Part 38 out of 62
comfort of their Paris homes, and to the society there of their wives;
children, and friends, would soon grow tired of being separated from
them, and of the extra expense they would be put to, and would give in.
I agreed to the project, although I saw, alas! that by this exile the
Parliament would be punished, but would be neither conciliated nor tamed
into submission. To make matters worse, Blois was given up, and Pontoise
was substituted for it! This latter town being close to Paris, the
chastisement became ridiculous, showed the vacillating weakness of the
Regent, and encouraged the Parliament to laugh at him. One thing was,
however, well done. The resolution taken to banish the Parliament was
kept so secret that that assembly had not the slightest knowledge of it.
On Sunday, the 21st of July, squadrons of the guards, with officers at
their head, took possession, at four o'clock in the morning, of all the
doors of the Palais de justice. The musketeers seized at the same time
upon the doors of the Grand Chamber, whilst others invaded the house of
the Chief-President, who was in much fear during the first hour. Other
musketeers went in parties of four to all the officers of the Parliament,
and served them with the King's order, commanding them to repair to
Pontoise within twice twenty-four hours. All passed off very politely on
both sides, so that there was not the slightest complaint: several
members obeyed the same day and went to Pontoise.
Rather late in the evening M. le Duc d'Orleans sent to the Attorney-
General 200,000 livres in coin, and as much in bank notes of 100 livres,
and of 10 livres to be given to those who should need them for the
journey, but not as gifts. The Chief-President was more brazen and more
fortunate; he made so many promises, showed so much meanness, employed so
much roguery, that abusing by these means the feebleness and easiness of
the Regent, whom he laughed at, he obtained more than 100,000 ecus for
his expenses. The poor prince gave him the money, under the rose, in two
or three different payments, and permitted the Duc de Bouillon to lend
him his house at Pontoise, completely furnished, and the garden of which,
on the banks of the river, is admirable and immense, a masterpiece of its
kind, and had been the delight of Cardinal Bouillon, being perhaps the
only thing in France he regretted. With such fine assistance the Chief-
President--on bad terms with his companions, who had openly despised him
for some time--perfectly made it up with them. He kept at Pontoise open
table for the Parliament; all were every day at liberty to use it if they
liked, so that there were always several tables, all equally, delicately,
and splendidly served. He sent, too, to those who asked for them,
liquors, etc., as they could desire. Cooling drinks and fruits of all
kinds were abundantly served every afternoon, and there were a number of
little one and two-horse vehicles always ready for the ladies and old men
who liked a drive, besides play-tables in the apartments until supper
time. The result of all this magnificence was, as I have said, that the
Chief-President completely reinstated himself in the good graces of his
companions; but it was at the expense of the Regent, who was laughed at
for his pains. A large number of the members of the Parliament did not
go to Pontoise at all, but took advantage of the occasion to recreate
themselves in the country. Only a few of the younger members mounted
guard in the assembly, where nothing but the most trivial and make-
believe business was conducted. Everything important was deliberately
neglected. Woe! to those, therefore, who had any trial on hand. The
Parliament, in a word, did nothing but divert itself, leave all business
untouched, and laugh at the Regent and the government. Banishment to
Pontoise was a fine punishment!
This banishment of the Parliament to Pontoise was followed by various
financial operations and by several changes in the administrations. Des
Forts had the general control of the finances and all authority, but
without the name. The disordered state of the exchequer did not hinder
M. le Duc d'Orleans from indulging in his strange liberalities to people
without merit and without need, and not one of whom he could possibly
care a straw for. He gave to Madame la Grande Duchesse an augmentation
of her pension of 50,000 livres; one of 8,000 livres to Trudaine: one of
9,000 livres to Chateauneuf; one of 8,000 livres to Bontems, chief valet
de chambre of the King; one of 6,000 livres to the Marechal de
Montesquieu; one of 3,000 livres to Faucault; and one of 9,000 livres to
the widow of the Duc d'Albemarle, secretly remarried to the son of
All this time the public stock-jobbing still continued on the Place
Vendome. The Mississippi had tempted everybody. It was who should fill
his pockets first with millions, through M. le Duc d'Orleans and Law.
The crowd was very great. One day the Marechal de Villars traversed the
Place Vendome in a fine coach, loaded with pages and lackeys, to make way
for which the mob of stock-jobbers had some difficulty. The Marechal
upon this harangued the people in his braggart manner from the carriage
window, crying out against the iniquity of stock-jobbing, and the shame
it cast upon all. Until this point he had been allowed to say on, but
when he thought fit to add that his own hands were clean, and that he had
never dabbled in shares, a voice uttered a cutting sarcasm, and all the
crowd took up the word, at which the Marechal, ashamed and confounded,
despite his ordinary authority, buried himself in his carriage and
finished his journey across the Place Vendome at a gentle trot in the
midst of a hue and cry, which followed him even beyond, and which
diverted Paris at his expense for several days, nobody pitying him.
At last it was found that this stock-jobbing too much embarrassed the
Place Vendome and the public way; it was transferred, therefore, to the
vast garden of the Hotel de Soissons. This was, in fact, its proper
place. Law, who had remained at the Palais Royal some time, had returned
to his own house, where he received many visits. The King several times
went to see the troops that had been stationed near Paris; after this
they were sent away again. Those which had formed a little camp at
Charenton, returned to Montargis to work at the canal making there.
Law, for commercial reasons, had some time ago caused Marseilles to be
made a free port. The consequence of this was that an abundance of
vessels came there, especially vessels from the Levant, and from want of
precautions the plague came also, lasted a long while, desolated the
town, province; and the neighbouring provinces. The care and precautions
afterwards taken restrained it as much as possible, but did not hinder it
from lasting a long time, or from creating frightful disorders. These
details are so well known that they can be dispensed with here.
I have a few more words to say of Law and his Mississippi. The bubble
finally burst at the end of the year (1720). Law, who had no more
resources, being obliged secretly to depart from the realm, was
sacrificed to the public. His flight was known only through the eldest
son of Argenson, intendant at Mainbeuge, who had the stupidity to arrest
him. The courier he despatched with the news was immediately sent back,
with a strong reprimand for not having deferred to the passport with
which Law had been furnished by the Regent. The financier was with his
son, and they both went to Brussels where the Marquis de Prie, Governor
of the Imperial Low Countries, received them very well, and entertained
them. Law did not stop long, gained Liege and Germany, where he offered
his talents to several princes, who all thanked him; nothing more. After
having thus roamed, he passed through the Tyrol, visited several Italian
courts, not one of which would have him, and at last retired to Venice.
This republic, however, did not employ him. His wife and daughter
followed him some time after. I don't know what became of them or of the
Law was a Scotchman; of very doubtful birth; tall and well made; of
agreeable face and aspect; gallant, and on very good terms with the
ladies of all the countries he had travelled in. His wife was not his
wife; she was of a good English family and well connected; had followed
Law for love; had had a son and a daughter by him, passed for his wife,
and bore his name without being married to him. This was suspected
towards the end; after his departure it became certain. She had one eye
and the top of one cheek covered by an ugly stain as of wine; otherwise
she was well made, proud, impertinent in her conversation and in her
manners, receiving compliments, giving next to none, paying but few
visits, these rare and selected, and exercising authority in her
household. I know not whether her credit over her husband was great; but
he appeared full of regard, of care, and of respect for her; at the time
of their departure they were each about fifty and fifty-five years old.
Law had made many acquisitions of all kinds and still more debts, so that
this tangle is not yet unravelled by the committee of the council
appointed to arrange his affairs with his creditors. I have said
elsewhere, and I repeat it here, that there was neither avarice nor
roguery in his composition. He was a gentle, good, respectable man, whom
excess of credit and fortune had not spoiled, and whose deportment,
equipages, table, and furniture could not scandalise any one. He
suffered with singular patience and constancy all the vexations excited
by his operations, until towards the last, when, finding himself short of
means and wishing to meet his difficulty, he became quick and bad-
tempered, and his replies were often ill-measured. He was a man of
system, of calculation, of comparison, well and profoundly instructed in
these things, and, without ever cheating, had everywhere gained at play
by dint of understanding--which seems to me incredible--the combinations
His bank, as I have elsewhere said, was an excellent thing for a
republic, or for a country like England, where finance is as in a
republic. His Mississippi he was the dupe of, and believed with good
faith he should make great and rich establishments in America. He
reasoned like an Englishman, and did not know how opposed to commerce and
to such establishments are the frivolity of the (French) nation, its
inexperience, its avidity to enrich itself at once, the inconvenience of
a despotic government, which meddles with everything, which has little or
no consistency, and in which what one minister does is always destroyed
by his successor.
Law's proscription of specie, then of jewels, so as to have only paper in
France, is a system I have never comprehended, nor has anybody, I fancy,
during all the ages which have elapsed since that in which Abraham, after
losing Sarah, bought, for ready-money, a sepulchre for her and for her
children. But Law was a man of system, and of system so deep, that
nobody ever could get to the bottom of it, though he spoke easily, well
and clearly, but with a good deal of English in his French.
He remained several years at Venice, upon very scanty means, and died
there a Catholic, having lived decently, but very humbly, wisely, and
modestly, and received with piety the last sacraments of the Church.
Thus terminates all I have to say of Law. But a painful truth remains.
I have to speak of the woful disorder in the finances which his system
led to, disorder which was not fully known until after his departure from
France. Then people saw, at last, where all the golden schemes that had
flooded upon popular credulity had borne us;--not to the smiling and
fertile shores of Prosperity and Confidence, as may be imagined; but to
the bleak rocks and dangerous sands of Ruin and Mistrust, where dull
clouds obscure the sky, and where there is no protection against the
Not long after the flight of Law, that is to say, on Sunday, the 24th of
January, of the new year, 1721, a council was held at the Tuileries, at
four o'clock in the afternoon, principally for the purpose of examining
the state of the finances and of Law's Bank and India Company. It was,
in fact, high time to do something to diminish the overgrown disorder and
confusion everywhere reigning. For some time there had been complete
stagnation in all financial matters; the credit of the King had step by
step diminished, private fortune had become more and more uncertain. The
bag was at last empty, the cards were cast aside, the last trick was
played: The administration of the finances had passed into the hands of
La Houssaye, and his first act was to call the attention of the Regency
Council to the position of the bank and the company. We were prepared to
hear that things were in a very bad state, but we were scarcely prepared
to find that they so closely resembled utter ruin and bankruptcy.
I need not relate all that passed at this council; the substance of it is
enough. From the statement there of M. le Duc d'Orleans, it appeared
that Law had issued 1,200,000,000 livres of bank notes more than he ought
to have issued. The first 600,00,000 livres had not done much harm,
because they had been kept locked up in the bank; but after the 22nd of
May, another issue of 600,000,000 had taken place, and been circulated
among the public, without the knowledge of the Regent, without the
authorisation of any decree. "For this," said M. le Duc d'Orleans, "Law
deserved to be hanged, but under the circumstances of the case, I drew
him from his embarrassment, by an ante-dated decree, ordering the issue
of this quantity of notes."
Thereupon M. le Duc said to the Regent, "But, Monsieur, why, knowing
this, did you allow him to leave the realm?"
"It was you who furnished him with the means to do so," replied M. le Duc
"I never asked you to allow him to quit the country," rejoined M. le Duc.
"But," insisted the Regent, "it was you yourself who sent him his
"That's true," replied M. le Duc, "but it was you who gave them to me to
send to him; but I never asked you for them, or to let him leave the
realm. I know that I have the credit for it amongst the public, and I am
glad of this opportunity to explain here the facts of the case. I was
against the proposition for sending M. Law to the Bastille, or to any
other prison, because I believed that it was not to your interest to
sanction this, after having made use of him as you had; but I never asked
you to let him leave the realm, and I beg you, Monsieur, in presence of
the King, and before all these gentlemen, to say if I ever did."
