monseigneur had begun to treat her less well for a
long time, and most harshly during the campaign of Lille, and above all
after the expulsion of the Duc de Vendome from Marly and Meudon; yet
after the marriage of the Duc de Berry his coldness had still further
increased. The adroit Princess, it is true, had rowed against the current
with a steadiness and grace capable of disarming even a well-founded
resentment; but the persons who surrounded him looked upon the meeting of
them as dangerous for their projects. The Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne
were every day still further removed in comparative disgrace.

Things even went so far that apropos of an engagement broken off, the
Duchesse resolved to exert her power instead of her persuasion, and
threatened the two Lillebonnes. A sort of reconciliation was then
patched up, but it was neither sincere nor apparently so.

The cabal which laboured to destroy the Duc and Duchesse de Bourgogne was
equally assiduous in augmenting the influence of the Duc de Berry, whose
wife had at once been admitted without having asked into the sanctuary of
the Parvulo. The object was to disunite the two brothers and excite
jealousy between then. In this they did not succeed even in the
slightest degree. But they found a formidable ally in the Duchesse de
Berry, who proved as full of wickedness and ambition as any among them.
The Duc d'Orleans often called his Duchess Madame Lucifer, at which she
used to smile with complacency. He was right, for she would have been a
prodigy of pride had she not, had a daughter who far surpassed her. This
is not yet the time to paint their portraits; but I must give a word or
two of explanation on the Duchesse de Berry.

That princess was a marvel of wit, of pride, of ingratitude and folly--
nay, of debauchery and obstinacy.

Scarcely had she been married a week when she began to exhibit herself in
all these lights,--not too manifestly it is true, for one of the
qualities of which she was most vain was her falsity and power of
concealment, but sufficiently to make an impression on those around her.
People soon perceived how annoyed she was to be the daughter of an
illegitimate mother, and to have lived under her restraint however mild;
how she despised the weakness of her father, the Duc d'Orleans, and how
confident she was of her influence over him; and how she had hated all
who had interfered in her marriage--merely because she could not bear to
be under obligations to any one--a reason she was absurd enough publicly
to avow and boast of. Her conduct was now based on those motives. This
is an example of how in this world people work with their heads in a
sack, and how human prudence and wisdom are sometimes confounded by
successes which have been reasonably desired and which turn out to be
detestable! We had brought about this marriage to avoid a marriage with
Mademoiselle de Bourbon and to cement the union of the two brothers. We
now discovered that there was little danger of Mademoiselle de Bourbon,
and then instead of her we had a Fury who had no thought but how to ruin
those who had established her, to injure her benefactors, to make her
husband and her brother quarrel; and to put herself in the power of her
enemies because they were the enemies of her natural friends. It never
occurred to her that the cabal would not be likely to abandon to her the
fruit of so much labour and so many crimes.

It may easily be imagined that she was neither gentle nor docile when
Madame la Duchesse began to give her advice. Certain that her father
would support her, she played the stranger and the daughter of France
with her mother. Estrangement, however, soon came on. She behaved
differently in form, but in effect the same with the Duchesse de
Bourgogne, who wished to guide her as a daughter, but who soon gave up
the attempt. The Duchesse de Berry's object could only be gained by
bringing about disunion between the two brothers, and for this purpose
she employed as a spring the passion of her husband for herself.

The first night at Versailles after the death of Monseigneur was
sleepless. The Dauphin and Dauphine heard mass early next morning.
I went to see them. Few persons were present on account of the hour.
The Princess wished to be at Marly at the King's waking. Their eyes were
wonderfully dry, but carefully managed; and it was easy to see they were
more occupied with their new position than with the death of Monseigneur.
A smile which they exchanged as they spoke, in whispers convinced me of
this. One of their first cares was to endeavour to increase their good
relations with the Duc and Duchesse de Berry. They were to see them
before they were up. The Duc de Berry showed himself very sensible to
this act, and the Duchess was eloquent, clever, and full of tears. But
her heart was wrung by these advances of pure generosity. The separation
she had planned soon followed: and the two princesses felt relieved at no
longer being obliged to dine together.

Thus never was change greater or more marked than that brought about by
the death of Monseigneur. That prince had become the centre of all hope
and of all fear, a formidable cabal had seized upon him, yet without
awakening the jealousy of the King, before whom all trembled, but whose
anxieties did not extend beyond his own lifetime, during which, and very
reasonably, he feared nothing.

