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The Historic Court Memoirs of France, complete

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His suppers were always in very strange company. His mistresses,
sometimes an opera girl, often Madame la Duchesse de Berry, and a dozen
men whom he called his rows, formed the party. The requisite cheer was
prepared in places made expressly, on the same floor, all the utensils
were of silver; the company often lent a hand to the cooks. It was at
these parties that the character of every one was passed in review,
ministers and favourites like the rest, with a liberty which was
unbridled license. The gallantries past and present of the Court and of
the town; all old stories, disputes, jokes, absurdities were raked up;
nobody was spared; M. le Duc d'Orleans had his say like the rest, but
very rarely did these discourses make the slightest impression upon him.
The company drank as much as they could, inflamed themselves, said the
filthiest things without stint, uttered impieties with emulation, and
when they had made a good deal of noise and were very drunk, they went to
bed to recommence the same game the next day. From the moment when
supper was ready, business, no matter of, what importance, no matter
whether private or national, was entirely banished from view. Until the
next morning everybody and everything were compelled to wait.

The Regent lost then an infinite amount of time in private, in
amusements, and debauchery. He lost much also in audiences too long, too
extended, too easily granted, and drowned himself in those same details
which during the lifetime of the late King we had both so often
reproached him with. Questions he might have decided in half an hour he
prolonged, sometimes from weakness, sometimes from that miserable desire
to set people at loggerheads, and that poisonous maxim which occasionally
escaped him or his favourite, 'divide et impera'; often from his general
mistrust of everybody and everything; nothings became hydras with which
he himself afterwards was much embarrassed. His familiarity and his
readiness of access extremely pleased people, but were much abused.
Folks sometimes were even wanting in respect to him, which at last was an
inconvenience all the more dangerous because he could not, when he
wished, reprimand those who embarrassed him; insomuch as they themselves
did not feel embarrassed.

What is extraordinary is, neither his mistress nor Madame la Duchesse de
Berry, nor his 'roues', could ever draw anything from him, even when
drunk, concerning the affairs of the government, however important. He
publicly lived with Madame de Parabere; he lived at the same time with
others; he amused himself with the jealousy and vexation of these women;
he was not the less on good terms with them all; and the scandal of this
public seraglio, and that of the daily filthiness and impiety at his
suppers, were extreme and spread everywhere.

Towards the end of the year (1715) the Chevalier de Bouillon, who since
the death of the son of the Comte d'Auvergne had taken the name of the
Prince d'Auvergne, proposed to the Regent that there should be a public
ball, masked and unmasked, in the opera three times a week, people to pay
upon entering, and the boxes to be thrown open to those who did not care
to dance. It was believed that a public ball, guarded as is the opera on
days of performance, would prevent those adventures which happened so
often at the little obscure balls scattered throughout Paris; and indeed
close them altogether. The opera balls were established on a grand
scale, and with all possible effect. The proposer of the idea had for it
six thousand livres pension; and a machine admirably invented and of easy
and instantaneous application, was made to cover the orchestra, and put
the stage and the pit on the same level. The misfortune was, that the
opera was at the Palais Royal, and that M. le Duc d'Orleans had only one
step to take to reach it after his suppers and show himself there, often
in a state but little becoming. The Duc de Noailles, who strove to pay
court to him, went there from the commencement so drunk that there was no
indecency he did not commit.


Let me speak now of another matter.

A Scotchman, I do not know of what family, a great player and combiner,
who had gained much in various countries he had been in, had come to
Paris during the last days of the deceased King. His name was Law; but
when he became more known, people grew so accustomed to call him Las,
that his name of Law disappeared. He was spoken of to M. le Duc
d'Orleans as a man deep in banking and commercial matters, in the
movements of the precious metals, in monies and finance: the Regent, from
this description, was desirous to see him. He conversed with Law some
time, and was so pleased with him, that he spoke of him to Desmarets as a
man from whom information was to be drawn. I recollect that the Prince
spoke of him to me at the same time. Desmarets sent for Law, and was a
long while with him several times; I know nothing of what passed between
them or its results, except that Desmarets was pleased with Law, and
formed some esteem for him.

M. le Duc d'Orleans, after that, only saw him from time to time; but
after the first rush of affairs, which followed the death of the King,
Law, who had formed some subaltern acquaintances at the Palais Royal, and
an intimacy with the Abbe Dubois, presented himself anew before M. le Duc
d'Orleans, soon after conversed with him in private, and proposed some
finance plans to him. The Regent made him work with the Duc de Noailles,
with Rouille, with Amelot--this last for commercial matters. The first
two were afraid of an intruder, favoured by the Regent, in their
administration; so that Law was a long time tossed about, but was always
backed by the Duc d'Orleans. At last, the bank project pleased that
Prince so much that he wished to carry it out. He spoke in private to
the heads of finance, in whom he found great opposition. He had often
spoken to me of it, and I had contented myself with listening to him upon
a matter I never liked, and which, consequently, I never well understood;
and the carrying out of which appeared to me distant. When he had
entirely formed his resolution, he summoned a financial and commercial
assembly, in which Law explained the whole plan of the bank he wished to
establish (this was on the 24th of October, 1715). He was listened to as
long as he liked to talk. Some, who saw that the Regent was almost
decided, acquiesced; but the majority opposed.

Law was not disheartened. The majority were spoken to privately in very
good French. Nearly the same assembly was called, in which, the Regent
being present, Law again explained his project. This time few opposed
and feebly. The Duc de Noailles was obliged to give in. The bank being
approved of in this manner, it had next to be proposed to the regency

M. le Duc d'Orleans took the trouble to speak in private to each member
of the council, and gently to make them understand that he wished the
bank to meet with no opposition. He spoke his mind to me thoroughly:
therefore a reply was necessary. I said to him that I did not hide my
ignorance or my disgust for all finance matters; that, nevertheless, what
he had just explained to me appeared good in itself, that without any new
tax, without expense, and without wronging or embarrassing anybody, money
should double itself at once by means of the notes of this bank, and
become transferable with the greatest facility. But along with this
advantage I found two inconveniences, the first, how to govern the bank
with sufficient foresight and wisdom, so as not to issue more notes than
could be paid whenever presented: the second, that what is excellent in a
republic, or in a monarchy where the finance is entirely popular, as in
England, is of pernicious use in an absolute monarchy, such as France,
where the necessities of a war badly undertaken and ill sustained, the
avarice of a first minister, favourite, or mistress, the luxury, the wild
expenses, the prodigality of a King, might soon exhaust a bank, and ruin
all the holders of notes, that is to say, overthrow the realm. M. le Duc
d'Orleans agreed to this; but at the same time maintained that a King
would have so much interest in never meddling or allowing minister,
mistress, or favourite to meddle with the bank, that this capital
inconvenience was never to be feared. Upon that we for a long time
disputed without convincing each other, so that when, some few days
afterwards, he proposed the bank to the regency council, I gave my
opinion as I have just explained it, but with more force and at length:
and my conclusion was to reject the bank, as a bait the most fatal, in an
absolute country, while in a free country it would be a very good and
very wise establishment.

Few dared to be of this opinion: the bank passed. Duc d'Orleans cast
upon me some little reproaches, but gentle, for having spoken at such
length. I based my excuses upon my belief that by duty, honour, and
conscience, I ought to speak according to my persuasion, after having
well thought over the matter, and explained myself sufficiently to make
my opinion well understood, and the reason I had for forming it.
Immediately after, the edict was registered without difficulty at the
Parliament. This assembly sometimes knew how to please the Regent with
good grace in order to turn the cold shoulder to him afterwards with more

Some time after, to relate all at once, M. le Duc d'Orleans wished me to
see Law in order that he might explain to me his plans, and asked me to
do so as a favour. I represented to him my unskilfulness in all finance
matters; that Law would in vain speak a language to me of which I
understood nothing, that we should both lose our time very uselessly.
I tried to back out thus, as well as I could. The Regent several times
reverted to the charge, and at last demanded my submission. Law came
then to my house. Though there was much of the foreigner in his bearing,
in his expressions, and in his accent, he expressed himself in very good
terms, with much clearness and precision. He conversed with me a long
while upon his bank, which, indeed, was an excellent thing in itself, but
for another country rather than for France, and with a prince less easy
than the Regent. Law had no other solutions to give me, of my two
objections, than those the Regent himself had given, which did not
satisfy me. But as the affair had passed, and there was nothing now to
do but well direct it, principally upon that did our conversation turn.
I made him feel as much as I could the importance of not showing such
facility, that it might be abused, with a Regent so good, so easy, so
open, so surrounded. I masked as well as I could what I wished to make
him understand thereupon; and I dwelt especially upon the necessity of
being prepared to satisfy instantly all bearers of notes, who should
demand payment: for upon this depended the credit or the overthrow of the
bank. Law, on going out, begged me to permit him to come sometimes and
talk with me; we separated mutually satisfied, at which the Regent was
still more so.

Law came several other times to my house, and showed much desire to grow
intimate with me. I kept to civilities, because finance entered not into
my head, and I regarded as lost time all these conversations. Some time
after, the Regent, who spoke to me tolerably often of Law with great
prepossession, said that he had to ask of me, nay to demand of me, a
favour; it was, to receive a visit from Law regularly every week. I
represented to him the perfect inutility of these conversations, in which
I was incapable of learning anything, and still more so of enlightening
Law upon subjects he possessed, and of which I knew naught. It was in
vain; the Regent wished it; obedience was necessary. Law, informed of
this by the Regent, came then to my house. He admitted to me with good
grace, that it was he who had asked the Regent to ask me, not daring to
do so himself. Many compliments followed on both sides, and we agreed
that he should come to my house every Tuesday morning about ten o'clock,
and that my door should be closed to everybody while he remained. This
first visit was not given to business. On the following Tuesday morning
he came to keep his appointment, and punctually came until his
discomfiture. An hour-and-a-half, very often two hours, was the ordinary
time for our conversations. He always took care to inform me of the
favour his bank was obtaining in France and foreign countries, of its
products, of his views, of his conduct, of the opposition he met with
from the heads of finance and the magistracy, of his reasons, and
especially of his balance sheet, to convince me that he was more than
prepared to face all holders of notes whatever sums they had to ask for.

I soon knew that if Law had desired these regular visits at my house, it
was not because he expected to make me a skilful financier; but because,
like a man of sense--and he had a good deal--he wished to draw near a
servitor of the Regent who had the best post in his confidence, and who
long since had been in a position to speak to him of everything and of
everybody with the greatest freedom and the most complete liberty; to try
by this frequent intercourse to gain my friendship; inform himself by me
of the intrinsic qualities of those of whom he only saw the outside; and
by degrees to come to the Council, through me, to represent the
annoyances he experienced, the people with whom he had to do; and lastly,
to profit by my dislike to the Duc de Noailles, who, whilst embracing him
every day, was dying of jealousy and vexation, and raised in his path,
under-hand, all the obstacles and embarrassments possible, and would have
liked to stifle him. The bank being in action and flourishing,
I believed it my duty to sustain it. I lent myself, therefore, to the
instructions Law proposed, and soon we spoke to each other with a
confidence I never have had reason to repent. I will not enter into the
details of this bank, the other schemes which followed it, or the
operations made in consequence. This subject of finance would fill
several volumes. I will speak of it only as it affects the history of
the time, or what concerns me in particular. It is the history of my
time I have wished to write; I should have been too much turned from it
had I entered into the immense details respecting finance. I might add
here what Law was. I defer it to a time when this curiosity will be more
in place.

Arouet, son of a notary, who was employed by my father and me until his
death, was exiled and sent to Tulle at this time (the early part of
1716), for some verses very satirical and very impudent.

I should not amuse myself by writing down such a trifle, if this same
Arouet, having become a great poet and academician under the name of
Voltaire, had not also become--after many tragical adventures--a manner
of personage in the republic of letters, and even achieved a sort of
importance among certain people.


