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The Memoirs of Louis XIV., His Court and The Regency, Complete by Duc de Saint-Simon

Part 17 out of 20

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To go back, now, to the remaining events of the year 1719.

The Marquise de Charlus, sister of Mezieres, and mother of the Marquis de
Levi, who has since become a duke and a peer, died rich and old. She was
the exact picture of an "old clothes" woman and was thus subject to many
insults from those who did not know her, which she by no means relished.
To relieve a little the seriousness of these memoirs, I will here relate
an amusing adventure of which she was heroine.

She was very avaricious, and a great gambler. She would have passed the
night up to her knees in water in order to play. Heavy gambling at
lansquenet was carried on at Paris in the evening, at Madame la Princesse
de Conti's. Madame de Charlus supped there one Friday, between the
games, much company being present. She was no better clad than at other
times, and wore a head-dress, in vogue at that day, called commode, not
fastened, but put on or taken off like a wig or a night-cap. It was
fashionable, then, to wear these headdresses very high.

Madame de Charlus was near the Archbishop of Rheims, Le Tellier. She
took a boiled egg, that she cracked, and in reaching for some salt, set
her head dress on fire, at a candle near, without perceiving it. The
Archbishop, who saw her all in flames, seized the head-dress and flung it
upon the ground. Madame de Charlus, in her surprise, and indignant at
seeing her self thus uncovered, without knowing why, threw her egg in the
Archbishop's face, and made him a fine mess.

Nothing but laughter was heard; and all the company were in convulsions
of mirth at the grey, dirty, and hoary head of Madame de Charlus, and the
Archbishop's omelette; above all, at the fury and abuse of Madame de
Charlus, who thought she had been affronted, and who was a long time
before she would understand the cause, irritated at finding herself thus
treated before everybody. The head-dress was burnt, Madame la Princesse
de Conti gave her another, but before it was on her head everybody had
time to contemplate her charms, and she to grow in fury. Her, husband
died three months after her. M. de Levi expected to find treasures;
there had been such; but they had taken wing and flown away.

About this time appeared some verses under the title of Philippiques,
which were distributed with extraordinary promptitude and abundance. La
Grange, formerly page of Madame la Princesse de Conti, was the author,
and did not deny it. All that hell could vomit forth, true and false,
was expressed in the most beautiful verses, most poetic in style, and
with all the art and talent imaginable. M. le Duc d'Orleans knew it, and
wished to see the poem, but he could not succeed in getting it, for no
one dared to show it to him.

He spoke of it several times to me, and at last demanded with such
earnestness that I should bring it to him, that I could not refuse. I
brought it to him accordingly, but read it to him I declared I never
would. He took it, therefore, and read it in a low tone, standing in the
window of his little cabinet, where we were. He judged it in reading
much as it was, for he stopped from time to time to speak to me, and
without appearing much moved. But all on a sudden I saw him change
countenance, and turn towards me, tears in his eyes, and himself ready to

"Ah," said he, "this is too much, this horrible poem beats me

He was at the part where the scoundrel shows M. le Duc d'Orleans having
the design to poison the King, and quite ready to execute his crime.
It is the part where the author redoubles his energy, his poetry, his
invocations, his terrible and startling beauties, his invectives, his
hideous pictures, his touching portraits of the youth and innocence of
the King, and of the hopes he has, adjuring the nation to save so dear a
victim from the barbarity of a murderer; in a word, all that is most
delicate, most tender, stringent, and blackest, most pompous, and most
moving, is there.

I wished to profit by the dejected silence into which the reading of this
poem had thrown M. le Duc d'Orleans, to take from him the execrable
paper, but I could not succeed; he broke out into just complaints against
such horrible wickedness, and into tenderness for the King; then finished
his reading, that he interrupted more than once to speak to me. I never
saw a man so penetrated, so deeply touched, so overwhelmed with injustice
so enormous and sustained. As for me, I could not contain myself. To
see him, the most prejudiced, if of good faith, would have been convinced
he was innocent of the come imputed to him, by the horror he displayed at
it. I have said all, when I state that I recovered myself with
difficulty, and that I had all the pains in the world to compose him a

This La Grange, who was of no personal value, yet a good poet--only that,
and never anything else--had, by his poetry, insinuated himself into
Sceaux, where he had become one of the great favourites of Madame du
Maine. She and her husband knew his life, his habits, and his mercenary
villainy. They knew, too, haw to profit by it. He was arrested shortly
afterwards, and sent to the Isle de Sainte Marguerite, which he obtained
permission to leave before the end of the Regency. He had the audacity
to show himself everywhere in Paris, and while he was appearing at the
theatres and in all public places, people had the impudence to spread the
report that M. le Duc d'Orleans had had him killed! M. le Duc d'Orleans
and his enemies have been equally indefatigable; the latter in the
blackest villainies, the Prince in the most unfruitful clemency, to call
it by no more expressive name.

Before the Regent was called to the head of public affairs, I recommended
him to banish Pere Tellier when he had the power to do so. He did not
act upon my advice, or only partially; nevertheless, Tellier was
disgraced, and after wandering hither and thither, a very firebrand
wherever he went, he was confined by his superiors in La Fleche.

This tyrant of the Church, furious that he could no longer move, which
had been his sole consolation during the end of his reign and his
terrible domination, found himself at La Fleche, reduced to a position as
insupportable as it was new to him.

The Jesuits, spies of each other, and jealous and envious of those who
have the superior authority, are marvellously ungrateful towards those
who, having occupied high posts, or served the company with much labour
and success, become useless to it, by their age or their infirmities.
They regard them with disdain, and instead of bestowing upon them the
attention merited by their age, their services, and their merit, leave
them in the dreariest solitude, and begrudge them even their food!

I have with my own eyes seen three examples of this in these Jesuits, men
of much piety and honour, who hid filled positions of confidence and of
talent, and with whom I was very intimate. The first had been rector of
their establishment at Paris, was distinguished by excellent works of
piety, and was for several years assistant of the general at Rome, at the
death of whom he returned to Paris; because the rule is, that the new
general has new assistants. Upon his return to the Paris establishment
he was put into a garret, at the very top of the house, amid solitude,
contempt, and want.

The direction of the royal conscience had been the principal occupation
of the two others, one of whom had even been proposed as confessor to
Madame la Dauphine. One was long ill of a malady he died of. He was not
properly nourished, and I sent him his dinner every day, for more than
five months, because I had seen his pittance. I sent him even remedies,
for he could not refrain from admitting to me that he suffered from the
treatment he was subjected to.

The third, very old and very infirm, had not a better fate. At last,
being no longer able to hold out, he asked to be allowed to pay a visit
to my Versailles house (after having explained himself to me), under
pretext of fresh air. He remained there several months, and died at the
noviciate in Paris. Such is the fate of all the Jesuits, without
excepting the most famous, putting aside a few who having shone at the
Court and in the world by their sermons and their merit, and having made
many friends--as Peres Bordaloue, La Rue, Gaillard--have been guaranteed
from the general disgrace, because, often visited by the principal
persons of the Court and the town, policy did not permit them to be
treated like the rest, for fear of making so many considerable people
notice what they would not have suffered without disturbance and scandal.

It was, then, in this abandonment and this contempt that Pere Tellier
remained at La Fleche, although he had from the Regent four thousand
livres pension. He had ill-treated everybody. When he was confessor of
the King, not one of his brethren approached him without trembling,
although most of them were the "big-wigs" of the company. Even the
general of the company was forced to bend beneath the despotism he
exercised upon all. There was not a Jesuit who did not disapprove the
violence of his conduct, or who did not fear it would injure the society.
All hated him, as a minister is hated who is coarse, harsh, inaccessible,
egotistical, and who takes pleasure in showing his power and his disdain.

His exile, and the conduct that drew it upon him, were fresh motives for
hatred against him, unveiling, as they did, a number of secret intrigues
he had been concerned in, and which he had great interest in hiding. All
these things together did not render agreeable to Tellier his forced
retirement at La Fleche. He found there sharp superiors and equals,
instead of the general terror his presence had formerly caused among the
Jesuits. All now showed nothing but contempt for him, and took pleasure
in making him sensible of it. This King of the Church, in part of the
State, and in private of his society, became a common Jesuit like the
rest, and under superiors; it may be imagined what a hell this was to a
man so impetuous and so accustomed to a domination without reply, and
without bounds, and abused in every fashion. Thus he did not endure it
long. Nothing more was heard of him, and he died after having been only
six months at La Fleche.

There was another death, which I may as well mention here, as it occurred
about the same time.

On Saturday evening, the 15th of April, 1719, the celebrated and fatal
Madame de Maintenon died at Saint-Cyr. What a stir this event would have
made in Europe, had it happened a few years earlier. It was scarcely
mentioned in Paris!

I have already said so much respecting this woman, so unfortunately
famous, that I will say but little more now. Her life at Saint-Cyr was
divided between her spiritual duties, the letters she received, from her
religious correspondents, and the answers she gave to them. She took the
communion twice a-week, ordinarily between seven and eight o'clock in the
morning; not, as Dangeau says in his Memoires, at midnight or every day.
She was very rich, having four thousand livres pension per month from the
Regent, besides other emoluments. She had, too, her estate at Maintenon,
and some other property. With all this wealth, too, she had not a
farthing of expense at Saint-Cyr. Everything was provided for herself
and servants and their horses, even wood, coals, and candles. She had
nothing to buy, except dress for herself and for her people. She kept a
steward, a valet, people for the horses and the kitchen, a coach, seven
or eight horses, one or two others for the saddle, besides having the
young ladies of Saint-Cyr, chambermaids, and Mademoiselle d'Aumale to
wait upon her.

The fall of the Duc du Maine at the Bed of justice struck the first blow
at her. It is not too much to presume that she was well informed of the
measures and the designs of this darling, and that this hope had
sustained her; but when she saw him arrested she succumbed; continuous
fever seized her, and she died at eighty-three years of age, in the full
possession of all her intellect.

Regret for her loss, which was not even universal in Saint-Cyr, scarcely
passed the walls of that community. Aubigny, Archbishop of Rouen, her
pretended cousin, was the only man I ever heard of, who was fool enough
to die of grief on account of it. But he was so afflicted by this loss,
that he fell ill, and soon followed her.


Madame la Duchesse de Berry was living as usual, amid the loftiest pride,
and the vilest servitude; amid penitence the most austere at the
Carmelite convent of the Faubourg Saint-Germain, and suppers the most
profaned by vile company, filthiness, and impiety; amid the most
shameless debauchery, and the most horrible fear of the devil and death;
when lo! she fell ill at the Luxembourg.

I must disguise nothing more, especially as what I am relating belongs to
history; and never in these memoirs have I introduced details upon
gallantry except such as were necessary to the proper comprehension of
important or interesting matters to which they related. Madame la
Duchesse de Berry would constrain herself in nothing; she was indignant
that people would dare to speak of what she did not take the trouble to
hide from them; and nevertheless she was grieved to death that her
conduct was known.

She was in the family way by Rion, but hid--it as much as she could.
Madame de Mouchy was their go-between, although her conduct was as clear
as day. Rion and Mouchy, in fact, were in love with each other, and had
innumerable facilities for indulging their passion. They laughed at the
Princess, who was their dupe, and from whom they drew in council all they
could. In one word, they were the masters of her and of her household,
and so insolently, that M. le Duc and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, who
knew them and hated them, feared them also and temporised with them.
Madame de Saint-Simon, sheltered from all that, extremely loved and
respected by all the household, and respected even by this couple who
made themselves so much dreaded and courted, only saw Madame la Duchesse
de Berry during the moments of presentation at the Luxembourg, whence she
returned as soon as all was finished, entirely ignorant of what was
passing, though she might have been perfectly instructed.

