Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

The Memoirs of Louis XIV., His Court and The Regency, v11 by Duc de Saint-Simon

Part 1 out of 2

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

This etext was produced by David Widger

[NOTE: There is a short list of bookmarks, or pointers, at the end of the
file for those who may wish to sample the author's ideas before making an
entire meal of them. D.W.]





External Life of Louis XIV.--At the Army.--Etiquette of the King's
Table.--Court Manners and Customs.--The Rising of the King.--Morning
Occupations.--Secret Amours.--Going to Mass.--Councils.--Thursdays.--
Fridays.--Ceremony of the King's Dinner.--The King's Brother.--After
Dinner.--The Drive.--Walks at Marly and Elsewhere.--Stag--hunting.--Play-
tables.--Lotteries.--Visits to Madame de Maintenon.--Supper.--The King
Retires to Rest.--Medicine Days.--Kings Religious Observances.--Fervency
in Lent.--At Mass.--Costume.--Politeness of the King for the Court of
Saint-Germain.--Feelings of the Court at His Death.--Relief of Madame de
Maintenon.--Of the Duchesse d'Orleans.--Of the Court Generally.--Joy of
Paris and the Whole of France.--Decency of Foreigners.--Burial of the


Surprise of M. d'Orleans at the King's Death.--My Interview with Him.--
Dispute about Hats.--M. du Maine at the Parliament.--His Reception.--
My Protest.--The King's Will.--Its Contents and Reception.--Speech of the
Duc d'Orleans.--Its Effect.--His Speech on the Codicil.--Violent
Discussion.--Curious Scene.--Interruption for Dinner.--Return to the
Parliament.--Abrogation of the Codicil.--New Scheme of Government.--
The Regent Visits Madame de Maintenon.--The Establishment of Saint-Cyr.--
The Regent's Liberality to Madame de Maintenon.


The Young King's Cold.--'Lettres des Cachet' Revived.--A Melancholy
Story.--A Loan from Crosat.--Retrenchments.--Unpaid Ambassadors.--Council
of the Regency.--Influence of Lord Stair.--The Pretender.--His Departure
from Bar.--Colonel Douglas.--The Pursuit.--Adventure at Nonancourt.--Its
Upshot.--Madame l'Hospital.--Ingratitude of the Pretender.


Behaviour of the Duchesse de Berry.--Her Arrogance Checked by Public
Opinion.--Walls up the Luxembourg Garden.--La Muette.--Her Strange Amour
with Rion.--Extraordinary Details.--The Duchess at the Carmelites.--
Weakness of the Regent.--His Daily Round of Life.--His Suppers.--
How He Squandered His Time.--His Impenetrability.--Scandal of His Life.--
Public Balls at the Opera.


First Appearance of Law.--His Banking Project Supported by the Regent.--
Discussed by the Regent with Me.--Approved by the Council and Registered.
--My Interviews with Law.--His Reasons for Seeking My Friendship.--
Arouet de Voltaire.


Rise of Alberoni.--Intimacy of France and England.--Gibraltar Proposed to
be Given Up.--Louville the Agent.--His Departure.--Arrives at Madrid.--
Alarm of Alberoni.--His Audacious Intrigues.--Louville in the Bath.--
His Attempts to See the King.--Defeated.--Driven out of Spain.--Impudence
of Alberoni.--Treaty between France and England.--Stipulation with
Reference to the Pretender.


The Lieutenant of Police.--Jealousy of Parliament.--Arrest of Pomereu
Resolved On.--His Imprisonment and Sudden Release.--Proposed Destruction
of Marly.--How I Prevented It.--Sale of the Furniture.--I Obtain the
'Grandes Entrees'.--Their Importance and Nature.--Afterwards Lavished
Indiscriminately.--Adventure of the Diamond called "The Regent."--Bought
for the Crown of France.


Death of the Duchesse de Lesdiguieres.--Cavoye and His Wife.--Peter the
Great.--His Visit to France.--Enmity to England.--Its Cause.--Kourakin,
the Russian Ambassador.--The Czar Studies Rome.--Makes Himself the Head
of Religion.--New Desires for Rome--Ultimately Suppressed.--Preparations
to Receive the Czar at Paris.--His Arrival at Dunkerque.--At Beaumont.--
Dislikes the Fine Quarters Provided for Him.--His Singular Manners, and
Those of His Suite.


Personal Appearance of the Czar.--His Meals.--Invited by the Regent.--
His Interview with the King--He Returns the Visit.--Excursion in Paris.--
Visits Madame.--Drinks Beer at the Opera.--At the Invalides.--Meudon.--
Issy.--The Tuileries.--Versailles.--Hunt at Fontainebleau.--Saint--Cyr.--
Extraordinary Interview with Madame de Maintenon.--My Meeting with the
Czar at D'Antin's.--The Ladies Crowd to See Him.--Interchange of
Presents.--A Review.--Party Visits.--Desire of the Czar to Be United to


Courson in Languedoc.--Complaints of Perigueux.--Deputies to Paris.--
Disunion at the Council.--Intrigues of the Duc de Noailles.--Scene.--
I Support the Perigueux People.--Triumph.--My Quarrel with Noailles.--
The Order of the Pavilion.


After having thus described with truth and the most exact fidelity all
that has come to my knowledge through my own experience, or others
qualified to speak of Louis XIV. during the last twenty-two years of his
life: and after having shown him such as he was, without prejudice
(although I have permitted myself to use the arguments naturally
resulting from things), nothing remains but to describe the outside life
of this monarch, during my residence at the Court.

However insipid and perhaps superfluous details so well known may appear
after what has been already given, lessons will be found therein for
kings who may wish to make themselves respected, and who may wish to
respect themselves. What determines me still more is, that details
wearying, nay annoying, to instructed readers, who had been witnesses of
what I relate, soon escape the knowledge of posterity; and that
experience shows us how much we regret that no one takes upon himself a
labour, in his own time so ungrateful, but in future years so
interesting, and by which princes, who have made quite as much stir as
the one in question, are characterise. Although it may be difficult to
steer clear of repetitions, I will do my best to avoid them.

I will not speak much of the King's manner of living when with the army.
His hours were determined by what was to be done, though he held his
councils regularly; I will simply say, that morning and evening he ate
with people privileged to have that honour. When any one wished to claim
it, the first gentleman of the chamber on duty was appealed to. He gave
the answer, and if favourable you presented yourself the next day to the
King, who said to you, "Monsieur, seat yourself at table." That being
done, all was done. Ever afterwards you were at liberty to take a place
at the King's table, but with discretion. The number of the persons from
whom a choice was made was, however, very limited. Even very high
military rank did not suffice. M. de Vauban, at the siege of Namur, was
overwhelmed by the distinction. The King did the same honour at Namur to
the Abbe de Grancey, who exposed himself everywhere to confess the
wounded and encourage the troops. No other Abbe was ever so
distinguished. All the clergy were excluded save the cardinals, and the
bishops, piers, or the ecclesiastics who held the rank of foreign

At these repasts everybody was covered; it would have been a want of
respect, of which you would have been immediately informed, if you had
not kept your hat on your head. The King alone was uncovered. When the
King wished to speak to you, or you had occasion to speak to him, you
uncovered. You uncovered, also, when Monseigneur or Monsieur spoke to
you, or you to them. For Princes of the blood you merely put your hand
to your hat. The King alone had an armchair. All the rest of the
company, Monseigneur included, had seats, with backs of black morocco
leather, which could be folded up to be carried, and which were called
"parrots." Except at the army, the King never ate with any man, under
whatever circumstances; not even with the Princes of the Blood, save
sometimes at their wedding feasts.

Let us return now to the Court.

At eight o'clock the chief valet de chambre on duty, who alone had slept
in the royal chamber, and who had dressed himself, awoke the King. The
chief physician, the chief surgeon, and the nurse (as long as she lived),
entered at the same time; the latter kissed the King; the others rubbed
and often changed his shirt, because he was in the habit of sweating a
great deal. At the quarter, the grand chamberlain was called (or, in his
absence, the first gentleman of the chamber), and those who had what was
called the 'grandes entrees'. The chamberlain (or chief gentleman) drew
back the curtains which had been closed again; and presented the holy-
water from the vase, at the head of the bed. These gentlemen stayed but
a moment, and that was the time to speak to the King, if any one had
anything to ask of him; in which case the rest stood aside. When,
contrary to custom, nobody had ought to say, they were there but for a
few moments. He who had opened the curtains and presented the holy-
water, presented also a prayer-book. Then all passed into the cabinet of
the council. A very short religious service being over, the King called,
they re-entered, The same officer gave him his dressing-gown; immediately
after, other privileged courtiers entered, and then everybody, in time to
find the King putting on his shoes and stockings, for he did almost
everything himself and with address and grace. Every other day we saw
him shave himself; and he had a little short wig in which he always
appeared, even in bed, and on medicine days. He often spoke of the
chase, and sometimes said a-word to somebody. No toilette table was near
him; he had simply a mirror held before him.

