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The Historic Court Memoirs of France, complete

Part 40 out of 62

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he had carried had much appeased his Majesty, we agreed we must so
arrange matters that Frejus should return the next morning, that M. le
Duc d'Orleans should receive him well, as though nothing had happened,
and give him to understand that it was simply to avoid embarrassing him,
that he had not been made aware of the secret of the arrest (explaining
this to him with all the more liberty, because Frejus hated the Marechal,
his haughtiness, his jealousy, his capriciousness, and in his heart must
be delighted at his removal, and at being able to have entire possession
of the--King), then beg him to explain to the King the necessity of
Villeroy's dismissal: then communicate to Frejus the selection of the Duc
de Charost as governor of the King; promise him all the concert and the
attention from this latter he could desire; ask him to counsel and guide
Charost; finally, seize the moment of the King's joy at the return of
Frejus to inform his Majesty of the new governor chosen, and to present
Charost to him. All this was arranged and very well, executed next day.

When the Marechal heard of it at Villeroy, he flew into a strange passion
against Charost (of whom he spoke with the utmost contempt for having
accepted his place), but above all against Frejus, whom he called a
traitor and a villain! His first moments of passion, of fury, and of
transport, were all the more violent, because he saw by the tranquillity
reigning everywhere that his pride had deceived him in inducing him to
believe that the Parliament, the markets, all Paris would rise if the
Regent dared to touch a person so important and so well beloved as he
imagined himself to be. This truth, which he could no longer hide from
himself, and which succeeded so rapidly to the chimeras that had been his
food and his life, threw him into despair, and turned his head. He fell
foul of the Regent, of his minister, of those employed to arrest him, of
those who had failed to defend him, of all who had not risen in revolt to
bring him back in triumph, of Charost, who had dared to succeed him, and
especially of Frejus, who had deceived him in such an unworthy manner.
Frejus was the person against whom he was the most irritated. Reproaches
of ingratitude and of treachery rained unceasingly upon him; all that the
Marechal had done for him with the deceased King was recollected; how he
had protected, aided, lodged, and fed him; how without him (Villeroy) he
(Frejus) would never have been preceptor of the King; and all this was
exactly true.

The treachery to which he alluded he afterwards explained. He said that
he and Frejus had agreed at the very commencement of the regency to act
in union; and that if by troubles or events impossible to foresee, but
which were only too common in regencies, one of them should be dismissed
from office, the other not being able to hinder the dismissal, though not
touched himself, should at once withdraw and never return to his post,
until the first was reinstated in his. And after these explanations, new
cries broke out against the perfidy of this miserable wretch--(for the
most odious terms ran glibly from the end of his tongue)--who thought
like a fool to cover his perfidy with a veil of gauze, in slipping off to
Basville, so as to be instantly sought and brought back, in fear lest he
should lose his place by the slightest resistance or the slightest delay,
and who expected to acquit himself thus of his word, and of the
reciprocal engagement both had taken; and then he returned to fresh
insults and fury against this serpent, as he said, whom he had warmed and
nourished so many years in his bosom.

The account of these transports and insults, promptly came from Villeroy
to Versailles, brought, not only by the people whom the Regent had placed
as guards over the Marechal, and to give an exact account of all he said
and did, day by day, but by all the domestics who came and went, and
before whom Villeroy launched out his speeches, at table, while passing
through his ante-chambers, or while taking a turn in his gardens.

All this weighed heavily upon Frejus by the rebound. Despite the
apparent tranquillity of his visage, he appeared confounded. He replied
by a silence of respect and commiseration in which he enveloped himself;
nevertheless, he could not do so to the Duc de Villeroy, the Marechal de
Tallard, and a few others. He tranquilly said to them, that he had done
all he could to fulfil an engagement which he did not deny, but that
after having thus satisfied the call of honour, he did not think he could
refuse to obey orders so express from the King and the Regent, or abandon
the former in order to bring about the return of the Marechal de
Villeroy, which was the object of their reciprocal engagement, and which
he was certain he could not effect by absence, however prolonged. But
amidst these very sober excuses could be seen the joy which peeped forth
from him, in spite of himself, at being freed from so inconvenient a
superior, at having to do with a new governor whom he could easily
manage, at being able when he chose to guide himself in all liberty
towards the grand object he had always desired, which was to attach
himself to the King without reserve, and to make out of this attachment,
obtained by all sorts of means, the means of a greatness which he did not
yet dare to figure to himself, but which time and opportunity would teach
him how to avail himself of in the best manner, marching to it meanwhile
in perfect security.

The Marechal was allowed to refresh himself, and exhale his anger five or
six days at Villeroy; and as he was not dangerous away from the King, he
was sent to Lyons, with liberty to exercise his functions of governor of
the town and province, measures being taken to keep a watch upon him, and
Des Libois being left with him to diminish his authority by this
manifestation of precaution and surveillance, which took from him all
appearance of credit. He would receive no honours on arriving there.
A large quantity of his first fire was extinguished; this wide separation
from Paris and the Court, where not even the slightest movement had taken
place, everybody being stupefied and in terror at an arrest of this
importance; took from him all remaining hope, curbed his impetuosity, and
finally induced him to conduct himself with sagacity in order to avoid
worse treatment.

Such was the catastrophe of a man, so incapable of all the posts he had
occupied, who displayed chimeras and audacity in the place of prudence
and sagacity, who everywhere appeared a trifler and a comedian, and whose
universal and profound ignorance (except of the meanest arts of the
courtier) made plainly visible the thin covering of probity and of virtue
with which he tried to hide his ingratitude, his mad ambition, his desire
to overturn all in order to make himself the chief of all, in the midst
of his weakness and his fears, and to hold a helm he was radically
incapable of managing. I speak here only of his conduct since the
establishment of the regency. Elsewhere, in more than one place, the
little or nothing he was worth has been shown; how his ignorance and his
jealousy lost us Flanders, and nearly ruined the State; how his felicity
was pushed to the extreme, and what deplorable reverses followed his
return. Sufficient to say that he never recovered from the state into
which this last madness threw him, and that the rest of his life was only
bitterness, regret, contempt! He had persuaded the King that it was he,
alone, who by vigilance and precaution had preserved his life from poison
that others wished to administer to him. This was the source of those
tears shed by the King when Villeroy was carried off, and of his despair
when Frejus disappeared. He did not doubt that both had been removed in
order that this crime might be more easily committed.

The prompt return of Frejus dissipated the half, of his fear, the
continuance of his good health delivered him by degrees from the other.
The preceptor, who had a great interest in preserving the King, and who
felt much relieved by the absence of Villeroy, left nothing undone in
order to extinguish these gloomy ideas; and consequently to let blame
fall upon him who had inspired them. He feared the return of the
Marechal when the King, who was approaching his majority, should be the
master; once delivered of the yoke he did not wish it to be reimposed
upon him. He well knew that the grand airs, the ironies, the
authoritative fussiness in public of the Marechal were insupportable to
his Majesty, and that they held together only by those frightful ideas of
poison. To destroy them was to show the Marechal uncovered, and worse
than that to show to the King, without appearing to make a charge against
the Marechal, the criminal interest he had in exciting these alarms, and
the falsehood and atrocity of such a venomous invention. These
reflections; which the health of the King each day confirmed, sapped all
esteem, all gratitude, and left his Majesty in full liberty of conscience
to prohibit, when he should be the master, all approach to his person on
the part of so vile and so interested an impostor.

Frejus made use of these means to shelter himself against the possibility
of the Marechal's return, and to attach himself to the King without
reserve. The prodigious success of his schemes has been only too well
felt since.

The banishment of Villeroy, flight and return of Frejus, and installation
of Charost as governor of the King, were followed by the confirmation of
his Majesty by the Cardinal de Rohan, and by his first communion,
administered to him by this self-same Cardinal, his grand almoner.


Villeroy being banished, the last remaining obstacle in Dubois' path was
removed. There was nothing: now, to hinder him from being proclaimed
prime minister. I had opposed it as stoutly as I could; but my words
were lost upon M. le Duc d'Orleans. Accordingly, about two o'clock in
the afternoon of the 23rd of August, 1722, Dubois was declared prime
minister by the Regent, and by the Regent at once conducted to the King
as such.

After this event I began insensibly to withdraw from public affairs.
Before the end of the year the King was consecrated at Rheims. The
disorder at the ceremony was inexpressible. All precedent was forgotten.
Rank was hustled and jostled, so to speak, by the crowd. The desire to
exclude the nobility from all office and all dignity was obvious, at half
a glance. My spirit was ulcerated at this; I saw approaching the
complete re-establishment of the bastards; my heart was cleft in twain,
to see the Regent at the heels of his unworthy minister. He was a prey
to the interest, the avarice, the folly, of this miserable wretch, and no
remedy possible. Whatever experience I might have had of the astonishing
weakness of M. le Duc d'Orleans, it had passed all bounds when I saw him
with my own eyes make Dubois prime minister, after all I had said to him
on the subject,--after all he had said to me. The year 1723 commenced,
and found me in this spirit. It is at the end of this year I have
determined to end those memoirs, and the details of it will not be so
full or so abundant as of preceding years. I was hopelessly wearied with
M. le Duc d'Orleans; I no longer approached this poor prince (with so
many great and useless talents buried in him)--except with repugnance.
I could not help feeling for him what the poor, Israelites said to
themselves in the desert about the manna: "Nauseat anima mea suffer cibum
istum tevissimum." I no longer deigned to speak to him. He perceived
this: I felt he was pained at it; he strove to reconcile me to him,
without daring, however, to speak of affairs, except briefly, and with
constraint, and yet he could not hinder himself from speaking of them.
I scarcely took the trouble to reply to him, and I cut his conversation
as short as possible. I abridged and curtailed my audiences with him;
I listened to his reproaches with coldness. In fact, what had I to
discuss with a Regent who was no longer one, not even over himself, still
less over a realm plunged in disorder?

Cardinal Dubois, when he met me, almost courted me. He knew not how to
catch me. The bonds which united me to M. le Duc d'Orleans had always
been so strong that the prime minister, who knew their strength, did not
dare to flatter himself he could break them. His resource was to try to
disgust me by inducing his master to treat me with a reserve which was
completely new to him, and which cost him more than it cost me; for, in
fact, he had often found my confidence very useful to him, and had grown
accustomed to it. As for me, I dispensed with his friendship more than
willingly, vexed at being no longer able to gather any fruit from it for
the advantage of the State or himself, wholly abandoned as he was to his
Paris pleasures and to his minister. The conviction of my complete
inutility more and more kept me in the background, without the slightest
suspicion that different conduct could be dangerous to me, or that, weak
and abandoned to Dubois as was the Regent, the former could ever exile
me, like the Duc de Roailles, and Cariillac, or disgust me into exiling
myself. I followed, then, my accustomed life. That is to say, never saw
M. le Duc d'Orleans except tete-a-tete, and then very seldom at intervals
that each time grew longer, coldly, briefly, never talking to him of
business, or, if he did to me, returning the conversation, and replying
it! a manner to make it drop. Acting thus, it is easy to see that I was
mixed up in nothing, and what I shall have to relate now will have less
of the singularity and instructiveness of good and faithful memoirs, than
of the dryness and sterility of the gazettes.

First of all I will finish my account of Cardinal Dubois. I have very
little more to say of him; for he had scarcely begun to enjoy his high
honours when Death came to laugh at him for the sweating labour he had
taken to acquire them.

On the 11th of June, 1723, the King went to reside at Meudon, ostensibly
in order that the chateau of Versailles might be cleared--in reality,
to accommodate Cardinal Dubois. He had just presided over the assembly
of the day, and flattered to the last degree at this, wished to repose
upon the honour. He desired, also, to be present sometimes at the
assembling of the Company of the Indies. Meudon brought him half-way to
Paris, and saved him a journey. His debauchery had so shattered his
health that the movement of a coach gave him pains which he very
carefully hid.

The King held at Meudon a review of his household, which in his pride the
Cardinal must needs attend. It cost him dear. He mounted on horseback
the better, to enjoy his triumph; he suffered cruelly, and became so
violently ill that he was obliged to have assistance. The most
celebrated doctors and physicians were called in, with great secrecy.
They shook their heads, and came so often that news of the illness began
to transpire. Dubois was unable to go to Paris again more than once or
twice, and then with much trouble, and solely to conceal his malady,
which gave him no repose.

