Part 19 out of 21
Events proved that my precaution was not altogether useless.
M. le Duc d'Orleans accorded both the favours I asked, with many obliging
remarks, and a hope that my absence would not be long. I thought I had
then done great things for my family, and went home much pleased. But,
mon Dieu! what are the projects and the successes of men!
Dubois, as I expected, was vexed beyond measure at my embassy, and
resolved to ruin me and throw me into disgrace. I was prepared for this,
and I soon saw it was so. At first, I received from him nothing but
professions of friendship and of attachment for me, congratulations that
M. le Duc d'Orleans had accorded to me an embassy my merit deserved, and
which would be productive of such useful results for my children. He
took care, however, in the midst of these fine phrases, to introduce not
one word upon my arrangements, so that he might be able to drive me into
a corner at the last moment, and cause me all the inconvenience possible.
He slipped through my hands like an eel until the moment for my departure
drew near. As he saw it approach, he began to preach to me of
magnificence, and wished to enter into details respecting my suite. I
described it to him, and everybody else would have been satisfied, but as
his design was to ruin me, he cried out against it, and augmented it by a
third. I represented to him the excessive expense this augmentation
would cause, the state of the finances, the loss upon the exchange: his
sole reply was that the dignity of the King necessitated this expense and
show; and that his Majesty would bear the charge. I spoke to M. le Duc
d'Orleans, who listened to me with attention, but being persuaded by the
Cardinal, held the same language.
This point settled, the Cardinal must needs know how many coats I should
take, and how many I should give to my sons.--in a word, there was not a
single detail of table or stable that he did not enter into, and that he
did not double. My friends exhorted me not to be obstinate with a man so
impetuous, so dangerous, so completely in possession of M. le Duc
d'Orleans, pointing out to me that when once I was away he might profit
by my absence, and that, meanwhile, everything relating to my embassy
must pass through his hands. All this was only too true. I was obliged,
therefore, to yield, although I felt that, once embarked, the King's
purse would be spared at the expense of mine.
As soon as the marriages were declared, I asked to be declared as
ambassador, so that I might openly make my preparations, which, it will
be remembered, I had been forbidden to do. Now that there was no secret
about the marriage, I fancied there need be no secret as to the
ambassador by whom they were to be conducted. I was deceived: Whatever I
might allege, the prohibition remained. The Cardinal wished to put me to
double the necessary expense, by compelling me to have my liveries,
dresses, etc., made in the utmost precipitation; and this happened. He
thought, too, I should not be able to provide myself with everything in
time; and that he might represent this to M. le Duc d'Orleans, and in
Spain, as a fault, and excite envious cries against me.
Nevertheless, I did not choose to press him: to announce my embassy, at
the same time trying to obtain from him the instructions I was to
receive, and which, passing through him and the Regent done, told nothing
to the public, as my preparations would have done. But I could not
obtain them. Dubois carelessly replied to me, that in one or two
conversations the matter would be exhausted. He wished me to know
nothing, except vaguely; to leave no time for reflection, for questions,
for explanations; and to throw me thus into embarrassments, and to cause
me to commit blunders which he intended to make the most of.
At last, tired of so many and such dangerous postponements, I went on
Tuesday, the 23rd of September, to M. le Duc d'Orleans, arranging my
visit so that it took place when he was in his apartments at the
Tuileries; there I spoke with such effect, that he said I had only to
show myself to the King. He led me to his Majesty at once, and there and
then my embassy was announced. Upon leaving the King's cabinet, M. le
Duc d'Orleans made me jump into his coach, which was waiting for him, and
took me to the Palais Royal, where we began to speak seriously upon the
affairs of my embassy.
I fancy that Cardinal Dubois was much annoyed at what had been done, and
that he would have liked to postpone the declaration yet a little longer.
But this now was impossible. The next day people were sent to work upon
my equipments, the Cardinal showing as much eagerness and impatience
respecting them, as he had before shown apathy and indifference. He
urged on the workmen; must needs see each livery and each coat as it was
finished; increased the magnificence of each; and had all my coats and
those of my children sent to him. At last, the hurry to make me set out
was so great, that such of the things as were ready he sent on by rapid
conveyance to Bayonne, at a cost by no means trifling to me.
The Cardinal next examined the list of persons I intended to have with
me, and approved it. To my extreme surprise he said, however, that I
must add forty officers of cavalry and infantry, from the regiments of my
sons. I cried out against the madness and the expense of such a numerous
military accompaniment. I represented that it was not usual for
ambassadors, with a peaceful mission, to take with them such an imposing
force by way of escort; I showed that these officers, being necessarily
gay men, might be led away into indiscreet gallantries, which would give
me more trouble than all the business of my embassy. Nothing could be
more evident, true, and reasonable than my representations, nothing more
useless or worse received.
The Cardinal had resolved to ruin me, and to leave me in Spain with all
the embarrassment, business, and annoyances he could. He rightly thought
that nothing was more likely to make him succeed than to charge me with
forty officers. Not finding them, I took only twenty-nine, and if the
Cardinal succeeded as far as concerned my purse, I was so fortunate, and
these gentlemen were so discreet, that he succeeded in no other way.
Let me add here, before I give the details of my journey to Spain, in
what manner the announcement of these two marriages was received by the
King and the public.
His Majesty was by no means gratified when he heard that a wife had been
provided for him. At the first mention of marriage he burst out crying.
The Regent, M. le Duc, and M. de Frejus, had all the trouble in the world
to extract a "yes" from him, and to induce him to attend the Regency
Council, in which it was necessary that he should announce his consent to
the proposed union, or be present while it was announced for him. The
council was held, and the King came to it, his eyes swollen and red, and
his look very serious.
Some moments of silence passed, during which M. le Duc d'Orleans threw
his eyes over all the company (who appeared deeply expectant), and then
fixed them on the King, and asked if he might announce to the council the
marriage of his Majesty. The King replied by a dry "yes," and in a
rather low tone, but which was heard by the four or five people on each
side of him, and the Regent immediately announced the marriage. Then,
after taking the opinions of the council, which were for the most part
favorable, he turned towards the King with a smiling air, as though
inviting him to assume the same, and said, "There, then, Sire, your
marriage is approved and passed, and a grand and fortunate matter
finished." The council then broke up.
The news of what had taken place immediately ran over all Paris. The
Tuileries and the Palais Royal were soon filled with people who came to
present themselves before the King to compliment him and the Regent on
the conclusion of this grand marriage, and the crowd continued the
following days. The King had much difficulty in assuming some little
gaiety the first day, but on the morrow he was less sombre, and by
degrees he quite recovered himself.
M. le Duc d'Orleans took care not to announce the marriage of his
daughter with the Prince of the Asturias at the same time that the other
marriage was announced. He declared it, however, the next day, and the
news was received with the utmost internal vexation by the cabal opposed
to him. Men, women, people of all conditions who belonged to that cabal,
lost all countenance. It was a pleasure to me, I admit, to look upon
them. They were utterly disconcerted. Nevertheless, after the first few
days of overthrow, they regained courage, and set to work in order to
break off both the marriages.
I have already said that Dubois looked most unfavourably upon my embassy
to Spain, and that I saw he was determined to do all in his power to
throw obstacles in its way. I had fresh proofs of this. First, before
my departure: when he gave me my written instructions, he told me that in
Spain I must take precedence of everybody during the signing of the
King's contract of marriage, and at the chapel, at the two ceremonies of
the marriage of the Prince of the Asturias, allowing no one to be before
I represented to him that the Pope's nuncio would be present, and that to
him the ambassadors of France gave place everywhere, and even the
ambassadors of the Emperor also, who, without opposition, preceded those
of the King. He replied that that was true, except in special cases like
the present, and that his instructions must be obeyed: My surprise was
great at so strange an order. I tried to move him by appealing to his
pride; asking him how I should manage with a cardinal, if one happened to
be present, and with the majordomo-major, who corresponds, but in a very
superior degree, with our grand master of France. He flew in a rage, and
declared that I must precede the majordomo-major also; that there would
be no difficulty in doing so; and that, as to the cardinals, I should
find none. I shrugged my shoulders, and begged him to think of the
matter. Instead of replying, to me, he said he had forgotten to acquaint
me with a most essential particular: it was, that I must take care not to
visit anybody until I had been first visited.
I replied that the visiting question had not been forgotten in my
instructions, and that those instructions were to the effect that I
should act in this respect as the Duc de Saint-Aignan had acted, and that
the usage he had followed was to pay the first visit to the Minister of
Foreign Affairs, and to the Councillors of State (when there were any),
who are the same as are known here under the name of ministers.
Thereupon he broke out afresh, prated, talked about the dignity of the
King, and did not allow me the opportunity of saying another word. I
abridged my visit, therefore, and went away.
However strange might appear to me these verbal orders of such a new
kind, I thought it best to speak to the Duc de Saint-Aignan and Amelot on
the subject, so as to convince myself of their novelty. Both these
ambassadors, as well as those who had preceded them, had visited in an
exactly opposite manner; and they thought it extravagant that I should
precede the nuncio, no matter where. Amelot told me, moreover, that I
should suffer all sorts of annoyances, and succeed in nothing, if I
refused the first visit to the Minister of Foreign Affairs; that as for
the Councillors of State, they existed only in name, the office having
fallen into desuetude; and that I must pay other visits to certain
officers he named (three in number), who would be justly offended and
piqued if I refused them what every one who had preceded me had rendered
them. He added that I had better take good care to do so, unless I
wished to remain alone in my house, and have the cold shoulder turned
upon me by every principal person of the Court.
By this explanation of Amelot I easily comprehended the reason of these
singular verbal orders. The Cardinal wished to secure my failure in
Spain, and my disgrace in France: in Spain by making me offend at the
outset all the greatest people and the minister through whose hands all
my business would pass; draw upon myself thus complaints here, which, as
I had no written orders to justify my conduct, he (Dubois) would
completely admit the justice of, and then disavow me, declaring he had
given me exactly opposite orders. If I did not execute what he had told
me, I felt that he would accuse me of sacrificing the King's honour and
the dignity of the Crown, in order to please in Spain, and obtain thus
honours for myself and my sons, and that he would prohibit the latter to.
accept them. There would have been less uproar respecting the nuncio;
but if I preceded him, Dubois felt persuaded that the Court of Rome would
demand justice; and this justice in his hands would have been a shameful
My position appeared so difficult, that I resolved to leave nothing
undone in order to change it. I thought M. le Duc d'Orleans would not
resist the evidence I should bring forward, in order to show the
extraordinary nature of Dubois' verbal instructions: I deceived myself.
It was in vain that I spoke to M. le Duc d'Orleans. I found nothing but
feebleness under the yoke of a master; by which I judged how much I could
hope for during my absence. Several times I argued with him and the
Cardinal; but in vain. They both declared that if preceding ambassadors
had paid the first visits, that was no example for me, in an embassy so
solemn and distinguished as that I was about to execute. I represented
that, however solemn and however distinguished might be my embassy, it
gave me no rank superior to that of extraordinary ambassadors, and that I
could claim none. Useless! useless! To my arguments there was no
reply, but obstinacy prevailed; and I clearly saw the extreme malignity
of the valet, and the unspeakable weakness of the master. It was for me
to manage as I could.
The Cardinal now began ardently to press my departure; and, in fact,
there was no more time to lose. He unceasingly hurried on the workmen
who were making all that I required,--vexed, perhaps, that being in such
prodigious number, he could not augment them. There was nothing more for
him to do but to give me the letters with which I was to be charged. He
delayed writing them until the last moment previous to my departure, that
is to say; the very evening before I started; the reason will soon be
seen. The letters were for their Catholic Majesties, for the Queen
Dowager at Bayonne, and for the Prince of the Asturias; letters from the
King and from the Duc d'Orleans. But before giving them to me, the
Regent said he would write two letters to the Prince of the Asturias,
both alike, except in this respect, that in the one he would address the
Prince as "nephew," and in the other as "brother and nephew," and that I
was to try and deliver the latter, which he passionately wished; but that
if I found too much difficulty in doing so, I must not persevere but
deliver the former instead.