"'Tis true," replied the Regent, "you never asked me; I allowed him to
go, because I thought his presence in France would injure public credit,
and the operations of the public."
"So far was I from asking you," said M. le Duc, "that if you had done me
the honour to demand my opinion, I should have advised you to take good
care not to let him depart from the country."
This strange conversation, which roused our astonishment to an incredible
point, and which was sustained with so much out-spoken freedom by M. le
Duc, demands a word or two of explanation.
M. le Duc was one of those who, without spending a farthing, had drawn
millions from Law's notes and shares. He had had large allotments of the
latter, and now that they had become utterly valueless, he had been
obliged to make the best of a bad bargain, by voluntarily giving them up,
in order to lighten the real responsibilities of the Company. This he
had done at the commencement of the Council, M. le Prince de Conti also.
But let me explain at greater length.
The 22nd of May, the day of the decree, was the period at which commenced
the final decay of the Company, and of the bank, and the extinction of
all confidence by the sad discovery that there was no longer any money
wherewith to pay the bank notes, they being so prodigiously in excess of
the coin. After this, each step had been but a stumble: each operation a
very feeble palliation. Days and weeks had been gained, obscurity had
been allowed to give more chance, solely from fear of disclosing the true
and terrible state of affairs, and the extent of the public ruin. Law
could not wash his hands of all this before the world; he could not avoid
passing for the inventor and instrument, and he would have run great risk
at the moment when all was unveiled. M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, to
satisfy his own prodigality, and the prodigious avidity of his friends,
had compelled Law to issue so many millions of livres of notes more than
he had any means of paying, and who had thus precipitated him into the
abyss, could not let him run the chance of perishing, still less to save
him, could he proclaim himself the real criminal. It was to extricate
himself from this embarrassment that he made Law leave the country, when
he saw that the monstrous deceit could no longer be hidden.
This manifestation, which so strongly interested the shareholders, and
the holders of bank notes, especially those who had received shares or
notes as favours due to their authority, and who could show no other
title to them, threw every one into despair. The most important holders,
such as the Princes of the Blood, and others, whose profits had been
immense, had by force or industry delayed this manifestation as long as
possible. As they knew the real state of affairs, they felt that the
moment all the world knew it also, their gains would cease, and their
paper become worthless, that paper from which they had drawn so much, and
which had not cost them a farthing! This is what induced M. le Duc
d'Orleans to hide from them the day of this manifestation, so as to avoid
being importuned by them; and by a surprise, to take from them the power
of preparing any opposition to the measures it was proposed to carry out.
M. le Duc, when he learned this, flew into a fury, and hence the strange
scene between him and M. le Duc d'Orleans, which scandalised and
terrified everybody in the Council.
M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, from taste, and afterwards from necessity,
lived upon schemes and trickery, thought he had done marvels in saddling
M. le Duc with the passport of Law. He wished to lay the blame of Law's
departure upon M. le Duc; but as I have shown, he was defeated by his own
weapons. He had to do with a man as sharp as himself. M. le Duc, who
knew he had nothing to fear, would not allow it to be supposed that he
had sanctioned the flight of the financier. That was why he pressed M.
le Duc d'Orleans so pitilessly, and forced him to admit that he had never
asked him to allow Law to leave the country.
The great and terrible fact brought out by this Council was, that Law,
without the knowledge or authority of the Regent, had issued and
disseminated among the public 600,000,000 livres of notes; and not only
without being authorised by any edict, but contrary to express
prohibition. But when the Regent announced this, who did he suppose
would credit it? Who could believe that Law would have had the hardihood
to issue notes at this rate without the sanction and approbation of his
However, to leave once and for all these unpleasant matters, let me say
what was resolved upon by way of remedy to the embarrassments discovered
to exist. The junction of the India Company with the bank, which had
taken place during the previous February, had led to transactions which
made the former debtor to the latter to an immense amount. But the bank
being a governmental establishment, the King became thus the creditor of
the Company. It was decreed, in fact, that the Company should be
considered as debtor to the King. It was decided, however, that other
debtors should receive first attention. Many private people had invested
their money in the shares of the Company. It was not thought just that
by the debt of the Company to the King, these people should be ruined;
or, on the other hand, that those who had left the Company in good time,
who had converted their shares into notes, or who had bought them at a
low price in the market, should profit by the misfortune of the bona fide
shareholders. Accordingly, commissioners, it was decided, were to be
named, to liquidate all these papers and parchments, and annul those
which did not proceed from real purchases.
M. le Duc said, upon this, "There are at least eighty thousand families,
the whole of whose wealth consists of these effects; how are they to live
during this liquidation?"
La Houssaye replied, that so many commissioners could be named, that the
work would soon be done.
And so the Council ended.
But I must, perforce, retrace my steps at this point to many other
matters, which I have left far behind me in going on at once to the end
of this financial labyrinth. And first let me tell what happened to that
monstrous personage, Alberoni, how he fell from the lofty pinnacle of
dower on which he had placed himself, and lost all consideration and all
importance in the fall. The story is mightily curious and instructive.
Alberoni had made himself detested by all Europe,--for all Europe, in one
way or another, was the victim of his crimes. He was detested as the
absolute master of Spain, whose guides were perfidy, ambition, personal
interest, views always oblique, often caprice, sometimes madness; and
whose selfish desires, varied and diversified according to the fantasy
of the moment, were hidden under schemes always uncertain and oftentimes
impossible of execution. Accustomed to keep the King and Queen of Spain
in chains, and in the narrowest and obscurest prison, where he allowed
them to communicate with no one, and made them see, feel, and breathe
through him, and blindly obey his every wish; he caused all Spain to
tremble, and had annihilated all power there, except his own, by the most
violent acts, constraining himself in no way, despising his master and
his mistress, whose will and whose authority he had utterly absorbed.
He braved successively all the powers of Europe, and aspired to nothing
less than to deceive them all, then to govern them, making them serve all
his ends; and seeing at last his cunning exhausted, tried to execute
alone, and without allies, the plan he had formed.
This plan was nothing less than to take away from the Emperor all that
the peace of Utrecht had left him in Italy; all that the Spanish house of
Austria had possessed there; to dominate the Pope and the King of Sicily;
to deprive the Emperor of the help of France and England, by exciting the
first against the Regent through the schemes of the ambassador Cellamare
and the Duc du Maine; and by sending King James to England, by the aid of
the North, so as to keep King George occupied with a civil war. In the
end he wished to profit by all these disorders, by transporting into
Italy (which his cardinalship made him regard as a safe asylum against
all reverses) the immense treasures he had pillaged and collected m
Spain, under pretext of sending the sums necessary to sustain the war,
and the conquests he intended to make; and this last project was,
perhaps, the motive power of all the rest. The madness of these schemes,
and his obstinacy in clinging to them, were not discovered until
afterwards. The astonishment then was great indeed, upon discovering the
poverty of the resources with which he thought himself capable of
carrying out these wild projects. Yet he had made such prodigious
preparations for war, that he had entirely exhausted the country without
rendering it able for a moment to oppose the powers of Europe.
Alberoni, abhorred in Spain as a cruel tyrant, in France, in England, in
Rome, and by the Emperor as an implacable and personal enemy, did not
seem to have the slightest uneasiness. Yet he might have had some, and
with good cause, at the very moment when he fancied himself most powerful
and most secure.
The Regent and the Abbe Dubois, who for a long time had only too many
reasons to regard Alberoni as their personal enemy, were unceasingly
occupied in silently plotting his fall; they believed the present moment
favourable, and did not fail to profit by it. How they did so is a
curious fact, which, to my great regret, has never reached me. M. le Duc
d'Orleans survived Dubois such a few months that many things I should
have liked to have gained information upon, I had not the time to ask him
about; and this was one.
All I know is, that what Alberoni always dreaded, at last happened to
him. He trembled, at every one, no matter of how little importance, who
arrived from Parma (the Queen of Spain, it has not been forgotten, was of
that Duchy); he omitted nothing by the aid of the Duke of Parma, and by
other means, to hinder the Parmesans from coming to Madrid; and was in
terror of the few of those whose journey he could not hinder, and whose
dismissal he could not obtain.
Among these few people there was nobody he feared so much as the Queen's
nurse, whom he drew up with a round turn occasionally, so to speak, but
less from policy than ill-temper. This nurse, who was a rough country-
woman of Parma, was named Donna Piscatori Laura. She had arrived in
Spain some years after the Queen, who had always liked her, and who made
her, shortly after her arrival, her 'assofeta', that is to say, her chief
'femme de chambre'; an office more considerable in Spain than with us.
Laura had brought her husband with her, a peasant in every way, seen and
known by nobody; but Laura had intelligence, shrewdness, cleverness, and
ambitious views, in spite of the external vulgarity of her manners, which
she had preserved either from habit, or from policy, for make herself
less suspected. Like all persons of this extraction, she was thoroughly
selfish. She was not unaware how impatiently Alberoni endured her
presence, and feared her favour with the Queen, whom he wished to possess
alone; and, more sensible to the gentle taps she from time to time
received from him, than to his ordinary attentions, she looked upon him
simply as a very formidable enemy, who kept her within very narrow
limits, who hindered her from profiting by the favour of the Queen, and
whose design was to send her back to Parma, and to leave nothing undone
until he had carried it out.
This is all the information I have ever been able to obtain. The
probability is, that Donna Laura was gained by the money of the Regent
and the intrigues gained Dubois; and that she succeeded in convincing the
Queen of Spain that Alberoni was a minister who had ruined the country,
who was the sole obstacle in the way of peace, and who had sacrificed
everything and everybody to his personal views, their Catholic Majesties
included. However, as I relate only what I know, I shall be very brief
upon this interesting event.
Laura succeeded. Alberoni, at the moment he least expected it, received
a note from the King of Spain ordering him to withdraw at once, without
attempting to see him or the Queen, or to write to them; and to leave
Spain in twice twenty-four hours! An officer of the guards was to
accompany him until his departure: How this overruling order was
received, and what the Cardinal did, I know not; I only know that he
obeyed it, and took the road for Arragon. So few precautions had been
taken, that he carried off an immense number of papers, money, and
jewels; and it was not until a few days had elapsed, that the King of
Spain was informed that the original will of Charles the Second could not
be found. It was at once supposed that Alberoni had carried away this
precious document (by which Charles the Second named Philippe V. King of
Spain), in order to offer it, perhaps, to the Emperor, so as to gain his
favour and good graces. Alberoni was stopped. It was not without
trouble, the most terrible menaces, and loud cries from him, that he
surrendered the testament, and some other important papers which it was
perceived were missing. The terror he had inspired was so profound,
that, until this moment, no one had dared to show his joy, or to speak,
though the tyrant was gone. But this event reassured every one against
his return, and the result was an unexampled overflow of delight, of
imprecations, and of reports against him, to the King and Queen, of the
most public occurrences (which they alone were ignorant of) and of.
private misdeeds, which it was no longer thought necessary to hide.
M. le Duc d'Orleans did not restrain his joy, still less the Abbe Dubois;
it was their work which had overthrown their personal enemy; with him
fell the wall of separation, so firmly erected by Alberoni between the
Regent and the King of Spain; and (at the same time) the sole obstacle
against peace. This last reason caused joy to burst out in Italy, in
Vienna, in London; and peace between France, and Spain soon resulted.
The allied princes felicitated themselves on what had happened; even the
Dutch were ravished to be delivered of a minister so double-dealing, so
impetuous, so powerful. M. le Duc d'Orleans dispatched the Chevalier de
Morcieu, a very skilful and intelligent man, and certainly in the hands
of the Abbe Dubois, to the extreme confines of the frontiers to wait for
Alberoni, accompanying him until the moment of his embarkation in
Provence for Italy; with orders never to lose sight of him, to make him
avoid the large towns and principal places as much as possible; suffer no
honours to be rendered to him; above all, to hinder him from
communicating with anybody, or anybody with him; in a word, to conduct
him civilly, like a prisoner under guard.