The illness of Madame la Duchesse de Berry came on, and this illness, ill
prepared for by suppers washed down by wine and strong liquors, became
stormy and dangerous. Madame de Saint-Simon could not avoid becoming
assiduous in her attendance as soon as the peril appeared, but she never
would yield to the instances of M. le Duc and Madame la Duchesse
d'Orleans, who, with all the household; wished her to sleep in the
chamber allotted to her, and which she never put foot in, not even during
the day. She found Madame la Duchesse de Berry shut up in a little
chamber, which had private entrances--very useful just then, with no one
near her but La Mouchy and Rion, and a few trusty waiting-women. All in
attendance had free entrance to this room. M. le Duc and Madame la
Duchesse d'Orleans were not allowed to enter when they liked; of course
it was the same with the lady of honour, the other ladies, the chief
femme de chambre, and the doctors. All entered from time to time, but
ringing for an instant. A bad headache or want of sleep caused them
often to be asked to stay away, or, if they entered, to leave directly
afterwards. They did not press their presence upon the sick woman,
knowing only too well the nature of her malady; but contented themselves
by asking after her through Madame de Mouchy, who opened the door to
reply to them, keeping it scarcely ajar: This ridiculous proceeding
passed before the crowd of the Luxembourg, of the Palais Royal, and of
many other people who, for form's sake or for curiosity, came to inquire
the news, and became common town-talk.

The danger increasing, Languet, a celebrated cure of Saint-Sulpice, who
had always rendered himself assiduous, spoke of the sacraments to M. le
Duc d'Orleans. The difficulty was how to enter and propose them to
Madame la Duchesse de Berry. But another and greater difficulty soon
appeared. It was this: the cure, like a man knowing his duty, refused to
administer the sacrament, or to suffer it to be administered, while Rion
or Madame de Mouchy remained in the chamber, or even in the Luxembourg!
He declared this aloud before everybody, expressly in presence of M. le
Duc d'Orleans, who was less shocked than embarrassed. He took the cure
aside, and for a long time tried to make him give way. Seeing him
inflexible, he proposed reference to the Cardinal de Noailles. The cure
immediately agreed, and promised to defer to his orders, Noailles being
his bishop, provided he was allowed to explain his reasons. The affair
passed, and Madame la Duchesse de Berry made confession to a Cordelier,
her confessor. M. le Duc d'Orleans flattered himself, no doubt, he would
find the diocesan more flexible than the cure. If he hoped so he
deceived himself.

The Cardinal de Noailles arrived; M. le Duc d'Orleans took him aside with
the cure, and their conversation lasted more than half an hour. As the
declaration of the cure had been public, the Cardinal Archbishop of Paris
judged it fitting that his should be so also. As all three approached
the door of the chamber, filled with company, the Cardinal de Noailles
said aloud to the cure, that he had very worthily done his duty, that he
expected nothing less from such a good, experienced, and enlightened man
as he was; that he praised him for what he had demanded before
administering the sacrament to Madame la Duchesse de Berry; that he
exhorted him not to give in, or to suffer himself to be deceived upon so
important a thing; and that if he wanted further authorisation he, as his
bishop, diocesan, and superior, prohibited him from administering the
sacraments, or allowing them to be administered, to Madame la Duchesse de
Berry while Rion and Madame de Mouchy were in the chamber, or even in the

It may be imagined what a stir such inevitable scandal as this made in a
room so full of company; what embarrassment it caused M. le Duc
d'Orleans, and what a noise it immediately made everywhere. Nobody, even
the chiefs of the constitution, the mass without, enemies of the Cardinal
de Noailles, the most fashionable bishops, the most distinguished women,
the libertines even--not one blamed the cure or his archbishop: some
because they knew the rules of the Church, and did not dare to impugn
them; others, the majority, from horror of the conduct of Madame la
Duchesse de Berry, and hatred drawn upon her by her pride.

Now came the question between the Regent, the Cardinal, and the cure,
which should announce this determination to Madame la Duchesse de Berry,
who in no way expected it, and who, having confessed, expected every
moment to see the Holy Sacrament enter, and to take it. After a short
colloquy urged on by the state of the patient, the Cardinal and the cure
withdrew a little, while M. le Duc d'Orleans slightly opened the door and
called Madame de Mouchy. Then, the door ajar, she within, he without, he
told her what was in debate. La Mouchy, much astonished, still more
annoyed, rode the high horse, talked of her merit, and of the affront
that bigots wished to cast upon her and Madame la Duchesse de Berry, who
would never suffer it or consent to it, and that she would die--in the
state she was--if they had the impudence and the cruelty to tell it to

The conclusion was that La Mouchy undertook to announce to Madame la
Duchesse de Berry the resolution that had been taken respecting the
sacraments--what she added of her own may be imagined. A negative
response did not fail to be quickly delivered to M. le Duc d'Orleans
through the half-opened door. Coming through such a messenger, it was
just the reply he might have expected. Immediately after, he repeated it
to the Cardinal, and to the cure; the cure, being supported by his
archbishop, contented himself with shrugging his shoulders. But the
Cardinal said to M. le Duc d'Orleans that Madame de Mouchy, one of the
two who ought to be sent away, was not a fit person to bring Madame la
Duchesse to reason; that it was his duty to carry this message to her,
and to exhort her to do her duty as a Christian shortly about to appear
before God; and the Archbishop pressed the Regent to go and say so to
her. It will be believed, without difficulty, that his eloquence gained
nothing. This Prince feared too much his daughter, and would have been
but a feeble apostle with her.

Reiterated refusals determined the Cardinal to go and speak to Madame la
Duchesse de Berry, accompanied by the cure, and as he wished to set about
it at once, M. le Duc d'Orleans, who did not dare to hinder him, but who
feared some sudden and dangerous revolution in his daughter at the sight
and at the discourses of the two pastors, conjured him to wait until
preparations could be made to receive him. He went, therefore, and held
another colloquy through the door with Madame de Mouchy, the success of
which was equal to the other. Madame la Duchesse de Berry flew into
fury, railed in unruly terms against these hypocritical humbugs, who took
advantage of her state and their calling to dishonour her by an unheard-
of scandal, not in the least sparing her father for his stupidity and
feebleness in allowing it. To have heard her, you would have thought
that the cure and the Cardinal ought to be kicked downstairs.

M. le Duc d'Orleans returned to the ecclesiastics, looking very small,
and not knowing what to do between his daughter and them. However, he
said to them that she was so weak and suffering that they must put off
their visit, persuading them as well as he could. The attention and
anxiety of the large company which filled the room were extreme:
everything was known afterwards, bit by bit, during the day.

The Cardinal de Noailles remained more than two hours with M. le Duc
d'Orleans, round whom people gathered at last. The Cardinal, seeing that
he could not enter the chamber without a sort of violence, much opposed
to persuasion, thought it indecent and useless to wait any longer. In
going away, he reiterated his orders to the cure, and begged him to watch
so as not to be deceived respecting the sacraments, lest attempts were
made to administer them clandestinely. He afterwards approached Madame
de Saint-Simon, took her aside, related to her what had passed, and
deplored with her a scandal that he had not been able to avoid. M. le
Duc d'Orleans hastened to announce to his daughter the departure of the
Cardinal, at which he himself was much relieved. But on leaving the
chamber he was astonished to find the cure glued against the door, and
still more so to hear he had taken up his post there, and meant to
remain, happen what might, because he did not wish to be deceived
respecting the sacraments. And, indeed, he remained there four days and
four nights, except during short intervals for food and repose that he
took at home, quite close to the Luxembourg, and during which his place
was filled by two priests whom he left there. At last, the danger being
passed, he raised the siege.

Madame la Duchesse de Berry, safely delivered of a daughter, had nothing
to do but to re-establish herself; but she remained firm against the cure
and the Cardinal de Noailles, neither of whom she ever pardoned. She
became more and more bewitched by the two lovers, who laughed at her, and
who were attached to her only for their fortune and their interest. She
remained shut up without seeing M. and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans,
except for a few moments; no one, commencing with Madame de Saint-Simon,
showed any eagerness to see her, for everybody knew what kept the door

Madame la Duchesse de Berry, infinitely pained by the manner in which
everybody, even the people, looked upon her malady, thought to gain a
little lost ground by throwing open the gardens of the Luxembourg to the
public, after having long since closed them. People were glad: they
profited by the act; that was all. She made a vow that she would give
herself up to religion, and dress in white--that is, devote herself to
the service of the Virgin--for six months. This vow made people laugh a

Her illness had begun on the 26th of March, 1719, and Easter-day fell on
the 9th of April. She was then quite well, but would not see a soul. A
new cause of annoyance had arisen to trouble her. Rion, who saw himself
so successful as the lover of Madame la Duchesse de Berry, wished to
improve his position by becoming her husband. He was encouraged in this
desire by his uncle, M. de Lauzun, who had also advised him to treat her
with the rigour, harshness--nay, brutality, which I have already
described. The maxim of M. de Lauzun was, that the Bourbons must be ill-
used and treated with a high hand in order to maintain empire over them.
Madame de Mouchy was as strongly in favour of this marriage as Rion. She
knew she was sure of her lover, and that when he became the husband of
Madame la Duchesse de Berry, all the doors which shut intimacy would be
thrown down. A secret marriage accordingly took place.

This marriage gave rise to violent quarrels, and much weeping. In order
to deliver herself from these annoyances, and at the same time steer
clear of Easter, the Duchess resolved to go away to Meudon on Easter
Monday. It was in vain that the danger was represented to her, of the
air, of the movement of the coach, and of the change of place at the end
of a fortnight. Nothing could make her endure Paris any longer. She set
out, therefore, followed by Rion and the majority of her ladies and her

M. le Duc d'Orleans informed me then of the fixed design of Madame la
Duchesse de Berry to declare the secret marriage she had just made with
Rion. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans was at Montmartre for a few days, and
we were walking in the little garden of her apartments. The marriage did
not surprise me much, knowing the strength of her passion, her fear of
the devil, and the scandal which had just happened. But I was
astonished, to the last degree, at this furious desire to declare the
marriage, in a person so superbly proud.

M. le Duc d'Orleans dilated upon his troubles, his anger, that of Madame
(who wished to proceed to the most violent extremities), and the great
resolve of Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans. Fortunately the majority of the
officers destined to serve against Spain, (war with that country had just
been declared) were leaving every day, and Rion had remained solely on
account of the illness of Madame la Duchesse de Berry, M. le Duc
d'Orleans thought the shortest plan would be to encourage hope by delay,
in forcing Rion to depart, flattering himself that the declaration would
be put off much more easily in his absence than in his presence. I
strongly approved this idea, and on the morrow, Rion received at Meudon a
curt and positive order to depart at once and join his regiment in the
army of the Duc de Berwick. Madame la Duchesse de Berry was all the more
outraged, because she knew the cause of this order, and consequently felt
her inability to hinder its execution. Rion on his side did not dare to
disobey it. He set out, therefore; and M. le Duc d'Orleans, who had not
yet been to Meudon, remained several days without going there.

Father and daughter feared each other, and this departure had not put
them on better terms. She had told him, and repeated it, that she was a
rich widow, mistress of her own actions, independent of him; had flown
into a fury, and terribly abused M. le Duc d'Orleans when he tried to
remonstrate with her. He had received much rough handling from her at
the Luxembourg when she was better; it was the same at Meudon during the
few visits he paid her there. She wished to declare her marriage; and
all the art, intellect, gentleness, anger, menace, prayers, and interest
of M. le Duc d'Orleans barely sufficed to make her consent to a brief

If Madame had been listened to, the affair would have been finished
before the journey to Meudon; for M. le Duc d'Orleans would have thrown
Rion out of the windows of the Luxembourg!

The premature journey to Meudon, and quarrels so warm, were not
calculated to re-establish a person just returned from the gates of
death. The extreme desire she had to hide her state from the public, and
to conceal the terms on which she was with her father ( for the rarity of
his visits to her began to be remarked), induced her to give a supper to
him on the terrace of Meudon about eight o'clock one evening. In vain
the danger was represented to her of the cool evening air so soon after
an illness such as she had just suffered from, and which had left her
health still tottering. It was specially on this account that she stuck
more obstinately to her supper on the terrace, thinking that it would
take away all suspicion she had been confined, and induce the belief that
she was on the same terms as ever with M. le Duc d'Orleans, though the
uncommon rarity of his visits to her had been remarked.

This supper in the open air did not succeed. The same night she was
taken ill. She was attacked by accidents, caused by the state in which
she still was, and by an irregular fever, that the opposition she met
with respecting the declaration of her marriage did not contribute to
diminish. She grew disgusted with Meudon, like people ill in body and
mind, who in their grief attribute everything to the air and the place.
She was annoyed at the few visits she received from M. le Duc and Madame
la Duchesse d'Orleans,-her pride, however, suffering more than her

In despite of all reason, nothing could hinder her from changing her
abode. She was transferred from Meudon to the Muette, wrapped up in
sheets, and in a large coach, on Sunday, the 14th of May, 1719. Arrived
so near Paris, she hoped M. le Duc and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans would
come and see her more frequently, if only for form's sake.