I had reason to believe that here was another plot of Dubois, to cause me
trouble by embroiling me with M. le Duc d'Orleans. The Regent was the
last man in the world to care for these formalities. The Prince of the
Asturias was son of the King and heir to the Crown, and, in consequence,
of the rank of a son of France. In whatever way regarded, M. le Duc
d'Orleans was extremely inferior in rank to him; and it was something new
and adventurous to treat him on terms of equality. This, however, is
what I was charged with, and I believe, in the firm hope of Cardinal
Dubois that I should fail, and that he might profit by my failure.
Finally, on the morning of the day before my departure, all the papers
with which I was to be charged were brought to me. I will not give the
list of them. But among these letters there was none from the King to
the Infanta! I thought they had forgotten to put it with the others.
I said so to the persons who brought them to me. What was my surprise
when they told me that the letter was not written, but that I would have
it in the course of the day.
This appeared so strange to me, that my mind was filled with suspicion.
I spoke of the letter to the Cardinal and to M. le Duc d'Orleans, who
assured me that I should have it in the evening. At midnight it had not
arrived. I wrote to the Cardinal. Finally I set out without it. He
wrote to me, saying I should receive it before arriving at Bayonne; but
nothing less. I wrote him anew. He replied to me, saying that I should
have it before I arrived at Madrid. A letter from the King to the
Infanta was not difficult to write; I could not doubt, therefore, that
there was some design in this delay. Whatever it might be, I could not
understand it, unless the intention was to send the letter afterwards,
and make me pass for a heedless fellow who had lost the first.
Dubois served me another most impudent turn, seven or eight days before
my departure. He sent word to me, by his two devoted slaves, Le Blanc
and Belleisle, that as he had the foreign affairs under his charge, he
must have the post, which he would not and could not any longer do
without; that he knew I was the intimate friend of Torcy (who had the
post in his department), whose resignation he desired; that he begged me
to write to Torcy, and send my letter to him by an express courier to
Sable (where he had gone on an excursion); that he should see by my
conduct on this occasion, and its success, in what manner he could count
upon me, and that he should act towards me accordingly. To this his two
slaves added all they could to persuade me to comply, assuring me that
Dubois would break off my embassy if I did not do as he wished. I did
not for a moment doubt, after what I had seen of the inconceivable
feebleness of M. le Duc d'Orleans, that Dubois was really capable of thus
affronting and thwarting me, or that I should have no aid from the
Regent. At the same time I resolved to run all hazards rather than lend
myself to an act of violence against a friend, so sure; so sage, and so
virtuous, and who had served the state with such reputation, and deserved
so well of it.
I replied therefore to these gentlemen that I thought the commission very
strange, and much more so their reasoning of it; that Torcy was not a man
from whom an office of this importance could be taken unless he wished to
give it up; that all I could do was to ask him if he wished to resign,
and if so, on what conditions; that as to exhorting him to resign, I
could do nothing of the kind, although I was not ignorant of what this
refusal might cost me and my embassy. They tried in vain to reason with
me; all they could obtain was this firm resolution.
Castries and his brother, the Archbishop, were intimate friends of Torcy
and of myself. I sent for them to come to me in the midst of the tumult
of my departure. They immediately came, and I related to them what had
just happened. They were more indignant at the manner and the moment,
than at the thing itself; for Torcy knew that sooner or later the
Cardinal would strip him of the post for his own benefit. They extremely
praised my reply, exhorted me to send word to Torcy, who was on the point
of departing from Sable, or had departed, and who would make his own
terms with M. le Duc d'Orleans much more advantageously, present, than
absent. I read to them the letter I had written to Torcy, while waiting
for them, which they much approved, and which I at once despatched.
Torcy of himself, had hastened his return. My courier found him with his
wife in the Parc of Versailles, having passed by the Chartres route. He
read my letter, charged the courier with many compliments for me (his
wife did likewise), and told me to say he would see me the next day. I
informed M. Castries of his arrival. We all four met the next day.
Torcy warmly appreciated my conduct, and, to his death, we lived on terms
of the greatest intimacy, as may be imagined when I say that he committed
to me his memoirs (these he did not write until long after the death of
M. le Duc d'Orleans), with which I have connected mine. He did not seem
to care for the post, if assured of an honourable pension.
I announced then his return to Dubois, saying it would be for him and M.
le Duc d'Orleans to make their own terms with him, and get out of the.
matter in this way. Dubois, content at seeing by this that Torcy
consented to resign the post, cared not how, so that the latter made his
own arrangements, and all passed off with the best grace on both sides.
Torcy had some money and 60,000 livres pension during life, and 20,000
for his wife after him. This was arranged before my departure and was
very well carried out afterwards.
A little while after the declaration of the marriage, the Duchesse de
Ventadour and Madame de Soubise, her granddaughter, had been named, the
one governess of the Infanta, the other successor to the office; and they
were both to go and meet her at the frontier, and bring her to Paris to
the Louvre, where she was to be lodged a little while after the
declaration of my embassy: the Prince de Rohan, her son-in-law, had
orders to go and make the exchange of the Princesses upon the frontier,
with the people sent by the King of Spain to perform the same function.
I had never had any intimacy with them, though we were not on bad terms.
But these Spanish commissions caused us to visit each other with proper
politeness. I forgot to say so earlier and in the proper place.
At last, viz., on the 23rd of October, 1721, I set out, having with me
the Comte de Lorge, my children, the Abbe de Saint-Simon, and his
brother, and many others. The rest of the company joined me at Blaye.
We slept at Orleans, at Montrichard; and at Poictiers. On arriving at
Conte my berline broke down. This caused a delay of three hours, and I
did not arrive at Ruffec until nearly midnight. Many noblemen of the
neighbourhood were waiting for me there, and I entertained them at dinner
and supper during the two days I stayed. I experienced real pleasure in
embracing Puy-Robert, who was lieutenant-colonel of the Royal Roussillon
Regiment when I was captain.
From Ruffec I went in two days to La Cassine, a small house at four
leagues from Blaye, which my father had built on the borders of his
marshes of Blaye, and which I felt much pleasure in visiting; I stopped
there during All Saints' Day and the evening before, and the next day I
early betook myself to Blaye again, where I sojourned two days. I found
several persons of quality there, many of the nobility of the country and
of the adjoining provinces, and Boucher, Intendant of Bordeaux, brother-
in-law of Le Blanc, who was waiting for me, and whom I entertained with
good cheer morning and evening during this short stay.
We crossed to Bordeaux in the midst of such bad weather that everybody
pressed me to delay the trip; but I had so few, days at my command that I
did not accede to their representations. Boucher had brought his
brigantine magnificently equipped, and boats enough to carry over all my
company, most of whom went with us. The view of the port and the town of
Bordeaux surprised me, with more than three hundred ships of all nations
ranged in two lines upon my passage, decked out in all their finery, and
with a great noise from their cannons and those of the Chateau Trompette.
Bordeaux is too well known to need description at my hands: I will simply
say that after Constantinople it presents the finest view of any other
port. Upon landing we received many compliments, and found many
carriages, which conducted us to the Intendant's house, where the Jurats
came to compliment me in state dress. I invited them to supper with.
me, a politeness they did not expect, and which they appeared to highly
appreciate. I insisted upon going to see the Hotel de Ville, which is
amazingly ugly, saying to the Jurats that it was not to satisfy my
curiosity, but in order to pay a visit to them, that I went. This
After thanking M. and Madame Boucher for their attention, we set out
again, traversed the great Landes, and reached in due time Bayonne. The
day after my arrival there, I had an audience with the Queen Dowager of
Spain. I was astonished upon arriving at her house. It had only two
windows in front, looked upon a little court, and had but trifling depth.
The room I entered was very plainly furnished. I found the Queen, who
was waiting for me, accompanied by the Duchesse de Linorez and very few
other persons. I complimented her in the name of the King, and presented
to her his letter. Nothing could be more polite than her bearing towards
Passing the Pyrenees, I quitted with France, rain and bad weather, and
found a clear sky, a charming temperature, with views and perspectives
which changed at each moment, and which were not less charming. We were
all mounted upon mules, the pace of which is good but easy. I turned a
little out of my way to visit Loyola, famous by the birth of Saint
Ignatius, and situated all alone in a narrow valley. We found there four
or five Jesuits, very polite and instructed, who took care of the
prodigious building erected there for more than a hundred Jesuits and
numberless scholars. A church was there nearly finished, of rotunda
shape, of a grandeur and size which surprised me. Gold, painting,
sculpture, the richest ornaments of all kinds, are distributed everywhere
with prodigality but taste. The architecture is correct and admirable,
the marble is most exquisite; jasper, porphyry, lapis, polished,
wreathed, and fluted columns, with their capitals and their ornaments of
gilded bronze, a row of balconies between each altar with little steps of
marble to ascend them, and the cage encrusted; the altars and that which
accompanied them admirable. In a word, the church was one of the most
superb edifices in Europe, the best kept up, and the most magnificently
adorned. We took there the best chocolate I ever tasted, and, after some
hours of curiosity and admiration, we regained our road.
On the 15th, we arrived at Vittoria, where I found a deputation of the
province, whom I invited to supper, and the next day to breakfast. They
spoke French and I was surprised to see Spaniards so gay and such good
company at table. Joy on account of my journey burst out in every place
through which I passed in France and Spain, and obtained for me a good
reception. At Salinas, among other towns which I passed through without
stopping, ladies, who, to judge by their houses and by themselves,
appeared to me to be quality folks, asked me with such good grace to let
them see the man who was bringing happiness to Spain, that I thought it
would only be proper gallantry to enter their dwellings. They appeared
ravished, and I had all the trouble in the world to get rid of them, and
to continue my road.
I arrived on the 18th at Burgos, where I meant to stay at least one day,
to see what turn would take a rather strong fever which had seized my
eldest son; but I was so pressed to hasten on that I was obliged to leave
my son behind with nearly all his attendants.
I left Burgos therefore on the 19th. We found but few relays, and those
ill-established. We travelled night and day without going to bed, until
we reached Madrid, using such vehicles as we could obtain. I performed
the last twelve leagues on a posthorse, which cost twice as much as in
France. In this manner we arrived in Madrid on Friday, the 21st, at
eleven o'clock at night.
We found at the entrance of the town (which has neither gates nor walls,
neither barriers nor faubourgs,) people on guard, who asked us who we
were, and whence we came. They had been placed there expressly so as to
know the moment of my arrival. As I was much fatigued by travelling
incessantly from Burgos without stopping, I replied that we were the
people of the Ambassador of France, who would arrive the next day.
I learnt afterwards, that the minister had calculated that I could not
reach Madrid before the 22d.
Early the next morning I received a visit from Grimaldo, Minister of
Foreign Affairs, who, overjoyed at my arrival, had announced it to their
Catholic Majesties before coming to me. Upon his example, apparently,
the three other ministers, whom, according to usage, I ought to have
visited first, came also; so that one infamous difficulty which Cardinal
Dubois had placed in my path was happily overcome without effort on my
Grimaldo at once conducted me to the palace, and introduced me to the
King. I made a profound reverence to him; he testified to me his joy at
my arrival, and asked me for news of the King, of M. le Duc d'Orleans, of
my journey, and of my eldest son, whom, as he knew, I had left behind at
Burgos. He then entered alone into the Cabinet of the Mirrors. I was
instantly surrounded by all the Court with compliments and indications of
joy at the marriages and union of the crowns. Nearly all the seigneurs
spoke French, and I had great difficulty in replying to their numberless
A half quarter of an hour after the King had entered his cabinet, he sent
for me. I entered alone into the Hall of Mirrors, which is very vast,
but much less wide than long. The King, with the Queen on his left, was
nearly at the bottom of the salon, both their Majesties standing and
touching each other. I approached with three profound reverences, and I
will remark, once for all, that the King never covers himself except at
public audiences, and when he goes to and comes from his mass. The
audience lasted half an hour, and was principally occupied, on the part
of the King and Queen, with compliments and expressions of joy at the
marriages that were to take place. At its close, the Queen asked me if I
would like to see the children, and conducted me to them.