Morcieu executed to the letter this disagreeable commission; all the more
necessary, because, entirely disgraced as was Alberoni, everything was to
be forced from him while traversing a great part of France, where all who
were adverse to the Regent might have recourse to him. Therefore it was
not without good reason that every kind of liberty was denied him.
It may be imagined what was suffered by a man so impetuous, and so
accustomed to unlimited power; but he succeeded in accommodating himself
to such a great and sudden change of condition; in maintaining his self-
possession; in subjecting himself to no refusals; in being sage and
measured in his manners; very reserved in speech, with an air as though
he cared for nothing; and in adapting himself to everything without
questions, without pretension, without complaining, dissimulating
everything, and untiringly pretending to regard Morcieu as an
accompaniment of honour. He received, then, no sort of civility on the
part of the Regent, of Dubois, or of anybody; and performed the day's
journeys, arranged by Morcieu, without stopping, almost without suite,
until he arrived on the shores of the Mediterranean, where he immediately
embarked and passed to the Genoa coast.
Alberoni, delivered of his Argus, and arrived in Italy, found himself in
another trouble by the anger of the Emperor, who would suffer him
nowhere, and by the indignation of the Court of Rome, which prevailed, on
this occasion, over respect for the purple. Alberoni for a long time was
forced to keep out of the way, hidden and a fugitive, and was not able to
approach Rome until the death of the Pope. The remainder of the life of
this most extraordinary man is not a subject for these memoirs. But what
ought not to be forgotten is the last mark of rage, despair, and madness
that he gave in traversing France. He wrote to M. le Duc d'Orleans,
offering to supply him with the means of making a most dangerous war
against Spain; and at Marseilles, ready to embark, he again wrote to
reiterate the same offers, and press them on the Regent.
I cannot refrain from commenting here upon the blindness of allowing
ecclesiastics to meddle with public affairs; above all, cardinals, whose
special privilege is immunity from everything most infamous and most
degrading. Ingratitude, infidelity, revolt, felony, independence, are
the chief characteristics of these eminent criminals.
Of Alberoni's latter days I will say but a few words.
At the death of Clement XI., legal proceedings that had been taken to
deprive Alberoni of his cardinalship, came to an end. Wandering and
hidden in Italy, he was summoned to attend a conclave for the purpose of
electing a new Pope. Alberoni was the opprobrium of the sacred college;
proceedings, as I have said, were in progress to deprive him of his
cardinalship. The King and Queen of Spain evidently stimulated those
proceedings: the Pope just dead had opposed him; but the cardinals would
not agree to his disgrace; they would not consent to strip him of his
dignity. The example would have been too dangerous. That a cardinal,
prince, or great nobleman, should surrender his hat in order to marry,
the store of his house demands it; well and good; but to see a cardinal
deprive himself of his hat by way of penitence, is what his brethren will
not endure. A cardinal may be poisoned, stabbed, got rid of altogether,
but lose his dignity he never can. Rome must be infallible, or she is
It was decided, that if, at the election of the new Pope, Alberoni were
not admitted to take part in the proceedings, he always might protest
against them, and declare them irregular. Therefore he was, as I have
said, admitted to the conclave. He arrived in Rome, without display, in
his own coach, and was received in the conclave with the same honours as
all the other cardinals, and performed all the duties of his position.
A few days after the election, he absented himself from Rome, as though
to see whether proceedings would be continued against him. But they fell
of themselves. The new Pope had no interest in them. The cardinals
wished only for silence. Spain felt at last the inutility of her cries.
Dubois was in favour of throwing a veil over his former crimes, so that,
after a short absence, Alberoni hired in Rome a magnificent palace, and
returned there for good, with the attendance, expense, and display his
Spanish spoils supplied. He found himself face to face with the Cardinal
Giudice, and with Madame des Ursins. The three formed a rare triangle,
which caused many a singular scene in home. After seeing them both die,
Alberoni became legate at Ferrara, continued there a long time, little
esteemed at Rome, where he is now living, sound in mind and body, and
eighty-six years of age.
The King attended the Royal Council for the first time on Sunday, the
18th of February, 1720. He said nothing while there, or on going away,
excepting that when M. le Duc d'Orleans, who feared he might grow weary
of the proceedings, proposed to him to leave, he said he would stop to
the end. After this he did not come always, but often, invariably
remaining to the last, without moving or speaking. His presence changed
nothing in the order of our arrangements, because his armchair was always
there, alone, at the end of the table, and M. le Duc d'Orleans, whether
his Majesty came or not, had but a "stool" similar to those we all sat
upon. Step by step this council had been so much increased, that now, by
the entry of the Duc de Berwick, it numbered sixteen members! To say
truth, we were far too many, and we had several among us who would have
been much better away. I had tried, but in vain, to make the Regent see
this. He did see at last, but it was too late; and meanwhile we were, as
I have stated, sixteen in the council. I remember that one day, when the
King came, a kitten followed him, and some time after jumped upon him,
and thence upon the table, where it began to walk; the Duc de Noailles
immediately crying out, because he did not like cats. M. le Duc
d'Orleans wished to drive the animal away. I smiled, and said, "Oh,
leave the kitten alone, it will make the seventeenth."
M. le Duc d'Orleans burst out laughing at this, and looked at the
company, who laughed also, the King as well. His Majesty briefly spoke
of it to me on the morrow, as though appreciating the joke, which, by the
way, immediately ran over all Paris.
The Abbe Dubois still maintained his pernicious influence over the
Regent, and still looked forward to a cardinalship as the reward of his
scheming, his baseness, and his perfidy. In the meantime, the
Archbishopric of Cambrai became vacant (by the death, at Rome, of the
Cardinal Tremoille). That is to say, the richest archbishopric, and one
of the best posts in the Church. The Abbe Dubois was only tonsured;
150,000 livres, a year tempted him, and perhaps this position, from which
he could more easily elevate himself to the cardinalship. Impudent as he
might be, powerful as might be the empire he had acquired over his
master, he was much embarrassed, and masked his effrontery under a trick.
He said to M. le Duc d'Orleans, he had a pleasant dream; and related to
him that he had dreamt he was Archbishop of Cambrai! The Regent, who
smelt the rat, turned on his heel, and said nothing. Dubois, more and
more embarrassed, stammered, and paraphrased his dream; then, re-assuring
himself by an effort, asked, in an offhand manner, why he should not
obtain it, His Royal Highness, by his will alone, being able thus to make
M. le Duc d'Orleans was indignant, even terrified, little scrupulous as
he might be as to the choice of bishops, and in a tone of contempt
replied to Dubois, "What, you Archbishop of Cambrai!" making him thus
feel his low origin, and still more the debauchery and scandal of his
life. Dubois was, however, too far advanced to stop on the road, and
cited examples; unfortunately these were only too many.
M. le Duc d'Orleans, less touched by such bad reasoning than embarrassed
how to resist the ardor of a man whom for a long time he had not dated to
contradict, tried to get out of the difficulty, by saying, "But you being
such a scoundrel, where will you find another to consecrate you?"
"Oh, if it's only that!" exclaimed Dubois, "the thing is done. I know
very well who will consecrate me; he is not far from here."
"And who the devil is he who will dare to do so?" asked the Regent.
"Would you like to know?" replied the Abbe, "and does the matter rest
only upon that?"
"Well, who?" said the Regent.
"Your chief chaplain," replied Dubois, "who is close at hand. Nothing
will please him better; I will run and speak to him."
And thereupon he embraces the knees of M. le Duc d'Orleans (who, caught
thus in his own trap, had not the strength to refuse), runs to the Bishop
of Nantes, says that he is to have Cambrai, begs the Bishop to consecrate
him, and receives his promise to do so, returns, wheels round, tells M.
le Duc d'Orleans that his chief chaplain has agreed to the consecration;
thanks, praises, admires the Regent, fixes more and more firmly the
office by regarding it as settled, and by persuading M. le Duc d'Orleans,
who dares not say no; and in this manner was Dubois made Archbishop of
The extreme scandal of this nomination caused a strange, stir. Impudent
as was the Abbe Dubois, he was extremely embarrassed; and M. le Duc
d'Orleans so much ashamed, that it was soon remarked he was humbled if
you spoke to him upon the subject. The next question was, from whom
Dubois was to receive holy orders? The Cardinal de Noailles was applied
to, but he stoutly refused to assist in any way. It may be imagined what
an affront this was to Dubois. He never in his life pardoned the
Cardinal, who was nevertheless universally applauded for his refusal.
But the Abbe Dubois was not a man to be daunted by an ordinary obstacle;
he turned his glances elsewhere, and soon went through all the
The very day he took orders there was a Regency Council at the old
Louvre, because the measles, which were then very prevalent, even in the
Palais Royal, hindered us from meeting as usual in the Tuileries.
A Regency Council without the Abbe Dubois present was a thing to marvel
at, and yet his arrival to-day caused even more surprise than his absence
would have caused. But he was not a man to waste his time in
thanksgiving for what had just happened to him. This was a new scandal,
which revived and aggravated the first. Everybody had arrived in the
cabinet of the council, M. le Duc d'Orleans also; we were scattered about
and standing. I was in a corner of the lower end, when I saw Dubois
enter in a stout coat, with his ordinary bearing. We did not expect him
on such a day, and naturally enough cried out surprised. M. le Prince de
Conti, with his father's sneering manner, spoke to the Abbe Dubois, on
his appearance among us on the very day of taking orders, and expressed
his surprise at it with the most pathetic malignity imaginable.
Dubois, who had not had time to reply one word, let him say to the end;
then coldly observed, that if he had been a little more familiar with
ancient history, he would not have found what astonished him very
strange, since he (the Abbe) had only followed the example of Saint-
Ambrose, whose ordination he began to relate. I did not wait for his
recital; at the mere mention of Saint-Ambrose I flew to the other end of
the cabinet, horror-struck at the comparison Dubois had just made, and
fearing lest I should be tempted to say to him, that the ordination of
Saint-Ambrose had been forced upon him in spite of his resistance. This
impious citation of Saint-Ambrose ran all over the town with the effect
that may be imagined. The nomination and this ordination took place
towards the end of February.
I will finish at once all that relates to this matter, so as not to
separate it, or have to return to it. Dubois had his bulls at the
commencement of May, and the consecration was fixed for Sunday the 9th
of June. All Paris and the Court were invited to it, myself excepted.
I was on bad terms with Dubois, because I in no way spared him when with
M. le Duc d'Orleans. He on his side, fearing the power I had over the
Regent, the liberty I enjoyed with him, and the freedom with which I
spoke to him, did as much as he could to injure me, and to weaken the
confidence of M. le Duc d'Orleans in me. Dubois and I continued,
nevertheless, to be on good terms with each other in appearance, but it
was in appearance only.
This consecration was to be magnificent, and M. le Duc d'Orleans was to
be present at it. If the nomination and the ordination of the Abbe
Dubois had caused much stir, scandal, and horror, the superb preparations
for the consecration caused even more: Great was the indignation against
M. le Duc d'Orleans. I went, therefore, to him the evening before this
strange ceremony was to take place, to beg him not to attend it. I
represented to him that the nomination and ordination of the Abbe Dubois
had created frightful effect upon the public, and that the consecration
of a man of such low extraction, and whose manners and mode of life were
so notorious; would create more. I added, that if he attended this
ceremony, people would say it was simply for the purpose of mocking God,
and insulting His Church; that the effect of this would be terrible,
and always much to be feared; and that people would say the Abbe Dubois
abused the mastery he had over him, and that this was evidence of
dependence would draw down upon him hatred, disdain, and shame, the
results of which were to be dreaded. I concluded by saying, that I spoke
to him as his disinterested servitor; that his absence or his presence at
this consecration would change in, nothing the fortune of the Abbe
Dubois, who would be Archbishop of Cambrai all the same without
prostituting his master in the eyes of all France, and of all Europe,
by compelling him to be guilty of a measure to which it would be seen he
had been urged by force. I conjured him not to go; and to show him on
what terms I was with the Abbe Dubois, I explained to him I was the sole
man of rank he had not invited to his consecration; but that,
notwithstanding this circumstance, if he would give me his word that he
would not go, I on my side would agree to go, though my horror at doing
so would be very great.