I have elsewhere alluded to Alberoni, and shown what filthy baseness he
stooped to in order to curry favour with the infamous Duc de Vendome.
I have also shown that he accompanied the new Queen of Spain from Parma
to Madrid, after she had been married, by procuration, to Philip V. He
arrived at the Court of Spain at a most opportune moment for his fortune.
Madame des Ursins had just been disgraced; there was no one to take her
place. Alberoni saw his opportunity and was not slow to avail himself of
it. During the journey with the new Queen, he had contrived to
ingratiate himself so completely into her favour, that she was, in a
measure, prepared to see only with his eyes. The King had grown so
accustomed to be shut out from all the world, and to be ruled by others,
that he easily adapted himself to his new chains. The Queen and
Alberoni, then, in a short time had him as completely under their thumb,
as he had before been under that of Madame des Ursins.

Alberoni, unscrupulous and ambitious, stopped at nothing in order to
consolidate his power and pave the way for his future greatness. Having
become prime minister, he kept the King as completely inaccessible to the
courtiers as to the world; would allow no one to approach him whose
influence he had in any way feared. He had Philip completely in his own
hands by means of the Queen, and was always on his guard to keep him

Ever since the Regent's accession to power an intimacy had gradually been
growing up between the two governments of France and England. This was
mainly owing to the intrigues of the Abbe Dubois, who had sold himself to
the English Court, from which he secretly received an enormous pension.
He was, therefore, devoted heart and soul--if such a despicable personage
can be said to have the one or the other--to the interests of King
George, and tried to serve them in every way. He had but little
difficulty--comparatively speaking--in inducing M. le Duc d'Orleans to
fall into his nets, and to declare himself in favour of an English
alliance. Negotiations with this end in view were, in fact, set on foot,
had been for some time; and about the month of September of this year
(1716), assumed a more smiling face than they had yet displayed.

Both France and England, from different motives, wished to draw Spain
into this alliance. The Regent, therefore, in order to further this
desire, obtained from England a promise that she would give up Gibraltar
to its former owners, the Spaniards. The King of England consented to do
so, but on one condition: it was, that in order not to expose himself to
the cries of the party opposed to him, this arrangement should be kept
profoundly secret until executed. In order that this secrecy might be
secured, he stipulated that the negotiation should not in any way pass
through the hands of Alberoni, or any Spanish minister, but be treated
directly between the Regent and the King of Spain, through a confidential
agent chosen by the former.

This confidential agent was to take a letter respecting the treaty to the
King of Spain, a letter full of insignificant trifles, and at the same
time a positive order from the King of England, written and signed by his
hand, to the Governor of Gibraltar, commanding him to surrender the place
to the King of Spain the very moment he received this order, and to
retire with his garrison, etc., to Tangiers. In order to execute this a
Spanish general was suddenly to march to Gibraltar, under pretence of
repressing the incursions of its garrison,--summon the Governor to
appear, deliver to him the King of England's order, and enter into
possession of the place. All this was very weakly contrived; but this
concerned the King of England, not us.

I must not be proud; and must admit that I knew nothing of all this, save
at second-hand. If I had, without pretending to be very clever, I must
say that I should have mistrusted this fine scheme. The King of England
could not be ignorant with what care and with what jealousy the Queen and
Alberoni kept the King of Spain locked up, inaccessible to everybody--and
that the certain way to fail, was to try to speak to him without their
knowledge, in spite of them, or unaided by them. However, my opinion
upon this point was not asked, and accordingly was not given.

Louville was the secret agent whom the Regent determined to send. He had
already been in Spain, had gained the confidence of the King, and knew
him better than any other person who could have been chosen. Precisely
because of all these reasons, I thought him the most unfit person to be
charged with this commission. The more intimate he had been with the
King of Spain, the more firm in his confidence, the more would he be
feared by the Queen and Alberoni; and the more would they do to cover his
embassy with failure, so as to guard their credit and their authority.
I represented my views on this subject to Louville, who acknowledged
there was truth in them, but contented himself with saying, that he had
not in his surprise dared to refuse the mission offered to him; and that
if he succeeded in it, the restitution to Spain of such an important
place as Gibraltar, would doubtless be the means of securing to him large
arrears of pensions due to him from Philip the First: an object of no
small importance in his eyes. Louville, therefore, in due time departed
to Madrid, on his strange and secret embassy.

Upon arriving he went straight to the house of the Duc de Saint-Aignan,
our ambassador, and took up his quarters there. Saint-Aignan who had
received not the slightest information of his arriving, was surprised
beyond measure at it. Alberoni was something more than surprised.
As fortune would have it, Louville when at some distance from Madrid was
seen by a courier, who straightway told Alberoni of the circumstance.
As may be imagined, tormented as Alberoni was by jealousy and suspicion,
this caused him infinite alarm. He was quite aware who Louville was;
the credit he had attained with the King of Spain; the trouble Madame
des Ursins and the deceased Queen had had to get him out of their way;
the fear, therefore, that he conceived on account of this unexpected
arrival, was so great that he passed all bounds, in order to free himself
from it.

He instantly despatched a courier to meet Louville with an order
prohibiting him to approach any nearer to Madrid. The courier missed
Louville, but a quarter of an hour after this latter had alighted at
Saint-Aignan's, he received a note from Grimaldo inclosing an order from
the King of Spain, commanding him to leave the city that instant!
Louville replied that he was charged with a confidential letter from the
King of France, and with another from M. le Duc d'Orleans, for the King
of Spain; and with a commission for his Catholic Majesty which would not
permit him to leave until he had executed it. In consequence of this
reply, a courier was at once despatched to the Prince de Cellamare,
Spanish ambassador at Paris, ordering him to ask for the recall of
Louville, and to declare that the King of Spain so disliked his person
that he would neither see him, nor allow him to treat with any of the

Meanwhile the fatigue of the journey followed by such a reception so
affected Louville, that during the night he had an attack of a disease to
which he was subject, so that he had a bath prepared for him, into which
he got towards the end of the morning.

Alberoni, not satisfied with what he had already done, came himself to
the Duc de Saint-Aignan's, in order to persuade Louville to depart at
once. Despite the representations made to him, he insisted upon
penetrating to the sick-chamber. There he saw Louville in his bath.
Nothing could be more civil than the words of Alberoni, but nothing could
be more dry, more negative, or more absolute than their signification.
He pitied the other's illness and the fatigue of his journey; would have
wished to have known of this journey beforehand, so as to have prevented
it; and had hoped to be able to overcome the repugnance of the King of
Spain to see him, or at least to obtain permission for him to remain some
days in Madrid. He added that he had been unable to shake his Majesty in
any way, or to avoid obeying the very express order he had received from
him, to see that he (Louville) departed at once.

Louville, however, was in a condition which rendered his departure
impossible. Alberoni admitted this, but warned him that his stay must
only last as long as his illness, and that the attack once over, he must
away. Louville insisted upon the confidential letters, of which he was
the bearer, and which gave him an official character, instructed as he
was to execute an important commission from the King of France, nephew of
the King of Spain, such as his Majesty could not refuse to hear direct
from his mouth, and such as he would regret not having listened to.
The dispute was long and warm, despite the illness of Louville, who could
gain nothing. He did not fail to remain five or six days with the Duc de
Saint-Aignan, and to make him act as ambassador in order to obtain an
audience of the King, although Saint-Aignan was hurt at being kept
ignorant of the object of the other's mission.

Louville did not dare to call upon a soul, for fear of committing
himself, and nobody dared to call upon him. He hazarded, however, for
curiosity, to go and see the King of Spain pass through a street, and
ascertain if, on espying him, he would not be tempted to hear him, in
case his arrival, as was very possible, had been kept a secret. But
Alberoni had anticipated everything. Louville saw the King pass,
certainly, but found it was impossible to make himself perceived by his
Majesty. Grimaldo came afterwards to intimate to Louville an absolute
order to depart, and to inform the Duc de Saint-Aignan that the King of
Spain was so angry with the obstinacy of this delay, that he would not
say what might happen if the stay of Louville was protracted; but that he
feared the respect due to a representative minister, and above all an
ambassador of France, would be disregarded.

Both Louville and Saint-Aignan clearly saw that all audience was
impossible, and that in consequence a longer stay could only lead to
disturbances which might embroil the two crowns; so that, at the end of
seven or eight days, Louville departed, returning as he came. Alberoni
began then to breathe again after the extreme fear he had had. He was
consoled by this proof of his power, which showed he need no longer fear
that any one could approach the King without his aid, or that any
business could be conducted without him. Thus Spain lost Gibraltar, and
she has never been able to recover it since.

Such is the utility of prime ministers!

Alberoni spread the report in Spain and in France, that Philip V. had
taken a mortal aversion against Louville, since he had driven him out of
the country for his insolence and his scheming; that he would never see
him, and was offended because he had passed the Pyrenees; that Louville
had no proposition to make, or commission to execute; that he had
deceived the Regent, in making him believe that if once he found a
pretext for appearing before the King of Spain, knowing him so well as he
did, that prince would be ravished by the memory of his former affection,
would reinstate him in his former credit, and thus France would be able
to make Spain do all she wished. In a word, Alberoni declared that
Louville had only come into the country to try and obtain some of the
pensions he had been promised on quitting the King of Spain, but that he
had not gone the right way to work to be so soon paid.

Nothing short of the effrontery of Alberoni would have been enough for
the purpose of spreading these impostures. No one had forgotten in Spain
what Madame des Ursins had done to get rid of Louville, how the King of
Spain had resisted; that she was not able to succeed without the aid of
France and her intrigues with Madame de Maintenon; and that the King,
afflicted to the utmost, yielding to the orders given by France to
Louville, had doubled the pensions which had for a long time been paid to
him, given him a sum of money in addition, and the government of
Courtray, which he lost only by the misfortune of the war that followed
the loss of the battle of Ramillies. With respect to the commission, to
deny it was an extreme piece of impudence, a man being concerned so well
known as Louville, who descends at the house of the ambassador of France,
says he has letters of trust from the King and the Regent, and an
important mission which he can only confide to the King of Spain, the
self-same ambassador striving to obtain an audience for him. Nothing was
so easy as to cover Louville with confusion, if he had spoken falsely,
by making him show his letters; if he had none he would have been struck
dumb, and having no official character, Alberoni would have been free to
punish him. Even if with confidential letters, he had only a complaint
to utter in order to introduce himself and to solicit his pay, Alberoni
would very easily have been able to dishonour him, because he had no
commission after having roundly asserted that he was charged with one of
great importance. But omnipotence says and does with impunity whatever
it pleases.

Louville having returned, it was necessary to send word to the King of
England of all he had done in Spain; and this business came to nothing,
except that it set Alberoni against the Regent for trying to execute a
secret commission without his knowledge; and that it set the Regent
against Alberoni for frustrating a project so openly, and for showing the
full force of his power. Neither of the two ever forgot this matter; and
the dislike of Alberoni to the Regent led, as will be seen, to some
strange results.

I will add here, that the treaty of alliance between France and England
was signed a short time after this event. I did my utmost to prevent it,
representing to the Regent that his best policy was to favour the cause
of the Pretender, and thus by keeping the attention of Great Britain
continually fixed upon her domestic concerns, he would effectually
prevent her from influencing the affairs of the continent, and long were
the conversations I had with him, insisting upon this point. But
although, while he was with me, my arguments might appear to have some
weight with him, they were forgotten, clean swept from his mind, directly
the Abbe Dubois, who had begun to obtain a most complete and pernicious
influence over him, brought his persuasiveness to bear. Dubois' palm had
been so well greased by the English that he was afraid of nothing.
He succeeded then in inducing the Regent to sign a treaty with England,
in every way, it may safely be said, advantageous to that power, and in
no way advantageous to France. Amongst other conditions, the Regent
agreed to send the so-called Pretender out of the realm, and to force him
to seek an asylum in Italy. This was, in fact, executed to the letter.
King James, who for some time had retired to Avignon, crossed the Alps
and settled in Rome, where he lived ever afterwards. I could not but
deplore the adoption of a policy so contrary to the true interests of
France; but the business being done I held my peace, and let matters take
their course. It was the only course of conduct open to me.


