Part 31 out of 62
The first appearance of all three--for, thank God! she was alone--the
astonishment, the countenance of all have never left my memory. Our
fixed eyes, our statue-like immobility, and our embarrassment were all
alike, and lasted longer than a slow Pater-poster. The Princess spoke
first. She said to the Prince in a very ill-assured voice, that she had
not imagined him in such good company; smiling upon him and upon me. I
had scarce time to smile also and to lower my eyes, before the Dauphin
"Since you find me so," said he, smiling in turn, "leave me so."
For an instant she looked on him, he and she both smiling at each other
more; then she looked on me, still smiling with greater liberty than at
first, made a pirouette, went away and closed the door, beyond the
threshold of which she had not come.
Never have I seen woman so astonished; never man so taken aback, as the
Prince after the Dauphine's departure; and never man, to say truth, was
so afraid as I was at first, though I quickly reassured myself when I
found that our intruder was alone. As soon as she had closed the door,
"Well, Monsieur," said I to the Dauphin, "if you had drawn the bolt?"
"You were right," he replied, "and I was wrong. But no harm is done.
She was alone fortunately, and I guarantee to you her secrecy."
"I am not troubled," said I to him, (yet I was so mightily) "but it is a
miracle she was alone. With her suite you would have escaped with a
scolding perhaps but for me, I should have been utterly lost."
He admitted again he had, been wrong, and assure me more and more that
our secret was safe. The Dauphine had caught us, not only tete-a-tete--
of which no one had the least suspicion--she had caught us in the fact,
so to say, our crimes in out hands. I felt that she would not expose the
Dauphin, but I feared an after-revelation through some over-easy
confidant. Nevertheless our secret was so well kept if confided that it
never transpired. We finished, I to pocket, the Prince to lock up, the
papers. The rest of the conversation was short, and I withdrew by the
wardrobe as usual. M. de Beauvilliers, to whom I related this adventure
shortly afterwards, grew pale at first, but recovered when I said the
Dauphine was alone. He blamed the imprudence of the Dauphin, but assured
me my secret was safe. Ever since that adventure the Dauphine often
smiled upon me when we met, as if to remind me of it, and showed marked
attention to me.
No sooner did I feel myself pretty firmly established on this footing of
delicious intimacy with the Dauphin than I conceived the desire to unite
him with M. le Duc d'Orleans through the means of M. de Beauvilliers. At
the very outset, however, an obstacle arose in my path.
I have already said, that the friendship of M. d'Orleans for his
daughter, Madame la Duchesse de Berry, had given employment to the
tongues of Satan, set in Motion by hatred and jealousy. Evil reports
even reached M. le Duc de Berry, who on his part, wishing to enjoy the
society of his wife in full liberty, was importuned by the continual
presence near her, of her father. To ward off a quarrel between son-in-
law and father-in-law, based upon so false and so odious a foundation,
appeared to Madame de Saint-Simon and myself a pressing duty.
I had already tried to divert M. le Duc d'Orleans from an assiduity which
wearied M. le Duc de Berry; but I had not succeeded. I believed it my
duty then to return to the charge more hotly; and remembering my previous
ill-success, I prefaced properly, and then said what I had to say. M.
d'Orleans was astonished; he cried out against the horror of such a vile
imputation and the villainy that had carried it to M. le Duc de Berry.
He thanked me for having warned him of it, a service few besides myself
would have rendered him. I left him to draw the proper and natural
conclusion on the conduct he should pursue. This conversation passed one
day at Versailles about four o'clock in the afternoon.
On the morrow Madame de Saint-Simon related to me, that returning home
the previous evening, from the supper and the cabinet of the King with
Madame la Duchesse de Berry, the Duchess had passed straight into the
wardrobe and called her there; and then with a cold and angry air, said
she was very much astonished that I wished to get up a quarrel between
her and M. le Duc d'Orleans. Madame Saint-Simon exhibited surprise, but
Madame la Duchesse de Berry declared that nothing was so true; that I
wished to estrange M. d'Orleans from her, but that I should not succeed;
and immediately related all that I had just said to her father. He had
had the goodness to repeat it to her an hour afterwards! Madame de
Saint-Simon, still more surprised, listened attentively to the end, and
replied that this horrible report was public, that she herself could see
what consequences it would have, false and abominable as it might be, and
feel whether it was not important that M. le Duc d'Orleans should be
informed of it. She added, that I had shown such proofs of my attachment
for them and of my desire for their happiness, that I was above all
suspicion. Then she curtsied and leaving the Princess went to bed. This
scene appeared to me enormous.
For some time after this I ceased entirely to see Duc d'Orleans and
Madame la Duchesse de Berry. They cajoled me with all sorts of excuses,
apologies, and so forth, but I remained frozen. They redoubled their
excuses and their prayers. Friendship, I dare not say compassion,
seduced me, and I allowed myself to be led away. In a word, we were
reconciled. I kept aloof, however, from Madame la Duchesse de Berry as
much as possible, visiting her only for form's sake; and as long as she
lived never changed in this respect.
Being reconciled with M. d'Orleans, I again thought of my project of
uniting him to the Dauphin through M. de Beauvilliers. He had need of
some support, for on all sides he was sadly out of favour. His
debauchery and his impiety, which he had quitted for a time after
separating himself from Madame d'Argenton, his mistress, had now seized
on him again as firmly as ever. It seemed as though there were a wager
between him and his daughter, Madame la Duchesse de Berry, which should
cast most contempt on religion and good manners.
The King was nothing ignorant of the conduct of his nephew. He had been
much shocked with the return to debauchery and low company. The enemies
of M. d'Orleans, foremost among whom was M. du Maine, had therefore
everything in their favour. As I have said, without some support M.
d'Orleans seemed in danger of being utterly lost.
It was no easy matter to persuade M. de Beauvilliers to, fall in with the
plan I had concocted, and lend his aid to it. But I worked him hard. I
dwelt upon the taste of the Dauphin for history, science, and the arts,
and showed what a ripe knowledge of those subjects M. d'Orleans had, and
what agreeable conversation thereon they both might enjoy together. In
brief I won over M. de Beauvilliers to my scheme. M. D'Orleans, on his
side, saw without difficulty the advantage to him of union with the
Dauphin. To bring it about I laid before him two conditions. One, that
when in the presence of the Prince he should suppress that detestable
heroism of impiety he affected more than he felt, and allow no licentious
expressions to escape him. The second was to go less often into evil
company at Paris, and if he must continue his debauchery, to do so at the
least within closed doors, and avoid all public scandal. He promised
obedience, and was faithful to his promise. The Dauphin perceived and
approved the change; little by little the object of my desire was gained.
As I have already said, it would be impossible for me to express all the
joy I felt at my deliverance from the dangers I was threatened with
during the lifetime of Monseigneur. My respect, esteem, and admiration
for the Dauphin grew more and more day by day, as I saw his noble
qualities blossom out in richer luxuriance. My hopes, too, took a
brighter colour from the rising dawn of prosperity that was breaking
around me. Alas! that I should be compelled to relate the cruel manner
in which envious fortune took from me the cup of gladness just as I was
raising it to my lips.
On Monday, the 18th of January, 1712, after a visit to Versailles, the
King went to Marly. I mark expressly this journey. No sooner were we
settled there than Boudin, chief doctor of the Dauphine, warned her to
take care of herself, as he had received sure information that there was
a plot to poison her and the Dauphin, to whom he made a similar
communication. Not content with this he repeated it with a terrified
manner to everybody in the salon, and frightened all who listened to him.
The King spoke to him about it in private. Boudin declared that this
information was good, and yet that he did not know whence it came; and he
stuck to this contradiction. For, if he did not know where the
information came from how could he be assured it was trustworthy?
The most singular thing is, that twenty-four hours after Boudin had
uttered this warning, the Dauphin received a similar one from the King of
Spain, vague, and without mentioning whence obtained, and yet also
declared to be of good source. In this only the Dauphin was named
distinctly--the Dauphine obscurely and by implication--at least, so the
Dauphin explained the matter, and I never heard that he said otherwise.
People pretended to despise these stories of origin unknown, but they
were struck by them nevertheless, and in the midst of the amusements and
occupations of the Court, seriousness, silence, and consternation were
The King, as I have said, went to Marly on Monday, the 18th of January,
1712. The Dauphine came there early with a face very much swelled, and
went to bed at once; yet she rose at seven o'clock in the evening because
the King wished her to preside in the salon. She played there, in
morning-dress, with her head wrapped up, visited the King m the apartment
of Madame de Maintenon just before his supper, and then again went to
bed, where she supped. On the morrow, the 19th, she rose only to play in
the salon, and see the King, returning to her bed and supping there. On
the 20th, her swelling diminished, and she was better. She was subject
to this complaint, which was caused by her teeth. She passed the
following days as usual. On Monday, the 1st of February, the Court
returned to Versailles.
On Friday, the 5th of February, the Duc de Noailles gave a very fine box
full of excellent Spanish snuff to the Dauphine, who took some, and liked
it. This was towards the end of the morning. Upon entering her cabinet
(closed to everybody else), she put this box upon the table, and left it
there. Towards the evening she was seized with trembling fits of fever.
She went to bed, and could not rise again even to go to the King's
cabinet after the supper. On Saturday, the 6th of February, the
Dauphine, who had had fever all night, did not fail to rise at her
ordinary hour, and to pass the day as usual; but in the evening the fever
returned. She was but middling all that night, a little worse the next
day; but towards ten o'clock at night she was suddenly seized by a sharp
pain under the temple. It did not extend to the dimensions of a ten sous
piece, but was so violent that she begged the King, who was coming to see
her, not to enter. This kind of madness of suffering lasted without
intermission until Monday, the 8th, and was proof against tobacco chewed
and smoked, a quantity of opium, and two bleedings in the arms. Fever
showed itself more then this pain was a little calmed; the Dauphine said
she had suffered more than in child-birth.
Such a violent illness filled the chamber with rumours concerning the
snuff-box given to the Dauphine by the Duc de Noailles. In going to bed
the day she had received it and was seized by fever, she spoke of the
snuff to her ladies, highly praising it and the box, which she told one
of them to go and look for upon the table in the cabinet, where, as I
have said, it had been left. The box could not be found, although looked
for high and low. This disappearance had seemed very extraordinary from
the first moment it became known. Now, joined to the grave illness with
which the Dauphine was so cruelly assailed, it aroused the most sombre
suspicions. Nothing, however, was breathed of these suspicions, beyond a
very restricted circle; for the Princess took snuff with the knowledge of
Madame de Maintenon, but without that of the King, who would have made a
fine scene if he had discovered it. This was what was feared, if the
singular loss of the box became divulged.
Let me here say, that although one of my friends, the Archbishop of
Rheims, believed to his dying day that the Duc de Noailles had poisoned
the Dauphine by means of this box of Spanish snuff, I never could induce
myself to believe so too. The Archbishop declared that in the manner of
the Duc de Noailles, after quitting the chamber of the Princess, there
was something which suggested both confusion and contentment. He brought
forward other proofs of guilt, but they made no impression upon me. I
endeavoured, on the contrary, to shake his belief, but my labour was in
vain. I entreated him, however, at least to maintain the most profound
silence upon this horrible thought, and he did so.
Those who afterwards knew the history of the box--and they were in good
number--were as inaccessible to suspicion as I; and nobody thought of
charging the Duc de Noailles with the offence it was said he had
committed. As for me, I believed in his guilt so little that our
intimacy remained the same; and although that intimacy grew even up to
the death of the King, we never spoke of this fatal snuff-box.
During the night, from Monday to Tuesday, the 9th of February, the
lethargy was great. During the day the King approached the bed many
times: the fever was strong, the awakenings were short; the head was
confused, and some marks upon the skin gave tokens of measles, because
they extended quickly, and because many people at Versailles and at Paris
were known to be, at this time, attacked with that disease. The night
from Tuesday to Wednesday passed so much the more badly, because the hope
of measles had already vanished. The King came in the morning to see
Madame la Dauphine, to whom an emetic had been given. It operated well,
but produced no relief. The Dauphin, who scarcely ever left the bedside
of his wife, was forced into the garden to take the air, of which he had
much need; but his disquiet led him back immediately into the chamber.