I never saw prettier boys than Don Carlos and Don Ferdinand, nor a
prettier babe than Don Philip. The King and Queen took pleasure in
making me look at them, and in making them turn and walk before me with
very good grace. Their Majesties entered afterwards into the Infanta's
chamber, where I tried to exhibit as much gallantry as possible. In
fact, the Infanta was charming-like a little woman--and not at all
embarrassed. The Queen said to me that she already had begun to learn
French, and the King that she would soon forget Spain.
"Oh!" cried the Queen, "not only Spain, but the King and me, so as to
attach herself to the King, her husband, alone." Upon this I tried not
to remain dumb, and to say what was appropriate. Their Majesties
dismissed me with much goodness, and I was again encircled by the crowd
with many compliments.
A few moments after the King recalled me, in order to see the Prince of
the Asturias, who was with their Majesties in the same Hall of Mirrors.
I found him tall, and really made to be painted; fine light-brown hair,
light fresh-coloured complexion, long face, but agreeable; good eyes, but
too near the nose. I found in him also much grace and politeness. He
particularly asked after the King, M. le Duc d'Orleans, and Mademoiselle
de Montpensier, to whom he was to be betrothed.
Their Catholic Majesties testified much satisfaction to me at the
diligence I had used; said that a single day would be sufficient for the
ceremonies that had to be gone through (demanding the hand of the
Infanta, according it, and signing the marriage contract). Afterwards
they asked me when all would be ready. I replied it would be any day
they pleased; because, as they wished to go into the country, I thought
it would be best to throw no delay in their path. They appeared much
pleased at this reply, but would not fix the day, upon which I proposed
the following Tuesday. Overjoyed at this promptness, they fixed the
Thursday for their departure, and left me with the best possible grace.
I had got over one difficulty, as I have shown, that connected with the
first visits, but I had others yet to grapple with. And first, there was
my embarrassment at finding no letter for the Infanta. I confided this
fact to Grimaldo, who burst out laughing, was to have my first audience
with the Infanta the next day, and it was then that the letter ought to
be produced. Grimaldo said he would arrange so that when I--went, the
governess should come into the antechamber, and say that the Infanta was
asleep, and upon offering to awake her, I should refuse to allow her,
take my leave, and wait until the letter from the King arrived before I
visited her again. Everything happened just as it had been planned, and
thus the second obstacle which the crafty and malicious Cardinal had put
in my path, for the sake of overturning me, was quietly got over.
Grimaldo's kindness encouraged me to open my heart under its influence.
I found that the Spanish minister knew, quite as, well as I did, what
manner of person Dubois was.
On Sunday, the 23rd, I had in the morning my first private audience of
the King and Queen, together, in the Hall of Mirrors, which is the place
where they usually give it. I was accompanied by Maulevrier, our
ambassador. I presented to their Catholic Majesties the Comte de Lorge,
the Comte de Cereste, my second son, and the Abbe de Saint-Simon and his
bother. I received many marks of goodness from the Queen in this
On Tuesday, the 25th of November, I had my solemn audience. I went to
the palace in a magnificent coach, belonging to the King, drawn by eight
grey horses, admirably dappled. There were no postillions, and the
coachman drove me, his hat under his arm. Five of my coaches filled with
my suite followed, and about twenty others (belonging to noblemen of the
Court, and sent by them in order to do me honour), with gentlemen in
each. The King's coach was surrounded by my musicians, liveried servants
on foot, and by officers of my household. On arriving at the open place
in front of the palace, I thought myself at the Tuileries. The regiments
of Spanish guards, clad, officers and soldiers, like the French guards,
and the regiment of the Walloon guards, clad, officers and, soldiers,
like the Swiss guards, were under arms; the flags waved, the drums beat,
and the officers saluted with the half-pike. On the way, the streets
were filled with people, the shops with dealers and artisans, all the
windows were crowded. Joy showed itself on every face, and we heard
nothing but benedictions.
The audience passed off admirably. I asked the hand of the Infanta in
marriage on the part of the King; my request was graciously complied
with, compliments passed on both sides, and I returned to my house, well
pleased with the reception I had met with from both their Catholic
There was still the marriage contract to be signed, and this was to take
place in the afternoon. Here was to be my great trial, for the
majordomo-major and the nuncio of the Pope were to be present at the
ceremony, and, according to the infamous and extraordinary instructions
I had received from Dubois, I was to precede them! How was this to be
done? I had to bring all my ingenuity to bear upon the subject in order
to determine. In the embarrassment I felt upon this position, I was
careful to affect the most marked attention to the nuncio and the
majordomo-major every time I met them and visited them; so as to take
from them all idea that I wished to precede them, when I should in
reality do so.
The place the majordomo-major was to occupy at this ceremony was behind
the King's armchair, a little to the right, so as to allow room for the
captain of the guards on duty; to put myself there would be to take his
place, and push the captain of the guards away, and those near him. The
place of the nuncio was at the side of the King, his face to the
armchair; to take it would have been to push him beyond the arm of the
chair, which assuredly he would no more have submitted to than the
majordomo-major on the other side. I resolved, therefore, to hazard a
middle term; to try and introduce myself at the top of the right arm of
the chair, a little sideways, so as to take the place of neither,
entirely; but, nevertheless, to drive them out, and to cover this with an
air of ignorance and of simplicity; and, at the same time, of eagerness,
of joy, of curiosity, of courtier-like desire to speak to the King as
much as possible: and all this I exactly executed, in appearance
stupidly, and in reality very successfully!
When the time for the audience arrived, I took up my position,
accordingly, in the manner I have indicated. The majordomo-major and the
nuncio entered, and finding me thus placed, and speaking to the King,
appeared much surprised. I heard Signor and Sefor repeated right and
left of me, and addressed to me--for both expressed themselves with
difficulty in French--and I replied with bows to one and to the other
with the smiling air of a man entirely absorbed in joy at his functions,
and who understands nothing of what is meant; then I recommenced my
conversation with the King, with a sort of liberty and enthusiasm, so
that the nuncio and majordomo-major: soon grew tired of appealing to a
man whose spirit was so transported that he no longer knew where he was,
or what was said to him. In this manner I defeated the craft, cunning,
and maliciousness of Dubois. At the conclusion of the ceremony, I
accompanied the King and Queen to the door of the Hall of Mirrors, taking
good care then to show every deference to the majordomo-major and the
nuncio, and yielding place to them, in order to remove any impression
from their minds that I had just acted in a contrary manner from design.
As soon as their Catholic Majesties had departed, and the door of the
salon was closed upon them, I was encircled and, so to speak, almost
stifled by the company present, who, one after the other, pressed upon me
with the greatest demonstrations of joy and a thousand compliments.
I returned home after the ceremony, which had lasted a long time. While
I occupied my stolen position I was obliged, in order to maintain it, to
keep up an incessant conversation with the King, and at last, no longer
knowing what to talk about, I asked him for an audience the next day,
which he readily accorded me. But this direct request was contrary to
the usage of the Court, where the ambassadors, the other foreign
ministers, and the subjects of the country of, whatever rank, address
their requests to an officer who is appointed to receive them, who
communicates with the King, and names the day and the hour when his
Majesty will grant the interview.
Grimaldo, a little after the end of ceremony, had gone to work with the
King and Queen, as was customary.--I was surprised, an hour after
returning home, to receive a letter from this minister, asking me if I
had anything to say to the King I did not wish the Queen to hear,
referring to the audience I had asked of the King for the morrow, and
begging me to tell him what it was for. I replied to him instantly, that
having found the opportunity good I had asked for this audience; but if I
had not mentioned the Queen, it was because I had imagined she was so
accustomed to be present that there was no necessity to allude to her:
but as to the rest, I had my thanks to offer to the King upon what had
just passed, and nothing to say to him that I should not wish to say to
the Queen, and that I should be very sorry if she were not present.
As I was writing this reply, Don Gaspard Giron invited me to go and see
the illuminations of the Place Mayor. I quickly finished my letter; we
jumped into a coach, and the principal people of my suite jumped into
others. We were conducted by detours to avoid the light of the
illuminations in approaching them, and we arrived at a fine house which
looks upon the middle of the Place, and which is that where the King and
Queen go to see the fetes that take place. We perceived no light in
descending or in ascending the staircase. Everything had been closed,
but on entering into the chamber which looks upon the Place, we were
dazzled, and immediately we entered the balcony speech failed me, from
surprise, for more than seven or eight minutes.
This Place is superficially much vaster than any I had ever seen in Paris
or elsewhere, and of greater length than breadth. The five stories of
the houses which surround it are all of the same level; each has windows
at equal distance, and of equal size, with balconies as deep as they are
long, guarded by iron balustrades, exactly alike in every case. Upon
each of these balconies two torches of white wax were placed, one at each
end of the balcony, supported upon the balustrade, slightly leaning
outwards, and attached to nothing. The light that this--gives is
incredible; it has a splendour and a majesty about it that astonish you
and impress you. The smallest type can be read in the middle of the
Place, and all about, though the ground-floor is not illuminated.
As soon as I appeared upon the balcony, all the people beneath gathered
round and began to cry, Senor! tauro! tauro! The people were asking me
to obtain for them a bull-fight, which is what they like best in the
world, and what the King had not permitted for several years from
conscientious principles. Therefore I contented myself the next day with
simply telling him of these cries, without asking any questions thereon,
while expressing to him my astonishment at an illumination so surprising
and so admirable.
Don Gaspard Giron and the Spaniards who were with me in the house from
which I saw the illumination, charmed with the astonishment I had
displayed at this spectacle, published it abroad with all the more
pleasure because they were not accustomed to the admiration of the
French, and many noblemen spoke of it to me with great pleasure.
Scarcely had I time to return home and sup after this fine illumination
than I was obliged to go to the palace for the ball that the King had
prepared there, and which lasted until past two in the morning.
The salon was very vast and splendid;'the dresses of the company were
sumptuous; the appearance of our finest fancy-dress balls did not
approach the appearance of this.
What seemed strange to me was to see three bishops in lawn sleeves and
cloaks in the ball-room, remaining, too, all the evening, and to see the
accoutrement of the camerara-mayor, who held exposed in her hand a great
chaplet, and who, while talking and criticising the ball and the dancers,
muttered her prayers, and continued to do so while the ball lasted. What
I found very strange was, that none of the men present (except six
special officers and Maulevrier and myself) were allowed to sit, not even
the dancers; in fact, there was not a single seat in the whole salon, not
even at the back, except those I have specified.
In Spain, men and women of all ages wear all sorts of colours, and dance
if they like, even when more than sixty years old, without exciting the
slightest ridicule or astonishment. I saw several examples of this among
men and women.
Amongst the company present was Madame Robecque, a Frenchwoman, one of
the Queen's ladies, whom I had known before she went to Spain. In former
days we had danced together at the Court. Apparently she said so to the
Queen, for after having danced with one of the children, she traversed
the whole length of the salon, made a fine curtsey to their Catholic
Majesties, and came to dislodge me from my retreat, asking me with a
curtsey and a smile to dance. I replied to her by saying she was
laughing at me; dispute, gallantries; finally, she went to the Queen, who
called me and told me that the King and she wished me to dance.
I took the liberty to represent to her that she wished to divert herself
at my expense; that this order could not be serious; I alleged my age, my
position, the number of years since I had danced; in a word, I did all I
could to back out. But all was useless. The King mixed himself in the
matter; both he and the Queen begged me to comply, tried to persuade me
I danced very well; at last commanded me, and in such a manner that I was
obliged to obey. I acquitted myself, therefore, as well as I could.
The ball being finished, the Marquis de Villagarcias, one of the
majordomos, and one of the most honest and most gracious of men I ever
saw (since appointed Viceroy of Peru), would not let me leave until I had
rested in the refreshment-room, where he made me drink a glass of
excellent neat wine, because I was all in a sweat from the minuets and
quadrilles I had gone through, under a very heavy coat.
This same evening and the next I illuminated my house within and without,
not having a moment's leisure to give any fete in the midst of the many
functions I had been so precipitately called upon to fulfil.
On Thursday, the 27th of November, the King and Queen were to depart from
Madrid to Lerma, a pretty hamlet six leagues from Burgos, where they had
a palace. On the same day, very early in the morning, our ambassador,
Maulevrier, came to me with despatches from Cardinal Dubois, announcing
that the Regent's daughter, Mademoiselle de Montpensier, had departed on
the 18th of November for Spain, and giving information as to the places
she would stop at, the people she would be accompanied by, the day she
would arrive at the frontier, and the persons charged with the exchange
of the Princesses.