My discourse, pronounced with warmth and developed with freedom, was
listened to from beginning to end. I was surprised to hear the Regent
say I was right, but I opened my eyes very wide when he embraced me, said
that I spoke like a true friend, and that he would give me his word, and
stick to it, he would not go. We parted upon this, I strengthening him
in his resolution, promising anew I would go, and he thanking me for this
effort. He showed no impatience, no desire that I should go; for I knew
him well, and I examined him to the very bottom of his soul, and quitted
him much pleased at having turned him from a measure so disgraceful arid
so extraordinary. Who could have guessed that he would not keep his
word? But so it happened.
Although as I have said I felt sure of him, yet the extreme weakness of
this prince, and the empire the Abbe Dubois had acquired over him;
induced me to be quite certain of him before going to the consecration.
I sent therefore the next morning to the Palais Royal to inquire after M.
le Duc d'Orleans; keeping my carriage all ready for a start. But I was
much confused, accustomed as I might be to his miserable vacillation, to
hear from the person I had sent, that he had just seen the Regent jump
into his coach, surrounded by all the pomp usual on grand occasions,
and set out for the consecration. I had my horses put up at once, and
locked myself into my cabinet.
A day or two after I learnt from a friend of Madame de Parabere, then the
reigning Sultana, but not a faithful one, that M. le Duc d'Orleans had
been with her the previous night, and had spoken to her in praise of me,
saying he would not go to the ceremony, and that he was very grateful to
me for having dissuaded him from going. La Parabere praised me, admitted
I was right, but her conclusion was that he would go.
M. le Duc d'Orleans, surprised, said to her she was then mad.
"Be it so," replied she, "but you will go."
"But I tell you I will not go," he rejoined.
"Yes, yes, I tell you," said she; "you will go."
"But," replied he, "this is admirable. You say M. de Saint-Simon is
quite right, why then should I go?"
"Because I wish it," said she.
"Very good," replied he, "and why do you wish I should go--what madness
"I wish it because--," said she.
"Oh, because," replied he, "that's no reason; say why you wish it."
(After some dispute) "You obstinately desire then to know? Are you not
aware that the Abbe Dubois and I quarreled four days ago, and that we
have not yet made it up. He mixes in everything. He will know that you
have been with me to-night. If to-morrow you do not go to his
consecration, he will not fail to believe it is I who have hindered you;
nothing will take this idea out of his head; he will never pardon me;
he will undermine in a hundred ways my credit with you, and finish by
embroiling us. But I don't wish such a thing to happen, and for that
reason you must go to his consecration, although M. de Saint-Simon is
Thereupon ensued a feeble debate, then resolution and promise to go,
which was very faithfully kept.
As for me I could only deplore the feebleness of the Regent, to whom I
never afterwards spoke of this consecration, or he to me; but he was very
much ashamed of himself, and much embarrassed with me afterwards. I do
not know whether he carried his weakness so far as to tell Dubois what I
had said to hinder him from going to the ceremony or whether the Abbe was
told by La Parabere, who thought thus to take credit to herself for
having changed the determination of M. le Duc d'Orleans, and to show her
credit over him. But Dubois was perfectly informed of it, and never
The Val de Grace was chosen for the consecration as being a royal
monastery, the most magnificent of Paris, and the most singular church.
It was superbly decorated; all France was invited, and nobody dared to
stop away or to be out of sight during the whole ceremony.
There were tribunes with blinds prepared for the ambassadors and
Protestant ministers. There was another more magnificent for M. le Duc
d'Orleans and M. le Duc de Chartres, whom he took there. There were
places for the ladies, and as M. le Duc d'Orleans entered by the
monastery, and his tribune was within, it was open to all comers, so that
outside and inside were filled with refreshments of all kinds, which
officers distributed in profusion. This disorder continued all day, on
account of the large number of tables that were served without and within
for the subordinate people of the fete and all who liked to thrust
themselves in. The chief gentlemen of the chamber of M. le Duc
d'Orleans, and his chief officers did the business of the ceremony;
placed distinguished people in their seats, received them, conducted
them, and other of his officers paid similar attentions to less
considerable people, while, all the watch and all the police were
occupied in looking after the arrival and departure of the carriages
in proper and regular order.
During the consecration, which was but little decent as far as the
consecrated and the spectators were concerned, above all when leaving the
building, M. le Duc d'Orleans evinced his satisfaction at finding so many
considerable people present, and then went away to Asnieres to dine with
Madame Parabere--very glad that a ceremony was over upon which he had
bestowed only indirect attention, from the commencement to the end. All
the prelates, the distinguished Abbes, and a considerable number of the
laity, were invited during the consecration by the chief officers of M.
le Duc d'Orleans to dine at the Palais Royal. The same officers did the
honours of the feast, which was served with the most splendid abundance
and delicacy. There were two services of thirty covers each, in a large
room of the grand suite of apartments, filled with the most considerable
people of Paris, and several other tables equally well served in
adjoining rooms for people less distinguished. M. le Duc d'Orleans gave
to the new Archbishop a diamond of great price to serve him as ring.
All this day was given up to that sort of triumph which draws down
neither the approbation of man nor the blessing of God. I saw nothing of
it all, however, and M. le Duc d'Orleans and I never spoke of it.
The Comte de Horn had been in Paris for the last two months, leading an
obscure life of gaming and debauchery. He was a man of two-and-twenty,
tall and well made, of that ancient and grand family of Horn, known in
the eleventh century among the little dynasties of the Low Countries, and
afterwards by a long series of illustrious generations. The Comte de
Horn in question had been made captain in the Austrian army, less on
account of his youth than because he was such an ill-behaved dog, causing
vast trouble to his mother and brother. They heard so much of the
disorderly life he was leading in Paris, that they sent there a
confidential gentleman with money to pay his debts, to try and persuade
him to return, and failing in this, to implore the authority of the
Regent (to whom, through Madame, the Horns were related), in order to
compel him to do so. As ill-luck would have it, this gentleman arrived
the day after the Comte had committed the crime I am about to relate.
On Friday, the 22nd of March, 1720, he went to the Rue Quincampoix,
wishing, he said, to buy 100,000 ecus worth of shares, and for that
purpose made an appointment with a stockbroker in a cabaret. The stock-
broker came there with his pocket-book and his shares; the Comte de Horn
came also, accompanied, as he said, by two of his friends; a moment
after, they all three threw themselves upon this unfortunate stock-
broker; the Comte de Horn stabbed him several times with a poniard, and
seized his pocket-book; one of his pretended friends (a Piedmontese named
Mille), seeing that the stock-broker was not dead, finished the work.
At the noise they made the people of the house came, not sufficiently
quick to prevent the murder, but in time to render themselves masters of
the assassins, and to arrest them. In the midst of the scuffle, the
other cut-throat escaped, but the Comte de Horn and Mille were not so
fortunate. The cabaret people sent for the officers of justice, who
conducted the criminals to the Conciergerie. This horrible crime,
committed in broad daylight, immediately made an immense stir, and
several kinsmen of this illustrious family at once went to M. le Duc
d'Orleans to beg for mercy; but the Regent avoided speaking to them as
much as possible, and very rightly ordered full and prompt justice to be
At last, the relatives of Horn penetrated to the Regent: they tried to
make the Count pass for mad, saying even that he had an uncle confined in
an asylum, and begging that he might be confined also. But the reply
was, that madmen who carried their madness to fury could not be got rid
of too quickly. Repulsed in this manner, they represented what an infamy
it would be to their illustrious family, related to nearly all the
sovereigns of Europe, to have one of its members tried and condemned.
M. le Duc d'Orleans replied that the infamy was in the crime, and not in
the punishment. They pressed him upon the honour the family had in being
related to him. "Very well, gentlemen," said he, "I will divide the
shame with you."
The trial was neither long nor difficult. Law and the Abbe Dubois, so
interested in the safety of the stock-jobbers (without whom the paper
must have fallen at once), supported M. le Duc d'Orleans might and main,
in order to render him inexorable, and he, to avoid the persecutions he
unceasingly experienced on the other side, left nothing undone in order
to hurry the Parliament into a decision; the affair, therefore; went full
speed, and it seemed likely that the Comte de Horn would be broken on the
The relatives, no longer hoping to save the criminal, thought only of
obtaining a commutation of the sentence. Some of them came to me, asking
me to save them: though I was not related to the Horn family, they
explained to me, that death on the wheel would throw into despair all
that family, and everybody connected with it in the Low Countries,
and in Germany, because in those parts there was a great and important
difference between the punishments of persons of quality who had
committed crimes; that decapitation in no way influenced the family of
the decapitated, but that death on the wheel threw such infamy upon it,
that the uncles, aunts, brothers, and sisters, and the three next
generations, were excluded from entering into any noble chapter, which,
in addition to the shame, was a very injurious deprivation, annihilating
the family's chance of ecclesiastic preferment; this reason touched me,
and I promised to do my best with M. le Duc d'Orleans to obtain a
commutation of the sentence.
I was going off to La Ferme to profit by the leisure of Holy Week.
I went therefore to M. le Duc d'Orleans, and explained to him what I had
just learnt. I said that after the detestable crime the Comte de Horn
had committed, every one must feel that he was worthy of death; but that
every one could not admit it was necessary to break him on the wheel, in
order to satisfy the ends of justice. I showed him how the family would
suffer if this sentence were carried out, and I concluded by proposing to
the Regent a 'mezzo termine', such as he was so fond of.
I suggested that the decree ordering death by the wheel should be
pronounced. That another decree should at the same time be prepared and
kept ready signed and sealed, with only a date to fill in, revoking the
first, and changing the punishment into decapitation. That at the last
moment this second decree should be produced, and immediately afterwards
the head of the Comte de Horn be cut off. M. le Duc d'Orleans offered no
objection, but consented at once to my plan. I said to him, by way of
conclusion, that I was going to set out the next day, and that I begged
him not to be shaken in the determination he had just formed, by the
entreaties of Dubois or Law, both of whom were strongly in favour of
punishment by the wheel. He assured me he would keep firm; reiterated
the assurance; I took leave of him; and the next day went to La Ferme.
He was firm, however, in his usual manner. Dubois and Law besieged him,
and led the attack so well that he gave in, and the first thing I learnt
at La Ferme was that the Comte de Horn had been broken alive on the wheel
at the Greve, on Holy Friday; the 26th March, 1720, about 4 o'clock in
the afternoon, and the scoundrel Mille with him on the same scaffold,
after having both suffered torture.
The result of this was as I anticipated. The Horn family and all the
grand nobility of the Low Countries, many of Germany, were outraged, and
contained themselves neither in words nor in writings. Some of them even
talked of strange vengeance, and a long time after the death of M. le Duc
d'Orleans, I met with certain of the gentlemen upon whose hearts the
memory of this punishment still weighed heavily.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
A cardinal may be poisoned, stabbed, got rid of altogether
Enriched one at the expense of the other
Few would be enriched at the expense of the many
I abhorred to gain at the expense of others
Juggle, which put the wealth of Peter into the pockets of Paul
Not allowing ecclesiastics to meddle with public affairs
People with difficulty believe what they have seen
Rome must be infallible, or she is nothing
MEMOIRS OF LOUIS XIV AND HIS COURT AND OF THE REGENCY
BY THE DUKE OF SAINT-SIMON
Quarrel of the King of England with His Son.--Schemes of Dubois.--
Marriage of Brissac.--His Death.--Birth of the Young Pretender.--
Cardinalate of Dubois.--Illness of the King.--His Convalescence.--
A Wonderful Lesson.--Prudence of the Regent.--Insinuations against Him.