This journey was painful by the sufferings it caused her, added to those
she already had, which no remedies could appease, except for short
intervals, and which became very violent. Her illness augmented; but
hopes and fears sustained her until the commencement of July. During all
this time her desire to declare her marriage weakened, and M. le Duc and
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans, as well as Madame, who passed the summer at
Saint-Cloud, came more frequently to see her. The month of July became
more menacing because of the augmentation of pain and fever. These ills
increased so much, in fact, that, by the 14th of July, fears for her life
began to be felt.

The night of the 14th was so stormy, that M. le Duc d'Orleans was sent to
at the Palais Royal, and awakened. At the same time Madame de Pons wrote
to Madame de Saint-Simon, pressing her to come and establish herself at
La Muette. Madame de Saint-Simon, although she made a point of scarcely
ever sleeping under the same roof as Madame la Duchesse de Berry (for
reasons which need no further explanation than those already given),
complied at once with this request, and took up her quarters from this
time at La Muette.

Upon arriving, she found the danger great. Madame la Duchesse de Berry
had been bled in the arm and in the foot on the 10th, and her confessor
had been sent for. But the malady still went on increasing. As the pain
which had so long afflicted her could not induce her to follow a regimen
necessary for her condition, or to think of a future state, relations and
doctors were at last obliged to speak a language to her, not used towards
princesses, except at the most urgent extremity. This, at last, had its
effect. She submitted to the medical treatment prescribed for her, and
received the sacrament with open doors, speaking to those present upon
her life and upon her state, but like a queen in both instances. After
this sight was over, alone with her familiars, she applauded herself for
the firmness she had displayed, asked them if she had not spoken well,
and if she was not dying with greatness and courage.

A day or two after, she wished to receive Our Lord once more. She
received, accordingly, and as it appeared, with much piety, quite
differently from the first time.

At the extremity to which she had arrived, the doctors knew not what to
do; everybody was tried. An elixir was spoken of, discovered by a
certain Garus, which made much stir just then, and the secret of which
the King has since bought. Garus was sent for and soon arrived. He
found Madame la Duchesse de Berry so ill that he would answer for
nothing. His remedy was given, and succeeded beyond all hopes. Nothing
remained but to continue it. Above all things, Garus had begged that
nothing should, on any account, be given to Madame la Duchesse de Berry
except by him, and this had been most expressly commanded by M. le Duc
and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans. Madame la Duchesse de Berry continued
to be more and more relieved and so restored, that Chirac, her regular
doctor, began to fear for his reputation, and taking the opportunity when
Garus was asleep upon a sofa, presented, with impetuosity, a purgative to
Madame la Duchesse de Berry, and made her swallow it without saying a
word to anybody, the two nurses standing by, the only persons present,
not daring to oppose him.

The audacity of this was as complete as its villainy, for M. le Duc and
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans were close at hand in the salon. From this
moment to that in which the patient fell into a state worse than that
from which the elixir had drawn her, there was scarcely an interval.
Garus was awaked and called. Seeing this disorder, he cried that a
purgative had been given, and whatever it might be, it was poison in the
state to which the princess was now reduced. He wished to depart, he was
detained, he was taken to Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans. Then followed a
great uproar, cries from Garus, impudence and unequalled hardihood of
Chirac, in defending what he had done.

He could not deny it, for the two nurses had been questioned, and had
told all. Madame la Duchesse de Berry drew near her end during this
debate, and neither Chirac nor Garus could prevent it. She lasted,
however, the rest of the day, and did not die until about midnight.
Chirac, seeing the death-agony advance, traversed the chamber, made an
insulting reverence at the foot of the bed, which was open, and wished
her "a pleasant journey" (in equivalent terms), and thereupon went off to
Paris. The marvel is that nothing came of this, and that he remained the
doctor of M. le Duc d'Orleans as before!

While the end was yet approaching, Madame de Saint-Simon, seeing that
there was no one to bear M. le Duc d'Orleans company, sent for me to
stand by him in these sad moments. It appeared to me that my arrival
pleased him, and that I was not altogether useless to him in relieving
his grief. The rest of the day was passed in entering for a moment at a
time into the sick-chamber. In the evening I was nearly always alone
with him.

He wished that I should charge myself with all the funeral arrangements,
and in case Madame la Duchesse de Berry, when opened, should be found to
be enceinte, to see that the secret was kept. I proposed that the
funeral should be of the simplest, without show or ceremonial. I
explained my reasons, he thanked me, and left all the orders in my hands.
Getting rid of these gloomy matters as quickly as possible, I walked with
him from time to time in the reception rooms, and in the garden, keeping
him from the chamber of the dying as much as possible.

The night was well advanced, and Madame la Duchesse de Berry grew worse
and worse, and without consciousness since Chirac had poisoned her. M.
le Duc d'Orleans returned into the chamber, approached the head of the
bed--all the curtains being pulled back; I allowed him to remain there
but a few moments, and hurried him into the cabinet, which was deserted
just then. The windows were open, he leaned upon the iron balustrade,
and his tears increased so much that I feared lest they should suffocate
him. When this attack had a little subsided, he began to talk of the
misfortunes of this world, and of the short duration of its most
agreeable pleasures. I urged the occasion to say to him everything God
gave me the power to say, with all the gentleness, emotion, and
tenderness, I could command. Not only he received well what I said to
him, but he replied to it and prolonged the conversation.

After we had been there more than an hour, Madame de Saint-Simon gently
warned me that it was time to try and lead M. le Duc d'Orleans away,
especially as there was no exit from the cabinet, except through the
sick-chamber. His coach, that Madame de Saint-Simon had sent for, was
ready. It was without difficulty that I succeeded in gently moving away
M. le Duc d'Orleans, plunged as he was in the most bitter grief. I made
him traverse the chamber at once, and supplicated him to return to Paris.
At last he consented. He wished me to remain and give orders, and
begged, with much positiveness, Madame de Saint-Simon to be present when
seals were put upon the effects, after which I led him to his coach, and
he went away. I immediately repeated to Madame de Saint-Simon the orders
he had given me respecting the opening of the body, in order that she
might have them executed, and I hindered her from remaining in the
chamber, where there was nothing now but horror to be seen.

At last, about midnight, on the 21st of July, 1819, Madame la Duchesse de
Berry died, ten days after Chirac had consummated his crime. M. le Duc
d'Orleans was the only person touched. Some people grieved; but not one
of them who had enough to live upon appeared ever to regret her loss.
Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans felt her deliverance, but paid every
attention to decorum. Madame constrained herself but little. However
affected M. le Duc d'Orleans might be, consolation soon came. The yoke
to which he had submitted himself, and which he afterwards found heavy,
was severed. Above all, he was free from all annoyance on the score of
Rion's marriage, and its results, annoyance that would have been all the
greater, inasmuch as at the opening of the poor princess she was found to
be again enceinte; it was also found that her brain was deranged. These
circumstances were for the time carefully hidden. It may be imagined
what a state Rion fell into in learning at the army the death of Madame
la Duchesse de Berry. All his romantic notions of ambition being
overturned, he was more than once on the point of killing himself, and
for a long time was always kept in sight by his friends. He sold out at
the end of the campaign. As he had been gentle and polite to his
friends, they did not desert him. But he ever afterwards remained in

On account of this death the theatres were closed for eight days.

On Saturday, the 22nd of July, the heart of Madame la Duchesse de Berry
was taken to the Val-de-Grace.

On Sunday, the 23rd of July, her body was carried in an eight-horse coach
to Saint-Denis. There was very little display; only about forty torches
were carried by pages and guards.

The funeral service was performed at Saint-Denis in the early part of
September. There was no funeral oration.

Madame de Saint-Simon had been forced, as I have shown, to accept the
post of lady of honour to Madame la Duchesse de Berry, and had never been
able to quit it. She had been treated with all sorts of consideration,
had been allowed every liberty, but this did not console her for the post
she occupied; so that she felt all the pleasure, not to say the
satisfaction, of a deliverance she did not expect, from a princess
twenty-four years of age. But the extreme fatigue of the last days of
the illness, and of those which followed death, caused her a malignant
fever, which left her at death's portal during six weeks in a house at
Passy. She was two months recovering herself.

This accident, which almost turned my head, sequestered me from anything
for two months, during which I never left the house, scarcely left the
sick-chamber, attended to nothing, and saw only a few relatives or
indispensable friends.

When my wife began to be re-established, I asked M. le Duc d'Orleans for
a lodging at the new chateau at Meudon. He lent me the whole chateau;
completely furnished. We passed there the rest of this summer, and
several other summers afterwards. It is a charming place for rides or
drives. We counted upon seeing only our friends there, but the proximity
to Paris overwhelmed us with people, so that all the new chateau was
sometimes completely filled, without reckoning the people of passage.

I have little need to say anything more of Madame la Duchesse de Berry.
These pages have already painted her. She was a strange mixture of pride
and shamelessness. Drunkenness, filthy conversation, debauchery of the
vilest kind, and impiety, were her diversions, varied, as has been seen,
by occasional religious fits. Her indecency in everything, language,
acts, behaviour, passed all bounds; and yet her pride was so sublime that
she could not endure that people should dare to speak of her amid her
depravity, so universal and so public; she had the hardihood to declare
that nobody had the right to speak of persons of her rank, or blame their
most notorious actions!

Yet she had by nature a superior intellect, and, when she wished, could
be agreeable and amiable. Her face was commanding, though somewhat
spoiled at last by fat. She had much eloquence, speaking with an ease
and precision that charmed and overpowered. What might she not have
become, with the talents she possessed! But her pride, her violent
temper, her irreligion, and her falsehood, spoiled all, and made her what
we have seen her.


Law had established his Mississippi Company, and now began to do marvels
with it. A sort of language had been invented, to talk of this scheme,
language which, however, I shall no more undertake to explain than the
other finance operations. Everybody was mad upon Mississippi Stock.
Immense fortunes were made, almost in a breath; Law, besieged in his
house by eager applicants, saw people force open his door, enter by the
windows from the garden, drop into his cabinet down the chimney! People
talked only of millions.

Law, who, as I have said, came to my house every Tuesday, between eleven
and twelve, often pressed me to receive some shares for nothing, offering
to manage them without any trouble to me, so that I must gain to the
amount of several millions! So many people had already gained enormously
by their own exertions that it was not doubtful Law could gain for me
even more rapidly. But I never would lend myself to it. Law addressed
himself to Madame de Saint-Simon, whom he found as inflexible. He would
have much preferred to enrich me than many others; so as to attach me to
him by interest, intimate as he saw me with the Regent. He spoke to M.
le Duc d'Orleans, even, so as to vanquish me by his authority. The
Regent attacked me more than once, but I always eluded him.

At last, one day when we were together by appointment, at Saint-Cloud,
seated upon the balustrade of the orangery, which covers the descent into
the wood of the goulottes, the Regent spoke again to me of the
Mississippi, and pressed me to receive some shares from Law.

The more I resisted, the more he pressed me, and argued; at last he grew
angry, and said that I was too conceited, thus to refuse what the King
wished to give me (for everything was done in the King's name), while so
many of my equals in rank and dignity were running after these shares.
I replied that such conduct would be that of a fool, the conduct of
impertinence, rather than of conceit; that it was not mine, and that
since he pressed me so much I would tell him my reasons. They were,
that since the fable of Midas, I had nowhere read, still less seen,
that anybody had the faculty of converting into gold all he touched;
that I did not believe this virtue was given to Law, but thought that all
his knowledge was a learned trick, a new and skilful juggle, which put
the wealth of Peter into the pockets of Paul, and which enriched one at
the expense of the other; that sooner or later the game would be played
out, that an infinity of people would be ruined; finally, that I abhorred
to gain at the expense of others, and would in no way mix myself up with
the Mississippi scheme.

M. le Duc d'Orleans knew only too well how to reply to me, always
returning to his idea that I was refusing the bounties of the King.
I said that I was so removed from such madness, that I would make a
proposition to him, of which assuredly I should never have spoken, but
for his accusation.