The malady increased towards the evening, and at eleven o'clock there was
a considerable augmentation of fever. The night was very bad.
On Thursday, the 11th of February, at nine o'clock in the morning, the
King entered the Dauphine's chamber, which Madame de Maintenon scarcely
ever left, except when he was in her apartments. The Princess was so ill
that it was resolved to speak to her of receiving the sacrament.
Prostrated though she was she was surprised at this. She put some
questions as to her state; replies as little terrifying as possible were
given to her, and little by little she was warned against delay.
Grateful for this advice, she said she would prepare herself.
After some time, accidents being feared, Father la Rue, her (Jesuit)
confessor, whom she had always appeared to like, approached her to exhort
her not to delay confession. She looked at him, replied that she
understood him, and then remained silent. Like a sensible man he saw
what was the matter, and at once said that if she had any objection to
confess to him to have no hesitation in admitting it. Thereupon she
indicated that she should like to have M. Bailly, priest of the mission
of the parish of Versailles. He was a man much esteemed, but not
altogether free from the suspicion of Jansenism. Bailly, as it happened,
had gone to Paris. This being told her, the Dauphine asked for Father
Noel, who was instantly sent for.
The excitement that this change of confessor made at a moment so critical
may be imagined. All the cruelty of the tyranny that the King never
ceased to exercise over every member of his family was now apparent.
They could not have a confessor not of his choosing! What was his
surprise and the surprise of all the Court, to find that in these last
terrible moments of life the Dauphine wished to change her confessor,
whose order even she repudiated!
Meanwhile the Dauphin had given way. He had hidden his own illness as
long as he could, so as not to leave the pillow of his Dauphine. Now the
fever he had was too strong to be dissimulated; and the doctors, who
wished to spare him the sight of the horrors they foresaw, forgot nothing
to induce him to stay in his chamber, where, to sustain him, false news
was, from time to time, brought him of the state of his spouse.
The confession of the Dauphine was long. Extreme unction was
administered immediately afterwards; and the holy viaticum directly.
An hour afterwards the Dauphine desired the prayers for the dying to be
said. They told her she was not yet in that state, and with words of
consolation exhorted her to try and get to sleep. Seven doctors of the
Court and of Paris were sent for. They consulted together in the
presence of the King and Madame de Maintenon. All with one voice were in
favour of bleeding at the foot; and in case it did not have the effect
desired, to give an emetic at the end of the night. The bleeding was
executed at seven o'clock in the evening. The return of the fever came
and was found less violent than the preceding. The night was cruel. The
King came early next morning to see the Dauphine. The emetic she took at
about nine o'clock had little effect. The day passed in symptoms each
more sad than the other; consciousness only at rare intervals. All at
once towards evening, the whole chamber fell into dismay. A number of
people were allowed to enter although the King was there. Just before
she expired he left, mounted into his coach at the foot of the grand
staircase, and with Madame de Maintenon and Madame de Caylus went away to
Marly. They were both in the most bitter grief, and had not the courage
to go to the Dauphin. Upon arriving at Marly the King supped in his own
room; and passed a short time with M. d'Orleans and his natural children.
M. le Duc de Berry, entirely occupied with his affliction, which was
great and real, had remained at Versailles with Madame la Duchesse de
Berry, who, transported with joy upon seeing herself delivered from a
powerful rival, to whom, however, she owed all, made her face do duty for
Monseigneur le Dauphin, ill and agitated by the most bitter grief, kept
his chamber; but on Saturday morning the 13th, being pressed to go to
Marly to avoid the horror of the noise overhead where the Dauphine was
lying dead, he set out for that place at seven o'clock in the morning.
Shortly after arriving he heard mass in the chapel, and thence was
carried in a chair to the window of one of his rooms. Madame de
Maintenon came to see him there afterwards; the anguish of the interview
was speedily too much for her, and she went away. Early in the morning I
went uninvited to see M. le Dauphin. He showed me that he perceived this
with an air of gentleness and of affection which penetrated me. But I
was terrified with his looks, constrained, fixed and with something wild
about them, with the change in his face and with the marks there, livid
rather than red, that I observed in good number and large; marks observed
by the others also. The Dauphin was standing. In a few minutes he was
apprised that the King had awaked. The tears that he had restrained, now
rolled from his eyes; he turned round at the news but said nothing,
remaining stock still. His three attendants proposed to him, once or
twice, that he should go to the King. He neither spoke nor stirred. I
approached and made signs to him to go, then softly spoke to the same
effect. Seeing that he still remained speechless and motionless, I made
bold to take his arm, representing to him that sooner or later he must
see the King, who expected him, and assuredly with the desire to see and
embrace him; and pressing him in this manner, I took the liberty to
gently push him. He cast upon me a look that pierced my soul and went
away: I followed him some few steps and then withdrew to recover breath;
I never saw him again. May I, by the mercy of God, see him eternally
where God's goodness doubtless has placed him!
The Dauphin reached the chamber of the King, full just then of company.
As soon as, he appeared the King called him and embraced him tenderly
again and again. These first moments, so touching, passed in words
broken by sobs and tears.
Shortly afterwards the King looking at the Dauphin was terrified by the
same things that had previously struck me with affright. Everybody
around was so, also the doctors more than the others. The King ordered
them to feel his pulse; that they found bad, so they said afterwards; for
the time they contented themselves with saying it was not regular, and
that the Dauphin would do wisely to go to bed. The King embraced him
again, recommended him very tenderly to take care of himself, and ordered
him to go to bed. He obeyed and rose no more!
It was now late in the morning. The King had passed a cruel night and
had a bad headache; he saw at his dinner, the few courtiers who presented
themselves, and after dinner went to the Dauphin. The fever had
augmented: the pulse was worse than before. The King passed into the
apartments of Madame de Maintenon, and the Dauphin was left with his
attendants and his doctors. He spent the day in prayers and holy
On the morrow, Sunday, the uneasiness felt on account of the Dauphin
augmented. He himself did not conceal his belief that he should never
rise again, and that the plot Boudin had warned him of, had been
executed. He explained himself to this effect more than once, and always
with a disdain of earthly grandeur and an incomparable submission and
love of God. It is impossible to describe the general consternation. On
Monday the 15th, the King was bled. The Dauphin was no better than
before. The King and Madame de Maintenon saw him separately several
times during the day, which was passed in prayers and reading.
On Tuesday, the 16th, the Dauphin was worse. He felt himself devoured by
a consuming fire, which the external fever did not seem to justify; but
the pulse was very extraordinary and exceedingly menacing. This was a
deceptive day. The marks on the Dauphin's face extended over all the
body. They were regarded as the marks of measles. Hope arose thereon,
but the doctors and the most clear-sighted of the Court could not forget
that these same marks had shown themselves on the body of the Dauphine; a
fact unknown out of her chamber until after death.
On Wednesday, the 17th, the malady considerably increased. I had news at
all moments of the Dauphin's state from Cheverny, an excellent apothecary
of the King and of my family. He hid nothing from us. He had told us
what he thought of the Dauphine's illness; he told us now what he thought
of the Dauphin's. I no longer hoped therefore, or rather I hoped to the
end, against all hope.
On Wednesday the pains increased. They were like a devouring fire, but
more violent than ever. Very late into the evening the Dauphin sent to
the King for permission to receive the communion early the next morning,
without ceremony and without display, at the mass performed in his
chamber. Nobody heard of this, that evening; it was not known until the
following morning. I was in extreme desolation; I scarcely saw the King
once a day. I did nothing but go in quest of news several times a day,
and to the house of M. de Chevreuse, where I was completely free. M. de
Chevreuse--always calm, always sanguine--endeavoured to prove to us by
his medical reasonings that there was more reason to hope than to fear,
but he did so with a tranquillity that roused my impatience. I returned
home to pass a cruel night.
On Thursday morning, the 18th of February, I learned that the Dauphin,
who had waited for midnight with impatience, had heard mass immediately
after the communion, had passed two hours in devout communication with
God, and that his reason then became embarrassed. Madame de Saint-Simon
told me afterwards that he had received extreme unction: in fine, that he
died at half-past eight. These memoirs are not written to describe my
private sentiments. But in reading them,--if, long after me, they shall
ever appear, my state and that of Madame de Saint-Simon will only too
keenly be felt. I will content myself with saying, that the first days
after the Dauphin's death scarcely appeared to us more than moments; that
I wished to quit all, to withdraw from the Court and the world, and that
I was only hindered by the wisdom, conduct, and power over me of Madame
de Saint-Simon, who yet had much trouble to subdue my sorrowful desires.
Let me say something now of the young prince and his spouse, whom we thus
lost in such quick succession.
Never did princess arrive amongst us so young with so much instruction,
or with such capacity to profit by instruction. Her skilful father, who
thoroughly knew our Court, had painted it to her, and had made her
acquainted with the only manner of making herself happy there. From the
first moment of her arrival she had acted upon his lessons. Gentle,
timid, but adroit, fearing to give the slightest pain to anybody, and
though all lightness and vivacity, very capable of far-stretching views;
constraint, even to annoyance, cost her nothing, though she felt all its
weight. Complacency was natural to her, flowed from her, and was
exhibited towards every member of the Court.
Regularly plain, with cheeks hanging, a forehead too prominent, a nose
without meaning, thick biting lips, hair and eye-brows of dark chestnut,
and well planted; the most speaking and most beautiful eyes in the world;
few teeth, and those all rotten, about which she was the first to talk
and jest; the most beautiful complexion and skin; not much bosom, but
what there was admirable; the throat long, with the suspicion of a
goitre, which did not ill become her; her head carried gallantly,
majestically, gracefully; her mien noble; her smile most expressive; her
figure long, round, slender, easy, perfectly-shaped; her walk that of a
goddess upon the clouds: with such qualifications she pleased supremely.
Grace accompanied her every step, and shone through her manners and her
most ordinary conversation. An air always simple and natural, often
naive, but seasoned with wit-this with the ease peculiar to her, charmed
all who approached her, and communicated itself to them. She wished to
please even the most useless and the most ordinary persons, and yet
without making an effort to do so. You were tempted to believe her
wholly and solely devoted to those with whom she found herself. Her
gaiety--young, quick, and active--animated all; and her nymph-like
lightness carried her everywhere, like a whirlwind which fills several
places at once, and gives them movement and life. She was the ornament
of all diversions, the life and soul of all pleasure, and at balls
ravished everybody by the justness and perfection of her dancing. She
could be amused by playing for small sums but liked high gambling better,
and was an excellent, good-tempered, and bold gamester.
She spared nothing, not even her health, to gain Madame de Maintenon, and
through her the King. Her suppleness towards them was without example,
and never for a moment was at fault. She accompanied it with all the
discretion that her knowledge of them, acquired by study and experience,
had given her, and could measure their dispositions to an inch. In this
way she had acquired a familiarity with them such as none of the King's
children, not even the bastards, had approached.
In public, serious, measured, with the King, and in timid decorum with
Madame de Maintenon, whom she never addressed except as my aunt, thus
prettily confounding friendship and rank. In private, prattling,
skipping, flying around them, now perched upon the sides of their arm-
chairs, now playing upon their knees, she clasped them round the neck,
embraced them, kissed them, caressed them, rumpled them, tickled them
under the chin, tormented them, rummaged their tables, their papers,
their letters, broke open the seals, and read the contents in spite of
opposition, if she saw that her waggeries were likely to be received in
good part. When the King was with his ministers, when he received
couriers, when the most important affairs were under discussion, she was
present, and with such liberty, that, hearing the King and Madame de
Maintenon speak one evening with affection of the Court of England, at
the time when peace was hoped for from Queen Anne, "My aunt," she said,
"you must admit that in England the queens govern better than the kings,
and do you know why, my aunt?" asked she, running about and gambolling
all the time, "because under kings it is women who govern, and men under
queens." The joke is that they both laughed, and said she was right.
The King really could not do without her. Everything went wrong with him
if she was not by; even at his public supper, if she were away an
additional cloud of seriousness and silence settled around him. She took
great care to see him every day upon arriving and departing; and if some
ball in winter, or some pleasure party in summer, made her lose half the
night, she nevertheless adjusted things so well that she went and
embraced the King the moment he was up, and amused him with a description
of the fete.