I have already shown in these memoirs, that the late King had made of the
lieutenant of police a species of secret and confidential minister; a
sort of inquisitor, with important powers that brought him in constant
relation with the King. The Regent, with less authority than the
deceased monarch, and with more reasons than he to be well informed of
everything passing, intrigues included, found occupying this office of
lieutenant of police, Argenson, who had gained his good graces chiefly,
I fancy, when the affair of the cordelier was on the carpet, as shown in
its place. Argenson, who had much intelligence, and who had desired this
post as the entry, the basis, and the road of his fortune, filled it in a
very superior manner, and the Regent made use of him with much liberty.
The Parliament, very ready to show the extent of its authority
everywhere, at the least as though in competition with that of the
Regent, suffered impatiently what it called the encroachments of the
Court. It wished to indemnify itself for the silence it had been
compelled to keep thereon under the last reign, and to re-obtain at the
expense of the Regent all it had lost of its authority over the police,
of which it is the head. The lieutenant of police is answerable to this
body--even receives his orders from it, and its reprimands (in public
audiences, standing uncovered at the bar of the Parliament) from the
mouth of the Chief-President, or of him who presides, and who calls him
neither Master nor Monsieur, but nakedly by his name, although the
lieutenant of police might have claimed these titles, being then
Councillor of State.

The Parliament wished, then, to humiliate Argenson (whom it hated during
the time of the deceased King); to give a disagreeable lesson to the
Regent; to prepare worse treatment still for his lieutenant of police; to
make parade of its power, to terrify thus the public, and arrogate to
itself the right of limiting the authority of the Regent.

Argenson had often during the late reign, and sometimes since, made use
of an intelligent and clever fellow, just suited to him, and named
Pomereu, to make discoveries, arrest people, and occasionally keep them a
short time in his own house. The Parliament believed, and rightly, that
in arresting this man under other pretexts, it would find the thread of
many curious and secret tortuosities, which would aid its design, and
that it might plume itself upon protecting the public safety against the
tyranny of secret arrests and private imprisonments. To carry out its
aim it made use of the Chamber of justice, so as to appear as little as
possible in the matter. This Chamber hastened on so well the
proceedings, for fear of being stopped on the road, that the first hint
people had of them was on learning that Pomereu was, by decree of this
Chamber, in the prisons of the Conciergerie, which are those of the
Parliament. Argenson, who was informed of this imprisonment immediately
it took place, instantly went to the Regent, who that very moment sent a
'lettre de cachet', ordering Pomereu to be taken from prison by force if
the gaoler made the slightest difficulty in giving him up to the bearers
of the 'lettre de cachet'; but that gentleman did not dare to make any.
The execution was so prompt that this man was not an hour in prison, and
they who had sent him there had not time to seize upon a box of papers
which had been transported with him to the Conciergerie, and which was
very carefully carried away with him. At the same time, everything in
any way bearing upon Pomereu, or upon the things in which he had been
employed, was carefully removed and secreted.

The vexation of the Parliament upon seeing its prey, which it had
reckoned upon making such a grand use of, carried off before its eyes,
may be imagined. It left nothing undone in order to move the public by
its complaints, and by its cries against such an attack upon law. The
Chamber of justice sent a deputation to the Regent, who made, fun of it,
by gravely giving permission to the deputies to re-take their prisoner,
but without saying a single word to them upon his escape from gaol. He
was in Paris, in a place where he feared nobody. The Chamber of justice
felt the derisiveness of the Regent's permission, and ceased to transact
business. It thought to embarrass the Regent thus, but 'twould have been
at its own expense. This lasted only a day or two. The Duc de Noailles
spoke to the Chamber; the members felt they could gain nothing by their
strike, and that if they were obstinate they would be dispensed with, and
others found to perform their duties. They recommenced their labours
then, and the Parliament gained nothing by its attack, but only showed
its ill-will, and at the same time its powerlessness.

I have forgotten something which, from its singularity, deserves
recollection, and I will relate it now lest it should escape me again.

One afternoon, as we were about to take our places at the regency
council, the Marechal de Villars drew me aside and asked me if I knew
that Marly was going to be destroyed. I replied, "No;" indeed, I had not
heard speak of it; and I added that I could not believe it. "You do not
approve of it?" said the Marechal. I assured him I was far from doing
so. He repeated that the destruction was resolved on, that he knew it
beyond all doubt, and that if I wished to hinder it, I had not a moment
to lose. I replied that when we took our places I would speak to M. le
Duc d'Orleans. "Immediately," quickly replied the Marechal; "speak to
him this instant, for the order is perhaps already given."

As all the council were already seated I went behind to M. le Duc
d'Orleans, and whispered in his ear what I had just learnt without naming
from whom, and begged him, if my information was right, to suspend
execution of his project until I had spoken to him, adding that I would
join him at the Palais Royal after the council. He stammered a little,
as if sorry at being discovered, but nevertheless agreed to wait for me:
I said so in leaving to the Marechal de Villars, and went to the Palais
Royal, where M. le Duc d'Orleans admitted the truth of the news I had
heard. I said I would not ask who had given such a pernicious counsel.
He tried to show it was good by pointing to the saving in keeping up that
would be obtained; to the gain that would accrue from the sale of so many
water-conduits and materials; to the unpleasant situation of a place to
which the King would not be able to go for several years; and to the
expense the King was put to in keeping up so many other beautiful houses,
not one of which admitted of pulling down.

I replied to him, that these were the reasons of the guardian of a
private gentleman that had been presented to him, the conduct of whom
could in no way resemble that of the guardian of a King of France; that
the expenses incurred in keeping up Marly were necessary, and that,
compared with the total of those of the King, they were but as drops in
the ocean. I begged him to get rid of the idea that the sale of the
materials would yield any profit,--all the receipts would go in gifts and
pillage, I said; and also that it was not these petty objects he ought to
regard, but that he should consider how many millions had been buried in
this ancient sewer, to transform it into a fairy palace, unique as to
form in all Europe--unique by the beauty of its fountains, unique also by
the reputation that the deceased King had given to it; and that it was an
object of curiosity to strangers of every rank who came to France; that
its destruction would resound throughout Europe with censure; that these
mean reasons of petty economy would not prevent all France from being
indignant at seeing so distinguished an ornament swept away; that
although neither he nor I might be very delicate upon what had been the
taste and the favourite work of the late King, the Regent ought to avoid
wounding his memory,--which by such a long reign, so many brilliant
years, so many grand reverses so heroically sustained, and escaped from
in so unhoped-for a manner--had left the entire world in veneration of
his person: in fine, that he might reckon all the discontented, all the
neutral even, would join in chorus with the Ancient Court, and cry
murder; that the Duc du Maine, Madame de Ventadour, the Marechal de
Villeroy would not hesitate to look upon the destruction of Marly as a
crime against the King,--a crime they would not fail to make the best of
for their own purposes during all the regency, and even after it was at
an end. I clearly saw that M. le Duc d'Orleans had not in the least
reflected upon all this. He agreed that I was right: promised that Marly
should not be touched, that it should continue to be kept up, and thanked
me for preserving him from this fault.

When I was well assured of him, "Admit," said I, "that the King, in the
other world, would be much astonished if he could know that the Duc de
Noailles had made you order the destruction of Marly, and that it was who
hindered it."

"Oh! as to that," he quickly replied, "it is true he could not believe
it." In effect Marly was preserved and kept up; and it is the Cardinal
Fleury, with his collegiate proctor's avarice, who has stripped it of its
river, which was its most superb charm.

I hastened to relate this good resolve to the Marechal de Villars.
The Duc de Noailles, who, for his own private reasons, had wished the
destruction of Marly, was furious when he saw his proposal fail.
To indemnify himself in some degree for his vexation, he made the Regent
agree, in the utmost secrecy, for fear of another failure, that all the
furniture, linen, etc., should be sold. He persuaded M. le Duc d'Orleans
that all these things would be spoiled and lost by the time the King was
old enough to use them; that in selling them a large sum would be gained
to relieve expenses; and that in future years the King could furnish
Marly as he pleased. There was an immense quantity of things sold, but
owing to favour and pillage they brought very little; and to replace them
afterwards, millions were spent. I did not know of this sale, at which
anybody bought who wished, and at very low prices, until it had
commenced; therefore I was unable to hinder this very damaging

The Regent just about this time was bestowing his favours right and left
with a very prodigal hand; I thought, therefore, I was fully entitled to
ask him for one, which, during the previous reign, had been so rare, so
useful, and accordingly so difficult to obtain; I mean the right of
entering the King's room--the 'grandes entrees'--as it was called, and I
attained it at once.

Since the occasion offers, I may as well explain what are the different
sorts of entrees. The most precious are called the "grand," which give
the right to enter into all the retired places of the King's apartments,
whenever the grand chamberlain and the chief gentlemen of the chamber
enter. The importance of this privilege under a King who grants
audiences with difficulty, need not be insisted on. Enjoying it, you can
speak with him, tete-a-tete, whenever you please, without asking his
permission, and without the knowledge of others; you obtain a
familiarity, too, with him by being able to see him thus in private.

The offices which give this right are, those of grand chamberlain, of
first gentleman of the chamber, and of grand master of the wardrobe on
annual duty; the children, legitimate and illegitimate, of the King, and
the wives and husbands of the latter enjoy the same right. As for
Monsieur and M. le Duc d'Orleans they always had these entrees, and as
sons of France, were at liberty to enter and see the King at all hours,
but they did not abuse this privilege. The Duc du Maine and the Comte de
Toulouse had the same, which they availed themselves of unceasingly, but
by the back stairs.

The second entrees, simply called entrees, were purely personal; no
appointment or change gave them. They conferred the right to see the
King at his rising, after the grandes, and also to see him, but under
difficulties, during all the day and evening.

The last entrees are those called chamber entrees. They also give the
right to see the King at his rising, before the distinguished courtiers;
but no other privilege except to be present at the booting of the King.
This was the name employed when the King changed his coat, in going or
returning from hunting or a walk. At Marly, all who were staying there
by invitation, entered to see this ceremony without asking; elsewhere,
those who had not the entree were excluded. The first gentleman of the
chamber had the right, and used it sometimes, to admit four or five
persons at the most, to the "booting," if they asked, and provided they
were people of quality, or of some distinction.

Lastly, there were the entrees of the cabinet which gave you the right to
wait for the King there when he entered after rising, until he had given
orders for the day, and to pay your court to him, and to enter there when
he entered to change his coat. Beyond this, the privilege attached to
these admissions did not extend. The Cardinals and the Princes of the
blood had the entrees of the chamber and those of the cabinet, so had all
the chief officials.

I was the first who had the 'grandes entrees' from the Regent. D'Antin
asked for them next. Soon after, upon this example, they were accorded
to D'O. M. le Prince de Conti, the sole prince of the blood who had them
not, because he was the sole prince of the blood who did not come from
Madame de Montespan, received them next, and little by little the
privilege was completely prostituted as so many others were.

By extremely rare good fortune a servant employed in the diamond mines of
the Great Mogul found means to secrete about his person a diamond of
prodigious size, and what is more marvellous, to gain the seashore and
embark without being subjected to the rigid and not very delicate ordeal,
that all persons not above suspicion by their name or their occupation,
are compelled to submit to, ere leaving the country. He played his cards
so well, apparently, that he was not suspected of having been near the
mines, or of having had anything to do with the jewel trade. To complete
his good fortune he safely arrived in Europe with his diamond. He showed
it to several princes, none of whom were rich enough to buy, and carried
it at last to England, where the King admired it, but could not resolve
to purchase it. A model of it in crystal was made in England, and the
man, the diamond, and the model (perfectly resembling the original) were
introduced to Law, who proposed to the Regent that he should purchase the
jewel for the King. The price dismayed the Regent, who refused to buy.