Maulevrier and I thought this news so important that we felt there was no
time to lose, and at once hastened away to the palace to communicate it
to their Majesties, who we knew were waiting for it most impatiently. We
arrived at such an early hour that all was deserted in the palace, and
when we reached the door of the Hall of Mirrors, we were obliged to knock
loudly in order to be heard. A French valet opened the door, and told us
that their Catholic Majesties were still in bed. We did not doubt it,
and begged him to apprise them that we wished to have the honour of
speaking to them. Such an honour was unheard of, except under
extraordinary circumstances; nevertheless the valet quickly returned,
saying that their Majesties would receive us, though it was against all
rule and usage to do so while they were in bed.
We traversed therefore the long and grand Hall of Mirrors, turned to the
left at the end into a large and fine room, then short off to the left
again into a very little chamber, portioned off from the other, and
lighted by the door and by two little windows at the top of the partition
wall. There was a bed of four feet and a half at most, of crimson
damask, with gold fringe, four posts, the curtains open at the foot and
at the side the King occupied. The King was almost stretched out upon
pillows with a little bed-gown of white satin; the Queen sitting upright,
a piece of tapestry in her hand, at the left of the King, some skeins of
thread near her, papers scattered upon the rest of the bed and upon an
armchair at the side of it. She was quite close to the King, who was in
his night-cap, she also, and in her bed-gown, both between the sheets,
which were only very imperfectly hidden by the papers.
They made us abridge our reverences, and the King, raising himself a
little impatiently, asked us our business. We were alone, the valet
having retired after showing us the door.
"Good news, Sire," replied I. "Mademoiselle de Montpensier set out on
the 18th; the courier has this instant brought us the news, and we have
at once come to present ourselves to you and apprise your Majesties of
Joy instantly painted itself on their faces, and immediately they began
to question us at great length upon the details the courier had brought
us. After an animated conversation, in which Maulevrier took but little
part, their Catholic Majesties dismissed us, testifying to us the great
pleasure we had caused them by not losing a minute in acquainting them
with the departure of Mademoiselle de Montpensier, above all in not
having been stopped by the hour, and by the fact that they were in bed.
We went back to my house to dine and returned to the palace in order to
see the King and Queen depart. I again received from them a thousand
marks of favour. Both the King and Queen, but especially the latter,
several times insisted that I must not lose any time in following them to
Lerma; upon which I assured them they would find me there as they
alighted from their coach.
I set out, in fact, on the 2nd of December, from Madrid, to join the
Court, and was to sleep at the Escurial, with the Comtes de Lorges and de
Cereste, my second son, the Abbe de Saint-Simon and his brother, Pacquet,
and two principal officers of the King's troops, who remained with me as
long as I stayed in Spain. In addition to the orders of the King of
Spain and the letters of the Marquis de Grimaldo, I was also furnished
with those of the nuncio for the Prior of the Escurial, who is, at the
same time, governor, in order that I might he shown the marvels of this
superb and prodigious monastery, and that everything might be opened for
me that I wished to visit; for I had been warned that, without the
recommendation of the nuncio, neither that of the King and his minister,
nor any official character, would have much served me. It will be seen
that, after all, I did not fail to suffer from the churlishness and the
superstition of these coarse Jeronimites.
They are black and white monks, whose dress resembles that of the
Celestins; very idle, ignorant, and without austerity, who, by the number
of their monasteries and their riches, are in Spain much about what the
Benedictines are in France, and like them are a congregation. They elect
also, like the Benedictines, their superiors, local and general, except
the Prior of the Escurial, who is nominated by the King, remains in
office as long as the King likes and no more, and who is yet better
lodged at the Escurial than his Catholic Majesty. 'Tis a prodigy, this
building, of extent, of structure, of every kind of magnificence, and
contains an immense heap of riches, in pictures, in ornaments, in vases
of all kinds, in precious stones, everywhere strewn about, and the
description of which I will not undertake, since it does not belong to my
subject. Suffice it to say that a curious connoisseur of all these
different beauties might occupy himself there for three months without
cessation, and then would not have examined all. The gridiron (its form,
at least) has regulated all the ordonnance of this sumptuous edifice in
honour of Saint-Laurent, and of the battle of Saint-Quentin, gained by
Philippe II., who, seeing the action from a height, vowed he would erect
this monastery if his troops obtained the victory, and asked his
courtiers, if such were the pleasures of the Emperor, his father, who in
fact did not go so far for them as that.
There is not a door, a lock, or utensil of any kind, or a piece of plate,
that is not marked with a gridiron.
The distance from Madrid to the Escurial is much about the same as that
from Paris to Fontainebleau. The country is very flat and becomes a
wilderness on approaching the Escurial, which takes its name from a large
village you pass, a league off. It is upon an eminence which you ascend
imperceptibly, and upon which you see endless deserts on three sides; but
it is backed, as it were, by the mountain of Guadarama, which encircles
Madrid on three sides, at a distance of several leagues, more or less.
There is no village at the Escurial; the lodging of their Catholic
Majesties forms the handle of the gridiron. The principal grand
officers, and those most necessary, are lodged, as well as the Queen's
ladies, in the monastery; on the side by which you arrive all is very
The church, the grand staircase, and the grand cloister, surprised me.
I admired the elegance of the surgery, and the pleasantness of the
gardens, which, however, are only a long and wide terrace. The Pantheon
frightened me by a sort of horror and majesty. The grand-altar and the
sacristy wearied my eyes, by their immense opulence. The library did not
satisfy me, and the librarians still less: I was received with much
civility, and invited to a good supper in the Spanish style, at which the
Prior and another monk did the honours. After this fast repast my people
prepared my meals, but this fat monk always supplied one or two things
that it would not have been civil to refuse, and always ate with me; for,
in order that he might conduct us everywhere, he never quitted our sides.
Bad Latin supplied the place of French, which he did not understand; nor
In the sanctuary at the grand altar, there are windows behind the seats
of the priest and his assistants, who celebrate the grand mass. These
windows, which are nearly on a level with the sanctuary (very high),
belong to the apartment that Philippe II. had built for himself, and in
which he died. He heard service through these windows. I wished to see
this apartment, which was entered from behind. I was refused. It was in
vain that I insisted on the orders of the King and of the nuncio,
authorising me to see all I wished. I disputed uselessly. They told me
this apartment had been closed ever since the death of Philippe II., and
that nobody had entered it. I maintained that King Philippe V. and his
suite had seen it. They admitted the fact, but at the same time told me
that he had entered by force as a master, threatening to break in the
doors, that he was the only King who had entered since Philippe II., and
that they would not open the apartment to anybody. I understood nothing
of all this superstition, but I was forced to rest content in my
ignorance. Louville, who had entered with the King, had told me that the
place contained only five or six dark chambers, and some holes and
corners with wainscots plastered with mud; without tapestry, when he saw
it, or any kind of furniture; thus I did not lose much by not entering.
In the Rotting-Room, which I have elsewhere described, we read the
inscriptions near us, and the monk read others as we asked him. We
walked thus, all round, talking and discoursing thereon. Passing to the
bottom of the room, the coffin of the unhappy Don Carlos offered itself
to our sight.
"As for him," said I, "it is well known why, and of what he died." At
this remark, the fat monk turned rusty, maintained he had died a natural
death, and began to declaim against the stories which he said had been
spread abroad about him. I smiled, saying, I admitted it was not true
that his veins had been opened. This observation completed the
irritation of the monk, who began to babble in a sort of fury. I
diverted myself with it at first in silence; then I said to him, that the
King, shortly after arriving in Spain; had had the curiosity to open the
coffin of Don Carlos, and that I knew from a man who was present ('twas
Louville), that his head had been found between his legs; that Philippe
II., his father, had had it cut off before him in the prison.
"Very well!" cried the monk in fury, "apparently he had well deserved it;
for Philippe II., had permission from the Pope to do so!" and,
thereupon, he began to cry with all his might about the marvels of piety
and of justice of Philippe II., and about the boundless power of the
Pope, and to cry heresy against any one who doubted that he could not
order, decide, and dispose of all.
Such is the fanaticism of the countries of the Inquisition, where science
is a crime, ignorance and superstition the first of virtues. Though my
official character protected me, I did not care to dispute, and cause a
ridiculous scene with this bigot of a monk. I contented myself with
smiling, and by making a sign of silence as I did so to those who were
with me. The monk, therefore, had full swing, and preached a long time
without giving over. He perceived, perhaps, by our faces, that we were
laughing at him, although without gestures or words. At last he showed
us the rest of the chamber, still fuming; then we descended to the
Pantheon. They did me the singular favour to light about two-thirds of
the immense and admirable chandelier, suspended from the middle of the
roof, the lights of which dazzled us, and enabled us to distinguish in
every part of the Rotting-Room; not only the smallest details of the
smallest letter, but the minutest features of the place.
I passed three days in the Escurial, lodged in a large and fine
apartment, and all that were with me well lodged also. Our monk, who had
always been in an ill-humour since the day of the Rotting-Room, did not
recover himself until the parting breakfast came. We quitted him without
regret, but not the Escurial, which would pleasantly occupy a curious
connoisseur during more than a three months' stay. On the road we met
the Marquis de Montalegre, who invited, us to dinner with him. The meal
was so good that we little regretted the dinner my people had prepared
At last we arrived on the 9th, at our village of Villahalmanzo, where I
found most comfortable quarters for myself and all who were with me. I
found there, also, my eldest son, still merely, convalescent, with the
Abbe de Monthon, who came from Burgos. We supped very gaily, and I
reckoned upon taking a good excursion the next day, and upon amusing
myself in reconnoitring the village and the environs; but fever seized me
during the night, augmented during the day, became violent the following
night, so that there was no more talk of going on the 11th to meet the
King and Queen at Lerma, as they alighted from their coach, according to
The malady increased with such rapidity that I was found to be in great
danger, and immediately after, on the point of death. I was bled shortly
after. The small-pox, with which the whole country was filled, appeared.
The climate was such this year that it froze hard twelve or fourteen
hours every day, while from eleven o'clock in 'the morning till nearly
four, the sun shone as brightly as possible, and it was too hot about
mid-day for walking! Yet in the shade it did not thaw for an instant.
This cold weather was all the more sharp because the air was purer and
clearer, and the sky continually of the most perfect serenity.
The King of Spain, who was dreadfully afraid of the small-pox, and who
with reason had confidence only in his chief doctor, sent him to me as
soon as he was informed of my illness, with orders not to quit me until I
was cured. I had, therefore, five or six persons continually around me,
in addition to the domestics who served me, one of the best and most
skilful physicians in Europe, who, moreover, was capital company, and who
did not quit me night or day, and three very good surgeons. The small-
pox came out very abundantly all over me; it was of a good kind, and I
had no dangerous accident. Every one who waited upon me, master or man,
was cut off from all intercourse with the rest of the world; even those
who cooked for us, from those who did not.
The chief physician nearly every day provided new remedies in case of
need, and yet administered none to me, except in giving me, as my sole
beverage, water, in which, according to its quantity, oranges were
thrown, cut in two with their skins on, and which gently simmered before
my, fire; occasionally some spoonful of a gentle and agreeable cordial
during the height of the suppuration, and afterwards a little Rota wine,
and some broth, made of beef and partridge.
Nothing was wanting, then, on the part of those who had charge of me. I
was their only patient, and they had orders not to quit me, and nothing
was wanting for my amusement, when I was in a condition to take any, so
much good company being around me, and that at a time when convalescents
of this malady experience all the weariness and fretfulness of it. At
the end of my illness I was bled and purged once, after which I lived as
usual, but in a species of solitude.
During the long interval in which this illness shut me out from all
intercourse with the world, the Abbe de Saint-Simon corresponded for me
with Cardinal Dubois, Grimaldo, Sartine, and some others.
The King and Queen, not content with having sent me their chief
physician, M. Hyghens, to be with me night and day, wished to hear how I
was twice a day, and when I was better, unceasingly showed to me a
thousand favours, in which they were imitated by all the Court.