Projected Marriages of the King and of the Daughter of the Duc d'Orleans_
--How It Was Communicated to Me.--I Ask for the Embassy to Spain.--It Is
Granted to Me.--Jealousy of Dubois.--His Petty Interference.--
Announcement of the Marriages.
Interview with Dubois.--His Singular Instructions to Ale.--His Insidious
Object.--Various Tricks and Manoeuvres.--My Departure for Spain.--Journey
by Way of Bordeaux and Bayonne.--Reception in Spain.--Arrival at Madrid.
Interview in the Hall of Mirrors.--Preliminaries of the Marriages.--
Grimaldo.--How the Question of Precedence Was Settled.--I Ask for an
Audience.--Splendid Illuminations.--A Ball.--I Am Forced to Dance.
Mademoiselle de Montpensier Sets out for Spain.--I Carry the News to the
King.--Set out for Lerma.--Stay at the Escurial.--Take the Small--pox.--
Mode of Life of Their Catholic Majesties.--Their Night.--Morning.--
Toilette.--Character of Philippe V.--And of His Queen.--How She Governed
The King's Taste for Hunting.--Preparations for a Battue.--Dull Work.--
My Plans to Obtain the Grandesse.--Treachery of Dubois.--Friendship of
Marriage of the Prince of the Asturias.--An Ignorant Cardinal.--I Am Made
Grandee of Spain.--The Vidame de Chartres Named Chevalier of the Golden
Fleece.--His Reception--My Adieux.--A Belching Princess.--
Return to France.
For a long time a species of war had been declared between the King of
England and his son, the Prince of Wales, which had caused much scandal;
and which had enlisted the Court on one side, and made much stir in the
Parliament. George had more than once broken out with indecency against
his son; he had long since driven him from the palace, and would not see
him. He had so cut down his income that he could scarcely subsist. The
father never could endure this son, because he did not believe him to be
his own. He had more than suspected the Duchess, his wife, to be in
relations with Count Konigsmarck. He surprised him one morning leaving
her chamber; threw him into a hot oven, and shut up his wife in a chateau
for the rest of her days. The Prince of Wales, who found himself ill-
treated for a cause of which he was personally innocent, had always borne
with impatience the presence of his mother and the aversion of his
father. The Princess of Wales, who had much sense, intelligence, grace,
and art, had softened things as much as possible; and the King was unable
to refuse her his esteem, or avoid loving her. She had conciliated all
England; and her Court, always large, boasted of the presence of the most
accredited and the most distinguished persons. The Prince of Wales
feeling his strength, no longer studied his father, and blamed the
ministers with words that at least alarmed them. They feared the credit
of the Princess of Wales; feared lest they should be attacked by the
Parliament, which often indulges in this pleasure. These considerations
became more and more pressing as they discovered what was brewing against
them; plans such as would necessarily have rebounded upon the King. They
communicated their fears to him, and indeed tried to make it up with his
son, on certain conditions, through the medium of the Princess of Wales,
who, on her side, felt all the consciousness of sustaining a party
against the King, and who always had sincerely desired peace in the royal
family. She profited by this conjuncture; made use of the ascendency she
had over her husband, and the reconciliation was concluded. The King
gave a large sum to the Prince of Wales, and consented to see him. The
ministers were saved, and all appeared forgotten.
The excess to which things had been carried between father and son had
not only kept the entire nation attentive to the intestine disorders
ready to arise, but had made a great stir all over Europe; each power
tried to blow this fire into a blaze, or to stifle it according as
interest suggested. The Archbishop of Cambrai, whom I shall continue to
call the Abbe Dubois, was just then very anxiously looking out for his
cardinal's hat, which he was to obtain through the favour of England,
acting upon that of the Emperor with the Court of Rome. Dubois,
overjoyed at the reconciliation which had taken place, wished to show
this in a striking manner, in order to pay his court to the King of
England. He named, therefore, the Duc de la Force to go to England, and
compliment King George on the happy event that had occurred.
The demonstration of joy that had been resolved on in France was soon
known in England. George, annoyed by the stir that his domestic
squabbles had made throughout all Europe, did not wish to see it
prolonged by the sensation that this solemn envoy would cause. He begged
the Regent, therefore, not to send him one. As the scheme had been
determined on only order to please him, the journey of the Duc de la
Force was abandoned almost as soon as declared. Dubois had the double
credit, with the King of England, of having arranged this demonstration
of joy, and of giving it up; in both cases solely for the purpose of
pleasing his Britannic Majesty.
Towards the end of this year, 1720, the Duc de Brissac married Mlle.
Pecoil, a very rich heiress, whose father was a 'maitre des requetes',
and whose mother was daughter of Le Gendre, a very wealthy merchant of
Rouen. The father of Mlle. Pecoil was a citizen of Lyons, a wholesale
dealer, and extremely avaricious. He had a large iron safe, or strong-
box, filled with money, in a cellar, shut in by an iron door, with a
secret lock, and to arrive at which other doors had to be passed through.
He disappeared so long one day, that his wife and two or three valets or
servants that he had sought him everywhere. They well knew that he had a
hiding-place, because they had sometimes seen him descending into his
cellar, flat-candlestick in hand, but no one had ever dared to follow
Wondering what had become of him, they descended to the cellar, broke
open the doors, and found at last the iron one. They were obliged to
send for workmen to break it open, by attacking the wall in which it was
fixed. After much labour they entered, and found the old miser dead in
his strong-box, the secret spring of which he had apparently not been
able to find, after having locked himself in; a horrible end in every
The Brissacs have not been very particular in their alliances for some
time, and yet appear no richer. The gold flies away; the dross remains.
I had almost forgotten to say that in the last day of this year, 1720, a
Prince of Wales was born at Rome.
The Prince was immediately baptised by the Bishop; of Montefiascone, and
named Charles. The event caused a great stir in the Holy City. The Pope
sent his compliments to their Britannic Majesties, and forwarded to the
King of England (the Pretender) 10,000 Roman crowns, gave him, for his
life, a country house at Albano, which until then, he had only lent him,
and 2000 crowns to furnish it. A Te Deum was sung in the chapel of the
Pope, in his presence, and there were rejoicings at Rome. When the Queen
of England was able to see company, Cardinal Tanora came in state, as
representative of the Sacred College, to congratulate her.
The birth of the Prince also made much stir at the Court of England, and
among the priests and Jacobites of that country. For very different
reasons, not only the Catholics and Protestants, enemies of the
government, were ravished at it, but nearly all the three realms showed
as much joy as they dared; not from any attachment to the dethroned
house, but for the satisfaction of seeing a line continue with which they
could always menace and oppose their kings and the royal family.
In France we were afraid to show any public feeling upon the event. We
were too much in the hands of England; the Regent and Dubois too much the
humble servants of the house of Hanover; Dubois especially, waiting, as
he was, so anxiously for his cardinal's hat. He did not, as will be
seen, have to wait much longer.
The new Pope had given, in writing, a promise to Dubois, that if elected
to the chair of St. Peter he would make him cardinal. Time had flown,
and the promise was not yet fulfilled. The impatience of Dubois
increased with his hopes, and gave him no repose. He was much bewildered
when he learnt that, on the 16th of June, 1721, the Pope had elevated to
the cardinalship; his brother, who for ten years had been Bishop of
Terracine and Benedictine monk of Mount Cassini. Dubois had expected
that no promotion would be made in which he was not included. But here
was a promotion of a single person only. He was furious; this fury did
not last long, however; a month after, that is to say, on the 16th of
July, the Pope made him cardinal with Dion Alexander Alboni, nephew of
the deceased Pope, and brother of the Cardinal Camarlingue.
Dubois received the news and the compliment that followed with extreme
joy, but managed to contain himself with some little decency, and to give
all the honour of his nomination to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, sooth to
say, had had scarcely anything to do with it. But he could not prevent
himself from saying to everybody that what honoured him more than the
Roman purple was the unanimous eagerness of all the European powers to
procure him this distinction; to press the Pope to award it; to desire
that his promotion would be hastened without waiting for their
nominations. He incessantly blew these reports about everywhere without
ever being out of breath; but nobody was the dupe of them.
Shortly after this, that is, on the last day of July, the King, who had
until then been in perfect health, woke with headache and pain in the
throat; shivering followed, and towards afternoon, the pains in the head
and throat being augmented, he went to bed. I repaired the next day
about twelve to inquire after him. I found he had passed a bad night,
and that within the last two hours he had grown worse. I saw everywhere
consternation. I had the grandes entrees, therefore I went into his
chamber. I found it very empty. M. le Duc d'Orleans, seated in the
chimney corner, looked exceedingly downcast and solitary. I approached
him for a moment, then I went to the King's bed. At this moment Boulduc,
one of the apothecaries, gave him something to take. The Duchesse de la
Ferme, who, through the Duchesse de Ventadour, her sister, had all the
entrees as godmother to the King, was at the heels of Boulduc, and
turning round to see who was approaching, saw me, and immediately said in
a tone neither high nor low, "He is poisoned! he is poisoned!"
"Hold your tongue, Madame," said I. "This is terrible."
But she kept on, and spoke so loudly that I feared the King would hear
her. Boulduc and I looked at each other, and I immediately withdrew from
the bed and from this mad woman, with whom I was in no way familiar.
During this illness, which lasted only five days (but of which the first
three were violent) I was much troubled, but at the same time I was
exceedingly glad that I had refused to be the King's governor, though the
Regent had over and over again pressed me to accept the office. There
were too many evil reports in circulation against M. le Duc d'Orleans for
me to dream of filling this position. For was I not his bosom friend
known to have been on the most intimate terms with him ever since his
child hood--and if anything had happened to excite new suspicions against
him, what would not have been said? The thought of this so troubled me
during the King's illness, that I used to wake in the night with a start,
and, oh, what joy was mine when I remembered that I had not this duty on
The malady, as I have said, was not long, and the convalescence was
prompt, which restored tranquillity and joy, and caused an overflow of Te
Deums and rejoicing. Helvetius had all the honour of the cure; the
doctors had lost their heads, he preserved his, and obstinately proposed
bleeding at the foot, at a consultation at which M. le Duc d'Orleans was
present; his advice prevailed, change for the better immediately took
place, cure soon after.
The Marechal de Villeroy (the King's governor) did not let slip this
occasion for showing all his venom and his baseness; he forgot nothing,
left nothing undone in order to fix suspicion upon M. le Duc d'Orleans,
and thus pay his court to the robe. No magistrate, however unimportant,
could come to the Tuileries whom he did not himself go to with the news
of the King and caresses; whilst to the first nobles he was inaccessible.
The magistrates of higher standing he allowed to enter at all times into
the King's chamber, even to stand by his bed in order to see him, while
they who had the 'grandes entrees' with difficulty enjoyed a similar
He did the same during the first days of convalescence, which he
prolonged as much as possible, in order to give the same distinction to
the magistrates, come at what time they might, and privately to the great
people of the Court and the ambassadors. He fancied himself a tribune of
the people, and aspired to their favour and their dangerous power. From
this he turned to other affectations which had the same aim against M. le
Duc d'Orleans. He multiplied the Te Deums that he induced the various
ranks of petty officers of the King to have sung on different days and in
different churches; he attended all, took with him as many people as he
could, and for six weeks continued this game. A Te Deum was sung in
every church in Paris. He spoke of nothing else, and above the real joy
he felt at the King's recovery, he put on a false one which had a party
smell about it, and which avowed designs not to be mistaken.
The King went in state to Notre Dame and Saint Genevieve to thank God.
These mummeries, thus prolonged, extended to the end of August and the
fete Saint-Louis. Each year there, is on that day a concert in the
garden. The Marechal de Villeroy took care that on this occasion, the
concert should become a species of fete, to which he added a display of
fireworks. Less than this would have been enough to draw the crowd.