Law, who had in many things much grandour of sentiment, came dispirited
to me, bringing the model. I thought, with him, that it was not
consistent with the greatness of a King of France to be repelled from the
purchase of an inestimable jewel, unique of its kind in the world, by the
mere consideration of price, and that the greater the number of
potentates who had not dared to think of it, the greater ought to be his
care not to let it escape him. Law, ravished to find me think in this
manner, begged me to speak to M. le Duc d'Orleans. The state of the
finances was an obstacle upon which the Regent much insisted. He feared
blame for making so considerable a purchase, while the most pressing
necessities could only be provided for with much trouble, and so many
people were of necessity kept in distress. I praised this sentiment,
but I said that he ought not to regard the greatest King of Europe as he
would a private gentleman, who would be very reprehensible if he threw
away 100,000 livres upon a fine diamond, while he owed many debts which
he could not pay: that he must consider the honour of the crown, and not
lose the occasion of obtaining, a priceless diamond which would efface
the lustre of all others in Europe: that it was a glory for his regency
which would last for ever; that whatever might be the state of the
finances the saving obtained by a refusal of the jewel would not much
relieve them, for it would be scarcely perceptible; in fact I did not
quit M. le Duc d'Orleans until he had promised that the diamond should be

Law, before speaking to me, had so strongly represented to the dealer the
impossibility of selling his diamond at the price he hoped for, and the
loss he would suffer in cutting it into different pieces, that at last he
made him reduce the price to two millions, with the scrapings, which must
necessarily be made in polishing, given in. The bargain was concluded on
these terms. The interest upon the two millions was paid to the dealer
until the principal could be given to him, and in the meanwhile two
millions' worth of jewels were handed to him as security.

M. le Duc d'Orleans was agreeably deceived by the applause that the
public gave to an acquisition so beautiful and so unique. This diamond
was called the "Regent." It is of the size of a greengage plum, nearly
round, of a thickness which corresponds with its volume, perfectly white,
free from all spot, speck, or blemish, of admirable water, and weighs
more than 500 grains. I much applauded myself for having induced the
Regent to make so illustrious a purchase.


In 1716 the Duchesse de Lesdiguieres died at Paris in her fine hotel.
She was not old, but had been long a widow, and had lost her only son.
She was the last relic of the Gondi who were brought into France by
Catherine de' Medici, and who made so prodigious a fortune. She left
great wealth. She was a sort of fairy, who, though endowed with much
wit, would see scarcely anybody, still less give dinners to the few
people she did see. She never went to Court, and seldom went out of her
house. The door of her house was always thrown back, disclosing a
grating, through which could be perceived a true fairy palace, such as
is sometimes described in romances. Inside it was nearly desert, but of
consummate magnificence, and all this confirmed the first impression,
assisted by the singularity of everything, her followers, her livery,
the yellow hangings of her carriage, and the two great Moors who always
followed her. She left much to her servants, and for pious purposes, but
nothing to her daughter-in-law, though poor and respectful to her. Others
got magnificent legacies.

Cavoye died about the same time. I have said enough about him and his
wife to have nothing to add. Cavoye, away from Court, was like a fish
out of water; and he could not stand it long. If romances have rarely
produced conduct like that of his wife towards him, they would with still
greater difficulty describe the courage with which her lasting love for
her husband sustained her in her attendance on his last illness, and the
entombment to which she condemned herself afterwards. She preserved her
first mourning all her life, never slept away from the house where he
died, or went out, except to go twice a day to Saint-Sulpice to pray in
the chapel where he was buried. She would never see any other persons
besides those she had seen during the last moments of her husband, and
occupied herself with good works also, consuming herself thus in a few
years without a single sign of hesitation. A vehemence so equal and so
maintained is perhaps an example, great, unique, and assuredly very

Peter I., Czar of Muscovy, has made for himself, and justly, such a great
name, in his own country, in all Europe, and in Asia, that I will not
undertake to describe so grand, so illustrious a prince--comparable to
the greatest men of antiquity--who has been the admiration of his age,
who will be that of years to come, and whom all Europe has been so much
occupied in studying. The singularity of the journey into France of so
extraordinary a prince, has appeared to me to deserve a complete
description in an unbroken narrative. It is for this reason that I place
my account of it here a little late, according to the order of time, but
with dates that will rectify this fault.

Various things relating to this monarch have been seen in their place;
his various journeys to Holland, Germany, Vienna, England, and to several
parts of the North; the object of those journeys, with some account of
his military actions, his policy, his family. It has been shown that he
wished to come into France during the time of the late King, who civilly
refused to receive him. There being no longer this obstacle, he wished
to satisfy his curiosity, and he informed the Regent through Prince
Kourakin, his ambassador at Paris, that he was going to quit the Low
Countries, and come and see the King.

There was nothing for it but to appear very pleased, although the Regent
would gladly have dispensed with this visit. The expenses to be defrayed
were great; the trouble would be not less great with a prince so powerful
and so clear-sighted, but full of whims, with a remnant of barbarous
manners, and a grand suite of people, of behaviour very different from
that common in these countries, full of caprices and of strange fashions,
and both they and their master very touchy and very positive upon what
they claimed to be due or permitted to them.

Moreover the Czar was at daggers drawn with the King of England, the
enmity between them passing all decent limits, and being the more bitter
because personal. This troubled not a little the Regent, whose intimacy
with the King of England was public, the private interest of Dubois
carrying it even to dependence. The dominant passion of the Czar was to
render his territories flourishing by commerce; he had made a number of
canals in order to facilitate it; there was one for which he needed the
concurrence of the King of England, because it traversed a little corner
of his German dominions. From jealousy George would not consent to it.
Peter, engaged in the war with Poland, then in that of the North, in
which George was also engaged, negotiated in vain. He was all the more
irritated, because he was in no condition to employ force; and this
canal, much advanced, could not be continued. Such was the source of
that hatred which lasted all the lives of these monarchs, and with the
utmost bitterness.

Kourakin was of a branch of that ancient family of the Jagellons, which
had long worn the crowns of Poland, Denmark, Norway, and Sweden. He was
a tall, well-made man, who felt all the grandeur of his origin; had much
intelligence, knowledge of the way of managing men, and instruction. He
spoke French and several languages very fairly; he had travelled much,
served in war, then been employed in different courts. He was Russian to
the backbone, and his extreme avarice much damaged his talents. The Czar
and he had married two sisters, and each had a son. The Czarina had been
repudiated and put into a convent near Moscow; Kourakin in no way
suffered from this disgrace; he perfectly knew his master, with whom he
kept on very free terms, and by whom he was treated with confidence and
consideration. His last mission had been to Rome, where he remained
three years; thence he came as ambassador to Paris. At Rome he was
without official character, and without business except a secret one,
with which the Czar had entrusted him, as to a sure and enlightened man.

This monarch, who wished to raise himself and his country from barbarism,
and extend his power by conquests and treaties, had felt the necessity of
marriages, in order to ally himself with the chief potentates of Europe.
But to form such marriages he must be of the Catholic religion, from
which the Greeks were separated by such a little distance, that he
thought his project would easily be received in his dominions, if he
allowed liberty of conscience there. But this prince was sufficiently
sagacious to seek enlightenment beforehand upon Romish pretensions. He
had sent for that purpose to Rome a man of no mark, but capable of well
fulfilling his mission, who remained there five or six months, and who
brought back no very satisfactory report. Later he opened his heart in
Holland to King William, who dissuaded him from his design, and who
counselled him even to imitate England, and to make himself the chief of
his religion, without which he would never be really master in his own
country. This counsel pleased the Czar all the more, because it was by
the wealth and by the authority of the patriarchs of Moscow, his
grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, that his father had attained the
crown, although only of ordinary rank among the Russian nobility.

These patriarchs were dependent upon those of the Greek rite of
Constantinople but very slightly. They had obtained such great power,
and such prodigious rank, that at their entry into Moscow the Czar held
their stirrups, and, on foot, led their horse by the bridle: Since the
grandfather of Peter, there had been no patriarch at Moscow. Peter I.,
who had reigned some time with his elder brother, incapable of affairs,
long since dead, leaving no son, had, like his father, never consented to
have a patriarch there. The archbishops of Novgorod supplied their place
in certain things, as occupying the chief see after that of Moscow, but
with scarcely any authority that the Czar did not entirely usurp, and
more carefully still after King William had given him the counsel before
alluded to; so that by degrees he had become the real religious chief of
his vast dominions.

Nevertheless, the passionate desire he had to give to his posterity the
privilege of marrying with Catholic princes, the wish he had, above all,
for the honour of alliances with the house of France, and that of
Austria, made him return to his first project. He tried to persuade
himself that the man whom he had secretly sent to Rome had not been well
informed, or had ill understood; he resolved, therefore, to fathom his
doubts, so that he should no longer have any as to the course he ought to

It was with this design that he chose Prince Kourakin, whose knowledge
and intelligence were known to him, and sent him to Rome under pretence
of curiosity, feeling that a nobleman of his rank would find the best,
the most important, and the most distinguished society there ready to
receive him; and that by remaining there, under pretext of liking the
life he led, and of wishing to see and admire at his ease all the marvels
of so many different kinds collected there, he should have leisure and
means to return perfectly instructed upon everything he wished to know.
Kourakin, in fact, remained in Rome three years, associating with the
savans on the one hand and the best company on the other, whence by
degrees he obtained all he wished to know; all the more readily because
this Court boasts of its temporal pretensions and of its conquests of
this kind, instead of keeping them secret. In consequence of the long
and faithful report that Kourakin made to the Czar, that prince heaved a
sigh, saying that he must be master in his own country, and could not
place there anybody greater than himself; and never afterwards did he
think of turning Catholic.

This fact respecting the Czars and Rome, Prince Kourakin did not hide.
Everybody who knew him has heard him relate it. I have eaten with him
and he with me, and I have talked a good deal with him, and heard him
talk, with pleasure, upon many things.

The Regent, informed by him of the forthcoming arrival in France of the
Czar by sea, sent the King's equipages; horses, coaches, vehicles,
waggons, and tables and chambers with Du Libois, one of the King's
gentlemen in ordinary, to go and wait for the Czar at Dunkerque, pay the
expenses incurred by him and his suite on the way to Paris, and
everywhere render him the same honour as to the King. The Czar proposed
to allot a hundred days to his journey. The apartment of the Queen-
mother at the Louvre was furnished for him, the councils usually held
there taking place in the houses of the chiefs of these councils.

M. le Duc d'Orleans discussing with me as to the nobleman best fitted to
be appointed to wait upon the Czar during his stay, I recommended the
Marechal de Tesse, as a man without occupation, who well knew the
language and usages of society, who was accustomed to foreigners by his
journeys and negotiations in Spain, Turin, Rome, and in other courts of
Italy, and who, gentle and polite, was sure to perform his duties well.
M. le Duc d'Orleans agreed with me, and the next day sent for him and
gave him his orders.

When it was known that the Czar was near Dunkerque, the Regent sent the
Marquis de Neelle to receive him at Calais, and accompany him until they
met the Marechal de Tesse, who was not to go beyond Beaumont to wait for
him. At the same time the Hotel de Lesdiguieres was prepared for the
Czar and his suite, under the idea that he might prefer a private house,
with all his people around him, to the Louvre. The Hotel de Lesdiguieres
was large and handsome, as I have said at the commencement of this
chapter, adjoined the arsenal, and belonged by succession to the Marechal
de Villeroy, who lodged at the Tuileries. Thus the house was empty,
because the Duc de Villeroy, who was not a man fond of display, had found
it too distant to live in. It was entirely refurnished, and very
magnificently, with the furniture of the King.

The Czar arrived at Beaumont on Friday, the 7th of May, 1717, about mid-
day. Tesse made his reverences to him as he descended from his coach,
had the honour of dining with him, and of escorting him that very day to

The Czar entered the city in one of Tesse's coaches, with three of his
suite with him, but not Tesse himself. The Marechal followed in another
coach. The Czar alighted at nine o'clock in the evening at the Louvre,
and walked all through the apartments of the Queen-mother. He considered
them to be too magnificently hung and lighted, jumped into his coach
again, and went to the Hotel de Lesdiguieres, where he wished to lodge.
He thought the apartment destined for him too fine also, and had his
camp-bed immediately spread out in a wardrobe. The Marechal de Tesse,
who was to do the honours of his house and of his table, to accompany him
everywhere, and not quit the place where he might be, lodged in an
apartment of the Hotel de Lesdiguieres, and had enough to do in following
and sometimes running after him. Verton, one of the King's maitres
d'hotel, was charged with serving him and all the tables of the Czar and
his suite. The suite consisted of forty persons of all sorts, twelve or
fifteen of whom were considerable people in themselves, or by their
appointments; they all ate with the Czar.

Verton was a clever lad, strong in certain company, fond of good cheer
and of gaming, and served the Czar with so much order, and conducted
himself so well, that this monarch and all the suite conceived a singular
friendship for him.

The Czar excited admiration by his extreme curiosity, always bearing upon
his views of government, trade, instruction, police, and this curiosity
embraced everything, disdained nothing in the smallest degree useful;
it was marked and enlightened, esteeming only what merited to be
esteemed, and exhibited in a clear light the intelligence, justness,
ready appreciation of his mind. Everything showed in the Czar the vast
extent of his knowledge, and a sort of logical harmony of ideas. He
allied in the most surprising manner the highest, the proudest, the most
delicate, the most sustained, and at the same time the least embarrassing
majesty, when he had established it in all its safety with a marked
politeness. Yet he was always and with everybody the master everywhere,
but with gradations, according to the persons he was with. He had a kind
of familiarity which sprang from liberty, but he was not without a strong
dash of that ancient barbarism of his country, which rendered all his
actions rapid; nay, precipitous, his will uncertain, and not to be
constrained or contradicted in anything. Often his table was but little
decent, much less so were the attendants who served, often too with an
openness of kingly audacity everywhere. What he proposed to see or do
was entirely independent of means; they were to be bent to his pleasure
and command. His desire for liberty, his dislike to be made a show of,
his free and easy habits, often made him prefer hired coaches, common
cabs even; nay, the first which he could lay his hands on, though
belonging to people below him of whom he knew nothing. He jumped in, and
had himself driven all over the city, and outside it. On one occasion he
seized hold of the coach of Madame de Mattignon, who had come to gape at
him, drove off with it to Boulogne and other country places near Paris.
The owner was much astonished to find she must journey back on foot. On
such occasions the Marechal de Tesse and his suite had often hard work to
find the Czar, who had thus escaped them.


The Czar was a very tall man, exceedingly well made; rather thin, his
face somewhat round, a high forehead, good eyebrows, a rather short nose,
but not too short, and large at the end, rather thick lips, complexion
reddish brown, good black eyes, large, bright, piercing, and well open;
his look majestic and gracious when he liked, but when otherwise, severe
and stern, with a twitching of the face, not often occurring, but which
appeared to contort his eyes and all his physiognomy, and was frightful
to see; it lasted a moment, gave him a wild and terrible air, and passed
away. All his bearing showed his intellect, his reflectiveness, and his
greatness, and was not devoid of a certain grace. He wore a linen
collar, a round-brown wig, as though without powder, and which did not
reach to his shoulders; a brown coat tight to the body, even, and with
gold buttons; vest, breeches, stockings, no gloves or ruffles, the star
of his order over his coat, and the cordon under it, the coat itself
being frequently quite unbuttoned, his hat upon the table, but never upon
his head, even out of doors. With this simplicity ill-accompanied or ill
mounted as he might be, the air of greatness natural to him could not be

What he ate and drank at his two regular meals is inconceivable, without
reckoning the beer, lemonade, and other drinks he swallowed between these
repasts, his suite following his example; a bottle or two of beer, as
many more of wine, and occasionally, liqueurs afterwards; at the end of
the meal strong drinks, such as brandy, as much sometimes as a quart.
This was about the usual quantity at each meal. His suite at his table
drank more and ate in proportion, at eleven o'clock in the morning and at
eight at night. There was a chaplain who ate at the table of the Czar,
who consumed half as much again as the rest, and with whom the monarch,
who was fond of him, much amused himself. Prince Kourakin went every day
to the Hotel de Lesdiguieres, but lodged elsewhere.

The Czar well understood French, and I think could have spoken it, if he
had wished, but for greatness' sake he always had an interpreter. Latin
and many other languages he spoke very well. There was a detachment of
guards in his house, but he would scarcely ever allow himself to be
followed by them. He would not set foot outside the Hotel de
Lesdiguieres, whatever curiosity he might feel, or give any signs of
life, until he had received a visit from the King.

On Saturday, the day after his arrival, the Regent went in the morning to
see the Czar. This monarch left his cabinet, advanced a few paces,
embraced Monsieur d'Orleans with an air of great superiority, pointed to
the door of the cabinet, and instantly turning on his heel, without the
slightest compliment, entered there. The Regent followed, and Prince
Kourakin after him to serve as interpreter. They found two armchairs
facing each other, the Czar seated himself in the upper, the Regent in
the other. The conversation lasted nearly an hour without public affairs
being mentioned, after which the Czar left his cabinet; the Regent
followed him, made him a profound reverence, but slightly returned, and
left him in the same place as he had found him on entering.

On Monday, the 10th of May, the King went to see the Czar, who received
him at the door, saw him alight from his coach, walked with him at his
left into his chamber, where they found two armchairs equally placed.
The King sat down in the right-hand one, the Czar in the other, Prince
Kourakin served as interpreter. It was astonishing to see the Czar take
the King under both arms, hoist him up to his level, embrace him thus in
the air; and the King, young as he was, show no fear, although he could
not possibly have been prepared for such a reception. It was striking,
too, to see the grace which the Czar displayed before the King, the air
of tenderness he assumed towards him, the politeness which flowed as it
were naturally, and which nevertheless was mixed with greatness, with
equality of rank, and slightly with superiority of age: for all these
things made themselves felt. He praised the King, appeared charmed with
him, and persuaded everybody he was. He embraced him again and again.
The King paid his brief compliment very prettily; and M. du Maine, the
Marechal de Villeroy, and the distinguished people present, filled up the
conversation. The meeting lasted a short quarter of an hour. The Czar
accompanied the King as he had received him, and saw him to his coach.

On Tuesday, the 11th of May, between four and five o'clock, the Czar went
to see the King. He was received by the King at his carriage door, took
up a position on his right, and was conducted within. All these
ceremonies had been agreed on before the King went to see him. The Czar
showed the same affection and the same attentions to the King as before;
and his visit was not longer than the one he had received, but the crowd
much surprised him.

He had been at eight o'clock in the morning to see the Place Royal, the
Place des Victoires, and the Place de Vendome, and the next day he went
to the Observatoire, the Gobelins, and the King's Garden of Simples.
Everywhere he amused himself in examining everything, and in asking many

On Thursday, the 13th of May, he took medicine, but did not refrain after
dinner from calling upon several celebrated artificers. On Friday, the
14th, he went at six o'clock in the morning into the grand gallery of the
Louvre, to see the plans in relief of all the King's fortified places,
Hasfield, with his engineers, doing the honours. The Czar examined all
these plans for a long time; visited many other parts of the Louvre, and
descended afterwards into the Tuileries garden, from which everybody had
been excluded. They were working then upon the Pont Tournant. The Czar
industriously examined this work, and remained there a long time. In the
afternoon he went to see, at the Palais Royal, Madame, who had sent her
compliments to him by her officer. The armchair excepted, she received
him as she would have received the King. M. le Duc d'Orleans came
afterwards and took him to the Opera, into his grand box, where they sat
upon the front seat upon a splendid carpet. Sometime after, the Czar
asked if there was no beer to be had. Immediately a large goblet of it
was brought to him, on a salver. The Regent rose, took it, and presented
it to the Czar, who with a smile and an inclination of politeness,
received the goblet without any ceremony, drank, and put it back on the
salver which the Regent still held. In handing it back, the Regent took
a plate, in which was a napkin, presented it to the Czar, who without
rising made use of it, at which the house appeared rather astonished.
At the fourth act the Czar went away to supper, but did not wish the
Regent to leave the box. The next morning he jumped into a hired coach,
and went to see a number of curiosities among the workmen.

On the 16th of May, Whit Sunday, he went to the Invalides, where he
wished to see and examine everything. At the refectory he tasted the
soldiers' soup and their wine, drank to their healths, struck them on the
shoulders, and called them comrades. He much admired the church, the
dispensary, and the infirmary, and appeared much pleased with the order
of the establishment. The Marechal de Villars did the honours; the
Marechale went there to look on. The Czar was very civil to her.

On Monday, the 17th, he dined early with Prince Ragotzi, who had invited
him, and afterwards went to Meudon, where he found some of the King's
horses to enable him to see the gardens and the park at his ease. Prince
Ragotzi accompanied him.

On Tuesday, the 18th, the Marechal d'Estrees took him, at eight o'clock
in the morning, to his house at Issy, gave him a dinner, and much amused
him during the day with many things shown to him relating to the navy.

On Monday, the 24th, he went out early to the Tuileries, before the King
was up. He entered the rooms of the Marechal de Villeroy, who showed him
the crown jewels. They were more beautiful and more numerous than he
suspected, but he said he was not much of a judge of such things. He
stated that he cared but little for the beauties purely of wealth and
imagination, above all for those he could not attain. Thence he wished
to go and see the King, who spared him the trouble by coming. It had
been expressly arranged thus, so that his visit should appear one of
chance. They met each other in a cabinet, and remained there. The King,
who held a roll of paper in his hand, gave it to him, and said it was the
map of his territories. This compliment much pleased the Czar, whose
politeness and friendly affectionate bearing were the same as before,
with much grace and majesty.

In the afternoon he went to Versailles, where the Marechal de Tesse left
him to the Duc d'Antin. The apartment of Madame la Dauphine was prepared
for him, and he slept in the room of Monseigneur le Dauphin (the King's
father), now made into a cabinet for the Queen.

On Tuesday, the 25th, he had traversed the gardens, and had been upon the
canal early in the morning, before the hour of his appointment with
D'Antin. He saw all Versailles, Trianon, and the menagerie. His
principal suite was lodged at the chateau. They took ladies with them,
and slept in the apartments Madame de Maintenon had occupied, quite close
to that in which the Czar slept. Bloin, governor of Versailles, was
extremely scandalised to see this temple of prudery thus profaned. Its
goddess and he formerly would have been less shocked. The Czar and his
people were not accustomed to restraint.

The expenses of this Prince amounted to six hundred crowns a day, though
he had much diminished his table since the commencement.

On Sunday, the 30th of May, he set out with Bellegarde, and many relays,
to dine at Petit Bourg, with D'Antin, who received him there, and took
him in the afternoon to see Fontainebleau, where he slept, and the morrow
there was a stag-hunt, at which the Comte de Toulouse did the honours.
Fontainebleau did not much please the Czar, and the hunt did not please
him at all; for he nearly fell off his horse, not being accustomed to
this exercise, and finding it too violent. When he returned to Petit
Bourg, the appearance of his carriage showed that he had eaten and drunk
a good deal in it.

On Friday, the 11th of June, he went from Versailles to Saint-Cyr, where
he saw all the household, and the girls in their classes. He was
received there like the King. He wished to see Madame de Maintenon, who,
expecting his curiosity, had buried herself in her bed, all the curtains
closed, except one, which was half-open. The Czar entered her chamber,
pulled back the window-curtains upon arriving, then the bed-curtains,
took a good long stare at her, said not a word to her,--nor did she open
her lips,--and, without making her any kind of reverence, went his way.
I knew afterwards that she was much astonished, and still more mortified
at this; but the King was no more. The Czar returned on Saturday, the
12th of June, to Paris.

On Tuesday, the 15th of June, he went early to D'Antin's Paris house.
Working this day with M. le Duc d'Orleans, I finished in half an hour; he
was surprised, and wished to detain me. I said, I could always have the
honour of finding him, but not the Czar, who was going away; that I had
not yet seen him, and was going to D'Antin's to stare at my ease. Nobody
entered except those invited, and some ladies with Madame la Duchesse and
the Princesses, her daughters, who wished to stare also. I entered the
garden, where the Czar was walking. The Marechal de Tesse, seeing me at
a distance, came up, wishing to present me to the Czar. I begged him to
do nothing of the kind, not even to perceive me, but to let me gape at my
ease, which I could not do if made known. I begged him also to tell this
to D'Antin, and with these precautions I was enabled to satisfy my
curiosity without interruption. I found that the Czar conversed
tolerably freely, but always as the master everywhere. He retired into a
cabinet, where D'Antin showed him various plans and several curiosities,
upon which he asked several questions. It was there I saw the convulsion
which I have noticed. I asked Tesse if it often happened; he replied,
"several times a day, especially when he is not on his guard to prevent
it." Returning afterwards into the garden, D'Antin made the Czar pass
through the lower apartments, and informed him that Madame la Duchesse
was there with some ladies, who had a great desire to see him. He made
no reply, but allowed himself to be conducted. He walked more gently,
turned his head towards the apartment where all the ladies were under
arms to receive him; looked well at them all, made a slight inclination
of the head to the whole company at once, and passed on haughtily. I
think, by the manner in which he received other ladies, that he would
have shown more politeness to these if Madame la Duchesse had not been
there, making her visit too pretentious. He affected even not to inquire
which she was, or to ask the name of any of the others. I was nearly an
hour without quitting him, and unceasingly regarding him. At last I saw
he remarked it. This rendered me more discreet, lest he should ask who I
was. As he was returning, I walked away to the room where the table was
laid. D'Antin, always the same, had found means to have a very good
portrait of the Czarina placed upon the chimney-piece of this room, with
verses in her praise, which much pleased and surprised the Czar. He and
his suite thought the portrait very like.

The King gave the Czar two magnificent pieces of Gobelins tapestry. He
wished to give him also a beautiful sword, ornamented with diamonds, but
he excused himself from accepting it. The Czar, on his side, distributed
60,000 livres to the King's domestics, who had waited upon him; gave to
D'Antin, Marechal d'Estrees, and Marechal Tesse, his portrait, adorned
with diamonds, and five gold and eleven silver medals, representing the
principal actions of his life. He made a friendly present to Verton,
whom he begged the Regent to send to him as charge d'affaires of the
King, which the Regent promised.

On Wednesday, the 16th of June, he attended on horseback a review of the
two regiments of the guards; gendarmes, light horse, and mousquetaires.
There was only M. le Duc d'Orleans with him; the Czar scarcely looked at
these troops, and they perceived it. He partook of a dinner-supper at
Saint Ouen, at the Duc de Tresmes, where he said that the excessive heat
and dust, together with the crowd on horseback and on foot, had made him
quit the review sooner than he wished. The meal was magnificent; the
Czar learnt that the Marquise de Bethune, who was looking on, was the
daughter of the Duc de Tresriles; he begged her to sit at table; she was
the only lady who did so, among a crowd of noblemen. Several other
ladies came to look on, and to these he was very civil when he knew who
they were.

On Thursday, the 17th, he went for the second time to the Observatoire,
and there supped with the Marechal de Villars.

On Friday, the 18th of June, the Regent went early to the Hotel de
Lesdiguieres, to say adieu to the Czar, remaining some time with him,
with Prince Kourakin present. After this visit the Czar went to say
goodbye to the King at the Tuileries. It had been agreed that there
should be no more ceremonies between them. It was impossible to display
more intelligence, grace, and tenderness towards the King than the Czar
displayed on all these occasions; and again on the morrow, when the King
came to the Hotel de Lesdiguieres to wish him a pleasant journey, no
ceremony being observed.

On Sunday, the 20th of June, the Czar departed, and slept at Ivry, bound
straight for Spa, where he was expected by the Czarina. He would be
accompanied by nobody, not even on leaving Paris. The luxury he remarked
much surprised him; he was moved in speaking upon the King and upon
France, saying, he saw with sorrow that this luxury would soon ruin the
country. He departed, charmed by the manner in which he had been
received, by all he had seen, by the liberty that had been left to him,
and extremely desirous to closely unite himself with the King; but the
interests of the Abbe Dubois, and of England, were obstacles which have
been much deplored since.

The Czar had an extreme desire to unite himself to France. Nothing would
have been more advantageous to our commerce, to our importance in the
north, in Germany, in all Europe. The Czar kept England in restraint as
to her commerce, and King George in fear for his German states. He kept
Holland respectful, and the Emperor measured. It cannot be denied that
he made a grand figure in Europe and in Asia, or that France would have
infinitely profited by close union with him. He did not like the
Emperor; he wished to sever us from England, and it was England which
rendered us deaf to his invitations, unbecomingly so, though they lasted
after his departure. Often I vainly pressed the Regent upon this
subject, and gave him reasons of which he felt all the force, and to
which he could not reply. He was bewitched by Dubois, who panted to
become Cardinal, and who built all his hopes of success upon England.
The English saw his ambition, and took advantage of it for their own
interests. Dubois' aim was to make use of the intimacy between the King
of England and the Emperor, in order that the latter might be induced by
the former to obtain a Cardinalship from the Pope, over whom he had great
power. It will be seen, in due time, what success has attended the
intrigues of the scheming and unscrupulous Abbe.


Courson, Intendant, or rather King of Languedoc, exercised his authority
there so tyrannically that the people suffered the most cruel oppressions
at his hands. He had been Intendant of Rouen, and was so hated that more
than once he thought himself in danger of having his brains beaten out
with stones. He became at last so odious that he was removed; but the
credit of his father saved him, and he was sent as Intendant to Bordeaux.
He was internally and externally a very animal, extremely brutal,
extremely insolent, his hands by no means clean, as was also the case
with those of his secretaries, who did all his work for him, he being
very idle and quite unfit for his post.

Amongst other tyrannic acts he levied very violent and heavy taxes in
Perigueux, of his own good will and pleasure, without any edict or decree
of the Council; and seeing that people were not eager to satisfy his
demands, augmented them, multiplied the expenses, and at last threw into
dungeons some sheriffs and other rich citizens. He became so tyrannical
that they sent a deputation to Paris to complain of him. But the
deputies went in vain the round of all the members of the council of the
regency, after having for two months kicked their heels in the ante-
chamber of the Duc de Noailles, the minister who ought to have attended
to their representations.

The Comte de Toulouse, who was a very just man, and who had listened to
them, was annoyed that they could obtain no hearing of the Duc de,
Noailles, and spoke to me on the subject. I was as indignant as he.
I spoke to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who only knew the matter superficially.
I showed him the necessity of thoroughly examining into complaints of
this nature; the injustice of allowing these deputies to wear out hope,
patience, and life, in the streets of Paris, without giving some
audience; the cruelty of suffering honest citizens to languish in
dungeons, without knowing why or by what authority they were there. He
agreed with me, and promised to speak to the Duc de Noailles. At the
first finance council after this, I apprised the Comte de Toulouse, and
we both asked the Duc de Noailles when he meant to bring forward the
affair of these Perigueux people.

He was utterly unprepared for this question, and wished to put us off. I
said to him that for a long time some of these people had been in prison,
and others had wandered the streets of Paris; that this was shameful, and
could not be longer endured. The Comte de Toulouse spoke very firmly, in
the same sense. M. le Duc d'Orleans arrived and took his place.

As the Duc de Noailles opened his bag, I said very loudly to M. le Duc
d'Orleans that M. le Comte de Toulouse and I had just asked M. de
Noailles when he would bring forward the Perigueux affair; that these
people, innocent or guilty, begged only to be heard and tried; and that
it appeared to me the council was in honour bound to keep them in misery
no longer. On finishing, I looked at the Comte de Toulouse, who also
said something short but rather strong. M. le Duc d'Orleans replied that
we could not have done better. The Duc de Noailles began muttering
something about the press of business; that he had not time, and so
forth. I interrupted him by saying that he must find time, and that he
ought to have found it long before; that nothing was so important as to
keep people from ruin, or to extricate others from dungeons they were
remaining in without knowing why. M. le Duc d'Orleans said a word to the
same effect, and ordered the Duc de Noailles to get himself ready to
bring forward the case in a week.

From excuse to excuse, three weeks passed over. At last I said openly to
M. le Duc d'Orleans that he was being laughed at, and that justice was
being trodden under foot. At the next council it appeared that M. le Duc
d'Orleans had already told the Duc de Noailles he would wait no longer.
M. le Comte de Toulouse and I continued to ask him if at last he would
bring forward the Perigueux affair. We doubted not that it would in the
end be brought forward, but artifice was not yet at an end.

It was on a Tuesday afternoon, when M. le Duc d'Orleans often abridged
the council to go to the opera. Knowing this, the Duc de Noailles kept
all the council occupied with different matters. I was between him and
the Comte de Toulouse. At the end of each matter I said to him, "And the
Perigueux affair?"--"Directly," he replied, and at once commenced
something else. At last I perceived his project, and whispered so to the
Comte de Toulouse, who had already suspected it, and resolved not to be
its dupe. When the Duc de Noailles had exhausted his bag, it was five
o'clock. After putting back his papers he closed his bag, and said to M.
le Duc d'Orleans that there was still the Perigueux affair which he had
ordered him to bring forward, but that it would be long and detailed;
that he doubtless wished to go to the opera; that it could be attended to
next week; and at once, without waiting for a reply, he rises, pushes
back his stool, and turns to go away. I took him by the arm.

"Gently," said I. "You must learn his highness's pleasure. Monsieur,"
said I to M. le Duc d'Orleans, still firmly holding the sleeve of the Duc
de Noailles, "do you care much to-day for the opera?"

"No, no," replied he; "let us turn to the Perigueux affair."

"But without strangling it," replied I.

"Yes," said M. le Duc d'Orleans: then looking at M. le Duc, who smiled;
"you don't care to go there?"

"No, Monsieur, let us see this business," replied M. le Duc.

"Oh, sit down again then, Monsieur," said I to the Duc de Noailles in a
very firm tone, pulling him sharply; "take your rest, and re-open your

Without saying a word he drew forward his stool with a great noise, and
threw himself upon it as though he would smash it. Rage beamed from his
eyes. The Comte de Toulouse smiled; he had said his word, too, upon the
opera, and all the company looked at us; nearly every one smiling, but
astounded also.

The Duc de Noailles displayed his papers, and began reading them. As
various documents were referred to, I turned them over, and now and then
took him up and corrected him. He did not dare to show anger in his
replies, yet he was foaming. He passed an eulogy upon Basville (father
of the Intendant), talked of the consideration he merited; excused
Courson, and babbled thereupon as much as he could to extenuate
everything, and lose sight of the principal points at issue. Seeing that
he did not finish, and that he wished to tire us, and to manage the
affair in his own way, I interrupted him, saying that the father and the
son were two people; that the case in point respected the son alone, and
that he had to determine whether an Intendant was authorised or not, by
his office, to tax people at will; to raise imposts in the towns and
country places of his department, without edicts ordering them, without
even a decree of council, solely by his own particular ordonnances, and
to keep people in prison four or five months, without form or shadow of
trial, because they refused to pay these heavy taxes, rendered still more
heavy by expenses. Then, turning round so as to look hard at him, "It is
upon that, Monsieur," added I, "that we must decide, since your report is
over, and not amuse ourselves with a panegyric upon M. de Basville, who
is not mixed up in the case."

The Duc de Noailles, all the more beside himself because he saw the
Regent smile, and M. le Duc, who looked at me do the same, but more
openly, began to speak, or rather to stammer. He did not dare, however,
to decide against the release of the prisoners.

"And the expenses, and the ordonnance respecting these taxes, what do you
do with them?"

"By setting the prisoners at liberty," he said, "the ordonnance falls to
the ground."

I did not wish to push things further just then. The liberation of the
prisoners, and the quashing of the ordonnance, were determined on: some
voices were for the reimbursement of the charges at the expense of the
Intendant, and for preventing him to do the like again.

When it was my turn to speak, I expressed the same opinions, but I added
that it was not enough to recompense people so unjustly ill-treated; that
I thought a sum of money, such as it should please the council to
name, ought to be adjudged to them; and that as to an Intendant who
abused the authority of his office so much as to usurp that of the King
and impose taxes, such as pleased him by his own ordinances, and who
threw people into dungeons as he thought fit by his private authority,
pillaging thus a province, I was of opinion that his Royal Highness
should be asked to make such an example of him that all the other
Intendants might profit by it.

The majority of those who had spoken before me made signs that I was
right, but did not speak again. Others were against me. M. le Duc
d'Orleans promised the liberation of the prisoners, broke Courson's!,
ordonnance, and all which had followed it; said that as for the rest, he
would take care these people should be well recompensed, and Courson well
blamed; that he merited worse, and, but for his father, would have
received it. As we were about to rise, I said it would be as well to
draw up the decree at once, and M. le Duc d'Orleans approved. Noailles
pounced, like a bird of prey, upon paper and ink, and commenced writing.
I bent down and read as he wrote. He stopped and boggled at the
annulling of the ordonnance, and the prohibition against issuing one
again without authorisation by edict or decree of council. I dictated
the clause to him; he looked at the company as though questioning all

"Yes," said I, "it was passed like that--you have only to ask again."
M. le Duc d Orleans said, "Yes." Noailles wrote. I took the paper, and
read what he had written. He received it back in fury, cast it among the
papers pell-mell into his bag, then shoved his stool almost to the other
end of the room, and went out, bristling like a wild boar, without
looking at or saluting anybody--we all laughing. M. le Duc and several
others came to me, and with M. le Comte de Toulouse, were much diverted.
M. de Noailles had, in fact, so little command over himself, that, in
turning to go out, he struck the table, swearing, and saying he could
endure it no longer.

I learnt afterwards, by frequenters of the Hotel de Noailles, who told it
to my friends, that when he reached home he went to bed: and would not
see a soul; that fever seized him, that the next day he was of a
frightful temper, and, that he had been heard to say he could no longer
endure the annoyances I caused him. It may be imagined whether or not
this softened me. The Duc de Noailles had, in fact, behaved towards me
with such infamous treachery, and such unmasked impudence, that I took
pleasure at all times and at all places in making him feel, and others
see, the sovereign disdain I entertained for him. I did not allow my
private feelings to sway my judgment when public interests were at stake,
for when I thought the Duc de Noailles right, and this often occurred,
I supported him; but when I knew him to be wrong, or when I caught him
neglecting his duties, conniving at injustice, shirking inquiry, or
evading the truth, I in no way spared him. The incident just related is
an illustration of the treatment he often received at my hands. Fret,
fume, stamp, storm, as he might, I cared nothing for him. His anger to
me was as indifferent as his friendship. I despised both equally.
Occasionally he would imagine, after there had been no storm between us
for some time, that I had become reconciled to him, and would make
advances to me. But the stern and terrible manner in which I met them,
--or rather refused to meet them, taking no more notice of his politeness
and his compliments, than as if they made no appeal whatever to my eyes
or ears,--soon convinced him of the permanent nature of our quarrel, and
drove him to the most violent rage and despair.

The history of the affair was, apparently, revealed by somebody to the
deputies of Perigueux (for this very evening it was talked of in Paris),
who came and offered me many thanks. Noailles was so afraid of me, that
he did not keep their business unsettled more than two days.

A few months afterwards Courson was recalled, amid the bonfires of his
province. This did not improve him, or hinder him from obtaining
afterwards one of the two places of councillor at the Royal Council of
Finance, for he was already Councillor of State at the time of this
affair of Perigueux.

An amusement, suited to the King's age, caused a serious quarrel. A sort
of tent had been erected for him on the terrace of the Tuileries, before
his apartments, and on the same level. The diversions of kings always
have to do with distinction. He invented some medals to give to the
courtiers of his own age, whom he wished to distinguish, and those
medals, which were intended to be worn, conferred the right of entering
this tent without being invited; thus was created the Order of the
Pavilion. The Marechal de Villeroy gave orders to Lefevre to have the
medals made. He obeyed, and brought them to the Marechal, who presented
them to the King. Lefevre was silversmith to the King's household, and
as such under the orders of the first gentleman of the chamber. The Duc
de Mortemart, who had previously had some tiff with the Marechal de
Villeroy, declared that it devolved upon him to order these medals and
present them to the King. He flew into a passion because everything had
been done without his knowledge; and complained to the Duc d'Orleans.
It was a trifle not worth discussing, and in which the three other
gentlemen of the chamber took no part. Thus the Duc de Mortemart,
opposed alone to the Marechal de Villeroy, stood no chance. M. le Duc
d'Orleans, with his usual love for mezzo termine, said that Lefevre had
not made these medals, or brought them to the Marechal as silversmith,
but as having received through the Marechal the King's order, and that
nothing more must be said. The Duc de Mortemart was indignant, and did
not spare the Marechal.


Scarcely any history has been written at first hand





Policy and Schemes of Alberoni.--He is Made a Cardinal.--Other Rewards
Bestowed on Him.--Dispute with the Majordomo.--An Irruption into the
Royal Apartment.--The Cardinal Thrashed.--Extraordinary Scene.


Anecdote of the Duc d'Orleans.--He Pretends to Reform --Trick Played upon
Me.--His Hoaxes.--His Panegyric of Me.--Madame de Sabran.--How the Regent
Treated His Mistresses.


Encroachments of the Parliament.--The Money Edict.--Conflict of Powers--
Vigorous Conduct of the Parliament.--Opposed with Equal Vigour by the
Regent.--Anecdote of the Duchesse du Maine.--Further Proceedings of the
Parliament.--Influence of the Reading of Memoirs.--Conduct of the
Regent.--My Political Attitude.--Conversation with the Regent on the
Subject of the Parliament.--Proposal to Hang Law.--Meeting at My House.--
Law Takes Refuge in the Palais Royal.


Proposed Bed of Justice.--My Scheme.--Interview with the Regent.--
The Necessary Seats for the Assembly.--I Go in Search of Fontanieu.--
My Interview with Hini.--I Return to the Palace.--Preparations.--
Proposals of M. le Duc to Degrade M. du Maine.--My Opposition.--My Joy
and Delight.--The Bed of Justice Finally Determined On.--A Charming
Messenger.--Final Preparations.--Illness of the Regent.--News Given to
M. du Maine.--Resolution of the Parliament.--Military Arrangements.--I Am
Summoned to the Council.--My Message to the Comte de Toulouse.


The Material Preparations for the Bed of Justice--Arrival of the Duc
d'Orleans:--The Council Chamber.--Attitude of the Various Actors.--The
Duc du Maine.--Various Movements.--Arrival of the Duc de Toulouse.--
Anxiety of the Two Bastards.--They Leave the Room.--Subsequent
Proceedings.--Arrangement of the Council Chamber.--Speech of the Regent.
--Countenances of the Members of Council.--The Regent Explains the Object
of the Bed of Justice.--Speech of the Keeper of the Seals.--Taking the
Votes.--Incidents That Followed.--New Speech of the Duc d'Orleans.--
Against the Bastards.--My Joy.--I Express My Opinion Modestly.--Exception
in Favour of the Comte de Toulouse.--New Proposal of M. le Duc.--Its
Effect.--Threatened Disobedience of the Parliament.--Proper Measures.--
The Parliament Sets Out.


Continuation of the Scene in the Council Chamber.--Slowness of the
Parliament.--They Arrive at Last.--The King Fetched.--Commencement of the
Bed of Justice.--My Arrival.--Its Effect.--What I Observed.--Absence of
the Bastards Noticed.--Appearance of the King. The Keeper of the Seals.--
The Proceedings Opened.--Humiliation of the Parliament.--Speech of the
Chief-President.--New Announcement.--Fall of the Duc du Maine Announced.
--Rage of the Chief-President.--My Extreme joy.--M. le Duc Substituted
for M. du Maine.--Indifference of the King.--Registration of the Decrees.


My Return Home.--Wanted for a New Commission.--Go to the Palais Royal.--
A Cunning Page.--My journey to Saint-Cloud.--My Reception.--Interview
with the Duchesse d'Orleans.--Her Grief.--My Embarrassment.--Interview
with Madame.--Her Triumph.--Letter of the Duchesse d'Orleans.--She Comes
to Paris.--Quarrels with the Regent.


Intrigues of M. du Maine.--And of Cellamare, the Spanish Ambassador.--
Monteleon and Portocarrero.--Their Despatches.--How Signed.--The
Conspiracy Revealed.--Conduct of the Regent.--Arrest of Cellamare.--His
House Searched.--The Regency Council.--Speech of the Duc d'Orleans.--
Resolutions Come To.--Arrests.--Relations with Spain.--Alberoni and
Saint-Aignan.--Their Quarrel.--Escape of Saint-Aignan.


The Regent Sends for Me.--Guilt of the Duc de Maine.--Proposed Arrest.--
Discussion on the Prison to Be Chosen.--The Arrest.--His Dejection.--
Arrest of the Duchess.--Her Rage.--Taken to Dijon.--Other Arrests.--
Conduct of the Comte de Toulouse.--The Faux Sauniers.--Imprisonment of
the Duc and Duchesse du Maine.--Their Sham Disagreement.--Their
Liberation.--Their Reconciliation.


The Abbe Alberoni, having risen by the means I have described, and
acquired power by following in the track of the Princesse des Ursins,
governed Spain like a master. He had the most ambitious projects. One
of his ideas was to drive all strangers, especially the French, out of
the West Indies; and he hoped to make use of the Dutch to attain this
end. But Holland was too much in the dependence of England.

At home Alberoni proposed many useful reforms, and endeavoured to
diminish the expenses of the royal household. He thought, with reason,
that a strong navy was the necessary basis of the power of Spain; and to
create one he endeavoured to economise the public money. He flattered
the King with the idea that next year he would arm forty vessels to
protect the commerce of the Spanish Indies. He had the address to boast
of his disinterestedness, in that whilst working at all manner of
business he had never received any grace from the King, and lived only
on fifty pistoles, which the Duke of Parma, his master, gave him every
month; and therefore he made gently some complaints against the
ingratitude of princes.

Alberoni had persuaded the Queen of Spain to keep her husband shut up,
as had the Princesse des Ursins. This was a certain means of governing a
prince whose temperament and whose conscience equally attached him to his
spouse. He was soon completely governed once more--under lock and key,
as it were, night and day. By this means the Queen was jailoress and
prisoner at the same time. As she was constantly with the King nobody
could come to her. Thus Alberoni kept them both shut up, with the key of
their prison in his pocket.

One of the chief objects of his ambition was the Cardinal's hat. It
would be too long to relate the schemes he set on foot to attain his end.
He was opposed by a violent party at Rome; but at last his inflexible
will and extreme cunning gained the day. The Pope, no longer able to
resist the menaces of the King of Spain, and dreading the vengeance of
the all-powerful minister, consented to grant the favour that minister
had so pertinaciously demanded. Alberoni was made Cardinal on the 12th
of July, 1717. Not a soul approved this promotion when it was announced
at the consistory. Not a single cardinal uttered a word in praise of the
new confrere, but many openly disapproved his nomination. Alberoni's
good fortune did not stop here. At the death, some little time after,
of the Bishop of Malaga, that rich see, worth thirty thousand ecus a
year, was given to him. He received it as the mere introduction to the
grandest and richest sees of Spain, when they should become vacant.
The King of Spain gave him also twenty thousand ducats, to be levied upon
property confiscated for political reasons. Shortly after, Cardinal
Arias, Archbishop of Seville, having died, Alberoni was named to this
rich archbishopric.

In the middle of his grandeur and good luck he met with an adventure that
must have strangely disconcerted him.

I have before explained how Madame des Ursins and the deceased Queen had
kept the King of Spain screened from all eyes, inaccessible to all his
Court, a very palace-hermit. Alberoni, as I have said, followed their
example. He kept the King even more closely imprisoned than before, and
allowed no one, except a few indispensable attendants, to approach him.
These attendants were a small number of valets and doctors, two gentlemen
of the chamber, one or two ladies, and the majordomo-major of the King.
This last post was filled by the Duc d'Escalone, always called Marquis de
Villena, in every way one of the greatest noblemen in Spain, and most
respected and revered of all, and justly so, for his virtue, his
appointment, and his services.

Now the King's doctors are entirely under the authority of the majordomo-
major. He ought to be present at all their consultations; the King
should take no remedy that he is not told of, or that he does not
approve, or that he does not see taken; an account of all the medicines
should be rendered to him. Just at this time the King was ill. Villena
wished to discharge the duties attached to his post of majordomo-major.
Alberoni caused it to be insinuated to him, that the King wished to be at
liberty, and that he would be better liked if he kept at home; or had the
discretion and civility not to enter the royal chamber, but to ask at the
door for news. This was language the Marquis would not understand.

At the end of the grand cabinet of the mirrors was placed a bed, in which
the King was laid, in front of the door; and as the room is vast and
long, it is a good distance from the door (which leads to the interior)
to the place where the bed was. Alberoni again caused the Marquis to be
informed that his attentions were troublesome, but the Marquis did not
fail to enter as before. At last, in concert with the Queen, the
Cardinal resolved to refuse him admission. The Marquis, presenting
himself one afternoon, a valet partly opened the door and said, with much
confusion, that he was forbidden to let him enter.

"Insolent fellow," replied the Marquis, "stand aside," and he pushed the
door against the valet and entered. In front of him was the Queen,
seated at the King's pillow; the Cardinal standing by her side, and the
privileged few, and not all of them, far away from the bed. The Marquis,
who, though full of pride, was but weak upon his legs, leisurely
advanced, supported upon his little stick. The Queen and the Cardinal
saw him and looked at each other. The King was too ill to notice
anything, and his curtains were closed except at the side where the Queen
was. Seeing the Marquis approach, the Cardinal made signs, with
impatience, to one of the valets to tell him to go away, and immediately
after, observing that the Marquis, without replying, still advanced, he
went to him, explained to him that the King wished to be alone, and
begged him to leave.

"That is not true," said the Marquis; "I have watched you; you have not
approached the bed, and the King has said nothing to you."

The Cardinal insisting, and without success, took him by the arm to make
him go. The Marquis said he was very insolent to wish to hinder him from
seeing the King, and perform his duties. The Cardinal, stronger than his
adversary, turned the Marquis round, hurried him towards the door, both
talking the while, the Cardinal with measure, the Marquis in no way
mincing his words. Tired of being hauled out in this manner, the Marquis
struggled, called Alberoni a "little scoundrel," to whom he would teach
manners; and in this heat and dust the Marquis, who was weak, fortunately
fell into an armchair hard by. Angry at his fall, he raised his little
stick and let it fall with all his force upon the ears and the shoulders
of the Cardinal, calling him a little scoundrel--a little rascal--
a little blackguard, deserving a horsewhipping.

The Cardinal, whom he held with one hand, escaped as well as he could,
the Marquis continuing to abuse him, and shaking the stick at him. One
of the valets came and assisted him to rise from his armchair, and gain
the door; for after this accident his only thought was to leave the room.

The Queen looked on from her chair during all this scene, without
stirring or saying a word; and the privileged few in the chamber did not
dare to move. I learned all this from every one in Spain; and moreover I
asked the Marquis de Villena himself to give me the full details; and he,
who was all uprightness and truth, and who had conceived some little
friendship for me, related with pleasure all I have written. The two
gentlemen of the chamber present also did the same, laughing in their
sleeves. One had refused to tell the Marquis to leave the room, and the
other had accompanied him to the door. The most singular thing is, that
the Cardinal, furious, but surprised beyond measure at the blows he had
received, thought only of getting out of reach. The Marquis cried to him
from a distance, that but for the respect he owed to the King, and to the
state in which he was, he would give him a hundred kicks in the stomach,
and haul him out by the ears. I was going to forget this. The King was
so ill that he saw nothing.

A quarter of an hour after the Marquis had returned home, he received an
order to retire to one of his estates at thirty leagues from Madrid. The
rest of the day his house was filled with the most considerable people of
Madrid, arriving as they learned the news, which made a furious sensation
through the city. He departed the next day with his children. The
Cardinal, nevertheless, remained so terrified, that, content with the
exile of the Marquis, and with having got rid of him, he did not dare to
pass any censure upon him for the blows he had received. Five or six
months afterwards he sent him an order of recall, though the Marquis had
not taken the slightest steps to obtain it. What is incredible is, that
the adventure, the exile, the return, remained unknown to the King until
the fall of the Cardinal! The Marquis would never consent to see him, or
to hear him talked of, on any account, after returning, though the
Cardinal was the absolute master. His pride was much humiliated by this
worthy and just haughtiness; and he was all the more piqued because he
left nothing undone in order to bring about a reconciliation, without any
other success than that of obtaining fresh disdain, which much increased
the public estimation in which this wise and virtuous nobleman was held.


I must not omit to mention an incident which occurred during the early
part of the year 1718, and which will give some idea of the character of
M. le Duc d'Orleans, already pretty amply described by me.

One day (when Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans had gone to Montmartre, which
she quitted soon after) I was walking alone with M. le Duc d'Orleans in
the little garden of the Palais Royal, chatting upon various affairs,
when he suddenly interrupted me, and turning towards me; said, "I am
going to tell you something that will please you."

Thereupon he related to me that he was tired of the life he led, which
was no longer in harmony with his age or his desires, and many similar
things; that he was resolved to give up his gay parties, pass his
evenings more soberly and decently, sometimes at home, often with Madame
la Duchesse d'Orleans; that his health would gain thereby, and he should
have more time for business; that in a little while I might rely upon it
--there would be no more suppers of "roues and harlots" (these were his
own terms), and that he was going to lead a prudent and reasonable life
adapted to his age and state.

I admit that in my extreme surprise I was ravished, so great was the
interest I took in him. I testified this to him with overflowing heart,
thanking him for his confidence. I said to him that he knew I for a long
time had not spoken to him of the indecency of his life, or of the time
he lost, because I saw that in so doing I lost my own; that I had long
since despaired of his conduct changing; that this had much grieved me;
that he could not be ignorant from all that had passed between us at
various times, how much I desired a change, and that he might judge of
the surprise and joy his announcement gave me. He assured me more and
more that his resolution was fixed, and thereupon I took leave of him,
the hour for his soiree having arrived.

The next day I learned from people to whom the roues had just related it,
that M. le Duc d'Orleans was no sooner at table than he burst out
laughing, and applauded his cleverness, saying that he had just laid a
trap for me into which I had fallen full length. He recited to them our
conversation, at which the joy and applause were marvellous. It is the
only time he ever diverted himself at my expense (not to say at his own)
in a matter in which the fib he told me, and which I was foolish enough
to swallow, surprised by a sudden joy that took from me reflection, did
honour to me, though but little to him. I would not gratify him by
telling him I knew of his joke, or call to his mind what he had said to
me; accordingly he never dared to speak of it.

I never could unravel what fantasy had seized him to lead him to hoax me
in this manner, since for many years I had never opened my mouth
concerning the life he led, whilst he, on his side, had said not a word
to me relating to it. Yet it is true that sometimes being alone with
confidential valets, some complaints have escaped him (but never before
others) that I ill-treated him, and spoke hastily to him, but all was
said in two words, without bitterness, and without accusing me of
treating him wrongfully. He spoke truly also; sometimes, when I was
exasperated with stupidity or error in important matters which affected
him or the State, or when he had agreed (having been persuaded and
convinced by good reasons) to do or not to do some essential thing, and
was completely turned from it by his feebleness, his easy-going nature
(which he appreciated as well as I)--cruelly did I let out against him.
But the trick he most frequently played me before others, one of which my
warmth was always dupe, was suddenly to interrupt an important argument
by a 'sproposito' of buffoonery. I could not stand it; sometimes being
so angry that I wished to leave the room. I used to say to him that if
he wished to joke I would joke as much as he liked, but to mix the most
serious matters with tomfoolery was insupportable. He laughed heartily,
and all the more because, as the thing often happened, I ought to have
been on my guard; but never was, and was vexed both at the joke and at
being surprised; then he returned to business. But princes must
sometimes banter and amuse themselves with those whom they treat as
friends. Nevertheless, in spite of his occasional banter, he entertained
really sincere esteem and friendship for me.

By chance I learnt one day what he really thought of me. I will say it
now, so as to leave at once all these trifles. M. le Duc d'Orleans
returning one afternoon from the Regency Council at the Tuileries to the
Palais Royal with M. le Duc de Chartres (his son) and the Bailli de
Conflans (then first gentleman of his chamber) began to talk of me,
passing an eulogium upon me I hardly dare to repeat. I know not what had
occurred at the Council to occasion it. All that I can say is that he
insisted upon his happiness in having a friend so faithful, so unchanging
at all times, so useful to him as I was, and always had been; so sure, so
true, so disinterested, so firm, such as he could meet with in no one
else, and upon whom he could always count. This eulogy lasted from the
Tuileries to the Palais Royal, the Regent saying to his son that he
wished to teach him how to make my acquaintance, as a support and a
source of happiness (all that I relate here is in his own words); such as
he had always found in my friendship and counsel. The Bailli de
Conflans, astonished at this abundant eloquence, repeated it to me two
days after, and I admit that I never have forgotten it. And here I will
say that whatever others might do, whatever I myself (from disgust and
vexation at what I saw ill done) might do, the Regent always sought
reconciliation with me with shame, confidence, confusion, and he has
never found himself in any perplexity that he has not opened his heart to
me, and consulted me, without however always following my advice, for he
was frequently turned from it by others.

He would never content himself with one mistress. He needed a variety in
order to stimulate his taste. I had no more intercourse with them than
with his roues. He never spoke of them to me, nor I to him. I scarcely
ever knew anything of their adventures. His roues and valets were always
eager to present fresh mistresses to him, from which he generally
selected one. Amongst these was Madame de Sabran, who had married a man
of high rank, but without wealth or merit, in order to be at liberty.
There never was a woman so beautiful as she, or of a beauty more regular,
more agreeable, more touching, or of a grander or nobler bearing, and yet
without affectation. Her air and her manners were simple and natural,
making you think she was ignorant of her beauty and of her figure (this
last the finest in the world), and when it pleased her she was
deceitfully modest. With much intellect she was insinuating, merry,
overflowing, dissipated, not bad-hearted, charming, especially at table.
In a word, she was all M. le Duc d'Orleans wanted, and soon became his
mistress without prejudice to the rest.

As neither she nor her husband had a rap, they were ready for anything,
and yet they did not make a large fortune. One of the chamberlains of
the Regent, with an annual salary of six thousand livres, having received
another appointment, Madame de Sabran thought six thousand livres a year
too good to be lost, and asked for the post for her husband. She cared
so little for him, by the way, that she called him her "mastiff." It was
she, who, supping with M. le Duc d'Orleans and his roues, wittily said,
that princes and lackeys had been made of one material, separated by
Providence at the creation from that out of which all other men had been

All the Regent's mistresses had one by one their turn. Fortunately they
had little power, were not initiated into any state secrets, and received
but little money.

The Regent amused himself with them, and treated them in other respects
exactly as they deserved to be treated.


It is time now that I should speak of matters of very great importance,
which led to changes that filled my heart with excessive joy, such as it
had never known before.

For a long time past the Parliament had made many encroachments upon the
privileges belonging to the Dukes. Even under the late King it had begun
these impudent enterprises, and no word was said against it; for nothing
gave the King greater pleasure than to mix all ranks together in a
caldron of confusion. He hated and feared the nobility, was jealous of
their power, which in former reigns had often so successfully balanced
that of the crown; he was glad therefore of any opportunity which
presented itself that enabled him to see our order weakened and robbed of
its dignity.

The Parliament grew bolder as its encroachments one by one succeeded.
It began to fancy itself armed with powers of the highest kind. It began
to imagine that it possessed all the authority of the English Parliament,
forgetting that that assembly is charged with the legislative
administration of the country, that it has the right to make laws and
repeat laws, and that the monarch can do but little, comparatively
speaking, without the support and sanction of this representative
chamber; whereas, our own Parliament is but a tribunal of justice, with
no control or influence over the royal authority or state affairs.

But, as I have said, success gave it new impudence. Now that the King
was dead, at whose name alone it trembled, this assembly thought that a
fine opportunity had come to give its power the rein. It had to do with

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