I related to him the expense to which my father had been put in defending
Blaye against the party of M. le Prince in years gone by. How he had
paid the garrison, furnished provisions, cast cannon, stocked the place,
during a blockade of eighteen months, and kept up, at his own expense,
within the town, five hundred gentlemen, whom he had collected together.
How he had been almost ruined by the undertaking, and had never received
a sou, except in warrants to the amount of five hundred thousand livres,
of which not one had ever been paid, and that he had been compelled to
pay yearly the interest of the debts he had contracted, debts that still
hung like a mill-stone upon me. My proposition was that M. le Duc
d'Orleans should indemnify me for this loss, I giving up the warrants, to
be burnt before him.

This he at once agreed to. He spoke of it the very next day to Law: my
warrants were burnt by degrees in the cabinet of M. le Duc d'Orleans, and
it was by this means I paid for what I had done at La Ferme.

Meanwhile the Mississippi scheme went on more swimmingly than ever. It
was established in the Rue Quincampoix, from which horses and coaches
were banished. About the end of October of this year, 1817, its business
so much increased, that the office was thronged all day long, and it was
found necessary to place clocks and guards with drums at each end of the
street, to inform people, at seven o'clock in the morning, of the opening
of business, and of its close at night: fresh announcements were issued,
too, prohibiting people from going there on Sundays and fete days.

Never had excitement or madness been heard of which approached this.

M. le Duc d'Orleans distributed a large number of the Company's shares to
all the general officers and others employed in the war against Spain.
A month after, the value of the specie was diminished; then the whole of
the coin was re-cast.

Money was in such abundance--that is to say, the notes of Law, preferred
then to the metallic currency--that four millions were paid to Bavaria,
and three millions to Sweden, in settlement of old debts. Shortly after,
M. le Duc d'Orleans gave 80,000 livres to Meuse; and 80,000 livres to
Madame de Chateauthiers, dame d'atours of Madame. The Abbe Alari, too,
obtained 2000 livres pension. Various other people had augmentation of
income given to them at this time.

Day by day Law's bank and his Mississippi increased in favour. The
confidence in them was complete. People could not change their lands and
their houses into paper fast enough, and the result of this paper was,
that everything became dear beyond all previous experience. All heads
were turned, Foreigners envied our good fortune, and left nothing undone
to have a share in it. The English, even, so clear and so learned in
banks, in companies, in commerce, allowed themselves to be caught, and
bitterly repented it afterwards. Law, although cold and discreet, felt
his modesty giving way. He grew tired of being a subaltern. He hankered
after greatness in the midst of this splendour; the Abbe Dubois and M. le
Duc d'Orleans desired it for him more than he; nevertheless, two
formidable obstacles were in the way: Law was a foreigner and a heretic,
and he could not be naturalised without a preliminary act of abjuration.
To perform that, somebody must be found to convert him, somebody upon
whom good reliance could be placed. The Abbe Dubois had such a person
all ready in his pocket, so to speak. The Abbe Tencin was the name of
this ecclesiastic, a fellow of debauched habits and shameless life, whom
the devil has since pushed into the most astonishing good fortune; so
true it is that he sometimes departs from his ordinary rules, in order to
recompense his servitors, and by these striking examples dazzle others,
and so secure them.

As may be imagined, Law did not feel very proud of the Abbe who had
converted him: more especially as that same Abbe was just about this time
publicly convicted of simony, of deliberate fraud, of right-down lying
(proved by his own handwriting), and was condemned by the Parliament to
pay a fine, which branded him with infamy, and which was the scandal of
the whole town. Law, however, was converted, and this was a subject
which supplied all conversation.

Soon after, he bought, for one million livres, the Hotel Mazarin for his
bank, which until then had been established in a house he hired of the
Chief-President, who had not need of it, being very magnificently lodged
in the Palace of the Parliament by virtue of his office. Law bought, at
the same time, for 550,000 livres, the house of the Comte de Tesse.

Yet it was not all sunshine with this famous foreigner, for the sky above
him was heavy with threatening clouds. In the midst of the flourishing
success of his Mississippi, it was discovered that there was a plot to
kill him. Thereupon sixteen soldiers of the regiment of the Guards were
given to him as a protection to his house, and eight to his brother, who
had come to Paris some little time before.

Law had other enemies besides those who were hidden. He could not get on
well with Argenson, who, as comptroller of the finances, was continually
thrown into connection with him. The disorder of the finances increased
in consequence every day, as well as the quarrels between Law and
Argenson, who each laid the blame upon the other. The Scotchman was the
best supported, for his manners were pleasing, and his willingness to
oblige infinite. He had, as it were, a finance tap in his hand, and he
turned it on for every one who helped him. M. le Duc, Madame la
Duchesse, Tesse, Madame de Verue, had drawn many millions through this
tap, and drew still. The Abbe Dubois turned it on as he pleased. These
were grand supports, besides that of M. le Duc d'Orleans, who could not
part with his favourite.

Argenson, on the contrary, was not much liked. He had been at the head
of the police so long that he could not shake off the habits he had
acquired in that position: He had been accustomed to give audiences upon
all sorts of police matters at dead of night, or at the small hours of
the morning, and he appeared to see no reason why he should not do the
same now that he was Keeper of the Seals. He irritated people beyond all
bearing, by making appointments with them at these unreasonable hours,
and threw into despair all who worked under him, or who had business with
him. The difficulty of the finances, and his struggles with Law, had
thrown him into ill-humour, which extended through all his refusals.
Things, in fact, had come to such a pass, that it was evident one or the
other must give up an administration which their rivalry threw into

Argenson saw the storm coming, and feeling the insecurity of his
position, wished to save himself. He had too much sense and too much
knowledge of the world not to feel that if he obstinately clung to the
finances he should not only lose them but the seals also. He yielded
therefore to Law, who was at last declared comptroller-general of the
finances, and who, elevated to this (for him) surprising point, continued
to visit me as usual every Tuesday morning, always trying to persuade me
into belief of his past miracles, and of those to come.

Argenson remained Keeper of the Seals, and skilfully turned to account
the sacrifice he had made by obtaining through it the permission to
surrender his appointment of Chancellor of the Order of Saint-Louis to
his eldest son, and the title, effectively, to his younger son. His
place of Conseiller d'Etat, that he had retained,--he also gave to his
eldest son, and made the other lieutenant of police. The murmur was
great upon seeing a foreigner comptroller-general, and all abandoned to a
finance system which already had begun to be mistrusted. But Frenchmen
grow accustomed to everything, and the majority were consoled by being no
longer exposed to the sharp humour of Argenson, or his strange hours of

But Law's annoyances were not over when this change had been made. M. le
Prince de Conti began to be troublesome. He was more grasping than any
of his relatives, and that is not saying a little. He accosted Law now,
pistol in hand, so to speak, and with a perfect "money or your life"
manner. He had already amassed mountains of gold by the easy humour of
M. le Duc d'Orleans; he had drawn, too, a good deal from Law, in private.
Not content with this, he wished to draw more. M. le Duc d'Orleans grew
tired, and was not over-pleased with him. The Parliament just then was
at its tricks again; its plots began to peep out, and the Prince de Conti
joined in its intrigues in order to try and play a part indecent,
considering his birth; little fitting his age; shameful, after the
monstrous favours unceasingly heaped upon him.

Repelled by the Regent, he turned, as I have said, towards Law, hoping
for more success. His expectations were deceived; prayers, cringing
meanness (for he stopped at nothing to get money) being of no effect, he
tried main strength, and spared Law neither abuse nor menaces. In fact,
not knowing what else to do to injure his bank, he sent three waggons
there, and drove them away full of money, which he made Law give him for
paper he held. Law did not dare to refuse, and thus show the poverty of
his metallic funds, but fearing to accustom so insatiable a prince to
such tyranny as this, he went, directly the waggons left, to M. le Duc
d'Orleans, and complained of what had occurred. The Regent was much
annoyed; he saw the dangerous results, and the pernicious example of so
violent a proceeding, directed against an unsupported foreigner, whom
rather lightly he had just made comptroller-general. He flew into a
violent rage, sent for the Prince de Conti, and, contrary to his nature,
reprimanded him so severely, that he was silenced and cried for mercy.
But annoyed at having failed, and still more at the sharp scolding he had
received, the Prince de Conti consoled himself, like a woman, by
spreading all sorts of reports against Law, which caused him but little
fear, and did him still less harm, but which did slight honour to M. le
Prince de Conti, because the cause of these reports, and also the large
sums he had drawn from the financier, were not unknown to the public;
blame upon him was general, and all the more heavy, because Law had
fallen out of public favour, which a mere trifle had changed into spite
and indignation.

This is the trifle. The Marechal de Villeroy, incapable of inspiring the
King with any solid ideas, adoring even to worship the deceased King,
full of wind, and lightness, and frivolity, and of sweet recollections of
his early years, his grace at fetes and ballets, his splendid
gallantries, wished that the King, in imitation of the deceased monarch,
should dance in a ballet. It was a little too early to think of this.
This pleasure seemed a trifle too much of pain to so young a King; his
timidity should have been vanquished by degrees, in order to accustom him
to society which he feared, before engaging him to show himself off in
public, and dance upon a stage.

The deceased King,--educated in a brilliant Court, where rule and
grandeur were kept up with much distinction, and where continual
intercourse with ladies, the Queen-mother, and others of the Court, had
early fashioned and emboldened him, had relished and excelled in these
sorts of fetes and amusements, amid a crowd of young people of both
sexes, who all rightfully bore the names of nobility, and amongst whom
scarcely any of humble birth were mixed, for we cannot call thus some
three or four of coarser stuff, who were admitted simply for the purpose
of adding strength and beauty to the ballet, by the grace of their faces
and the elegance of their movements, with a few dancing-masters to
regulate and give the tone to the whole. Between this time and that I am
now speaking of was an abyss. The education of those days instructed
every one in grace, address, exercise, respect for bearing, graduated and
delicate politeness, polished and decent gallantry. The difference,
then, between the two periods is seen at a glance, without time lost in
pointing it out.

Reflection was not the principal virtue of the Marechal de Villeroy. He
thought of no obstacle either on the part of the King or elsewhere, and
declared that his Majesty would dance in a ballet. Everything was soon
ready for the execution. It was not so with the action. It became
necessary to search for young people who could dance: soon, whether they
danced ill or well, they were gladly received; at last the only question
was, "Whom can we get?" consequently a sorry lot was obtained. Several,
who ought never to have been admitted, were, and so easily, that from one
to the other Law had the temerity to ask M. le Duc d'Orleans to allow his
son, who danced very well, to join the ballet company! The Regent,
always easy, still enamoured of Law, and, to speak truth, purposely
contributing as much as possible to confusion of rank, immediately
accorded the demand, and undertook to say so to the Marechal de Villeroy.

The Marechal, who hated and crossed Law with might and main, reddened
with anger, and represented to the Regent what, in fact, deserved to be
said: the Regent, in reply, named several young people, who, although of
superior rank, were not so well fitted for the ballet as young Law; and
although the answer to this was close at hand, the Marechal could not
find it, and exhausted himself in vain exclamations. He could not,
therefore, resist the Regent; and having no support from M. le Duc,
superintendent of the King's education and a great protector of Law and
of confusion, he gave in, and the financier's son was named for the

It is impossible to express the public revolt excited by this bagatelle,
at which every one was offended. Nothing else was spoken of for some
days; tongues wagged freely, too; and a good deal of dirty water was
thrown upon other dancers in the ballet.

At last the public was satisfied. The small-pox seized Law's son, and
(on account of its keeping him from the ballet) caused universal joy.
The ballet was danced several times, its success answering in no way to
the Marechal de Villeroy. The King was so wearied, so fatigued, with
learning, with rehearsing, and with dancing this ballet, that he took an
aversion for these fetes and for everything offering display, which has
never quitted him since, and which does not fail to leave a void in the
Court; so that this ballet ceased sooner than was intended, and the
Marechal de Villeroy never dared to propose another.

M. le Duc d'Orleans, either by his usual facility, or to smooth down the
new elevation of Law to the post of comptroller-general, bestowed a
number of pecuniary favours; he gave 600,000 livres to La Fare, captain
of his guard; 200,000 livres to Castries, chevalier d'honneur to Madame
la Duchesse d'Orleans; 200,000 livres to the old Prince de Courtenay, who
much needed them; 20,000 livres pension to the Prince de Talmont; 6000
livres to the Marquise de Bellefonds, who already had a similar sum; and
moved by cries on the part of M. le Prince de Conti, 60,000 livres to the
Comte de la Marche his son, scarcely three years old; he gave, also,
smaller amounts to various others. Seeing so much depredation, and no
recovery to hope for, I asked M. le Duc d'Orleans to attach 12,000
livres, by way of increase, to my government of Senlis, which was worth
only 1000 livres, and of which my second son had the reversion. I
obtained it at once.