But I was six weeks ill in all.
Here I think will be the fitting place to introduce an account of the
daily life of the King and Queen of Spain, which in many respects was
entitled to be regarded as singular. During my stay at the Court I had
plenty of opportunity to mark it well, so that what I relate may be said
to have passed under my own eyes. This, then, was their daily life
wherever they were, and in all times and seasons.
The King and Queen never had more than one apartment, and one bed between
them, the latter exactly as I have described it when relating my visit
with Maulevrier to their Catholic Majesties to carry to them the news of
the departure from Paris of the future Princess of the Asturias. During
fevers, illness, no matter of what kind, or on whose side, childbirth
even,--never were they a single night apart, and even when the deceased
Queen was eaten up with the scrofula, the King continued to sleep with
her until a few nights before her death!
About nine o'clock in the morning the curtains were drawn by the Asafeta,
followed by a single valet carrying a basin full of caudle. Hyghens,
during my convalescence, explained to me how this caudle was made, and in
fact concocted some for me to taste. It is a light mixture of broth,
milk, wine (which is in the largest quantity), one or two yolks of eggs,
sugar, cinnamon, and a few cloves. It is white; has a very strong taste,
not unmixed with softness. I should not like to take it habitually,
nevertheless it is not disagreeable. You put in it, if you like, crusts
of bread, or, at times, toast, and then it becomes a species of soup;
otherwise it is drunk as broth; and, ordinarily, it was in this last
fashion the King took it. It is unctuous, but very warm, a restorative
singularly good for retrieving the past night, and, for preparing you for
While the King partook of this brief breakfast, the Asafeta brought the
Queen some tapestry to work at, passed bed-gowns to their Majesties, and
put upon the bed some of the papers she found upon the adjoining seats,
then withdrew with the valet and what he had brought. Their Majesties
then said their morning prayers. Grimaldo afterwards entered. Sometimes
they signalled to him to wait, as he came in, and called him when their
prayer was over, for there was nobody else, and the bedroom was very
small. Then Grimaldo displayed his papers, drew from his pocket an
inkstand, and worked with the King; the Queen not being hindered by her
tapestry from giving her opinion.
This work lasted more or less according to the business, or to the
conversation. Grimaldo, upon leaving with his papers, found the
adjoining room empty, and a valet in that beyond, who, seeing him pass,
entered into the empty room, crossed it, and summoned the Asafeta, who
immediately came and presented to the King his slippers and his dressing-
gown; he at once passed across the empty room and entered into a cabinet,
where he dressed himself, followed by three valets (never changed) and by
the Duc del Arco, or the Marquis de Santa Cruz, and after by both, nobody
else ever being present at the ceremony.
The Queen, as soon as the King had passed into his cabinet, put on her
stockings and shoes alone with the Asafeta, who gave her her dressing-
gown. It was the only moment in which this person could speak to the
Queen, or the Queen to her; but this moment did not stretch at the most
to more than half a quarter of an hour. Had they been longer together
the King would have known it, and would have wanted to hear what kept
them. The Queen passed through the empty chamber and entered into a fine
large cabinet, where her toilette awaited her. When the King had dressed
in his cabinet--where he often spoke to his confessor--he went to the
Queen's toilette, followed by the two seigneurs just named. A few of the
specially--privileged were also admitted there. This toilette lasted
about three-quarters of an hour, the King and all the rest of the company
When it was over, the King half opened the door of the Hall of Mirrors,
which leads into the salon where the Court assembled, and gave his
orders; then rejoined the Queen in that room which I have so often called
the empty room. There and then took place the private audiences of the
foreign ministers, and of, the seigneurs, or other subjects who obtained
them. Once a week, on Monday, there was a public audience, a practice
which cannot be too much praised where it is not abused. The King,
instead of half opening the door, threw it wide open, and admitted
whoever liked to enter. People spoke to the King as much as they liked,
how they liked, and gave him in writing what they liked. But the
Spaniards resemble in nothing the French; they are measured, discreet,
After the audiences, or after amusing himself with the Queen--if there
are none, the King went to dress. The Queen accompanied him, and they
took the communion together (never separately) about once a week, and
then they heard a second mass. The confession of the King was said after
he rose, and before he went to the Queen's toilette.
Upon returning from mass, or very shortly after, the dinner was served.
It was always in the Queen's apartment, as well as the supper, but the
King and Queen had each their dishes; the former, few, the latter, many,
for she liked eating, and ate of everything; the King always kept to the
same things--soup, capon, pigeons, boiled and roast, and always a roast
loin of veal--no fruit; or salad, or cheese; pastry, rarely, never
maigre; eggs, often cooked in various fashion; and he drank nothing but
champagne; the Queen the same. When the dinner was finished, they prayed
to God together. If anything pressing happened, Grimaldo came and gave
them a brief account of it.
About an hour after dinner, they left the apartment by a short passage
accessible to the court, and descended by a little staircase to their
coach, returning by the same way. The seigneurs who frequented the court
pretty constantly assembled, now one, now another, in this passage, or
followed their Majesties to their coaches. Very often I saw them in this
passage as they went or returned. The Queen always said something
pleasant to whoever was there. I will speak elsewhere of the hunting-
party their Majesties daily made.
Upon returning, the King gave his orders. If they had not partaken of a
collation in the coach, they partook of one upon arriving. It was for
the King, a morsel of bread, a big biscuit, some water and wine; and for
the Queen, pastry and fruit in season, sometimes cheese. The Prince and
the Princess of the Asturias, and the children, followed and waited for
them in the inner apartment. This company withdrew in less than half a
quarter of an hour. Grimaldo came and worked ordinarily for a long time;
it was the time for the real work of the day. When the Queen went to
confession this also was the time she selected. Except what related to
the confession, she and her confessor had no time to say anything to each
other. The cabinet in which she confessed to him was contiguous to the
room occupied by the King, and when the latter thought the confession too
long, he opened the door and called her. Grimaldo being gone, they
prayed together, or sometimes occupied themselves with spiritual reading
until supper. It was served like the dinner. At both meals there were
more dishes in the French style than in the Spanish, or even the Italian.
After supper, conversation or prayers conducted them to the hour for bed,
when nearly the same observances took place as in the morning. Finally,
their Catholic Majesties everywhere had but one wardrobe between them,
and were never in private one from another.
These uniform days were the same in all places, and even during the
journeys taken by their Majesties, who were thus never separated, except
for a few minutes at a time. They passed their lives in one long tete-a-
tete. When they travelled it was at the merest snail's pace, and they
slept on the road, night after night, in houses prepared for them. In
their coach they were always alone; when in the palace it was the same.
The King had been accustomed to this monotonous life by his first queen,
and he did not care for any other. The new Queen, upon arriving, soon
found this out, and found also that if she wished to rule him, she must
keep him in the same room, confined as he had been kept by her
predecessor. Alberoni was the only person admitted to their privacy.
This second marriage of the King of Spain, entirely brought about by
Madame des Ursins, was very distasteful to the Spaniards, who detested
that personage most warmly, and were in consequence predisposed to look
unfavourably upon anyone she favoured. It is true, the new Queen, on
arriving, drove out Madame des Ursins, but this showed her to be
possessed of as much power as the woman she displaced, and when she began
to exercise that power in other directions the popular dislike to her was
increased. She made no effort to mitigate it--hating the Spaniards as
much as they hated her--and it is incredible to what an extent this
reciprocal aversion stretched.
When the Queen went out with the King to the chase or to the atocha, the
people unceasingly cried, as well as the citizens in their shops, "Viva
el Re y la Savoyana, y la Savoyana," and incessantly repeated, with all
their lungs, "la Savoyana," which is the deceased Queen (I say this to
prevent mistake), no voice ever crying "Viva la Reina." The Queen
pretended to despise this, but inwardly raged (as people saw), she could
not habituate herself to it. She has said to me very frequently and more
than once: "The Spaniards do not like me, and in return I hate them,"
with an air of anger and of pique.
These long details upon the daily life of the King and Queen may appear
trivial, but they will not be judged so by those who know, as I do, what
valuable information is to be gained from similar particulars. I will
simply say in passing, that an experience of twenty years has convinced
me that the knowledge of such details is the key to many others, and that
it is always wanting in histories, often in memoirs the most interesting
and instructive, but which would be much more so if they had not
neglected this chapter, regarded by those who do not know its price, as a
bagatelle unworthy of entering into a serious recital. Nevertheless, I
am quite certain, that there is not a minister of state, a favourite, or
a single person of whatever rank, initiated by his office into the
domestic life of sovereigns, who will not echo my sentiments.
And now let me give a more distinct account of the King of Spain than I
have yet written.
Philip V. was not gifted with superior understanding or with any stock of
what is called imagination. He was cold, silent, sad, sober, fond of no
pleasure except the chase, fearing society, fearing himself, unexpansive,
a recluse by taste and habits, rarely touched by others, of good sense
nevertheless, and upright, with a tolerably good knowledge of things,
obstinate when he liked, and often then not to be moved; nevertheless,
easy at other times to govern and influence.
He was cold. In his campaigns he allowed himself to be led into any
position, even under a brisk fire, without budging in the slightest; nay,
amusing himself by seeing whether anybody was afraid. Secured and
removed from danger he was the same, without thinking that his glory
could suffer by it. He liked to make war, but was indifferent whether he
went there or not; and present or absent, left everything to the generals
without doing anything himself.
He was extremely vain; could bear no opposition in any of his
enterprises; and what made me judge he liked praise, was that the Queen
invariably praised him--even his face; and asked me one day, at the end
of an audience which had led us into conversation, if I did not think him
very handsome, and more so than any one I knew?--His piety was only
custom, scruples, fears, little observances, without knowing anything of
religion: the Pope a divinity when not opposed to him; in fact he had the
outside religion of the Jesuits, of whom he was passionately fond.
Although his health was very good, he always feared for it; he was always
looking after it. A physician, such as the one Louis XI. enriched so
much at the end of his life; a Maitre Coythier would have become a rich
and powerful personage by his side; fortunately his physician was a
thoroughly good and honourable man, and he who succeeded him devoted to
the Queen. Philip V. could speak well--very well, but was often hindered
by idleness and self-mistrust. To the audiences I had with him, however,
he astonished me by the precision, the grace, the easiness of his words.
He was good, easy to serve, familiar with a few. His love of France
showed itself in everything. He preserved much gratitude and veneration
for the deceased King, and tenderness for the late Monsieur; above all
for the Dauphin, his brother, for whose loss he was never consoled.
I noticed nothing in him towards any other of the royal family, except
the King; and he never asked me concerning anybody in the Court, except,
and then in a friendly manner, the Duchesse de Beauvilliers.
He had scruples respecting his crown, that can with difficulty be
reconciled with the desire he had to return, in case of misfortune, to
the throne of his fathers, which he had more than once so solemnly
renounced. He believed himself an usurper! and in this idea nourished
his desire to return to France, and abandon Spain and his scruples at one
and the same time. It cannot be disguised that all this was very ill-
arranged in his head, but there it was, and he would have abandoned Spain
had it been possible, because he felt compelled by duty to do so. It was
this feeling which principally induced him, after meditating upon it long
before I arrived in Spain, to abdicate his throne in favour of his son.
It was the same usurpation in his eyes, but not being able to obey his
scruples, he contented himself by doing all he could in abdicating. It
was still this feeling which, at the death of his son, troubled him so
much, when he saw himself compelled to reascend the throne; though,
during his abdication, that son had caused him not a little vexation.
As may well be imagined, Philip V. never spoke of these delicate matters
to me, but I was not less well informed of them elsewhere.
The Queen desired not less to abandon Spain, which she hated, and to
return into France and reign, where she hoped to lead a life of less
seclusion, and much more agreeable.
Notwithstanding all I have said, it is perfectly true that Philip V. was
but little troubled by the wars he made, that he was fond of enterprises,
and that his passion was to be respected and dreaded, and to figure
grandly in Europe.
But let me now more particularly describe the Queen.