He left nothing undone, in fact, to hide it from the world; he went as
often as he could to the council; apprised the ambassadors he would go to
Paris, and did not go; kept himself invisible at home, and bestowed the
most frightful abuse upon everybody who dared to intrude upon him. On
Saturday, the 7th of August, he was so ill that the doctors declared he
must submit to an operation, which was very urgent, and without which he
could hope to live but a few days; because the abscess he had having
burst the day he mounted on horseback, gangrene had commenced, with an
overflow of pus, and he must be transported, they added, to Versailles,
in order to undergo this operation. The trouble this terrible
announcement caused him, so overthrew him that he could not be moved the
next day, Sunday, the 8th; but on Monday he was transported in a litter,
at five o'clock in the morning.

After having allowed him to repose himself a, little, the doctors and
surgeons proposed that he should receive the sacrament, and submit to the
operation immediately after. This was not heard very peacefully; he had
scarcely ever been free from fury since the day of the review; he had
grown worse on Saturday, when the operation was first announced to him.
Nevertheless, some little time after, he sent for a priest from
Versailles, with whom he remained alone about a quarter of an hour.
Such a great and good man, so well prepared for death, did not need more:
Prime ministers, too, have privileged confessions. As his chamber again
filled, it was proposed that he should take the viaticum; he cried out
that that was soon said, but there was a ceremonial for the cardinals,
of which he was ignorant, and Cardinal Bissy must be sent to, at Paris,
for information upon it. Everybody looked at his neighbour, and felt
that Dubois merely wished to gain time; but as the operation was urgent,
they proposed it to him without further delay. He furiously sent them
away, and would no longer hear talk of it.

The faculty, who saw the imminent danger of the slightest delay, sent to
Meudon for M. le Duc d'Orleans, who instantly came in the first
conveyance he could lay his hands on. He exhorted the Cardinal to suffer
the operation; then asked the faculty, if it could be performed in
safety. They replied that they could say nothing for certain, but that
assuredly the Cardinal had not two hours to live if he did not instantly
agree to it. M. le Duc d'Orleans returned to the sick man, and begged
him so earnestly to do so, that he consented.

The operation was accordingly performed about five o'clock, and in five
minutes, by La Peyronie, chief surgeon of the King, and successor to
Marechal, who was present with Chirac and others of the most celebrated
surgeons and doctors. The Cardinal cried and stormed strongly. M. le
Duc d'Orleans returned into the chamber directly after the operation was
performed, and the faculty did not dissimulate from him that, judging by
the nature of the wound, and what had issued from it, the Cardinal had
not long to live. He died, in fact, twenty-four hours afterwards, on the
10th, of August, at five o'clock in the morning, grinding his teeth
against his surgeons and against Chirac, whom he had never ceased to

Extreme unction was, however, brought to him. Of the communion, nothing
more was said--or of any priest for him--and he finished his life thus,
in the utmost despair, and enraged at quitting it. Fortune had nicely
played with him; slid made him dearly and slowly buy her favours by all
sorts of trouble, care, projects, intrigues, fears, labour, torment; and
at last showered down upon him torrents of greater power, unmeasured
riches, to let him enjoy them only four years (dating from the time when
he was made Secretary of State, and only two years dating from the time
when he was made Cardinal and Prime Minister), and then snatched them
from him, in the smiling moment when he was most enjoying them, at sixty-
six years of age.

He died thus, absolute master of his master, less a prime minister than
an all-powerful minister, exercising in full and undisturbed liberty the
authority and the power of the King; he was superintendent of the post,
Cardinal, Archbishop of Cambrai, had seven abbeys, with respect to which
he was insatiable to the last; and he had set on foot overtures in order
to seize upon those of Citeaux, Premonte, and others, and it was averred
that he received a pension from England of 40,000 livres sterling! I had
the curiosity to ascertain his revenue, and I have thought what I found
curious enough to be inserted here, diminishing some of the benefices to
avoid all exaggeration. I have made a reduction, too, upon what he drew
from his place of prime minister, and that of the post. I believe, also,
that he had 20,000 livres from the clergy, as Cardinal, but I do not know
it as certain. What he drew from Law was immense. He had made use of a
good deal of it at Rome, in order to obtain his Cardinalship; but a
prodigious sum of ready cash was left in his hands. He had an extreme
quantity of the most beautiful plate in silver and enamel, most admirably
worked; the richest furniture, the rarest jewels of all kinds, the finest
and rarest horses of all countries, and the most superb equipages. His
table was in every way exquisite and superb, and he did the honours of it
very well, although extremely sober by nature and by regime.

The place of preceptor of M. le Duc d'Orleans had procured for him the
Abbey of Nogent-sous-Coucy; the marriage of the Prince that of Saint-
Just; his first journeys to Hanover and England, those of Airvause and of
Bourgueil: three other journeys, his omnipotence. What a monster of
Fortune! With what a commencement, and with what an end!


Benefices .............................324,000 livres
Prime Minister and Past ...............250,000 "
Pension from England ................ 960,000 "
1,534,000 "

On Wednesday evening, the day after his death, Dubois was carried from
Versailles to the church of the chapter of Saint-Honore, in Paris, where
he was interred some days after. Each of the academies of which he was a
member had a service performed for him (at which they were present), the
assembly of the clergy had another (he being their president); and as
prime minister he had one at Notre Dame, at which the Cardinal de
Noailles officiated, and at which the superior courts were present.
There was no funeral oration at any of them. It could not be hazarded.
His brother, more modest than he, and an honest man, kept the office of
secretary of the cabinet, which he had, and which the Cardinal had given
him. This brother found an immense heritage. He had but one son, canon
of Saint-Honore, who had never desired places or livings, and who led a
good life. He would touch scarcely anything of this rich succession.
He employed a part of it in building for his uncle a sort of mausoleum
(fine, but very modest, against the wall, at the end of the church, where
the Cardinal is interred, with a Christian-like inscription), and
distributed the rest to the poor, fearing lest this money should bring a
curse upon him.

It was found some time after his death that the Cardinal had been long
married, but very obscurely! He paid his wife to keep silent when he
received his benefices; but when he dawned into greatness became much
embarrassed with her. He was always in agony lest she should come
forward and ruin him. His marriage had been made in Limousin, and
celebrated in a village church. When he was named Archbishop of Cambrai
he resolved to destroy the proofs of this marriage, and employed
Breteuil, Intendant of Limoges, to whom he committed the secret, to do
this for him skilfully and quietly.

Breteuil saw the heavens open before him if he could but succeed in this
enterprise, so delicate and so important. He had intelligence, and knew
how to make use of it. He goes to this village where the marriage had
been celebrated, accompanied by only two or three valets, and arranges
his journey so as to arrive at night, stops at the cure's house, in
default of an inn, familiarly claims hospitality like a man surprised by
the night, dying of hunger and thirst, and unable to go a step further.

The good cure; transported with gladness to lodge M. l'Intendant, hastily
prepared all there was in the house, and had the honour of supping with
him, whilst his servant regaled the two valets in another room, Breteuil
having sent them all away in order to be alone with his host. Breteuil
liked his glass and knew how to empty it. He pretended to find the
supper good and the wine better. The cure, charmed with his guest,
thought only of egging him on, as they say in the provinces. The tankard
was on the table, and was drained again and again with a familiarity
which transported the worthy priest. Breteuil; who had laid his project,
succeeded in it, and made the good man so drunk that he could not keep
upright, or see, or utter a word. When Breteuil had brought him to this
state, and had finished him off with a few more draughts of wine, he
profited by the information he had extracted from him during the first
quarter of an hour of supper. He had asked if his registers were in good
order, and how far they extended, and under pretext of safety against
thieves, asked him where he kept them, and the keys of them, so that the
moment Breteuil was certain the cure could no longer make use of his
senses, he took his keys, opened the cupboard, took from it the register
of the marriage of the year he wanted, very neatly detached the page he
sought (and woe unto that marriage registered upon the same page), put it
in his pocket, replaced the registers where he had found them, locked up
the cupboard, and put back the keys in the place he had taken them
from. His only thought after this was to steal off as soon as the dawn
appeared, leaving the good cure snoring away the effects of the wine, and
giving, some pistoles to the servant.

He went thence to the notary, who had succeeded to the business and the
papers of the one who had made the contract of marriage; liked himself up
with him, and by force and authority made him give up the minutes of the
marriage contract. He sent afterwards for the wife of Dubois (from whose
hands the wily Cardinal had already obtained the copy of the contract she
possessed), threatened her with dreadful dungeons if she ever dared to
breathe a word of her marriage, and promised marvels to her if she kept

He assured her, moreover, that all she could say or do would be thrown
away, because everything had been so arranged that she could prove
nothing, and that if she dared to speak, preparations were made for
condemning her as a calumniator and impostor, to rot with a shaven head
in the prison of a convent! Breteuil placed these two important
documents in the hands of Dubois, and was (to the surprise and scandal of
all the world) recompensed, some time after, with the post of war
secretary, which, apparently; he had done nothing to deserve, and for
which he was utterly unqualified. The secret reason of his appointment
was not discovered until long after.

Dubois' wife did not dare to utter a whisper. She came to Paris after
the death of her husband. A good proportion was given to her of what was
left. She lived obscure, but in easy circumstances, and died at Paris
more than twenty years after the Cardinal Dubois, by whom she had had no
children. The brother lived on very good terms with her. He was a
village doctor when Dubois sent for him to Paris: In the end this history
was known, and has been neither contradicted nor disavowed by anybody.

We have many examples of prodigious fortune acquired by insignificant
people, but there is no example of a person so destitute of all talent
(excepting that of low intrigue), as was Cardinal Dubois, being thus
fortunate. His intellect was of the most ordinary kind; his knowledge
the most common-place; his capacity nil; his exterior that of a ferret,
of a pedant; his conversation disagreeable, broken, always uncertain; his
falsehood written upon his forehead; his habits too measureless to be
hidden; his fits of impetuosity resembling fits of madness; his head
incapable of containing more than one thing at a time, and he incapable
of following anything but his personal interest; nothing was sacred with
him; he had no sort of worthy intimacy with any one; had a declared
contempt for faith, promises, honour, probity, truth; took pleasure at
laughing at all these things; was equally voluptuous and ambitious,
wishing to be all in all in everything; counting himself alone as
everything, and whatever was not connected with him as nothing; and
regarding it as the height of madness to think or act otherwise. With
all this he was soft, cringing, supple, a flatterer, and false admirer,
taking all shapes with the greatest facility, and playing the most
opposite parts in order to arrive at the different ends he proposed to
himself; and nevertheless was but little capable of seducing. His
judgment acted by fits and starts, was involuntarily crooked, with little
sense or clearness; he was disagreeable in spite of himself.
Nevertheless, he could be funnily vivacious when he wished, but nothing
more, could tell a good story, spoiled, however, to some extent by his
stuttering, which his falsehood had turned into a habit from the
hesitation he always had in replying and in speaking. With such defects
it is surprising that the only man he was able to seduce was M. le Duc
d'Orleans, who had so much intelligence, such a well-balanced mind, and
so much clear and rapid perception of character. Dubois gained upon him
as a child while his preceptor; he seized upon him as a young man by
favouring his liking for liberty, sham fashionable manners and
debauchery, and his disdain of all rule. He ruined his heart, his mind,
and his habits, by instilling into him the principles of libertines,
which this poor prince could no more deliver himself from than from those
ideas of reason, truth, and conscience which he always took care to

Dubois having insinuated himself into the favour of his master in this
manner, was incessantly engaged in studying how to preserve his position.
He never lost sight of his prince, whose great talents and great defects
he had learnt how to profit by. The Regent's feebleness was the main
rock upon which he built. As for Dubois' talent and capacity, as I have
before said, they were worth nothing. All his success was due to his
servile pliancy and base intrigues.