She was so far removed from the thoughts of death, that on Candlemas-day
she talked with Madame de Saint-Simon of people who had died since she
had been at Court, and of what she would herself do in old age, of the
life she would lead, and of such like matters. Alas! it pleased God,
for our misfortune, to dispose of her differently.
With all her coquetry--and she was not wanting in it--never woman seemed
to take less heed of her appearance; her toilette was finished in a
moment, she cared nothing for finery except at balls and fetes; if she
displayed a little at other times it was simply in order to please the
king. If the Court subsisted after her it was only to languish. Never
was princess so regretted, never one so worthy of it: regrets have not
yet passed away, the involuntary and secret bitterness they caused still
remain, with a frightful blank not yet filled up.
Let me now turn to the Dauphin.
The youth of this prince made every one tremble. Stern and choleric to
the last degree, and even against inanimate objects; impetuous with
frenzy, incapable of suffering the slightest resistance even from the
hours and the elements, without flying into a passion that threatened to
destroy his body; obstinate to excess; passionately fond of all kind of
voluptuousness, of women, with even a worse passion strongly developed at
the same time; fond not less of wine, good living, hunting, music, and
gaming, in which last he could not endure to be beaten; in fine,
abandoned to every passion, and transported by every pleasure; oftentimes
wild, naturally disposed towards cruelty; barbarous in raillery, and with
an all-powerful capacity for ridicule.
He looked down upon all men as from the sky, as atoms with whom he had
nothing in common; even his brothers scarcely appeared connecting links
between himself and human nature, although all had been educated together
in perfect equality. His sense and penetration shone through everything.
His replies, even in anger, astonished everybody. He amused himself with
the most abstract knowledge. The extent and vivacity of his intellect
were prodigious, and rendered him incapable of applying himself to one
study at a time.
So much intelligence and of such a kind, joined to such vivacity,
sensibility, and passion, rendered his education difficult. But God, who
is the master of all hearts, and whose divine spirit breathes where he
wishes, worked a miracle on this prince between his eighteenth and
twentieth years. From this abyss he came out affable, gentle, humane,
moderate, patient, modest, penitent, and humble; and austere, even more
than harmonised with his position. Devoted to his duties, feeling them
to be immense, he thought only how to unite the duties of son and subject
with those he saw to be destined for himself. The shortness of each day
was his only sorrow. All his force, all his consolation, was in prayer
and pious reading. He clung with joy to the cross of his Saviour,
repenting sincerely of his past pride. The King, with his outside
devotion, soon saw with secret displeasure his own life censured by that
of a prince so young, who refused himself a new desk in order to give the
money it would cost to the poor, and who did not care to accept some new
gilding with which it was proposed to furnish his little room.
Madame la Duchesse de Bourgogne, alarmed at so austere a spouse, left
nothing undone in order to soften him. Her charms, with which he was
smitten, the cunning and the unbridled importunities of the young ladies
of her suite, disguised in a hundred different forms--the attraction of
parties and pleasures to which he was far from insensible, all were
displayed every day.. But for a long time he behaved not like a prince
but like a novice. On one occasion he refused to be present at a ball on
Twelfth Night, and in various ways made himself ridiculous at Court.
In due time, however, he comprehended that the faithful performance of
the duties proper to the state in which he had been placed, would be the
conduct most agreeable to God. The bark of the tree, little by little,
grew softer without affecting the solidity of the trunk. He applied
himself to the studies which were necessary, in order to instruct himself
in public affairs, and at the same time he lent himself more to the
world, doing so with so much grace, with such a natural air, that
everybody soon began to grow reconciled to him.
The discernment of this prince was such, that, like the bee, he gathered
the most perfect substance from the best and most beautiful flowers. He
tried to fathom men, to draw from them the instruction and the light that
he could hope for. He conferred sometimes, but rarely, with others
besides his chosen few. I was the only one, not of that number, who had
complete access to him; with me he opened his heart upon the present and
the future with confidence, with sageness, with discretion. A volume
would not describe sufficiently my private interviews with this prince,
what love of good! what forgetfulness of self! what researches! what
fruit! what purity of purpose!--May I say it? what reflection of the
divinity in that mind, candid, simple, strong, which as much as is
possible here below had preserved the image of its maker!
If you had business, and thought of opening it to him, say for a quarter
of an hour or half an hour, he gave you oftentimes two hours or more,
according as he found himself at liberty. Yet he was without verbiage,
compliments, prefaces, pleasantries, or other hindrances; went straight
to the point, and allowed you to go also.
His undue scruples of devotion diminished every day, as he found himself
face to face with the world; above all, he was well cured of the
inclination for piety in preference to talent, that is to say, for making
a man ambassador, minister, or general, rather on account of his
devotedness than of his capacity or experience. He saw the danger of
inducing hypocrisy by placing devotion too high as a qualification for
It was he who was not afraid to say publicly, in the Salon of Marly, that
"a king is made for his subjects, and not the subjects for him;" a remark
that, except under his own reign, which God did not permit, would have
been the most frightful blasphemy.
Great God! what a spectacle you gave to us in him. What tender but
tranquil views he had! What submission and love of God! What a
consciousness of his own nothingness, and of his sins! What a
magnificent idea of the infinite mercy! What religious and humble fear!
What tempered confidence! What patience!
What constant goodness for all who approached him! France fell, in fine,
under this last chastisement. God showed to her a prince she merited
not. The earth was not worthy of him; he was ripe already for the
The consternation at the event that had taken place was real and general;
it penetrated to foreign lands and courts. Whilst the people wept for
him who thought only of their relief, and all France lamented a prince
who only wished to reign in order to render it flourishing and happy,
the sovereigns of Europe publicly lamented him whom they regarded as
their example, and whose virtues were preparing him to be their
arbitrator, and the peaceful and revered moderator of nations. The Pope
was so touched that he resolved of himself to set aside all rule and hold
expressly a consistory; deplored there the infinite loss the church and
all Christianity had sustained, and pronounced a complete eulogium of the
prince who caused the just regrets of all Europe.
On Saturday, the 13th, the corpse of the Dauphine was left in its bed
with uncovered face, and opened the same evening at eleven in presence of
all the faculty. On the 15th it was placed in the grand cabinet, where
masses were continually said.
On Friday, the 19th, the corpse of Monseigneur le Dauphin was opened, a
little more than twenty-four hours after his death, also in presence of
all the faculty. His heart was immediately carried to Versailles, and
placed by the side of that of Madame la Dauphine. Both were afterwards
taken to the Val de Grace. They arrived at midnight with a numerous
cortege. All was finished in two hours. The corpse of Monseigneur le
Dauphin was afterwards carried from Marly to Versailles, and placed by
the side of Madame la Dauphine on the same estrade.
On Tuesday, the 23rd February, the two bodies were taken from Versailles
to Saint-Denis in the same chariot. The procession began to enter Paris
by the Porte Saint-Honore at two o'clock in the morning, and arrived
between seven and eight o'clock in the morning at Saint-Denis. There was
great order in Paris, and no confusion.
On Tuesday, the 8th March, Monseigneur le Duc de Bretagne, eldest son of
Monsieur le Dauphin, who had succeeded to the name and rank of his
father, being then only five years and some months old, and who had been
seized with measles within a few days, expired, in spite of all the
remedies given him. His brother, M. le Duc d'Anjou, who still sucked,
was taken ill at the same time, but thanks to the care of the Duchesse de
Ventadour, whom in after life he never forgot, and who administered an
antidote, escaped, and is now King.
Thus three Dauphins died in less than a year, and father, mother, and
eldest son in twenty-four days! On Wednesday, the 9th of March, the
corpse of the little Dauphin was opened at night, and without any
ceremony his heart was taken to the Val de Grace, his body to Saint-
Denis, and placed by the side of those of his father and mother. M. le
Duc d'Anjou, now, sole remaining child, succeeded to the title and to the
rank of Dauphin.
I have said that the bodies of the Dauphin and the Dauphine were opened
in presence of all the faculty. The report made upon the opening of the
latter was not consolatory. Only one of the doctors declared there were
no signs of poison; the rest were of the opposite opinion. When the body
of the Dauphin was opened, everybody was terrified. His viscera were
all dissolved; his heart had no consistency; its substance flowed through
the hands of those who tried to hold it; an intolerable odour, too,
filled the apartment. The majority of the doctors declared they saw in
all this the effect of a very subtle and very violent poison, which had
consumed all the interior of the body, like a burning fire. As before,
there was one of their number who held different views, but this was
Marechal, who declared that to persuade the King of the existence of
secret enemies of his family would be to kill him by degrees.
This medical opinion that the cause of the Dauphin's and the Dauphine's
death was poison, soon spread like wildfire over the Court and the city.
Public indignation fell upon M. d'Orleans, who was at once pointed out as
the poisoner. The rapidity with which this rumour filled the Court,
Paris, the provinces, the least frequented places, the most isolated
monasteries, the most deserted solitudes, all foreign countries and all
the peoples of Europe, recalled to me the efforts of the cabal, which had
previously spread such black reports against the honour of him whom all
the world now wept, and showed that the cabal, though dispersed, was not
In effect M. du Maine, now the head of the cabal, who had all to gain and
nothing to lose by the death of the Dauphin and Dauphine, from both of
whom he had studiously held aloof, and who thoroughly disliked M.
d'Orleans, did all in his power to circulate this odious report. He
communicated it to Madame de Maintenon, by whom it reached the King. In
a short time all the Court, down to the meanest valets, publicly cried
vengeance upon M. d'Orleans, with an air of the most unbridled
indignation and of perfect security.
M. d'Orleans, with respect to the two losses that afflicted the public,
had an interest the most directly opposite to that of M. du Maine; he had
everything to gain by the life of the Dauphin and Dauphine, and unless he
had been a monster vomited forth from hell he could not have been guilty
of the crime with which he was charged. Nevertheless, the odious
accusation flew from mouth to mouth, and took refuge in every breast.
Let us compare the interest M. d'Orleans had in the life of the Dauphin
with the interest M. du Maine had in his death, and then look about for
the poisoner. But this is not all. Let us remember how M. le Duc
d'Orleans was treated by Monseigneur, and yet what genuine grief he
displayed at the death of that prince. What a contrast was this conduct
with that of M. du Maine at another time, who, after leaving the King
(Louis XIV.) at the point of death, delivered over to an ignorant
peasant, imitated that peasant so naturally and so pleasantly, that
bursts of laughter extended to the gallery, and scandalized the passers-
by. This is a celebrated and very characteristic fact, which will find
its proper place if I live long enough to carry these memoirs up to the
death of the King.
M. d'Orleans was, however, already in such bad odour, that people were
ready to believe anything to his discredit. They drank in this new
report so rapidly, that on the 17th of February, as he went with Madame
to give the holy water to the corpse of the Dauphine, the crowd of the
people threw out all sorts of accusations against him, which both he and
Madame very distinctly heard, without daring to show it, and were in
trouble, embarrassment, and indignation, as may be imagined. There was
even ground for fearing worse from an excited and credulous populace when
M. d'Orleans went alone to give the holy water to the corpse of the
Dauphin. For he had to endure on his passage atrocious insults from a
populace which uttered aloud the most frightful observations, which
pointed the finger at him with the coarsest epithets, and which believed
it was doing him a favour in not falling upon him and tearing him to
Similar circumstances took place at the funeral procession. The streets
resounded more with cries of indignation against M. d'Orleans and abuse
of him than with grief. Silent precautions were not forgotten in Paris
in order to check the public fury, the boiling over of which was feared
at different moments. The people recompensed themselves by gestures,
cries, and other atrocities, vomited against M. d'Orleans. Near the
Palais Royal, before which the procession passed, the increase of shouts,
of cries, of abuse, was so great, that for some minutes everything was to
It may be imagined what use M. du Maine contrived to make of the public
folly, the rumours of the Paris cafes, the feeling of the salon of Marly,
that of the Parliament, the reports that arrived from the provinces and
foreign countries. In a short time so overpowered was M. d'Orleans by
the feeling against him everywhere exhibited, that acting upon very ill-
judged advice he spoke to the King upon the subject, and begged to be
allowed to surrender himself as a prisoner at the Bastille, until his
character was cleared from stain.