About the commencement of the new year, 1720, the system of Law
approached its end. If he had been content with his bank his bank within
wise and proper limits--the money of the realm might have been doubled,
and an extreme facility afforded to commerce and to private enterprise,
because, the establishment always being prepared to meet its liabilities,
the notes it issued would have been as good as ready money, and sometimes
even preferable, on account of the facility of transport. It must be
admitted, however, as I declared to M. le Duc d'Orleans in his cabinet,
and as I openly said in the Council of the Regency when the bank passed
there, that good as this establishment might be in itself, it could only
be so in a republic, or in a monarchy, like that of England, where the
finances are absolutely governed by those who furnish them, and who
simply furnish as much or as little as they please; but in a trivial,
changing, and more than absolute state like France solidity necessarily
is wanting, consequently confidence (at least of a discreet and proper
kind): since a king, and under his name, a mistress, a minister,
favourites; still more, extreme necessities, such as the deceased King
experienced in the years 1707-8-9 and 10,--a hundred things, in fact,
could overthrow the bank, the allurements of which were, at once, too
great and too easy. But to add to the reality of this bank, the chimera
of the Mississippi, with its shares, its special jargon, its science (a
continual juggle for drawing money from one person to give it to
another), was to almost guarantee that these shares should at last end in
smoke (since we had neither mines, nor quarries of the philosopher's
stone), and that the few would be enriched at the expense of the many, as
in fact happened.

What hastened the fall of the bank, and of the system, was the
inconceivable prodigality of M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, without bounds,
and worse still, if it can be, without choice, could not resist the
importunities even of those whom he knew, beyond all doubt, to have been
the most opposed to him, and who were completely despicable, but gave
with open hands; and more frequently allowed money to be drawn from him
by people who laughed at him, and who were grateful only to their
effrontery. People with difficulty believe what they have seen; and
posterity will consider as a fable what we ourselves look upon as a
dream. At last, so much was given to a greedy and prodigal nation,
always covetous and in want on account of its luxury, its disorder, and
its confusion of ranks, that paper became scarce, and the mills could not
furnish enough.

It may be imagined by this, what abuse had been made of a bank,
established as a resource always ready, but which could not exist as such
without being always delicately adjusted; and above all, kept in a state
to meet the obligations it had contracted. I obtained information on
this point from Law, when he came to me on Tuesday mornings; for a long
time he played with me before admitting his embarrassments, and
complained modestly and timidly, that the Regent was ruining everything
by his extravagance. I knew from outsiders more than he thought, and it
was this that induced me to press him upon his balance-sheet. In
admitting to me, at last, although faintly, what he could no longer hide,
he assured me he should not be wanting in resources provided M. le Duc
d'Orleans left him free. That did not persuade me. Soon after, the
notes began to lose favour; then to fall into discredit, and the
discredit to become public. Then came the necessity to sustain them by
force, since they could no longer be sustained by industry; and the
moment force showed itself every one felt that all was over. Coercive
authority was resorted to; the use of gold, silver, and jewels was
suppressed (I speak of coined money); it was pretended that since the
time of Abraham,--Abraham, who paid ready money for the sepulchre of
Sarah,--all the civilised nations in the world had been in the greatest
error and under the grossest delusion, respecting money and the metals it
is made of; that paper alone was useful and necessary; that we could not
do greater harm to our neighbours--jealous of our greatness and of our
advantages--than to send to them all our money and all our jewels; and
this idea was in no way concealed, for the Indian Company was allowed to
visit every house, even Royal houses, confiscate all the louis d'or, and
the coins it could find there; and to leave only pieces of twenty sous
and under (to the amount of not more than 200 francs), for the odd money
of bills, and in order to purchase necessary provisions of a minor kind,
with prohibitions, strengthened by heavy punishment, against keeping
more; so that everybody was obliged to take all the ready money he
possessed to the bank, for fear of its being discovered by a valet. But
nobody, as may be imagined, was persuaded of the justice of the power
accorded to the Company, and accordingly authority was more and more
exerted; all private houses were searched, informations were laid against
people in order that no money might be kept back, or if it were, that the
guilty parties might be severely punished.

Never before had sovereign power been so violently exercised, never had
it attacked in such a manner the temporal interests of the community.
Therefore was it by a prodigy, rather than by any effort or act of the
government, that these terribly new ordonnances failed to produce the
saddest and most complete revolutions; but there was not even talk of
them; and although there were so many millions of people, either
absolutely ruined or dying of hunger, and of the direst want, without
means to procure their daily subsistence, nothing more than complaints
and groans was heard.

This violence was, however, too excessive, and in every respect too
indefensible to last long; new paper and new juggling tricks were of
necessity resorted to; the latter were known to be such--people felt them
to be such--but they submitted to them rather than not have twenty crowns
in safety in their houses; and a greater violence made people suffer the
smaller. Hence so many projects, so many different faces in finance, and
all tending to establish one issue of paper upon another; that is to say,
always causing loss to the holders of the different paper (everybody
being obliged to hold it), and the universal multitude. This is what
occupied all the rest of the government, and of the life of M. le Duc
d'Orleans; which drove Law out of the realm; which increased six-fold the
price of all merchandise, all food even the commonest; which ruinously
augmented every kind of wages, and ruined public and private commerce;
which gave, at the expense of the public, sudden riches to a few noblemen
who dissipated it, and were all the poorer in a short time; which enabled
many financiers' clerks, and the lowest dregs of the people, profiting by
the general confusion, to take advantage of the Mississippi, and make
enormous fortunes; which occupied the government several years after the
death of M. le Duc d'Orleans; and which, to conclude, France never will
recover from, although it may be true that the value of land is
considerably augmented. As a last affliction, the all-powerful,
especially the princes and princesses of the blood, who had been mixed
up, in the Mississippi, and who had used all their authority to escape
from it without loss, re-established it upon what they called the Great
Western Company, which with the same juggles and exclusive trade with the
Indies, is completing the annihilation of the trade of the realm,
sacrificed to the enormous interest of a small number of private
individuals, whose hatred and vengeance the government has not dared to
draw upon itself by attacking their delicate privileges.

Several violent executions, and confiscations of considerable sums found
in the houses searched, took place. A certain Adine, employed at the
bank, had 10,000 crowns confiscated, was fined 10,000 francs, and lost
his appointment. Many people hid their money with so much secrecy, that,
dying without being able to say where they had put it, these little
treasures remained buried and lost to the heirs.

In the midst of the embarrassments of the finances, and in spite of them,
M. le Duc d'Orleans continued his prodigal gifts. He attached pensions
of 6000 livres and 4000 livres to the grades of lieutenant-general and
camp-marshal. He gave a pension of 20,000 livres to old Montauban; one
of 6000 livres to M. de Montauban (younger brother of the Prince de
Guemene); and one of 6000 livres to the Duchesse de Brissac. To several
other people he gave pensions of 4000 livres; to eight or ten others,
3000 or 2000 livres. I obtained one of 8000 livres for Madame Marechal
de Lorges; and one of 6000 livres was given to the Marechal de Chamilly,
whose affairs were much deranged by the Mississippi. M. de Soubise and
the Marquis Noailles had each upwards of 200,000 livres. Even Saint-
Genies, just out of the Bastille, and banished to Beauvais, had a pension
of 1000. Everybody in truth wanted an augmentation of income, on account
of the extreme high price to which the commonest, almost necessary things
had risen, and even all other things; which, although at last diminshed
by degrees, remain to this day much dearer than they were before the

The pensions being given away, M. le Duc d'Orleans began to think how he
could reduce the public expenditure. Persuaded by those in whose
financial knowledge he had most confidence, he resolved to reduce to two
per cent. the interest upon all the funds. This much relieved those who
paid, but terribly cut down the income of those who received, that is to
say, the creditors of the state, who had lent their money at five per
cent., according to the loan--and, public faith and usage, and who had
hitherto peacefully enjoyed that interest. M. le Duc d'Orleans assembled
at the Palais Royal several financiers of different rank, and resolved
with them to pass this edict. It made much stir among the Parliament
men, who refused to register it. But M. le Duc d'Orleans would not
change his determination, and maintained his decree in spite of them.

By dint of turning and turning around the Mississippi, not to say of
juggling with it, the desire came to establish, according to the example
of the English, colonies in the vast countries beyond the seas. In order
to people these colonies, persons without means of livelihood, sturdy
beggars, female and male, and a quantity of public creatures were carried
off. If this had been executed with discretion and discernment, with the
necessary measures and precautions, it would have ensured the object
proposed, and relieved Paris and the provinces of a heavy, useless, and
often dangerous burthen; but in Paris and elsewhere so much violence, and
even more roguery, were mixed up with it, that great murmuring was
excited. Not the slightest care had been taken to provide for the
subsistence of so many unfortunate people, either while in the place they
were to embark from, or while on the road to reach it; by night they were
shut up, with nothing to eat, in barns, or in the dry ditches of the
towns they stopped in, all means of egress being forbidden them. They
uttered cries which excited pity and indignation; but the alms collected
for them not being sufficient, still less the little their conductors
gave them, they everywhere died in frightful numbers.

[Illustration: Mississippi Colonization--Painted by C. E. Delort--1176]

This inhumanity, joined to the barbarity of the conductors, to violence
of a kind unknown until this, and to the rascality of carrying off people
who were not of the prescribed quality, but whom others thus got rid of
by whispering a word in the ear of the conductors and greasing their
palms; all these things, I say, caused so much stir, so much excitement,
that the system, it was found, could not be kept up. Some troops had
been embarked, and during the voyage were not treated much better than
the others. The persons already collected were set at liberty, allowed
to do what they pleased, and no more were seized. Law, regarded as the
author of these seizures, became much detested, and M. le Duc d'Orleans
repented having ever fallen in with the scheme.

The 22nd of May of this year, 1720, became celebrated by the publication
of a decree of the Council of State, concerning the shares of the Company
of the Indies (the same as that known under the name of Mississippi) and
the notes of Law's bank. This decree diminished by degrees, and from
month to month, the value of the shares and the notes, so that, by the
end of the year, that value would have been reduced one-half.

This, in the language of finance and of bankruptcy, was to turn tail with
a vengeance: and its effect, while remedying nothing, was to make people
believe that things were in a worse state than was actually the case.
Argenson, who, as we have seen, had been turned out of the finances to
make room for Law, was generally accused of suggesting this decree out of
malice, already foreseeing all the evils that must arise from it. The
uproar was general and frightful. There was not a rich person who did
not believe himself lost without resource; not a poor one who did not see
himself reduced to beggary. The Parliament, so opposed to the new money
system, did not let slip this fine opportunity. It rendered itself the
protector of the public by refusing to register the decree, and by
promptly uttering the strongest remonstrance against it. The public even
believed that to the Parliament was due the sudden revocation of the
edict, which, however, was simply caused by the universal complaining,
and the tardy discovery of the fault committed in passing it. The little
confidence in Law remaining was now radically extinguished; not an atom
of it could ever be set afloat again. Seditious writings and analytical
and reasonable pamphlets rained on all sides, and the consternation was

The Parliament assembled on Monday, the 27th of May, in the morning, and
named certain of its members to go to M. le Duc d'Orleans, with
remonstrances against the decree. About noon of the same day, M. le Duc
d'Orleans sent La Vrilliere to say to the Parliament that he revoked that
decree, and that the notes would remain as before. La Vrilliere, finding
that the Parliament had adjourned, went to the Chief-President, to say
with what he was charged. After dinner the Parliamentary deputies came
to the Palais Royal, where they were well received; M. le Duc d'Orleans
confirmed what they had already heard from La Vrilliere, and said to them
that he would re-establish the funds of the Hotel de Ville at two-and-a-
half percent. The deputies expected that in justice and in goodness he
ought to raise them to at least three per cent. M. le Duc d'Orleans
answered, that he should like not only to raise them to three, but to
four, nay, five per cent.; but that the state of affairs would not permit
him to go beyond two-and-a-half. On the next day was published the
counter-decree, which placed the shares and actions as they were before
the 22nd of May. The decree of that date was therefore revoked in six
days, after having caused such a strange effect.