When he became the real master of the State he was just as incompetent as
before. All his application was directed towards his master, and it had
for sole aim that that master should not escape him. He wearied himself
in watching all the movements of the prince, what he did, whom he saw,
and for how long; his humour, his visage, his remarks at the issue of
every audience and of every party; who took part in them, what was said
and by whom, combining all these things; above all, he strove to frighten
everybody from approaching the Regent, and kept no bounds with any one
who had the temerity to do so without his knowledge and permission. This
watching occupied all his days, and by it he regulated all his movements.
This application, and the orders he was obliged to give for appearance
sake, occupied all his time, so that he became inaccessible except for a
few public audiences, or for others to the foreign ministers. Yet the
majority of those ministers never could catch him, and were obliged to
lie in wait for him upon staircases or in passages, where he did not
expect to meet them. Once he threw into the fire a prodigious quantity
of unopened letters, and then congratulated himself upon having got rid
of all his business at once. At his death thousands of letters were
found unopened.

Thus everything was in arrear, and nobody, not even the foreign
ministers, dared to complain to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, entirely
abandoned to his pleasures, and always on the road from Versailles to
Paris, never thought of business, only too satisfied to find himself so
free, and attending to nothing except the few trifles he submitted to the
King under the pretence of working with his Majesty. Thus, nothing could
be settled, and all was in chaos. To govern in this manner there is no
need for capacity. Two words to each minister charged with a department,
and some care in garnishing the councils attended by the King, with the
least important despatches (settling the others with M. le Duc d'Orleans)
constituted all the labour of the prime minister; and spying, scheming,
parade, flatteries, defence, occupied all his time. His fits of passion,
full of insults and blackguardism, from which neither man nor woman, no
matter of what rank, was sheltered, relieved him from an infinite number
of audiences, because people preferred going to subalterns, or neglecting
their business altogether, to exposing themselves to this fury and these

The mad freaks of Dubois, especially when he had become master, and
thrown off all restraint, would fill a volume. I will relate only one or
two as samples. His frenzy was such that he would sometimes run all
round the chamber, upon the tables and chairs, without touching the
floor! M. le Duc d'Orleans told me that he had often witnessed this.

Another sample:

The Cardinal de Gesvres came over to-day to complain to M. le Duc
d'Orleans that the Cardinal Dubois had dismissed him in the most filthy
terms. On a former occasion, Dubois had treated the Princesse de
Montauban in a similar manner, and M. le Duc d'Orleans had replied to her
complaints as he now replied to those of the Cardinal de Gesvres. He
told the Cardinal, who was a man of good manners, of gravity, and of
dignity (whereas the Princess deserved what she got) that he had always
found the counsel of the Cardinal Dubois good, and that he thought he
(Gesvres ) would do well to follow the advice just given him! Apparently
it was to free himself from similar complaints that he spoke thus; and,
in fact, he had no more afterwards.

Another sample:

Madame de Cheverny, become a widow, had retired to the Incurables. Her
place of governess of the daughters of M. le Duc d'Orleans had been given
to Madame de Conflans. A little while after Dubois was consecrated,
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans asked Madame de Conflans if she had called
upon him. Thereupon Madame de Conflans replied negatively and that she
saw no reason for going, the place she held being so little mixed up in
State affairs. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans pointed out how intimate the
Cardinal was with M. le Duc d'Orleans. Madame de Conflans still tried to
back out, saying that he was a madman, who insulted everybody, and to
whom she would not expose herself. She had wit and a tongue, and was
supremely vain, although very polite. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans burst
out laughing at her fear, and said, that having nothing to ask of the
Cardinal, but simply to render an account to him of the office M. le Duc
d'Orleans had given her, it was an act of politeness which could only
please him, and obtain for her his regard, far from having anything
disagreeable, or to be feared about it; and finished by saying to her
that it was proper, and that she wished her to go.

She went, therefore, for it was at Versailles, and arrived in a large
cabinet, where there were eight or ten persons waiting to speak to the
Cardinal, who was larking with one of his favourites, by the mantelpiece.
Fear seized upon Madame de Conflans, who was little, and who appeared
less. Nevertheless, she approached as this woman retired. The Cardinal,
seeing her advance, sharply asked her what she wanted.

"Monseigneur," said she,--"Oh, Monseigneur--"

"Monseigneur," interrupted the Cardinal, "I can't now."

"But, Monseigneur," replied she--

"Now, devil take me, I tell you again," interrupted the Cardinal, "when I
say I can't, I can't."

"Monseigneur," Madame de Conflans again said, in order to explain that
she wanted nothing; but at this word the Cardinal seized her by the
shoulders; and pushed her out, saying, "Go to the devil, and let me

She nearly fell over, flew away in fury, weeping hot tears, and reached,
in this state, Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, to whom, through her sobs,
she related the adventure.

People were so accustomed to the insults of the Cardinal, and this was
thought so singular and so amusing, that the recital of it caused shouts
of laughter, which finished off poor Madame de Conflans, who swore that,
never in her life, would she put foot in the house of this madman.

The Easter Sunday after he was made Cardinal, Dubois woke about eight
o'clock, rang his bells as though he would break them, called for his
people with the most horrible blasphemies, vomited forth a thousand
filthy expressions and insults, raved at everybody because he had not
been awakened, said that he wanted to say mass, but knew not how to find
time, occupied as he was. After this very beautiful preparation, he very
wisely abstained from saying mass, and I don't know whether he ever did
say it after his consecration.

He had taken for private secretary one Verrier, whom he had unfrocked
from the Abbey of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, the business of which he had
conducted for twenty years, with much cleverness and intelligence. He
soon accommodated himself to the humours of the Cardinal, and said to him
all he pleased.

One morning he was with the Cardinal, who asked for something that could
not at once be found. Thereupon Dubois began to blaspheme, to storm
against his clerks, saying that if he had not enough he would engage
twenty, thirty, fifty, a hundred, and making the most frightful din.
Verrier tranquilly listened to him. The Cardinal asked him if it was not
a terrible thing to be so ill-served, considering the expense he was put
to; then broke out again, and pressed him to reply.

"Monseigneur," said Verrier, "engage one more clerk, and give him, for
sole occupation, to swear and storm for you, and all will go well; you
will have much more time to yourself and will be better served."

The Cardinal burst out laughing, and was appeased.

Every evening he ate an entire chicken for his supper. I know not by
whose carelessness, but this chicken was forgotten one evening by his
people. As he was about to go to bed he bethought him of his bird, rang,
cried out, stormed against his servants, who ran and coolly listened to
him. Upon this he cried the more, and complained of not having been
served. He was astonished when they replied to him that he had eaten his
chicken, but that if he pleased they would put another down to the spit.

"What!" said he, "I have eaten my chicken!"

The bold and cool assertion of his people persuaded him, and they laughed
at him.

I will say no more, because, I repeat it, volumes might be filled with
these details. I have said enough to show what was this monstrous
personage, whose death was a relief to great and little, to all Europe,
even to his brother, whom he treated like a negro. He wanted to dismiss
a groom on one occasion for having lent one of his coaches to this same
brother, to go somewhere in Paris.

The most relieved of all was M. le Duc d'Orleans. For a long time he had
groaned in secret beneath the weight of a domination so harsh, and of
chains he had forged for himself. Not only he could no longer dispose or
decide upon anything, but he could get the Cardinal to do nothing, great
or small, he desired done. He was obliged, in everything, to follow the
will of the Cardinal, who became furious, reproached him, and stormed
at him when too much contradicted. The poor Prince felt thus the
abandonment into which he had cast himself, and, by this abandonment,
the power of the Cardinal, and the eclipse of his own power. He feared
him; Dubois had become insupportable to him; he was dying with desire, as
was shown in a thousand things, to get rid of him, but he dared not--he
did not know how to set about it; and, isolated and unceasingly wretched
as he was, there was nobody to whom he could unbosom himself; and the
Cardinal, well informed of this, increased his freaks, so as to retain by
fear what he had usurped by artifice, and what he no longer hoped to
preserve in any other way.

As soon as Dubois was dead, M. le Duc d'Orleans returned to Meudon, to
inform the King of the event. The King immediately begged him to charge
himself with the management of public affairs, declared him prime
minister, and received, the next day, his oath, the patent of which was
immediately sent to the Parliament, and verified. This prompt
declaration was caused by the fear Frejus had to see a private person
prime minister. The King liked M. le Duc d'Orleans, as we have already
seen by the respect he received from him, and by his manner of working
with him. The Regent, without danger of being taken at his word, always
left him master of all favours, and of the choice of persons he proposed
to him; and, besides, never bothered him, or allowed business to
interfere with his amusements. In spite of all the care and all the
suppleness Dubois had employed in order to gain the spirit of the King,
he never could succeed, and people remarked, without having wonderful
eyes, a very decided repugnance of the King for him. The Cardinal was
afflicted, but redoubled his efforts, in the hope at last of success.
But, in addition to his own disagreeable manners, heightened by the
visible efforts he made to please, he had two enemies near the King, very
watchful to keep him away from the young prince--the Marechal de
Villeroy, while he was there, and Frejus, who was much more dangerous,
and who was resolved to overthrow him. Death, as we have seen, spared
him the trouble.

The Court returned from Meudon to Paris on the 13th of August. Soon
after I met M. le Duc d'Orleans there.

As soon as he saw me enter his cabinet he ran to me, and eagerly asked me
if I meant to abandon him. I replied that while his Cardinal lived I
felt I should be useless to him, but that now this obstacle was removed,
I should always be very humbly at his service. He promised to live with
me on the same terms as before, and, without a word upon the Cardinal,
began to talk about home and foreign affairs. If I flattered myself that
I was to be again of use to him for any length of time, events soon came
to change the prospect. But I will not anticipate my story.


The Duc de Lauzun died on the 19th of November, at the age of ninety
years and six months. The intimate union of the two sisters I and he had
espoused, and our continual intercourse at the Court (at Marly, we had a
pavilion especially for us four), caused me to be constantly with him,
and after the King's death we saw each other nearly every day at Paris,
and unceasingly frequented each other's table. He was so extraordinary a
personage, in every way so singular, that La Bruyere, with much justice,
says of him in his "Characters," that others were not allowed to dream as
he had lived. For those who saw him in his old age, this description
seems even more just. That is what induces me to dwell upon him here.
He was of the House of Caumont, the branch of which represented by the
Ducs de la Force has always passed for the eldest, although that of
Lauzun has tried to dispute with it.

The mother of M. de Lauzun was daughter of the Duc de la Force, son of
the second Marechal Duc de la Force, and brother of the Marechale de
Turenne, but by another marriage; the Marechale was by a first marriage.
The father of M. de Lauzun was the Comte de Lauzun, cousin-german of the
first Marechal Duc de Grammont, and of the old Comte de Grammont.

M. de Lauzun was a little fair man, of good figure, with a noble and
expressively commanding face, but which was without charm, as I have
heard people say who knew him when he was young. He was full of
ambition, of caprice, of fancies; jealous of all; wishing always to go
too far; never content with anything; had no reading, a mind in no way
cultivated, and without charm; naturally sorrowful, fond of solitude,
uncivilised; very noble in his dealings, disagreeable and malicious by
nature, still more so by jealousy and by ambition; nevertheless, a good
friend when a friend at all, which was rare; a good relative; enemy even
of the indifferent; hard upon faults, and upon what was ridiculous,
which he soon discovered; extremely brave, and as dangerously bold.
As a courtier he was equally insolent and satirical, and as cringing as a
valet; full of foresight, perseverance, intrigue, and meanness, in order
to arrive at his ends; with this, dangerous to the ministers; at the
Court feared by all, and full of witty and sharp remarks which spared

He came very young to the Court without any fortune, a cadet of Gascony,
under the name of the Marquis de Puyguilhem. The Marechal de Grammont,
cousin-german of his brother, lodged him: Grammont was then in high
consideration at the Court, enjoyed the confidence of the Queen-mother,
and of Cardinal Mazarin, and had the regiment of the guards and the
reversion of it for the Comte de Guiche, his eldest son, who, the prince
of brave fellows, was on his side in great favour with the ladies, and
far advanced in the good graces of the King and of the Comtesse de
Soissons, niece of the Cardinal, whom the King never quitted, and who was
the Queen of the Court. This Comte de Guiche introduced to the Comtesse
de Soissons the Marquis de Puyguilhem, who in a very little time became
the King's favourite. The King, in fact, gave him his regiment of
dragoons on forming it, and soon after made him Marechal de Camp, and
created for him the post of colonel-general of dragoons.