I was terribly annoyed when I heard that M. d'Orleans had taken this
step, which could not possibly lead to good. I had quite another sort of
scheme in my head which I should have proposed to him had I known of his
resolve. Fortunately, however, the King was persuaded not to grant M.
d'Orleans' request, out of which therefore nothing came. The Duke
meanwhile lived more abandoned by everybody than ever; if in the salon he
approached a group of courtiers, each, without the least hesitation,
turned to the right or to the left and went elsewhere, so that it was
impossible for him to accost anybody except by surprise, and if he did
so, he was left alone directly after with the most marked indecency.
In a word, I was the only person, I say distinctly, the only person,
who spoke to M. d'Orleans as before. Whether in his own house or in the
palace I conversed with him, seated myself by his side in a corner of the
salon, where assuredly we had no third person to fear, and walked with
him in the gardens under the very windows of the King and of Madame de
Nevertheless, all my friends warned me that if I pursued this conduct so
opposite to that in vogue, I should assuredly fall into disgrace. I held
firm. I thought that when we did not believe our friends guilty we ought
not to desert them, but, on the contrary, to draw closer to them, as by
honour bound, give them the consolation due from us, and show thus to the
world our hatred for calumny. My friends insisted; gave me to understand
that the King disapproved my conduct, that Madame de Maintenon was
annoyed at it: they forgot nothing to awaken my fears. But I was
insensible to all they said to me, and did not omit seeing M. d'Orleans a
single day; often stopping with him two and three hours at a time.
A few weeks had passed over thus, when one morning M. de Beauvilliers
called upon me, and urged me to plead business, and at once withdraw to
La Ferme; intimating that if I did not do so of my own accord, I should
be compelled by an order from the King. He never explained himself more
fully, but I have always remained persuaded that the King or Madame de
Maintenon had sent him to me, and had told him that I should be banished
if I did not banish myself. Neither my absence nor my departure made any
stir; nobody suspected anything. I was carefully informed, without
knowing by whom, when my exile was likely to end: and I returned, after a
month or five weeks, straight to the Court, where I kept up the same
intimacy with M. d'Orleans as before.
But he was not yet at the end of his misfortunes. The Princesse des
Ursins had not forgiven him his pleasantry at her expense. Chalais, one
of her most useful agents, was despatched by her on a journey so
mysterious that its obscurity has never been illuminated. He was
eighteen days on the road, unknown, concealing his name, and passing
within two leagues of Chalais, where his father and mother lived, without
giving them any signs of life, although all were on very good terms. He
loitered secretly in Poitou, and at last arrested there a Cordelier monk,
of middle age, in the convent of Bressuire, who cried, "Ah! I am lost!"
upon being caught. Chalais conducted him to the prison of Poitiers,
whence he despatched to Madrid an officer of dragoons he had brought with
him, and who knew this Cordelier, whose name has never transpired,
although it is certain he was really a Cordelier, and that he was
returning from as journey in Italy and Germany that had extended as far
as Vienna. Chalais pushed on to Paris, and came to Marly on the 27th of
April, a day on which the King had taken medicine. After dinner he was
taken by Torcy to the King, with whom he remained half an hour, delaying
thus the Council of State for the same time, and then returned
immediately to Paris. So much trouble had not been taken for no purpose:
and Chalais had not prostituted himself to play the part of prevot to a
miserable monk without expecting good winnings from the game.
Immediately afterwards the most dreadful rumours were everywhere in
circulation against M. d'Orleans, who, it was said, had poisoned the
Dauphin and Dauphine by means of this monk, who, nevertheless, was far
enough away from our Prince and Princess at the time of their death. In
an instant Paris resounded with these horrors; the provinces were
inundated with them, and immediately afterwards foreign countries--this
too with an incredible rapidity, which plainly showed how well the plot
had been prepared--and a publicity that reached the very caverns of the
earth. Madame des Ursins was not less served in Spain than M. du Maine
and Madame de Maintenon in France. The anger of the public was doubled.
The Cordelier was brought, bound hand and foot, to the Bastille, and
delivered up to D'Argenson, Lieutenant of Police.
This D'Argenson rendered an account to the King of many things which
Pontchartrain, as Secretary of State, considered to belong to his
department. Pontchartrain was vexed beyond measure at this, and could
not see without despair his subaltern become a kind of minister more
feared, more valued, more in consideration than he, and conduct himself
always in such manner that he gained many powerful friends, and made but
few enemies, and those of but little moment. M. d'Orleans bowed before
the storm that he could not avert; it could not increase the general
desertion; he had accustomed himself to his solitude, and, as he had
never heard this monk spoken of, had not the slightest fear on his
account. D'Argenson, who questioned the Cordelier several times, and
carried his replies daily to the King, was sufficiently adroit to pay his
court to M. d'Orleans, by telling him that the prisoner had uttered
nothing which concerned him, and by representing the services he did M.
d'Orleans with the King. Like a sagacious man, D'Argenson saw the
madness of popular anger devoid of all foundation, and which could not
hinder M. d'Orleans from being a very considerable person in France,
during a minority that--the age of the King showed to be pretty near.
He took care, therefore, to avail himself of the mystery which surrounded
his office, to ingratiate himself more and more with M. d'Orleans, whom
he had always carefully though secretly served; and his conduct, as will
be seen in due time, procured him a large fortune.
But I have gone too far. I must retrace my steps, to speak of things I
have omitted to notice in their proper place.
The two Dauphins and the Dauphine were interred at Saint-Denis, on
Monday, the 18th of April. The funeral oration was pronounced by Maboul,
Bishop of Aleth, and pleased; M. de Metz, chief chaplain, officiated; the
service commenced at about eleven o'clock. As it was very long, it was
thought well to have at hand a large vase of vinegar, in case anybody
should be ill. M. de Metz having taken the first oblation, and observing
that very little wine was left for the second, asked for more. This
large vase of vinegar was supposed to be wine, and M. de Metz, who wished
to strengthen himself, said, washing his fingers over the chalice, "fill
right up." He swallowed all at a draught, and did not perceive until the
end that he had drunk vinegar; his grimace and his complaint caused some
little laughter round him; and he often related this adventure, which
much soured him. On Monday, the 20th of May, the funeral service for the
Dauphin and Dauphine was performed at Notre Dame.
Let me here say, that before the Prince and his spouse were buried, that
is to say, the 6th of April, the King gave orders for the recommencement
of the usual play at Marly; and that M. le Duc de Berry and Madame la
Duchesse de Berry presided in the salon at the public lansquenet and
brelan; and the different gaming tables for all the Court. In a short
time the King dined in Madame de Maintenon's apartments once or twice a
week, and had music there. And all this, as I have remarked, with the
corpse of the Dauphin and that of the Dauphine still above ground.
The gap left by the death of the Dauphine could not, however, be easily
filled up. Some months after her loss, the King began to feel great
ennui steal upon him in the hours when he had no work with his ministers.
The few ladies admitted into the apartments of Madame de Maintenon when
he was there, were unable to entertain him. Music, frequently
introduced, languished from that cause. Detached scenes from the
comedies of Moliere were thought of, and were played by the King's
musicians, comedians for the nonce. Madame de Maintenon introduced, too,
the Marechal de Villeroy, to amuse the King by relating their youthful
Evening amusements became more and more frequent in Madame de Maintenon's
apartments, where, however, nothing could fill up the void left by the
I have said little of the grief I felt at the loss of the prince whom
everybody so deeply regretted. As will be believed, it was bitter and
profound. The day of his death, I barricaded myself in my own house, and
only left it for one instant in order to join the King at his promenade
in the gardens. The vexation I felt upon seeing him followed almost as
usual, did not permit me to stop more than an instant. All the rest of
the stay at Versailles, I scarcely left my room, except to visit M. de
Beauvilliers. I will admit that, to reach M. de Beauvilliers' house, I
made a circuit between the canal and the gardens of Versailles, so as to
spare myself the sight of the chamber of death, which I had not force
enough to approach. I admit that I was weak. I was sustained neither by
the piety, superior to all things, of M. de Beauvilliers, nor by that of
Madame de Saint-Simon, who nevertheless not the less suffered. The truth
is, I was in despair. To those who know my position, this will appear
less strange than my being able to support at all so complete a
misfortune. I experienced this sadness precisely at the same age as that
of my father when he lost Louis XIII.; but he at least had enjoyed the
results of favour, whilst I, 'Gustavi paululum mellis, et ecce morior.'
Yet this was not all.
In the casket of the Dauphin there were several papers he had asked me
for. I had drawn them up in all confidence; he had preserved them in the
same manner. There was one, very large, in my hand, which if seen by the
King, would have robbed me of his favour for ever; ruined me without hope
of return. We do not think in time of such catastrophes. The King knew
my handwriting; he did not know my mode of thought, but might pretty well
have guessed it. I had sometimes supplied him with means to do so; my
good friends of the Court had done the rest. The King when he discovered
my paper would also discover on what close terms of intimacy I had been
with the Dauphin, of which he had no suspicion. My anguish was then
cruel, and there seemed every reason to believe that if my secret was
found out, I should be disgraced and exiled during all the rest of the
What a contrast between the bright heaven I had so recently gazed upon
and the abyss now yawning at my feet! But so it is in the Court and the
world! I felt then the nothingness of even the most desirable future, by
an inward sentiment, which, nevertheless, indicates how we cling to it.
Fear on account of the contents of the casket had scarcely any power over
me. I was obliged to reflect in order to return to it from time to time.
Regret for this incomparable Dauphin pierced my heart, and suspended all
the faculties of my soul. For a long time I wished to fly from the
Court, so that I might never again see the deceitful face of the world;
and it was some time before prudence and honour got the upper hand.
It so happened that the, Duc de Beauvilliers himself was able to carry
this casket to the King, who had the key of it. M. de Beauvilliers in
fact resolved not to trust it out of his own hands, but to wait until he
was well enough to take it to the King, so that he might then try to hide
my papers from view. This task was difficult, for he did not know the
position in the casket of these dangerous documents, and yet it was our
only resource. This terrible uncertainty lasted more than a fortnight.
On Tuesday, the 1st of March, M. de Beauvilliers carried the casket to
the King. He came to me shortly after, and before sitting down,
indicated by signs that there was no further occasion for fear. He then
related to me that he had found the casket full of a mass of documents,
finance projects, reports from the provinces, papers of all kinds, that
he had read some of them to the King on purpose to weary him, and had
succeeded so well that the King soon was satisfied by hearing only the
titles; and, at last, tired out by not finding anything important, said
it was not worth while to read more, and that there was nothing to do but
to throw everything into the fire. The Duke assured me that he did not
wait to be told twice, being all the more anxious to comply, because at
the bottom of the casket he had seen some of my handwriting, which he had
promptly covered up in taking other papers to read their titles to the
King; and that immediately the word "fire" was uttered, he confusedly
threw all the papers into the casket, and then emptied it near the fire,
betweein the King and Madame de Maintenon, taking good care as he did so
that my documents should not be seen,--even cautiously using the tongs in
order to prevent any piece flying away, and not quitting the fireplace
until he had seen every page consumed. We embraced each other, in the
relief we reciprocally felt, relief proportioned to the danger we had
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A king is made for his subjects, and not the subjects for him
A lingering fear lest the sick man should recover
Danger of inducing hypocrisy by placing devotion too high
For want of better support I sustained myself with courage
Interests of all interested painted on their faces
Never was a man so ready with tears, so backward with grief
Suspicion of a goitre, which did not ill become her
The shortness of each day was his only sorrow
MEMOIRS OF LOUIS XIV AND HIS COURT AND OF THE REGENCY
BY THE DUKE OF SAINT-SIMON
The King's Selfishness.--Defeat of the Czar.--Death of Catinat.--Last
Days of Vendome.--His Body at the Escurial.--Anecdote of Harlay and the
Jacobins.--Truce in Flanders.--Wolves.
Settlement of the Spanish Succession.--Renunciation of France.--Comic
Failure of the Duc de Berry.--Anecdotes of M. de Chevreuse.--Father
Daniel's History and Its Reward.
The Bull Unigenitus.--My Interview with Father Tellier.--Curious
Inadvertence of Mine.--Peace.--Duc de la Rochefoucauld.--A Suicide in
Public.--Charmel.--Two Gay Sisters.