This princess had much intellect and natural graces, which she knew how
to put to account. Her sense, her reflection, and her conduct, were
guided by that intellect, from which she drew all the charms and, all the
advantages possible. Whoever knew her was astonished to find how her
intelligence and natural capacity supplied the place of her want of
knowledge of the world, of persons, of affairs, upon all of which
subjects, her garret life in Parma, and afterwards her secluded life with
the King of Spain, hindered her from obtaining any real instruction. The
perspicuity she possessed, which enabled her to see the right side of
everything that came under her inspection, was undeniable, and this
singular gift would have become developed in her to perfection if its
growth had not been interrupted by the ill-humour she possessed; which it
must be admitted the life she led was more than enough to give her. She
felt her talent and her strength, but did not feel the fatuity and pride
which weakened them and rendered them ridiculous. The current of her
life was simple, smooth, with a natural gaiety even, which sparkled
through the eternal restraint of her existence; and despite the ill-
temper and the sharpness which this restraint without rest gave her, she
was a woman ordinarily without pretension, and really charming.
When she arrived in Spain she was sure, in the first place, of driving
away Madame des Ursins, and of filling-her place in the government at
once. She seized that place, and took possession also of the King's
mind, which she soon entirely ruled. As to public business, nothing
could be hidden from her. The King always worked in her presence, never
otherwise; all that he saw alone she read and discussed with him. She
was always present at all the private audiences that he gave, whether to
his subjects or to the foreign ministers; so that, as I have before
remarked, nothing possibly could escape her.
As for the King, the eternal night and day tete-a-tete she had with him
enabled her to sound him thoroughly, to know him by heart, so to speak.
She knew perfectly the time for preparatory insinuations, their success;
the resistance, when there was any, its course and how to overcome it;
the moments for yielding, in order to return afterwards to the charge,
and those for holding firm and carrying everything by force. She stood
in need of all these intrigues, notwithstanding her credit with the King.
If I may dare to say it, his temperament was her strong point, and she
sometimes had recourse to it. Then her coldness excited tempests. The
King cried and menaced; now and then went further; she held firm, wept,
and sometimes defended herself. In the morning all was stormy. The
immediate attendants acted towards King and Queen often without
penetrating the cause of their quarrel. Peace was concluded at the first
opportunity, rarely to the disadvantage of the Queen, who mostly had her
A quarrel of this sort arose when I was at Madrid; and I was advised,
after hearing details I will not repeat, to mix myself up in it, but I
burst out laughing and took good care not to follow this counsel.
The chase was every day the amusement of the King, and the Queen was
obliged to make it hers. But it was always the same. Their Catholic
Majesties did me the singular honour to invite me to it once, and I went
in my coach. Thus I saw this pleasure well, and to see it once is to see
it always. Animals to shoot are not met with in the plains. They must
be sought for among the mountains,--and there the ground is too rugged
for hunting the stag, the wild boar, and other beasts as we hunt the
hare,--and elsewhere. The plains even are so dry, so hard, so full of
deep crevices (that are not perceived until their brink is reached), that
the best hounds or harriers would soon be knocked up, and would have
their feet blistered, nay lamed, for a long time. Besides, the ground is
so thickly covered with sturdy vegetation that the hounds could not
derive much help from their noses. Mere shooting on the wing the King
had long since quitted, and he had ceased to mount his horse; thus the
chase simply resolved itself into a battue.
The Duc del Orco, who, by his post of grand ecuyer, had the
superintendence of all the hunting arrangements, chose the place where
the King and Queen were to go. Two large arbours were erected there, the
one against the other, entirely shut in, except where two large openings,
like windows, were made, of breast-height. The King, the Queen, the
captain of the guards, and the grand ecuyer were in the first arbour with
about twenty guns and the wherewithal to load them. In the other arbour,
the day I was present, were the Prince of the Asturias, who came in his
coach with the Duc de Ponoli and the Marquis del Surco, the Marquis de
Santa Cruz, the Duc Giovenazzo, majordomo, major and grand ecuyer to the
Queen, Valouse, two or three officers of the body-guard, and I myself.
We had a number of guns, and some men to load them. A single lady of the
palace followed the Queen all alone, in another coach, which she did not
quit; she carried with her, for her consolation, a book or some work, for
no one approached her. Their Majesties and their suite went to the chase
in hot haste with relays of guards and of coach horses, for the distance
was at least three or four leagues; at the least double that from Paris
to Versailles. The party alighted at the arbours, and immediately the
carriages, the poor lady of the palace, and all the horses were led away
far out of sight, lest they should frighten the beasts.
Two, three, four hundred peasants had early in the morning beaten the
country round, with hue and cry, after having enclosed it and driven all
the animals together as near these arbours as possible. When in the
arbour you were not allowed to stir, or to make the slightest remarks, or
to wear attractive colours; and everybody stood up in silence.
This period of expectation lasted an hour and a half, and did not appear
to me very amusing. At last we heard loud cries from afar, and soon
after we saw troops of animals pass and repass within shot and within
half-shot of us; and then the King and the Queen banged away in good
earnest. This diversion, or rather species of butchery, lasted more than
half an hour, during which stags, hinds, roebucks, boars, hares, wolves,
badgers, foxes, and numberless pole-cats passed; and were killed or
We were obliged to let the King and Queen fire first, although pretty
often they permitted the grand ecuyer and the captain of the guard to
fire also; and as we did not know from whom came the report, we were
obliged to wait until the King's arbour was perfectly silent; then let
the Prince shoot, who very often had nothing to shoot at, and we still
less. Nevertheless, I killed a fox, but a little before I ought to have
done so, at which, somewhat ashamed, I made my excuses to the Prince of
the Asturias, who burst out laughing, and the company also, I following
their example and all passing very politely.
In proportion as the peasants approach and draw nearer each other, the
sport advances, and it finishes when they all come close to the arbours,
still shouting, and with nothing more behind them. Then the coaches
return, the company quits the arbours, the beasts killed are laid before
the King. They are placed afterwards behind the coaches. During all
this, conversation respecting the sport rolls on. We carried away this
day about a dozen or more beasts, some hares, foxes, and polecats. The
night overtook us soon after we quitted the arbours.
And this is the daily diversion of their Catholic Majesties.
It is time now, however, to resume the thread of my narrative, from which
these curious and little-known details have led me.
I have shown in its place the motive which made me desire my embassy; it
was to obtain the 'grandesse' for my second son, and thus to "branch" my
house. I also desired to obtain the Toison d'Or for my eldest son, that
he might derive from this journey an ornament which, at his age, was a
decoration. I had left Paris with full liberty to employ every aid, in
order to obtain these things; I had, too, from M. le Duc d'Orleans, the
promise that he would expressly ask the King of Spain for the former
favour, employing the name of the King, and letters of the strongest kind
from Cardinal Dubois to Grimaldo and Father Aubenton. In the midst of
the turmoil of affairs I spoke to both of these persons, and was
favourably attended to.
Grimaldo was upright and truthful. He conceived a real friendship for
me, and gave me, during my stay at Madrid, all sorts of proofs of it.
He said that this union of the two Courts by the two marriages might
influence the ministers. His sole point of support, in order to maintain
himself in the post he occupied, so brilliant and so envied, was the King
of Spain. The Queen, he found, could never be a solid foundation on
which to repose. He wished, then, to support himself upon France, or at
least to have no opposition from it, and he perfectly well knew the
duplicity and caprices of Cardinal Dubois. The Court of Spain, at all
times so watchful over M. le Duc d'Orleans, in consequence of what had
passed in the time of the Princesse des Ursins, and during the Regency,.
was not ignorant of the intimate and uninterrupted confidence of this
prince in me, or of the terms on which I was with him. These sort of
things appear larger than they are, when seen from afar, and the choice
that had been made of me for this singular embassy confirmed it still
more! Grimaldo, then, might have thought to assure my friendship in his
behalf, and my influence with M. le Duc d'Orleans, occasion demanding it;
and I don't think I am deceiving myself in attributing to him this policy
while he aided me to obtain a favour, at bottom quite natural, and which
could cause him no inconvenience.
I regarded the moment at which the marriage would be celebrated as that
at which I stood most chance of obtaining what I desired, and I
considered that if it passed over without result to me, all would grow
cold, and become uncertain, and very disagreeable. I had forgotten
nothing during this first stay in Madrid, in order to please everybody,
and I make bold to say that I had all the better succeeded because I had
tried to give weight and merit to my politeness, measuring it according
to the persons I addressed, without prostitution and without avarice, and
that's what made me hasten to learn all I could of the birth, of the
dignities, of the posts, of the alliances, of the reputation of each, so
as to play my cards well, and secure the game.
But still I needed the letters of M. le Duc d'Orleans, and of Cardinal
Dubois. I did not doubt the willingness of the Regent, but I did doubt,
and very much too, that of his minister. It has been seen what reason I
had for this.
These letters ought to have arrived at Madrid at the same time that I
did, but they had not come, and there seemed no prospect of their
arriving. What redoubled my impatience was that I read them beforehand,
and that I wished to have the time to reflect, and to turn round, in
order to draw from them, in spite of them, all the help I could. I
reckoned that these letters would be in a feeble spirit, and this opinion
made me more desirous to fortify my batteries in Spain in order to render
myself agreeable to the King and Queen, and to inspire them with the
desire to grant me the favours I wished.
A few days before going to Lerma I received letters from Cardinal Dubois
upon my affair. Nobody could be more eager or more earnest than the
Cardinal, for he gave me advice how to arrive at my aim, and pressed me
to look out for everything which could aid me; assuring me that his
letters, and those of M. le Duc d'Orleans, would arrive in time. In the
midst of the perfume of so many flowers, the odour of falsehood could
nevertheless be smelt. I had reckoned upon this. I had done all in my
power to supply the place of these letters. I received therefore not as
gospel, all the marvels Dubois sent me, and I set out for Lerma fully
resolved to more and more cultivate my affair without reckoning upon the
letters promised me; but determined to draw as much advantage from them
as I could.
Upon arriving at Lerma I fell ill as I have described, and the small-pox
kept me confined forty days: The letters so long promised and so long
expected did not arrive until the end of my quarantine. They were just
what I expected. Cardinal Dubois explained himself to Grimaldo in turns
and circumlocution, and if one phrase displayed eagerness and desire, the
next destroyed it by an air of respect and of discretion, protesting he
wished simply what the King of Spain would himself wish, with all the
seasoning necessary for the annihilation of his good offices under the
pretence that he did not wish to press his Majesty to anything or to
This written stammering savoured of the bombast of a man who had no
desire to serve me, but who, not daring to break his word, used all his
wits to twist and overrate the little he could not hinder himself from
saying. This letter was simply for Grimaldo, as the letter of M. le Duc
d'Orleans was simply for the King of Spain. The last was even weaker
than the first. It was like a design in pencil nearly effaced by the
rain, and in which nothing, connected appeared. It scarcely touched upon
the real point, but lost itself in respects, in reservations, in
deference, and would propose nothing that was not according to the taste
of the King! In a word, the letter withdrew rather than advanced, and
was a sort of ease-conscience which could not be refused, and which did
not promise much success.
It is easy to understand that these letters much displeased me. Although
I had anticipated all the malice of Cardinal Dubois, I found it exceeded
my calculations, and that it was more undisguised than I imagined it
Such as the letters were I was obliged to make use of them. The Abbe de
Saint-Simon wrote to Grimaldo and to Sartine, enclosing these letter, for
I myself did not yet dare to write on account of the precautions I was
obliged to use against the bad air. Sartine and Grimaldo, to whom I had
not confided my suspicions that these recommendations would be in a very
weak tone, were thrown into the utmost surprise on reading them.
They argued together, they were indignant, they searched for a bias to
strengthen that which had so much need of strength, but this bias could
not be found; they consulted together, and Grimaldo formed a bold
resolution, which astonished me to the last degree, and much troubled me
He came to the conclusion that these letters would assuredly do me more
harm than good; that they must be suppressed, never spoken of to the
King, who must be confirmed without them in the belief that in according
me these favours he would confer upon M. le Duc d'Orleans a pleasure, all
the greater, because he saw to what point extended all his reserve in not
speaking to him about this matter, and mine in not asking for these
favours through his Royal Highness, as there was every reason to believe
I should do. Grimaldo proposed to draw from these circumstances all the
benefit he proposed to have drawn from the letters had they been written
in a fitting spirit, and he said he would answer for it; I should have
the 'grandesse' and the 'Toison d'Or' without making the slightest
allusion to the cold recommendations of M. le Duc d'Orleans to the King
of Spain, and of Dubois to him.