The Duc de Mazarin, who in 1669 had already retired from the Court,
wished to get rid of his post of grand master of the artillery;
Puyguilhem had scent of his intention, and asked the King for this
office. The King promised it to him, but on condition that he kept the
matter secret some days. The day arrived on which the King had agreed to
declare him. Puyguilhem, who had the entrees of the first gentleman of
the chamber (which are also named the grandes entrees), went to wait for
the King (who was holding a finance council), in a room that nobody
entered during the council, between that in which all the Court waited,
and that in which the council itself was held. He found there no one but
Nyert, chief valet de chambre, who asked him how he happened to come
there. Puyguilhem, sure of his affair, thought he should make a friend
of this valet by confiding to him what was about to take place. Nyert
expressed his joy; then drawing out his watch, said he should have time
to go and execute a pressing commission the King had given him. He
mounted four steps at a time the little staircase, at the head of which
was the bureau where Louvois worked all day--for at Saint-Germain the
lodgings were little and few--and the ministers and nearly all the Court
lodged each at his own house in the town. Nyert entered the bureau of
Louvois, and informed him that upon leaving the council (of which Louvois
was not a member), the King was going to declare Puyguilhem grand master
of the artillery, adding that he had just learned this news from
Puyguilhem himself, and saying where he had left him.

Louvois hated Puyguilhem, friend of Colbert, his rival, and he feared his
influence in a post which had so many intimate relations with his
department of the war, the functions and authority of which he invaded
as much as possible, a proceeding which he felt Puyguilhem was not the
kind of man to suffer. He embraces Nyert, thanking him, dismisses him as
quickly as possible, takes some papers to serve as an excuse, descends,
and finds Puyguilhem and Nyert in the chamber, as above described. Nyert
pretends to be surprised to see Louvois arrive, and says to him that the
council has not broken up.

"No matter," replied Louvois, "I must enter, I have something important
to say to the King;" and thereupon he enters. The King, surprised to see
him, asks what brings him there, rises, and goes to him. Louvois draws
him into the embrasure of a window, and says he knows that his Majesty is
going to declare Puyguilhem grand master of the artillery; that he is
waiting in the adjoining room for the breaking up of the council; that
his Majesty is fully master of his favours and of his choice, but that he
(Louvois) thinks it his duty to represent to him the incompatibility
between Puyguilhem and him, his caprices, his pride; that he will wish to
change everything in the artillery; that this post has such intimate
relations with the war department, that continual quarrels will arise
between the two, with which his Majesty will be importuned at every

The King is piqued to see his secret known by him from whom, above all,
he wished to hide it; he replies to Louvois, with a very serious air,
that the appointment is not yet made, dismisses him, and reseats himself
at the council. A moment after it breaks up. The King leaves to go to
mass, sees Puyguilhem, and passes without saying anything to him.
Puyguilhem, much astonished, waits all the rest of the day, and seeing
that the promised declaration does not come, speaks of it to the King at
night. The King replies to him that it cannot be yet, and that he will
see; the ambiguity of the response, and the cold tone, alarm Puyguilhem;
he is in favour with the ladies, and speaks the jargon of gallantry; he
goes to Madame de Montespan, to whom he states his disquietude, and
conjures her to put an end to it. She promises him wonders, and amuses
him thus several days.

Tired of this, and not being able to divine whence comes his failure, he
takes a resolution--incredible if it was not attested by all the Court of
that time. The King was in the habit of visiting Madame de Montespan in
the afternoon, and of remaining with her some time. Puyguilhem was on
terms of tender intimacy with one of the chambermaids of Madame de
Montespan. She privately introduced him into the room where the King
visited Madame de Montespan, and he secreted himself under the bed. In
this position he was able to hear all the conversation that took place
between the King and his mistress above, and he learned by it that it was
Louvois who had ousted him; that the King was very angry at the secret
having got wind, and had changed his resolution to avoid quarrels between
the artillery and the war department; and, finally, that Madame de
Montespan, who had promised him her good offices, was doing him all the
harm she could. A cough, the least movement, the slightest accident,
might have betrayed the foolhardy Puyguilhem, and then what would have
become of him? These are things the recital of which takes the breath
away, and terrifies at the same time.

Puyguilhem was more fortunate than prudent, and was not discovered. The
King and his mistress at last closed their conversation; the King dressed
himself again, and went to his own rooms. Madame de Montespan went away
to her toilette, in order to prepare for the rehearsal of a ballet to
which the King, the Queen, and all the Court were going. The chambermaid
drew Puyguilhem from under the bed, and he went and glued himself against
the door of Madame de Montespan's chamber.

When Madame de Montespan came forth, in order to go to the rehearsal of
the ballet, he presented his hand to her, and asked her, with an air of
gentleness and of respect, if he might flatter himself that she had
deigned to think of him when with the King. She assured him that she had
not failed, and enumerated services she had; she said, just rendered him.
Here and there he credulously interrupted her with questions, the better
to entrap her; then, drawing near her, he told her she was a liar, a
hussy, a harlot, and repeated to her, word for word, her conversation
with the King!

Madame de Montespan was so amazed that she had not strength enough to
reply one word; with difficulty she reached the place she was going to,
and with difficulty overcame and hid the trembling of her legs and of her
whole body; so that upon arriving at the room where the rehearsal was to
take place, she fainted. All the Court was already there. The King, in
great fright, came to her; it was not without much trouble she was
restored to herself. The same evening she related to the King what had
just happened, never doubting it was the devil who had so promptly and so
precisely informed Puyguilhem of all that she had said to the King. The
King was extremely irritated at the insult Madame de Montespan had
received, and was much troubled to divine how Puyguilhem had been so
exactly and so suddenly instructed.

Puyguilhem, on his side, was furious at losing the artillery, so that the
King and he were under strange constraint together. This could last only
a few days. Puyguilhem, with his grandes entrees, seized his opportunity
and had a private audience with the King. He spoke to him of the
artillery, and audaciously summoned him to keep his word. The King
replied that he was not bound by it, since he had given it under secrecy,
which he (Puyguilhem) had broken.

Upon this Puyguilhem retreats a few steps, turns his back upon the King,
draws his sword, breaks the blade of it with his foot, and cries out in
fury, that he will never in his life serve a prince who has so shamefully
broken his word. The King, transported with anger, performed in that
moment the finest action perhaps of his life. He instantly turned round,
opened the window, threw his cane outside, said he should be sorry to
strike a man of quality, and left the room.

The next morning, Puyguilhem, who had not dared to show himself since,
was arrested in his chamber, and conducted to the Bastille. He was an
intimate friend of Guitz, favourite of the King, for whom his Majesty had
created the post of grand master of the wardrobe. Guitz had the courage
to speak to the King in favour of Puyguilhem, and to try and reawaken the
infinite liking he had conceived for the young Gascon. He succeeded so
well in touching the King, by showing him that the refusal of such a
grand post as the artillery had turned Puyguilhem's head, that his
Majesty wished to make amends far this refusal. He offered the post of
captain of the King's guards to Puyguilhem, who, seeing this incredible
and prompt return of favour, re-assumed sufficient audacity to refuse it,
flattering himself he should thus gain a better appointment. The King
was not discouraged. Guitz went and preached to his friend in the
Bastille, and with great trouble made him agree to have the goodness to
accept the King's offer. As soon as he had accepted it he left the
Bastille, went and saluted the King, and took the oaths of his new post,
selling that which he occupied in the dragoons.

He had in 1665 the government of Berry, at the death of Marechal de
Clerembault. I will not speak here of his adventures with Mademoiselle,
which she herself so naively relates in her memoirs, or of his extreme
folly in delaying his marriage with her (to which the King had
consented), in order to have fine liveries, and get the marriage
celebrated at the King's mass, which gave time to Monsieur (incited by M.
le Prince) to make representations to the King, which induced him to
retract his consent, breaking off thus the marriage. Mademoiselle made a
terrible uproar, but Puyguilhem, who since the death of his father had
taken the name of Comte de Lauzun, made this great sacrifice with good
grace, and with more wisdom than belonged to him. He had the company of
the hundred gentlemen, with battle-axes, of the King's household, which
his father had had, and he had just been made lieutenant-general.

Lauzun was in love with Madame de Monaco, an intimate friend of Madame,
and in all her Intrigues: He was very jealous of her, and was not pleased
with her. One summer's afternoon he went to Saint-Cloud, and found
Madame and her Court seated upon the ground, enjoying the air, and Madame
de Monaco half lying down, one of her hands open and outstretched.
Lauzun played the gallant with the ladies, and turned round so neatly
that he placed his heel in the palm of Madame de Monaco, made a pirouette
there, and departed. Madame de Monaco had strength enough to utter no
cry, no word!

A short time after he did worse. He learnt that the King was on intimate
terms with Madame de Monaco, learnt also the hour at which Bontems, the
valet, conducted her, enveloped in a cloak, by a back staircase, upon the
landing-place of which was a door leading into the King's cabinet, and in
front of it a private cabinet. Lauzun anticipates the hour, and lies in
ambush in the private cabinet, fastening it from within with a hook, and
sees through the keyhole the King open the door of the cabinet, put the
key outside (in the lock) and close the door again. Lauzun waits a
little, comes out of his hiding-place, listens at the door in which the
King had just placed the key, locks it, and takes out the key, which he
throws into the private cabinet, in which he again shuts himself up.

Some time after Bontems and the lady arrive. Much astonished not to find
the key in the door of the King's cabinet, Bontems gently taps at the
door several times, but in vain; finally so loudly does he tap that the
King hears the sound. Bontems says he is there, and asks his Majesty to
open, because the key is not in the door. The King replies that he has
just put it there. Bontems looks on the ground for it, the King
meanwhile trying to open the door from the inside, and finding it double-
locked. Of course all three are much astonished and much annoyed; the
conversation is carried on through the door, and they cannot determine
how this accident has happened. The King exhausts himself in efforts to
force the door, in spite of its being double-locked. At last they are
obliged to say good-bye through the door, and Lauzun, who hears every
word they utter, and who sees them through the keyhole, laughs in his
sleeve at their mishap with infinite enjoyment.


In 1670 the King wished to make a triumphant journey with the ladies,
under pretext of visiting his possessions in Flanders, accompanied by an
army, and by all his household troops, so that the alarm was great in the
Low Countries, which he took no pains to appease. He gave the command of
all to Lauzun, with the patent of army-general. Lauzun performed the
duties of his post with much intelligence, and with extreme gallantry and
magnificence. This brilliancy, and this distinguished mark of favour,
made Louvois, whom Lauzun in no way spared, think very seriously. He
united with Madame de Montespan (who had not pardoned the discovery
Lauzun had made, or the atrocious insults he had bestowed upon her), and
the two worked so well that they reawakened in the King's mind
recollections of the broken sword, the refusal in the Bastille of the
post of captain of the guards, and made his Majesty look upon Lauzun as a
man who no longer knew himself, who had suborned Mademoiselle until he
had been within an inch of marrying her, and of assuring to himself
immense wealth; finally, as a man, very dangerous on account of his
audacity, and who had taken it into his head to gain the devotion of the
troops by his magnificence, his services to the officers, and by the
manner in which he had treated them during the Flanders journey, making
himself adored. They made him out criminal for having remained the
friend of, and on terms of great intimacy with, the Comtesse de Soissons,
driven from the Court and suspected of crimes. They must have accused
Lauzun also of crimes which I have never heard of, in order to procure
for him the barbarous treatment they succeeded in subjecting him to.

Their intrigues lasted all the year, 1671, without Lauzun discovering
anything by the visage of the King, or that of Madame de Montespan. Both
the King and his mistress treated him with their ordinary distinction and
familiarity. He was a good judge of jewels (knowing also how to set them
well), and Madame de Montespan often employed him in this capacity. One
evening, in the middle of November, 1671, he arrived from Paris, where
Madame de Montespan had sent him in the morning for some precious stones,
and as he was about to enter his chamber he was arrested by the Marechal
de Rochefort, captain of the guards.