The King of Spain a Widower.--Intrigues of Madame des Ursins.--Choice of
the Princes of Parma.--The King of France Kept in the Dark.--Celebration
of the Marriage.--Sudden Fall of the Princesse des Ursins.--Her Expulsion
The King of Spain Acquiesces in the Disgrace of Madame des Ursins.--Its
Origin.--Who Struck the Blow.--Her journey to Versailles.--Treatment
There.--My Interview with Her.--She Retires to Genoa.--Then to Rome.--
Sudden Illness of the Duc de Berry--Suspicious Symptoms.--The Duchess
Prevented from Seeing Him.--His Death.--Character.--Manners of the
Duchesse de Berry.
Maisons Seeks My Acquaintance.--His Mysterious Manner.--Increase of the
Intimacy.--Extraordinary News.--The Bastards Declared Princes of the
Blood.--Rage of Maisons and Noailles.--Opinion of the Court and Country.
The King Unhappy and Ill at Ease.--Court Paid to Him.--A New Scheme to
Rule Him.--He Yields.--New Annoyance.--His Will.--Anecdotes Concerning
It.--Opinions of the Court.--M. du Maine.
A New Visit from Maisons.--His Violent Project.--My Objections.--He
Persists.--His Death and That of His Wife. --Death of the Duc de
Beauvilliers.--His Character.--Of the Cardinal d'Estrees.--Anecdotes.--
Death of Fenelon.
Let me here relate an incident which should have found a place earlier,
but which has been omitted in order that what has gone before might be
uninterrupted. On the 16th of the previous July the King made a journey
to Fontainebleau, where he remained until the 14th of September. I
should suppress the bagatelle which happened on the occasion of this
journey, if it did not serve more and more to characterize the King.
Madame la Duchesse de Berry was in the family way for the first time,
had been so for nearly three months, was much inconvenienced, and had a
pretty strong fever. M. Fagon, the doctor, thought it would be imprudent
for her not to put off travelling for a day or two. Neither she nor M,
d'Orleans dared to speak about it. M. le Duc de Berry timidly hazarded a
word, and was ill received. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans more timid
still, addressed herself to Madame, and to Madame de Maintenon, who,
indifferent as they might be respecting Madame la Duchesse de Berry,
thought her departure so hazardous that, supported by Fagon, they spoke
of it to the King. It was useless. They were not daunted, however, and
this dispute lasted three or four days. The end of it was, that the King
grew thoroughly angry and agreed, by way of capitulation, that the
journey should be performed in a boat instead of a coach.
It was arranged that Madame la Duchesse de Berry should leave Marly,
where the King then was, on the 13th, sleep at the Palais Royal that
night and repose herself there all the next day and night, that on the
15th she should set out for Petit-Bourg, where the King was to halt for
the night, and arrive like him, on the 16th, at Fontainebleau, the whole
journey to be by the river. M. le Duc de Berry had permission to
accompany his wife; but during the two nights they were to rest in Paris
the King angrily forbade them to go anywhere, even to the Opera, although
that building joined the Palais Royal, and M. d'Orleans' box could be
reached without going out of the palace.
On the 14th the King, under pretence of inquiry after them, repeated this
prohibition to M. le Duc de Berry and Madame his wife, and also to M.
d'Orleans and Madame d'Orleans, who had been included in it. He carried
his caution so far as to enjoin Madame de Saint-Simon to see that Madame
la Duchesse de Berry obeyed the instructions she had received. As may be
believed, his orders were punctually obeyed. Madame de Saint-Simon could
not refuse to remain and sleep in the Palais Royal, where the apartment
of the queen-mother was given to her. All the while the party was shut
up there was a good deal of gaming in order to console M. le Duc de Berry
for his confinement.
The provost of the merchants had orders to prepare boats for the trip to
Fontainebleau. He had so little time that they were ill chosen. Madame
la Duchesse de Berry embarked, however, on the 15th, and arrived, with
fever, at ten o'clock at night at Petit-Bourg, where the King appeared
rejoiced by an obedience so exact.
On the morrow the journey recommenced. In passing Melun, the boat of
Madame la Duchesse de Berry struck against the bridge, was nearly
capsized, and almost swamped, so that they were all in great danger.
They got off, however, with fear and a delay. Disembarking in great
disorder at Valvin, where their equipages were waiting for there, they
arrived at Fontainebleau two hours after midnight. The King, pleased
beyond measure, went the next morning to see Madame la Duchesse de Berry
in the beautiful apartment of the queen-mother that had been given to
her. From the moment of her arrival she had been forced to keep her bed,
and at six o'clock in the morning of the 21st of July she miscarried and
was delivered of a daughter, still-born. Madame de Saint-Simon ran to
tell the King; he did not appear much moved; he had been obeyed! The
Duchesse de Beauvilliers and the Marquise de Chatillon were named by the
King to carry the embryo to Saint-Denis. As it was only a girl, and as
the miscarriage had no ill effect, consolation soon came.
It was some little time after this occurrence, that we heard of the
defeat of the Czar by the Grand Vizier upon the Pruth. The Czar, annoyed
by the protection the Porte had accorded to the King of Sweden (in
retirement at Bender), made an appeal to arms, and fell into the same
error as that which had occasioned the defeat of the King of Sweden by
him. The Turks drew him to the Pruth across deserts supplied with
nothing; if he did not risk all, by a very unequal battle, he must
perish. The Czar was at the head of sixty thousand men: he lost more
than thirty thousand on the Pruth, the rest were dying of hunger and
misery; and he, without any resources, could scarcely avoid surrendering
himself and his forces to the Turks. In this pressing extremity, a
common woman whom he had taken away from her husband, a drummer in the
army, and whom he had publicly espoused after having repudiated and
confined his own wife in a convent,--proposed that he should try by
bribery to induce the Grand Vizier to allow him and the wreck of his
forces to retreat The Czar approved of the proposition, without hoping
for success from it. He sent to the Grand Vizier and ordered him to be
spoken to in secret. The Vizier was dazzled by the gold, the precious
stones, and several valuable things that were offered to him. He
accepted and received them; and signed a treaty by which the Czar was
permitted to retire, with all who accompanied him, into his own states by
the shortest road, the Turks to furnish him with provisions, with which
he was entirely unprovided. The Czar, on his side, agreed to give up
Azof as soon as he returned; destroy all the forts and burn all the
vessels that he had upon the Black Sea; allow the King of Sweden to
return by Pomerania; and to pay the Turks and their Prince all the
expenses of the war.
The Grand Vizier found such an opposition in the Divan to this treaty,
and such boldness in the minister of the King of Sweden, who accompanied
him, in exciting against him all the chiefs of the army, that it was
within an ace of being broken; and the Czar, with every one left to him,
of being made prisoner. The latter was in no condition to make even the
least resistance. The Grand Vizier had only to will it, in order to
execute it on the spot. In addition to the glory of leading captive to
Constantinople the Czar, his Court, and his troops, there would have been
his ransom, which must have cost not a little. But if he had been thus
stripped of his riches, they would have been for the Sultan, and the
Grand Vizier preferred having them for himself. He braved it then with
authority and menaces, and hastened the Czar's departure and his own.
The Swedish minister, charged with protests from the principal Turkish
chiefs, hurried to Constantinople, where the Grand Vizier was strangled
The Czar never forgot this service of his wife, by whose courage and
presence of mind he had been saved. The esteem he conceived for her,
joined to his friendship, induced him to crown her Czarina, and to
consult her upon all his affairs and all his schemes. Escaped from
danger, he was a long time without giving up Azof, or demolishing his
forts on the Black Sea. As for his vessels, he kept them nearly all, and
would not allow the King of Sweden to return into Germany, as he had
agreed, thus almost lighting up a fresh war with the Turk.
On the 6th of November, 1711, at about eight o'clock in the evening, the
shock of an earthquake was felt in Paris and at Versailles; but it was so
slight that few people perceived it. In several places towards Touraine
and Poitou, in Saxony, and in some of the German towns near, it was very
perceptible at the same day and hour. At this date a new tontine was
established in Paris.
I have so often spoken of Marshal Catinat, of his virtue, wisdom,
modesty, and disinterestedness; of the rare superiority of his
sentiments, and of his great qualities as captain, that nothing remains
for me to say except that he died at this time very advanced in years,
at his little house of Saint-Gratien, near Saint-Denis, where he had
retired, and which he seldom quitted, although receiving there but few
friends. By his simplicity and frugality, his contempt for worldly
distinction, and his uniformity of conduct, he recalled the memory of
those great men who, after the best-merited triumphs, peacefully returned
to the plough, still loving their country and but little offended by the
ingratitude of the Rome they had so well served. Catinat placed his
philosophy at the service of his piety. He had intelligence, good sense,
ripe reflection; and he never forgot his origin; his dress, his
equipages, his furniture, all were of the greatest simplicity. His air
and his deportment were so also. He was tall, dark, and thin; had an
aspect pensive, slow, and somewhat mean; with very fine and expressive
eyes. He deplored the signal faults that he saw succeed each other
unceasingly; the gradual extinction of all emulation; the luxury, the
emptiness, the ignorance, the confusion of ranks; the inquisition in the
place of the police: he saw all the signs of destruction, and he used to
say it was only a climax of dangerous disorder that could restore order
to the realm.
Vendome was one of the few to whom the death of the Dauphin and the
Dauphine brought hope and joy. He had deemed himself expatriated for the
rest of his life. He saw, now, good chances before him of returning to
our Court, and of playing a part there again. He had obtained some
honour in Spain; he aimed at others even higher, and hoped to return to
France with all the honours of a Prince of the Blood. His idleness, his
free living, his debauchery, had prolonged his stay upon the frontier,
where he had more facilities for gratifying his tastes than at Madrid.
In that city, it is true, he did not much constrain himself, but he was
forced to do so to some extent by courtly usages. He was, then, quite at
home on the frontier; there was nothing to do; for the Austrians,
weakened by the departure of the English, were quite unable to attack;
and Vendome, floating upon the delights of his new dignities, thought
only of enjoying himself in the midst of profound idleness, under pretext
that operations could not at once be commenced.
In order to be more at liberty he separated from the general officers,
and established himself with his valets and two or three of his most
familiar friends, cherished companions everywhere, at Vignarez, a little
isolated hamlet, almost deserted, on the sea-shore and in the kingdom of
Valencia. His object was to eat fish there to his heart's content. He
carried out that object, and filled himself to repletion for nearly a
month. He became unwell--his diet, as may be believed, was enough to
cause this--but his illness increased so rapidly, and in so strange a
manner, after having for a long time seemed nothing that the few around
him suspected poison, and sent on all sides for assistance. But the
malady would not wait; it augmented rapidly with strange symptoms.
Vendome could not sign a will that was presented to him; nor a letter to
the King, its which he asked that his brother might be permitted to
return to Court. Everybody near flew from him and abandoned him, so that
he remained in the hands of three or four of the meanest valets, whilst
the rest robbed him of everything and decamped. He passed thus the last
two or three days of his life, without a priest,--no mention even had
been made of one,--without other help than that of a single surgeon.
The three or four valets who remained near him, seeing him at his last
extremity, seized hold of the few things he still possessed, and for want
of better plunder, dragged off his bedclothes and the mattress from under
him. He piteously cried to them at least not to leave him to die naked
upon the bare bed. I know not whether they listened to him.
Thus died on Friday, the 10th of June, 1712, the haughtiest of men; and
the happiest, except in the later years of his life. After having been
obliged to speak of him so often, I get rid of him now, once and for
ever. He was fifty-eight years old; but in spite of the blind and
prodigious favour he had enjoyed, that favour had never been able to make
ought but a cabal hero out of a captain who was a very bad general, and a
man whose vices were the shame of humanity. His death restored life and
joy to all Spain.