As soon as he was dressed, he prayed to God, at the side of his bed,
where all the clergy present knelt, the cardinals without cushions, all
the laity remaining standing; and the captain of the guards came to the
balustrade during the prayer, after which the King passed into his

He found there, or was followed by all who had the entree, a very
numerous company, for it included everybody in any office. He gave
orders to each for the day; thus within a half a quarter of an hour it
was known what he meant to do; and then all this crowd left directly.
The bastards, a few favourites; and the valets alone were left. It was
then a good opportunity for talking with the King; for example, about
plans of gardens and buildings; and conversation lasted more or less
according to the person engaged in it.

All the Court meantime waited for the King in the gallery, the captain of
the guard being alone in the chamber seated at the door of the cabinet.
At morning the Court awaited in the saloon; at Trianon in the front rooms
as at Meudon; at Fontainebleau in the chamber and ante-chamber. During
this pause the King gave audiences when he wished to accord any; spoke
with whoever he might wish to speak secretly to, and gave secret
interviews to foreign ministers in presence of Torcy. They were called
"secret" simply to distinguish them from the uncommon ones by the

The King went to mass, where his musicians always sang an anthem. He did
not go below--except on grand fetes or at ceremonies. Whilst he was
going to and returning from mass, everybody spoke to him who wished,
after apprising the captain of the guard, if they were not distinguished;
and he came and went by the door of the cabinet into the gallery. During
the mass the ministers assembled in the King's chamber, where
distinguished people could go and speak or chat with them. The King
amused himself a little upon returning from mass and asked almost
immediately for the council. Then the morning was finished.

On Sunday, and often on Monday, there was a council of state; on Tuesday
a finance council; on Wednesday council of state; on Saturday finance
council: rarely were two held in one day or any on Thursday or Friday.
Once or twice a month there was a council of despatches on Monday
morning; but the order that the Secretaries of State took every morning
between the King's rising and his mass, much abridged this kind of
business. All the ministers were seated accordingly to rank, except at
the council of despatches, where all stood except the sons of France, the
Chancellor, and the Duc de Beauvilliers.

Thursday morning was almost always blank. It was the day for audiences
that the King wished to give--often unknown to any--back-stair audiences.
It was also the grand day taken advantage of by the bastards, the valets,
etc., because the King had nothing to do. On Friday after the mass the
King was with his confessor, and the length of their audiences was
limited by nothing, and might last until dinner. At Fontainebleau on the
mornings when there was no council, the King usually passed from mass to
Madame de Maintenon's, and so at Trianon and Marly. It was the time for
their tete-a-tete without interruption. Often on the days when there was
no council the dinner hour was advanced, more or less for the chase or
the promenade. The ordinary hour was one o'clock; if the council still
lasted, then the dinner waited and nothing was said to the King.

The dinner was always 'au petit couvert', that is, the King ate by
himself in his chamber upon a square table in front of the middle window.
It was more or less abundant, for he ordered in the morning whether it
was to be "a little," or "very little" service. But even at this last,
there were always many dishes, and three courses without counting the
fruit. The dinner being ready, the principal courtiers entered; then all
who were known; and the gentleman of the chamber on duty informed the

I have seen, but very rarely, Monseigneur and his sons standing at their
dinners, the King not offering them a seat. I have continually seen
there the Princes of the blood and the cardinals. I have often seen
there also Monsieur, either on arriving from Saint-Cloud to see the King,
or arriving from the council of despatches (the only one he entered),
give the King his napkin and remain standing. A little while afterwards,
the King, seeing that he did not go away, asked him if he would not sit
down; he bowed, and the King ordered a seat to be brought for him. A
stool was put behind him. Some moments after the King said, "Nay then,
sit down, my brother." Monsieur bowed and seated himself until the end
of the dinner, when he presented the napkin.

At other times when he came from Saint-Cloud, the King, on arriving at
the table, asked for a plate for Monsieur, or asked him if he would dine.
If he refused, he went away a moment after, and there was no mention of a
seat; if he accepted, the King asked for a plate for him. The table was
square, he placed himself at one end, his back to the cabinet. Then the
Grand Chamberlain (or the first gentleman of the chamber) gave him drink
and plates, taking them from him as he finished with them, exactly as he
served the King; but Monsieur received all this attention with strongly
marked politeness. When he dined thus with the King he much enlivened
the conversation. The King ordinarily spoke little at table unless some
family favourite was near. It was the same at hid rising. Ladies
scarcely ever were seen at these little dinners.

I have, however, seen the Marechale de la Mothe, who came in because she
had been used to do so as governess to the children of France, and who
received a seat, because she was a Duchess. Grand dinners were very
rare, and only took place on grand occasions, and then ladies were

Upon leaving the table the King immediately entered his cabinet. That
was the time for distinguished people to speak to him. He stopped at the
door a moment to listen, then entered; very rarely did any one follow
him, never without asking him for permission to do so; and for this few
had the courage. If followed he placed himself in the embrasure of the
window nearest to the door of the cabinet, which immediately closed of
itself, and which you were obliged to open yourself on quitting the King.
This also was the time for the bastards and the valets.

The King amused himself by feeding his dogs, and remained with them more
or less time, then asked for his wardrobe, changed before the very few
distinguished people it pleased the first gentleman of the chamber to
admit there, and immediately went out by the back stairs into the court
of marble to get into his coach. From the bottom of that staircase to
the coach, any one spoke to him who wished.

The King was fond of air, and when deprived of it his health suffered; he
had headaches and vapours caused by the undue use he had formerly made of
perfumes, so that for many years he could not endure any, except the
odour of orange flowers; therefore if you had to approach anywhere near
him you did well not to carry them.

As he was but little sensitive to heat or cold, or even to rain, the
weather was seldom sufficiently bad to prevent his going abroad. He went
out for three objects: stag-hunting, once or more each week; shooting in
his parks (and no man handled a gun with more grace or skill), once or
twice each week; and walking in his gardens for exercise, and to see his
workmen. Sometimes he made picnics with ladies, in the forest at Marly
or at Fontainebleau, and in this last place, promenades with all the
Court around the canal, which was a magnificent spectacle. Nobody
followed him in his other promenades but those who held principal
offices, except at Versailles or in the gardens of Trianon. Marly had a
privilege unknown to the other places. On going out from the chateau,
the King said aloud, "Your hats, gentlemen," and immediately courtiers,
officers of the guard, everybody, in fact, covered their heads, as he
would have been much displeased had they not done so; and this lasted all
the promenade, that is four or five hours in summer, or in other seasons,
when he dined early at Versailles to go and walk at Marly, and not sleep

The stag-hunting parties were on an extensive scale. At Fontainebleau
every one went who wished; elsewhere only those were allowed to go who
had obtained the permission once for all, and those who had obtained
leave to wear the justau-corps, which was a blue uniform with silver and
gold lace, lined with red. The King did not like too many people at
these parties. He did not care for you to go if you were not fond of the
chase. He thought that ridiculous, and never bore ill-will to those who
stopped away altogether.

It was the same with the play-table, which he liked to see always well
frequented--with high stakes--in the saloon at Marly, for lansquenet and
other games. He amused himself at Fontainebleau during bad weather by
seeing good players at tennis, in which he had formerly excelled; and at
Marly by seeing mall played, in which he had also been skilful.
Sometimes when there was no council, he would make presents of stuff, or
of silverware, or jewels, to the ladies, by means of a lottery, for the
tickets of which they paid nothing. Madame de Maintenon drew lots with
the others, and almost always gave at once what she gained. The King
took no ticket.

Upon returning home from walks or drives, anybody, as I have said, might
speak to the King from the moment he left his coach till he reached the
foot of his staircase. He changed his dress again, and rested in his
cabinet an hour or more, then went to Madame de Maintenon's, and on the
way any one who wished might speak to him.

At ten o'clock his supper was served. The captain of the guard announced
this to him. A quarter of an hour after the King came to supper, and
from the antechamber of Madame de Maintenon to the table--again, any one
spoke to him who wished. This supper was always on a grand scale, the
royal household (that is, the sons and daughters of France) at table, and
a large number of courtiers and ladies present, sitting or standing, and
on the evening before the journey to Marly all those ladies who wished to
take part in it. That was called presenting yourself for Marly. Men
asked in the morning, simply saying to the King, "Sire, Marly." In later
years the King grew tired of this, and a valet wrote up in the gallery
the names of those who asked. The ladies continued to present

After supper the King stood some moments, his back to the balustrade of
the foot of his bed, encircled by all his Court; then, with bows to the
ladies, passed into his cabinet, where, on arriving, he gave his orders.