Lauzun, in the utmost surprise, wished to know why, to see the King or
Madame de Montespan--at least, to write to them; everything was refused
him. He was taken to the Bastille, and shortly afterwards to Pignerol,
where he was shut up in a low-roofed dungeon. His post of captain of the
body-guard was given to M. de Luxembourg, and the government of Berry to
the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, who, at the death of Guitz, at the passage
of the Rhine, 12th June, 1672, was made grand master of the wardrobe.

It may be imagined what was the state of a man like Lauzun, precipitated,
in a twinkling, from such a height to a dungeon in the chateau of
Pignerol, without seeing anybody, and ignorant of his crime. He bore up,
however, pretty well, but at last fell so ill that he began to think
about confession. I have heard him relate that he feared a fictitious
priest, and that, consequently, he obstinately insisted upon a Capuchin;
and as soon as he came he seized him by the beard, and tugged at it,
as hard as he could, on all sides, in order to see that it was not a sham
one! He was four or five years in his gaol. Prisoners find employment
which necessity teaches them. There ware prisoners above him and at the
side of him. They found means to speak to him. This intercourse led
them to make a hole, well hidden, so as to talk more easily; then to
increase it, and visit each other.

The superintendent Fouquet had been enclosed near them ever since
December, 1664. He knew by his neighbours (who had found means of seeing
him) that Lauzun was under them. Fouquet, who received no news, hoped
for some from him, and had a great desire to see him. He, had left
Lauzun a young man, dawning at the Court, introduced by the Marechal de
Grammont, well received at the house of the Comtesse de Soissons, which
the King never quitted, and already looked upon favourably. The
prisoners, who had become intimate with Lauzun, persuaded him to allow
himself to be drawn up through their hole, in order to see Fouquet in
their dungeon. Lauzun was very willing. They met, and Lauzun began
relating, accordingly, his fortunes and his misfortunes, to Fouquet. The
unhappy superintendent opened wide his ears and eyes when he heard this
young Gasepan (once only too happy to be welcomed and harboured by the
Marechal de Grammont) talk of having been general of dragoons, captain of
the guards, with the patent and functions of army-general! Fouquet no
longer knew where he was, believed Lauzun mad, and that he was relating
his visions, when he described how he had missed the artillery, and what
had passed afterwards thereupon: but he was convinced that madness had
reached its climax, and was afraid to be with Lauzun, when he heard him
talk of his marriage with Mademoiselle, agreed to by the King, how
broken, and the wealth she had assured to him. This much curbed their
intercourse, as far as Fouquet was concerned, for he, believing the brain
of Lauzun completely turned, took for fairy tales all the stories the
Gascon told him of what had happened in the world, from the imprisonment
of the one to the imprisonment of the other.

The confinement of Fouquet was a little relieved before that of Lauzun.
His wife and some officers of the chateau of Pignerol had permission to
see him, and to tell him the news of the day. One of the first things he
did was to tell them of this poor Puyguilhem, whom he had left young, and
on a tolerably good footing for his age, at the Court, and whose head was
now completely turned, his madness hidden within the prison walls; but
what was his astonishment when they all assured him that what he had
heard was perfectly true! He did not return to the subject, and was
tempted to believe them all mad together. It was some time before he was

In his turn, Lauzun was taken from his dungeon, and had a chamber, and
soon after had the same liberty that had been given to Fouquet; finally,
they were allowed to see each other as much as they liked. I have never
known what displeased Lauzun, but he left Pignerol the enemy of Fouquet,
and did him afterwards all the harm he could, and after his death
extended his animosity to his family.

During the long imprisonment of Lauzun, Madame de Nogent, one of his
sisters, took such care of his revenues that he left Pignerol extremely

Mademoiselle, meanwhile, was inconsolable at this long and harsh
imprisonment, and took all possible measures to deliver Lauzun. The King
at last resolved to turn this to the profit of the Duc du Maine, and to
make Mademoiselle pay dear for the release of her lover. He caused a
proposition to be made to her, which was nothing less than to assure to
the Duc du Maine, and his posterity after her death, the countdom of Eu,
the Duchy of Aumale, and the principality of Domfes! The gift was
enormous, not only as regards the value, but the dignity and extent of
these three slices. Moreover, she had given the first two to Lauzun,
with the Duchy of Saint-Forgeon, and the fine estate of Thiers, in
Auvergne, when their marriage was broken off, and she would have been
obliged to make him renounce Eu and Aumale before she could have disposed
of them in favour of the Duc du Maine. Mademoiselle could not, make up
her mind to this yoke, or to strip Lauzun of such considerable benefits.
She was importuned to the utmost, finally menaced by the ministers, now
Louvois, now Colbert. With the latter she was better pleased, because he
had always been on good terms with Lauzun, and because he handled her
more gently than Louvois, who, an enemy of her lover, always spoke in the
harshest terms. Mademoiselle unceasingly felt that the King did not like
her, and that he had never pardoned her the Orleans journey, still less
her doings at the Bastille, when she fired its cannons upon the King's
troops, and saved thus M. le Prince and his people, at the combat of the
Faubourg Saint-Antoine. Feeling, therefore, that the King, hopelessly
estranged from her, and consenting to give liberty to Lauzun only from
his passion for elevating and enriching his bastards, would not cease to
persecute her until she had consented--despairing of better terms, she
agreed to the gift, with the most bitter tears and complaints. But it
was found that, in order to make valid the renunciation of Lauzun, he
must be set at liberty, so that it was pretended he had need of the
waters of Bourbon, and Madame de Montespan also, in order that they might
confer together upon this affair.

Lauzun was taken guarded to Bourbon by a detachment of musketeers,
commanded by Maupertuis. Lauzun saw Madame de Montespan at Bourbon; but
he was so indignant at the terms proposed to him as the condition of his
liberty, that after long disputes he would hear nothing more on the
subject, and was reconducted to Pignerol as he had been brought.

This firmness did not suit the King, intent upon the fortune of his well-
beloved bastard. He sent Madame de Nogent to Pignerol; then Borin (a
friend of Lauzun, and who was mixed up in all his affairs), with menaces
and promises. Borin, with great trouble, obtained the consent of Lauzun,
and brought about a second journey to Bourbon for him and Madame de
Montespan, with the same pretext of the waters. Lauzun was conducted
there as before, and never pardoned Maupertuis the severe pedantry of his
exactitude. This last journey was made in the autumn of 1680. Lauzun
consented to everything. Madame de Montespan returned triumphant.
Maupertuis and his musketeers took leave of Lauzun at Bourbon, whence he
had permission to go and reside at Angers; and immediately after, this
exile was enlarged, so that he had the liberty of all Anjou and Lorraine.
The consummation of the affair was deferred until the commencement of
February, 1681, in order to give him a greater air of liberty. Thus
Lauzun had from Mademoiselle only Saint-Forgeon and Thiers, after having
been on the point of marrying her, and of succeeding to all her immense
wealth. The Duc du Maine was instructed to make his court to
Mademoiselle, who always received him very coldly, and who saw him take
her arms, with much vexation, as a mark of his gratitude, in reality for
the Sake of the honour it brought him; for the arms were those of Gaston,
which the Comte de Toulouse afterwards took, not for the same reason, but
under pretext of conformity with his brother; and they have handed them
down to their children.

Lauzun, who had been led to expect much more gentle treatment, remained
four years in these two provinces, of which he grew as weary as was
Mademoiselle at his absence. She cried out in anger against Madame de
Montespan and her son; complained loudly that after having been so
pitilessly fleeced, Lauzun was still kept removed from her; and made such
a stir that at last she obtained permission for him to return to Paris,
with entire liberty; on condition, however, that he did not approach
within two leagues of any place where the King might be.

Lauzun came, therefore, to Paris, and assiduously visited his
benefactors. The weariness of this kind of exile, although so softened,
led him into high play, at which he was extremely successful; always a
good and sure player, and very straightforward, he gained largely.
Monsieur, who sometimes made little visits to Paris, and who played very
high, permitted him to join the gambling parties of the Palais Royal,
then those of Saint-Cloud. Lauzun passed thus several years, gaining and
lending much money very nobly; but the nearer he found himself to the
Court, and to the great world, the more insupportable became to him the
prohibition he had received.

Finally, being no longer able to bear it, he asked the King for
permission to go to England, where high play was much in vogue. He
obtained it, and took with him a good deal of money, which secured him an
open-armed reception in London, where he was not less successful than in

James II., then reigning, received Lauzun with distinction. But the
Revolution was already brewing. It burst after Lauzun had been in
England eight or ten months. It seemed made expressly for him, by the
success he derived from it, as everybody is aware. James II., no longer
knowing what was to become of him--betrayed by his favourites and his
ministers, abandoned by all his nation, the Prince of Orange master of
all hearts, the troops, the navy, and ready to enter London--the unhappy
monarch confided to Lauzun what he held most dear--the Queen and the
Prince of Wales, whom Lauzun happily conducted to Calais. The Queen at
once despatched a courier to the King, in the midst of the compliments of
which she insinuated that by the side of her joy at finding herself and
her son in security under his protection, was her grief at not daring to
bring with her him to whom she owed her safety.

The reply of the King, after much generous and gallant sentiment, was,
that he shared this obligation with her, and that he hastened to show it
to her, by restoring the Comte de Lauzun to favour.

In effect, when the Queen presented Lauzun to the King, in the Palace of
Saint-Germain (where the King, with all the family and all the Court,
came to meet her), he treated him as of old, gave him the privilege of
the grandes entrees, and promised him a lodging at Versailles, which he
received immediately after. From that day he always went to Marly, and
to Fontainebleau, and, in fact, never after quitted the Court. It may be
imagined what was the delight of such an ambitious courtier, so
completely re-established in such a sudden and brilliant manner. He had
also a lodging in the chateau of Saint-Germain, chosen as the residence
of this fugitive Court, at which King James soon arrived.

Lauzun, like a skilful courtier, made all possible use of the two Courts,
and procured for himself many interviews with the King, in which he
received minor commissions. Finally, he played his cards so well that
the King permitted him to receive in Notre Dame, at Paris, the Order of
the Garter, from the hands of the King of England, accorded to him at his
second passage into Ireland the rank of lieutenant-general of his
auxiliary army, and permitted at the same time that he should be of the
staff of the King of England, who lost Ireland during the same campaign
at the battle of the Boyne. He returned into France with the Comte de
Lauzun, for whom he obtained letters of the Duke; which were verified at
the Parliament in May, 1692. What a miraculous return of fortune! But
what a fortune, in comparison with that of marrying Mademoiselle, with
the donation of all her prodigious wealth, and the title and dignity of
Duke and Peer of Montpensier. What a monstrous pedestal! And with
children by this marriage, what a flight might not Lauzun have taken, and
who can say where he might have arrived?


I have elsewhere related Lauzun's humours, his notable wanton tricks, and
his rare singularity.

He enjoyed, during the rest of his long life, intimacy with the King,
distinction at the Court, great consideration, extreme abundance, kept up
the state of a great nobleman, with one of the most magnificent houses of
the Court, and the best table, morning and evening, most honourably
frequented, and at Paris the same, after the King's death: All this did
not content him. He could only approach the King with outside
familiarity; he felt that the mind and the heart of that monarch were on
their guard against him, and in an estrangement that not all his art nor
all his application could ever overcome. This is what made him marry my
sister-in-law, hoping thus to re-establish himself in serious intercourse
with the King by means of the army that M. le Marechal de Lorge commanded
in Germany; but his project failed, as has been seen. This is what made
him bring about the marriage of the Duc de Lorge with the daughter of
Chamillart, in order to reinstate himself by means of that ministry;
but without success. This is what made him undertake the journey to Aix-
la-Chapelle, under the pretext of the waters, to obtain information which
might lead to private interviews with the King, respecting the peace;
but he was again unsuccessful. All his projects failed; in fact, he
unceasingly sorrowed, and believed himself in profound disgrace--even
saying so. He left nothing undone in order to pay his court, at bottom
with meanness, but externally with dignity; and he every year celebrated
a sort of anniversary of his disgrace, by extraordinary acts, of which
ill-humour and solitude were oftentimes absurdly the fruit. He himself
spoke of it, and used to say that he was not rational at the annual
return of this epoch, which was stronger than he. He thought he pleased
the King by this refinement of attention, without perceiving he was
laughed at.