On Wednesday, the 29th, a pretty little comedy was played. Le Blanc,
Secretary of State, went to Law, told him that M. le Duc d'Orleans
discharged him from his office as comptroller-general of the finances,
thanked him for the attention he had given to it, and announced that as
many people in Paris did not like him, a meritorious officer should keep
guard in his house to prevent any accident that might happen to him. At
the same time, Benzualde, major of the regiment of Swiss guards, arrived
with sixteen of his men to remain night and day in Law's house.

The Scotchman did not in the least expect this dismissal or this guard,
but he appeared very tranquil respecting both, and maintained his usual
coolness. The next day he was taken by the Duc de la Force to the Palais
Royal. Then comedy number two was played. M. le Duc d'Orleans refused
to see the financier, who went away without an interview. On the day
after, however, Law was admitted by the back stairs, closeted with the
Regent, and was treated by him as well as ever. The comedies were over.

On Sunday, the 2nd of June, Benzualde and his Swiss withdrew from Law's
house. Stock-jobbing was banished at the same time from the Rue
Quincampoix, and established in the Place Vendome. In this latter place
there was more room for it. The passers-by were not incommoded. Yet
some people did not find it as convenient as the other. At this time the
King gave up to the bank one hundred million of shares he had in it.

On the 5th July, a decree of the Council was issued, prohibiting people
from possessing jewels, from keeping them locked up, or from selling them
to foreigners. It may be imagined what a commotion ensued. This decree
was grafted upon a number of others, the object of all, too visibly,
being to seize upon all coin, in favour of the discredited paper, in
which nobody could any longer have the slightest confidence. In vain M.
le Duc d'Orleans, M. le Duc, and his mother, tried to persuade others, by
getting rid of their immense stores of jewels, that is to say, by sending
them abroad on a journey--nothing more: not a person was duped by this
example; not a person omitted to conceal his jewels very carefully: a
thing much more easy to accomplish than the concealment of gold or silver
coin, on account of the smaller value of precious stones. This jewellery
eclipse was not of long duration.


Immediately after the issue of this decree an edict was drawn up for the
establishment of an Indian commercial company, which was to undertake to
reimburse in a year six, hundred millions of bank notes, by paying fifty
thousand dollars per month. Such was the last resource of Law and his
system. For the juggling tricks of the Mississippi, it was found
necessary to substitute something real; especially since the edict of the
22nd of May, so celebrated and so disastrous for the paper. Chimeras
were replaced by realities--by a true India Company; and it was this name
and this thing which succeeded, which took the place of the undertaking
previously known as the Mississippi. It was in vain that the tobacco
monopoly and a number of other immense monopolies were given to the new
company; they could not enable it to meet the proper claims spread among
the public, no matter what trouble might be taken to diminish them at all
hazard and at all loss.

It was now necessary to seek other expedients. None could be found
except that of rendering this company a commercial one; this was, under a
gentler name, a name vague and unpretending, to hand over to it the
entire and exclusive commerce of the country. It may be imagined how
such a resolution was received by the public, exasperated by the severe
decree, prohibiting people, under heavy penalties, from having more than
five-hundred livres, in coin, in their possession, subjecting them to
visits of inspection, and leaving them nothing but bank notes to, pay for
the commonest necessaries of daily life. Two things resulted; first,
fury, which day by day was so embittered by the difficulty of obtaining
money for daily subsistence, that it was a marvel all Paris did not
revolt at once, and that the emeute was appeased; second, the Parliament,
taking its stand upon this public emotion, held firm to the end in
refusing to register the edict instituting the new company.

On the 15th of July, the Chancellor showed in his own house the draught
of the edict to deputies from the Parliament, who remained with him until
nine o'clock at night, without being persuaded. On the morrow, the 16th,
the edict was brought forward in the Regency Council. M. le Duc
d'Orleans, sustained by M. le Duc, spoke well upon it, because he could
not speak ill, however bad his theme. Nobody said a word, and all bowed
their necks. It was resolved, in this manner, to send the edict to the
Parliament on the morrow, the 17th of July.

That same 17th of July, there was such a crowd in the morning, at the
bank and in the neighbouring streets, for the purpose of obtaining enough
money to go to market with, that ten or twelve people were stifled.
Three of the bodies were tumultuously carried to the Palais Royal, which
the people, with loud cries, wished to enter. A detachment of the King's
guards at the Tuileries was promptly sent there. La Vrilliere and Le
Blanc separately harangued the people. The lieutenant of police came;
brigades of the watch were sent for. The dead bodies were afterwards
carried away, and by gentleness and cajoleries the people were at length
dispersed. The detachment of the King's guards returned to the
Tuileries. By about ten o'clock in the morning, all being over, Law took
it into his head to go to the Palais Royal. He received many
imprecations as he passed through the streets. M. le Duc d'Orleans
thought it would be well not to let him leave the Palais Royal, and gave
him a lodging there. He sent back Law's carriage, however, the windows
of which were smashed on the way by the stones thrown at them. Law's
house, too, was attacked, amid much breaking of windows. All this was
known so late in our quarter of the Jacobins of the Saint-Dominique, that
when I arrived at the Palais Royal there was not a vestige visible of any
disturbance. M. le Duc d'Orleans, in the midst of a very small company,
was very tranquil, and showed that you would not please him unless you
were so also. I did not stop long, having nothing to do or say.

This same morning the edict was carried to the Parliament, which refused
to register it, and sent a deputation to M. le Duc d'Orleans with its
reasons for this, at which the Regent was much vexed. The next morning
an ordonnance of the King was pasted all over the town, prohibiting the
people, under heavy penalties, to assemble, and announcing that in
consequence of the disturbances which had taken place the previous day at
the bank, that establishment would remain closed until further notice,
and no more money would be paid by it. Luck supplied the place of
prudence; for people knew not how they were to live in the meanwhile, yet
no fresh disturbance occurred fact which shows the goodness and obedience
of the people, subjected to so many and to such strange trials. Troops,
however, were collected at Charenton, who were at work upon the canal of
Montargis: some regiments of cavalry and of dragoons were stationed at
Saint-Denis, and the King's regiment was posted upon the heights of
Chaillot. Money was sent to Gonesse to induce the bakers to come as
usual, and for fear they should refuse bank notes, like the Paris workmen
and shopkeepers, nearly all of whom would no longer receive any paper,
the regiment of the guards had orders to hold itself ready, and the
musketeers to keep within their quarters, their horses saddled and

As for the Parliament, M. le Duc d'Orleans determined to punish its
disobedience by sending it to Blois. This resolution was carried in full
council. The Regent hoped that the Parliamentary men, accustomed to the
comfort of their Paris homes, and to the society there of their wives;
children, and friends, would soon grow tired of being separated from
them, and of the extra expense they would be put to, and would give in.
I agreed to the project, although I saw, alas! that by this exile the
Parliament would be punished, but would be neither conciliated nor tamed
into submission. To make matters worse, Blois was given up, and Pontoise
was substituted for it! This latter town being close to Paris, the
chastisement became ridiculous, showed the vacillating weakness of the
Regent, and encouraged the Parliament to laugh at him. One thing was,
however, well done. The resolution taken to banish the Parliament was
kept so secret that that assembly had not the slightest knowledge of it.

On Sunday, the 21st of July, squadrons of the guards, with officers at
their head, took possession, at four o'clock in the morning, of all the
doors of the Palais de justice. The musketeers seized at the same time
upon the doors of the Grand Chamber, whilst others invaded the house of
the Chief-President, who was in much fear during the first hour. Other
musketeers went in parties of four to all the officers of the Parliament,
and served them with the King's order, commanding them to repair to
Pontoise within twice twenty-four hours. All passed off very politely on
both sides, so that there was not the slightest complaint: several
members obeyed the same day and went to Pontoise.

Rather late in the evening M. le Duc d'Orleans sent to the Attorney-
General 200,000 livres in coin, and as much in bank notes of 100 livres,
and of 10 livres to be given to those who should need them for the
journey, but not as gifts. The Chief-President was more brazen and more
fortunate; he made so many promises, showed so much meanness, employed so
much roguery, that abusing by these means the feebleness and easiness of
the Regent, whom he laughed at, he obtained more than 100,000 ecus for
his expenses. The poor prince gave him the money, under the rose, in two
or three different payments, and permitted the Duc de Bouillon to lend
him his house at Pontoise, completely furnished, and the garden of which,
on the banks of the river, is admirable and immense, a masterpiece of its
kind, and had been the delight of Cardinal Bouillon, being perhaps the
only thing in France he regretted. With such fine assistance the Chief-
President--on bad terms with his companions, who had openly despised him
for some time--perfectly made it up with them. He kept at Pontoise open
table for the Parliament; all were every day at liberty to use it if they
liked, so that there were always several tables, all equally, delicately,
and splendidly served. He sent, too, to those who asked for them,
liquors, etc., as they could desire. Cooling drinks and fruits of all
kinds were abundantly served every afternoon, and there were a number of
little one and two-horse vehicles always ready for the ladies and old men
who liked a drive, besides play-tables in the apartments until supper
time. The result of all this magnificence was, as I have said, that the
Chief-President completely reinstated himself in the good graces of his
companions; but it was at the expense of the Regent, who was laughed at
for his pains. A large number of the members of the Parliament did not
go to Pontoise at all, but took advantage of the occasion to recreate
themselves in the country. Only a few of the younger members mounted
guard in the assembly, where nothing but the most trivial and make-
believe business was conducted. Everything important was deliberately
neglected. Woe! to those, therefore, who had any trial on hand. The
Parliament, in a word, did nothing but divert itself, leave all business
untouched, and laugh at the Regent and the government. Banishment to
Pontoise was a fine punishment!

This banishment of the Parliament to Pontoise was followed by various
financial operations and by several changes in the administrations. Des
Forts had the general control of the finances and all authority, but
without the name. The disordered state of the exchequer did not hinder
M. le Duc d'Orleans from indulging in his strange liberalities to people
without merit and without need, and not one of whom he could possibly
care a straw for. He gave to Madame la Grande Duchesse an augmentation
of her pension of 50,000 livres; one of 8,000 livres to Trudaine: one of
9,000 livres to Chateauneuf; one of 8,000 livres to Bontems, chief valet
de chambre of the King; one of 6,000 livres to the Marechal de
Montesquieu; one of 3,000 livres to Faucault; and one of 9,000 livres to
the widow of the Duc d'Albemarle, secretly remarried to the son of

All this time the public stock-jobbing still continued on the Place
Vendome. The Mississippi had tempted everybody. It was who should fill
his pockets first with millions, through M. le Duc d'Orleans and Law.
The crowd was very great. One day the Marechal de Villars traversed the
Place Vendome in a fine coach, loaded with pages and lackeys, to make way
for which the mob of stock-jobbers had some difficulty. The Marechal
upon this harangued the people in his braggart manner from the carriage
window, crying out against the iniquity of stock-jobbing, and the shame
it cast upon all. Until this point he had been allowed to say on, but
when he thought fit to add that his own hands were clean, and that he had
never dabbled in shares, a voice uttered a cutting sarcasm, and all the
crowd took up the word, at which the Marechal, ashamed and confounded,
despite his ordinary authority, buried himself in his carriage and
finished his journey across the Place Vendome at a gentle trot in the
midst of a hue and cry, which followed him even beyond, and which
diverted Paris at his expense for several days, nobody pitying him.

At last it was found that this stock-jobbing too much embarrassed the
Place Vendome and the public way; it was transferred, therefore, to the
vast garden of the Hotel de Soissons. This was, in fact, its proper
place. Law, who had remained at the Palais Royal some time, had returned
to his own house, where he received many visits. The King several times
went to see the troops that had been stationed near Paris; after this
they were sent away again. Those which had formed a little camp at
Charenton, returned to Montargis to work at the canal making there.

Law, for commercial reasons, had some time ago caused Marseilles to be
made a free port. The consequence of this was that an abundance of
vessels came there, especially vessels from the Levant, and from want of
precautions the plague came also, lasted a long while, desolated the
town, province; and the neighbouring provinces. The care and precautions
afterwards taken restrained it as much as possible, but did not hinder it
from lasting a long time, or from creating frightful disorders. These
details are so well known that they can be dispensed with here.