He passed a little less than an hour there, seated in an armchair, with
his legitimate children and bastards, his grandchildren, legitimate and
otherwise, and their husbands or wives. Monsieur in another armchair;
the Princesses upon stools, Monseigneur and all the other Princes

The King, wishing to retire, went and fed his dogs; then said good night,
passed into his chamber to the 'ruelle' of his bed, where he said his
prayers, as in the morning, then undressed. He said good night with an
inclination of the head, and whilst everybody was leaving the room stood
at the corner of the mantelpiece, where he gave the order to the colonel
of the guards alone. Then commenced what was called the 'petit coucher',
at which only the specially privileged remained. That was short. They
did not leave until be got into bed. It was a moment to speak to him.
Then all left if they saw any one buckle to the King. For ten or twelve
years before he died the 'petit coucher' ceased, in consequence of a long
attack of gout be had had; so that the Court was finished at the rising
from supper.

On medicine days, which occurred about once a month, the King remained in
bed, then heard mass. The royal household came to see him for a moment,
and Madame de Maintenon seated herself in the armchair at the head of his
bed. The King dined in bed about three o'clock, everybody being allowed
to enter the room, then rose, and the privileged alone remained. He
passed afterwards into his cabinet, where he held a council, and
afterwards went, as usual, to Madame de Maintenon's and supped at ten
o'clock, according to custom.

During all his life, the King failed only once in his attendance at mass,
It was with the army, during a forced march; he missed no fast day,
unless really indisposed. Some days before Lent, he publicly declared
that he should be very much displeased if any one ate meat or gave it to
others, under any pretext. He ordered the grand prevot to look to this,
and report all cases of disobedience. But no one dared to disobey his
commands, for they would soon have found out the cost. They extended
even to Paris, where the lieutenant of police kept watch and reported.
For twelve or fifteen years he had himself not observed Lent, however.
At church he was very respectful. During his mass everybody was obliged
to kneel at the Sanctus, and to remain so until after the communion of
the priest; and if he heard the least noise, or saw anybody talking
during the mass, he was much displeased. He took the communion five
times a year, in the collar of the Order, band, and cloak. On Holy
Thursday, he served the poor at dinner; at the mass he said his chaplet
(he knew no more), always kneeling, except at the Gospel.

He was always clad in dresses more or less brown, lightly embroidered,
but never at the edges, sometimes with nothing but a gold button,
sometimes black velvet. He wore always a vest of cloth, or of red, blue,
or green satin, much embroidered. He used no ring; and no jewels, except
in the buckles of his shoes, garters, and hat, the latter always trimmed
with Spanish point, with a white feather. He had always the cordon bleu
outside, except at fetes, when he wore it inside, with eight or ten
millions of precious stones attached.

Rarely a fortnight passed that the King did not go to Saint-Germain, even
after the death of King James the Second. The Court of Saint-Germain
came also to Versailles, but oftener to Marly, and frequently to sup
there; and no fete or ceremony took place to which they were not invited,
and at which they were not received with all honours. Nothing could
compare with the politeness of the King for this Court, or with the air
of gallantry and of majesty with which he received it at any time. Birth
days, or the fete days of the King and his family, so observed in the
courts of Europe, were always unknown in that of the King; so that there
never was the slightest mention of them, or any difference made on their

The King was but little regretted. His valets and a few other people
felt his loss, scarcely anybody else. His successor was not yet old
enough to feel anything. Madame entertained for him only fear and
considerate respect. Madame la Duchesse de Berry did not like him, and
counted now upon reigning undisturbed. M. le Duc d'Orleans could
scarcely be expected to feel much grief for him. And those who may have
been expected did not consider it necessary to do their duty. Madame de
Maintenon was wearied with him ever since the death of the Dauphine; she
knew not what to do, or with what to amuse him; her constraint was
tripled because he was much more with her than before. She had often,
too, experienced much ill-humour from him. She had attained all she
wished, so whatever she might lose in losing him, she felt herself
relieved, and was capable of no other sentiment at first. The ennui and
emptiness of her life afterwards made her feel regret. As for M. du
Maine, the barbarous indecency of his joy need not be dwelt upon. The
icy tranquillity of his brother, the Comte de Toulouse, neither increased
nor diminished. Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans surprised me. I had
expected some grief, I perceived only a few tears, which upon all
occasions flowed very readily from her eyes, and which were soon dried
up. Her bed, which she was very fond of, supplied what was wanting
during several days, amidst obscurity which she by no means disliked.

But the window curtains were soon withdrawn and grief disappeared.

As for the Court, it was divided into two grand parties, the men hoping
to figure, to obtain employ, to introduce themselves: and they were
ravished to see the end of a reign under which they had nothing to hope
for; the others; fatigued with a heavy yoke, always overwhelming, and of
the ministers much more than of the King, were charmed to find themselves
at liberty. Thus all, generally speaking, were glad to be delivered from
continual restraint, and were eager for change.

Paris, tired of a dependence which had enslaved everything, breathed
again in the hope of liberty, and with joy at seeing at an end the
authority of so many people who abused it. The provinces in despair at
their ruin and their annihilation breathed again and leaped for joy; and
the Parliament and the robe destroyed by edicts and by revolutions,
flattered themselves the first that they should figure, the other that
they should find themselves free. The people ruined, overwhelmed,
desperate, gave thanks to God, with a scandalous eclat, for a
deliverance, their most ardent desires had not anticipated.

Foreigners delighted to be at last, after so many years, quit of a
monarch who had so long imposed his law upon them, and who had escaped
from them by a species of miracle at the very moment in which they
counted upon having subjugated him, contained themselves with much more
decency than the French. The marvels of the first three quarters of this
reign of more than seventy years, and the personal magnanimity of this
King until then so successful, and so abandoned afterwards by fortune
during the last quarter of his reign--had justly dazzled them. They made
it a point of honour to render to him after his death what they had
constantly refused him during life. No foreign Court exulted: all plumed
themselves upon praising and honouring his memory. The Emperor wore
mourning as for a father, and although four or five months elapsed
between the death of the King and the Carnival, all kinds of amusements
were prohibited at Vienna during the Carnival, and the prohibition was
strictly observed. A monstrous fact was, that towards the end of this
period there was a single ball and a kind of fete that the Comte du Luc
our own ambassador, was not ashamed to give to the ladies, who seduced
him by the ennui of so dull a Carnival. This complaisance did not raise
him in estimation at Vienna or elsewhere. In France people were
contented with ignoring it.

As for our ministry and the intendants of the provinces, the financiers
and what may be called the canaille, they felt all the extent of their
loss. We shall see if the realm was right or wrong in the sentiments it
held, and whether it found soon after that it had gained or lost.

To finish at once all that regards the King, let me here say, that his
entrails were taken to Notre Dame, on the 4th of September, without any
ceremony, by two almoners of the King, without accompaniment. On Friday,
the 6th of September, the Cardinal de Rohan carried the heart to the
Grand Jesuits, with very little accompaniment or pomp. Except the
persons necessary for the ceremony, not half a dozen courtiers were
present. It is not for me to comment upon this prompt ingratitude, I,
who for fifty-two years have never once missed going to Saint-Denis on
the anniversary of the death of Louis XIII., and have never seen a single
person there on the same errand. On the 9th of September, the body of
the late King was buried at Saint-Denis. The Bishop of Aleth pronounced
the oration. Very little expense was gone to; and nobody was found who
cared sufficiently for the late King to murmur at the economy. On
Friday, the 25th of October, his solemn obsequies took place at Saint-
Denis in a confusion, as to rank and precedence, without example. On
Thursday, the 28th of November, the solemn obsequies were again
performed, this time at Notre Dame, and with the usual ceremonies.


The death of the King surprised M. le Duc d'Orleans in the midst of his
idleness as though it had not been foreseen. He had made no progress in
numberless arrangements, which I had suggested he should carry out;
accordingly he was overwhelmed with orders to give, with things to
settle, each more petty than the other, but all so provisional and so
urgent that it happened as I had predicted, he had no time to think of
anything important.

I learnt the death of the King upon awaking. Immediately after, I went
to pay my respects to the new monarch. The first blood had already
passed. I found myself almost alone. I went thence to M. le Duc
d'Orleans, whom I found shut in, but all his apartments so full that a
pin could not have fallen to the ground. I talked of the Convocation of
the States-General, and reminded him of a promise he had given me, that
he would allow the Dukes to keep their hats on when their votes were
asked for; and I also mentioned various other promises he had made. All
I could obtain from him was another promise, that when the public affairs
of pressing moment awaiting attention were disposed of, we should have
all we required. Several of the Dukes who had been witnesses of the
engagement M. le Duc d'Orleans had made, were much vexed at this; but
ultimately it was agreed that for the moment we would sacrifice our own
particular interests to those of the State.