By nature he was extraordinary in everything, and took pleasure in
affecting to be more so, even at home, and among his valets. He
counterfeited the deaf and the blind, the better to see and hear without
exciting suspicion, and diverted himself by laughing at fools, even the
most elevated, by holding with them a language which had no sense. His
manners were measured, reserved, gentle, even respectful; and from his
low and honeyed tongue, came piercing remarks, overwhelming by their
justice, their force, or their satire, composed of two or three words,
perhaps, and sometimes uttered with an air of naivete or of distraction,
as though he was not thinking of what he said. Thus he was feared,
without exception, by everybody, and with many acquaintances he had few
or no friends, although he merited them by his ardor in seeing everybody
as much as he could, and by his readiness in opening his purse. He liked
to gather together foreigners of any distinction, and perfectly did the
honours of the Court. But devouring ambition poisoned his life; yet he
was a very good and useful relative.

During the summer which followed the death of Louis XIV. there was a
review of the King's household troops, led by M. le Duc d'Orleans, in the
plain by the side of the Bois de Boulogne. Passy, where M. de Lauzun had
a pretty house, is on the other side. Madame de Lauzun was there with
company, and I slept there the evening before the review. Madame de
Poitiers, a young widow, and one of our relatives, was there too, and was
dying to see the review, like a young person who has seen nothing, but
who dares not show herself in public in the first months of her mourning.

How she could be taken was discussed in the company, and it was decided
that Madame de Lauzun could conduct her a little way, buried in her
carriage. In the midst of the gaiety of this party, M. de Lauzun arrived
from Paris, where he had gone in the morning. He was told what had just
been decided. As soon as he learnt it he flew into a fury, was no longer
master of himself, broke off the engagement, almost foaming at the mouth;
said the most disagreeable things to his wife in the strongest, the
harshest, the most insulting, and the most foolish terms. She gently
wept; Madame de Poitiers sobbed outright, and all the company felt the
utmost embarrassment. The evening appeared an age, and the saddest
refectory repast a gay meal by the side of our supper. He was wild in
the midst of the profoundest silence; scarcely a word was said. He
quitted the table, as usual, at the fruit, and went to bed. An attempt
was made to say something afterwards by way of relief, but Madame de
Lauzun politely and wisely stopped the conversation, and brought out
cards in order to turn the subject.

The next morning I went to M. de Lauzun, in order to tell him in plain
language my opinion of the scene of the previous evening. I had not the
time. As soon as he saw me enter he extended his arms, and cried that I
saw a madman, who did not deserve my visit, but an asylum; passed the
strongest eulogies upon his wife (which assuredly she merited), said he
was not worthy of her, and that he ought to kiss the ground upon which
she walked; overwhelmed himself with blame; then, with tears in his eyes,
said he was more worthy of pity than of anger; that he must admit to me
all his shame and misery; that he was more than eighty years of age; that
he had neither children nor survivors; that he had been captain of the
guards; that though he might be so again, he should be incapable of the
function; that he unceasingly said this to himself, and that yet with all
this he could not console himself for having been so no longer during the
many years since he had lost his post; that he had never been able to
draw the dagger from his heart; that everything which recalled the memory
of the past made him beside himself, and that to hear that his wife was
going to take Madame de Poitiers to see a review of the body-guards, in
which he now counted for nothing, had turned his head, and had rendered
him wild to the extent I had seen; that he no longer dared show himself
before any one after this evidence of madness; that he was going to lock
himself up in his chamber, and that he threw himself at my feet in order
to conjure me to go and find his wife, and try to induce her to take pity
on and pardon a senseless old man, who was dying with grief and shame.
This admission, so sincere and so dolorous to make, penetrated me. I
sought only to console him and compose him. The reconciliation was not
difficult; we drew him from his chamber, not without trouble, and he
evinced during several days as much disinclination to show himself, as I
was told, for I went away in the evening, my occupations keeping me very

I have often reflected, apropos of this, upon the extreme misfortune of
allowing ourselves to be carried away by the intoxication of the world,
and into the formidable state of an ambitious man, whom neither riches
nor comfort, neither dignity acquired nor age, can satisfy, and who,
instead of tranquilly enjoying what he possesses, and appreciating the
happiness of it, exhausts himself in regrets, and in useless and
continual bitterness. But we die as we have lived, and 'tis rare it
happens otherwise. This madness respecting the captaincy of the guards
so cruelly dominated M. de Lauzun, that he often dressed himself in a
blue coat, with silver lace, which, without being exactly the uniform of
the captain of, the body-guards, resembled it closely, and would have
rendered him ridiculous if he had not accustomed people to it, made
himself feared, and risen above all ridicule.

With all his scheming and cringing he fell foul of everybody, always
saying some biting remark with dove-like gentleness. Ministers,
generals, fortunate people and their families, were the most ill-treated.
He had, as it were, usurped the right of saying and doing what he
pleased; nobody daring to be angry with him. The Grammonts alone were
excepted. He always remembered the hospitality and the protection he had
received from them at the outset of his life. He liked them; he
interested himself in them; he was in respect before them. Old Comte
Grammont took advantage of this and revenged the Court by the sallies he
constantly made against Lauzun, who never returned them or grew angry,
but gently avoided him. He always did a good deal for the children of
his sisters.

During the plague the Bishop of Marseilles had much signalised himself by
wealth spent and danger incurred. When the plague had completely passed
away, M. de Lauzun asked M. le Duc d'Orleans for an abbey for the Bishop.
The Regent gave away some livings soon after, and forgot M. de
Marseilles. Lauzun pretended to be ignorant of it, and asked M. le Duc
d'Orleans if he had had the goodness to remember him. The Regent was
embarrassed. The Duc de Lauzun, as though to relieve him from his
embarrassment, said, in a gentle and respectful tone, "Monsieur, he will
do better another time," and with this sarcasm rendered the Regent dumb,
and went away smiling. The story got abroad, and M. le Duc d'Orleans
repaired his forgetfulness by the bishopric of Laon, and upon the refusal
of M. de Marseilles to change, gave him a fat abbey.

M. de Lauzun hindered also a promotion of Marshal of France by the
ridicule he cast upon the candidates. He said to the Regent, with that
gentle and respectful tone he knew so well how to assume, that in case
any useless Marshals of France (as he said) were made, he begged his
Royal Highness to remember that he was the oldest lieutenant-general of
the realm, and that he had had the honour of commanding armies with the
patent of general. I have elsewhere related other of his witty remarks.
He could not keep them in; envy and jealousy urged him to utter them, and
as his bon-mots always went straight to the point, they were always much

We were on terms of continual intimacy; he had rendered me real solid
friendly services of himself, and I paid him all sorts of respectful
attentions, and he paid me the same. Nevertheless, I did not always
escape his tongue; and on one occasion, he was perhaps within an inch of
doing me much injury by it.

The King (Louis XIV.) was declining; Lauzun felt it, and began to think
of the future. Few people were in favour with M. le Duc d'Orleans;
nevertheless, it was seen that his grandeur was approaching. All eyes
were upon him, shining with malignity, consequently upon me, who for a
long time had been the sole courtier who remained publicly attached to
him, the sole in his confidence. M. de Lauzun came to dine at my house,
and found us at table. The company he saw apparently displeased him; for
he went away to Torcy, with whom I had no intimacy, and who was also at
table, with many people opposed to M. le Duc d'Orleans, Tallard, among
others, and Tesse.

"Monsieur," said Lauzun to Torcy, with a gentle and timid air, familiar
to him, "take pity upon me, I have just tried to dine with M. de Saint-
Simon. I found him at table, with company; I took care not to sit down
with them, as I did not wish to be the 'zeste' of the cabal. I have come
here to find one."

They all burst out laughing. The remark instantly ran over all
Versailles. Madame de Maintenon and M. du Maine at once heard it, and
nevertheless no sign was anywhere made. To have been angry would only
have been to spread it wider: I took the matter as the scratch of an ill-
natured cat, and did not allow Lauzun to perceive that I knew it.

Two or three years before his death he had an illness which reduced him
to extremity. We were all very assiduous, but he would see none of us,
except Madame de Saint-Simon, and her but once. Languet, cure of Saint-
Sulpice, often went to him, and discoursed most admirably to him. One
day, when he was there, the Duc de la Force glided into the chamber:
M. de Lauzun did not like him at all, and often laughed at him. He
received him tolerably well, and continued to talk aloud with the cure.

Suddenly he turned to the cure, complimented and thanked him, said he had
nothing more valuable to give him than his blessing, drew his arm from
the bed, pronounced the blessing, and gave it to him. Then turning to
the Duc de la Force, Lauzun said he had always loved and respected him as
the head of his house, and that as such he asked him for his blessing.

These two men, the cure and the Duc de la Force, were astonished, could
not utter a word. The sick man redoubled his instances. M. de la Force,
recovering himself, found the thing so amusing, that he gave his
blessing; and in fear lest he should explode, left the room, and came to
us in the adjoining chamber, bursting with laughter, and scarcely able to
relate what had happened to him.

A moment after, the cure came also, all abroad, but smiling as much as
possible, so as to put a good face on the matter. Lauzun knew that he
was ardent and skilful in drawing money from people for the building of a
church, and had often said he would never fall into his net; he suspected
that the worthy cure's assiduities had an interested motive, and laughed
at him in giving him only his blessing (which he ought to have received
from him), and in perseveringly asking the Duc de la Force for his. The
cure, who saw the point of the joke, was much mortified, but, like a
sensible man, he was not less frequent in his visits to M. de Lauzun
after this; but the patient cut short his visits, and would not
understand the language he spoke.

Another day, while he was still very ill, Biron and his wife made bold to
enter his room on tiptoe, and kept behind his curtains, out of sight, as
they thought; but he perceived them by means of the glass on the chimney-
piece. Lauzun liked Biron tolerably well, but Madame Biron not at all;
she was, nevertheless, his niece, and his principal heiress; he thought
her mercenary, and all her manners insupportable to him. In that he was
like the rest of the world. He was shocked by this unscrupulous entrance
into his chamber, and felt that, impatient for her inheritance, she came
in order to make sure of it, if he should die directly. He wished to
make her repent of this, and to divert himself at her expense. He
begins, therefore; to utter aloud, as though believing himself alone, an
ejaculatory orison, asking pardon of God for his past life, expressing
himself as though persuaded his death was nigh, and saying that, grieved
at his inability to do penance, he wishes at least to make use of all the
wealth he possesses, in order to redeem his sins, and bequeath that
wealth to the hospitals without any reserve; says it is the sole road to
salvation left to him by God, after having passed a long life without
thinking of the future; and thanks God for this sole resource left him,
which he adopts with all his heart!

He accompanied this resolution with a tone so touched, so persuaded, so
determined, that Biron and his wife did not doubt for a moment he was
going to execute his design, or that they should be deprived of all the
succession. They had no desire to spy any more, and went, confounded, to
the Duchesse de Lauzun, to relate to her the cruel decree they had just
heard pronounced, conjuring her to try and moderate it. Thereupon the
patient sent for the notaries, and Madame Biron believed herself lost.
It was exactly the design of the testator to produce this idea. He made
the notaries wait; then allowed them to enter, and dictated his will,
which was a death-blow to Madame de Biron. Nevertheless, he delayed
signing it, and finding himself better and better, did not sign it at
all. He was much diverted with this farce, and could not restrain his
laughter at it, when reestablished. Despite his age, and the gravity of
his illness, he was promptly cured and restored to his usual health.

He was internally as strong as a lion, though externally very delicate.
He dined and supped very heartily every day of an excellent and very
delicate cheer, always with good company, evening and morning; eating of
everything, 'gras' and 'maigre', with no choice except that of his taste
and no moderation. He took chocolate in the morning, and had always on
the table the fruits in season, and biscuits; at other times beer, cider,
lemonade, and other similar drinks iced; and as he passed to and fro, ate
and drank at this table every afternoon, exhorting others to do the same.
In this way he left table or the fruit, and immediately went to bed.