It was so great that a pin could not have fallen to the ground through
the mass of people wedged against each other in the garden. The windows
of the Tuileries were ornamented, and were filled with people. All the
roofs of the Carrousel, as well as the Place, were covered with
The Marechal de Villeroy was in; his element, and importuned the King,
who tried to hide himself in the corners at every moment. The Marechal
took him by the arm, and led him, now to the windows where he could see
the Carrousel, and the houses covered with people; now to those which
looked upon the garden, full of the innumerable crowd waiting for the
fete. Everybody cried 'Vive le Roi!' when he appeared, but had not the
Marechal detained him, he would have run away and hid himself.
"Look, my master," the Marechal would say, "all that crowd, all these
people are yours, all belong to you; you are the master of them: look at
them a little therefore, to please them, for they are all yours, they are
all devoted to you."
A nice lesson this for a governor to give to a young King, repeating it
every time he leads him to the windows, so fearful is he lest the boy-
sovereign shall forget it! I do not know whether he received similar
lessons from those who had the charge of his education. At last the
Marechal led him upon the terrace, where, beneath a dais, he heard the
end of the concert, and afterwards saw the fireworks. The lesson of the
Marechal de Villeroy, so often and so publicly repeated, made much stir,
and threw but little honour upon him. He himself experienced the first
effect of is fine instruction.
M. le Duc d'Orleans conducted himself in a manner simple, so prudent,
that he infinitely gained by it. His cares and his reasonable anxiety
were measured; there was much reserve in his conversation, an exact and
sustained attention in his language, and in his countenance, which
allowed nothing to escape him, and which showed as little as possible
that he was the successor to the crown; above all, he never gave cause
for people to believe that he thought the King's illness more or less
serious than it was, or that his hopes were stronger than his fears.
He could not but feel that in a conjuncture so critical, all eyes were
fixed upon him, and as in truth he never wished for the crown (however
unlikely the statement may seem), he had no need to constrain himself in
any way, but simply to be measured in his bearing. His conduct was, in
fact, much remarked, and the cabal opposed to him entirely reduced to
silence. Nobody spoke to him upon the event that might happen, not even
his most familiar friends and acquaintances, myself included; and at this
he was much pleased. He acted entirely upon the suggestions of his own
This was not the first time, let me add, that the Marechal de Villeroy,
in his capacity of governor of the King, had tacitly insulted M. le Duc
d'Orleans. He always, in fact, affected, in the discharge of his duties,
a degree of care, vigilance, and scrutiny, the object of which was
evident. He was particularly watchful of the food of the King, taking it
up with his own hands, and making a great show of this precaution; as
though the King could not have been poisoned a thousand times over in
spite of such ridiculous care. 'Twas because M. le Duc d'Orleans was
vexed with this childish behaviour, so calculated to do him great injury,
that he wished me to supersede the Marechal de Villeroy as governor of
the King. This, as before said, I would never consent to. As for the
Marechal, his absurdities met with their just reward, but at a date I
have not yet come to.
Before this illness of the King, that is to say, at the commencement of
June, I went one day to work with M, le Duc d'Orleans, and found him
alone, walking up arid down the grand apartment.
"Holloa! there," said he, as soon as he saw me; then, taking me by the
hand, "I cannot leave you in ignorance of a thing which I desire above
all others, which is of the utmost importance to me, and which will cause
you as much joy as me; but you must keep it profoundly secret." Then
bursting out laughing, "If M. de Cambrai knew that I had told it to you,
he would never pardon me." And he proceeded to state that perfect
reconciliation had been established between himself and the King and
Queen of Spain; that arrangements had been made by which our young King
was to marry the Infanta of Spain, as soon as he should be old enough;
and the Prince of the Asturias (the heir to the Spanish throne) was to
marry Mademoiselle de Chartres, the Regent's daughter.
If my joy at this was great, my astonishment was even greater; M. le Duc
d'Orleans embraced me, and the first surprise over, I asked him how he
had contrived to bring about these marriages; above all, that of his
daughter. He replied that it had all been done in a trice by the Abbe
Dubois, who was a regular devil when once he had set his mind upon
anything; that the King of Spain had been transported at the idea of the
King of France marrying the Infanta; and that the marriage of the Prince
of the Asturias had been the 'sine qua non' of the other.
After we had well talked over the matter and rejoiced thereon, I said to
the Regent that the proposed marriage of his daughter must be kept
profoundly secret until the moment of her departure for Spain; and that
of the King also, until the time for their execution arrived; so as to
prevent the jealousy of all Europe. At this union, so grand and so
intimate, of the two branches of the royal family, such a union having
always been the terror of Europe and disunion the object of all its
policy--this policy having only too well succeeded--I urged that the
sovereigns must be left as long as possible in the confidence they had
acquired, the Infanta above all, being but three years old (she was born
at Madrid on the morning of the 30th of March, 1718), by which means the
fears of Europe upon the marriage of Mademoiselle de Chartres with the
Prince of the Asturias would be coloured--the Prince could wait, he
having been born in August, 1707, and being accordingly only fourteen
years of age. "You are quite right," replied M. le Duc d'Orleans, "but
this can't be, because in Spain they wish to make public the declarations
of marriage at once, indeed, as soon as the demand is made and the
declaration can be signed."
"What madness!" cried I; "what end can this tocsin have except to arouse
all Europe and put it in movement! They must be made to understand this,
and we must stick to it; nothing is so important."
"All this is true," said M. le Duc d'Orleans. "I think exactly like you,
but they are obstinate in Spain; they have wished matters to be arranged
thus, and their wishes have been agreed to. Everything is arranged,
fixed, finished. I am so much interested in the matter that you surely
would not have advised me to break off for this condition."
I said of course not, shrugging my shoulders at his unseasonable
During the discussion which followed, I did not forget to think of
myself, the occasion being so opportune for making the fortunes of my
second son. I remembered then, that as matters were advanced to this
point, a special ambassador must be sent to Spain, to ask the hand of the
Infanta for the King, and to sign the compact of marriage; that the
ambassador must be a nobleman of mark and title, and thus I begged the
Duke to give me this commission, with a recommendation to the King of
Spain, so as to make my second son, the Marquis of Ruffec, grandee of
M. le Duc d'Orleans scarcely allowed me to finish, immediately accorded
me what I had asked, promised me the recommendation with many expressions
of friendship, and asked me to keep the whole matter secret, and make no
preparation that would disclose it.
I knew well enough why he enjoined me to secrecy. He wished to have the
time to make Dubois swallow this pill. My thanks expressed, I asked him
two favours; first, not to pay me as an ambassador, but to give me a
round sum sufficient to provide for all my expenses without ruining
myself; second, not to entrust any business to me which might necessitate
a long stay in Spain, inasmuch as I did not wish to quit him, and wanted
to go to Spain simply for the purpose of obtaining the honour above
alluded to for my second son. The fact is, I feared that Dubois, not
being able to hinder my embassy, might keep me in Spain in a sort of
exile, under pretence of business, in order to get rid of me altogether.
Events proved that my precaution was not altogether useless.
M. le Duc d'Orleans accorded both the favours I asked, with many obliging
remarks, and a hope that my absence would not be long. I thought I had
then done great things for my family, and went home much pleased. But,
mon Dieu! what are the projects and the successes of men!
Dubois, as I expected, was vexed beyond measure at my embassy, and
resolved to ruin me and throw me into disgrace. I was prepared for this,
and I soon saw it was so. At first, I received from him nothing but
professions of friendship and of attachment for me, congratulations that
M. le Duc d'Orleans had accorded to me an embassy my merit deserved, and
which would be productive of such useful results for my children. He
took care, however, in the midst of these fine phrases, to introduce not
one word upon my arrangements, so that he might be able to drive me into
a corner at the last moment, and cause me all the inconvenience possible.
He slipped through my hands like an eel until the moment for my departure
drew near. As he saw it approach, he began to preach to me of
magnificence, and wished to enter into details respecting my suite. I
described it to him, and everybody else would have been satisfied, but as
his design was to ruin me, he cried out against it, and augmented it by a
third. I represented to him the excessive expense this augmentation
would cause, the state of the finances, the loss upon the exchange: his
sole reply was that the dignity of the King necessitated this expense and
show; and that his Majesty would bear the charge. I spoke to M. le Duc
d'Orleans, who listened to me with attention, but being persuaded by the
Cardinal, held the same language.
This point settled, the Cardinal must needs know how many coats I should
take, and how many I should give to my sons.--in a word, there was not a
single detail of table or stable that he did not enter into, and that he
did not double. My friends exhorted me not to be obstinate with a man so
impetuous, so dangerous, so completely in possession of M. le Duc
d'Orleans, pointing out to me that when once I was away he might profit
by my absence, and that, meanwhile, everything relating to my embassy
must pass through his hands. All this was only too true. I was obliged,
therefore, to yield, although I felt that, once embarked, the King's
purse would be spared at the expense of mine.
As soon as the marriages were declared, I asked to be declared as
ambassador, so that I might openly make my preparations, which, it will
be remembered, I had been forbidden to do. Now that there was no secret
about the marriage, I fancied there need be no secret as to the
ambassador by whom they were to be conducted. I was deceived: Whatever I
might allege, the prohibition remained. The Cardinal wished to put me to
double the necessary expense, by compelling me to have my liveries,
dresses, etc., made in the utmost precipitation; and this happened. He
thought, too, I should not be able to provide myself with everything in
time; and that he might represent this to M. le Duc d'Orleans, and in
Spain, as a fault, and excite envious cries against me.
Nevertheless, I did not choose to press him: to announce my embassy, at
the same time trying to obtain from him the instructions I was to
receive, and which, passing through him and the Regent done, told nothing
to the public, as my preparations would have done. But I could not
obtain them. Dubois carelessly replied to me, that in one or two
conversations the matter would be exhausted. He wished me to know
nothing, except vaguely; to leave no time for reflection, for questions,
for explanations; and to throw me thus into embarrassments, and to cause
me to commit blunders which he intended to make the most of.
At last, tired of so many and such dangerous postponements, I went on
Tuesday, the 23rd of September, to M. le Duc d'Orleans, arranging my
visit so that it took place when he was in his apartments at the
Tuileries; there I spoke with such effect, that he said I had only to
show myself to the King. He led me to his Majesty at once, and there and
then my embassy was announced. Upon leaving the King's cabinet, M. le
Duc d'Orleans made me jump into his coach, which was waiting for him, and
took me to the Palais Royal, where we began to speak seriously upon the
affairs of my embassy.
I fancy that Cardinal Dubois was much annoyed at what had been done, and
that he would have liked to postpone the declaration yet a little longer.
But this now was impossible. The next day people were sent to work upon
my equipments, the Cardinal showing as much eagerness and impatience
respecting them, as he had before shown apathy and indifference. He
urged on the workmen; must needs see each livery and each coat as it was
finished; increased the magnificence of each; and had all my coats and
those of my children sent to him. At last, the hurry to make me set out
was so great, that such of the things as were ready he sent on by rapid
conveyance to Bayonne, at a cost by no means trifling to me.
The Cardinal next examined the list of persons I intended to have with
me, and approved it. To my extreme surprise he said, however, that I
must add forty officers of cavalry and infantry, from the regiments of my
sons. I cried out against the madness and the expense of such a numerous
military accompaniment. I represented that it was not usual for
ambassadors, with a peaceful mission, to take with them such an imposing
force by way of escort; I showed that these officers, being necessarily
gay men, might be led away into indiscreet gallantries, which would give
me more trouble than all the business of my embassy. Nothing could be
more evident, true, and reasonable than my representations, nothing more
useless or worse received.
The Cardinal had resolved to ruin me, and to leave me in Spain with all
the embarrassment, business, and annoyances he could. He rightly thought
that nothing was more likely to make him succeed than to charge me with
forty officers. Not finding them, I took only twenty-nine, and if the
Cardinal succeeded as far as concerned my purse, I was so fortunate, and
these gentlemen were so discreet, that he succeeded in no other way.