Before I go any further, let me note a circumstance characteristic of the
King. Madame la Dauphine went every day to Marly to see him. On the day
after the death of Monseigneur she received, not without surprise, easily
understood, a hint from Madame de Maintenon. It was to the effect that
she should dress herself with some little care, inasmuch as the
negligence of her attire displeased the King! The Princess did not think
that dress ought to occupy her then; and even if she had thought so, she
would have believed, and with good reason, that she was committing a
grave fault against decorum, a fault which would have been less readily
pardoned, since in every way she had gained too much by what had just
occurred not to be very guarded in her behaviour. On the next day she
took more pains with her toilette; but what she did not being found
sufficient, the day following she carried with her some things and
dressed herself secretly in Madame de Maintenon's rooms; and resumed
there her ordinary apparel before returning to Versailles. Thus she
avoided offence both to the King and to society. The latter certainly
would with difficulty have been persuaded that in this ill-timed
adornment of her person, her own tastes went for nothing. The Comtesse
de Mailly, who invented the scheme, and Madame de Nogaret, who both liked
Monseigneur, related this to me and were piqued by it. From this fact
and from the circumstance that all the ordinary pleasures and occupations
were resumed immediately after the death of Monseigneur, the King passing
his days without any constraint,--it may be assumed that if the royal
grief was bitter its evidences were of a kind to promise that it would
not be of long duration.

M. le Dauphin, for, as I have said, it is by that title I shall now name
Monseigneur le Duc de Bourgogne--M. le Dauphin, I say, soon gained all
hearts. In the first days of solitude following upon the death of
Monseigneur, the King intimated to M. de Beauvilliers that he should not
care to see the new Dauphin go very often to Meudon. This was enough.
M. le Dauphin at once declared that he would never set his foot in that
palace, and that he would never quit the King. He was as good as his
word, and not one single visit did he ever afterwards pay to Meudon. The
King wished to give him fifty thousand livres a month, Monseigneur having
had that sum. M. le Dauphin would not accept them. He had only six
thousand livres per month. He was satisfied with double that amount and
would not receive more. This disinterestedness much pleased the public.
M. le Dauphin wished for nothing special on his account, and persisted in
remaining in nearly everything as he was during the life of Monseigneur.
These auguries of a prudent and measured reign, suggested the brightest
of hopes.

Aided by his adroit spouse, who already had full possession of the King's
heart and of that of Madame de Maintenon, M. le Dauphin redoubled his
attentions in order to possess them also. These attentions, addressed to
Madame de Maintenon, produced their fruit. She was transported with
pleasure at finding a Dauphin upon whom she could rely, instead of one
whom she did not like, gave herself up to him accordingly, and by that
means secured to him the King's favour. The first fortnight made evident
to everybody at Marly the extraordinary change that had come over the
King with respect to the Dauphin. His Majesty, generally severe beyond
measure with his legitimate children, showed the most marked graciousness
for this prince. The effects of this, and of the change that had taken
place in his state, were soon most clearly visible in the Dauphin.
Instead of being timid and retiring, diffident in speech, and more fond
of his study than of the salon, he became on a sudden easy and frank,
showing himself in public on all occasions, conversing right and left in
a gay, agreeable, and dignified manner; presiding, in fact, over the
Salon of Marly, and over the groups gathered round him, like the divinity
of a temple, who receives with goodness the homage to which he is
accustomed, and recompenses the mortals who offer it with gentle regard.

In a short time hunting became a less usual topic of conversation.
History, and even science, were touched upon lightly, pleasantly, and
discreetly, in a manner that charmed while it instructed. The Dauphin
spoke with an eloquent freedom that opened all eyes, ears and hearts.
People sometimes, in gathering near him, were less anxious to make their
court than to listen to his natural eloquence, and to draw from it
delicious instruction. It is astonishing with what rapidity he gained
universal esteem and admiration. The public joy could not keep silent.
People asked each other if this was really the same man they had known as
the Duc de Bourgogne, whether he was a vision or a reality? One of M. le
Dauphin's friends, to whom this question was addressed, gave a keen
reply. He answered, that the cause of all this surprise was, that
previously the people did not, and would not, know this prince, who,
nevertheless, to those who had known him, was the same now as he had ever
been; and that this justice would be rendered to him when time had shown
how much it was deserved.