Between five and six the next morning a number of us met at the house of
the Archbishop of Rheims at the end of the Pont Royal, behind the Hotel
de Mailly, and there, in accordance with a resolution previously agreed
upon, it was arranged that I should make a protest to the Parliament
before the opening of the King's will there, against certain other
usurpations, and state that it was solely because M. le Duc d'Orleans had
given us his word that our complaints should be attended to as soon as
the public affairs of the government were settled, that we postponed
further measures upon this subject. It was past seven before our debate
ended, and then we went straight to the Parliament.

We found it already assembled, and a few Dukes who had not attended our
meeting, but had promised to be guided by us, were also present; and then
a quarter of an hour after we were seated the bastards arrived. M. du
Maine was bursting with joy; the term is strange, but his bearing cannot
otherwise be described. The smiling and satisfied air prevailed over
that of audacity and of confidence, which shone, nevertheless, and over
politeness which seemed to struggle with them. He saluted right and
left, and pierced everybody with his looks. His salutation to the
Presidents had an air of rejoicing. To the peers he was serious, nay,
respectful; the slowness, the lowness of his inclination, was eloquent.
His head remained lowered even when he rose, so heavy is the weight of
crime, even at the moment when nothing but triumph is expected. I
rigidly followed him everywhere with my eyes, and I remarked that his
salute was returned by the peers in a very dry and cold manner.

Scarcely were we re-seated than M. le Duc arrived, and the instant after
M. le Duc d'Orleans. I allowed the stir that accompanied his appearance
to subside a little, and then, seeing that the, Chief-President was about
to speak, I forestalled him, uncovered my head, and then covered it, and
made my speech in the terms agreed upon. I concluded by appealing to M.
le Duc d'Orleans to verify the truth of what I had said, in so far as it
affected him.

The profound silence with which I was listened to showed the surprise of
all present. M. le Duc d'Orleans uncovered himself, and in a low tone,
and with an embarrassed manner, confirmed what I had said, then covered
himself again.

Immediately afterwards I looked at M. du Maine, who appeared, to be well
content at being let off so easily, and who, my neighbours said to me,
appeared much troubled at my commencement.

A very short silence followed my protest, after which I saw the Chief-
President say something in a low tone to M. le Duc d'Orleans, then
arrange a deputation of the Parliament to go in search of the King's
will, and its codicil, which had been put in the same place. Silence
continued during this great and short period of expectation; every one
looked at his neighbour without stirring. We were all upon the lower
seats, the doors were supposed to be closed, but the grand chamber was
filled with a large and inquisitive crowd. The regiment of guards had
secretly occupied all the avenues, commanded by the Duc de Guiche, who
got six hundred thousand francs out of the Duc d'Orleans for this
service, which was quite unnecessary.

The deputation was not long in returning. It placed the will and the
codicil in the hands of the Chief-President, who presented them, without
parting with them, to M. le Duc d'Orleans, then passed them from hand to
hand to Dreux, 'conseiller' of the Parliament, and father of the grand
master of the ceremonies, saying that he read well, and in a loud voice
that would he well heard by everybody. It may be imagined with what
silence he was listened to, and how all eyes? and ears were turned
towards him. Through all his; joy the Duc du Maine showed that his soul
was, troubled, as though about to undergo an operation that he must
submit to. M. le Duc d'Orleans showed only a tranquil attention.

I will not dwell upon these two documents, in which nothing is provided
but the grandeur and the power of the bastards, Madame de Maintenon and
Saint-Cyr, the choice of the King's education and of the council of the
regency, by which M. le Duc d'Orleans was to be shorn of all authority to
the advantage of M. le Duc du Maine.

I remarked a sadness and a kind of indignation which were painted upon
all cheeks, as the reading advanced, and which turned into a sort of
tranquil fermentation at the reading of the codicil, which was entrusted
to the Abbe Menguy, another conseiller. The Duc du Maine felt it and
grew pale, for he was solely occupied in looking at every face, and I in
following his looks, and in glancing occasionally at M. le Duc d'Orleans.

The reading being finished, that prince spoke, casting his eyes upon all
the assembly, uncovering himself, and then covering himself again, and
commencing by a word of praise and of regret for the late King;
afterwards raising his voice, he declared that he had only to approve
everything just read respecting the education of the King, and everything
respecting an establishment so fine and so useful as that of Saint-Cyr;
that with respect to the dispositions concerning the government of the
state, he would speak separately of those in the will and those in the
codicil; that he could with difficulty harmonise them with the assurances
the King, during the last days of his life, had given him; that the King
could not have understood the importance of what he had been made to do
for the Duc du Maine since the council of the regency was chosen, and M.
du Maine's authority so established by the will, that the Regent remained
almost without power; that this injury done to the rights of his birth,
to his attachment to the person of the King, to his love and fidelity for
the state, could not be endured if he was to preserve his honour; and
that he hoped sufficiently from the esteem of all present, to persuade
himself that his regency would be declared as it ought to be, that is to
say, complete, independent, and that he should be allowed to choose his
own council, with the members of which he would not discuss public
affairs, unless they were persons who, being approved by the public,
might also have his confidence. This short speech appeared to make a
great impression.

The Duc du Maine wished to speak. As he was about to do so, M. le Duc
d'Orleans put his head in front of M. le Duc and said, in a dry tone,
"Monsieur, you will speak in your turn." In one moment the affair turned
according to the desires of M. le Duc d'Orleans. The power of the
council of the regency and its composition fell. The choice of the
council was awarded to M. le Duc d'Orleans, with all the authority of the
regency, and to the plurality of the votes of the council, the decision
of affairs, the vote of the Regent to be counted as two in the event of
an equal division. Thus all favours and all punishments remained in the
hands of M. le Duc d'Orleans alone. The acclamation was such that the
Duc du Maine did not dare to say a word. He reserved himself for the
codicil, which, if adopted, would have annulled all that M. le Duc
d'Orleans had just obtained.

After some few moments of silence, M. le Duc d'Orleans spoke again. He
testified fresh surprise that the dispositions of the will had not been
sufficient for those who had suggested them, and that, not content with
having established themselves as masters of the state, they themselves
should have thought those dispositions so strange that in order to
reassure them, it had been thought necessary to make them masters of the
person of the King, of the Regent, of the Court, and of Paris. He added,
that if his honour and all law and rule had been wounded by the
dispositions of the will, still more violated were they by those of the
codicil, which left neither his life nor his liberty in safety, and
placed the person of the King in the absolute dependence of those who had
dared to profit by the feeble state of a dying monarch, to draw from him
conditions he did not understand. He concluded by declaring that the
regency was impossible under such conditions, and that he doubted not the
wisdom of the assembly would annul a codicil which could not be
sustained, and the regulations of which would plunge France into the
greatest and most troublesome misfortune. Whilst this prince spoke a
profound and sad silence applauded him without explaining itself.

The Duc du Maine became of all colours, and began to speak, this time
being allowed to do so. He said that the education of the King, and
consequently his person, being confided to him, as a natural result,
entire authority over his civil and military household followed, without
which he could not properly serve him or answer for his person. Then he
vaunted his well-known attachment to the deceased King, who had put all
confidence in him.

M. le Duc d'Orleans interrupted him at this word, and commented upon it.
M. du Maine wished to calm him by praising the Marechal de Villeroy, who
was to assist him in his charge. M. le Duc d'Orleans replied that it
would be strange if the chief and most complete confidence were not
placed in the Regent, and stranger still if he were obliged to live under
the protection and authority of those who had rendered themselves the
absolute masters within and without, and of Paris even, by the regiment
of guards.

The dispute grew warm, broken phrases were thrown from one to the other,
when, troubled about the end of an altercation which became indecent and
yielding to the proposal that the Duc de la Force had just made me in
front of the Duc de la Rochefoucauld, who sat between us, I made a sign
with my hand to M. le Duc d'Orleans to go out and finish this discussion
in another room leading out of the grand chamber and where there was
nobody. What led me to this action was that I perceived M. du Maine grew
stronger, that confused murmurs for a division were heard, and that M. le
Duc d'Orleans did not shine to the best advantage since he descended to
plead his cause, so to speak, against that of the Duc du Maine.

M. le Duc d'Orleans was short-sighted. He was entirely absorbed in
attacking and repelling; so that he did not see the sign I made. Some
moments after I increased it, and meeting with no more success, rose,
advanced some steps, and said to him, though rather distant, "Monsieur,
if you passed into the fourth chamber with M. du Maine you could speak
there more easily," and advancing nearer at the same time I pressed him
by a sign of the head and the eyes that he could distinguish. He replied
to me with another sign, and scarcely was I reseated than I saw him
advance in front of M. le Duc to the Duc du Maine, and immediately after
both rose and went into the chamber I had indicated. I could not see who
of the scattered group around followed them, for all present rose at
their departure, and seated themselves again directly in complete
silence. Some time after, M. le Comte de Toulouse left his place and
went into the Chamber. M. le Duc followed him in a little while soon
again the Duc de la Force did the same.