Let me add here, before I give the details of my journey to Spain, in
what manner the announcement of these two marriages was received by the
King and the public.
His Majesty was by no means gratified when he heard that a wife had been
provided for him. At the first mention of marriage he burst out crying.
The Regent, M. le Duc, and M. de Frejus, had all the trouble in the world
to extract a "yes" from him, and to induce him to attend the Regency
Council, in which it was necessary that he should announce his consent to
the proposed union, or be present while it was announced for him. The
council was held, and the King came to it, his eyes swollen and red, and
his look very serious.
Some moments of silence passed, during which M. le Duc d'Orleans threw
his eyes over all the company (who appeared deeply expectant), and then
fixed them on the King, and asked if he might announce to the council the
marriage of his Majesty. The King replied by a dry "yes," and in a
rather low tone, but which was heard by the four or five people on each
side of him, and the Regent immediately announced the marriage. Then,
after taking the opinions of the council, which were for the most part
favorable, he turned towards the King with a smiling air, as though
inviting him to assume the same, and said, "There, then, Sire, your
marriage is approved and passed, and a grand and fortunate matter
finished." The council then broke up.
The news of what had taken place immediately ran over all Paris. The
Tuileries and the Palais Royal were soon filled with people who came to
present themselves before the King to compliment him and the Regent on
the conclusion of this grand marriage, and the crowd continued the
following days. The King had much difficulty in assuming some little
gaiety the first day, but on the morrow he was less sombre, and by
degrees he quite recovered himself.
M. le Duc d'Orleans took care not to announce the marriage of his
daughter with the Prince of the Asturias at the same time that the other
marriage was announced. He declared it, however, the next day, and the
news was received with the utmost internal vexation by the cabal opposed
to him. Men, women, people of all conditions who belonged to that cabal,
lost all countenance. It was a pleasure to me, I admit, to look upon
them. They were utterly disconcerted. Nevertheless, after the first few
days of overthrow, they regained courage, and set to work in order to
break off both the marriages.
I have already said that Dubois looked most unfavourably upon my embassy
to Spain, and that I saw he was determined to do all in his power to
throw obstacles in its way. I had fresh proofs of this. First, before
my departure: when he gave me my written instructions, he told me that in
Spain I must take precedence of everybody during the signing of the
King's contract of marriage, and at the chapel, at the two ceremonies of
the marriage of the Prince of the Asturias, allowing no one to be before
I represented to him that the Pope's nuncio would be present, and that to
him the ambassadors of France gave place everywhere, and even the
ambassadors of the Emperor also, who, without opposition, preceded those
of the King. He replied that that was true, except in special cases like
the present, and that his instructions must be obeyed: My surprise was
great at so strange an order. I tried to move him by appealing to his
pride; asking him how I should manage with a cardinal, if one happened to
be present, and with the majordomo-major, who corresponds, but in a very
superior degree, with our grand master of France. He flew in a rage, and
declared that I must precede the majordomo-major also; that there would
be no difficulty in doing so; and that, as to the cardinals, I should
find none. I shrugged my shoulders, and begged him to think of the
matter. Instead of replying, to me, he said he had forgotten to acquaint
me with a most essential particular: it was, that I must take care not to
visit anybody until I had been first visited.
I replied that the visiting question had not been forgotten in my
instructions, and that those instructions were to the effect that I
should act in this respect as the Duc de Saint-Aignan had acted, and that
the usage he had followed was to pay the first visit to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, and to the Councillors of State (when there were any),
who are the same as are known here under the name of ministers.
Thereupon he broke out afresh, prated, talked about the dignity of the
King, and did not allow me the opportunity of saying another word. I
abridged my visit, therefore, and went away.
However strange might appear to me these verbal orders of such a new
kind, I thought it best to speak to the Duc de Saint-Aignan and Amelot on
the subject, so as to convince myself of their novelty. Both these
ambassadors, as well as those who had preceded them, had visited in an
exactly opposite manner; and they thought it extravagant that I should
precede the nuncio, no matter where. Amelot told me, moreover, that I
should suffer all sorts of annoyances, and succeed in nothing, if I
refused the first visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; that as for
the Councillors of State, they existed only in name, the office having
fallen into desuetude; and that I must pay other visits to certain
officers he named (three in number), who would be justly offended and
piqued if I refused them what every one who had preceded me had rendered
them. He added that I had better take good care to do so, unless I
wished to remain alone in my house, and have the cold shoulder turned
upon me by every principal person of the Court.
By this explanation of Amelot I easily comprehended the reason of these
singular verbal orders. The Cardinal wished to secure my failure in
Spain, and my disgrace in France: in Spain by making me offend at the
outset all the greatest people and the minister through whose hands all
my business would pass; draw upon myself thus complaints here, which, as
I had no written orders to justify my conduct, he (Dubois) would
completely admit the justice of, and then disavow me, declaring he had
given me exactly opposite orders. If I did not execute what he had told
me, I felt that he would accuse me of sacrificing the King's honour and
the dignity of the Crown, in order to please in Spain, and obtain thus
honours for myself and my sons, and that he would prohibit the latter to.
accept them. There would have been less uproar respecting the nuncio;
but if I preceded him, Dubois felt persuaded that the Court of Rome would
demand justice; and this justice in his hands would have been a shameful
My position appeared so difficult, that I resolved to leave nothing
undone in order to change it. I thought M. le Duc d'Orleans would not
resist the evidence I should bring forward, in order to show the
extraordinary nature of Dubois' verbal instructions: I deceived myself.
It was in vain that I spoke to M. le Duc d'Orleans. I found nothing but
feebleness under the yoke of a master; by which I judged how much I could
hope for during my absence. Several times I argued with him and the
Cardinal; but in vain. They both declared that if preceding ambassadors
had paid the first visits, that was no example for me, in an embassy so
solemn and distinguished as that I was about to execute. I represented
that, however solemn and however distinguished might be my embassy, it
gave me no rank superior to that of extraordinary ambassadors, and that I
could claim none. Useless! useless! To my arguments there was no
reply, but obstinacy prevailed; and I clearly saw the extreme malignity
of the valet, and the unspeakable weakness of the master. It was for me
to manage as I could.
The Cardinal now began ardently to press my departure; and, in fact,
there was no more time to lose. He unceasingly hurried on the workmen
who were making all that I required,--vexed, perhaps, that being in such
prodigious number, he could not augment them. There was nothing more for
him to do but to give me the letters with which I was to be charged. He
delayed writing them until the last moment previous to my departure, that
is to say; the very evening before I started; the reason will soon be
seen. The letters were for their Catholic Majesties, for the Queen
Dowager at Bayonne, and for the Prince of the Asturias; letters from the
King and from the Duc d'Orleans. But before giving them to me, the
Regent said he would write two letters to the Prince of the Asturias,
both alike, except in this respect, that in the one he would address the
Prince as "nephew," and in the other as "brother and nephew," and that I
was to try and deliver the latter, which he passionately wished; but that
if I found too much difficulty in doing so, I must not persevere but
deliver the former instead.
I had reason to believe that here was another plot of Dubois, to cause me
trouble by embroiling me with M. le Duc d'Orleans. The Regent was the
last man in the world to care for these formalities. The Prince of the
Asturias was son of the King and heir to the Crown, and, in consequence,
of the rank of a son of France. In whatever way regarded, M. le Duc
d'Orleans was extremely inferior in rank to him; and it was something new
and adventurous to treat him on terms of equality. This, however, is
what I was charged with, and I believe, in the firm hope of Cardinal
Dubois that I should fail, and that he might profit by my failure.
Finally, on the morning of the day before my departure, all the papers
with which I was to be charged were brought to me. I will not give the
list of them. But among these letters there was none from the King to
the Infanta! I thought they had forgotten to put it with the others.
I said so to the persons who brought them to me. What was my surprise
when they told me that the letter was not written, but that I would have
it in the course of the day.
This appeared so strange to me, that my mind was filled with suspicion.
I spoke of the letter to the Cardinal and to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who
assured me that I should have it in the evening. At midnight it had not
arrived. I wrote to the Cardinal. Finally I set out without it. He
wrote to me, saying I should receive it before arriving at Bayonne; but
nothing less. I wrote him anew. He replied to me, saying that I should
have it before I arrived at Madrid. A letter from the King to the
Infanta was not difficult to write; I could not doubt, therefore, that
there was some design in this delay. Whatever it might be, I could not
understand it, unless the intention was to send the letter afterwards,
and make me pass for a heedless fellow who had lost the first.
Dubois served me another most impudent turn, seven or eight days before
my departure. He sent word to me, by his two devoted slaves, Le Blanc
and Belleisle, that as he had the foreign affairs under his charge, he
must have the post, which he would not and could not any longer do
without; that he knew I was the intimate friend of Torcy (who had the
post in his department), whose resignation he desired; that he begged me
to write to Torcy, and send my letter to him by an express courier to
Sable (where he had gone on an excursion); that he should see by my
conduct on this occasion, and its success, in what manner he could count
upon me, and that he should act towards me accordingly. To this his two
slaves added all they could to persuade me to comply, assuring me that
Dubois would break off my embassy if I did not do as he wished. I did
not for a moment doubt, after what I had seen of the inconceivable
feebleness of M. le Duc d'Orleans, that Dubois was really capable of thus
affronting and thwarting me, or that I should have no aid from the
Regent. At the same time I resolved to run all hazards rather than lend
myself to an act of violence against a friend, so sure; so sage, and so
virtuous, and who had served the state with such reputation, and deserved
so well of it.
I replied therefore to these gentlemen that I thought the commission very
strange, and much more so their reasoning of it; that Torcy was not a man
from whom an office of this importance could be taken unless he wished to
give it up; that all I could do was to ask him if he wished to resign,
and if so, on what conditions; that as to exhorting him to resign, I
could do nothing of the kind, although I was not ignorant of what this
refusal might cost me and my embassy. They tried in vain to reason with
me; all they could obtain was this firm resolution.
Castries and his brother, the Archbishop, were intimate friends of Torcy
and of myself. I sent for them to come to me in the midst of the tumult
of my departure. They immediately came, and I related to them what had
just happened. They were more indignant at the manner and the moment,
than at the thing itself; for Torcy knew that sooner or later the
Cardinal would strip him of the post for his own benefit. They extremely
praised my reply, exhorted me to send word to Torcy, who was on the point
of departing from Sable, or had departed, and who would make his own
terms with M. le Duc d'Orleans much more advantageously, present, than
absent. I read to them the letter I had written to Torcy, while waiting
for them, which they much approved, and which I at once despatched.
Torcy of himself, had hastened his return. My courier found him with his
wife in the Parc of Versailles, having passed by the Chartres route. He
read my letter, charged the courier with many compliments for me (his
wife did likewise), and told me to say he would see me the next day. I
informed M. Castries of his arrival. We all four met the next day.
Torcy warmly appreciated my conduct, and, to his death, we lived on terms
of the greatest intimacy, as may be imagined when I say that he committed
to me his memoirs (these he did not write until long after the death of
M. le Duc d'Orleans), with which I have connected mine. He did not seem
to care for the post, if assured of an honourable pension.
I announced then his return to Dubois, saying it would be for him and M.
le Duc d'Orleans to make their own terms with him, and get out of the.
matter in this way. Dubois, content at seeing by this that Torcy
consented to resign the post, cared not how, so that the latter made his
own arrangements, and all passed off with the best grace on both sides.
Torcy had some money and 60,000 livres pension during life, and 20,000
for his wife after him. This was arranged before my departure and was
very well carried out afterwards.
A little while after the declaration of the marriage, the Duchesse de
Ventadour and Madame de Soubise, her granddaughter, had been named, the
one governess of the Infanta, the other successor to the office; and they
were both to go and meet her at the frontier, and bring her to Paris to
the Louvre, where she was to be lodged a little while after the
declaration of my embassy: the Prince de Rohan, her son-in-law, had
orders to go and make the exchange of the Princesses upon the frontier,
with the people sent by the King of Spain to perform the same function.