From the Court to Paris, and from Paris to the provinces, the reputation
of the Dauphin flew on rapid wings. However founded might be this
prodigious success, we need not believe it was entirely due to the
marvellous qualities of the young prince. It was in a great measure a
reaction against the hostile feeling towards him which had been excited
by the cabal, whose efforts I have previously spoken of. Now that people
saw how unjust was this feeling, their astonishment added to their
admiration. Everybody was filled with a sentiment of joy at seeing the
first dawn of a new state of things, which promised so much order and
happiness after such a long confusion and so much obscurity.

Gracious as the King showed himself to M. le Dauphin, and accustomed as
the people grew to his graciousness, all the Court was strangely
surprised at a fresh mark of favour that was bestowed one morning by his
Majesty on this virtuous prince. The King, after having been closeted
alone with him for some time, ordered his ministers to work with the
Dauphin whenever sent for, and, whether sent for or not, to make him
acquainted with all public affairs; this command being given once for

It is not easy to describe the prodigious movement caused at the Court by
this order, so directly opposed to the tastes, to the disposition, to the
maxims, to the usage of the King, who thus showed a confidence in the
Dauphin which was nothing less than tacitly transferring to him a large
part of the disposition of public affairs. This was a thunderbolt for
the ministers; who, accustomed to have almost everything their own way,
to rule over everybody and browbeat everybody at will, to govern the
state abroad and at home, in fact, fixing all punishments, all
recompenses, and always sheltering themselves behind the royal authority
"the King wills it so" being the phrase ever on their lips,--to these
officers, I say, it was a thunderbolt which so bewildered them, that they
could not hide their astonishment or their confusion. The public joy at
an order which reduced these ministers, or rather these kings, to the
condition of subjects, which put a curb upon their power, and provided
against the abuses they committed, was great indeed! The ministers were
compelled to bend their necks, though stiff as iron, to the yoke. They
all went, with a hang-dog look, to show the Dauphin a feigned joy and a
forced obedience to the order they had received.

Here, perhaps, I may as well speak of the situation in which I soon
afterwards found myself with the Dauphin, the confidence as to the
present and the future that I enjoyed with him, and the many
deliberations we had upon public affairs. The matter is curious and
interesting, and need no longer be deferred.

The Court being changed by the death of Monseigneur, I soon began indeed
to think of changing my conduct with regard to the new Dauphin. M. de
Beauvilliers spoke to me about this matter first, but he judged, and I
shared his opinion, that slandered as I had been on previous occasions,
and remaining still, as it were, half in disgrace, I must approach the
Dauphin only by slow degrees, and not endeavour to shelter myself under
him until his authority with the King had become strong enough to afford
me a safe asylum. I believed, nevertheless, that it would be well to
sound him immediately; and one evening, when he was but thinly
accompanied, I joined him in the gardens at Marly and profited by his
gracious welcome to say to him, on the sly, that many reasons, of which
he was not ignorant, had necessarily kept me until then removed from him,
but that now I hoped to be able to follow with less constraint my
attachment and my inclination, and that I flattered myself this would be
agreeable to him. He replied in a low tone, that there were sometimes
reasons which fettered people, but in our case such no longer existed;
that he knew of my regard for him, and reckoned with pleasure that we
should soon see each other more frequently than before. I am writing the
exact words of his reply, on account of the singular politeness of the
concluding ones. I regarded that reply as the successful result of a
bait that had been taken as I wished. Little by little I became more
assiduous at his promenades, but without following them when the crowd or
any dangerous people do so; and I spoke more freely. I remained content
with seeing the Dauphin in public, and I approached him in the Salon only
when if I saw a good opportunity.

Some days after, being in the Salon, I saw the Dauphin and the Dauphine
enter together and converse. I approached and heard their last words;
they stimulated me to ask the prince what was in debate, not in a
straightforward manner, but in a sort of respectful insinuating way which
I already adopted. He explained to me that he was going to Saint-Germain
to pay an ordinary visit; that on this occasion there would be some
change in the ceremonial; explained the matter, and enlarged with
eagerness on the necessity of not abandoning legitimate rights.

"How glad I am to see you think thus," I replied, "and how well you act
in advocating these forms, the neglect of which tarnishes everything."