He did not stay long. Returning to the assembly; he passed the Duc de la
Rochefoucauld and me, put his head between that of the Duc de Sully and
mine, because he did not wish to be heard by La Rochefoucauld, and said
to me, "In the name of God go there; things are getting on badly. M. le
Duc d'Orleans gives way; stop the dispute; make M. le Duc d'Orleans come
back; and, as soon as he is in his place, let him say that it is too late
to finish, that the company had better go to dinner, and return to finish
afterwards, and during this interval," added La Force, "send the King's
people to the Palais Royal, and let doubtful peers be spoken to, and the
chiefs among other magistrates."

The advice appeared to me good and important. I left the assembly and
went to the chamber. I found a large circle of spectators. M. le Duc
d'Orleans and the Duc du Maine stood before the fireplace, looking both
very excited. I looked at this spectacle some moments; then approached
the mantelpiece like a man who wishes to speak. "What is this,
Monsieur?" said M. le Duc d'Orleans to me, with an impatient manner.
"A pressing word, Monsieur, that I have to say to you," said I. He
continued speaking to the Duc du Maine, I being close by. I redoubled my
instances; he lent me his ear. "No, no," said I, "not like that, come
here," and I took him into a, corner by the chimney. The Comte de
Toulouse, who was there, drew completely back, and all the circle on that
side. The Duc du Maine drew back also from where he was.

I said to M. le Duc d'Orleans, in his ear, that he could not hope to gain
anything from M. du Maine, who would not sacrifice the codicil to his
reasonings; that the length of their conference became indecent, useless,
dangerous; that he was making a sight of himself to all who entered; that
the only thing to be done was to return to the assembly, and, when there,
dissolve it. "You are right," said he, "I will do it."--"But," said I,
"do it immediately, and do not allow yourself to be amused. It is to M.
de la Force you owe this advice: he sent me to give it you." He quitted
me without another word, went to M. du Maine, told him in two words that
it was too late, and that the matter must be finished after dinner.

I had remained where he left me. I saw the Duc du Maine bow to him
immediately, and the two separated, and retired at the same moment into
the assembly.

The noise which always accompanies these entrances being appeased, M. le
Duc d'Orleans said it was too late to abuse the patience of the company
any longer; that dinner must be eaten, and the work finished afterwards.
He immediately added, he believed it fitting that M. le Duc should enter
the council of the regency as its chief; and that since the company had
rendered the justice due to his birth and his position as Regent, he
would explain what he thought upon the form to be given to the
government, and that meanwhile he profited by the power he had to avail
himself of the knowledge and the wisdom of the company, and restored to
them from that time their former liberty of remonstrance. These words
were followed by striking and general applause, and the assembly was
immediately adjourned.

I was invited this day to dine with the Cardinal de Noailles, but I felt
the importance of employing the time so precious and so short, of the
interval of dinner, and of not quitting M. le Duc d'Orleans, according to
a suggestion of M. le Duc de la Force. I approached M. le Duc d'Orleans,
and said in his ear, "The moments are precious: I will follow you to the
Palais Royal," and went back to my place among the peers. Jumping into
my coach, I sent a gentleman with my excuses to the Cardinal de Noailles,
saying, I would tell him the reason of my absence afterwards. Then I
went to the Palais Royal, where curiosity had gathered together all who
were not at the palace, and even some who had been there. All the
acquaintances I met asked me the news with eagerness. I contented myself
with replying that everything went well, and according to rule, but that
all was not yet finished.

M. le Duc d'Orleans had passed into a cabinet, where I found him alone
with Canillac, who had waited for him. We took our measures there, and
M. le Duc d'Orleans sent for the Attorney-General, D'Aguesseau,
afterwards Chancellor, and the chief Advocate-General, Joly de Fleury,
since Attorney-General. It was nearly two o'clock. A little dinner was
served, of which Canillac, Conflans, M. le Duc d'Orleans, and myself
partook; and I will say this, by the way, I never dined with him but once
since, namely, at Bagnolet.

We returned to the Parliament a little before four o'clock. I arrived
there alone in my carriage, a moment before M. le Duc d'Orleans, and
found everybody assembled. I was looked at with much curiosity, as it
seemed to me. I am not aware if it was known whence I came. I took care
that my bearing should say nothing. I simply said to the Duc de la Force
that his advice had been salutary, that I had reason to hope all success
from it, and that I had told M. le Duc d'Orleans whence it came. That
Prince arrived, and (the hubbub inseparable from such a numerous suite
being appeased) he said that matters must be recommenced from the point
where they had been broken off in the morning; that it was his duty to
say to the Court that in nothing had he agreed with M. du Maine and to
bring again before all eyes the monstrous clauses of a codicil, drawn
from a dying prince; clauses much more strange than the dispositions of
the testament that the Court had not deemed fit to be put in execution,
and that the Court could not allow M. du Maine to be master of the person
of the King, of the camp, of Paris, consequently of the State, of the
person, life, and liberty of the Regent, whom he would be in a position
to arrest at any moment as soon as he became the absolute and independent
master of the civil and military household of the King; that the Court
saw what must inevitably result from an unheard-of novelty, which placed
everything in the hands of M. du Maine; and that he left it to the
enlightenment, to the prudence, to the wisdom, to the equity of the
company, and its love for the State, to declare what they thought on this

M. du Maine appeared then as contemptible in the broad open daylight as
he had appeared redoubtable in the obscurity of the cabinets. He had the
look of one condemned, and his face, generally so fresh-coloured, was now
as pale as death. He replied in a very low and scarcely intelligible
voice, and with an air as respectful and as humble as it had been
audacious in the morning.

People opined without listening to him; and tumultuously, but with one
voice, the entire abrogation of the codicil was passed. This was
premature, as the abrogation of the testament had been in the morning--
both caused by sudden indignation. D'Aguesseauand Fleury both spoke, the
first in a few words, the other at greater length, making a very good
speech. As it exists, in the libraries, I will only say that the
conclusions of both orators were in everything favourable to M. le Duc

After they had spoken, the Duc du Maine, seeing himself totally shorn,
tried a last resource. He represented, with more force than could have
been expected from his demeanour at this second sitting, but yet with
measure, that since he had been stripped of the authority confided to him
by the codicil, he asked to be discharged from the responsibility of
answering for the person of the King, and to be allowed simply to
preserve the superintendence of his education. M, le Duc d'Orleans
replied, "With all my heart, Monsieur; nothing more is wanted."
Thereupon the Chief. President formally put the question to the vote.
A decree was passed by which all power was taken from the hands of M. du
Maine and placed in those of the Regent, with the right of placing whom
he pleased in the council; of dismissing anybody as it should seem good
to him; and of doing all he might think fit respecting the form to be
given to the government; authority over public affairs, nevertheless, to
remain with the council, and decision to be taken by the plurality of
votes, the vote of the Regent to count double in case of equal division;
M. le Duc to be chief of the council under him, with the right to enter
it at once and opine there.

During all this time, and until the end of the sitting, M. du Maine had
his eyes always cast down, looked more dead than alive, and appeared
motionless. His son and his brother gave no sign of taking interest in

The decree was followed by loud acclamations of the crowd scattered
outside, and that which filled the rest of the palace replied as soon as
they learnt what had been decided.

This noise, which lasted some time, being appeased, the Regent thanked
the company in brief, polished, and majestic terms; declared with what
care he would employ for the good of the state, the authority with which
he was invested; then said it was time he should inform them what he
judged ought to be established in order to aid him in the administration
of affairs. He added that he did so with the more confidence, because
what he proposed was exactly what M. le Duc de Bourgogne ('twas thus he
named him) had resolved, as shown by papers found in his bureau. He
passed a short and graceful eulogy upon the enlightenment and intentions
of that prince; then declared that, besides the council of the regency,
which would be the supreme centre from which all the affairs of the
government would spring, he proposed to establish a council for foreign
affairs, one for war, one for the navy, one for finance, one for
ecclesiastical matters, and one for home affairs and to choose some of
the magistrates of the company to enter these last two councils, and aid
them by their knowledge upon the police of the realm, the jurisprudence,
and what related to the liberties of the Gallican church.

The applause of the magistrates burst out at this, and all the crowd
replied to it. The Chief-President concluded the sitting by a very short
compliment to the Regent, who rose, and at the same time all the
assembly, which then broke up.