I have a few more words to say of Law and his Mississippi. The bubble
finally burst at the end of the year (1720). Law, who had no more
resources, being obliged secretly to depart from the realm, was
sacrificed to the public. His flight was known only through the eldest
son of Argenson, intendant at Mainbeuge, who had the stupidity to arrest
him. The courier he despatched with the news was immediately sent back,
with a strong reprimand for not having deferred to the passport with
which Law had been furnished by the Regent. The financier was with his
son, and they both went to Brussels where the Marquis de Prie, Governor
of the Imperial Low Countries, received them very well, and entertained
them. Law did not stop long, gained Liege and Germany, where he offered
his talents to several princes, who all thanked him; nothing more. After
having thus roamed, he passed through the Tyrol, visited several Italian
courts, not one of which would have him, and at last retired to Venice.
This republic, however, did not employ him. His wife and daughter
followed him some time after. I don't know what became of them or of the

Law was a Scotchman; of very doubtful birth; tall and well made; of
agreeable face and aspect; gallant, and on very good terms with the
ladies of all the countries he had travelled in. His wife was not his
wife; she was of a good English family and well connected; had followed
Law for love; had had a son and a daughter by him, passed for his wife,
and bore his name without being married to him. This was suspected
towards the end; after his departure it became certain. She had one eye
and the top of one cheek covered by an ugly stain as of wine; otherwise
she was well made, proud, impertinent in her conversation and in her
manners, receiving compliments, giving next to none, paying but few
visits, these rare and selected, and exercising authority in her
household. I know not whether her credit over her husband was great; but
he appeared full of regard, of care, and of respect for her; at the time
of their departure they were each about fifty and fifty-five years old.
Law had made many acquisitions of all kinds and still more debts, so that
this tangle is not yet unravelled by the committee of the council
appointed to arrange his affairs with his creditors. I have said
elsewhere, and I repeat it here, that there was neither avarice nor
roguery in his composition. He was a gentle, good, respectable man, whom
excess of credit and fortune had not spoiled, and whose deportment,
equipages, table, and furniture could not scandalise any one. He
suffered with singular patience and constancy all the vexations excited
by his operations, until towards the last, when, finding himself short of
means and wishing to meet his difficulty, he became quick and bad-
tempered, and his replies were often ill-measured. He was a man of
system, of calculation, of comparison, well and profoundly instructed in
these things, and, without ever cheating, had everywhere gained at play
by dint of understanding--which seems to me incredible--the combinations
of cards.

His bank, as I have elsewhere said, was an excellent thing for a
republic, or for a country like England, where finance is as in a
republic. His Mississippi he was the dupe of, and believed with good
faith he should make great and rich establishments in America. He
reasoned like an Englishman, and did not know how opposed to commerce and
to such establishments are the frivolity of the (French) nation, its
inexperience, its avidity to enrich itself at once, the inconvenience of
a despotic government, which meddles with everything, which has little or
no consistency, and in which what one minister does is always destroyed
by his successor.

Law's proscription of specie, then of jewels, so as to have only paper in
France, is a system I have never comprehended, nor has anybody, I fancy,
during all the ages which have elapsed since that in which Abraham, after
losing Sarah, bought, for ready-money, a sepulchre for her and for her
children. But Law was a man of system, and of system so deep, that
nobody ever could get to the bottom of it, though he spoke easily, well
and clearly, but with a good deal of English in his French.

He remained several years at Venice, upon very scanty means, and died
there a Catholic, having lived decently, but very humbly, wisely, and
modestly, and received with piety the last sacraments of the Church.

Thus terminates all I have to say of Law. But a painful truth remains.
I have to speak of the woful disorder in the finances which his system
led to, disorder which was not fully known until after his departure from
France. Then people saw, at last, where all the golden schemes that had
flooded upon popular credulity had borne us;--not to the smiling and
fertile shores of Prosperity and Confidence, as may be imagined; but to
the bleak rocks and dangerous sands of Ruin and Mistrust, where dull
clouds obscure the sky, and where there is no protection against the


Not long after the flight of Law, that is to say, on Sunday, the 24th of
January, of the new year, 1721, a council was held at the Tuileries, at
four o'clock in the afternoon, principally for the purpose of examining
the state of the finances and of Law's Bank and India Company. It was,
in fact, high time to do something to diminish the overgrown disorder and
confusion everywhere reigning. For some time there had been complete
stagnation in all financial matters; the credit of the King had step by
step diminished, private fortune had become more and more uncertain. The
bag was at last empty, the cards were cast aside, the last trick was
played: The administration of the finances had passed into the hands of
La Houssaye, and his first act was to call the attention of the Regency
Council to the position of the bank and the company. We were prepared to
hear that things were in a very bad state, but we were scarcely prepared
to find that they so closely resembled utter ruin and bankruptcy.

I need not relate all that passed at this council; the substance of it is
enough. From the statement there of M. le Duc d'Orleans, it appeared
that Law had issued 1,200,000,000 livres of bank notes more than he ought
to have issued. The first 600,00,000 livres had not done much harm,
because they had been kept locked up in the bank; but after the 22nd of
May, another issue of 600,000,000 had taken place, and been circulated
among the public, without the knowledge of the Regent, without the
authorisation of any decree. "For this," said M. le Duc d'Orleans, "Law
deserved to be hanged, but under the circumstances of the case, I drew
him from his embarrassment, by an ante-dated decree, ordering the issue
of this quantity of notes."

Thereupon M. le Duc said to the Regent, "But, Monsieur, why, knowing
this, did you allow him to leave the realm?"

"It was you who furnished him with the means to do so," replied M. le Duc

"I never asked you to allow him to quit the country," rejoined M. le Duc.

"But," insisted the Regent, "it was you yourself who sent him his

"That's true," replied M. le Duc, "but it was you who gave them to me to
send to him; but I never asked you for them, or to let him leave the
realm. I know that I have the credit for it amongst the public, and I am
glad of this opportunity to explain here the facts of the case. I was
against the proposition for sending M. Law to the Bastille, or to any
other prison, because I believed that it was not to your interest to
sanction this, after having made use of him as you had; but I never asked
you to let him leave the realm, and I beg you, Monsieur, in presence of
the King, and before all these gentlemen, to say if I ever did."

"'Tis true," replied the Regent, "you never asked me; I allowed him to
go, because I thought his presence in France would injure public credit,
and the operations of the public."

"So far was I from asking you," said M. le Duc, "that if you had done me
the honour to demand my opinion, I should have advised you to take good
care not to let him depart from the country."

This strange conversation, which roused our astonishment to an incredible
point, and which was sustained with so much out-spoken freedom by M. le
Duc, demands a word or two of explanation.

M. le Duc was one of those who, without spending a farthing, had drawn
millions from Law's notes and shares. He had had large allotments of the
latter, and now that they had become utterly valueless, he had been
obliged to make the best of a bad bargain, by voluntarily giving them up,
in order to lighten the real responsibilities of the Company. This he
had done at the commencement of the Council, M. le Prince de Conti also.
But let me explain at greater length.

The 22nd of May, the day of the decree, was the period at which commenced
the final decay of the Company, and of the bank, and the extinction of
all confidence by the sad discovery that there was no longer any money
wherewith to pay the bank notes, they being so prodigiously in excess of
the coin. After this, each step had been but a stumble: each operation a
very feeble palliation. Days and weeks had been gained, obscurity had
been allowed to give more chance, solely from fear of disclosing the true
and terrible state of affairs, and the extent of the public ruin. Law
could not wash his hands of all this before the world; he could not avoid
passing for the inventor and instrument, and he would have run great risk
at the moment when all was unveiled. M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, to
satisfy his own prodigality, and the prodigious avidity of his friends,
had compelled Law to issue so many millions of livres of notes more than
he had any means of paying, and who had thus precipitated him into the
abyss, could not let him run the chance of perishing, still less to save
him, could he proclaim himself the real criminal. It was to extricate
himself from this embarrassment that he made Law leave the country, when
he saw that the monstrous deceit could no longer be hidden.

This manifestation, which so strongly interested the shareholders, and
the holders of bank notes, especially those who had received shares or
notes as favours due to their authority, and who could show no other
title to them, threw every one into despair. The most important holders,
such as the Princes of the Blood, and others, whose profits had been
immense, had by force or industry delayed this manifestation as long as
possible. As they knew the real state of affairs, they felt that the
moment all the world knew it also, their gains would cease, and their
paper become worthless, that paper from which they had drawn so much, and
which had not cost them a farthing! This is what induced M. le Duc
d'Orleans to hide from them the day of this manifestation, so as to avoid
being importuned by them; and by a surprise, to take from them the power
of preparing any opposition to the measures it was proposed to carry out.
M. le Duc, when he learned this, flew into a fury, and hence the strange
scene between him and M. le Duc d'Orleans, which scandalised and
terrified everybody in the Council.

M. le Duc d'Orleans, who, from taste, and afterwards from necessity,
lived upon schemes and trickery, thought he had done marvels in saddling
M. le Duc with the passport of Law. He wished to lay the blame of Law's
departure upon M. le Duc; but as I have shown, he was defeated by his own
weapons. He had to do with a man as sharp as himself. M. le Duc, who
knew he had nothing to fear, would not allow it to be supposed that he
had sanctioned the flight of the financier. That was why he pressed M.
le Duc d'Orleans so pitilessly, and forced him to admit that he had never
asked him to allow Law to leave the country.

The great and terrible fact brought out by this Council was, that Law,
without the knowledge or authority of the Regent, had issued and
disseminated among the public 600,000,000 livres of notes; and not only
without being authorised by any edict, but contrary to express
prohibition. But when the Regent announced this, who did he suppose
would credit it? Who could believe that Law would have had the hardihood
to issue notes at this rate without the sanction and approbation of his

However, to leave once and for all these unpleasant matters, let me say
what was resolved upon by way of remedy to the embarrassments discovered
to exist. The junction of the India Company with the bank, which had
taken place during the previous February, had led to transactions which
made the former debtor to the latter to an immense amount. But the bank
being a governmental establishment, the King became thus the creditor of
the Company. It was decreed, in fact, that the Company should be
considered as debtor to the King. It was decided, however, that other
debtors should receive first attention. Many private people had invested
their money in the shares of the Company. It was not thought just that
by the debt of the Company to the King, these people should be ruined;
or, on the other hand, that those who had left the Company in good time,
who had converted their shares into notes, or who had bought them at a
low price in the market, should profit by the misfortune of the bona fide
shareholders. Accordingly, commissioners, it was decided, were to be
named, to liquidate all these papers and parchments, and annul those
which did not proceed from real purchases.

M. le Duc said, upon this, "There are at least eighty thousand families,
the whole of whose wealth consists of these effects; how are they to live
during this liquidation?"

La Houssaye replied, that so many commissioners could be named, that the
work would soon be done.

And so the Council ended.

But I must, perforce, retrace my steps at this point to many other
matters, which I have left far behind me in going on at once to the end
of this financial labyrinth. And first let me tell what happened to that
monstrous personage, Alberoni, how he fell from the lofty pinnacle of
dower on which he had placed himself, and lost all consideration and all
importance in the fall. The story is mightily curious and instructive.


Alberoni had made himself detested by all Europe,--for all Europe, in one
way or another, was the victim of his crimes. He was detested as the
absolute master of Spain, whose guides were perfidy, ambition, personal
interest, views always oblique, often caprice, sometimes madness; and
whose selfish desires, varied and diversified according to the fantasy
of the moment, were hidden under schemes always uncertain and oftentimes
impossible of execution. Accustomed to keep the King and Queen of Spain
in chains, and in the narrowest and obscurest prison, where he allowed
them to communicate with no one, and made them see, feel, and breathe
through him, and blindly obey his every wish; he caused all Spain to
tremble, and had annihilated all power there, except his own, by the most
violent acts, constraining himself in no way, despising his master and
his mistress, whose will and whose authority he had utterly absorbed.
He braved successively all the powers of Europe, and aspired to nothing
less than to deceive them all, then to govern them, making them serve all
his ends; and seeing at last his cunning exhausted, tried to execute
alone, and without allies, the plan he had formed.