He responded with warmth; and I seized the moment to say, that if he,
whose rank was so great and so derided, was right to pay attention to
these things, how such we dukes had reason to complain of our losses, and
to try to sustain ourselves! Thereupon he entered into the question so
far as to become the advocate of our cause, and finished by saying that
he regarded our restoration as an act of justice important to the state;
that he knew I was well instructed in these things, and that I should
give him pleasure by talking of them some day. He rejoined at that,
moment the Dauphine, and they set off for Saint-Germain.

A few days after this the Dauphin sent for me. I entered by the
wardrobe, where a sure and trusty valet was in waiting; he conducted me
to a cabinet in which the Dauphin was sitting alone. Our conversation at
once commenced. For a full hour we talked upon the state of affairs, the
Dauphin listening with much attention to all I said, and expressing
himself with infinite modesty, sense, and judgment. His view, I found,
were almost entirely in harmony with mine. He was sorry, and touchingly
said so, for the ignorance of all things in which the King was kept by
his ministers; he was anxious to see the power of those ministers
restricted; he looked with dislike upon the incredible elevation of the
illegitimate children; he wished to see the order to which I belonged
restored to the position it deserved to occupy.

It is difficult to express what I felt in quitting the Dauphin. A
magnificent and near future opened out before me. I saw a prince, pious,
just, debonnaire, enlightened, and seeking to become more so; with
principles completely in accord with my own, and capacity to carry out
those principles when the time for doing so arrived. I relished
deliciously a confident so precious and so full upon the most momentous
matters and at a first interview. I felt all the sweetness of this
perspective, and of my deliverance from a servitude which, in spite of
myself, I sometimes could not help showing myself impatient of. I felt,
too, that I now had an opportunity of elevating myself, and of
contributing to those grand works, for the happiness and advantage of the
state I so much wished to see accomplished.

A few days after this I had another interview with the Dauphin. I was
introduced secretly as before, so that no one perceived either my coming
or my departure. The same subjects we had previously touched upon we now
entered into again, and more amply than on the former occasion. The
Dauphin, in taking leave of me, gave me full permission to see him in
private as often as I desired, though in public I was still to be

Indeed there was need of great circumspection in carrying on even private
intercourse with the Dauphin. From this time I continually saw him in
his cabinet, talking with him in all liberty upon the various persons of
the Court, and upon the various subjects relating to the state; but
always with the same secrecy as at first. This was absolutely necessary;
as I have just said, I was still in a sort of half disgrace the King did
not regard me with the eyes of favour; Madame de Maintenon was resolutely
averse to me. If they two had suspected my strict intimacy with the heir
to the throne, I should have been assuredly lost.

To show what need there was of precaution in my private interviews with
the Dauphin, let me here recall an incident which one day occurred when
we were closeted together, and which might have led to the greatest
results. The Prince lodged then in one of the four grand suites of
apartments, on the same level as the Salon, the suite that was broken up
during an illness of Madame la Princesse de Conti, to make way for a
grand stair case, the narrow and crooked one in use annoying the King
when he ascended it. The chamber of the Dauphine was there; the bed had
its foot towards the window; by the chimney was the door of the obscure
wardrobe by which I entered; between the chimney and one of the two
windows was a little portable bureau; in front of the ordinary entrance
door of the chamber and behind the bureau was the door of one of the
Dauphine's rooms; between the two windows was a chest of drawers which
was used for papers only.

There were always some moments of conversation before the Dauphin set
himself down at his bureau, and ordered me to place myself opposite him.
Having become more free with him, I took the liberty to say one day in
these first moments of our discourse, that he would do well to bolt the
door behind him, the door I mean of the Dauphine's chamber. He said that
the Dauphine would not come, it not being her hour. I replied that I did
not fear that princess herself, but the crowd that always accompanied
her. He was obstinate, and would not bolt the door. I did not dare to
press him more. He sat down before his bureau, and ordered me to sit
also. Our deliberation was long; afterwards we sorted our papers. Here
let me say this--Every time I went to see the Dauphin I garnished all my
pockets with papers, and I often smiled within myself passing through the
Salon, at seeing there many people who at that moment were in my pockets,
and who were far indeed from suspecting the important discussion that was
going to take place. To return: the Dauphin gave, me his papers to put
in my pockets, and kept mine. He locked up some in his cupboard, and
instead of locking up the others in his bureau, kept them out, and began
talking to me, his back to the chimney, his papers in one hand, his keys
in the other. I was standing at the bureau looking for some other
papers, when on a sudden the door in front of me opened, and the Dauphine

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