I recollect that once, among others, he ate at my house, after his
illness, so much fish, vegetables, and all sorts of things (I having no
power to hinder him), that in the evening we quietly sent to learn
whether he had not felt the effects of them. He was found at table
eating with good appetite.

His gallantry was long faithful to him. Mademoiselle was jealous of it,
and that often controlled him. I have heard Madame de Fontenelles ( a
very enviable woman, of much intelligence, very truthful, and of singular
virtue), I have heard her say, that being at Eu with Mademoiselle,
M. de Lauzun came there and could not desist from running after the
girls; Mademoiselle knew it, was angry, scratched him, and drove him from
her presence. The Comtesse de Fiesque reconciled them. Mademoiselle
appeared at the end of a long gallery; Lauzun was at the other end, and
he traversed the whole length of it on his knees until he reached the
feet of Mademoiselle. These scenes, more or less moving, often took
place afterwards. Lauzun allowed himself to be beaten, and in his turn
soundly beat Mademoiselle; and this happened several times, until at
last, tired of each other, they quarrelled once for all and never saw
each other again; he kept several portraits of her, however, in his house
or upon him, and never spoke of her without much respect. Nobody doubted
they had been secretly married. At her death he assumed a livery almost
black, with silver lace; this he changed into white with a little blue
upon gold, when silver was prohibited upon liveries.

His temper, naturally scornful and capricious, rendered more so by prison
and solitude, had made him a recluse and dreamer; so that having in his
house the best of company, he left them to Madame de Lauzun, and withdrew
alone all the afternoon, several hours running, almost always without
books, for he read only a few works of fancy--a very few--and without
sequence; so that he knew nothing except what he had seen, and until the
last was exclusively occupied with the Court and the news of the great
world. I have a thousand times regretted his radical incapacity to write
down what he had seen and done. It would have been a treasure of the
most curious anecdotes, but he had no perseverance, no application. I
have often tried to draw from him some morsels. Another misfortune. He
began to relate; in the recital names occurred of people who had taken
part in what he wished to relate. He instantly quitted the principal
object of the story in order to hang on to one of these persons, and
immediately after to some other person connected with the first, then to
a third, in the manner of the romances; he threaded through a dozen
histories at once, which made him lose ground and drove him from one to
the other without ever finishing anything; and with this his words were
very confused, so that it was impossible to learn anything from him or
retain anything he said. For the rest, his conversation was always
constrained by caprice or policy; and was amusing only by starts, and by
the malicious witticisms which sprung out of it. A few months after his
last illness, that is to say, when he was more than ninety years of age,
he broke in his horses and made a hundred passades at the Bois de
Boulogne (before the King, who was going to the Muette), upon a colt he
had just trained, surprising the spectators by his address, his firmness,
and his grace. These details about him might go on for ever.

His last illness came on without warning, almost in a moment, with the
most horrible of all ills, a cancer in the mouth. He endured it to the
last with incredible patience and firmness, without complaint, without
spleen, without the slightest repining; he was insupportable to himself.
When he saw his illness somewhat advanced, he withdrew into a little
apartment (which he had hired with this object in the interior of the
Convent of the Petits Augustins, into which there was an entrance from
his house) to die in repose there, inaccessible to Madame de Biron and
every other woman, except his wife, who had permission to go in at all
hours, followed by one of her attendants.

Into this retreat Lauzun gave access only to his nephews and brothers-in-
law, and to them as little as possible. He thought only of profiting by
his terrible state, of giving all his time to the pious discourses of his
confessor and of some of the pious people of the house, and to holy
reading; to everything, in fact, which best could prepare him for death.
When we saw him, no disorder, nothing lugubrious, no trace of suffering,
politeness, tranquillity, conversation but little animated, indifference
to what was passing in the world, speaking of it little and with
difficulty; little or no morality, still less talk of his state; and this
uniformity, so courageous and so peaceful, was sustained full four months
until the end; but during the last ten or twelve days he would see
neither brothers-in-law nor nephews, and as for his wife, promptly
dismissed her. He received all the sacraments very edifyingly, and
preserved his senses to the last moment: The morning of the day during
the night of which he died, he sent for Biron, said he had done for him
all that Madame de Lauzun had wished; that by his testament he gave him
all his wealth, except a trifling legacy to the son of his other sister,
and some recompenses to his domestics; that all he had done for him since
his marriage, and what he did in dying, he (Biron) entirely owed to
Madame de Lauzun; that he must never forget the gratitude he owed her;
that he prohibited him, by the authority of uncle and testator, ever to
cause her any trouble or annoyance, or to have any process against her,
no matter of what kind. It was Biron himself who told me this the next
day, in the terms I have given. M. de Lauzun said adieu to him in a firm
tone, and dismissed him. He prohibited, and reasonably, all ceremony; he
was buried at the Petits Augustins; he had nothing from the King but the
ancient company of the battle-axes, which was suppressed two days after.
A month before his death he had sent for Dillon (charged here with the
affairs of King James, and a very distinguished officer general), to whom
he surrendered his collar of the Order of the Garter, and a George of
onyx, encircled with perfectly beautiful and large diamonds, to be sent
back to the Prince.

I perceive at last, that I have been very prolix upon this man, but the
extraordinary singularity of his life, and my close connexion with him,
appear to me sufficient excuses for making him known, especially as he
did not sufficiently figure in general affairs to expect much notice in
the histories that will appear. Another sentiment has extended my
recital. I am drawing near a term I fear to reach, because my desires
cannot be in harmony with the truth; they are ardent, consequently
gainful, because the other sentiment is terrible, and cannot in any way
be palliated; the terror of arriving there has stopped me--nailed me
where I was--frozen me.

It will easily be seen that I speak of the death (and what a death!) of
M. le Duc d'Orleans; and this frightful recital, especially after such a
long attachment (it lasted all his life, and will last all mine),
penetrates me with terror and with grief for him. The Regent had said,
when he died he should like to die suddenly: I shudder to my very marrow,
with the horrible suspicion that God, in His anger, granted his desire.


The new chateau of Meudon, completely furnished, had been restored to me
since the return of the Court to Versailles, just as I had had it before
the Court came to Meudon. The Duc and Duchesse d'Humieres were with us
there, and good company. One morning towards the end of October, 1723,
the Duc d'Humieres wished me to conduct him to Versailles, to thank M. le
Duc d'Orleans.

We found the Regent dressing in the vault he used as his wardrobe. He
was upon his chair among his valets, and one or two of his principal
officers. His look terrified me. I saw a man with hanging head, a
purple-red complexion, and a heavy stupid air. He did not even see me
approach. His people told him. He slowly turned his head towards me,
and asked me with a thick tongue what brought me. I told him. I had
intended to pass him to come into the room where he dressed himself, so
as not to keep the Duc d'Humieres waiting; but I was so astonished that I
stood stock still.

I took Simiane, first gentleman of his chamber, into a window, and
testified to him my surprise and my fear at the state in which I saw M.
le Duc d'Orleans.

Simiane replied that for a long time he had been so in the morning; that
to-day there was nothing extraordinary about him, and that I was
surprised simply because I did not see him at those hours; that nothing
would be seen when he had shaken himself a little in dressing. There was
still, however, much to be seen when he came to dress himself. The
Regent received the thanks of the Duc d'Humieres with an astonished and
heavy air; he who always was so gracious and so polite to everybody, and
who so well knew how to express himself, scarcely replied to him! A
moment after, M. d'Humieres and I withdrew. We dined with the Duc de
Gesvres, who led him to the King to thank his Majesty.

The condition of M. le Duc d'Orleans made me make many reflections. For
a very long time the Secretaries of State had told me that during the
first hours of the morning they could have made him pass anything they
wished, or sign what might have been the most hurtful to him. It was the
fruit of his suppers. Within the last year he himself had more than once
told me that Chirac doctored him unceasingly, without effect; because he
was so full that he sat down to table every evening without hunger,
without any desire to eat, though he took nothing in the morning, and
simply a cup of chocolate between one and two o'clock in the day (before
everybody), it being then the time to see him in public. I had not kept
dumb with him thereupon, but all my representations were perfectly
useless. I knew moreover, that Chirac had continually told him that the
habitual continuance of his suppers would lead him to apoplexy, or dropsy
on the chest, because his respiration was interrupted at times; upon
which he had cried out against this latter malady, which was a slow,
suffocating, annoying preparation for death, saying that he preferred
apoplexy, which surprised and which killed at once, without allowing time
to think of it!

Another man, instead of crying out against this kind of death with which
he was menaced, and of preferring another, allowing him no time for
reflection, would have thought about leading a sober, healthy, and decent
life, which, with the temperament he had, would have procured him a very
long time, exceeding agreeable in the situation--very probably durable--
in which he found himself; but such was the double blindness of this
unhappy prince.

I was on terms of much intimacy with M. de Frejus, and since, in default
of M. le Duc d'Orleans, there must be another master besides the King,
until he could take command, I preferred this prelate to any other. I
went to him, therefore, and told him what I had seen this morning of the
state of M. le Duc d'Orleans. I predicted that his death must soon come,
and that it would arrive suddenly, without warning. I counselled Frejus,
therefore, to have all his arrangements ready with the King, in order to
fill up the Regent's place of prime minister when it should become
vacant. M. de Frejus appeared very grateful for the advice, but was
measured and modest as though he thought the post much above him!

On the 22nd of December, 1723, I went from Meudon to Versailles to see
M. le Duc d'Orleans; I was three-quarters of an hour with him in his
cabinet, where I had found him alone. We walked to and fro there,
talking of affairs of which he was going to give an account to the King
that day. I found no difference in him, his state was, as usual, languid
and heavy, as it had been for some time, but his judgment was clear as
ever. I immediately returned to Meudon, and chatted there some time with
Madame de Saint-Simon on arriving. On account of the season we had
little company. I left Madame de Saint-Simon in her cabinet, and went
into mine.

About an hour after, at most, I heard cries and a sudden uproar. I ran
out and I found Madame de Saint-Simon quite terrified, bringing to me a
groom of the Marquis de Ruffec, who wrote to me from Versailles, that
M. le Duc d'Orleans was in a apoplectic fit. I was deeply moved, but not
surprised; I had expected it, as I have shown, for a long time.
I impatiently waited for my carriage, which was a long while coming,
on account of the distance of the new chateau from the stables. I flung
myself inside; and was driven as fast as possible.

At the park gate I met another courier from M. de Ruffec, who stopped me,
and said it was all over. I remained there more than half an hour
absorbed in grief and reflection. At the end I resolved to go to
Versailles, and shut myself up in my rooms; I learnt there the
particulars of the event.

M. le Duc d'Orleans had everything prepared to go and work with the King.
While waiting the hour, he chatted with Madame Falari, one of his
mistresses. They were close to each other, both seated in armchairs,
when suddenly he fell against her, and never from that moment had the
slightest glimmer of consciousness.

La Falari, frightened as much as may be imagined, cried with all her
might for help, and redoubled her cries. Seeing that nobody replied, she
supported as best she could this poor prince upon the contiguous arms of
the two chairs, ran into the grand cabinet, into the chamber, into the
ante-chambers, without finding a soul; finally, into the court and the
lower gallery. It was the hour at which M. le Duc d'Orleans worked with
the King, an hour when people were sure no one would come and see him,
and that he had no need of them, because he ascended to the King's room
by the little staircase from his vault, that is to say his wardrobe. At
last La Falari found somebody, and sent the first who came to hand for
help. Chance; or rather providence, had arranged this sad event at a
time when everybody was ordinarily away upon business or visits, so that
a full half-hour elapsed before doctor or surgeon appeared, and about as
long before any domestics of M. le Duc d'Orleans could be found.

As soon as the faculty had examined the Regent; they judged his case
hopeless. He was hastily extended upon the floor, and bled, but he gave
not the slightest sign of life, do what they might to him. In an
instant, after the first announcement, everybody flocked to the spot; the
great and the little cabinet were full of people. In less than two hours
all was over, and little by little the solitude became as great as the
crowd had been. As soon as assistance came, La Falari flew away and
gained Paris as quickly as possible.