On Friday, the 6th of September, 1715, the Regent performed an action of
most exquisite merit, if it had been actuated by the love of God, but
which was of the utmost meanness, religion having no connection with it.
He went at eight o'clock in the morning to see Madame de Maintenon at
Saint-Cyr. He was nearly an hour with this enemy, who had wished to cut
off his head, and who quite recently had sought to deliver him, tied hand
and foot, to M. du Maine, by the monstrous dispositions of the King's
will and codicil.

The Regent assured her during this visit that the four thousand livres
the King had given her every month should be continued, and should be
brought to her the first day of every month by the Duc de Noailles, who
had apparently induced the Prince to pay this visit, and promise this
present. He said to Madame de Maintenon that if she wished for more she
had only to speak, and assured her he would protect Saint-Cyr. In leaving
he was shown the young girls, all together in classes.

It must be remembered, that besides the estate of Maintenon, and the
other property of this famous and fatal witch, the establishment of
Saint-Cyr, which had more than four hundred thousand livres yearly
income, and much money in reserve, was obliged by the rules which founded
it, to receive Madame de Maintenon, if she wished to retire there; to
obey her in all things, as the absolute and sole superior; to keep her
and everybody connected with her, her domestics, her equipages, as she
wished, her table, etc., at the expense of the house, all of which was
very punctually done until her death. Thus she needed not this generous
liberality, by which her pension of forty-eight thousand livres was
continued to her. It would have been quite enough if M. le Duc d'Orleans
had forgotten that she was in existence, and had simply left her
untroubled in Saint-Cyr.

The Regent took good care not to inform me of his visit, before or after;
and I took good care not to reproach him with it, or make him ashamed of
it. It made much noise, and was not approved of. The Spanish affair was
not yet forgotten, and the will and codicil furnished other matter for
all conversations.


Saturday, the 7th of September, was the day fixed for the first Bed of
Justice of the King (Louis XV.); but he caught a cold during the night,
and suffered a good deal. The Regent came alone to Paris. The
Parliament had assembled, and I went to a door of the palace, where I was
informed of the countermand which had just arrived. The Chief-President
and the King's people were at once sent for to the Palais Royal, and the
Parliament, which was about to adjourn, was continued for all the rest of
the month for general business. On the morrow, the Regent, who was
wearied with Versailles,--for he liked to live in Paris, where all his
pleasures were within easy reach,--and who met with opposition from the
Court doctors, all comfortably lodged at Versailles, to the removal of
the person of the King to Vincennes, under pretext of a slight cold,
fetched other doctors from Paris, who had been sent for to see the
deceased King. These practitioners, who had nothing to gain by
recommending Versailles, laughed at the Court doctors, and upon their
opinion it was resolved to take the King to Vincennes, where all was
ready for him on the morrow.

He set out, then, that day from Versailles, at about two o'clock in the
day, in company with the Regent, the Duchesse de Ventadour, the Duc du
Maine, and the Marechal de Villeroy, passed round the ramparts of Paris,
without entering the city, and arrived at Vincennes about five o'clock,
many people and carriages having come out along the road to see him.

On the day after the arrival of the King at Vincennes, the Regent worked
all the morning with all the Secretaries of State separately, whom he had
charged to bring him the list of all the 'lettres de cachet' issued from
their bureaux, and a statement of the reasons for which they were
delivered, as such oftentimes were slight. The majority of the 'lettres
de cachet' of exile and of imprisonment had been drawn up against
Jansenists, and people who had opposed the constitution; numbers the
reasons of which were known only to the deceased King, and to those who
had induced him to grant them; others were of the time of previous
ministers, and among them were many which had been long forgotten and
unknown. The Regent restored everybody to liberty, exiles and prisoners,
except those whom he knew to have been arrested for grave crimes, or
affairs of State; and brought down infinite benedictions upon himself by
this act of justice and humanity.

Many very singular and strange stories were then circulated, which showed
the tyranny of the last reign, and of its ministers, and caused the
misfortunes of the prisoners to be deplored. Among those in the Bastille
was a man who had been imprisoned thirty-five years. Arrested the day he
arrived in Paris, on a journey from Italy, to which country he belonged.
It has never been known why he was arrested, and he had never been
examined, as was the case with the majority of the others: people were
persuaded a mistake had been made. When his liberty was announced to
him, he sadly asked what it was expected he could do with it. He said he
had not a farthing; that he did not know a soul in Paris, not even a
single street, or a person in all France; that his relatives in Italy
had, doubtless, died since he left; that his property, doubtless, had
been divided, so many years having elapsed during which no news had been
received from him; that he knew not what to do. He asked to be allowed
to remain in the Bastille for the rest of his days, with food and
lodging. This was granted, with as much liberty as he wished.

As for those who were taken from the dungeons where the hatred of the
ministers; of the Jesuits; and of the Constitution chiefs, had cast them,
the horrible state they appeared in terrified everybody, and rendered
credible all the cruel stories which, as soon as they were fully at
liberty, they revealed.

The same day on which this merciful decision was come to, died Madame de
la Vieuville, not old, of a cancer in the breast, the existence of which
she had concealed until two days before her death, and thus deprived
herself of help.

A few days after, the finances being in such a bad state, the Regent made
Crosat treasurer of the order, in return for which he obtained from him a
loan of a million, in bars of silver, and the promise of another two
million. Previous to this, the hunting establishments of the King had
been much reduced. Now another retrenchment was made. There were seven
intendants of the finances, who, for six hundred thousand livres, which
their places had cost them, enjoyed eighty thousand livres each per
annum. They were all suppressed, and simply the interest of their
purchase-money paid to them; that is to say, thirty thousand livres each,
until that purchase-money could be paid. It was found that there were
sixteen hundred thousand francs owing to our ambassadors, and to our
agents in foreign countries, the majority of whom literally had not
enough to pay the postage of their letters, having spent all they
possessed. This was a cruel discredit to us, all over Europe. I might
fill a volume in treating upon the state and the arrangements of our
finances. But this labour is above my strength, and contrary to my
taste. I will simply say that as soon as money could be spared it was
sent to our ambassadors abroad. They were dying of hunger, were over
head and ears in debt, had fallen into utter contempt, and our affairs
were suffering accordingly.

The council of the regency, let me say here, was composed of the
following persons: M. le Duc d'Orleans, M. le Duc, the Duc du Maine, the
Comte de Toulouse, Voysin the Chancellor, myself--since I must name
myself,--Marechal de Villeroy, Marechal d'Harcourt, Marechal de Besons,
the Late Bishop of Troyes, and Torcy, with a right to vote; with La
Vrilliere, who kept the register, and Pontchartrain, both without the
right to vote.

I have already alluded to the presence of Lord Stair at this time in our
Court, as ambassador from England. By means of intrigues he had
succeeded in ingratiating himself into the favour of the Regent, and in
convincing him that the interests of France and England were identical.
One of the reasons--the main one--which he brought forward to show this,
was that King George was an usurper; and that if anything happened to our
King, M. le Duc d'Orleans would become, in mounting the throne of France,
an usurper also, the King of Spain being the real heir to the French
monarchy; that, in consequence of this, France and England ought to march
together, protect each other; France assisting England against the
Pretender, and England assisting France, if need be, against the King of
Spain. M. le Duc d'Orleans had too much penetration not to see this
snare; but, marvellous as it may seem, the crookedness of this policy,
and not the desire of reigning, seduced him. I am quite prepared, if
ever these memoirs see the day, to find that this statement will be
laughed at; that it will throw discredit on others, and cause me to be
regarded as a great ass, if I think to make my readers, believe it; or
for an idiot, if I have believed it myself. Nevertheless, such is the
pure truth, to which I sacrifice all, in despite of what my readers may
think of me. However incredible it may be, it is, as I say, the exact
verity; and I do not hesitate to advance, that there are many such facts,
unknown to history, which would much surprise if known; and which are
unknown, only because scarcely any history has been written at first

Stair wished, above all, to hinder the Regent from giving any assistance
to the Pretender, and to prevent him passing through the realm in order
to reach a seaport. Now the Regent was between two stools, for he had
promised the Pretender to wink at his doings, and to favour his passage
through France, if it were made secretly, and at the same time he had
assented to the demand of Stair. Things had arrived at this pass when
the troubles increased in England, and the Earl of Mar obtained some
success in Scotland. Soon after news came that the Pretender had
departed from Bar, and was making his way to the coast. Thereupon Stair
ran in hot haste to M. le Duc d'Orleans to ask him to keep his promise,
and hinder the Pretender's journey. The Regent immediately sent off
Contade, major in the guards, very intelligent, and in whom he could
trust, with his brother, a lieutenant in the same regiment, and two
sergeants of their choice, to go to Chateau-Thierry, and wait for the
Pretender, Stair having sure information that he would pass there.
Contade set out at night on the 9th of November, well resolved and
instructed to miss the person he was to seek. Stair, who expected as
much, took also his measures, which were within an inch of succeeding;
for this is what happened.