Sartine, by his order, made this known to the Abbe de Saint-Simon, who
communicated it to me, and after having discussed together with Hyghens,
who knew the ground as well as they, and who had really devoted himself
to me, I blindly abandoned myself to the guidance and friendship of
Grimaldo, with full success, as will be seen.
In relating here the very singular fashion by which my affair succeeded,
I am far indeed from abstracting from M. le Duc d'Orleans all gratitude.
If he had not confided to me the double marriage, without the knowledge
of Dubois, and in spite of the secrecy that had been asked for, precisely
on my account, I should not have been led to beg of him the embassy.
I instantly asked for it, declaring that my sole aim was the grandesse
for my second son, and he certainly accorded it to me with this aim, and
promised to aid me with his recommendation in order to arrive at it, but
with the utmost secrecy on account of the vexation Dubois would feel, and
in order to give himself time to arrange with the minister and induce him
to swallow the pill.
If I had not had the embassy in this manner, it would certainly have
escaped me; and thus would have been lost all hope of the grandesse, to
obtain which there would have been no longer occasion, reason, or means.
The friendship and the confidence of this prince prevailed then over the
witchery which his miserable preceptor had cast upon him, and if he
afterwards yielded to the roguery, to the schemes, to the folly which
Dubois employed in the course of this embassy to ruin and disgrace me,
and to bring about the failure of the sole object which had made me
desire it, we must only blame his villainy and the deplorable feebleness
of M. le Duc d'Orleans, which caused me many sad embarrassments, and did
so much harm, but which even did more harm to the state and to the prince
It is with this sad but only too true reflection that I finish the year
The Regent's daughter arrived in Spain at the commencement of the year
1722, and it was arranged that her marriage with the Prince of the
Asturias should be celebrated on the 30th of January at Lerma, where
their Catholic Majesties were then staying. It was some little distance
from my house. I was obliged therefore to start early in the morning in
order to arrive in time. On the way I paid a visit of ceremony to the
Princess, at Cogollos, ate a mouthful of something, and turned off to
As soon as I arrived there, I went to the Marquis of Grimaldo's
apartments. His chamber was at the end of a vast room, a piece of which
had been portioned off, in order to serve as a chapel. Once again I had
to meet the nuncio, and I feared lest he should remember what had passed
on a former occasion, and that I should give Dubois a handle for
complaint. I saw, therefore, but very imperfectly, the reception of the
Princess; to meet whom the King and Queen (who lodged below) and the
Prince precipitated themselves, so to speak, almost to the steps of the
coach. I quietly went up again to the chapel.
The prie-dieu of the King was placed in front of the altar, a short
distance from the steps, precisely as the King's prie-dieu is placed at
Versailles, but closer to the altar, and with a cushion on each side of
it. The chapel was void of courtiers. I placed myself to the right of
the King's cushion just beyond the edge of the carpet, and amused myself
there better than I had expected. Cardinal Borgia, pontifically clad,
was in the corner, his face turned towards me, learning his lesson
between two chaplains in surplices, who held a large book open in front
of him. The good prelate did not know how to read; he tried, however,
and read aloud, but inaccurately. The chaplains took him up, he grew
angry, scolded them, recommenced, was again corrected, again grew angry,
and to such an extent that he turned round upon them and shook them by
their surplices. I laughed as much as I could; for he perceived nothing,
so occupied and entangled was he with his lesson.
Marriages in Spain are performed in the afternoon, and commence at the
door of the church, like baptisms. The King, the Queen, the Prince, and
the Princess arrived with all the Court, and the King was announced.
"Let them wait," said the Cardinal in choler, "I am not ready." They
waited, in fact, and the Cardinal continued his lesson, redder than his
hat, and still furious. At last he went to the door, at which a ceremony
took place that lasted some time. Had I not been obliged to continue at
my post, curiosity would have made me follow him. That I lost some
amusement is certain, for I saw the King and Queen laughing and looking
at their prie-dieu, and all the Court laughing also. The nuncio arriving
and seeing by the position I had taken up that I was preceding him, again
indicated his surprise to me by gestures, repeating, "Signor, signor;"
but I had resolved to understand nothing, and laughingly pointed out the
Cardinal to him, and reproached him for not having better instructed the
worthy prelate for the honour of the Sacred College. The nuncio
understood French very well, but spoke it very badly. This banter and
the innocent air with which I gave it, without appearing to notice his
demonstrations, created such a fortunate diversion, that nobody else was
thought of; more especially as the poor cardinal more and more caused
amusement while continuing the ceremony, during which he neither knew
where he was nor what he was doing, being taken up and corrected every
moment by his chaplains, and fuming against them so that neither the King
nor the Queen could; contain themselves. It was the same with everybody
else who witnessed the scene.
I could see nothing more than the back of the Prince and the Princess as
they knelt each upon a cushion between the prie-dieu and the altar, the
Cardinal in front making grimaces indicative of the utmost confusion.
Happily all I had to think of was the nuncio, the King's majordomo-major
having placed himself by the side of his son, captain of the guards. The
grandees were crowded around with the most considerable people: the rest
filled all the chapel so that there was no stirring.
Amidst the amusement supplied to us by the poor Cardinal, I remarked
extreme satisfaction in the King and Queen at seeing this grand marriage
accomplished. The ceremony finished, as it was not long, only the King,
the Queen, and, when necessary, the Prince and Princess kneeling, their
Catholic Majesties rose and withdrew towards the left corner of their
footcloth, talked together for a short time, after which the Queen
remained where she was, and the King advanced to me, I being where I had
been during all the ceremony.
The King did me the honour to say to me, "Monsieur, in every respect I am
so pleased with you, and particularly for the manner in which you have
acquitted yourself of your embassy, that I wish to give you some marks of
my esteem, of my satisfaction; of my friendship. I make you Grandee of
Spain of the first class; you, and, at the same time, whichever of your
sons you may wish to have the same distinction; and your eldest son I
will make chevalier of the Toison d'Or."
I immediately embraced his knees, and I tried to testify to him my
gratitude and my extreme desire to render myself worthy of the favour he
deigned to spread upon me, by my attachment, my very humble services, and
my most profound respect. Then I kissed his hand, turned and sent for
my, children, employing the moments which had elapsed before they came in
uttering fresh thanks. As soon as my sons appeared, I called the younger
and told him, to embrace the knees of the King who overwhelmed us with
favours, and made him grandee of Spain with me. He kissed the King's
hand in rising, the King saying he was very glad of what he had just
done. I presented the elder to him afterwards, to thank him for the
Toison. He simply bent very low and kissed the King's hand. As soon as
this was at an end, the King went towards the Queen, and I followed him
with my children. I bent very low before the Queen, thanked her, then
presented to her my children, the younger first, the elder afterwards.
The Queen received us with much goodness, said a thousand civil things,
then walked away with the King, followed by the Prince, having upon his
arm the Princess, whom we saluted in passing; and they returned to their
apartments. I wished to follow them, but was carried away, as it were,
by the crowd which pressed eagerly around me to compliment me. I was
very careful to reply in a fitting manner to each, and with the utmost
politeness, and though I but little expected these favours at this
moment, I found afterwards that all this numerous court was pleased with
A short time after the celebration of the marriage between the Regent's
daughter and the Prince of the Asturias, the day came on which my eldest
son was to receive the Toison d'Or. The Duc de Liria was to be his,
godfather, and it was he who conducted us to the place of ceremony. His
carriage was drawn by four perfectly beautiful Neapolitan horses; but
these animals, which are often extremely fantastical, would not stir.
The whip was vigorously applied; results--rearing, snorting, fury, the
carriage in danger of being upset. Time was flying; I begged the Duc de
Liria, therefore, to get into my carriage, so that we might not keep the
King and the company waiting for us. It was in vain I represented to him
that this function of godfather would in no way be affected by changing
his own coach for mine, since it would be by necessity. He would not
listen to me. The horses continued their game for a good half hour
before they consented to start.
All my cortege followed us, for I wished by this display to show the King
of Spain how highly I appreciated the honours of his Court. On the way
the horses again commenced their pranks. I again pressed the Duc de
Liria to change his coach, and he again refused. Fortunately the pause
this time was much shorter than at first; but before we reached the end
of our journey there came a message to say that the King was waiting for
us. At last we arrived, and as soon as the King was informed of it he
entered the room where the chapter of the order was assembled. He
straightway sat himself down in an armchair, and while the rest of the
company were placing themselves in position; the Queen, the Princess of
the Asturias, and their suite, seated themselves as simple spectators at
the end of the room.
All the chapter having arranged themselves in order, the door in front of
the King, by which we had entered, was closed, my son remaining outside
with a number of the courtiers. Then the King covered himself, and all
the chevaliers at the same time, in the midst of a silence, without sign,
which lasted as long as a little prayer. After this, the King very
briefly proposed that the Vidame de Chartres should be received into the
order. All the chevaliers uncovered themselves, made an inclination,
without rising, and covered themselves again. After another silence, the
King called the Duc de Liria, who uncovered himself, and with a reverence
approached the King; by whom he was thus addressed: "Go and see if the
Vidame de Chartres is not somewhere about here."
The Duc de Liria made another reverence to the King, but none to the
chevaliers (who, nevertheless, were uncovered at the same time as he),
went away, the door was closed upon him, and the chevaliers covered
themselves again. The reverences just made, and those I shall have
occasion to speak of in the course of my description, were the same as
are seen at the receptions of the chevaliers of the Saint-Esprit, and in
all grand ceremonies.
The Duc de Liria remained outside nearly a quarter of an hour, because it
is assumed that the new chevalier is ignorant of the proposition made for
him, and that it is only by chance he is found in the palace, time being
needed in order to look for him. The Duc de Liria returned, and
immediately after the door was again closed, and he advanced to the King,
as before, saying that the Vidame de Chartres was in the other room.
Upon this the King ordered him to go and ask the Vidame if he wished to
accept the Order of the Toison d'Or, and be received into it, and
undertake to observe its statutes, its duties, its ceremonies, take its
oaths, promise to fulfil all the conditions submitted: to every one who
is admitted into it, and agree to conduct himself in everything like a
good, loyal, brave, and virtuous chevalier. The Duc de Liria withdrew as
he had before withdrawn. The door was again closed. He returned after
having been absent a shorter time than at first. The door was again
closed, and he approached the King as before, and announced to him the
consent and the thanks of the Vidame. "Very well," replied the King.
"Go seek him, and bring him here."
The Duc de Liria withdrew, as on the previous occasions, and immediately
returned, having my son on his left. The door being open, anybody was at
liberty to enter, and see the ceremony.
The Duc de Liria conducted my son to the feet of the King, and then
seated himself in his place. My son, in advancing, had lightly inclined
himself to the chevaliers, right and left; and, after having made in the
middle of the room a profound bow, knelt before the King, without
quitting his sword, and having his hat under his arm, and no gloves on.
The chevaliers, who had uncovered themselves at the entry of the Duc de
Liria, covered themselves when he sat down; and the Prince of the
Asturias acted precisely as they acted.
The King repeated to my son the same things, a little more lengthily,
that had been said to him by the Duc de Liria, and received his promise
upon each in succession. Afterwards, an attendant, who was standing in
waiting behind the table, presented to the King, from between the table
and the chair, a large book, open, and in which was a long oath, that my
son repeated to the King, who had the book upon his knees, the oath in
French, and on loose paper; being in it. This ceremony lasted rather a
long time: Afterwards, my son kissed the King's hand, and the King made
him rise and pass, without reverence; directly before the table, towards
the middle of which he knelt, his back to the Prince of the Asturias, his
face to the attendant, who showed him (the table being between them) what
to do. There was upon this table a great crucifix of enamel upon a
stand, with a missal open at the Canon, the Gospel of Saint-John, and
forms, in French, of promises and oaths to be made, whilst putting the
hand now upon the Canon, now upon the Gospel. The oath-making took up
some time; after which my son came back and knelt before the King again
Then, the Duc del Orco, grand ecuyer, and Valouse, premier ecuyer, who
have had the Toison since, and who were near me, went away, the Duke
first, Valouse behind him, carrying in his two hands, with marked care
and respect, the sword of the Grand Captain, Don Gonzalvo de Cordova, who
is never called otherwise. They walked, with measured step, outside the
right-hand seats of the chevaliers, then entered the chapter, where the
Duc de Liria had entered with my son, marched inside the left-hand seats
of the chevaliers, without reverence, but the Duke inclining himself;
Valouse not doing so on account of the respect due to the sword; the
grandees did not incline themselves.