La Vrilliere was one of the first who learnt of the attack of apoplexy.
He instantly ran and informed the King and the Bishop of Frejus. Then M.
le Duc, like a skilful courtier, resolved to make the best of his time;
he at once ran home and drew up at all hazards the patent appointing M.
le Duc prime minister, thinking it probable that that prince would be
named. Nor was he deceived. At the first intelligence of apoplexy,
Frejus proposed M. le Duc to the King, having probably made his
arrangements in advance. M. le Duc arrived soon after, and entered the
cabinet where he saw the King, looking very sad, his eyes red and

Scarcely had he entered than Frejus said aloud to the King, that in the
loss he had sustained by the death of M. le Duc d'Orleans (whom he very
briefly eulogised), his Majesty could not do better than beg M. le Duc,
there present, to charge himself with everything, and accept the post of
prime minister M. le Duc d'Orleans had filled. The King, without saying
a word, looked at Frejus, and consented by a sign of the head, and M. le
Duc uttered his thanks.

La Vrilliere, transported with joy at the prompt policy he had followed,
had in his pocket the form of an oath taken by the prime minister, copied
from that taken by M. le Duc d'Orleans, and proposed to Frejus to
administer it immediately. Frejus proposed it to the King as a fitting
thing, and M. le Duc instantly took it. Shortly after, M. le Duc went
away; the crowd in the adjoining rooms augmented his suite, and in a
moment nothing was talked of but M. le Duc.

M. le Duc de Chartres (the Regent's son), very awkward, but a libertine,
was at Paris with an opera dancer he kept. He received the courier which
brought him the news of the apoplexy, and on the road (to Versailles),
another with the news of death. Upon descending from his coach, he found
no crowd, but simply the Duc de Noailles, and De Guiche, who very
'apertement' offered him their services, and all they could do for him.
He received them as though they were begging-messengers whom he was in a
hurry to get rid of, bolted upstairs to his mother, to whom he said he
had just met two men who wished to bamboozle him, but that he had not
been such a fool as to let them. This remarkable evidence of
intelligence, judgment, and policy, promised at once all that this prince
has since performed. It was with much trouble he was made to comprehend
that he had acted with gross stupidity; he continued, nevertheless, to
act as before.

He was not less of a cub in the interview I shortly afterwards had with
him. Feeling it my duty to pay a visit of condolence to Madame la
Duchesse d'Orleans, although I had not been on terms of intimacy with her
for a long while, I sent a message to her to learn whether my presence
would be agreeable. I was told that Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans would
be very glad to see me. I accordingly immediately went to her.

I found her in bed, with a few ladies and her chief officers around, and
M. le Duc de Chartres making decorum do double duty for grief. As soon
as I approached her she spoke to me of the grievous misfortune--not a
word of our private differences. I had stipulated thus. M. le Duc de
Chartres went away to his own rooms. Our dragging conversation I put an
end to as soon as possible.

From Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans I went to M. le Duc de Chartres. He
occupied the room his father had used before being Regent. They told me
he was engaged. I went again three times during the same morning. At
the last his valet de chambre was ashamed, and apprised him of my visit,
in despite of me. He came across the threshold of the door of his
cabinet, where he had been occupied with some very common people; they
were just the sort of people suited to him.

I saw a man before me stupefied and dumfounded, not afflicted, but so
embarrassed that he knew not where he was. I paid him the strongest, the
clearest, the most energetic of compliments, in a loud voice. He took
me, apparently, for some repetition of the Ducs de Guiche and de
Noailles, and did not do me the honour to reply one word.

I waited some moments, and seeing that nothing would come out of the
mouth of this image, I made my reverence and withdrew, he advancing not
one step to conduct me, as he ought to have done, all along his
apartment, but reburying himself in his cabinet. It is true that in
retiring I cast my eyes upon the company, right and left, who appeared to
me much surprised. I went home very weary of dancing attendance at the

The death of M. le Duc d'Orleans made a great sensation abroad and at
home; but foreign countries rendered him incomparably more justice, and
regretted him much more, than the French. Although foreigners knew his
feebleness, and although the English had strangely abused it, their
experience had not the less persuaded them of the range of his mind, of
the greatness of his genius and of his views, of his singular
penetration, of the sagacity and address of his policy, of the fertility
of his expedients and of his resources, of the dexterity of his conduct
under all changes of circumstances and events, of his clearness in
considering objects and combining things; of his superiority over his
ministers, and over those that various powers sent to him; of the
exquisite discernment he displayed in investigating affairs; of his
learned ability in immediately replying to everything when he wished.
The majority of our Court did not regret him, however. The life he had
led displeased the Church people; but more still, the treatment they had
received from his hands.

The day after death, the corpse of M. le Duc d'Orleans was taken from
Versailles to Saint-Cloud, and the next day the ceremonies commenced.
His heart was carried from Saint-Cloud to the Val de Grace by the
Archbishop of Rouen, chief almoner of the defunct Prince. The burial
took place at Saint-Denis, the funeral procession passing through Paris,
with the greatest pomp. The obsequies were delayed until the 12th of
February. M. le Duc de Chartres became Duc d'Orleans.

After this event, I carried out a determination I had long resolved on.
I appeared before the new masters of the realm as seldom as possible--
only, in fact, upon such occasions where it would have been inconsistent
with my position to stop away. My situation at the Court had totally
changed. The loss of the dear Prince, the Duc de Bourgogne, was the
first blow I had received. The loss of the Regent was the second. But
what a wide gulf separated these two men!


A good friend when a friend at all, which was rare
Artagnan, captain of the grey musketeers
Death came to laugh at him for the sweating labour he had taken
From bad to worse was easy
Others were not allowed to dream as he had lived
We die as we have lived, and 'tis rare it happens otherwise


A cardinal may be poisoned, stabbed, got rid of altogether
A good friend when a friend at all, which was rare
A King's son, a King's father, and never a King
A lingering fear lest the sick man should recover
A king is made for his subjects, and not the subjects for him
Admit our ignorance, and not to give fictions and inventions
Aptitude did not come up to my desire
Arranged his affairs that he died without money
Artagnan, captain of the grey musketeers
Believed that to undertake and succeed were only the same things
But with a crawling baseness equal to her previous audacity
Capacity was small, and yet he believed he knew everything
Compelled to pay, who would have preferred giving voluntarily
Conjugal impatience of the Duc de Bourgogne
Countries of the Inquisition, where science is a crime
Danger of inducing hypocrisy by placing devotion too high
Death came to laugh at him for the sweating labour he had taken
Depopulated a quarter of the realm
Desmarets no longer knew of what wood to make a crutch
Enriched one at the expense of the other
Exceeded all that was promised of her, and all that I had hoped
Few would be enriched at the expense of the many
For penance: "we must make our servants fast"
For want of better support I sustained myself with courage
Found it easier to fly into a rage than to reply
From bad to worse was easy
He had pleased (the King) by his drugs
He limped audaciously
He was often firm in promises
He was so good that I sometimes reproached him for it
He was born bored; he was so accustomed to live out of himself
He liked nobody to be in any way superior to him
He was scarcely taught how to read or write
He was accused of putting on an imperceptible touch of rouge
Height to which her insignificance had risen
His death, so happy for him and so sad for his friends
His habits were publicly known to be those of the Greeks
His great piety contributed to weaken his mind
I abhorred to gain at the expense of others
Ignorance and superstition the first of virtues
Imagining themselves everywhere in marvellous danger of capture
In order to say something cutting to you, says it to himself
Indiscreet and tyrannical charity
Interests of all interested painted on their faces
It is a sign that I have touched the sore point
Jesuits: all means were good that furthered his designs
Juggle, which put the wealth of Peter into the pockets of Paul
King was being wheeled in his easy chair in the gardens
Less easily forget the injuries we inflict than those received
Madame de Maintenon in returning young and poor from America
Make religion a little more palpable
Manifesto of a man who disgorges his bile
Mightily tired of masters and books
Monseigneur, who had been out wolf-hunting
More facility I have as King to gratify myself
My wife went to bed, and received a crowd of visitors
Never been able to bend her to a more human way of life
Never was a man so ready with tears, so backward with grief
No means, therefore, of being wise among so many fools
Not allowing ecclesiastics to meddle with public affairs
Of a politeness that was unendurable
Oh, my lord! how many virtues you make me detest
Omissions must be repaired as soon as they are perceived
Others were not allowed to dream as he had lived
People who had only sores to share
People with difficulty believe what they have seen
Persuaded themselves they understood each other
Polite when necessary, but insolent when he dared
Pope excommunicated those who read the book or kept it
Pope not been ashamed to extol the Saint-Bartholomew
Promotion was granted according to length of service
Received all the Court in her bed
Reproaches rarely succeed in love
Revocation of the edict of Nantes
Rome must be infallible, or she is nothing
Said that if they were good, they were sure to be hated
Saw peace desired were they less inclined to listen to terms
Scarcely any history has been written at first hand
Seeing him eat olives with a fork!
She lose her head, and her accomplice to be broken on the wheel
Spark of ambition would have destroyed all his edifice
Spoil all by asking too much
Spoke only about as much as three or four women
Supported by unanswerable reasons that did not convince
Suspicion of a goitre, which did not ill become her
Teacher lost little, because he had little to lose
The clergy, to whom envy is not unfamiliar
The porter and the soldier were arrested and tortured
The shortness of each day was his only sorrow
The most horrible sights have often ridiculous contrasts
The argument of interest is the best of all with monks
The nothingness of what the world calls great destinies
The safest place on the Continent
There was no end to the outrageous civilities of M. de Coislin
Touched, but like a man who does not wish to seem so
Unreasonable love of admiration, was his ruin
We die as we have lived, and 'tis rare it happens otherwise
Whatever course I adopt many people will condemn me
Whitehall, the largest and ugliest palace in Europe
Who counted others only as they stood in relation to himself
Wise and disdainful silence is difficult to keep under reverses
With him one's life was safe
World; so unreasoning, and so little in accord with itself


Being Secret Memoirs of Madame du Hausset, Lady's Maid to Madame
de Pompadour, and of an unknown English Girl and the Princess Lamballe



We were obliged by circumstances, at one time, to read all the published
memoirs relative to the reign of Louis XV., and had the opportunity of
reading many others which may not see the light for a long time yet to
come, as their publication at present would materially militate against
the interest of the descendants of the writers; and we have no hesitation
in saying that the Memoirs of Madame du Hausset are the only perfectly
sincere ones amongst all those we know. Sometimes, Madame du Hausset
mistakes, through ignorance, but never does she wilfully mislead, like
Madame Campan, nor keep back a secret, like Madame Roland, and MM.
Bezenval and Ferreires; nor is she ever betrayed by her vanity to invent,
like the Due de Lauzun, MM. Talleyrand, Bertrand de Moleville, Marmontel,
Madame d'Epinay, etc. When Madame du Hausset is found in contradiction
with other memoirs of the same period, we should never hesitate to give
her account the preference. Whoever is desirous of accurately knowing
the reign of Louis XV. should run over the very wretched history of
Lacretelle, merely for the, dates, and afterwards read the two hundred
pages of the naive du Hausset, who, in every half page, overturns half a
dozen misstatements of this hollow rhetorician. Madame du Hausset was
often separated from the little and obscure chamber in the Palace of
Versailles, where resided the supreme power, only by a slight door or
curtain, which permitted her to hear all that was said there. She had
for a 'cher ami' the greatest practical philosopher of that period, Dr.
Quesnay, the founder of political economy. He was physician to Madame de
Pompadour, and one of the sincerest and most single-hearted of men
probably in Paris at the time. He explained to Madame du Hausset many
things that, but for his assistance, she would have witnessed without


A friend of M. de Marigny (the brother of Madame de Pompadour) called on
him one day and found him burning papers. Taking up a large packet which
he was going to throw into the fire "This," said he, "is the journal of a
waiting-woman of my sister's. She was a very estimable person, but it is
all gossip; to the fire with it!" He stopped, and added, "Don't you
think I am a little like the curate and the barber burning Don Quixote's

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