Aguilar, a friend of the Duc de Noailles, was accused of having poisoned
him; but took little pains to defend himself, inasmuch as little pains
were taken to substantiate the accusation. The Princesse des Ursins, who
had so well profited by his life in order to increase her own greatness,
did not profit less by his death. She felt her deliverance from a new
Don Juan of Spain who had ceased to be supple in her hands, and who might
have revived, in the course of time, all the power and authority he had
formerly enjoyed in France. She was not shocked them by the joy which
burst out without constraint; nor by the free talk of the Court, the
city, the army, of all Spain. But in order to sustain what she had done,
and cheaply pay her court to M. du Maine, Madame de Maintenon, and even
to the King, she ordered that the corpse of this hideous monster of
greatness and of fortune should be carried to the Escurial. This was
crowning the glory of M. de Vendome in good earnest; for no private
persons are buried in the Escurial, although several are to be found in
Saint-Denis. But meanwhile, until I speak of the visit I made to the
Escurial--I shall do so if I live long enough to carry these memoirs up
to the death of M. d'Orleans,--let me say something of that illustrious
The Pantheon is the place where only the bodies of kings and queens who
have had posterity are admitted. In a separate place, near, though not
on the same floor, and resembling a library, the bodies of children, and
of queens who have had no posterity, are ranged. A third place, a sort
of antechamber to the last named, is rightly called "the rotting room;"
whilst the other improperly bears the same name. In whilst third room,
there is nothing to be seen but four bare walls and a table in the
middle. The walls being very thick, openings are made in them in which
the bodies are placed. Each body has an opening to itself, which is
afterwards walled up, so that nothing is seen. When it is thought that
the corpse has been closed up sufficiently long to be free from odour the
wall is opened, the body taken out, and put in a coffin which allows a
portion of it to be seen towards the feet. This coffin is covered with a
rich stuff and carried into an adjoining room.
The body of the Duc de Vendome had been walled up nine years when I
entered the Escurial. I was shown the place it occupied, smooth like
every part of the four walls and without mark. I gently asked the monks
who did me the honours of the place, when the body would be removed to
the other chamber. They would not satisfy my curiosity, showed some
indignation, and plainly intimated that this removal was not dreamt of,
and that as M. de Vendome had been so carefully walled up he might remain
Harlay, formerly chief-president, of whom I have so often had occasion to
speak, died a short time after M. de Vendome. I have already made him
known. I will simply add an account of the humiliation to which this
haughty cynic was reduced. He hired a house in the Rue de l'Universite
with a partition wall between his garden and that of the Jacobins of the
Faubourg Saint-Germain. The house did not belong to the Jacobins, like
the houses of the Rue Saint-Dominique, and the Rue du Bac, which, in
order that they might command higher rents, were put in connection with
the convent garden. These mendicant Jacobins thus derive fifty thousand
livres a-year. Harlay, accustomed to exercise authority, asked them for
a door into their garden. He was refused. He insisted, had them spoken
to, and succeeded no better. Nevertheless the Jacobins comprehended that
although this magistrate, recently so powerful, was now nothing by
himself, he had a son and a cousin, Councillors of State, whom they might
some day have to do with, and who for pride's sake might make themselves
very disagreeable. The argument of interest is the best of all with
monks. The Jacobins changed their mind. The Prior, accompanied by some
of the notabilities of the convent, went to Harlay with excuses, and said
he was at liberty, if he liked, to make the door. Harlay, true to his
character, looked at them askance, and replied, that he had changed his
mind and would do without it. The monks, much troubled by his refusal,
insisted; he interrupted them and said, "Look you, my fathers, I am
grandson of Achille du Harlay, Chief-President of the Parliament, who so
well served the State and the Kingdom, and who for his support of the
public cause was dragged to the Bastille, where he expected to be hanged
by those rascally Leaguers; it would ill become me, therefore, to enter
the house, or pray to God there, of folks of the same stamp as that
Jacques Clement." And he immediately turned his back upon them, leaving
them confounded. This was his last act of vigour. He took it into his
head afterwards to go out visiting a good deal, and as he preserved all
his old unpleasant manners, he afflicted all he visited; he went even to
persons who had often cooled their heels in his antechambers. By
degrees, slight but frequent attacks of apoplexy troubled his speech, so
that people had great difficulty in understanding him, and he in
speaking. In this state he did not cease his visits and could not
perceive that many doors were closed to him. He died in this misery, and
this neglect, to the great relief of the few who by relationship were
obliged to see him, above all of his son and his domestic.
On the 17th July, a truce between France and England was published in
Flanders, at the head of the troops of the two crowns. The Emperor,
however, was not yet inclined for peace and his forces under Prince
Eugene continued to oppose us in Flanders, where, however, the tide at
last turned in our favour. The King was so flattered by the overflow of
joy that took place at Fontainebleau on account of our successes, that he
thanked the country for it, for the first time in his life. Prince
Eugene, in want of bread and of everything, raised the siege of
Landrecies, which he had been conducting, and terrible desertion took
place among his troops.
About this time, there was an irruption of wolves, which caused great
disorders in the Orleannais; the King's wolf-hunters were sent there, and
the people were authorised to take arms and make a number of grand
Peace was now all but concluded between France and England. There was,
however, one great obstacle still in its way. Queen Anne and her Council
were stopped by the consideration that the king of Spain would claim to
succeed to the Crown of France, if the little Dauphin should die.
Neither England nor any of the other powers at war would consent to see
the two principal crowns of Europe upon the same head. It was necessary,
then, above all things to get rid of this difficulty, and so arrange the
order of succession to our throne, that the case to be provided against
could never happen. Treaties, renunciations, and oaths, all of which the
King had already broken, appeared feeble guarantees in the eyes of
Europe. Something stronger was sought for. It could not be found;
because there is nothing more sacred among men than engagements which
they consider binding on each other. What was wanting then in mere forms
it was now thought could be supplied by giving to those forms the
greatest possible solemnity.
It was a long time before we could get over the difficulty. The King
would accord nothing except promises in order to guarantee to Europe that
the two crowns should never be united upon the same head. His authority
was wounded at the idea of being called upon to admit, as it were, a
rival near it. Absolute without reply, as he had become, he had
extinguished and absorbed even the minutest trace, idea, and recollection
of all other authority, all other power in France except that which
emanated from himself alone. The English, little accustomed to such
maxims, proposed that the States-General should assemble in order to give
weight to the renunciations to be made. They said, and with reason, that
it was not enough that the King of Spain should renounce France unless
France renounced Spain; and that this formality was necessary in order to
break the double bonds which attached Spain to France, as France was
attached to Spain. Accustomed to their parliaments, which are in effect
their States-General, they believed ours preserved the same authority,
and they thought such authority the greatest to be obtained and the best
capable of solidly supporting that of the King.
The effect of this upon the mind of a Prince almost deified in his own
eyes, and habituated to the most unlimited despotism, cannot be
expressed. To show him that the authority of his subjects was thought
necessary in order to confirm his own, wounded him in his most delicate
part. The English were made to understand the weakness and the
uselessness of what they asked; for the powerlessness of our States-
General was explained to them, and they saw at once how vain their help
would be, even if accorded.
For a long time nothing was done; France saying that a treaty of
renunciation and an express confirmatory declaration of the King,
registered in the Parliament, were sufficient; the English replying by
reference to the fate of past treaties. Peace meanwhile was arranged
with the English, and much beyond our hopes remained undisturbed.
In due time matters were so far advanced in spite of obstacles thrown in
the way by the allies, that the Duc d'Aumont was sent as ambassador into
England; and the Duke of Hamilton was named as ambassador for France.
This last, however, losing his life in a duel with Lord Mohun, the Duke
of Shrewsbury was appointed in his stead.
At the commencement of the new year  the Duke and Duchess of
Shrewsbury arrived in Paris. The Duchess was a great fat masculine
creature, more than past the meridian, who had been beautiful and who
affected to be so still; bare bosomed; her hair behind her ears; covered
with rouge and patches, and full of finicking ways. All her manners were
that of a mad thing, but her play, her taste, her magnificence, even her
general familiarity, made her the fashion. She soon declared the women's
head-dresses ridiculous, as indeed they were. They were edifices of
brass wire, ribbons, hair, and all sorts of tawdry rubbish more than two
feet high, making women's faces seem in the middle of their bodies. The
old ladies wore the same, but made of black gauze. If they moved ever so
lightly the edifice trembled and the inconvenience was extreme. The King
could not endure them, but master as he was of everything was unable to
banish them. They lasted for ten years and more, despite all he could
say and do. What this monarch had been unable to perform, the taste and
example of a silly foreigner accomplished with the most surprising
rapidity. From extreme height, the ladies descended to extreme lowness,
and these head-dresses, more simple; more convenient, and more becoming,
last even now. Reasonable people wait with impatience for some other mad
stranger who will strip our dames of these immense baskets, thoroughly
insupportable to themselves and to others.
Shortly after the Duke of Shrewsbury arrived in Paris, the Hotel de Powis
in London, occupied by our ambassador the Duc d'Aumont, was burnt to the
ground. A neighbouring house was pulled down to prevent others catching
fire. The plate of M. d'Aumont was saved. He pretended to have lost
everything else. He pretended also to have received several warnings
that his house was to be burnt and himself assassinated, and that the
Queen, to whom he had mentioned these warnings, offered to give him a
guard. People judged otherwise in London and Paris, and felt persuaded
he himself had been the incendiary in order to draw money from the King
and also to conceal some monstrous smuggling operations, by which he
gained enormously, and which the English had complained of ever since his
arrival. This is at least what was publicly said in the two courts and
cities, and nearly everybody believed it.
But to return to the peace. The renunciations were ready, towards the
middle of March, and were agreed upon. The King was invited to sign them
by his own most pressing interest; and the Court of England, to which we
owed all, was not less interested in consummating this grand work, so as
to enjoy, with the glory of having imposed it upon all the powers, that
domestic repose which was unceasingly disturbed by the party opposed to
the government, which party, excited by the enemies of peace abroad,
could not cease to cause disquiet to the Queen's minister, while, by
delay in signing, vain hopes of disturbing the peace or hindering its
ratification existed in people's minds. The King of Spain had made his
renunciations with all the solidity and solemnity which could be desired
from the laws, customs, and usages of Spain. It only remained for France
to imitate him.
For the ceremony that was to take place, all that could be obtained in
order to render it more solemn was the presence of the peers. But the
King was so jealous of his authority, and so little inclined to pay
attention to that of others, that he wished to content himself with
merely saying in a general way that he hoped to find all the peers at the
Parliament when the renunciations were made. I told M. d'Orleans that if
the King thought such an announcement as this was enough he might rely
upon finding not a single peer at the Parliament. I added, that if the
King did not himself invite each peer, the master of the ceremonies ought
to do so for him, according to the custom always followed. This warning
had its effect. We all received written invitations, immediately.
Wednesday, the 18th of May, was fixed for the ceremony.
At six o'clock on the morning of that day I went to the apartments of M.
le Duc de Berry, in parliamentary dress, and shortly afterwards M.
d'Orleans came there also, with a grand suite. It had been arranged that
the ceremony was to commence by a compliment from the Chief-President de
Mesmes to M. le Duc de Berry, who was to reply to it. He was much
troubled at this. Madame de Saint-Simon, to whom he unbosomed himself;
found means, through a subaltern, to obtain the discourse of the Chief-
President, and gave it to M. le Duc de Berry, to regulate his reply by.
This, however, seemed too much for him; he admitted so to Madame de
Saint-Simon, and that he knew not what to do. She proposed that I should
take the work off his hands; and he was delighted with the expedient.
I wrote, therefore, a page and a half full of common-sized paper in an
ordinary handwriting. M. le Duc de Berry liked it, but thought it too
long to be learnt. I abridged it; he wished it to be still shorter, so
that at last there was not more than three-quarters of a page. He had
learned it by heart, and repeated it in his cabinet the night before the
ceremony to Madame de Saint-Simon, who encouraged him as much as she
At about half-past six o'clock we set out--M. le Duc d'Orleans, M. le Duc
de Berry, myself, and M. le Duc de Saint-Aignan, in one coach, several
other coaches following. M. le Duc de Berry was very silent all the
journey, appearing to be much occupied with the speech he had learned by
heart. M. d'Orleans, on the contrary, was full of gaiety, and related
some of his youthful adventures, and his wild doings by night in the
streets of Paris. We arrived gently at the Porte de la Conference, that
is to say--for it is now pulled down--at the end of the terrace, and of
the Quai of the Tuileries.