The Duke on arriving between the Prince of the Asturias and the King,
knelt, and Valouse knelt behind him. Some moments after, the King made a
sign to them; Valouse drew the sword from its sheath which he put under
his arm, held the naked weapon by the middle of the blade, kissed the
hilt, and presented it to the King, who, without uncovering himself,
kissed the pommel, took the sword in both hands by the handle, held it
upright some moments; then held it with one hand, but almost immediately
with the other as well, and struck it three times upon each shoulder of
my son, alternately, saying to him, "By Saint-George and Saint-Andrew I
make you Chevalier." And the weight of the sword was so great that the
blows did not fall lightly. While the King was striking them, the grand
ecuyer and the premier remained in their places kneeling. The sword was
returned as it had been presented, and kissed in the same manner.
Valouse put it back into its sheath, after which the grand ecuyer and the
premier ecuyer returned as they came.
This sword, handle included, was more than four feet long; the blade four
good digits wide, thick in proportion, insensibly diminishing in
thickness and width to the point, which was very small. The handle
appeared to me of worked enamel, long and very large; as well as the
pommel; the crossed piece long, and the two ends wide, even, worked,
without branch. I examined it well, and I could not hold it in the air
with one-hand, still less handle it with both hands except with much
difficulty. It is pretended that this is the sword the Great Captain
made use of, and with which he obtained so many victories.
I marvelled at the strength of the men in those days, with whom I believe
early habits did much. I was touched by the grand honour rendered to the
Great Captain's memory; his sword becoming the sword of the State,
carried even by the King with great respect. I repeated, more than once,
that if I were the Duc de Scose (who descends in a direct line from the
Great Captain by the female branch, the male being extinct), I would
leave nothing undone to obtain the Toison, in order to enjoy the honour
and the sensible pleasure of being struck by this sword, and with such
great respect for my ancestor. But to return to the ceremony from which
this little digression has taken me.
The accolade being given by the King after the blows with the sword,
fresh oaths being taken at his feet, then before the table as at first,
and on this occasion at greater length, my son returned and knelt before
the King, but without saying anything more. Then Grimaldo rose and,
without reverence, left the chapter by the left, went behind the right-
hand seats of the chevaliers, and took the collar of the Toison which was
extended at the end of the table. At this moment the King told my son to
rise, and so remain standing in the same place. The Prince of the
Asturias, and the Marquis de Villena then rose also, end approached my
son, both covered, all the other chevaliers remaining seated and covered.
Then Grimaldo, passing between the table and the empty seat of the Prince
of the Asturias, presented; standing, the collar to the King, who took it
with both hands, and meanwhile Grimaldo, passing behind the Prince of the
Asturias, went and placed himself behind my son. As soon as he was
there, the King told my son to bend very low, but without kneeling, and
then leaning forward, but without rising, placed the collar upon him, and
made him immediately after stand upright. The King then took hold of the
collar, simply holding the end of it in his hand. At the same time, the
collar was attached to the left shoulder by the Prince of the Asturias,
to the right shoulder by the Marquis de Villena, and behind by Grimaldo;
the King still holding the end.
When the collar was attached, the Prince of the Asturias, the Marquis de
Villena, and Grimaldo, without making a reverence and no chevalier
uncovering himself, went back to their places, and sat down; at, the same
moment my son knelt before the King, and bared, his head. Then the Duc
de Liria, without reverence, and uncovered (no chevalier uncovering
himself), placed himself before the King at the left, by the side of my,
son, and both made their reverences to the King; turned round to the
Prince of the Asturias, did the same to him, he rising and doing my son
the honour to embrace him, and as soon as he was reseated they made a
reverence to him; then, turning to the King, made him one; afterwards
they did the same to the Marquis de Villena, who rose and embraced my
son. Then he reseated himself; upon which they made a reverence to him,
then turning again towards the King, made another to him; and so an from
right to left until every chevalier had been bowed to in a similar
manner. Then my son sat down, and the Duc de Liria returned to his
After this long series of bows, so bewildering for those who play the
chief part in it, the King remained a short time in his armchair, them
rose, uncovered himself, and retired into his apartment as he came. I
had instructed my son to hurry forward and arrive before him at the door
of his inner apartment. He was in time, and I also, to kiss the hand of
the King, and to express our thanks, which were well received. The Queen
arrived and overwhelmed us with compliments. I must observe that the
ceremony of the sword and the accolade are not performed at the reception
of those who, having already another order, are supposed to have received
them; like the chevaliers of the Saint-Esprit and of Saint-Michel, and
the chevaliers of Saint-Louis.
Their Catholic Majesties being gone, we withdrew to my house, where a
very grand dinner was prepared. The usage is, before the reception, to
visit all the chevaliers of the Toison, and when the day is fixed, to
visit all those invited to dinner on the day of the ceremony; the
godfather, with the other chevalier by whom he is accompanied, also
invites them at the palace before they enter the chapter, and aids the
new chevalier to do the honours of the repast. I had led my son with me
to pay these visits. Nearly all the chevaliers came to dine with us, and
many other nobles. The Duc d'Albuquerque, whom I met pretty often, and
who had excused himself from attending a dinner I had previously given,
on account of his stomach (ruined as he said in the Indies), said he,
would not refuse me twice, on condition that I permitted him to take
nothing but soup, because meat was too solid for him. He came, and
partook of six sorts of soup, moderately of all; he afterwards lightly
soaked his bread in such ragouts as were near him, eating only the end,
and finding everything very good. He drank nothing but wine and water.
The dinner was gay, in spite of the great number of guests. The
Spaniards eat as much as, nay more than, we, and with taste, choice, and
pleasure: as to drink, they are very modest.
On the 13th of March, 1722, their Catholic Majesties returned from their
excursion to the Retiro. The hurried journey I had just made to the
former place, immediately after the arrival of a courier, and in spite of
most open prohibitions forbidding every one to go there, joined to the
fashion, full of favour and goodness, with which I had been distinguished
by their Majesties ever since my arrival in Spain, caused a most
ridiculous rumour to obtain circulation, and which, to my great surprise,
at once gained much belief.
It was reported there that I was going to quit my position of ambassador
from France, and be declared prime minister of Spain! The people who had
been pleased, apparently, with the expense I had kept up, and to whom not
one of my suite had given the slightest cause of complaint, set to crying
after me in the streets; announcing my promotion, displaying joy at it,
and talking of it even in the shops. A number of persons even assembled
round my house to testify to me their pleasure. I dispersed them as
civilly and as quickly as possible, assuring them the report was not
true, and that I was forthwith about to return to France.
This was nothing more than the truth. I had finished all my business.
It was time to think about setting out. As soon, however, as I talked
about going, there was nothing which the King and the Queen did not do to
detain me. All the Court, too, did me the favour to express much
friendship for me, and regret at my departure. I admit even that I could
not easily make up my mind to quit a country where I had found nothing
but fruits and flowers, and to which I was attached, as I shall ever be,
by esteem and gratitude. I made at once a number of farewell visits
among the friends I had been once acquainted with; and on the 21st of
March I had my parting state audiences of the King and Queen separately.
I was surprised with the dignity, the precision, and the measure of the
King's expressions, as I had been surprised at my first audience. I
received many marks of personal goodness, and of regret at my departure
from his Catholic Majesty, and from the Queen even more; from the Prince
of the Asturias a good many also. But in another direction I met with
very different treatment, which I cannot refrain from describing, however
ridiculous it may appear.
I went, of course, to say my adieux to the Princess of the Asturias, and
I was accompanied by all my suite. I found the young lady standing under
a dais, the ladies on one side, the grandees on the other; and I made my
three reverences, then uttered my compliments. I waited in silence her
reply, but 'twas in vain. She answered not one word.
After some moments of silence, I thought I would furnish her with matter
for an answer; so I asked her what orders she had for the King; for the
Infanta, for Madame, and for M. and Madame la Duchesse d'Orleans. By way
of reply, she looked at me and belched so loudly in my face, that the
noise echoed throughout the chamber. My surprise was such that I was
stupefied. A second belch followed as noisy as the first.
I lost countenance at this, and all power of hindering myself from
laughing. Turning round, therefore, I saw everybody with their hands
upon their mouths, and their shoulders in motion. At last a third belch,
still louder than the two others, threw all present into confusion, and
forced me to take flight, followed by all my suite, amid shouts of
laughter, all the louder because they had previously been kept in. But
all barriers of restraint were now thrown down; Spanish gravity was
entirely disconcerted; all was deranged; no reverences; each person,
bursting with laughter, escaped as he could, the Princess all the while
maintaining her countenance. Her belches were the only answers she made
me. In the adjoining room we all stopped to laugh at our ease, and
express our astonishment afterwards more freely.
The King and Queen were soon informed of the success of this audience,
and spoke of it to me after dinner at the Racket Court. They were the
first to laugh at it, so as to leave others at liberty to do so too; a
privilege that was largely made use of without pressing. I received and
I paid numberless visits; and as it is easy to flatter one's self, I
fancied I might flatter myself that I was regretted.
I left Madrid on the 24th of March, after having had the honour of paying
my court to their Catholic Majesties all the afternoon at the Racket
Court, they overwhelming me with civilities, and begging me to take a
final adieu of them in their apartments. I had devoted the last few days
to the friends whom, during my short stay of six months, I had made.
Whatever might be the joy and eagerness I felt at the prospect of seeing
Madame de Saint-Simon and my Paris friends again, I could not quit Spain
without feeling my heart moved, or without regretting persons from whom I
had received so many marks of goodness, and for whom, all I had seen of
the nation, had made me conceive esteem, respect, and gratitude. I kept
up, for many years, a correspondence with Grimaldo, while he lived, in
fact, and after his fall and disgrace, which occurred long after my
departure, with more care and attention than formerly. My attachment,
full of respect and gratitude for the King and Queen of Spain, induced me
to do myself the honour of writing to them on all occasions. They often
did me the honour to reply to me; and always charged their new ministers
in France and the persons of consideration who came there, to convey to
me the expression of their good feeling for me.
After a journey without particular incident, I embarked early one morning
upon the Garonne, and soon arrived at Bordeaux. The jurats did me the
honour to ask, through Segur, the under-mayor, at what time they might
come and salute me. I invited them to supper, and said to Segur that
compliments would be best uttered glass in hand. They came, therefore,
to supper, and appeared to me much pleased with this civility: On the
morrow, the tide early carried me to Blaye, the weather being most
delightful. I slept only one night there, and to save time did not go to
On the 13th of April, I arrived, about five o'clock in the afternoon, at
Loches. I slept there because I wished to write a volume of details to
the Duchesse de Beauvilliers, who was six leagues off, at one of her
estates. I sent my packet by an express, and in this manner I was able
to say what I liked to her without fearing that the letter would be
On the morrow, the 14th, I arrived at Etampes, where I slept, and the
15th, at ten o'clock in the morning, I reached Chartres, where Madame de
Saint-Simon was to meet me, dine, and sleep, so that we might have the
pleasure of opening our hearts to each other, and of finding ourselves
together again in solitude and in liberty, greater than could be looked
for in Paris during the first few days of my return. The Duc d'Humieres
and Louville came with her. She arrived an hour after me, fixing herself
in the little chateau of the Marquis d'Arpajan, who had lent it to her,
and where the day appeared to us very short as well as the next morning,
the 16th of April.
To conclude the account of my journey, let me say that I arrived in Paris
shortly after, and at once made the best of my way to the Palais Royal,
where M. le Duc d'Orleans gave me a sincere and friendly welcome.