This plan was nothing less than to take away from the Emperor all that
the peace of Utrecht had left him in Italy; all that the Spanish house of
Austria had possessed there; to dominate the Pope and the King of Sicily;
to deprive the Emperor of the help of France and England, by exciting the
first against the Regent through the schemes of the ambassador Cellamare
and the Duc du Maine; and by sending King James to England, by the aid of
the North, so as to keep King George occupied with a civil war. In the
end he wished to profit by all these disorders, by transporting into
Italy (which his cardinalship made him regard as a safe asylum against
all reverses) the immense treasures he had pillaged and collected m
Spain, under pretext of sending the sums necessary to sustain the war,
and the conquests he intended to make; and this last project was,
perhaps, the motive power of all the rest. The madness of these schemes,
and his obstinacy in clinging to them, were not discovered until
afterwards. The astonishment then was great indeed, upon discovering the
poverty of the resources with which he thought himself capable of
carrying out these wild projects. Yet he had made such prodigious
preparations for war, that he had entirely exhausted the country without
rendering it able for a moment to oppose the powers of Europe.

Alberoni, abhorred in Spain as a cruel tyrant, in France, in England, in
Rome, and by the Emperor as an implacable and personal enemy, did not
seem to have the slightest uneasiness. Yet he might have had some, and
with good cause, at the very moment when he fancied himself most powerful
and most secure.

The Regent and the Abbe Dubois, who for a long time had only too many
reasons to regard Alberoni as their personal enemy, were unceasingly
occupied in silently plotting his fall; they believed the present moment
favourable, and did not fail to profit by it. How they did so is a
curious fact, which, to my great regret, has never reached me. M. le Duc
d'Orleans survived Dubois such a few months that many things I should
have liked to have gained information upon, I had not the time to ask him
about; and this was one.

All I know is, that what Alberoni always dreaded, at last happened to
him. He trembled, at every one, no matter of how little importance, who
arrived from Parma (the Queen of Spain, it has not been forgotten, was of
that Duchy); he omitted nothing by the aid of the Duke of Parma, and by
other means, to hinder the Parmesans from coming to Madrid; and was in
terror of the few of those whose journey he could not hinder, and whose
dismissal he could not obtain.

Among these few people there was nobody he feared so much as the Queen's
nurse, whom he drew up with a round turn occasionally, so to speak, but
less from policy than ill-temper. This nurse, who was a rough country-
woman of Parma, was named Donna Piscatori Laura. She had arrived in
Spain some years after the Queen, who had always liked her, and who made
her, shortly after her arrival, her 'assofeta', that is to say, her chief
'femme de chambre'; an office more considerable in Spain than with us.
Laura had brought her husband with her, a peasant in every way, seen and
known by nobody; but Laura had intelligence, shrewdness, cleverness, and
ambitious views, in spite of the external vulgarity of her manners, which
she had preserved either from habit, or from policy, for make herself
less suspected. Like all persons of this extraction, she was thoroughly
selfish. She was not unaware how impatiently Alberoni endured her
presence, and feared her favour with the Queen, whom he wished to possess
alone; and, more sensible to the gentle taps she from time to time
received from him, than to his ordinary attentions, she looked upon him
simply as a very formidable enemy, who kept her within very narrow
limits, who hindered her from profiting by the favour of the Queen, and
whose design was to send her back to Parma, and to leave nothing undone
until he had carried it out.

This is all the information I have ever been able to obtain. The
probability is, that Donna Laura was gained by the money of the Regent
and the intrigues gained Dubois; and that she succeeded in convincing the
Queen of Spain that Alberoni was a minister who had ruined the country,
who was the sole obstacle in the way of peace, and who had sacrificed
everything and everybody to his personal views, their Catholic Majesties
included. However, as I relate only what I know, I shall be very brief
upon this interesting event.

Laura succeeded. Alberoni, at the moment he least expected it, received
a note from the King of Spain ordering him to withdraw at once, without
attempting to see him or the Queen, or to write to them; and to leave
Spain in twice twenty-four hours! An officer of the guards was to
accompany him until his departure: How this overruling order was
received, and what the Cardinal did, I know not; I only know that he
obeyed it, and took the road for Arragon. So few precautions had been
taken, that he carried off an immense number of papers, money, and
jewels; and it was not until a few days had elapsed, that the King of
Spain was informed that the original will of Charles the Second could not
be found. It was at once supposed that Alberoni had carried away this
precious document (by which Charles the Second named Philippe V. King of
Spain), in order to offer it, perhaps, to the Emperor, so as to gain his
favour and good graces. Alberoni was stopped. It was not without
trouble, the most terrible menaces, and loud cries from him, that he
surrendered the testament, and some other important papers which it was
perceived were missing. The terror he had inspired was so profound,
that, until this moment, no one had dared to show his joy, or to speak,
though the tyrant was gone. But this event reassured every one against
his return, and the result was an unexampled overflow of delight, of
imprecations, and of reports against him, to the King and Queen, of the
most public occurrences (which they alone were ignorant of) and of.
private misdeeds, which it was no longer thought necessary to hide.

M. le Duc d'Orleans did not restrain his joy, still less the Abbe Dubois;
it was their work which had overthrown their personal enemy; with him
fell the wall of separation, so firmly erected by Alberoni between the
Regent and the King of Spain; and (at the same time) the sole obstacle
against peace. This last reason caused joy to burst out in Italy, in
Vienna, in London; and peace between France, and Spain soon resulted.

The allied princes felicitated themselves on what had happened; even the
Dutch were ravished to be delivered of a minister so double-dealing, so
impetuous, so powerful. M. le Duc d'Orleans dispatched the Chevalier de
Morcieu, a very skilful and intelligent man, and certainly in the hands
of the Abbe Dubois, to the extreme confines of the frontiers to wait for
Alberoni, accompanying him until the moment of his embarkation in
Provence for Italy; with orders never to lose sight of him, to make him
avoid the large towns and principal places as much as possible; suffer no
honours to be rendered to him; above all, to hinder him from
communicating with anybody, or anybody with him; in a word, to conduct
him civilly, like a prisoner under guard.

Morcieu executed to the letter this disagreeable commission; all the more
necessary, because, entirely disgraced as was Alberoni, everything was to
be forced from him while traversing a great part of France, where all who
were adverse to the Regent might have recourse to him. Therefore it was
not without good reason that every kind of liberty was denied him.

It may be imagined what was suffered by a man so impetuous, and so
accustomed to unlimited power; but he succeeded in accommodating himself
to such a great and sudden change of condition; in maintaining his self-
possession; in subjecting himself to no refusals; in being sage and
measured in his manners; very reserved in speech, with an air as though
he cared for nothing; and in adapting himself to everything without
questions, without pretension, without complaining, dissimulating
everything, and untiringly pretending to regard Morcieu as an
accompaniment of honour. He received, then, no sort of civility on the
part of the Regent, of Dubois, or of anybody; and performed the day's
journeys, arranged by Morcieu, without stopping, almost without suite,
until he arrived on the shores of the Mediterranean, where he immediately
embarked and passed to the Genoa coast.

Alberoni, delivered of his Argus, and arrived in Italy, found himself in
another trouble by the anger of the Emperor, who would suffer him
nowhere, and by the indignation of the Court of Rome, which prevailed, on
this occasion, over respect for the purple. Alberoni for a long time was
forced to keep out of the way, hidden and a fugitive, and was not able to
approach Rome until the death of the Pope. The remainder of the life of
this most extraordinary man is not a subject for these memoirs. But what
ought not to be forgotten is the last mark of rage, despair, and madness
that he gave in traversing France. He wrote to M. le Duc d'Orleans,
offering to supply him with the means of making a most dangerous war
against Spain; and at Marseilles, ready to embark, he again wrote to
reiterate the same offers, and press them on the Regent.

I cannot refrain from commenting here upon the blindness of allowing
ecclesiastics to meddle with public affairs; above all, cardinals, whose
special privilege is immunity from everything most infamous and most
degrading. Ingratitude, infidelity, revolt, felony, independence, are
the chief characteristics of these eminent criminals.

Of Alberoni's latter days I will say but a few words.

At the death of Clement XI., legal proceedings that had been taken to
deprive Alberoni of his cardinalship, came to an end. Wandering and
hidden in Italy, he was summoned to attend a conclave for the purpose of
electing a new Pope. Alberoni was the opprobrium of the sacred college;
proceedings, as I have said, were in progress to deprive him of his
cardinalship. The King and Queen of Spain evidently stimulated those
proceedings: the Pope just dead had opposed him; but the cardinals would
not agree to his disgrace; they would not consent to strip him of his
dignity. The example would have been too dangerous. That a cardinal,
prince, or great nobleman, should surrender his hat in order to marry,
the store of his house demands it; well and good; but to see a cardinal
deprive himself of his hat by way of penitence, is what his brethren will
not endure. A cardinal may be poisoned, stabbed, got rid of altogether,
but lose his dignity he never can. Rome must be infallible, or she is

It was decided, that if, at the election of the new Pope, Alberoni were
not admitted to take part in the proceedings, he always might protest
against them, and declare them irregular. Therefore he was, as I have
said, admitted to the conclave. He arrived in Rome, without display, in
his own coach, and was received in the conclave with the same honours as
all the other cardinals, and performed all the duties of his position.

A few days after the election, he absented himself from Rome, as though
to see whether proceedings would be continued against him. But they fell
of themselves. The new Pope had no interest in them. The cardinals
wished only for silence. Spain felt at last the inutility of her cries.
Dubois was in favour of throwing a veil over his former crimes, so that,
after a short absence, Alberoni hired in Rome a magnificent palace, and
returned there for good, with the attendance, expense, and display his
Spanish spoils supplied. He found himself face to face with the Cardinal
Giudice, and with Madame des Ursins. The three formed a rare triangle,
which caused many a singular scene in home. After seeing them both die,
Alberoni became legate at Ferrara, continued there a long time, little
esteemed at Rome, where he is now living, sound in mind and body, and
eighty-six years of age.


The King attended the Royal Council for the first time on Sunday, the
18th of February, 1720. He said nothing while there, or on going away,
excepting that when M. le Duc d'Orleans, who feared he might grow weary
of the proceedings, proposed to him to leave, he said he would stop to
the end. After this he did not come always, but often, invariably
remaining to the last, without moving or speaking. His presence changed
nothing in the order of our arrangements, because his armchair was always
there, alone, at the end of the table, and M. le Duc d'Orleans, whether
his Majesty came or not, had but a "stool" similar to those we all sat
upon. Step by step this council had been so much increased, that now, by
the entry of the Duc de Berwick, it numbered sixteen members! To say
truth, we were far too many, and we had several among us who would have
been much better away. I had tried, but in vain, to make the Regent see
this. He did see at last, but it was too late; and meanwhile we were, as
I have stated, sixteen in the council. I remember that one day, when the
King came, a kitten followed him, and some time after jumped upon him,
and thence upon the table, where it began to walk; the Duc de Noailles
immediately crying out, because he did not like cats. M. le Duc
d'Orleans wished to drive the animal away. I smiled, and said, "Oh,
leave the kitten alone, it will make the seventeenth."

M. le Duc d'Orleans burst out laughing at this, and looked at the
company, who laughed also, the King as well. His Majesty briefly spoke
of it to me on the morrow, as though appreciating the joke, which, by the
way, immediately ran over all Paris.

The Abbe Dubois still maintained his pernicious influence over the
Regent, and still looked forward to a cardinalship as the reward of his
scheming, his baseness, and his perfidy. In the meantime, the
Archbishopric of Cambrai became vacant (by the death, at Rome, of the
Cardinal Tremoille). That is to say, the richest archbishopric, and one
of the best posts in the Church. The Abbe Dubois was only tonsured;
150,000 livres, a year tempted him, and perhaps this position, from which
he could more easily elevate himself to the cardinalship. Impudent as he
might be, powerful as might be the empire he had acquired over his
master, he was much embarrassed, and masked his effrontery under a trick.
He said to M. le Duc d'Orleans, he had a pleasant dream; and related to
him that he had dreamt he was Archbishop of Cambrai! The Regent, who
smelt the rat, turned on his heel, and said nothing. Dubois, more and
more embarrassed, stammered, and paraphrased his dream; then, re-assuring
himself by an effort, asked, in an offhand manner, why he should not
obtain it, His Royal Highness, by his will alone, being able thus to make
his fortune.

M. le Duc d'Orleans was indignant, even terrified, little scrupulous as
he might be as to the choice of bishops, and in a tone of contempt
replied to Dubois, "What, you Archbishop of Cambrai!" making him thus

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