We found there the trumpeters and drummers of M. le Duc de Berry's guard,
who made a great noise all the rest of our journey, which ended at the
Palais de justice. Thence we went to the Sainte-Chapelle to hear mass.
The Chapelle was filled with company, among which were many people of
quality. The crowd of people from this building to the grand chamber was
so great that a pin could not have fallen to the ground. On all sides,
too, folks had climbed up to see what passed.
All the Princes of the blood, the bastards, the peers and the parliament,
were assembled in the palace. When M. le Duc de Berry entered,
everything was ready. Silence having with difficulty been obtained, the
Chief-President paid his compliment to the Prince. When he had finished,
it was for M. le Duc de Berry to reply. He half took off his hat,
immediately put it back again, looked at the Chief-President, and said,
"Monsieur;" after a moment's pause he repeated "Monsieur." Then he
looked at the assembly, and again said, "Monsieur." Afterwards he
turned towards M. d'Orleans, who, like himself, was as red as fire, next
to the Chief-President, and finally stopped short, nothing else than
"Monsieur" having been able to issue from his mouth.
I saw distinctly the confusion of M. le Duc de Berry, and sweated at it;
but what could be done? The Duke turned again towards M. d'Orleans, who
lowered his head. Both were dismayed. At last the Chief-President,
seeing there was no other resource, finished this cruel scene by taking
off his cap to M. le Duc de Berry, and inclining himself very low, as if
the response was finished. Immediately afterwards he told the King's
people to begin. The embarrassment of all the courtiers and the surprise
of the magistracy may be imagined.
The renunciations were then read; and by these the King of Spain and his
posterity gave up all claim to the throne of France, and M. le Duc
d'Orleans, and M. le Duc de Berry to succeed to that of Spain. These and
other forms occupied a long time. The chamber was all the while crowded
to excess. There was not room for a single other person to enter. It
was very late when all was over.
When everything was at an end M. de Saint-Aignan and I accompanied M. le
Duc de Berry and M. le Duc d'Orleans in a coach to the Palais Royal. On
the way the conversation was very quiet. M. le Duc de Berry appeared
dispirited, embarrassed, and vexed. Even after we had partaken of a
splendid and delicate dinner, to which an immense number of other guests
sat down, he did not improve. We were conducted to the Porte Saint-
Honore with the same pomp as that in the midst, of which we had entered
Paris. During the rest of the journey to Versailles M. le Duc de Berry
was as silent as ever.
To add to his vexation, as soon as he arrived at Versailles the Princesse
de Montauban, without knowing a word of what had passed, set herself to
exclaim, with her usual flattery, that she was charmed with the grace and
the appropriate eloquence with which he had spoken at the Parliament, and
paraphrased this theme with all the praises of which it was susceptible.
M. le Duc de Berry blushed with vexation without saying a word; she
recommenced extolling his modesty, he blushing the more, and saying
nothing. When at last he had got rid of her, he went to his own
apartments, said not, a word to the persons he found there, scarcely one
to Madame his wife, but taking Madame de Saint-Simon with him, went into
his library, and shut himself up alone there with her.
Throwing himself into an armchair he cried out that he was dishonoured,
and wept scalding tears. Then he related to Madame de Saint-Simon, in
the midst of sobs, how he had stuck fast at the Parliament, without being
able to utter a word, said that he should everywhere be regarded as an
ass and a blockhead, and repeated the compliments he had received from
Madame de Montauban, who, he said, had laughed at and insulted him,
knowing well what had happened; then, infuriated against her to the last
degree, he called her by all sots of names. Madame de Saint-Simon spared
no exertion in order to calm M. de Berry, assuring him that it was
impossible Madame de Montauban could know what had taken place at the
Parliament, the news not having then reached Versailles, and that she had
had no other object than flattery in addressing him. Nothing availed.
Complaints and silence succeeded each other in the midst of tears. Then,
suddenly falling upon the Duc de Beauvilliers and the King, and accusing
the defects of his education: "They thought only;" he exclaimed,
"of making me stupid, and of stifling all my powers. I was a younger
son. I coped with my brother. They feared the consequences; they
annihilated me. I was taught only to play and to hunt,: and they have
succeeded in making me a fool and an ass, incapable of anything, the
laughing-stock and disdain of everybody." Madame de Saint-Simon was
overpowered with compassion, and did everything to calm M. de Berry.
Their strange tete-a-tete lasted nearly two hours, and resumed the next
day but with less violence. By degrees M. le Duc de Berry became
consoled, but never afterwards did any one dare to speak to him of his
misadventure at the peace ceremony.
Let me here say that, the ceremony over, peace was signed at Utrecht on
the 20th April, 1713, at a late hour of the night. It was published in
Paris with great solemnity on the 22nd. Monsieur and Madame du Maine,
who wished to render themselves popular, came from Sceaux to see the
ceremony in the Place Royale, showed themselves on a balcony to the
people, to whom they threw some money--a liberality that the King would
not have permitted in anybody else. At night fires were lighted before
the houses, several of which were illuminated: On the 25th a Te Deum was
sung at Notre Dame, and in the evening there was a grand display of
fireworks at the Grave, which was followed by a superb banquet given at
the Hotel de Ville by the Duc de Tresmes, the Governor of Paris, to a
large number of distinguished persons of both sexes of the Court and the
city, twenty-four violins playing during the repast.
I have omitted to mention the death of M. de Chevreise, which took place
between seven and eight o'clock in the morning on Saturday, the 5th of
November; of the previous year (1712). I have so often alluded to M. de
Chevreuse in the course of these pages, that I will content myself with
relating here two anecdotes of him, which serve to paint a part of his
He was very forgetful, and adventures often happened to him in
consequence, which diverted us amazingly. Sometimes his horses were put
to and kept waiting for him twelve or fifteen hours at a time. Upon one
occasion in summer this happened at Vaucresson, whence he was going to
dine at Dampierre. The coachman, first, then the postilion, grew tired
of looking after the horses, and left them. Towards six o'clock at night
the horses themselves were in their turn worn out, bolted, and a din was
heard which shook the house. Everybody ran out, the coach was found
smashed, the large door shivered in pieces; the garden railings, which
enclosed both sides of the court, broken down; the gates in pieces; in
short, damage was done that took a long time to repair. M. de Chevreuse,
who had not been disturbed by this uproar even for an instant, was quite
astonished when he heard of it. M. de Beauvilliers amused himself for a
long time by reproaching him with it, and by asking the expense.
Another adventure happened to him also at Vaucresson, and covered him
with real confusion, comical to see, every time it was mentioned. About
ten o'clock one morning a M. Sconin, who had formerly been his steward,
was announced. "Let him take a turn in the garden," said M. de
Chevreuse, "and come back in half an hour." He continued what he was
doing, and completely forgot his man. Towards seven o'clock in the
evening Sconin was again announced. "In a moment," replied M. de
Chevreuse, without disturbing himself. A quarter of an hour afterwards
he called Sconin, and admitted him. "Ah, my poor Sconin!" said he,
"I must offer you a thousand excuses for having caused you to lose your
"Not at all, Monseigneur," replied Sconin. "As I have had the honour of
knowing you for many years, I comprehended this morning that the half-
hour might be long, so I went to Paris, did some business there, before
and after dinner, and here I am again."
M. de Chevreuse was confounded. Sconin did not keep silence, nor did the
servants of the house. M. de Beauvilliers made merry with the adventure
when he heard of it, and accustomed as M. de Chevreuse might be to his
raillery, he could not bear to have this subject alluded to. I have
selected two anecdotes out of a hundred others of the same kind, because
they characterise the man.
The liberality of M. du Maine which we have related on the occasion of
the proclamation of peace at Paris, and which was so popular, and so
surprising when viewed in connection with the disposition of the King,
soon took new development. The Jesuits, so skilful in detecting the
foibles of monarchs, and so clever in seizing hold of everything which
can protect themselves and answer their ends, showed to what extent they
were masters of these arts. A new and assuredly a very original History
of France, in three large folio volumes, appeared under the name of
Father Daniel, who lived at Paris in the establishment of the Jesuits.
The paper and the printing of the work were excellent; the style was
admirable. Never was French so clear, so pure, so flowing, with such
happy transitions; in a word, everything to charm and entice the reader;
admirable preface, magnificent promises, short, learned dissertations, a
pomp, an authority of the most seductive kind. As for the history, there
was much romance in the first race, much in the second, and much.
mistiness in the early times of the third. In a word, all the work
evidently appeared composed in order to persuade people--under the simple
air of a man who set aside prejudices with discernment, and who only
seeks the truth--that the majority of the Kings of the first race,
several of the second, some even of the third, were, bastards, whom this
defect did not exclude from the throne, or affect in any way.
I say bluntly here what was very delicately veiled in the work, and yet
plainly seen. The effect of the book was great; its vogue such, that
everybody, even women, asked for it. The King spoke of it to several of
his Court, asked if they had read it; the most sagacious early saw how
much it was protected; it was the sole historical book the King and
Madame de Maintenon had ever spoken of. Thus the work appeared at
Versailles upon every table, nothing else was talked about, marvellous
eulogies were lavished upon it, which were sometimes comical in the
mouths of persons either very ignorant, or who, incapable of reading,
pretended to read and relish this book.
But this surprising success did not last. People perceived that this
history, which so cleverly unravelled the remote part, gave but a meagre
account of modern days, except in so far as their military operations
were concerned; of which even the minutest details were recorded. Of
negotiations, cabals, Court intrigues, portraits, elevations, falls, and
the main springs of events, there was not a word in all the work, except
briefly, dryly, and with precision as in the gazettes, often more
superficially. Upon legal matters, public ceremonies, fetes of different
times, there was also silence at the best, the same laconism; and when we
come to the affairs of Rome and of the League, it is a pleasure to see
the author glide over that dangerous ice on his Jesuit skates!
In due time critics condemned the work which, after so much applause, was
recognised as a very wretched history, which had very industriously and
very fraudulently answered the purpose for which it was written. It fell
to the ground then; learned men wrote against it; but the principal and
delicate point of the work was scarcely touched in France with the pen,
so great was the danger.
Father Daniel obtained two thousand francs' pension for his history,--
a prodigious recompense,--with a title of Historiographer of France. He
enjoyed the fruits of his falsehood, and laughed at those who attacked
him. Foreign countries did not swallow quite so readily these stories
that declared such a number of our early kings bastards; but great care
was taken not to let France be infected by the disagreeable truths
It is now time that I should say something of the infamous bull
'Unigenitus', which by the unsurpassed audacity and scheming of Father Le
Tellier and his friends was forced upon the Pope and the world.
I need not enter into a very lengthy account of the celebrated Papal
decree which has made so many martyrs, depopulated our schools,
introduced ignorance, fanaticism, and misrule, rewarded vice, thrown the
whole community into the greatest confusion, caused disorder everywhere,
and established the most arbitrary and the most barbarous inquisition;
evils which have doubled within the last thirty years. I will content
myself with a word or two, and will not blacken further the pages of my
Memoirs. Many pens have been occupied, and will be occupied, with this
subject. It is not the apostleship of Jesus Christ that is in question,
but that of the reverend fathers and their ambitious clients.
It is enough to say that the new bull condemned in set terms the
doctrines of Saint-Paul (respected like oracles of the Holy Spirit ever
since the time of our Saviour), and also those of Saint-Augustin, and of
other fathers; doctrines which have always been adopted by the Popes, by
the Councils, and by the Church itself. The bull, as soon as published,
met with a violent opposition in Rome from the cardinals there, who went
by sixes, by eights, and by tens, to complain of it to the Pope. They
might well do so, for they had not been consulted in any way upon this
new constitution. Father Tellier and his friends had had the art and the
audacity to obtain the publication of it without submitting it to them.
The Pope, as I have said, had been forced into acquiescence, and now, all
confused, knew not what to say. He protested, however, that the
publication had been made without his knowledge, and put off the
cardinals with compliments, excuses, and tears, which last he could
The constitution had the same fate in France as in Rome. The cry against
it was universal. The cardinals protested that it would never be
received. They were shocked by its condemnation of the doctrines of
Saint-Augustin and of the other fathers; terrified at its condemnation of
Saint-Paul. There were not two opinions upon this terrible constitution.