The Pretender set out disguised from Bar, accompanied by only three or
four persons, and came to Chaillot, where M. de Lauzun had a little
house, which he never visited, and which he had kept for mere fancy,
although he had a house at Passy, of which he made much use. It was in
this, Chaillot's house, that the Pretender put up, and where he saw the
Queen, his mother, who often stopped at the Convent of the Filles de
Sainte Marie-Therese. Thence he set out in a post-chaise of Torcy's, by
way of Alencon, for Brittany, where he meant to embark.

Stair discovered this scheme, and resolved to leave nothing undone in
order to deliver his party of this, the last of the Stuarts. He quietly
despatched different people by different roads, especially by that from
Paris to Alencon. He charged with this duty Colonel Douglas (who
belonged to the Irish (regiments) in the pay of France), who, under the
protection of his name, and by his wit and his intrigues, had insinuated
himself into many places in Paris since the commencement of the regency;
had placed himself on a footing of consideration and of familiarity with
the Regent; and often came to my house. He was good company; had married
upon the frontier of Metz; was very poor; had politeness and much
experience of the world; the reputation of distinguished valour; and
nothing which could render him suspected of being capable of a crime.

Douglas got into a post-chaise, accompanied by two horsemen; all three
were well armed, and posted leisurely along this road. Nonancourt is a
kind of little village upon this route, at nineteen leagues from Paris;
between Dreux, three leagues further, and Verneuil au Perche, four
leagues this side. It was at Nonancourt that he alighted, ate a morsel
at the post-house, inquired with extreme solicitude after a post-chaise
which he described, as well as the manner in which it would be
accompanied, expressed fear lest it had already passed, and lest he had
not been answered truly. After infinite inquiries, he left a third
horseman, who had just reached him, on guard, with orders to inform him
when the chaise he was in search of appeared; and added menaces and
promises of recompense to the post people, so as not to be deceived by
their negligence.

The post-master was named L'Hospital; he was absent, but his wife was in
the house, and she fortunately was a very honest woman, who had wit,
sense, and courage. Nonancourt is only five leagues from La Ferme, and
when, to save distance, you do not pass there, they send you relays upon
the road. Thus I knew very well this post-mistress, who mixed herself
more in the business than her husband, and who has herself related to me
this adventure more than once. She did all she could, uselessly, to
obtain some explanation upon these alarms. All that she could unravel
was that the strangers were Englishmen, and in a violent excitement about
something, that something very important was at stake,--and that they
meditated mischief. She fancied thereupon that the Pretender was in
question; resolved to save him; mentally arranged her plans, and
fortunately enough executed them.

In order to succeed she devoted herself to the service of these
gentlemen, refused them nothing, appeared quite satisfied, and promised
that they should infallibly be informed. She persuaded them of this so
thoroughly, that Douglas went away without saying where, except to this
third horseman just arrived, but it was close at hand; so that he might
be warned in time. He took one of his valets with him; the other
remained with the horseman to wait and watch.

Another man much embarrassed the post-mistress; nevertheless, she laid
her plans. She proposed to the horseman to drink something, because when
he arrived Douglas had left the table. She served him in her best
manner, and with her best wine, and kept him at table as long as she
could, anticipating all his orders. She had placed a valet, in whom she
could trust, as guard, with orders simply to appear, without a word, if
he saw a chaise; and her resolution was to lock up the Englishman and his
servant, and to give their horses to the chaise if it came. But it came
not, and the Englishman grew tired of stopping at table. Then she
manoeuvred so well that she persuaded him to go and lie down, and to
count upon her, her people, and upon the valet Douglas had left. The
Englishman told this valet not to quit the threshold of the house, and to
inform him as soon as the chaise appeared. He then suffered himself to
be led to the back of the house, in order to lie down. The post-
mistress, immediately after, goes to one of her friends in a by-street,
relates her adventure and her suspicions, makes the friend agree to
receive and secrete in her dwelling the person she expected, sends for an
ecclesiastic, a relative of them both, and in whom she could repose
confidence, who came and lent an Abbe's dress and wig to match. This
done, Madame L'Hospital returns to her home, finds the English valet at
the door, talks with him, pities his ennui, says he is a good fellow to
be so particular, says that from the door to the house there is but one
step, promises him that he shall be as well informed as by his own eyes,
presses him to drink something, and tips the wink to a trusty postilion,
who makes him drink until he rolls dead drunk under the table. During
this performance, the wary mistress listens at the door of the English
gentleman's room, gently turns the key and locks him in, and then
establishes herself upon the threshold of her door.

Half an hour after comes the trusty valet whom she had put on guard: it
was the expected chaise, which, as well as the three men who accompanied
it, were made, without knowing why, to slacken speed. It was King James.
Madame L'Hospital accosts him, says he is expected, and lost if he does
not take care; but that he may trust in her and follow her. At once they
both go to her friends. There he learns all that has happened, and they
hide him, and the three men of his suite as well as they could. Madame
L'Hospital returns home, sends for the officers of justice, and in
consequence of her suspicions she causes the English gentleman and the
English valet, the one drunk, the other asleep, locked in the room where
she had left him, to be arrested, and immediately after despatches a
postilion to Torcy. The officers of justice act, and send their
deposition to the Court.

The rage of the English gentleman on finding himself arrested, and unable
to execute the duty which led him there, and his fury against the valet
who had allowed himself to be intoxicated, cannot be expressed. As for
Madame L'Hospital he would have strangled her if he could; and she for a
long time was afraid of her life.

The Englishman could not be induced to confess what brought him there, or
where was Douglas, whom he named in order to show his importance. He
declared he had been sent by the English ambassador, though Stair had not
yet officially assumed that title, and exclaimed that that minister would
never suffer the affront he had received. They civilly replied to him,
that there were no proofs he came from the English ambassador,--none that
he was connected with the minister: that very suspicious designs against
public safety on the highway alone were visible; that no harm or
annoyance should be caused him, but that he must remain in safety until
orders came, and there upon he was civilly led to prison, as well as the
intoxicated valet.

What became of Douglas at that time was never known, except that he was
recognised in various places, running, inquiring, crying out with despair
that he had escaped, without mentioning any name. Apparently news came
to him, or he sought it, being tired of receiving none. The report of
what had occurred in such a little place as Nonancourt would easily have
reached him, close as he was to it; and perhaps it made him set out anew
to try and catch his prey.

But he journeyed in vain. King James had remained hidden at Nonancourt,
where, charmed with the attentions of his generous post-mistress, who had
saved him from his assassins, he admitted to her who he was, and gave her
a letter for the Queen, his mother. He remained there three days, to
allow the hubbub to pass, and rob those who sought him of all hope; then,
disguised as an Abbe, he jumped into a post-chaise that Madame L'Hospital
had borrowed in the neighbourhood--to confound all identity--and
continued his journey, during which he was always pursued, but happily
was never recognised, and embarked in Brittany for Scotland.

Douglas, tired of useless searches, returned to Paris, where Stair kicked
up a fine dust about the Nonancourt adventure. This he denominated
nothing less than an infraction of the law of nations, with an extreme
audacity and impudence, and Douglas, who could not be ignorant of what
was said about him, had the hardihood to go about everywhere as usual; to
show himself at the theatre; and to present himself before M. le Duc

This Prince ignored as much as he could a plot so cowardly and so
barbarous, and in respect to him so insolent. He kept silence, said to
Stair what he judged fitting to make him be silent likewise, but gave
liberty to his English assassins. Douglas, however, fell much in the
favour of the Regent, and many considerable people closed their doors to
him. He vainly tried to force mine. But as for me I was a perfect
Jacobite, and quite persuaded that it was the interest of France to give
England domestic occupation, which would long hinder her from thinking of
foreign matters. I then, as may be supposed, could not look upon the
odious enterprise with a favourable eye, or pardon its authors. Douglas
complained to me of my disregard for him, but to no purpose. Soon after
he disappeared from Paris. I know not what became of him afterwards.
His wife and his children remained there living by charity. A long time
after his death beyond the seas, the Abbe de Saint-Simon passed from
Noyan to Metz, where he found his widow in great misery.