I had never had any intimacy with them, though we were not on bad terms.
But these Spanish commissions caused us to visit each other with proper
politeness. I forgot to say so earlier and in the proper place.
At last, viz., on the 23rd of October, 1721, I set out, having with me
the Comte de Lorge, my children, the Abbe de Saint-Simon, and his
brother, and many others. The rest of the company joined me at Blaye.
We slept at Orleans, at Montrichard; and at Poictiers. On arriving at
Conte my berline broke down. This caused a delay of three hours, and I
did not arrive at Ruffec until nearly midnight. Many noblemen of the
neighbourhood were waiting for me there, and I entertained them at dinner
and supper during the two days I stayed. I experienced real pleasure in
embracing Puy-Robert, who was lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Roussillon
Regiment when I was captain.
From Ruffec I went in two days to La Cassine, a small house at four
leagues from Blaye, which my father had built on the borders of his
marshes of Blaye, and which I felt much pleasure in visiting; I stopped
there during All Saints' Day and the evening before, and the next day I
early betook myself to Blaye again, where I sojourned two days. I found
several persons of quality there, many of the nobility of the country and
of the adjoining provinces, and Boucher, Intendant of Bordeaux, brother-
in-law of Le Blanc, who was waiting for me, and whom I entertained with
good cheer morning and evening during this short stay.
We crossed to Bordeaux in the midst of such bad weather that everybody
pressed me to delay the trip; but I had so few, days at my command that I
did not accede to their representations. Boucher had brought his
brigantine magnificently equipped, and boats enough to carry over all my
company, most of whom went with us. The view of the port and the town of
Bordeaux surprised me, with more than three hundred ships of all nations
ranged in two lines upon my passage, decked out in all their finery, and
with a great noise from their cannons and those of the Chateau Trompette.
Bordeaux is too well known to need description at my hands: I will simply
say that after Constantinople it presents the finest view of any other
port. Upon landing we received many compliments, and found many
carriages, which conducted us to the Intendant's house, where the Jurats
came to compliment me in state dress. I invited them to supper with.
me, a politeness they did not expect, and which they appeared to highly
appreciate. I insisted upon going to see the Hotel de Ville, which is
amazingly ugly, saying to the Jurats that it was not to satisfy my
curiosity, but in order to pay a visit to them, that I went. This
After thanking M. and Madame Boucher for their attention, we set out
again, traversed the great Landes, and reached in due time Bayonne. The
day after my arrival there, I had an audience with the Queen Dowager of
Spain. I was astonished upon arriving at her house. It had only two
windows in front, looked upon a little court, and had but trifling depth.
The room I entered was very plainly furnished. I found the Queen, who
was waiting for me, accompanied by the Duchesse de Linorez and very few
other persons. I complimented her in the name of the King, and presented
to her his letter. Nothing could be more polite than her bearing towards
Passing the Pyrenees, I quitted with France, rain and bad weather, and
found a clear sky, a charming temperature, with views and perspectives
which changed at each moment, and which were not less charming. We were
all mounted upon mules, the pace of which is good but easy. I turned a
little out of my way to visit Loyola, famous by the birth of Saint
Ignatius, and situated all alone in a narrow valley. We found there four
or five Jesuits, very polite and instructed, who took care of the
prodigious building erected there for more than a hundred Jesuits and
numberless scholars. A church was there nearly finished, of rotunda
shape, of a grandeur and size which surprised me. Gold, painting,
sculpture, the richest ornaments of all kinds, are distributed everywhere
with prodigality but taste. The architecture is correct and admirable,
the marble is most exquisite; jasper, porphyry, lapis, polished,
wreathed, and fluted columns, with their capitals and their ornaments of
gilded bronze, a row of balconies between each altar with little steps of
marble to ascend them, and the cage encrusted; the altars and that which
accompanied them admirable. In a word, the church was one of the most
superb edifices in Europe, the best kept up, and the most magnificently
adorned. We took there the best chocolate I ever tasted, and, after some
hours of curiosity and admiration, we regained our road.
On the 15th, we arrived at Vittoria, where I found a deputation of the
province, whom I invited to supper, and the next day to breakfast. They
spoke French and I was surprised to see Spaniards so gay and such good
company at table. Joy on account of my journey burst out in every place
through which I passed in France and Spain, and obtained for me a good
reception. At Salinas, among other towns which I passed through without
stopping, ladies, who, to judge by their houses and by themselves,
appeared to me to be quality folks, asked me with such good grace to let
them see the man who was bringing happiness to Spain, that I thought it
would only be proper gallantry to enter their dwellings. They appeared
ravished, and I had all the trouble in the world to get rid of them, and
to continue my road.
I arrived on the 18th at Burgos, where I meant to stay at least one day,
to see what turn would take a rather strong fever which had seized my
eldest son; but I was so pressed to hasten on that I was obliged to leave
my son behind with nearly all his attendants.
I left Burgos therefore on the 19th. We found but few relays, and those
ill-established. We travelled night and day without going to bed, until
we reached Madrid, using such vehicles as we could obtain. I performed
the last twelve leagues on a posthorse, which cost twice as much as in
France. In this manner we arrived in Madrid on Friday, the 21st, at
eleven o'clock at night.
We found at the entrance of the town (which has neither gates nor walls,
neither barriers nor faubourgs,) people on guard, who asked us who we
were, and whence we came. They had been placed there expressly so as to
know the moment of my arrival. As I was much fatigued by travelling
incessantly from Burgos without stopping, I replied that we were the
people of the Ambassador of France, who would arrive the next day.
I learnt afterwards, that the minister had calculated that I could not
reach Madrid before the 22d.
Early the next morning I received a visit from Grimaldo, Minister of
Foreign Affairs, who, overjoyed at my arrival, had announced it to their
Catholic Majesties before coming to me. Upon his example, apparently,
the three other ministers, whom, according to usage, I ought to have
visited first, came also; so that one infamous difficulty which Cardinal
Dubois had placed in my path was happily overcome without effort on my
Grimaldo at once conducted me to the palace, and introduced me to the
King. I made a profound reverence to him; he testified to me his joy at
my arrival, and asked me for news of the King, of M. le Duc d'Orleans, of
my journey, and of my eldest son, whom, as he knew, I had left behind at
Burgos. He then entered alone into the Cabinet of the Mirrors. I was
instantly surrounded by all the Court with compliments and indications of
joy at the marriages and union of the crowns. Nearly all the seigneurs
spoke French, and I had great difficulty in replying to their numberless
A half quarter of an hour after the King had entered his cabinet, he sent
for me. I entered alone into the Hall of Mirrors, which is very vast,
but much less wide than long. The King, with the Queen on his left, was
nearly at the bottom of the salon, both their Majesties standing and
touching each other. I approached with three profound reverences, and I
will remark, once for all, that the King never covers himself except at
public audiences, and when he goes to and comes from his mass. The
audience lasted half an hour, and was principally occupied, on the part
of the King and Queen, with compliments and expressions of joy at the
marriages that were to take place. At its close, the Queen asked me if I
would like to see the children, and conducted me to them.
I never saw prettier boys than Don Carlos and Don Ferdinand, nor a
prettier babe than Don Philip. The King and Queen took pleasure in
making me look at them, and in making them turn and walk before me with
very good grace. Their Majesties entered afterwards into the Infanta's
chamber, where I tried to exhibit as much gallantry as possible. In
fact, the Infanta was charming-like a little woman--and not at all
embarrassed. The Queen said to me that she already had begun to learn
French, and the King that she would soon forget Spain.
"Oh!" cried the Queen, "not only Spain, but the King and me, so as to
attach herself to the King, her husband, alone." Upon this I tried not
to remain dumb, and to say what was appropriate. Their Majesties
dismissed me with much goodness, and I was again encircled by the crowd
with many compliments.
A few moments after the King recalled me, in order to see the Prince of
the Asturias, who was with their Majesties in the same Hall of Mirrors.
I found him tall, and really made to be painted; fine light-brown hair,
light fresh-coloured complexion, long face, but agreeable; good eyes, but
too near the nose. I found in him also much grace and politeness. He
particularly asked after the King, M. le Duc d'Orleans, and Mademoiselle
de Montpensier, to whom he was to be betrothed.
Their Catholic Majesties testified much satisfaction to me at the
diligence I had used; said that a single day would be sufficient for the
ceremonies that had to be gone through (demanding the hand of the
Infanta, according it, and signing the marriage contract). Afterwards
they asked me when all would be ready. I replied it would be any day
they pleased; because, as they wished to go into the country, I thought
it would be best to throw no delay in their path. They appeared much
pleased at this reply, but would not fix the day, upon which I proposed
the following Tuesday. Overjoyed at this promptness, they fixed the
Thursday for their departure, and left me with the best possible grace.
I had got over one difficulty, as I have shown, that connected with the
first visits, but I had others yet to grapple with. And first, there was
my embarrassment at finding no letter for the Infanta. I confided this
fact to Grimaldo, who burst out laughing, was to have my first audience
with the Infanta the next day, and it was then that the letter ought to
be produced. Grimaldo said he would arrange so that when I--went, the
governess should come into the antechamber, and say that the Infanta was
asleep, and upon offering to awake her, I should refuse to allow her,
take my leave, and wait until the letter from the King arrived before I
visited her again. Everything happened just as it had been planned, and
thus the second obstacle which the crafty and malicious Cardinal had put
in my path, for the sake of overturning me, was quietly got over.
Grimaldo's kindness encouraged me to open my heart under its influence.
I found that the Spanish minister knew, quite as, well as I did, what
manner of person Dubois was.
On Sunday, the 23rd, I had in the morning my first private audience of
the King and Queen, together, in the Hall of Mirrors, which is the place
where they usually give it. I was accompanied by Maulevrier, our
ambassador. I presented to their Catholic Majesties the Comte de Lorge,
the Comte de Cereste, my second son, and the Abbe de Saint-Simon and his
bother. I received many marks of goodness from the Queen in this
On Tuesday, the 25th of November, I had my solemn audience. I went to
the palace in a magnificent coach, belonging to the King, drawn by eight
grey horses, admirably dappled. There were no postillions, and the
coachman drove me, his hat under his arm. Five of my coaches filled with
my suite followed, and about twenty others (belonging to noblemen of the
Court, and sent by them in order to do me honour), with gentlemen in
each. The King's coach was surrounded by my musicians, liveried servants
on foot, and by officers of my household. On arriving at the open place
in front of the palace, I thought myself at the Tuileries. The regiments
of Spanish guards, clad, officers and soldiers, like the French guards,
and the regiment of the Walloon guards, clad, officers and, soldiers,
like the Swiss guards, were under arms; the flags waved, the drums beat,
and the officers saluted with the half-pike. On the way, the streets
were filled with people, the shops with dealers and artisans, all the
windows were crowded. Joy showed itself on every face, and we heard
nothing but benedictions.
The audience passed off admirably. I asked the hand of the Infanta in
marriage on the part of the King; my request was graciously complied
with, compliments passed on both sides, and I returned to my house, well
pleased with the reception I had met with from both their Catholic
There was still the marriage contract to be signed, and this was to take
place in the afternoon. Here was to be my great trial, for the
majordomo-major and the nuncio of the Pope were to be present at the
ceremony, and, according to the infamous and extraordinary instructions
I had received from Dubois, I was to precede them! How was this to be
done? I had to bring all my ingenuity to bear upon the subject in order
to determine. In the embarrassment I felt upon this position, I was
careful to affect the most marked attention to the nuncio and the
majordomo-major every time I met them and visited them; so as to take
from them all idea that I wished to precede them, when I should in
reality do so.
The place the majordomo-major was to occupy at this ceremony was behind
the King's armchair, a little to the right, so as to allow room for the
captain of the guards on duty; to put myself there would be to take his
place, and push the captain of the guards away, and those near him. The
place of the nuncio was at the side of the King, his face to the