The Court, the city, and the provinces, as soon as they knew the nature
of it, rose against it like one man.
In addition to the articles of this constitution which I have already
named, there was one which excited infinite alarm and indignation, for it
rendered the Pope master of every crown! As is well known, there is a
doctrine of the Church, which says:
"An unjust excommunication ought got to hinder [us] from doing our duty."
The new constitution condemned this doctrine, and consequently proclaimed
"An unjust excommunication ought to hinder [us] from doing our duty."
The enormity of this last is more striking than the simple truth of the
proposition condemned. The second is a shadow which better throws up the
light of the first. The results and the frightful consequences of the
condemnation are as clear as day.
I think I have before said that Father Tellier, without any advances on
my part, without, in fact, encouragement of any kind, insisted upon
keeping up an intimacy with me, which I could not well repel, for it came
from a man whom it would have been very dangerous indeed to have for an-
enemy. As soon as this matter of the constitution was in the wind, he
came to me to talk about it. I did not disguise my opinion from him, nor
did he disguise in any way from me the unscrupulous means he meant to
employ in order to get this bull accepted by the clergy. Indeed, he was
so free with me, showed me so plainly his knavery and cunning, that I
was, as it were, transformed with astonishment and fright. I never could
comprehend this openness in a man so false, so artificial, so profound,
or see in what manner it could be useful to him.
One day he came to me by appointment, with a copy of the constitution in
his hand in order that we might thoroughly discuss it. I was at
Versailles. In order to understand what I am going to relate, I must
give some account of my apartments there. Let me say, then, that I had a
little back cabinet, leading out of another cabinet, but so arranged that
you would not have thought it was there. It received no light except
from the outer cabinet, its own windows being boarded up. In this back
cabinet I had a bureau, some chairs, books, and all I needed; my friends
called it my "shop," and in truth it did not ill resemble one.
Father Tellier came at the hour he had fixed. As chance would have it,
M. le Duc and Madame la Duchesse de Berry had invited themselves to a
collation with Madame de Saint-Simon that morning. I knew that when they
arrived I should no longer be master of my chamber or of my cabinet. I
told Father Tellier this, and he was much vexed. He begged me so hard to
find some place where we might be inaccessible to the company, that at
last, pressed by him to excess, I said I knew of only one expedient by
which we might become free: and I told him that he must dismiss his
'vatble' (as the brother who always accompanies a monk is called), and
that then, furnished with candles, we would go and shut ourselves up in
my back cabinet, where we could neither be seen nor heard, if we took
care not to speak loud when anybody approached. He thought the expedient
admirable, dismissed his companion, and we sat down opposite each other,
the bureau between us, with two candles alight upon it.
He immediately began to sing the praises of the Constitution Unigenitus,
a copy of which he placed on the table. I interrupted him so as to come
at once to the excommunication proposition. We discussed it with much
politeness, but with little accord. I shall not pretend to report our
dispute. It was warm and long. I pointed out to Father Tellier, that
supposing the King and the little Dauphin were both to die, and this was
a misfortune which might happen, the crown of France would by right of
birth belong to the King of Spain; but according to the renunciation just
made, it would belong to M. le Duc de Berry and his branch, or in default
to M. le Duc d'Orleans. "Now," said I, "if the two brothers dispute the
crown, and the Pope favouring the one should excommunicate the other, it
follows, according to our new constitution, that the excommunicated must
abandon all his claims, all his partisans, all his forces, and go over to
the other side. For you say, an unjust excommunication ought to hinder
us from doing our duty. So that in one fashion or another the Pope is
master of all the crowns in his communion, is at liberty to take them
away or to give them as he pleases, a liberty so many Popes have claimed
and so many have tried to put in action."
My argument was simple, applicable, natural, and pressing: it offered
itself, of itself. Wherefore, the confessor was amazed by it; he
blushed, he beat about the bush, he could not collect himself. By
degrees he did so, and replied to me in a manner that he doubtless
thought would convince me at once. "If the case you suggest were to
happen," he said, "and the Pope declaring for one disputant were to
excommunicate the other and all his followers, such excommunication would
not merely be unjust, it would be false; and it has never been decided
that a false excommunication should hinder us from doing our duty."
"Ah! my father," I said, "your distinction is subtle and clever, I admit.
I admit, too, I did not expect it, but permit me some few more
objections, I beseech you. Will the Ultramontanes admit the nullity of
the excommunication? Is it not null as soon as it is unjust? If the
Pope has the power to excommunicate unjustly, and to enforce obedience to
his excommunication, who can limit power so unlimited, and why should not
his false (or nullified) excommunication be as much obeyed and respected
as his unjust excommunication? Suppose the case I have imagined were to
happen. Suppose the Pope were to excommunicate one of the two brothers.
Do you think it would be easy to make your subtle distinction between a
false and an unjust excommunication understood by the people, the
soldiers, the bourgeois, the officers, the lords, the women, at the very
moment when they would be preparing to act and to take up arms? You see
I point out great inconveniences that may arise if the new doctrine be
accepted, and if the Pope should claim the power of deposing kings,
disposing of their crowns, and releasing their subjects from the oath of
fidelity in opposition to the formal words of Jesus Christ and of all the
My words transported the Jesuit, for I had touched the right spring in
spite of his effort to hide it. He said nothing personal to me, but he
fumed. The more he restrained himself for me the less he did so for the
matter in hand. As though to indemnify himself for his moderation on my,
account, he launched out the more, upon the subject we were discussing.
In his heat, no longer master of himself, many things escaped him,
silence upon which I am sure he would afterwards have bought very dearly.
He told me so many things of the violence that would be used to make his
constitution accepted, things so monstrous, so atrocious, so terrible,
and with such extreme passion that I fell into a veritable syncope. I
saw him right in front of me between two candles, only the width of the
table between us (I have described elsewhere his horrible physiognomy).
My hearing and my sight became bewildered. I was seized, while he was
speaking, with the full idea of what a Jesuit was. Here was a man who,
by his state and his vows, could hope for nothing for his family or for
himself; who could not expect an apple or a glass of wine more than his
brethren; who was approaching an age when he would have to render account
of all things to God, and who, with studied deliberation and mighty
artifice, was going to throw the state and religion into the most
terrible flames, and commence a most frightful persecution for questions
which affected him in nothing, nor touched in any way the honour of the
School of Molina!
His profundities, the violence he spoke of--all this together, threw me
into such an ecstasy, that suddenly I interrupted him by saying:
"My father, how old are you?"
The extreme surprise which painted itself upon his face as I looked at
him with all my eyes, fetched back my senses, and his reply brought me
completely to myself. "Why do you ask?" he replied, smiling. The effort
that I made over myself to escape such a unique 'proposito', the terrible
value of which I fully appreciated, furnished me an issue. "Because,"
said I, "never have I looked at you so long as I have now, you in front
of me, these two candles between us, and your face is so fresh and so
healthy, with all your labours, that I am surprised at it."
He swallowed the answer, or so well pretended to do so, that he said
nothing of it then nor since, never ceasing when he met me to speak to me
as openly, and as frequently as before, I seeking him as little as ever.
He replied at that time that he was seventy-four years old; that in truth
he was very well; that he had accustomed himself, from his earliest
years, to a hard life and to labour; and then went back to the point at
which I had interrupted him. We were compelled, however, to be silent
for a time, because people came into my cabinet, and Madame de Saint-
Simon, who knew of our interview, had some difficulty to keep the coast
For more than two hours we continued our discussion, he trying to put me
off with his subtleties and authoritativeness, I offering but little
opposition to him, feeling that opposition was of no use, all his plans
being already decided. We separated without having persuaded each other,
he with many flatteries upon my intelligence, praying me to reflect well
upon the matter; I replying that my reflections were all made, and that
my capacity could not go farther. I let him out by the little back door
of my cabinet, so that nobody perceived him, and as soon as I had closed
it, I threw myself into a chair like a man out of breath, and I remained
there a long time alone, reflecting upon the strange kind of ecstasy I
had been in, and the horror it had caused me.
The results of this constitution were, as I have said, terrible to the
last degree; every artifice, every cruelty was used, in order to force it
down the throats of the clergy; and hence the confusion and sore trouble
which arose all over the realm. But it is time now for me to touch upon
Towards the close of this year, 1713, peace with the Emperor seemed so
certain, that the King disbanded sixty Battalions and eighteen men per
company of the regiment of the guards, and one hundred and six squadrons;
of which squadrons twenty-seven were dragoons. At peace now with the
rest of Europe he had no need of so many troops, even although the war
Against the Empire had continued; fortunately, however it did not.
Negotiations were set on foot, and on the 6th of March of the following
year, 1714, after much debate, they ended successfully. On that day, in
fact, peace was signed at Rastadt. It was shortly afterwards published
at Paris, a Te Deum sung, and bonfires lighted at night; a grand
collation was given at the Hotel de Ville by the Duc de Tresmes, who at
midnight also gave, in his own house, a splendid banquet, at which were
present many ladies, foreigners, and courtiers.
This winter was fertile in balls at the Court; there were several, fancy-
dress and masked, given by M. le Duc de Berry, by Madame la Duchesse de
Berry, M. le Duc, and others. There were some also at Paris, and at
Sceaux, where Madame du Maine gave many fetes and played many comedies,
everybody going there from Paris and the Court--M. du Maine doing the
Honours. Madame la Duchesse de Berry was in the family way, and went to
no dances out of her own house. The King permitted her, on account of
her condition, to sup with him in a robe de chambre, as under similar
circumstances he had permitted the two Dauphines to do.
At the opera, one night this winter, the Abbe Servien, not liking certain
praises of the King contained in a Prologue, let slip a bitter joke in
ridicule of them. The pit took it up, repeated it, and applauded it.
Two days afterwards, the Abbe Servien was arrested and taken to
Vincennes, forbidden to speak to anybody and allowed no servant to wait
upon him. For form's sake seals were put upon his papers, but he was not
a man likely to have any fit for aught else than to light the fire.
Though more than sixty-five years old, he was strangely debauched.
The Duc de la Rochefoucauld died on Thursday, the 11th of January, at
Versailles, seventy-nine years of age, and blind. I have spoken of him
so frequently in the course of these memoirs, that I will do nothing more
now than relate a few particulars respecting him, which will serve in
some sort to form his portrait.
He had much honour, worth, and probity. He was noble, good, magnificent,
ever willing to serve his friends; a little too much so, for he
oftentimes wearied the King with importunities on their behalf. Without
any intellect or discernment he was proud to excess, coarse and rough in
his manners--disagreeable even, and embarrassed with all except his
flatterers; like a man who does not know how to receive a visit, enter or
leave a room. He scarcely went anywhere except to pay the indispensable
compliments demanded by marriage, death, etc., and even then as little as
he could. He lived in his own house so shut up that no, one went to see
him except on these same occasions. He gave himself up almost entirely
to his valets, who mixed themselves in the conversation; and you were
obliged to treat them with all sorts of attentions if you wished to
become a frequenter of the house.
I shall never forget what happened to us at the death of the Prince of
Vaudemont's son, by which M. de la Rochefoucauld's family came in for a
good inheritance. We were at Marly. The King had been stag-hunting.
M. de Chevreuse, whom I found when the King was being unbooted, proposed
that we should go and pay our compliments to M. de la Rochefoucauld.
We went. Upon entering, what was our surprise, nay, our shame, to find
M. de la Rochefoucauld playing at chess with one of his servants in
livery, seated opposite to him! Speech failed us. M. de la
Rochefoucauld perceived it, and remained confounded himself. He
stammered, he grew confused, he tried to excuse what we had seen, saying
that this lackey played very well, and that chess-players played with
everybody. M. de Chevreuse had not come to contradict him; neither had
I; we turned the conversation, therefore, and left as soon as possible.
As soon as we were outside we opened our minds to each other, and said
what we thought of this rare meeting, which, however, we did not make
M. de Rochefoucauld, towards the end of his career at Court, became so
importunate, as I have said, for his friends, that the King was much
relieved by his death. Such have been his sentiments at the death of
nearly all those whom he had liked and favoured.
Of the courage of M. de la Rochefoucauld, courtier as he was, in speaking
to the King, I will relate an instance. It was during one of the visits