The Queen of England sent for Madame L'Hospital to Saint-Germain, thanked
her, caressed her, as she deserved, and gave her her portrait. This was
all; the Regent gave her nothing; a long while after King James wrote to
her, and sent her also his portrait. Conclusion: she remained post-
mistress of Nonancourt as before, twenty or twenty-five years after, to
her death; and her son and her daughter-in-law keep the post now. She
was a true woman; estimated in her neighbourhood; not a single word that
she uttered concerning this history has been contradicted by any one.
What it cost her can never be said, but she never received a farthing.
She never complained, but spoke as she found things, with modesty, and
without seeking to speak. Such is the indigence of dethroned Kings, and
their complete forgetfulness of the greatest perils and the most signal

Many honest people avoided Stair, whose insolent airs made others avoid
him. He filled the cup by the insupportable manner in which he spoke
upon that affair, never daring to admit he had directed it, or deigning
to disculpate himself. The only annoyance he showed was about his ill-


I must say a few words now of Madame la Duchesse de Berry, who, as may be
imagined, began to hold her head very high indeed directly the regency of
Monsieur her father was established. Despite the representations of
Madame de Saint-Simon, she usurped all the honours of a queen; she went
through Paris with kettle-drums beating, and all along the quay of the
Tuileries where the King was. The Marechal de Villeroy complained of
this next day to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who promised him that while the
King remained in Paris no kettle-drums should be heard but his. Never
afterwards did Madame la Duchesse de Berry have any, yet when she went to
the theatre she sat upon a raised dais in her box, had four of her guards
upon the stage, and others in the pit; the house was better lighted than
usual, and before the commencement of the performance she was harangued
by the players. This made a strange stir in Paris, and as she did not
dare to continue it she gave up her usual place, and took at the opera a
little box where she could scarcely be seen, and where she was almost
incognito. As the comedy was played then upon the opera stage for
Madame, this little box served for both entertainments.

The Duchess desired apparently to pass the summer nights in all liberty
in the garden of the Luxembourg. She accordingly had all the gates
walled up but one, by which the Faubourg Saint-Germain, which had always
enjoyed the privilege of walking there, were much deprived. M. le Duc
thereupon opened the Conti garden to make up to the public for their
loss. As may be imagined, strange things were said about the motives
which led to the walling up of the garden.

As the Princess found new lovers to replace the old ones, she tried to
pension off the latter at the expense of the public. She had a place
created expressly for La Haye. She bought, or rather the King for her,
a little house at the entry of the Bois de Boulogne, which was pretty,
with all the wood in front, and a fine garden behind. It was called La

After many amours she had become smitten with Rion, a younger son of the
house of Aydic. He was a fat, chubby, pale little fellow, who had so
many pimples that he did not ill resemble an abscess. He had good teeth,
but had no idea he should cause a passion which in less than no time
became ungovernable, and which lasted a long while without however
interfering with temporary and passing amours. He was not worth a penny,
but had many brothers and sisters who had no more than he. He was a
lieutenant of dragoons, relative of Madame Pons, dame d'atours of Madame
la Duchesse de Berry, who sent for him to try and do something for him.
Scarcely had he arrived than the passion of the Duchess declared itself,
and he became the master of the Luxembourg where she dwelt. M. de
Lauzun, who was a distant relative, was delighted, and chuckled inwardly.
He thought he saw a repetition of the old times, when Mademoiselle was in
her glory; he vouchsafed his advice to Rion.

Rion was gentle and naturally polished and respectful, a good and honest
fellow. He soon felt the power of his charms, which could only have
captivated the incomprehensible and depraved fantasy of such a princess.
He did not abuse this power; made himself liked by everybody; but he
treated Madame la Duchesse de Berry as M. de Lauzun had treated
Mademoiselle. He was soon decorated with the most beautiful lace and the
richest clothes covered with silver, loaded with snuffboxes, jewels, and
precious stones. He took pleasure in making the Princess long after him,
and be jealous; affecting to be still more jealous of her. He often made
her cry. Little by little, he obtained such authority over her that she
did not dare to do anything without his permission, not even the most
indifferent things. If she were ready to go to the opera, he made her
stay away; at other times he made her go thither in spite of herself.
He made her treat well many ladies she did not like, or of whom she was
jealous, and treat ill persons who pleased her, but of whom he pretended
to be jealous. Even in her finery she had not the slightest liberty.
He amused himself by making her disarrange her head-dress, or change her
clothes, when she was quite dressed; and that so often and so publicly,
that he accustomed her at last to take over night his orders for her
morning's dress and occupation, and on the morrow he would change
everything, and the Princess wept as much as she could, and more. At
last she actually sent messages to him by trusty valets,--for he lived
close to the Luxembourg,--several times during her toilet, to know what
ribbons she should wear; the same with her gown and other things; and
nearly always he made her wear what she did not wish for. If ever she
dared to do the least thing without his permission, he treated her like a
serving-wench, and her tears lasted sometimes several days. This
princess, so haughty, and so fond of showing and exercising the most
unmeasured pride, disgraced herself by joining in repasts with him and
obscure people; she, with whom no man could lawfully eat if he were not a
prince of the blood!

A Jesuit, named Pere Riglet, whom she had known as a child, and whose
intimacy she had always cultivated since, was admitted to these private
repasts, without being ashamed thereof, and without Madame la Duchesse de
Berry being embarrassed. Madame de Mouchy was the confidante of all
these strange parties she and Rion invited the guests, and chose the
days. La Mouchy often reconciled the Princess to her lover, and was
better treated by him than she, without her daring to take notice of it,
for fear of an eclat which would have caused her to lose so dear a lover,
and a confidante so necessary. This life was public; everybody at the
Luxembourg paid court to M. de Rion, who, on his side, took care to be on
good terms with all the world, nay, with an air of respect that he
refused, even in public, to his princess. He often gave sharp replies to
her in society, which made people lower their eyes, and brought blushes
to the cheek of Madame la Duchesse de Berry, who, nevertheless, did not
attempt to conceal her submission and passionate manners, even before
others. A remarkable fact is, that in the midst of this life, she took
an apartment at the Convent of the Carmelites of the Faubourg Saint-
Germain, where she sometimes went in the afternoon, always slept there on
grand religious fete days, and often remained there several days running.
She took with her two ladies, rarely three, scarcely a single domestic;
she ate with her ladies what the convent could supply for her table;
attended the services, was sometimes long in prayer, and rigidly fasted
on the appointed days.

Two Carmelites, of much talent, and who knew the world, were charged to
receive her, and to be near her. One was very beautiful: the other had
been so. They were rather young, especially the handsomer; but were very
religious and holy, and performed the office entrusted to them much
against their inclination. When they became more familiar they spoke
freely to the Princess, and said to her that if they knew nothing of her
but what they saw, they should admire her as a saint, but, elsewhere,
they learnt that she led a strange life, and so public, that they could
not comprehend why she came to their convent. Madame la Duchesse de
Berry laughed at this, and was not angry. Sometimes they lectured her,
called people and things by their names, and exhorted her to change so
scandalous a life; but it was all in vain. She lived as before, both at
the Luxembourg and at the Carmelites, and caused wonderment by this
surprising conduct.

Madame la Duchesse de Berry returned with usury to her father, the
severity and the domination she suffered at the hands of Rion--yet this
prince, in his weakness, was not less submissive to her, attentive to
her, or afraid of her. He was afflicted with the public reign of Rion,
and the scandal of his daughter; but he did not dare to breathe a word,
or if he did (after some scene, as ridiculous as it was violent, had
passed between the lover and the Princess, and become public), he was
treated like a negro, pouted at several days, and did not know how to
make his peace.

But it is time now to speak of the public and private occupations of the
Regent himself, of his conduct, his pleasure parties, and the employment
of his days.

Up to five o'clock in the evening he devoted himself exclusively to
public business, reception of ministers, councils, etc., never dining
during the day, but taking chocolate between two and three o'clock, when
everybody was allowed to enter his room. After the council of the day,
that is to say, at about five o'clock, there was no more talk of
business. It was now the time of the Opera or the Luxembourg (if he had
not been to the latter place before his chocolate), or he went to Madame
la Duchesse d'Orleans' apartments, or supped, or went out privately, or
received company privately; or, in the fine season, he went to Saint-
Cloud, or elsewhere out of town, now supping there, or at the Luxembourg,
or at home. When Madame was at Paris, he spoke to her for a moment
before his mass; and when she was at Saint-Cloud he went to see her
there, and always paid her much attention and respect.

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

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

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

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


Let me speak now of another matter.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such is the utility of prime ministers!

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

The vexation of the Parliament upon seeing its prey, which it had
reckoned upon making such a grand use of, carried off before its eyes,
may be imagined. It left nothing undone in order to move the public by
its complaints, and by its cries against such an attack upon law. The
Chamber of justice sent a deputation to the Regent, who made, fun of it,
by gravely giving permission to the deputies to re-take their prisoner,
but without saying a single word to them upon his escape from gaol. He
was in Paris, in a place where he feared nobody. The Chamber of justice
felt the derisiveness of the Regent's permission, and ceased to transact
business. It thought to embarrass the Regent thus, but 'twould have been

Book of the day: